Shoshinge “The Hymn of True Faith” A crucial component of the Buddhist faith is chanting. The practice of chanting is much akin to the Christian hymns. Much like the past practice of the Catholic churches tradition of chanting in Latin, one does not need to know Japanese in order to be absorbed by the melodic rhythm of foreign sounds. This podcast is a recording of Shoshinge, one of the many Jodo Shinshu chants. Here’s some background on this important chant. About Shoshige The following introduction is from Shinshū Seiten, Jōdo Shin Buddhist Teaching, published by the Buddhist Churches of America. The English translation of the gāthā is from The True Teaching, Practice and Realization of the Pure Land Way, Vol. I., Shin Buddhist Translation Series, Hongwanji International Center, Kyoto, Japan. The full title of this gāthā, Shoshin Nembutsu Ge, means ‘Gāthā on the Right (or True) Faith in the Nembutsu.’ The title consists of three terms: Shōshin, lit. ‘Right Faith’ refers to Shinjin, or Faith. Nembutsu, lit. ‘thinking of the Buddha,’ refers to the practice of uttering Amida’s Name. Ge, or ‘gāthā’ in Skt. Means ‘verse,’ or ‘hymn.’ Faith and Nembutsu are very important ideas constituting the central concepts of Shin Buddhism. In the passage which introduces the Shoshin Ge, Shinran notes; Relying upon the true words of the Great Sage and reading the commentaries of the great masters, I have realized the profound grace of the Buddha. Hence I here compose the Gāthā of True Faith in the Nembutsu. This shows that he composed this gatha out of his gratitude to Amida Buddha on the basis of the Teachings of Śākyamuni and the commentaries of the Seven Patriarchs. ‘The words of the Great Sage’ directly refers to the Dai Muryōju Kyō (The Larger Sutra), in which Shinran Shonin found the true religion by which a sinful and helpless man can be saved. He trusted in the Teachings of this Sutra singleheartedly, and conceived of all the other Teachings of the Buddha as being expedients to Pure Land Buddhism. It is also important to note that Shinran approached the Teachings of Amida’s Salvation through seven predecessors, namely, Nāgārjuna and Vasubandhu from India; Doran, Dōshaku and Zendō in China; Genshin and Genkū in Japan. In the Kyō Gyō Shin Shō he abundantly quotes from their discourse, and in the Shōshin Ge he gives their essentials. The whole gāthā is an exposition of the Pure Land Teaching which may be divided into two parts: 1) based on the Sutra and 2) based on the commentaries. The contents of the gāthā with minor divisions are as follows: I. Exposition based on the Sutra 1. Homage to Amida 2. Adoration, in particular, to a. Amida Buddha b. Śākyamuni Buddha 3. Exhortation II. Exposition based on the commentaries 1. General statement 2. Exposition, in particular, to a. Nāgārjuna [2nd or 3rd cen. A.D.] b. Vasubandhu [4th cen. A.D.] c. Donran [T’an Luan, 476-542 A.D.] d. Dōshaku [Tao-ch’o, 562-645 A.D.] e. Zendō [Shan Tao, 613-681 A.D.] f. Genshin [942-1017 A.D.] g. Genkū [Honen, 1133-1212 A.D.] 3. Exhortation Ki myo mu ryo ju nyo rai Na mu fu ka shi gi ko Ho zo bo satsu in ni ji Zai se ji sai o bus-sho To ken sho butsu jo do in Koku do nin den shi zen maku Kon ryu mu jo shu sho gan Cho hotsu ke u dai gu zei Go ko shi yui shi sho ju Ju sei myo sho mon jip-po Fu ho mu ryo mu hen ko Mu ge mu tai ko en no Sho jo kan gi chi e ko Fu dan nan ji mu sho ko Cho nichi gak-ko sho jin setsu Is-sai gun jo mu ko sho Hon gan myo go sho jo go Shin shin shin gyo gan ni in Jo to gaku sho dai ne han His-shi metsu do gan jo ju Nyo rai sho i ko shus-se Yui setsu mi da hon gan kai Go joku aku ji gun jo kai O shin nyo rai nyo jitsu gon No hotsu ichi nen ki ai shin Fu dan bon no toku ne han Bon jo gyaku ho sai e nyu Nyo shu shi nyu kai ichi mi Ses-shu shin ko jo sho go I no sui ha mu myo an Ton nai shin zo shi un mu Jo fu shin jitsu shin jin ten Hi nyo nik-ko fu un mu Un mu shi ge myo mu an Gyaku shin ken kyo dai kyo ki Soku o cho zetsu go aku shu Is-sai zen maku bon bu nin Mon shin nyo rai gu zei gan Butsu gon ko dai sho ge sha Ze nin myo fun da ri ke- fi Mi da butsu hon gan nen butsu Ja ken kyo man naku shu jo Shin gyo ju ji jin ni nan Nan chu shi nan mu ka shi In do sai ten shi ron ge Chu ka jichi iki shi ko so Ken dai sho ko se sho i Myo nyo rai hon ze o ki Sha ka nyo rai ryo ga sen I shu go myo nan ten jiku Ryu ju dai ji shut-to se Shitsu no zai ha u mu ken Sen zetsu dai jo mu jo ho Sho kan gi ji sho an raku Ken ji nan gyo roku ro ku Shin gyo i gyo shi do raku Oku nen mi da butsu hon gan Ji nen soku ji nyu hitsu jo Yui no jo sho nyo rai go O ho dai hi gu zei on Ten jin bo Satsu zo ron setsu Ki myo mu ge ko nyo rai E Shu ta ra ken shin jitsu Ko sen o cho dai sei gan Ko-yu hon gan riki e ko I do gun jo sho is-shin Ki nyu ku doku dai ho kai Hitsu gyaku nyu dai e shu shu Toku shi ren ge zo se kai Soku sho shin nyo hos-sho jin Yu bon no rin gen jin zu Nyu sho ji on ji o ge Hon shi don ran ryo ten shi Jo ko ran sho bo satsu rai San zo ru shi ju jo kyo Bon jo sen gyo ki raku ho Ten jin bo satsu ron chu ge Ho do in ga ken sei gan O gen ne ko yu ta riki Sho jo shi in yui shin jin Waku zen bon bu shin jin potsu Sho-chi sho-ji soku ne hon His-shi mu ryo ko myo do Sho-u shu jo kai fu ke Do shaku kes-sho do nan sho Yui myo jo do ka tsu nyu Man zen ji riki hen gon shu En man toku go kan sen sho San-pu san shin ke on gon Zo matsu ho metsu do-hi in Is-sho zo aku chi gu zei Shi an nyo gai sho myo ka Zen do doku myo bus-sho I Ko ai jo san yo gyaku aku Ko myo myo go ken in nen Kai-nyu hon gan dai-chi kai Gyo-ja sho-ju kon go shin Kyo-ki ichi nen so o go Yo-I dai to gyaku san nin Soku sho hos-sho shi jo raku Gen shin ko kai ichi dai kyo Hen ki an nyo kan is-sai Sen zo shu shin han sen jin Ho ke ni do sho ben ryu Goku ju aku nin yui sho butsu Ga yaku zai-hi ses-shu chu Bon no sho gen sui fu ken Dai-hi mu ken jo sho ga Hon shi gen ku myo buk-kyo Ren min zen maku bon bu nin Shin shu kyo sho ko hen shu Sen jaku hon gan gu aku se Gen rai sho-ji rin den ge Ket-chi gi jo I sho shi Soku nyu jaku jo mu I raku Hit-chi shin jin I no nyu Gu kyo dai ji shu shi tou Jo sai mu hen goku joku aku Do zoku ji shu gu do shin Yu-I ka shin shi ko so se-tsu Shoshinge Translation I take refuge in the Tathāgata of Immeasurable Life! I entrust myself to the Buddha of Inconceivable Light! Bodhisattva Dharmākara, in his causal stage, Under the guidance of Lokeśvararāja Buddha. Searched into the origins of the Buddhas’ pure land, And the qualities of those lands and their men and devas; He then established the supreme, incomparable Vow; He made the great Vow rare and all-encompassing. In five kalpas of profound thought, he embraced this Vow, Then resolved again that his Name be heard throughout the ten quarters. Everywhere he casts light immeasurable, boundless, Unhindered, unequaled, light-lord of all brilliance, Pure light, joyful light, the light of wisdom, Light constant, inconceivable, light beyond speaking, Light excelling sun and moon he sends forth, illumining countless worlds; The multitudes of beings all receive the radiance. The Name embodying the Primal Vow is the act of true settlement, The Vow of entrusting with sincere mind is the cause of birth; We realize the equal of enlightenment and supreme nirvāņa Through the fulfillment of the Vow of attaining nirvāņa without fail. Śākyamuni Tathāgata appeared in this world Solely to teach the ocean-like Primal Vow of Amida; We, an ocean of beings in an evil age of five defilements, Should entrust ourselves to the Tathagata’s words of truth. When the one thought-moment of joy arises, Nirvāņa is attained without severing blind passions; When ignorant and wise, even grave offenders and slanders of the dharma, all alike turn and enter shinjin, They are like waters that, on entering the ocean, become one in taste with it. The light of compassion that grasps us illumines and protects us always; The darkness of our ignorance is already broken through; Still the clouds and mists of greed and desire, anger and hatred, Cover as always the sky of true and real shinjin. But though light of the sun is veiled by clouds and mists, Beneath the clouds and mists there is brightness, not dark. When one realizes shinjin, seeing and revering and attaining great joy, One immediately leaps crosswise, closing off the five evil courses. All foolish beings, whether good or evil, When they hear and entrust to Amida’s universal Vow, Are praised by the Buddha as people of vast and excellent understanding; Such a person is called a pure white lotus. For evil sentient beings of wrong views and arrogance, The nembutsu that embodies Amida’s Primal Vow Is hard to accept in shinjin; This most difficult of difficulties, nothing surpasses. The masters of India in the west, who explained the teachings in treaties, And the eminent monks of China and Japan, Clarified the Great Sage’s true intent in appearing in the world, And revealed that Amida’s Primal Vow accords with the nature of beings. Śākyamuni Tathāgata, on Mount Lankā, Prophesied to the multitudes that in south India The mahasattva Nāgārjuna would appear in this world To crush the views of being and non-being; Proclaiming the unexcelled Mahāyāna teaching, He would attain the stage of joy and be born in the land of happiness. Nāgārjuna clarifies the hardship on the overland path of difficult practice, And leads us to entrust to the pleasure on the waterway of easy practice. He teaches that the moment one thinks on Amida’s Primal Vow, One is naturally brought to enter the sage of the definitely settled; Solely saying the Tathāgata’s Name constantly, One should respond with gratitude to the universal Vow of great compassion. Bodhisattva Vasubandhu, composing a treatise, declares That he takes refuge in the Tathagata of unhindered light, And that relying on the sutras, he will reveal the true and real virtues, And make widely known the great Vow by which we leap crosswise beyond birth-and-death. He discloses the mind that is single so that all beings be saved By Amida’s directing of virtue through the power of the Primal Vow. When a person turns and enters the great treasure-ocean of virtue, Necessarily he joins Amida’s assembly; And when he reaches hat lotus-held world, He immediately realizes the body of suchness or dharma-nature. Then sporting in the forests of blind passions, he manifests transcendent powers; Entering the garden of birth-and-death, he assumes various forms to guide others. Turning toward the dwelling of Master T’an-laun, the Emperor of Liang Always paid homage to him as a bodhisattva. Bodhiruci, master of the Tripitaka, gave T’an-laun the Pure Land teachings, And T’an-laun, burning his Taoist scriptures, took refuge in the land of bliss. In his commentary on the treatise of Bodhisattva Vasubandhu, He shows that the cause and attainment of birth in the fulfilled land lie in the Vow. Our going and returning, directed to us by Amida, come about through Other Power; The truly decisive cause is shinjin. When a foolish being of delusion and defilement awakens to shinjin, He realizes that birth-and-death is itself nirvāna; Without fail he reaches the land of immeasurable light And universally guides sentient beings to enlightenment. Tao-ch’o determined how difficult it is to fulfill the Path of Sages, And reveals that only passage through the Pure Land gate is possible for us. He criticizes self-power endeavor in the myriad good practices, And encourages us solely to say the fulfilled Name embodying true virtue. With kind concern he teaches the three characteristics of entrusting and non entrusting, Compassionately guiding all identically, whether they live when the dharma survives as but form, when in its last stage, or when it has become extinct. Though a person has committed evil all his life, when he encounters the Primal Vow, He will reach the world of peace and realize the perfect fruit of enlightenment. Shan-tao alone in his time clarified the Buddha’s true intent; Sorrowing at the plight of meditative and non-meditative practicers and people of grave evil, He reveals that Amida’s Light and Name are the causes of birth. When the practicer enters the great ocean of wisdom, the Primal Vow, He receives the diamond-like mind And accords with the one thought-moment of joy; whereupon, Equally with Vaidehī, he acquires the threefold wisdom And is immediately brought to attain the eternal bliss of dharma-nature. Genshin, having broadly elucidated the teaching of Śākyamuni’s lifetime, Wholeheartedly took refuge in the land of peace and urges all to do so; Ascertaining that minds devoted to single practice are profound, to sundry practice, shallow, He sets forth truly the difference between the fulfilled land and the transformed land. The person burdened with extreme evil should simply say the Name: Although I too am within Amida’s grasp, Passions obstruct my eyes and I cannot see him; Nevertheless, great compassion is untiring and illumines me always. Master Genkū, well-versed in the Buddha’s teaching, Turned compassionately to foolish people, both good and evil; Establishing in this remote land the teaching and realization that are the true essence of the Pure Land way, He transmits the selected Primal Vow to us of the defiled world: Return to this house of transmigration, of birth-and-death, Is decidedly caused by doubt. Swift entrance into the city of tranquility, the uncreated, Is necessarily brought about by shinjin. The mahasattvas and masters who spread the sutras Save the countless beings of utter defilement and evil. With the same mind, all people of the present, whether monk or lay, Should rely wholly on the teachings of these venerable masters. Sutras: Juseige | Junirai | Sanbutsuge | Shoshinge Copyright [/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]