A Way of Living as a Nembutsu Follower

Delivered by the 25th Monshu (Resident Minister of Hongwanji) Kojun Ohtani

A Way of Living as a Nembutsu Follower Buddhism began when Sakyamuni attained enlightenment and became a Buddha about 2500 years ago. In Japan, Buddhism was originally referred to as the Buddha Dharma. The Dharma here refers to the true reality of how the world is and the nature of humanity itself. It is the universal truth that transcends both space and time. The one who awakens to this truth is called a Buddha, and the teaching of the Buddha is the wisdom that teaches us how we can live, while dealing with many anxieties and sufferings we may experience in life.


Buddhism describes the true reality of this world and humanity using such phrases as 'impermanence' and 'dependent origination.' 'Impermanence' refers to the fact that everything changes moment by moment. On the other hand, 'dependent origination' explains that all things and phenomena are interconnected with one another, which bring about various causes and conditions that then give another set of causes and conditions and so on and so forth. Therefore, in this world we cannot find an unchanging and fixed 'self.'


However, we are unaware of this reality and thus we try to find some unchanging and fixed entity we call the self. This mindset is the basis of our egocentric way of thinking in which we judge things whether they are beneficial to us or not, or whether we like something or not. As a result, we suffer when things do not turn out as we like and we become hostile to each other, thus confining ourselves to a bitter reality where we cannot truly be free. In Buddhism, this self-oriented tendency is expressed as 'ignorance and blind passions,' which are the very reason we are deprived of our liberty and bound to this world of suffering. Ignorance and blind passions are represented as greed, anger, and foolishness also known as the 'three poisons.'


Shinran Shonin pursued religious practices for 20 years on Mount Hiei with the hope to attain enlightenment by conquering his blind passions. However, being aware of the depth of human desires which are irremovable by religious austerities, he descended Mount Hiei and under the guidance of Honen Shonin, finally encountered the salvific working of Amida Tathagata. Amida is the Buddha who not only wishes for but is actually working in accordance with the wish to save and guide to supreme enlightenment, all living beings who are in the midst of constant worries and distress. The Buddha's Wish, or the Primal Vow, declares that Amida's Great Compassion embraces us all as we are, as beings filled with selfish attachments and blind passions. However, even in encountering such all-inclusive salvific working, because of our own fathomlessly deep egocentric mindset and desires, we still cannot wholeheartedly entrust ourselves to the Buddha's Great Compassion. How sad this truly is.


By listening to the Primal Vow and how it was established by Amida Tathagata, we are enabled to become conscious of our own ignorance and self-oriented inclinations, and through such awareness, we naturally become gentle in word and deed in our efforts of minimizing our egoistic way of thinking. For example, with regard to how we live our lives, we "learn to be content without wanting too much" and with regard to how we may treat others we "associate with people using gentle expressions and kind words." Even though our efforts may pale in comparison to the Buddha's Compassion, we are at least guided in the proper direction by the Buddha Dharma. Shinran Shonin clarifies this in his letters addressed to his followers, one of which states, "There was a time for each of you when you knew nothing of Amida's Vow and did not say the Name of Amida Buddha, but now, guided by the compassionate means of Sakyamuni and Amida, you have begun to hear the Vow. Formerly you were intoxicated with thoughts of greed, anger, and foolishness, but since you have begun to hear the Buddha's Vow you have gradually awakened from the drunkenness of ignorance, rejected the three poisons, and have come to prefer the medicine of Amida Buddha at all times." This is a stern admonition we should humbly receive.


In today's world, there is an endless list of difficult global issues that are directly related to the existence of humanity such as terrorist attacks, armed conflicts, widening economic gap, global warming, mishandling of nuclear waste, and violation of human rights through discrimination. Such are the result of our ignorance and blind passions in which we fail to see the true nature of ourselves. It is indeed true that we are imperfect with our selfish desires and cannot act in complete purity like the Buddha can. However, by trying to live according to the Buddha Dharma, let us make an effort to consider other peoples' joy as our own, as well as other peoples' suffering as our own. In this way, we can live to the best of our ability, aspiring to live up to the Buddha's Wish.


I will endeavor to share Amida Tathagata's Wisdom and Compassion through simple and clear language with as many people as possible regardless of nationality and ethnic background. Let us encourage everyone to act in accordance with the Buddha's Wish in an effort to create a society in which everyone can live a spiritually fulfilled life. In the hopes of creating a joyous world, let us continue moving forward by putting these words into action and together walk on our path to the truth.


October 1, 2016

Monshu OHTANI Kojun

Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha

第25代専如門主(せんにょもんしゅ) 伝灯奉告法要(でんとうほうこくほうよう) ご 親 教


『 念 仏 者 の 生 き 方 』



仏教では、この世界と私たちのありのままの姿を「諸行 しょぎょう無常むじょう 」と「縁起 えんぎ 」という言 葉で表します。「諸行無常」とは、この世界のすべての物事は一瞬もとどまることなく 移り変わっているということであり、「縁起」とは、その一瞬ごとにすべての物事は、 原因や条件が互いに関わりあって存在しているという真実です。したがって、そのよ うな世界のあり方の中には、固定した変化しない私というものは存在しません。


しかし、私たちはこのありのままの真実に気づかず、自分というものを固定した実 体と考え、欲望の赴くままに自分にとって損か得か、好きか嫌いかなど、常に自己中 心の心で物事を捉えています。その結果、自分の思い通りにならないことで悩み苦し んだり、争いを起こしたりして、苦悩の人生から一歩たりとも自由になれないのです。 このように真実に背 そむ いた自己中心性を仏教では無明煩悩 むみょうぼんのう といい、この煩悩が私たちを 迷いの世界に繋 つなぎ止める原因となるのです。なかでも代表的な煩悩は、むさぼり・い かり・おろかさの三つで、これを三毒さんどく の煩悩といいます。


親鸞しんらん 聖人 しょうにん も煩悩を克服し、さとりを得るために比叡山 ひえいざん で20年にわたりご修行に励 まれました。しかし、どれほど修行に励もうとも、自らの力では断ち切れない煩悩の 深さを自覚され、ついに比叡山を下 お り、法然 ほうねん 聖人のお導きによって阿弥陀 あみだ 如来 にょらい の救い のはたらきに出遇 あ われました。阿弥陀如来とは、悩み苦しむすべてのものをそのまま 救い、さとりの世界へ導こうと願われ、その願い通りにはたらき続けてくださってい る仏さまです。この願いを、本願 ほんがん といいます。我 が 執 しゅう 、我 が 欲 よく の世界に迷い込み、そこか ら抜け出せない私を、そのままの姿で救うとはたらき続けていてくださる阿弥陀如来 のご本願ほど、有り難いお慈悲じ ひ はありません。しかし、今ここでの救いの中にありな がらも、そのお慈悲ひとすじにお任せできない、よろこべない私の愚かさ、煩悩の深 さに悲嘆 ひたん せざるをえません。


私たちは阿弥陀如来のご本願を聞かせていただくことで、自分本位にしか生きられ ない無明の存在であることに気づかされ、できる限り身を 慎 つつし み、言葉を慎んで、少し ずつでも煩悩を克服する生き方へとつくり変えられていくのです。それは例えば、自 分自身のあり方としては、欲を少なくして足ることを知る「少欲 しょうよく 知足 ちそく 」であり、他者 に対しては、穏やかな顔と優しい言葉で接する「和顔 わげん 愛語 あいご 」という生き方です。たと え、それらが仏さまの真似事 まねごと といわれようとも、ありのままの真実に教え導かれて、 そのように志して生きる人間に育てられるのです。このことを親鸞聖人は門弟に宛て たお手紙で、「(あなた方は)今、すべての人びとを救おうという阿弥陀如来のご本願 のお心をお聞きし、愚かなる無明の酔いも次第にさめ、むさぼり・いかり・おろかさと いう三つの毒も少しずつ好まぬようになり、阿弥陀仏の薬をつねに好む身となってお られるのです」とお示しになられています。たいへん重いご教示です。


今日、世界にはテロや武力紛争、経済格差、地球温暖化、核物質の拡散、差別を含む 人権の抑圧など、世界規模での人類の生存に関わる困難な問題が山積していますが、 これらの原因の根本は、ありのままの真実に背いて生きる私たちの無明煩悩にありま す。もちろん、私たちはこの命を終える瞬間まで、我欲に執 とら われた煩悩 ぼんのう 具足 ぐそく の愚かな存 在であり、仏さまのような執われのない完全に清らかな行いはできません。しかし、 それでも仏法を依りどころとして生きていくことで、私たちは他者の喜びを自らの喜 びとし、他者の苦しみを自らの苦しみとするなど、少しでも仏さまのお心にかなう生 き方を目指し、精一杯 せいいっぱい 努力させていただく人間になるのです。


国の内外、あらゆる人びとに阿弥陀如来の智慧ち え と慈悲じ ひ を正しく、わかりやすく伝え、 そのお心にかなうよう私たち一人ひとりが行動することにより、自他ともに心豊かに 生きていくことのできる社会の実現に努めたいと思います。世界の幸せのため、実践 運動の推進を通し、ともに確かな歩みを進めてまいりましょう。




大谷 光淳