I am a fish. I stand a little lower on the chain of life than you human beings. But, I have qualities and characteristics that have brought me success, recognition, and even fame.
I have been able to cultivate a camouflaged appearance that makes it very difficult to find me even if I am right next to you. I am proud to say my colors have evolved to the point of perfection. I don’t even swim like most of my cousins do. As part of my camouflage, over thousands of years, I have learned to walk across the floor of the ocean. My pectoral fins have become my feet. There in stillness on the ocean floor, I am able to blend in with the rocks, sand and coral outgrowths that dot my home. I did not develop these qualities to hide from my predators. I don’t worry or even care about them. I am the predator. Others don’t worry about me, either, because they don’t even know I am there. This may sound egotistical, but my greatest accomplishment is that I have developed a lure that extends from the top of my head. The end of this extension is soft, and I can make it wiggle and move as if it were a shrimp, twitching, turning, and looking vulnerable. Other fish are attracted by my shrimp lure and come nearby to catch it. In a flash, I attack and kill the other fish to feed myself with another fresh meal. I can catch fish or crab before they even know what happened.
I love tricking them to eat what I want. I am greedy, too. My mouth can expand 12 times its resting size so even large ones may be in for a surprise to meet me. Even my own family members can be prey, because my only concern is myself. My next greatest accomplishment may be to be highlighted in this Wheel of Dharma article. Why do I deserve this prime time space in your little Buddhist newspaper? Because I am your karmic past. I am the seed of what has become the Greed, Anger, and Ignorance in your life. I am the cause of your condition.
I live in the world of Blind Passions. Not only is my life dictated and directed by my Three Poisons, I have perfected them to work in my behalf. I sway to the song and dance to the music of whatever I choose to have. Even your Shinran Shonin knows me. He saw me. He described me when he wrote:
“Ignorance and blind passions abound,
Pervading everywhere like innumerable particles of dust.
Desire and hatred arising out of conflict and accord
Are like high peaks and mountain ridges.”
— “Hymns of the Dharma Ages,” #8, CWS, Page 400
He was writing about me. And through me, he was writing about you. I have made you a direct descendent of Blind Passions. Your desires to grow, to survive, and to multiply are my gifts to you. Like a king with unlimited royal treasures, I have bestowed upon each of you the desire and the power to live. Like a fool, you claim this power as your own. You ignore all the intricacies that weave the patterns of the picture. Shinran saw this as well, when he wrote:
“The power of the vow is without limit;
Thus, even our karmic evil, deep and heavy, is not oppressive.
The Buddha’s wisdom is without bounds;
Thus, even those of distracted minds and self-indulgence are not abandoned.”
— “Hymns of the Dharma Ages,” No. 37, CWS, Page 408
Shinran opened the world of Amida’s Vow to each of us. The Vow without limit can guide any and all through the hindrance of karmic evils and blind passions. You still have a choice and you still have a chance. Stay in this world until you are eaten, or accept the invitation of the Vow.