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Jodo Shinshu

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, also known as Shin Buddhism, is a school of Pure Land Buddhism
Pure Land Buddhism
Pure Land Buddhism , also referred to as Amidism in English, is a broad branch of Mahāyāna Buddhism and currently one of the most popular traditions of Buddhism in East Asia. Pure Land is a branch of Buddhism focused on Amitābha Buddha...

. It was founded by the former Tendai
Tendai
is a Japanese school of Mahayana Buddhism, a descendant of the Chinese Tiantai or Lotus Sutra school.Chappell frames the relevance of Tendai for a universal Buddhism:- History :...

 Japanese
Japanese people
The are an ethnic group originating in the Japanese archipelago and are the predominant ethnic group of Japan. Worldwide, approximately 130 million people are of Japanese descent; of these, approximately 127 million are residents of Japan. People of Japanese ancestry who live in other countries...

 monk Shinran
Shinran
was a Japanese Buddhist monk, who was born in Hino at the turbulent close of the Heian Period and lived during the Kamakura Period...

. Today, Shin Buddhism is considered the most widely practiced branch of Buddhism in Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

.

Shinran (founder)


Shinran
Shinran
was a Japanese Buddhist monk, who was born in Hino at the turbulent close of the Heian Period and lived during the Kamakura Period...

 (1173–1263) lived during the late-Heian early-Kamakura period
Kamakura period
The is a period of Japanese history that marks the governance by the Kamakura Shogunate, officially established in 1192 in Kamakura by the first shogun Minamoto no Yoritomo....

 (1185–1333), a time of turmoil for Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 when the Emperor was stripped of political power by the Shogun
Shogun
A was one of the hereditary military dictators of Japan from 1192 to 1867. In this period, the shoguns, or their shikken regents , were the de facto rulers of Japan though they were nominally appointed by the emperor...

s. Shinran
Shinran
was a Japanese Buddhist monk, who was born in Hino at the turbulent close of the Heian Period and lived during the Kamakura Period...

's family had a high rank at the Imperial court
Imperial Court
An Imperial Court is the noble court of an empire .For example:*The noble court of an Emperor of China, Emperor of Japan, Emperor of Ethiopia, Emperor of Austria, Emperor of India, Emperor of Persia, etc....

 in Kyoto
Kyoto
is a city in the central part of the island of Honshū, Japan. It has a population close to 1.5 million. Formerly the imperial capital of Japan, it is now the capital of Kyoto Prefecture, as well as a major part of the Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto metropolitan area.-History:...

, but given the times many aristocratic families were sending sons off to be Buddhist monks instead of having them participate in the Imperial government. When Shinran
Shinran
was a Japanese Buddhist monk, who was born in Hino at the turbulent close of the Heian Period and lived during the Kamakura Period...

 was nine (1181) he was sent by his uncle to Mount Hiei
Mount Hiei
is a mountain to the northeast of Kyoto, lying on the border between the Kyoto and Shiga prefectures, Japan.The temple of Enryaku-ji, the first outpost of the Japanese Tiantai sect of Buddhism, was founded atop Mount Hiei by Saichō in 788. Both Nichiren and Honen studied at the temple before...

, where he was ordained as a Tendai
Tendai
is a Japanese school of Mahayana Buddhism, a descendant of the Chinese Tiantai or Lotus Sutra school.Chappell frames the relevance of Tendai for a universal Buddhism:- History :...

 monk. Over time Shinran
Shinran
was a Japanese Buddhist monk, who was born in Hino at the turbulent close of the Heian Period and lived during the Kamakura Period...

 became disillusioned with what Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 in Japan had become, foreseeing a decline in the potency and practicality of the teachings espoused.

Shinran
Shinran
was a Japanese Buddhist monk, who was born in Hino at the turbulent close of the Heian Period and lived during the Kamakura Period...

 left his role as a really low-ranking doso ("Practice-Hall Monk") at Mount Hiei
Mount Hiei
is a mountain to the northeast of Kyoto, lying on the border between the Kyoto and Shiga prefectures, Japan.The temple of Enryaku-ji, the first outpost of the Japanese Tiantai sect of Buddhism, was founded atop Mount Hiei by Saichō in 788. Both Nichiren and Honen studied at the temple before...

 and undertook a 100-day retreat at Rokkaku-dō temple in Kyoto, where he had a dream on the 95th day. In this dream Prince Shōtoku
Prince Shotoku
, also known as or , was a semi-legendary regent and a politician of the Asuka period in Japan who served under Empress Suiko. He was a son of Emperor Yōmei and his younger half-sister Princess Anahobe no Hashihito. His parents were relatives of the ruling Soga clan, and was involved in the defeat...

 (in Japan he is sometimes regarded as an incarnation of Avalokiteśvara
Avalokitesvara
Avalokiteśvara is a bodhisattva who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas. He is one of the more widely revered bodhisattvas in mainstream Mahayana Buddhism....

) appeared to him, espousing a pathway to enlightenment through verse. Following the retreat, in 1201, Shinran left Mount Hiei to study under Hōnen for the next six years. Hōnen (1133–1212) another ex-Tendai
Tendai
is a Japanese school of Mahayana Buddhism, a descendant of the Chinese Tiantai or Lotus Sutra school.Chappell frames the relevance of Tendai for a universal Buddhism:- History :...

 monk, left the tradition in 1175 to found his own sect, Jōdo shū
Jodo Shu
, also known as Jōdo Buddhism, is a branch of Pure Land Buddhism derived from the teachings of the Japanese ex-Tendai monk Hōnen. It was established in 1175 and is the most widely practiced branch of Buddhism in Japan, along with Jōdo Shinshū....

 ("Pure Land School"). From that time on, Shinran considered himself, even after exile, a devout disciple of Hōnen rather than a founder establishing his own, distinct Pure Land school.

During this period, Hōnen taught the new nembutsu-only practice to many people in Kyoto society and amassed a substantial following, but also increasingly came under criticism by the Buddhist establishment in Kyoto. Among the strongest critics was the monk, Myōe
Myoe
Myōe was a Japanese Buddhist monk active during the Kamakura period who also went by the name Kōben , and contemporary of Jōkei and Honen. Born into the Yuasa family , allegedly descended from a branch of the Fujiwara clan, he came to be ordained in both the Shingon school of Buddhism and the...

, and the temples of Enryaku-ji
Enryaku-ji
thumb|300px|Konpon Chū-dō , Enryaku-ji's main hall is a Tendai monastery located on Mount Hiei in Ōtsu, overlooking Kyoto. It was founded during the early Heian period. The temple complex was established by Saichō , also known as Dengyō Daishi, who introduced the Tendai sect of Mahayana Buddhism...

 and Kōfuku-ji
Kofuku-ji
is a Buddhist temple in the city of Nara, Nara Prefecture, Japan. The temple is the national headquarters of the Hossō school and is one of the eight Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.-History:...

. The latter continued to criticize Hōnen and his followers, even after they pledged to behave with good conduct, and to not slander other Buddhists.

In 1207, Hōnen's critics at Kōfuku-ji
Kofuku-ji
is a Buddhist temple in the city of Nara, Nara Prefecture, Japan. The temple is the national headquarters of the Hossō school and is one of the eight Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.-History:...

 persuaded Emperor Go-Toba
Emperor Go-Toba
was the 82nd emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. His reign spanned the years from 1183 through 1198....

 to proscribe Hōnen and his teachings after two of his ladies-in-waiting converted to the new faith. Hōnen and his followers, among them Shinran, were forced into exile
Exile
Exile means to be away from one's home , while either being explicitly refused permission to return and/or being threatened with imprisonment or death upon return...

, and four of Hōnen's disciples were executed. Shinran was given a lay name, Yoshizane Fujii by the authorities but called himself Gutoku ("Stubble-headed One") instead and moved to Echigo Province
Echigo Province
was an old province in north-central Japan, on the shores of the Sea of Japan. It was sometimes called , with Echizen and Etchū Provinces. Today the area is part of Niigata Prefecture, which also includes the island which was the old Sado Province. This province was the northernmost part of the...

 (today Niigata Prefecture
Niigata Prefecture
is a prefecture of Japan located on the island of Honshū on the coast of the Sea of Japan. The capital is the city of Niigata. The name "Niigata" literally means "new lagoon".- History :...

).

It was during this exile that Shinran cultivated a deeper understanding of his own beliefs, the Pure Land teachings of Hōnen. In 1210 he married Eshinni, the daughter of an aristocrat of Echigo Province. Shinran and Eshinni had several children. His eldest son, Zenran, was alleged to have started a heretical sect of Pure Land Buddhism
Pure Land Buddhism
Pure Land Buddhism , also referred to as Amidism in English, is a broad branch of Mahāyāna Buddhism and currently one of the most popular traditions of Buddhism in East Asia. Pure Land is a branch of Buddhism focused on Amitābha Buddha...

 through claims that he received special teachings from his father. Zenran demanded control of local monto (lay follower groups), but after writing a stern letter of warning, Shinran disowned him in 1256, effectively ending Zenran's legitimacy.

In 1211 the nembutsu ban was lifted and Shinran was pardoned, but by 1212 Hōnen had died in Kyoto. Shinran never saw Hōnen following their exile. In the year of Hōnen's death, Shinran set out for the Kantō
Kanto region
The is a geographical area of Honshu, the largest island of Japan. The region includes the Greater Tokyo Area and encompasses seven prefectures: Gunma, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Saitama, Tokyo, Chiba, and Kanagawa. Within its boundaries, slightly more than 40 percent of the land area is the Kantō Plain....

 area of Japan, where he established a substantial following and began committing his ideas to writing. In 1224 he wrote his most significant book, the Kyogyoshinsho
Kyogyoshinsho
, often abbreviated to , is the magnum opus of Shinran Shonin, the founder of the Japanese Buddhist sect, Jodo Shinshu. The work was written after Shinran's exile, and is believed to have been composed in the year 1224...

("The True Teaching, Practice, Faith and Attainment of the Pure Land"), which contained excerpts from the Three Pure Land sutra
Sutra
Sūtra is an aphorism or a collection of such aphorisms in the form of a manual. Literally it means a thread or line that holds things together and is derived from the verbal root siv-, meaning to sew , as does the medical term...

s and the Nirvana Sutra along with his own commentaries and the writings of the Jodo Shinshu Patriarchs
Jodo Shinshu Patriarchs
The Seven Patriarchs of Jodo Shinshu were seven Buddhist monks who helped develop Pure Land Buddhism. Shinran, founder of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism, established a lineage for Pure Land Buddhist thought that traced to the time of Shakyamuni Buddha...

 whom Shinran drew inspiration from.

In 1234, at the age of sixty, Shinran left Kantō for Kyoto (Eshinni stayed in Echigo and she may have outlived Shinran by several years), where he dedicated the rest of his years to writing. It was during this time he wrote the Wasan, a collection of verses summarizing his teachings for his followers to recite. Shinran's daughter, Kakushinni, came to Kyoto with Shinran, and cared for him in his final years and his mausoleum later became Hongwanji ('The Temple of the Original Vow'). Kakushinni was instrumental in preserving Shinran's teachings after his death, and the letters she received and saved from her mother, Eshinni, provide critical biographical information regarding Shinran's earlier life. These letters are currently preserved in the Nishi Hongwanji temple in Kyoto. Shinran died at the age of 90 in 1263.

Revival and formalization


Following Shinran's death, the lay Shin monto slowly spread through the Kantō and the northeastern seaboard. Shinran's descendents maintained themselves as caretakers of Shinran's gravesite and as Shin teachers, although they continued to be ordained in the Tendai School. Some of Shinran's disciples founded their own schools of Shin Buddhism, such as the Bukko-ji and Kosho-ji, in Kyoto. Early Shin Buddhism did not truly flourish until the time of Rennyo
Rennyo
' was the 8th Monshu, or head-priest, of the Hongwanji Temple of the Jōdo Shinshū sect of Buddhism, and descendant of founder Shinran. Jodo Shinshu Buddhists often referred to as the restorer of the sect , and for this is also referred to as Rennyo Shonin...

 (1415–1499), who was 8th in descent from Shinran Shonin. Through his charisma and proselytizing, Shin Buddhism was able to amass a greater following and grow in strength. In the 16th-century, during Japan's Sengoku period
Sengoku period
The or Warring States period in Japanese history was a time of social upheaval, political intrigue, and nearly constant military conflict that lasted roughly from the middle of the 15th century to the beginning of the 17th century. The name "Sengoku" was adopted by Japanese historians in reference...

 the political power of Hongwanji led to several conflicts between the Hongwanji and the warlord Oda Nobunaga
Oda Nobunaga
was the initiator of the unification of Japan under the shogunate in the late 16th century, which ruled Japan until the Meiji Restoration in 1868. He was also a major daimyo during the Sengoku period of Japanese history. His opus was continued, completed and finalized by his successors Toyotomi...

, culminating in a 10-year conflict over the location of the Ishiyama Hongan-ji
Ishiyama Hongan-ji
For other uses, see Ishiyama .The ' was the primary fortress of the Ikkō-ikki, mobs of warrior monks and peasants who opposed samurai rule. It was established in 1496, at the mouth of the Yodo River, on the coast of the Seto Inland Sea. At the time, this was just outside of the remains of the...

, which Oda Nobunaga coveted because of its strategic value. So strong did the sect become that in 1602, through mandate of the Shogun
Shogun
A was one of the hereditary military dictators of Japan from 1192 to 1867. In this period, the shoguns, or their shikken regents , were the de facto rulers of Japan though they were nominally appointed by the emperor...

 Tokugawa Ieyasu
Tokugawa Ieyasu
 was the founder and first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan , which ruled from the Battle of Sekigahara  in 1600 until the Meiji Restoration in 1868. Ieyasu seized power in 1600, received appointment as shogun in 1603, abdicated from office in 1605, but...

, the main temple Hongwanji in Kyoto
Kyoto
is a city in the central part of the island of Honshū, Japan. It has a population close to 1.5 million. Formerly the imperial capital of Japan, it is now the capital of Kyoto Prefecture, as well as a major part of the Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto metropolitan area.-History:...

 was broken off into two sects to curb the Hongwanji's power. These two sects, the Nishi (Western) Hongwanji, and the Higashi (Eastern) Hongwanji, exist separate to this day.

During the time of Shinran Shonin, followers would gather in informal meeting houses called dojo, and had an informal liturgical structure. However, as time went on, as this lack of cohesion and structure caused Jōdo Shinshū to gradually lose its identity as a distinct sect, as people began mixing other Buddhist practices with Shin ritual. One common example was the Mantra of Light
Mantra of Light
The , also called the Mantra of the Unfailing Rope Snare, is an important mantra of the Shingon sect of Buddhism, but is not emphasized in other Vajrayana sects of Buddhism. It is taken from the Amoghapāśakalparāja-sūtra The , also called the Mantra of the Unfailing Rope Snare, is an important...

 popularized by Myōe
Myoe
Myōe was a Japanese Buddhist monk active during the Kamakura period who also went by the name Kōben , and contemporary of Jōkei and Honen. Born into the Yuasa family , allegedly descended from a branch of the Fujiwara clan, he came to be ordained in both the Shingon school of Buddhism and the...

 and Shingon Buddhism
Shingon Buddhism
is one of the mainstream major schools of Japanese Buddhism and one of the few surviving Esoteric Buddhist lineages that started in the 3rd to 4th century CE that originally spread from India to China through traveling monks such as Vajrabodhi and Amoghavajra...

. Other Pure Land Buddhist practices, such as the nembutsu odori or "dancing nembutsu" as practiced by the followers of Ippen
Ippen
Ippen Shonin , also known as Zuien, was a Japanese Buddhist itinerant preacher who founded the Ji branch of Pure Land Buddhism....

 and the Ji School, may have also been adopted by early Shin Buddhists. Rennyo
Rennyo
' was the 8th Monshu, or head-priest, of the Hongwanji Temple of the Jōdo Shinshū sect of Buddhism, and descendant of founder Shinran. Jodo Shinshu Buddhists often referred to as the restorer of the sect , and for this is also referred to as Rennyo Shonin...

 ended these practices by formalizing much of the Jōdo Shinshū ritual and liturgy, and revived the thinning community at the Hongwanji temple while asserting newfound political power. Rennyo also proselytized widely among other Pure Land sects, and consolidated most of the smaller Shin sects. Today, there are still 10 distinct sects of Jōdo Shinshū, Nishi and Higashi Hongwanji being the two largest.

Rennyo
Rennyo
' was the 8th Monshu, or head-priest, of the Hongwanji Temple of the Jōdo Shinshū sect of Buddhism, and descendant of founder Shinran. Jodo Shinshu Buddhists often referred to as the restorer of the sect , and for this is also referred to as Rennyo Shonin...

 Shonin is generally credited by Shin Buddhists for reversing the stagnation of the early Jōdo Shinshū community, and is considered the "Second Founder" of Jōdo Shinshū. His portrait picture, along with Shinran Shonin's, are present on the onaijin (altar area) of most Jōdo Shinshū temples. However, Rennyo Shonin has also been criticized by some Shin scholars for his engagement in medieval politics and his alleged divergences from Shinran's original thought.

Following the unification of Japan during the Edo period
Edo period
The , or , is a division of Japanese history which was ruled by the shoguns of the Tokugawa family, running from 1603 to 1868. The political entity of this period was the Tokugawa shogunate....

, Jōdo Shinshū Buddhism adapted, along with the other Japanese Buddhist schools, into providing memorial and funeral services for its registered members (danka seido
Danka system
The , also known as is a system of voluntary and long-term affiliation between Buddhist temples and households in use in Japan since the Heian period. In it, households financially support a Buddhist temple which, in exchange, provides for their spiritual needs...

), which was legally required by the Tokugawa shogunate
Tokugawa shogunate
The Tokugawa shogunate, also known as the and the , was a feudal regime of Japan established by Tokugawa Ieyasu and ruled by the shoguns of the Tokugawa family. This period is known as the Edo period and gets its name from the capital city, Edo, which is now called Tokyo, after the name was...

 in order to prevent the spread of Christianity in Japan
Christianity in Japan
Christianity is a minority religion in Japan, with less than one percent claiming Christian belief or affiliation. Nearly all known traditional denominations of Christianity, including Roman Catholicism, Protestantism and Orthodox Christianity are represented in Japan today.The root of the Japanese...

. The danka seido system continues to exist today, although not as strictly as in the premodern period, causing Japanese Buddhism to also be labeled as "Funeral Buddhism" since it became the primary function of Buddhist temples. The Hongwanji also created an impressive academic tradition, which led to the founding of Ryukoku University
Ryukoku University
is a private university located in Kyoto, Japan.It was founded as a school for Buddhist monks of the Nishi Hongan-ji denomination in 1639, and became a secularized university in 1876. Professors and students of the university established the famed literary magazine Chūōkōron in 1887. It has three...

 in Kyoto, Japan, and formalized many of the Jōdo Shinshū traditions which are still followed today. Following the Meiji Restoration
Meiji Restoration
The , also known as the Meiji Ishin, Revolution, Reform or Renewal, was a chain of events that restored imperial rule to Japan in 1868...

 and the subsequent persecution of Buddhism (haibutsu kishaku
Haibutsu kishaku
is a term that indicates a current of thought continuous in Japan's history which advocates the expulsion of Buddhism from Japan...

) of the late 1800s due to a revived nationalism
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

 and modernization, Jōdo Shinshū managed to survive intact due to the devotion of its monto. During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, the Hongwanji, as with the other Japanese Buddhist schools, was compelled to support the policies of the military government and the cult of State Shinto
State Shinto
has been called the state religion of the Empire of Japan, although it did not exist as a single institution and no "Shintō" was ever declared a state religion...

. It subsequently apologized for its wartime actions.

In contemporary times, Jōdo Shinshū is one of the most widely followed forms of Buddhism in Japan
Buddhism in Japan
The history of Buddhism in Japan can be roughly divided into three periods, namely the Nara period , the Heian period and the post-Heian period . Each period saw the introduction of new doctrines and upheavals in existing schools...

, although like other Japanese Buddhism it faces challenges from many popular New Religious Movements (known in Japan as shin shinkyo religions, which emerged following World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

), and the growing secularization
Secularization
Secularization is the transformation of a society from close identification with religious values and institutions toward non-religious values and secular institutions...

 and materialism
Materialism
In philosophy, the theory of materialism holds that the only thing that exists is matter; that all things are composed of material and all phenomena are the result of material interactions. In other words, matter is the only substance...

 of Japanese society

All ten schools of Jōdo Shinshū Buddhism will commemorate the 750th memorial of their founder, Shinran Shonin, in 2011 in Kyoto, Japan.

Doctrine


Shinran's thought was strongly influenced by the doctrine of Mappō
Mappo
The Latter Day of the Law, is one of the Three Ages of Buddhism. Mappō or Mofa , which is also translated as the Age of Dharma Decline, is the "degenerate" Third Age of Buddhism.- Tradition :...

,
a largely Mahayana eschatology
Eschatology
Eschatology is a part of theology, philosophy, and futurology concerned with what are believed to be the final events in history, or the ultimate destiny of humanity, commonly referred to as the end of the world or the World to Come...

 which claims humanity's ability to listen to and practice the Buddha-Dharma (the Buddhist teachings) deteriorates over time and loses effectiveness in bringing individual practitioners closer to Buddhahood. This belief was particularly widespread in early medieval China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, and in Japan at the end of the Heian period
Heian period
The is the last division of classical Japanese history, running from 794 to 1185. The period is named after the capital city of Heian-kyō, or modern Kyōto. It is the period in Japanese history when Buddhism, Taoism and other Chinese influences were at their height...

. Shinran, like his mentor Hōnen, saw the age he was living in as being a degenerate one where beings cannot hope to be able to extricate themselves from the cycle of birth and death through their own power, or jiriki (自力). For both Hōnen and Shinran, all conscious efforts towards achieving enlightenment and realizing the Bodhisattva ideal were contrived and rooted in selfish ignorance; for humans of this age are so deeply rooted in karmic evil as to be incapable of developing the truly altruistic compassion that is requisite to becoming a Bodhisattva.

Due to his awareness of human limitations, Shinran advocates reliance on tariki, or other power (他力)—the power of Amida Buddha's
Amitabha
Amitābha is a celestial buddha described in the scriptures of the Mahāyāna school of Buddhism...

 made manifest in Amida Buddha's Primal Vow
Primal Vow
The Primal Vow , also known as the 18th Vow is part of a series of 48 vows that Amitabha Buddha made in the Larger Sutra of Immeasurable Life...

—in order to attain liberation. Shin Buddhism can therefore be understood as a "practiceless practice," for there are no specific acts to be performed such as there are in the "Path of Sages" (the other Buddhist schools of the time that advocated 'jiriki' ('self-power'). In Shinran's own words, Shin Buddhism is considered the "Easy Path" because one is not compelled to perform many difficult, and often esoteric, practices in order to attain higher and higher mental states.

Nembutsu


As in other Pure Land
Pure land
A pure land, in Mahayana Buddhism, is the celestial realm or pure abode of a Buddha or Bodhisattva. The various traditions that focus on Pure Lands have been given the nomenclature Pure Land Buddhism. Pure lands are also evident in the literature and traditions of Taoism and Bön.The notion of 'pure...

 Buddhist schools, Amida is a central focus of the Buddhist practice, and Jōdo Shinshū expresses this devotion through a chanting practice called the nembutsu, or "Mindfulness of the Buddha [Amida]. The nembutsu is simply reciting the phrase Namu Amida Butsu ("I take refuge in Amida Buddha"). Jōdo Shinshū is not the first school of Buddhism to practice the nembutsu but it is interpreted in a new way according to Shinran Shonin. The nembutsu becomes understood as an act that expresses gratitude to Amida Buddha—furthermore, it is evoked in the practitioner through the power of Amida's unobstructed compassion. Therefore in Shin Buddhism, the nembutsu is not considered a practice, nor does it generate karmic merit. It is simply an affirmation of one's gratitude.

Indeed, given that the nembutsu is the Name, when one utters the Name, that is Amida calling to the devotee. This is the essence of the Name-that-calls.http://books.google.ca/books?id=GpCpeKKIKZkC&pg=PA76&lpg=PA76&dq=%22name-that-calls%22&source=bl&ots=o9qc729z5O&sig=0SBeEuxiv4v2qbai0OUH8U5VKG0&hl=en&ei=KmVRSsPVJ4TEsQPZi6CLDg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1

Note that this is in contrast to the related Jōdo shū
Jodo Shu
, also known as Jōdo Buddhism, is a branch of Pure Land Buddhism derived from the teachings of the Japanese ex-Tendai monk Hōnen. It was established in 1175 and is the most widely practiced branch of Buddhism in Japan, along with Jōdo Shinshū....

 school which promoted a combination of repetition of the nembutsu and devotion to Amida as a means to birth in the Pure Land. It also contrasts with other Buddhist schools in China and Japan, where the nembutsu was part of a more elaborate ritual.

The Pure Land


In another departure from more traditional Pure Land
Pure land
A pure land, in Mahayana Buddhism, is the celestial realm or pure abode of a Buddha or Bodhisattva. The various traditions that focus on Pure Lands have been given the nomenclature Pure Land Buddhism. Pure lands are also evident in the literature and traditions of Taoism and Bön.The notion of 'pure...

 schools of Buddhism, Shinran Shonin advocated that birth in the Pure Land was settled in the midst of life rather than at death. At the moment one entrusts oneself to Amida Buddha, a Pure Land birth is settled. This is equivalent to the stage of non-retrogression along the bodhisattva
Bodhisattva
In Buddhism, a bodhisattva is either an enlightened existence or an enlightenment-being or, given the variant Sanskrit spelling satva rather than sattva, "heroic-minded one for enlightenment ." The Pali term has sometimes been translated as "wisdom-being," although in modern publications, and...

 path, a characteristic of Mahayana Buddhism, or shinjin.

Many Pure Land Buddhist schools in the time of Shinran felt that birth in the Pure Land was a literal rebirth that occurred only upon death, and only after certain preliminary rituals. Elaborate rituals were used to guarantee rebirth in the Pure Land, including a common practice wherein the fingers were tied by strings to a painting or image of Amida Buddha. From the perspective of Jōdo Shinshū such rituals actually betray a lack of trust in Amida Buddha, relying on jiriki ("self-power"), rather than the tariki or "other-power" of Amida Buddha. Such rituals also favor those who could afford the time and energy to practice them or possess the necessary ritual objects—another obstacle for lower-class individuals. For Shinran Shonin, who closely followed the thought of the Chinese monk Tan-luan
Tan-luan
Tánluán was a Chinese Buddhist monk. He is credited by Hōnen as the founder of Pure Land Buddhism in China. He is also considered the Third Patriarch in Japanese Jodo Shinshu Buddhism....

, the Pure Land is synonymous with nirvana
Nirvana
Nirvāṇa ; ) is a central concept in Indian religions. In sramanic thought, it is the state of being free from suffering. In Hindu philosophy, it is the union with the Supreme being through moksha...

.

Shinjin


The goal of the Shin path, or at least the practicer's present life, is the attainment of shinjin
Shinjin
Shinjin was originally the Japanese word for the Buddhist concept of citta-prasāda , but now carries a more popular related meaning of faith or entrusting....

 (信心) in the Other Power of Amida. Shinjin is sometimes translated as faith
Faith
Faith is confidence or trust in a person or thing, or a belief that is not based on proof. In religion, faith is a belief in a transcendent reality, a religious teacher, a set of teachings or a Supreme Being. Generally speaking, it is offered as a means by which the truth of the proposition,...

 but this does not capture the nuances of the term and it is more often simply left untranslated. The receipt of shinjin comes about through the renunciation of self effort in attaining enlightenment; 'taking refuge' in Other Power (Tariki). It should be noted, however, that Shinjin arises from jinen (自然 naturalness, spontaneous working of the Vow) and cannot be achieved solely through conscious effort. One is letting go of conscious effort in a sense, and simply trusting Amida
Amitabha
Amitābha is a celestial buddha described in the scriptures of the Mahāyāna school of Buddhism...

 Buddha, and the nembutsu.

For Jōdo Shinshū practitioners, shinjin develops over time through "deep hearing" (monpo) of Amida's call of the nembutsu. Jinen also describes the way of naturalness whereby Amida's infinite light illumines and transforms the deeply rooted karmic evil of countless rebirths into good karma. It is of note that such evil karma is not destroyed but rather transformed: Shin stays within the Mahayana tradition's understanding of sunyata, or non-duality / emptiness, and understands that samsara and Nirvana
Nirvana
Nirvāṇa ; ) is a central concept in Indian religions. In sramanic thought, it is the state of being free from suffering. In Hindu philosophy, it is the union with the Supreme being through moksha...

 are not separate. Once the practicer's mind is united with Amida and Buddha nature gifted to the practicer through shinjin, the practicer attains the state of non-retrogression, whereupon after his death it is claimed he will achieve instantaneous and effortless enlightenment. He will then return to the world as a Bodhisattva
Bodhisattva
In Buddhism, a bodhisattva is either an enlightened existence or an enlightenment-being or, given the variant Sanskrit spelling satva rather than sattva, "heroic-minded one for enlightenment ." The Pali term has sometimes been translated as "wisdom-being," although in modern publications, and...

, that he may work towards the salvation of all beings.

Tannishō


The Tannishō
Tannisho
The , also known as the Lamentations of Divergences, is a late 13th century short Buddhist text generally thought to have been written by Yuien, a disciple of Shinran...

is a 13th century book of recorded sayings attributed to Shinran, transcribed with commentary by Yuien-bo. a disciple of Shinran. The word Tannishō is a phrase which means "A record [of the words of Shinran] set down in lamentation over departures from his [Shinran's] teaching". While it is a short text, it is one of the most popular because practitioners see Shinran in a more informal setting.

For centuries, the text was almost unknown to the majority of Shin Buddhists. In the 15th century Rennyo
Rennyo
' was the 8th Monshu, or head-priest, of the Hongwanji Temple of the Jōdo Shinshū sect of Buddhism, and descendant of founder Shinran. Jodo Shinshu Buddhists often referred to as the restorer of the sect , and for this is also referred to as Rennyo Shonin...

 Shonin, Shinran's descendent, wrote of it, "This writing is an important one in our tradition. It should not be indiscriminately shown to anyone who lacks the past karmic good". Rennyo Shonin's personal copy of the Tannishō is the earliest extant copy. Kiyozawa Manshi
Kiyozawa Manshi
was a Japanese Shin Buddhist reformer of samurai background who studied at Tokyo University in Western philosophy under the American philosopher Ernest Fenollosa....

 (1863–1903) revitalized interest in the Tannishō, which indirectly helped to spawn the Dobokai Movement
Dobokai Movement
The Dobokai Movement, a reform group within the Jodo Shinshu Higashi Honganji Buddhist tradition, officially began on the 700th memorial of Shinran Shonin in 1962, though its roots were in a movement started in 1947 by a group of practitioners calling themselves the shinjinsha, or, 'true person...

 of 1962.

In Japanese culture


Earlier schools of Buddhism that came to Japan, including the Tendai
Tendai
is a Japanese school of Mahayana Buddhism, a descendant of the Chinese Tiantai or Lotus Sutra school.Chappell frames the relevance of Tendai for a universal Buddhism:- History :...

 and Shingon sects, gained acceptance because of the way they meshed the Buddhist pantheon with the native Japanese Shinto
Shinto
or Shintoism, also kami-no-michi, is the indigenous spirituality of Japan and the Japanese people. It is a set of practices, to be carried out diligently, to establish a connection between present day Japan and its ancient past. Shinto practices were first recorded and codified in the written...

 pantheon. For example, a Shinto
Shinto
or Shintoism, also kami-no-michi, is the indigenous spirituality of Japan and the Japanese people. It is a set of practices, to be carried out diligently, to establish a connection between present day Japan and its ancient past. Shinto practices were first recorded and codified in the written...

 god could be seen as a manifestation of a bodhisattva
Bodhisattva
In Buddhism, a bodhisattva is either an enlightened existence or an enlightenment-being or, given the variant Sanskrit spelling satva rather than sattva, "heroic-minded one for enlightenment ." The Pali term has sometimes been translated as "wisdom-being," although in modern publications, and...

. It is common even to this day to have Shinto shrines within the grounds of some traditional Buddhist temples.

Jōdo Shinshū, on the other hand, intentionally separated itself from the Shinto
Shinto
or Shintoism, also kami-no-michi, is the indigenous spirituality of Japan and the Japanese people. It is a set of practices, to be carried out diligently, to establish a connection between present day Japan and its ancient past. Shinto practices were first recorded and codified in the written...

 religion, and left out many practices associated with it as they contradicted the notion of reliance on Amida
Amitabha
Amitābha is a celestial buddha described in the scriptures of the Mahāyāna school of Buddhism...

's Other-power, and are also explicitly prohibited in sutras
Sutra
Sūtra is an aphorism or a collection of such aphorisms in the form of a manual. Literally it means a thread or line that holds things together and is derived from the verbal root siv-, meaning to sew , as does the medical term...

 such as the Mahayana Nirvana Sutra and Pratyutpanna Sutra
Pratyutpanna Sutra
The Pratyutpanna Sutra is an early Mahayana Buddhist scripture, which probably originated around the 1st century BCE in the Gandhara area of northwestern India.The Pratyutpanna Sutra was first translated into Chinese by the Kushan Buddhist monk Lokaksema...

. Other practices such as accepting donations for special blessings and prayers were similarly omitted from Jōdo Shinshū.

Jōdo Shinshū traditionally had an uneasy relationship with other Buddhist schools because it discouraged virtually all traditional Buddhist practices except the nembutsu, and discouraged kami veneration. Relations were particularly hostile between the Jōdo Shinshū and Nichiren
Nichiren
Nichiren was a Buddhist monk who lived during the Kamakura period in Japan. Nichiren taught devotion to the Lotus Sutra, entitled Myōhō-Renge-Kyō in Japanese, as the exclusive means to attain enlightenment and the chanting of Nam-Myōhō-Renge-Kyō as the essential practice of the teaching...

shu, also known as Hokkeshu. On the other hand, newer Buddhist schools in Japan, such as Zen
Zen
Zen is a school of Mahāyāna Buddhism founded by the Buddhist monk Bodhidharma. The word Zen is from the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese word Chán , which in turn is derived from the Sanskrit word dhyāna, which can be approximately translated as "meditation" or "meditative state."Zen...

, tended to have a more positive relationship and occasionally shared practices, although this is still controversial. In popular lore, Rennyo
Rennyo
' was the 8th Monshu, or head-priest, of the Hongwanji Temple of the Jōdo Shinshū sect of Buddhism, and descendant of founder Shinran. Jodo Shinshu Buddhists often referred to as the restorer of the sect , and for this is also referred to as Rennyo Shonin...

 Shonin (the 8th Head Priest of the Hongan-ji
Hongan-ji
, also archaically romanized as Hongwanji, is the collective name of the largest school of Jōdo Shinshū Buddhism...

 sub-sect) was good friends with the famous Zen master Ikkyu
Ikkyu
was an eccentric, iconoclastic Japanese Zen Buddhist monk and poet. He had a great impact on the infusion of Japanese art and literature with Zen attitudes and ideals.-Childhood:...

.

Jōdo Shinshū drew much of its support from lower social classes in Japan who could not devote the time or education to other esoteric Buddhist practices or merit-making activities.

Outside Japan


During the 19th century, Japanese immigrants began arriving in Hawaii, the United States, Canada, Mexico and South America (especially in Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

). Many immigrants to North America came from regions in which Jōdo Shinshū was predominant, and maintained their religious identity in their new country. The Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawai'i
Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawai'i
The Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii is a district of the Nishi Hongwanji branch of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism, a school of Mahayana Pure Land Buddhism.-History:...

, the Buddhist Churches of America
Buddhist Churches of America
The is the United States branch of the Honpa Hongan-ji sub-sect of Jōdo Shinshū Buddhism. Jodo Shinshu is also popularly known as Shin Buddhism. The B.C.A. is one of several overseas kyodan belonging to the Nishi Hongwan-ji...

, and the Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples of Canada
Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples of Canada
The Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples of Canada are a group of temples and fellowships that are affiliated with the Nishi Hongan-ji of Kyoto, Japan, the mother temple of the Jodo Shinshu sect of Buddhism....

 (formerly Buddhist Churches of Canada) are several of the oldest Buddhist organizations outside of Asia. Jōdo Shinshū continues to remain relatively unknown outside the ethnic community because of the history of internment
Internment
Internment is the imprisonment or confinement of people, commonly in large groups, without trial. The Oxford English Dictionary gives the meaning as: "The action of 'interning'; confinement within the limits of a country or place." Most modern usage is about individuals, and there is a distinction...

 during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, which caused many Shin temples to focus on rebuilding the Japanese-American Shin sangha rather than encourage outreach to non-Japanese. Today, many Shinshu temples outside Japan continue to have predominantly ethnic Japanese members, although interest in Buddhism and intermarriage contribute to a more diverse community. There are also active Jōdo Shinshū sanghas in the UK, Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, and Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

, with members of diverse ethnicities.

The practice of Jōdo Shinshū ritual and liturgy may be very different outside of Japan, as many temples, like ones in Hawai'i and the U.S., now use English as the primary language for Dharma talks, and there are attempts to create an English-language chanting liturgy. In the United States, Jōdo Shinshū temples have also served as refuges from racial discrimination, and as places to learn about and celebrate Japanese language and culture, in addition to Buddhism.

Shin patriarchs


  • Nāgārjuna
    Nagarjuna
    Nāgārjuna was an important Buddhist teacher and philosopher. Along with his disciple Āryadeva, he is credited with founding the Mādhyamaka school of Mahāyāna Buddhism...

     (150–250)
  • Vasubandhu
    Vasubandhu
    Vasubandhu was an Indian Buddhist monk, and along with his half-brother Asanga, one of the main founders of the Indian Yogācāra school. However, some scholars consider Vasubandhu to be two distinct people. Vasubandhu is one of the most influential figures in the entire history of Buddhism...

     (ca. 4th century)
  • Tanluan (476–542?)
  • Daochuo (562–645)
  • Shandao (613–681)
  • Genshin
    Genshin
    Genshin , also known as Eshin Sozu, was the most influential of a number of Tendai scholars active during the tenth and eleventh centuries in Japan...

     (942–1017)
  • Hōnen (1133–1212)

Traditional branch lineages

  • Hongan-ji
    Hongan-ji
    , also archaically romanized as Hongwanji, is the collective name of the largest school of Jōdo Shinshū Buddhism...

     School (Jōdo Shinshū Hompa Honganji-ha) a.k.a. 'Nishi Hongan-ji
    Hongan-ji
    , also archaically romanized as Hongwanji, is the collective name of the largest school of Jōdo Shinshū Buddhism...

    '
  • Otani-ha
    Otani-ha
    Otani-ha is a Japanese Buddhist movement. It belongs to Jōdo Shinshū. Otani University in Kyoto belongs to Otani-ha. The headquarters of Otani-ha are in Kyoto as well. The mother temple of Otani-ha is Higashi Honganji. The movement belongs to Shin Buddhism. -See also:*Gedatsukai*Hommon...

     School (Jōdo Shinshū Otani-ha) a.k.a. 'Higashi Hongan-ji
    Hongan-ji
    , also archaically romanized as Hongwanji, is the collective name of the largest school of Jōdo Shinshū Buddhism...

    '
  • Takada
    Senju-ji
    Senju-ji , also known as Takadayama , is the chief Buddhist temple of the Takada branch of Jōdo Shinshū, a Japanese sect of Buddhism. Founded by Shinran in 1226, it was later named an imperial temple...

     School
  • Bukko-ji
    Bukko-ji
    , also known as the Temple of the Buddha Light, was originally named Kosho-ji, a Jodo Shinshu temple in Yamashina-ku, Kyoto, which later moved to the heart of Kyoto. The temple was founded and officially opened by Ryōgen in 1324. The name Kosho-ji was given to Ryōgen for the temple by Kakunyo,...

     School
  • Kosho-ji School
  • Kibe-ji School
  • Izumo-ji School
  • Josho-ji
    Josho-ji
    was a former Buddhist monastery in northeastern Kyoto, Japan, endowed by Emperor Sutoku in fulfillment of a sacred vow. It is known as one of the , which encompass monastery complexes which enjoyed extravagant Imperial patronage from their inception...

     School

Major holidays


The following holidays are typically observed in Jōdo Shinshū temples:
Holiday Japanese Name Date
New Year's Day Service Gantan'e January 1
Memorial Service for Shinran Shonin Goshoki Hoonko
Hoonko
is a holiday in the tradition of Japanese Jodo Shinshu Buddhism that observes the memorial of its founder, Shinran Shonin. Depending on whether the old Japanese lunar calendar is used, or the western Gregorian calendar, typically this holiday is observed either in around November 28 or early...

 
November 28, or January 9–16
Spring Equinox Ohigan  March 17–23
Birthday of the Buddha  Hanamatsuri  April 8
Birthday of Shinran Shonin Gotan'e May 20–21
Ullambana/Obon
Obón
Obón is a municipality located in the province of Teruel, Aragon, Spain. According to the 2004 census , the municipality has a population of 75 inhabitants....

 
Urabon'e around August 15, based on solar calendar
Autumnal Equinox Ohigan  September 20–26
Bodhi Day
Bodhi Day
Bodhi Day is the Buddhist holiday that commemorates the day that the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautauma experienced enlightenment, also known as Bodhi in Sanskrit or Pali...

 Enlightenment of the Buddha
Rohatsu December 8
New Year's Eve Service Joya'e  December 31

Major modern Shin figures

  • Kasahara Kenju
    Kasahara Kenju
    Kasahara Kenju was a Buddhologist and Indologist in Japan.With Takakusu Junjiro and Nanjo Bunyu, Kasahara went to Great Britain in 1876 Oxford under the academic guidance of Max Müller in order to study Sanskrit and Pali texts for a more authentic understanding of Buddhist teachings from their...

     (1852–1883)
  • Nanjo Bunyu
    Nanjo Bunyu
    Nanjō Bunyū was one of the most important modern Japanese scholars of Buddhism. Nanjo was born to the abbot of Seiunji Temple , part of the Shinshu Ōtani sect of the Higashi Honganji branch of Jodo Shinshu.Nanjō studied Classical Chinese texts and Buddhist doctrine in his youth before being...

     (1848–1927)
  • Kiyozawa Manshi
    Kiyozawa Manshi
    was a Japanese Shin Buddhist reformer of samurai background who studied at Tokyo University in Western philosophy under the American philosopher Ernest Fenollosa....

     (1863–1903)
  • Eikichi Ikeyama (1873–1938)
  • Jokan Chikazumi (1870–1941)
  • Akegarasu Haya
    Akegarasu Haya
    was a Shin Buddhist student of Kiyozawa Manshi for a decade. Akegarasu was a former head of administration of the Higashi Hongan-ji who was a major inspiration to the formation of the Dobokai Movement....

     (1877–1954)
  • Soga Ryojin
    Soga Ryojin
    was an influential thinker in the Higashi Honganji Jōdo Shinshū Buddhist tradition, and a President of Otani University. A disciple of Kiyozawa Manshi he developed an approach to Jōdo Shinshū doctrine that at times brought him into serious conflict with more conservative elements of the tradition...

     (1875–1971)
  • Kaneko Daiei
    Kaneko Daiei
    was a Japanese born son of a Shin Buddhist priest from Niigata Prefecture. He was a student Kiyozawa Manshi and had taught for several years at Otani University. In 1928 he was excommunicated from Jodo Shinshu for having charged the organization had become shrouded in materialism...

     (1881–1976)
  • Shuichi Maida (1906–1967)
  • Rijin Yasuda (1900–1982)
  • Alfred Bloom
    Alfred Bloom (Buddhist)
    - Alfred Bloom :Alfred Bloom is a pioneer of Jodo Shinshu studies in the English-speaking world. Born at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1926 Bloom was the youngest child of a Jewish father. At the time of Alfred Bloom’s birth, his mother had been a recent convert to a fundamentalist tradition of...

     (1926–present)
  • Zuio Hisao Inagaki (1929–present)
  • Hozen Seki (?–1991)
  • Taitetsu Unno
    Taitetsu Unno
    Rev Taitetsu Unno is a scholar, lecturer, and author on the subject of Pure Land Buddhism. His work as a translator has been responsible for making many important Buddhist texts available to the English-speaking world and he is considered one of the leading authorities in the United States on Shin...

     (1935–present)
  • Jitsuen Kakehashi (?–present)

External links