We bear a karmic burden so great that we are unable to prevent it dragging us back into the swirling currents of the ocean of suffering. Back and under, to be cast time and again onto the shores of rebirth. How many times has our burden condemned us to this consequence? We have no memory of our former lives, except maybe some recollection we had as children — as some researchers have documented — of an existence before birth, of a life lived and a death experienced prior to our current reincarnation. But these echoes are of just one life, the bow wave of a wake that stretches back through aeons. Little wonder that our unwholesome baggage drags us back into this inexorable loop, so great must be the accumulated weight of it. Little wonder also that our self-power practices are futile, or at least increasingly so. The scales are tipped so heavily against us that a million lifetimes of virtue and right mindfulness would be insufficient even to balance the scales, let alone tip them in our favour.
And here is where the wonderful Primal Vow of Amida Buddha brings glorious day to our dark night of despair. We, who are crushed by our burden, do not even have the strength to cast it on his great shoulders, but we have no condition placed upon us to do so. Amida makes no prerequisites beyond our sincere trust — and even this is a Shinjin flame lit in our hearts by the touch of His infinite light. All is mind-made, and our corrupt and ignorant minds can never muster the required faith. So Amida realises his own mind in us and suddenly the Shinjin fire burns bright and clear! And at that moment, Amida heaves our burden from us and grasps us like a flower collector grasps a lotus from the muck and mud. Our next rebirth is guaranteed to be our last and very best; a rebirth in Amida’s Western Pure Land of Bliss, where, like the lotus, we shall bloom to Buddhahood by Amida Buddha’s own light.
Unconditionally yours. This is the moniker that Amida uses to sign his love letter to us. We are ignorant, deluded, blind beings groping our way through the darkness. We should make no conditions for ourselves that Amida has not made, otherwise we are self-reliant rather than Amida-reliant. It’s all in Amida, in HIS virtue, and the virtue of His Name. Resting in this truth, confident in the security of Amida’s embrace, we can be at peace in a world that has lost its allure, and beyond which we look to Pure Land joy. Namu Amida Butsu 🙏