Notes on the Nembutsu
Reflections on the wasan of Shinran

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I praise Amida's wisdom and virtue
So that beings with mature conditions throughout
    the ten quarters may hear.
Let those who have already realised shinjin
Constantly respond in gratitude to the Buddha's
(Hymns of the Pure Land 50)

Shinran Shonin (1173-1263) composed three volumes of verses (wasan) in Japanese. These songs present the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha and the Pure Land Masters in an accessible, succinct and memorable way, so that we can hear the dharma with clarity.

Jodo Wasan - Hymns of the Pure Land

The Pure Land

The Hymns of the Pure Land encourage us, through an exploration of the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha in the sutras, to take refuge in Amida, the Buddha of immeasurable life and light.

The light of wisdom exceeds all measure,
And every finite living being
Receives this illumination that is like the dawn,
So take refuge in Amida, the true and real light.
(Hymns of the Pure Land 4)

Koso Wasan - Hymns of the Pure Land Masters

T'an luan

In these verses we hear the living teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha and the seven Dharma Masters, who are the historical manifestation of the compassionate Vow of Amida Buddha, and continue to guide us in our time.

Eminent Pure Land teachers of India, China and Japan!
Out of pity and compassion embrace us,
And guiding us to realisation of true and real shinjin,
Bring us to enter the stage of the truly settled.
(Hymns of the Dharma Ages 57)

Shozomatsu Wasan - Hymns of the Dharma-Ages

Last Dharma Age

Finally, we are now in a time far from that of Shakyamuni Buddha. Hence, true realisation is all the more remarkable, and brings immense gratitude and joy, deep self-awareness, and an enthusiastic life of nembutsu (Namu-amida-butsu).

Such is the benevolence of Amida's great compassion,
That we must strive to return it, even to
    the breaking of our bodies;
Such is the benevolence of the masters and true teachers,
That we must endeavour to repay it, even to our bones
    becoming dust.
(Hymns of the Dharma Ages 59)

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Jodo Wasan

Koso Wasan

Shozomatsu Wasan

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