Marcus Cumberlege

We live in a world of shadows, in which the light is thrown by Amida's compassion.

I am happy to be alive and a member of the worldwide sangha.

Although only a tiny speck on the surface of reality, a microdot in the cosmos, I feel strongly that my life today has a real purpose and meaning. I am not afraid.

Life is largely made up of uncertainties, foolish decisions and missed opportunities. Nevertheless we do have a certain limited power to carry out worthwhile actions and to change things for the better even if it consists only of sitting in Zen meditation or uttering the nembutsu. Or even if it consists only of working in the garden or being friendly to a sick neighbour. Speaking for myself, I feel strongly that all action undertaken in the right spirit is a form of prayer; and, conversely, prayer is itself one of the finest forms of action which can be imagined.

This has taken us far away from our topic SHINJIN: "being grasped, never to be abandoned." To say, even to suggest, that "I have SHINJIN" is equivalent to a recovering alcoholic saying "I am humble". SHINJIN is not really something you talk about, let alone boast about. It may be reasonably acceptable to tell a friend "I've got FAITH", but to come out with "I've got a ticket to the Pure Land in my pocket" seems to be asking for trouble. "Really," your friend might inquire, "And where exactly IS this Pure Land of yours and how does it differ from Belgium (or wherever we happen to be now)?"

The fact is that we know very little. After all, would we be prepared to go on television with our souped-up views? But isn't this exactly where Amida comes to our rescue throwing light upon the dark ground we so hesitantly tread? Lack of POWER (interpretable as a lack of light and life) has always been our dilemma. Lack of WISDOM has always gone with it. Given the slightest opportunity, Amida moves in to accommodate our shortage of intuition, vision, energy, faith, trust and inspiration. Amida is there where he is needed, and fixes it.

I do not think SHINJIN is a virtue to be acquired. To my simple and uncomplicated mind it resembles SAVING GRACE. In a manner of speaking you are born with it. Why should I doubt the existence of the Pure Land, when that is where I have come from? Why should I question the validity of my own thoughts and ideas? Strength born out of weakness: that is the motto of this 'bearded idiot'.


Ekō 91

jikōji - 慈光寺

© 2003