Always Coming Back for More Buddha-Dharma

Have you ever had this happen? You listen to a Dharma message and think, “Oh hey, that was a really good talk,” but then as soon as you walk out of the Hondo and someone asks you what today’s talk was about, you can’t remember what the talk was about!

One time, a student explains to Rennyo Shonin that his mind is like pouring water in a basket, which slowly pours out. When he hears the talks, they are deeply moving, and he is grateful. However, as soon as he leaves the Hondo, he reverts to his old mind. What should he do about this? How does one make the mind a bucket where the water will remain?

Rennyo Shonin replies to him, “Throw the basket into the water. Keep your body soaked in the water of the Dharma.” He explains that forgetting the Dharma message and everything one has learned through the talks is quite natural. He says to keep one’s mind soaked in the water of the Dharma, or in other words, to keep listening. Keep coming to the temple; keep one’s ears open to the nembutsu calling. There is nothing else for one to do.

Similarly, Shinran Shonin uses the phrase ”zenkōnin” 染香人. The first character “zen” 染’means to soak through, like spilling shoyu on your dress shirt; it soaks through and bleeds through the fabric. The second character, “kō” 香’ refers to fragrance. The last character, “nin” 人 refers to a person. Shinran explains that “zenkōnin” is a person whom the fragrance of the Buddha’s wisdom has completely soaked through the individual.