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Monthly Dharma Thoughts

The heart of faith is the true cause


Perhaps the most important point that Shinran Shonin has to teach us is this: It does not matter how deep our karmic defilements might be. When we truly believe in the Original Vow of universal salvation, then and there we know for a fact we have been taken into the folds of Amida Tathagata's loving kindness. When a person experiences this, they know what it truly means when people say, The heart of faith is the true cause of our salvation. To believe in the Original Vow is to leave everything up to Amida Tathagata. It is to believe without doubt the words of Amida Tathagata: that he promises to guide and protect those who turn to him and call his Name. And that at life's end he will come to welcome them and take them to his Land where they will receive a pure body and attain Enlightenment. Shinran Shonin tells us that the heart of faith is to listen to the Tathagata's Vow without engaging the doubts in our mind. The heart of faith also means to put our trust in someone. In this case it is to trust in Amida's Vow. When we turn to the Vow and depend on it, we put our fate into its hands. In the understanding of Shinran Shonin and Rennyo Shonin, this means to count on the Power of the Vow, turning over our all to Amida. When Amida's Vow says to count on me to save you, it means to turn ourself over to the Vow completely: our karmic defilements, our negative side, our life, our death. Leave literally everything to the Vow, we are told. When we do so, then and there we are taken up into its loving arms. Shinran Shonin says that when our heart of faith is firmly in place, so too is our place in the life to come. The heart of faith is all that is needed for us to leap over into the arms of salvation. Thus it is the heart of faith that lets us make that leap. It is out of gratitude to the Buddha's kindness that we say the Name of the Buddha. It is a way of saying thanks: We don't know how you did it, but thank you so much for saving us.