Mental disquiet affects us all. It is, in fact, the greatest cause of human suffering. Of course, we do not think we are so disturbed -- after all, we are lucid, coherent, not raving. True; but we are deceiving ourselves by clinging to these sources of reassurance. We are all stirred by our thoughts. Mental function drives our actions. It is in the mind that karma first forms, as the concept that becomes the action. Conditions conspire to arouse certain thoughts, and we cling to them with a ferocity like a lion clings to its prey. The thought motivates the deed, for good or ill, and damn the consequences. No matter what, we follow our thoughts to their ultimate and often frightful ends. So we gladly entertain thoughts of revenge, hatred, prejudice, longing and lust. And even where the concept is noble, if we attach to it sufficiently enough, it becomes an obsession that creates perennial yearning. And the end is always suffering. A suffering of mind. Mental sickness. Ignorant of it, we become angry and frustrated and claw after the next fix.
The Buddha discovered this problem of suffering, and also its solution. The Four Noble Truths speak of the reality of suffering, its cause, and the great news that it doesn't have to be this way. We are all on the merry-go-round of Samsara, but we can get off. It is not our destiny to suffer. Yet it is one thing to see through the delusion, recognising the emptiness of our thoughts, and that we do not need to act upon them, and quite another thing to live so mindfully that we can by our own strength throw off the karmic shackles of a trillion lifetimes and free ourselves. In latter ages one could follow the Noble Eightfold Path and live by the Five Precepts, study the Dharma, and through meditation work out ones own salvation. But this is the latter age of Dharma Decline, the Age of Mappo Consciousness where the three Poisons have so sickened us that our self-power practices are futile. Now the dharma has become a light that illuminates our inability to live by it, the Eightfold Path a measure of our incapability of treading it, and the Precepts an underscoring of our lack of mindfulness. But the same light that highlights our hopelessness is itself the remedy for our blinded minds and sickened state. For it can be traced back to its Source, the Lamp that shines strong and steadily in the Samsaran storm, summoning us to Bliss. Amida Buddha is that Light, shining to all corners of all universes, bidding us simply to entrust ourselves to Him and His limitless compassion for our liberation. Our chains can be broken by but one sincere, trusting utterance of the Nembutsu, our rebirth in Bliss and Buddhahood contained in a single Namu Amida Butsu.