The Way of Jodo Shinshu
Reflections on the Hymns of Shinran Shonin

Shozomatsu Wasan 115

While persons ignorant of even the characters for
      'good' and 'evil'
All possess a sincere mind,
I make a display of knowing the words 'good' and 'evil';
This is an expression of complete falsity.

Unconditional Freedom

The Primal Vow of Amida Buddha acts freely, by itself (jinen), without any input from us. To know this is to be free also.

Shinran Shonin has realised complete diamond-like shinjin (kongoshin), and has joined the company of the truly settled. He is about to attain the unconditioned nirvana (the Pure Land) and no longer has any need to assert the claims of his ego. Now he has become free and utterly relaxed about the infernal deceptions of his own intellectual and affective life.

To my mind, Shinran has arrived at the true state of blessedness and contentment. His life of turmoil, struggle and strife has finally come into full fruition; he has become a true human being, utterly free of all pretence and hypocrisy.

This verse, then, signifies for me the ultimate truth of Jodo Shinshu. It tells us that if we also rely unconditionally upon the Primal Vow of Amida Buddha, we too will join the stage of the settled, and find ourselves on the cusp of perfect freedom.

Like Shinran, we will no longer need to be believed, no longer seek people to trust and learn from us. Our only care will be to extend the teaching of the Primal Vow that was handed down from of old and to deflect the gaze of all away from ourselves to the only true reality: the Primal Vow of Amida Buddha.

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Jodo Wasan

Koso Wasan

Shozomatsu Wasan


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