信前念佛:未獲信之前,要用什麼心來念佛?

《教行信證》化身土卷中,親鸞聖人曰:「以本願嘉號為己善根故,不能生信,不了佛智,不能了知建立彼因,故無入報土也。」

《淨土三經往生文類》(12)「以如來尊號為自己的善根,自己回向淨土,仗果遂之誓,雖稱念不可思議名號,仍疑不可稱、不可說、不可思議之大悲誓願。其罪深重,繫七寶牢獄,命五百歲間,不能自在,不見三寶,不得供養。」

將本願念佛當作用來培植自己的善根,這是很大的錯誤。那麼:

(1) 未信心決定的人,是否要念佛?

(2) 為獲信而念佛,是對的嗎?

當然,說未獲信的人不要念佛,這是錯誤的。有一些人主張信前不要念佛,這顯然是邪見。信前仍要念佛,但是信前的念佛,不應以獲信為目的,而是仍應以感恩之心來念佛。

《淨土和讚》第31首曰:「設滿大千世界火,亦應直過聞佛名,聞信佛名之眾生,永住於不退轉。」(以下略)

在淨土真宗,獲信、住不退轉、住正定聚的方法,唯是聞法。聞法,包括拜讀佛法、拜讀淨土真宗,參加真宗的法事。而此「聞法」已經由如來所成就,無有機方多事之餘地。

「稱名報恩」的世界,向我們敞開,這是淨土真宗救度的世界,是今現在絕對救度的世界。


But as already indicated, the Venerable Master criticized the “‘self-centered effort’ of the ‘true gate’” (20th Vow), and in the Chapter on Transformed Land of the Kyogyoshinsho, he wrote that those who, “. . . consider reciting (the Nembutsu) to be “good roots” that they create, cannot have faith nor accept the Buddha’s wisdom.” 

Further, in his Jodo Sangyo Ojo Mon’rui 淨土三經往生文類 (Passages on Birth in the Pure Land Based on the Three Pure Land Sutras), the Venerable Master severely criticized doubt (reciting the Nembutsu in order to create “good roots”), by stating (20): “Reciting Amida Buddha’s sacred Name in order to create ‘good roots’ (that we think will) cause our ‘birth in the Pure Land’ means that although we recite the ‘marvelously mysterious’ ‘Name of the Buddha,’ we really doubt the Great and Compassionate Vow that is ‘impossible to recite (because we did not create it)’ (fukasho不可稱), ‘impossible to explain’ (fukasetsu不可說) and ‘impossible to conceive’ (fukashigi不可思議). Our doubt causes us to be imprisoned in the seven-jeweled jail from which we cannot escape for 500 years.” 

Reciting the “name of the Buddha” based on completion of the Primal Vow to create our own “good roots” is a great mistake. Many problems can arise if we attempt to do so. They include:

 

• Should those whose shinjin is not yet determined recite the Nembutsu? 

• How should infants recite the Nembutsu? 

• Is it wrong to recite the Nembutsu in order to receive shinjin? 

• What should we do in order to receive shinjin?

 

It is, of course, wrong to say that those without shinjin should not recite the Nembutsu. There presently is a Jodo-Shinshu group that forbids reciting the Nembutsu before receiving shinjin, but that clearly is incorrect. 

I believe that since the Nembutsu we recite in our Jodo-Shinshu tradition is to express indebtedness to the dharma, we should not recite it for the purpose of receiving shinjin. But I also I believe that reciting the Nembutsu even without completely understanding the heart of gratitude will nurture us and that we will eventually come to recite it with true gratitude. 

As already stated, “hearing” (chomon聴聞) is considered extremely important in Jodo Shinshu. As the Venerable Master wrote in his Jodo Wasan (31):

 

Those who pass through the fires 

Of the “great thousand worlds” 

To hear the sacred Name of the Buddha 

Will be included in the “stage 

of never falling back.”

 

As can be determined from this, the path to shinjin is “hearing” (chomon) 聴聞(ちょうもん) and is the way to reach the “stage of never falling back” (futai 不退), which is the same as being in the “rightly-established group (of those assured of birth in the Pure Land).” 

Further, Master Rennyo is quoted in the Kikigaki (Heard and Recorded [During Master Rennyo’s Lifetime]) (155): “Do not listen to (the teachings) of Buddha-dharma in your free time; rather, perform your worldly duties in the free time you have when not listening to the dharma.” 

As Master Rennyo said, we should concentrate on “listening” to the teaching, regardless of how important we may consider matters in the secular world. Further, Master Rennyo said, “If those without shinjin listen (to the dharma), it will be given to them because of the Great Compassion. Buddha-dharma (begins and) ends with ‘listening.’” 

I believe that “listening” (chomon, in a broad sense, this includes studying Buddha-dharma and Jodo-Shinshu, as well as attending Jodo-Shinshu services, and in fact, everything in our life) is extremely important for shinjin. This “listening” has already been completely prepared for us by the Buddha, and is the world where absolutely nothing is required on our part. 

The world of “reciting the Nembutsu in gratitude” that opens up when we accept the Primal Vow and are included in the “rightly-established group,” is the world of salvation in Jodo-Shinshu. It is the world in which we are blessed with the true benefit of “absolute salvation” in the present. I firmly believe this world will be the Light and the Strength to support all the peoples of the world. 

 

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