Vol. XLX, No. 3                   March 2004

Anitya is good for you!!!


Anitya is the Sanskrit Buddhist term for impermanence. In English, or perhaps any other language,
impermanence is not a particularly positive word. In Buddhism however, the world of Anitya, the world of
constant and never-beginning, never-ending change is the condition of joy, of effortlessness, of connectedness,
of tranquil activity. It is our resistance to change that makes us control-freaks, including that part of us that
willfully changes in order to maintain control. Learning how to recognize natural change (jinen) and aligning
with it is the tricky part of life.
When Shinran Shonin bemoaned the Latter Age of the Dharma, a period in which Buddhism was said to
be in decline before its eventual demise, he saw the Buddhist institutions of his time as expending most of their
energy in maintaining their power and control, rather than on the goal of Bodhi or awakening. His Hymns on
the Latter Age lament this deplorable condition. The temples reflected power, control, and the status quo, and
looked to the future in terms of maintaining the old order. The core religious experiences, and their ongoing,
ever-changing expressions were overshadowed by set expressions of religiousity, set customs, and set traditions.
Jodoshinshu, the true importance of the Pure Land teaching, does not need to be protected, defended, nurtured,
or even propagated – it only needs to be experienced, in everyday life, in eternal impermanence. Like a sand
painting, its efficacy is in the doing, and the completed moment is best forgotten. Shinran Shonin wrote the
following in his 88th year.
“Jinen” is a word that means ‘to be made so from the beginning’. The Vow of Amida Buddha
is, from the very beginning, not a result of the practicer’s calculation, but is designed to make
each practicer rely upon ‘Namo-amida-butsu’ and be received in the Buddha Land. Thus, the
practicer should not be concerned with what is good or bad. This is the meaning of Jinen as
I have heard it.

As for the way in which the Vow works, this Vow is designed to make us attain the supreme
Buddhahood. The supreme Buddhahood is without form, and being formless, iit is called
jinen. When this Buddhahood appears in form, it is not to be called the supreme nirvana.
In order to make us realize that the true Buddhahood is without form, it is expressly called
Amida Buddha; so I have been taught. Amida Buddha is the source through which we come
to know the way of jinen.
After we have realized this principle, we should not be constantly talking about jinen. If we
always talk about jinen, then the truth that ‘no reasoning is the true reasoning’ will again
become a kind of reasoning. This all comes from the mystery of the wisdom of the Buddha.
Happy anitya everyone – alls right with the world.

Gassho,
Rev. Mas