1. To Learn Buddhism is to learn myself,
2. To learn myself is to learn Buddha’s Compassion.
3. To learn Compassion is to forget myself,
4. To forget myself is to throw me into Buddha’s World.
The 11th Vow
Each Vow appears to clarify what I am. The 11th Vow in the Larger Sutra says,
“If the men and devas in my country, after obtaining Buddhahood, can not reside as the ranks of Truly Assured and without failure enter into Nirvana,
may I not achieve the Highest Enlightenment.”
To tell the truth I was not satisfied with Amida’s Teaching because I understood that there was no way for me to attain Enlightenment in this life. Rather Jodo-Shin-Shu says that Highest Enlightenment will be attained at the moment right after death. It did not make sense to me at all. “How can I know what will happen after I die? If there is no Nirvana after death, this Teaching is nothing but an illusion to me. I can not follow this Teaching in my life time. I don’t want to waste my life on this! ” These were my serious questions and doubts about Jodo-Shin-Shu Teaching for a long time.
I was in trouble about 40 years ago. I came to realize I was a man who knew nothing about me and my future. I knew I was a man to die in vain. So I bought and read almost 100 books in Buddhism. Every night was an exciting night because I was expecting my solution would be in the next page. But nothing happened, and nothing was solved. I thought “I could already obtain something basic in Buddhism such as doctrines, philosophy, logic, knowledge, and understandings. What I learned does not help me at all! Why?” However, I entrusted myself to the Teaching of Buddha and I entered the gate of Buddhism without doubt though I did not know anything clearly at that time. What were the contents of my initial entrusting?
The 11th Vow is the vow that clarifies the highest and the final stage of my initial entrusting. It is also the vow that I see the Highest Enlightenment always waiting for me in the next moment (my death). I also see the stage appearing to me as “Truly Assured” or “Non-retrogression” in this life. Then, I come to realize and see what I am and what my future direction is by and through Immeasurable Wisdom and Compassion. Everything now becomes clear. Thus, Shinran Shonin counted this vow as one of 5 true vows. To learn the Teaching of Buddha is indeed to learn what I am.
Rev. Doei Fujii
Read the next article in the series
Return to the Formula in Buddhism articles