1. The Benefit of “Truth”
Many religious cults flourish at present. Most of them say they will give you benefits such as earning more money, curing illnesses or bringing good fortune. The benefit that the Venerable Master Shinran says we will be blessed with in Jodo-Shinshu, however, is “truth,” which cannot be exchanged for anything else.
In the Chapter on Teaching of the Kyogyoshinsho, the Venerable Master wrote:
Shakyamuni (Buddha) appeared in this world and showed the teaching of the Way. He particularly desired to save the multitudes by endowing them with the true benefits.
Shakyamuni Buddha appeared in this world, the Venerable Master tells us, in order to save all who are mired in delusion. He did so by blessing us with the true benefit of all benefits, the “benefit of the truth.” And regarding this “benefit of the truth,” in his Ichinen Tanen Mon’i (On the One Recitation and the Many Recitations), the Venerable Master wrote that,:
… the “benefit of truth” is Amida’s Vow…
As the Venerable Master says, the “benefit of truth,” is Amida Buddha’s sacred vow to cause our birth in the Pure Land, as expressed in the 18th Vow, also called the Primal Vow.
In the same Ichinen Tanen Mon’i where it states “for receiving the ‘great benefit’” (i-toku-dairi), there is the further explanation written in kana letters: “Know that you will receive the benefit of becoming a Buddha.”
The term dairi means “great benefit,” but it does not refer to becoming well-known or rich in our competitive society, nor does it refer to always being in a state of perfect health. Rather, it refers to the fact that we will become enlightened or attain nirvana—that we will become a Buddha. The Venerable Master taught us deluded beings that the “true benefit” is being saved by Amida Buddha’s vow (Primal Vow) that absolutely guarantees we will become Buddhas.
Shakyamuni Buddha, who first awakened to the teaching of Buddha-dharma, was born a prince 2,500 years ago in the country of Kapila in ancient India. It was a small country, but a prince of even a small country had much greater material benefits than an ordinary person. The only unfortunate incident in his life was the death of his mother shortly after he was born (traditionally, it is said that she died seven days after his birth). As a future king, he grew to adulthood with great expectations. Unlike our young people today, I believe Shakyamuni had absolutely no problems with the sort of stress that is a part of our competitive society.