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Monthly Dharma Thoughts

The Buddha’s heart


In the Meditation Sutra, Sakyamuni Buddha says, ‘A Buddha’s heart is nothing other than the Great Compassion. Through unconditional love it seeks to gather up all living beings into itself.’


The Buddha’s heart, in a word, is the Great Compassion. It is the heart that seeks to impart people with true happiness, and to remove the sadness and troubles that burden them. It understands our feelings as if they were its own, such that ‘our sorrow is its sorrow, and our joy is its joy’.


This kind of compassionate heart is rarely to be found among people. Usually we put our interests first. However, the Mother and Child relationship is a special one. A mother forgets about herself and always puts her child’s happiness first. That heart, however, does not extend itself to someone else’s child. In contrast to this kind of limited human compassion, the Buddha’s compassion extends limitlessly to all living beings.


Out of that great compassionate heart, the Buddha wishes to speedily deliver us from our present state of delusions and to awaken us to the world of true reality. This is the wish that the Buddha constantly places on us.


If there are a number of children, a mother’s thoughts will go to the children as a whole. In the same way the Buddha’s heart of compassion directs itself to all of us, one by one, without making distinctions among us.


Shinran Shonin noticed this kind of deep parental love in the Buddha. In order for Amida to save us unenlightened beings, he raised the Vow of Great Compassion. Shinran Shonin said that this Vow must have been raised ‘for the sake of this one person, Shinran, alone’ (Tannisho).