No.53 On the True Purpose of the Seventeenth Vow

The true purpose of the Seventeenth Vow, known as “the Vow that all Buddhas praise the Name”, is to make us ‘listen’ with our whole being to all Buddhas pronouncing the Name (nembutsu), not merely to expound to us its meaning. It is only through whole-hearted submission to the working of the nembutsu, in itself a manifestation of the Great Compassion, that we really awaken to and comprehend that Compassion. This is the reason why the Seventeenth Vow is also called “the Vow of Great Compassion”.
Ultimately the Vow of Great Compassion means that the Great Compassion of the Buddha-mind manifests itself through a nembutsu follower. But when we look at the reality of our own ignorant nature, we find ourselves turning into our own possession even this joyous experience of nembutsu in which we have been awakened to the presence of the Tathagata amidst the discord between self and others.
From such a nature of ours spring pride and sloth, as well as the desire for fame and fortune, cloaked in the mantle of duty and responsibility. Burdened with such negative feelings, we become alienated from our Dharma friends. Thus we tend to look to other personal connections outside the Samgha, which may be adulterated and impure, gradually turning away from our original purpose.

Humbly and respectfully
Chimyo Takehara