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Tariki and Jiriki

Much Pure Land Buddhist writings involve the relationship of Other Power and Self Power.

In Japanese these are respectively [i]Tariki[/i] and [i]jiriki[/i]

(In the Christian Faith we could see this as having to do with the relationship between "faith" and "works')

In Theravada Buddhism, which is very much monastic based, a monk (bhikku) once said that at the moment of emancipation "effort falls away having reached the end of its scope"

For many years I have reflected on the scope of effort.

Thomas Merton, in his book of essays "Zen and the Birds of Appetite" has written on this subject:-

[i]The innocence and purity of heart which belong to paradise are a complete emptiness of self in which all is the work of God, the free and unpredictable expression of His love, the work of grace. In the purity of original innocence, all is done in us but without us. But before we reach that level, we must also learn to work on the other level of “knowledge”—scientia— where grace works in us but “not without us"[/i]

Here is the Pure Land myokonin (saint) Saichi, from his Journals:-

[i]O Saichi! Will you tell us of Other Power?
Yes, but there is neither self power nor Other Power.
What is, is the Graceful Acceptance only.[/i]

To finish, a modern Pure Land writer speaks of Tariki (Other Power):-

[i]The Other Power (Tariki) derives from the true and full acceptance of the reality that is within us and surrounds us. It is not a philosophy of passivity or iresponsibility, but one of radical spiritual activity, of personal, existential revolution. Its essence is the spontaneous wondrous force that gives us the will to act, to "do what man can do and then wait for heaven's will." Importantly, Other Power is a power that flows from the fundamental realization that, in the lives we live, we are already enlightened. This enlightenment does not come easily. It is born of the unwelcome understanding that, despite our protestations, we are insignificant, imperfect beings, born to a hell of suffering that defines human existence. But in this hell, we sometimes excounter small joys, friendship, the kind acts of strangers, and the miracle of love. We experience moments when we are filled with courage, when the world sparkles with hopes and dreams. There are even times when we are deeply grateful to have been born. These moments are paradise. But paradise is not another realm; it is here, in the very midst of the hell of this world. Other Power, a power that transcends theological distinctions, avails us of these moments. In the endless uncertainties of contemporary life, Other Power confers upon us a flexibility of spirit, an energy to feel joy, and the respite of peace.[/i]

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