Kakunyo con A Portrait of Shinran: As Presented in Kakunyo’s Three Classical Collections. Volume 2: Shujisho (English Edition)Introducing our series Shin Buddhism was informally introduced to the West at the 1893 Chicago World’s Parliament of Religion when a few copies of a small book were passed out to the audience. The book was called Skeleton of a Philosophy of Religion and it was written by Kiyozawa Manshi, 1863–1903. Though he had yet to make a name for himself, Kiyozawa is now regarded as one of the leading religious philosophers of the Meiji period. Kiyozawa was also an ordained Buddhist priest of our denomination, the Shinshū Ōtani-ha, popularly known as the Higashi Honganji, and later became the founding president of their new Shin Buddhist college in Tokyo, called Shinshū Daigaku. The present SCA series takes up his spirit of introducing Shin Buddhism to the West.
Introducing our Founder With roots that go back to twelfth century Japan Shin Buddhism grew out of the spiritual search of Shinran, 1173–1263. Shinran was a brilliant student of Buddhism yet he could not find any way to save himself. He was fortunate to meet with an equally brilliant teacher named Hōnen who showed him the way. Simply chant the Buddha Name, Namu Amida Butsu. Through faith a person who realizes they have no especially redeeming side to them can still find a way to peace and happiness within. Even though Shinran experienced long periods of hardships he accepted them as part of his destiny to spread Buddhism among the ordinary people. Even today his philosophy of religious faith has the power to move people caught in the turmoil of the modern world. Anyone interested in learning more about his life and thought will surely find something for them in the books in our series.
Introducing the present volume Shūjishō is the oldest of the three collections in A Portrait of Shinran. Compiled in 1326 it is Kakunyo’s first attempt to formulate his position with regard to Shinran’s teaching. Although he was Shinran’s great grandson he had to struggle to achieve his leadership position. It was under his tenure that the memorial hall received official temple status and official approval to use the name Honganji. Listening to the request of his key disciple Ganchi 1273–1353 Kakunyo age 57 realized it was necessary for him to make an official statement of his position on the Shin Buddhist teaching. Poring over Shinran’s letters, writings in the Mattoshō, Sanjō Wasan, and Tannishō as well as the letters of Eshin-ni, Kakunyo drew up a concise five-point statement that he called Shūjishō. The points are as follows: 1. Shin Buddhism rejects the idea of Amida Buddha coming to welcome the dying seeker. Instead, Shin religious life is to be centered in ordinary life, not on life’s final curtain. 2. In Shin Buddhism the Mind of Faith is the true cause orienting us toward Birth in the Pure Land. 3. Shin Buddhism accords special significance to the Eighteenth Vow as the Original Vow. The Eighteenth Vow is understood to equally guarantee Birth in the Pure Land to all living beings whether good or wicked through the power of the Original Vow. 4. Shin Buddhism understands that a special relationship is maintained between the Mind of Faith, the Name, and the Light of Amida Buddha. 5. In Shin Buddhism the cause of our going forth to Birth is perfected by the working of Other Power. The Mind of Faith matures in the course of pursuing our daily life. Kakunyo’s Shūjishō became an important cornerstone in Shin Buddhist doctrine and its tenets were upheld by succeeding generations of Shin Buddhist leaders.
Our dream Our immediate goal: to introduce Shin Buddhist thought to the Western mind by this digital book series. Our long-range goal is to create the conditions to nurture our own native Western forms of Shin Buddhism.