Reflections on the Kyo Gyo Shin Sho: A Guide
by Hisao Inagaki, Professor Emeritus Ryukoku University, Kyoto, Japan

The True Teaching

Of all the Buddhist teachings (traditionally enumerated to be eighty-four thousand), which is the true teaching? Every Buddhist master in all ages has struggled to find the true teaching. Shinran found the true teaching in the Larger Sutra. It was the very sutra for which Shakyamuni is believed to have appeared in the world. This sutra fully expounds Amida's Vows and practice and, above anything else, presents the Name and Faith as the practical way of our salvation. The reason for Shinran’s assertion that the Larger Sutra was the true teaching comes from the circumstantial evidence that, prior to the delivery of the sutra, Shakyamuni manifested a glorious appearance which revealed the ‘five auspicious features’. The sutra states,

At that time all the senses of the World-honored One radiated joy, his entire body appeared serene and glorious, and his august countenance looked most majestic. Having perceived the Buddha’s holy intention, the Venerable Ananda rose from his seat, … and said to the Buddha, ‘World-honored One, today all your senses are radiant with joy, your body is serene and glorious, and your august countenance is as majestic as a clear mirror whose brightness radiates outward and inward. The magnificence of your dignified appearance is unsurpassed and beyond measure…. Today, the World-honored One dwells in the rare and marvelous Dharma; today, the World Hero dwells in the Buddha’s abode; today, the World Eye concentrates on the performance of the leader’s duty; today, the World Valiant One dwells in the supreme Bodhi; today, the One Most Honored in Heaven realizes the Tathagata’s virtue’. (BDK, 12-II, IV, pp. 7-8)

According to a different Chinese translation of the sutra produced in the early 8th century, Shakyamuni first entered the Great Tranquility Samadhi (equivalent to the Amida Samadhi), in which he manifested glorious features and then expounded the sutra. It is significant that Shinran mentions this samadhi in the Hymns on the Pure Land. He did not resort to a logical formula or theoretical speculation to prove that the Larger Sutra is the true teaching. We must remember that the verities of the Larger Sutra and of Jodo Shinshu can not be logically proved. They are to be accepted as facts that are revealed to us from the realm of the Buddha, just as Amida’s saving power is to be accepted as a fact that can be experienced through the endowment of his Name and Faith. If, however, you wish to know through direct perception the transcendent realities of the Buddha realm, there is a way. Concentrate on Amida day and night until you attain a samadhi. Since the nembutsu samadhi leads to the Amida samadhi, you will visualize all the spiritual facts surrounding Amida. Even though we are ordinarily denied samadhi practice, there is still a way open for us - through the attainment of Faith. Faith opens our eyes to the realities of the transcendent realm.

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