Notes on the Nembutsu
Reflections on the wasan of Shinran

Jodo Wasan 109

Countless Amida Buddhas reside
In the light of the Buddha of Unhindered Light;
Each of these transformed Buddhas protects
The person of true and real shinjin.

True Entrusting Heart

The group of verses, which we are considering at the moment is entitled, as you will remember, 'Hymns on Benefits in the Present'. There are fifteen verses in this section, of which ten are built around the phrase 'Namu-amida-butsu o tonaure ba', 'When we say Namu-amida-butsu ...'. Two verses are preparatory, referring to Dengyo Daishi and the Sutra of Golden Splendour. Verses 106 and 107 refer to 'the person' (of the nembutsu), people of entrusting heart. Now, this verse reveals just what Shinran Shonin means by the phrase 'Namu-amida-butsu o tonaure ba'.

The outward expression of true shinjin is the Name, Namu-amida-butsu. In these verses on benefits in the present life, Shinran is alluding to the person of true shinjin throughout. The passages, from which Shinran draws his inspiration for these verses, may give the impression that the mere ritual of saying the nembutsu somehow delivers favourable results to those who say it. However, this verse makes it clear that it is the underlying true shinjin, which is manifested in saying the Name, that is the source of the benefits in the present life. The benefit is the retention of Amida Buddha's entrusting heart as a secure fact of one's existence.

Protection is another confusing concept in these verses. It is easy to imagine that we are protected from misfortune, illness, or even death. This, of course, is not the significance of 'protection' at all. People of true shinjin, which is settled, say 'the act of true settlement', the Name. True shinjin is firm and connot be dislodged. Entrusting heart is the heart of the Buddha, transferred to us when we accept it in the Name. The source itself commands the respect and protection of unseen beings and deities.

As the seventeenth Vow says, 'All Buddhas praise the Name of Amida Buddha.' They protect the person of true entrusting heart from damage to the very faith itself, precisely because they recognise and adore the Buddha of infinite light, who transfers his shinjin to those who accept it.

We also discover in the final section of the Kyo Gyo Shin Sho that maras and deities throughout the universe have converted to the dharma and vow to protect it. Hence, they also protect the person of faith because it is the manifestation of Amida Buddha's dharma in the life of an ordinary person.

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