1. On Contemporary Shin Buddhist Thought 2. Author Affiliations: Late Professor Emeritus Ryukoku University, Kyoto
Pure Land=淨土; Sukhavati=極樂世界; Pure Land School=淨土宗; 輪迴=轉世=Reincarnation=Rebirth=Samsara; Amida Buddha=Amitabha Buddha=阿彌陀佛
I would like to point out that there is a problem with the analogy comparing time in this world to a Saturday spent anticipating Sunday. The joy of Saturday is based on experiences of actually having enjoyed Sundays in the past. On the other hand, birth in the Pure Land is something we have never experienced. The only person who can truthfully use such an analogy is one who has received in the present life the benefit of having been embraced and never forsaken. An experience of the eternal, an experience of “attaining shinjin,” must have occurred first. Only when one attains shinjin does the path of birth in the Pure Land at last become clear. From this standpoint, as Rennyo says, “as for nirvana, we are grateful knowing that Amida will save us.” Feelings of gratitude for Amida’s salvation naturally inspire us into the anticipation of that salvation, causing us to say, “we are grateful knowing that Amida will save us” and not vice verse (i.e., it is not that anticipation leads to gratitude). It is in this sense that aspiration for birth becomes a synonym for entrusting mind. Therefore, the proposition “hope for the future sustains our present lives” is to be rejected as a viable interpretation of Shinran’s concept of attaining the truly settled stage in the present life. We must remember that, for the majority of modern people (with very special exceptions), this kind of interpretation brings no hope for salvation at all.