Notes on the Nembutsu
Reflections on the wasan of Shinran

Shozomatsu Wasan 107

Defiled karma is from the beginning unformed;
It is formed through delusions and perversions.
Though the nature of mind is pure from the beginning,
There are no people of truth in this world.

Conditioned & Unconditioned

The Abhidharma-kosha-bhasyam tells us that the aspects of existence that depend on ignorance (avidya) are 'conditioned' (samskrta) and ultimately false. I find it impossible to think that any other ontology is possible.

But there are also 'unconditoned' dharmas (irreducible facts) that are eternal. One of these is tathata, 'suchness'. When tathata is considered from different perspectives it is perceived in different ways - for example 'Amida Buddha', 'Light', 'Wisdom', and so on. From nothing (shunya) the ultimate reality can manifest in a way that can make itself known to those who are woven into the the process of dependent origination.

Amida takes in and saves all beings throughout the ten quarters with light and Name; Amida brings sentient beings to realise shinjin and aspire for birth.1

There may be 'no people of truth in the world', but the world is resplendent with the glorious light that fills the ten directions, unhindered by anything at all. Therefore rely on the light; accept the Name in the Primal Vow.

Namu-amida-butsu


1. Shan-tao, CWS p. 54

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