The Wailuku Hongwanji Mission’s (WHM) Board of Directors initiated the Vision 2030 project as a means of defining strategic directions which will enable WHM to successfully increase its capacity to serve as a vibrant home of Jodo Shinshu teachings. More information...
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As you may know, Shinran Shonin is thefounder of Jodo Shinshu and spiritual master of the Nembutsu followers. Most of us believe that Shinran Shonin had thousands of his own disciples just like Shakyamuni Buddha.
Believe it or not, , Shinran Shonin never said, "Iam a founder of Jodo Shinshu and the master ofall Nembutsu followers." One of Shinran Shonin’sgreatest quotes comes from the "Tan ni Sho"chapter 6, which stated,
I, Shinran, do not haveeven one disciple of my own. The reason is, if I should lead others to utter the Nembutsu by my own efforts, I might call them my disciples.But it is truly ridiculous to call them my disciples,when they utter the Nembutsu through the working of Amida Buddha.
He meant that this statement is truly "On Dohbo,On Doh-gyo" which is "fellow believers and fellow practitioners" are all equal and every one of us is receiving the great wisdom and compassion from Amida Buddha. When I first read the "Tan nisho", I was impressed by the next statement:
I fthere are conditions which bring us together,then we must meet. If there are conditions which separate us, then we must part.
This is called "E-N" in Japanese, which in this particular case, means "Condition, indirect cause, tie, relationship with other persons or worldly affairs."
So, Shinran Shonin’s understanding of true mind is "Faith (Shinjin) was given by Amida Buddha.So why can I say I am your Master and control all Nembutsu fellows?"
Shinran Shonin faithfully respected his great spiritual Master Honen Shonin and said, "If you would like to know more Buddhism, there are many great Buddhist scholars in the Southern Capital and Northern Mountain and you ma yask about how to be reborn into the Pure Land. But for me, I just believe the teaching of my Venerable Master (St. Honen). I am no tsure that Nembutsu is truly the cause of rebirth into the Pure Land or the cause of me to fall into hell." This expression is truly focusing his faith in Amida Buddha, and the Nembutsu teaching. You may feel that these statements area bit hard to accept for the Nembutsu followers because Nembutsu leaders like Shinran Shoninwas not giving them a clear answer and making them confused about the guidance of the Nembutsu itself.
However, I personally felt that Shinran Shoninwas truly honest about himself and told his fellowbelievers and fellow practitioners about his truefeelings. But on the other side, I am able to seethat Shinran Shonin explained to the fellow Nembutsufollowers that he is truly relying upon AmidaBuddha’s Wisdom and Compassion which savesall sentient beings and guides us to the land ofAmida.
I personally like one of the Japanese gathas and the title is "Shinransama." It says "Shinransamato sasayakeba ---------- Kokodesuyo. Te wosashinobete nikkori waratte kudasaruno." The English translation is as follows: "When I softly call St. Shinran, he answered to me and said, ’I am here.’ He gently gives his warm hands with a smile."
Currently, we are not able to meet ShinranShonin (unless we have a time machine and goback into the past — I hope someday someonewill make a time machine and we can visit the13th century) but through the reading of his preciouswritings, chanting of Shoshin-nembutsu-ge,and Gassho to Amida, I believe we are all able todiscover Shinran Shonin’s thoughts, and feel thatShinran Shonin is calling us, and letting us know"I am here" and we are able to meet with ShinranShonin’s spirits in our heart as a Nembutsu follower.
To us, fortunately, the knowledge of the Nembutsuteachings has come: we should seek to believein them and wish to be born in the Buddha’sPure Land. Knowing Amida’s teachings, weshould practice the teachings and pass them onto others.