As I have already indicated, the Jodo-Shinshu teaching of “Buddha-centered power” is how the Venerable Master was personally saved, and also the teaching that he urged us to follow. Rather than striving to perform religious practices, he taught that we are saved by shinjin which we receive by complete reliance on the power of Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow.
But does the fact that shinjin is what is given to us by Amida Buddha mean that absolutely no effort is required to receive it? What both the Venerable Master and Master Rennyo say about this is the same, and that is the necessity of “listening” (chomon). Both of the two kanji characters used to write the word chomon have the meaning of “to hear,” so listening as intended by the Venerable Master and Master Rennyo is not just passive listening, but listening on a much higher dimension.
As related in Part One, the Venerable Master discarded the way of “self-centered effort” and became Master Honen’s disciple at the age of twenty-nine. The Venerable Master’s wife Eshin-ni wrote the following about this in “Letters of Eshin-ni”:
…(the Venerable Master – Shinran) called on Master Honen, and just as he had confined himself for a hundred day in Rokkakudo, he visited Master Honen daily for a hundred days, rain or shine, and regardless of the obstacles that confronted him. (Master Honen) taught him that the sole way to escape the cycle of birth/death was single-minded reliance on the Nembutsu.
As indicated in this letter, just as the Venerable Master determined to seclude himself in Rokkaku Temple for a hundred days, he visited Master Honen for a hundred consecutive days, “listening” to Master Honen’s Dharma Talks. He did this regardless of the weather.
And in a Jodo Wasan, the Venerable Master wrote:
Those who hear the Buddha’s Name –
Even going through flames that fill
The great thousandfold world to do so –
Forever attain the stage of nonretrogression.
That is how important it is to “hear,” and is the way our shinjin is determined.
In Article 155 of “Heard and Recorded,” Master Rennyo is quoted as saying:
Make listening to the teaching of Buddha-dharma primary and worldly affairs secondary. Listening to the Dharma only in the leisure you have after your worldly affairs are taken care of, is regrettable indeed because there is no tomorrow when it comes to hearing the Dharma.
Here again, the importance of listening is expressed. The phrases, “Make listening … only in the leisure … after worldly affairs are taken care of is regrettable…” and “… there is no tomorrow when it comes to hearing the Dharma” all indicate how important hearing is.