I have made vows, unrivalled in all the world,
I shall certainly reach the unsurpassed Way.
If these vows should not be fulfilled,
May I not attain perfect Enlightenment.
Words spoken by the monk Dharmakara
Throughout our lifetime, we make general to specific commitments. There are several meanings, yet it is our actions to a specific cause or an obligation to do what we entrust in. We commit ourselves to family, friends, and to our beliefs. It is also our dedication to a promise that we make to others.
Kalpas and kalpas ago, a prince heard the Dharma of a Buddha named Lokesvararaja, the Tathagata, Arhat, Perfectly Enlightened One, Knower of the World, Unsurpassed One, Tamer of Men, Master of Gods and Men, Buddha and World-Honored One. The Dharma echoed in the prince’s heart and awakened in him an aspiration of the highest enlightenment.
The prince renounced his kingdom and throne and the prince became the monk Dharmakara. Having great intelligence, courage, and wisdom, he sought out this Buddha. The monk knelt at the Buddha’s feet, and put his palms together in worship and praised the Buddha.
The monk Dharmakara hearing of the glorious pure lands and also having seen all of them in mind became serene and his aspirations were free of attachments. This monk became unexcelled throughout the world. For five full kalpas, this monk pondered upon the vows and chose the true practices for the establishment of his buddha-land.
The monk Dharmakara would then take the steps to become a Bodhisattva. After the monk Dharmakara developed the practices particular for him, it led to the establishment of the excellent land of two hundred and ten kotis of Buddhas. After completing this feat, Dharmakara went to the Buddha, put his palms together in worship and sat down.
The present Buddha told Dharmakara, “…Know that now is the right time. Encourage and delight the entire assembly”. Dharmakara replied that he would fully proclaim his vows. He explained his 48 vows and committed to teaching the Dharma. As soon as the monk Dharmakara spoke these words, the entire earth shook in six ways and a rain of wonderful flowers fell from heaven, and a voice in the sky said, “Surely you will attain the highest, perfect Enlightenment”.
During inconceivable and innumerable kalpas, the monk cultivated numerous meritorious practices of the Bodhisattva Path. He committed and fulfilled his promise and attained the highest, perfect Enlightenment to attain the Buddha of Infinite Life and Light, also known to us as Amida Buddha.
Th Buddha spent inconceivable amount of time in the commitment of spreading the teachings. Out commitment is to hear and to place our palms together in Gassho. This Nembutsu is our commitment in deepening our entrusting in the Buddha and the Dharma. It is also our sharing of gratitude and thankfulness for Amida Buddha’s continuous actions of compassion and wisdom. We share Namu Amida Butsu with commitment to finding our true self.
Gassho Rev. Seijo Naomi Nakano
Inagaki, Hisao and Stewart, Harold. The Three Pure Land Sutras, Nagata Bunshodo, Kyoto, 1995. Pg 236
Kalpa is determined as indefinite amount of time; an eternity
Bodhisattva “A being of enlightenment” – One, who makes vows to attain enlightenment and to save sentient beings, also sets out on the long course of practice.
Koti is a numerical unit equivalent to 10 million.
Inagaki, The Three Pure Land Sutras, pg. 251
Bodhisattva is ‘a being of enlightenment’ – One, who makes vows to attain enlightenment and to save suffering beings and sets out on the long course of practice.