1. The correct attitude is to be willing to do whatever the Dharma requires, in whatever realm, in whatever aeon. Enlightenment means to see clearly what needs to be done. It is to walk the eightfold path and to know what that means. Yet, as bombu beings, we cannot fully know this. Our ideas are bound to be inadequate and coloured by self-seeking. Yet we have faith that the Buddhas will employ even such beings as ourselves for their great purpose.
2. There is no conflict between Buddhas. We do not laud Amitabha by rejecting other Buddhas. All Buddhas have similar compassion and wisdom. To worship one Buddha is to worship all Buddhas. Those already in the Pure Land spend their time making offerings to other Buddhas and serving them in whatever way is appropriate to those other Buddhas.
3. One trusts that, after death, through faith, one will be born in the Pure Land of Amitabha and from there may enter nirvana, but one also accepts that this may, or may not be what is in store for one. Those destined to be bodhisattvas will not enter nirvana until all can do so. They will therefore return to samsaric worlds for the sake of all sentient beings. In this matter of life, death and other lives there are many mysteries beyond what we can understand. The right attitude is to entrust oneself to whatever is needed.
4. There is no fundamental difference between the satori of the Zen path and the awakening of shinjin in the Pureland path. Such awakening cannot be contrived by any practice, but may come as a grace. In any case, varying degrees of spiritual inspiration occur. The full transmission of the Dharma from generation to generation hangs by a thread, but there are degrees. A person only practises insofar as such inspiration has entered their life. This is what is meant by being seized by Amida. The Buddhas use us for their compassionate purpose and the more suitable material we are the more they use us, but even the most benighted being has a place in the Buddha’s great scheme and it is those who have fallen lowest who attract the Buddha’s greatest care..
5. While accepting that one’s judgement may be at fault, one is, nonetheless, bound to do what seems best in the judgement that one has, allowing that one might be granted greater wisdom subsequently. If one lives the wisdom that one has, one will surely be given more. We should always, therefore, regard our judgements as provisional even though we must act upon them with all our heart and strength. The danger of becoming proud of whatever little understanding one has is a continual danger on any spiritual path and we should, therefore, continually reflect upon the great gulf that separates us from the way of heaven.
6. One conforms to the Buddhist precepts insofar as one can clearly see the disadvantage of doing otherwise. Thus the preceptual life is natural to those who see clearly. We do not see so clearly and this is why our lives deviate. When we notice how deviant we are we get some measure of our own delusion. This does not mean that we can abolish our deluded state at will. We cannot. With this realisation of our bombu nature arises great gratitude for the goodwill of the Tathagata who accepts and works for beings such as we.
7. Sometimes in life we encounter great grief or pain. Sorrowful states are inevitably part of being in this world of conditions. There is no avoiding it. While some specific troubles can be averted and we do what we can, sooner or later impermanence strikes every life. Some of the greatest sages met great loss early in life and this deepened their realisation of the urgency of putting one’s faith to work. Other beings drift along in uncertainty, not realising the importance of practice until it is almost too late.
8. The best practice is to take refuge with all one’s heart and might in everything one does and the simplest expression of refuge is nembutsu. Pray ceaselessly. I myself recite thousands of nembutsu every day. One nembutsu is enough. One thought moment of untainted faith is sufficient, and out of that single simple seed naturally springs millionfold proliferation.
Deep respect for the wisdom you share with us. Namo Amida Bu