1. Deep Self Reflection
Determining to leave everything regarding our spiritual life to “Buddha-centered power” is a truly momentous matter. As mentioned in Part One, there are many passages in the Venerable Master’s writings that demonstrate how deeply he realized how imperfect a human being he was, and how absolutely incapable he felt of eliminating his base passions and entering the realm of Enlightenment through his own efforts. If I were to quote all the passages by the Venerable Master that show this awareness, there would be no end to it, but as examples, there are the following in the Shozomatsu Wasan(Japanese Poems on the Three Periods (of the True, Semblance and Decay of the Dharma):
Outwardly, we try to appear
Wise, good and diligent,
But we are actually filled
With nothing but the deceits
Of greed, anger and wrong views.
How difficult to renounce my evil nature…
My mind is like snakes and scorpions,
And since even the good I try to do
Is tainted with the poison
(of self-centered effort),
It must be called the practice
of an idiot.
My mind is as deceitful
as snakes and scorpions,
So I am absolutely incapable
of performing good deeds.
Without the Tathagata’s merit transference,
How can I not end with shame
These verses are based on a passage by Zendo Daishi (613 – 681 AD, one of the Seven Patriarchs of Jodo-Shinshu ) in his Kangyo Shijosho (Commentary on the Meditation Sutra, in Four Volumes). This 4 passage is usually translated as follows:
Do not appear to be wise, good and diligent while inwardly false.
The above reading expresses what Zendo Daishi wrote. The Venerable Master, however, quoted this passage in the Chapter on Faith of his Kyogyoshinsho, and interpreted it in the following way:
Do not appear wise, good and diligent because we are so false inwardly.