Original Features in Shinran’s Pure Land Thought: Focusing on His Elucidation of Faith and Realization

Original Features in Shinran’s Pure Land Thought: Focusing on His Elucidation of Faith and Realization

  • Sunday, June 2, 2013 | 9:30 – 12:15pm | Gage Residence, Isabel MacInnes Room

Mitsuya Dake (Ryukoku University) “Historical Development of the Idea of Directing Virtue and Shinran’s Idea of Tariki Shinjin”

Shinran states at the beginning of the first chapter of his main writing, the True Teaching, Practice and Realization of the Pure Land Way, “Reverently contemplating the true essence of the Pure Land way, I see that Amida’s directing of virtue to sentient beings has two aspects.” Shinran understands that the essence of the Pure Land way lies in Amida’s directing virtue to sentient beings. This logic constitutes his characteristic idea of tariki or other power. In my presentation, I would scrutinize the historical development of the idea of directing virtue in Mahayana Buddhism and Pure Land tradition in order to define the foundation of Shinran’s ideas of tariki shinjin or shinjin of other power.

Yasushi Kigoshi (Otani University) “The Originality of the Understanding of the Mind of Faith in Shinran’s Pure Land Buddhism”

In Pure Land Buddhist thought, the “mind of faith” (Jp. shinjin), which is made up of reliance on Amida Buddha, is a critical element in the realization of birth in the Pure Land. Shinran understands the “mind of faith” in traditional Pure Land thought by dividing it into two: the mind of faith that sentient beings themselves give rise to (self-power faith) and the mind of faith that arises through Amida Buddha’s working (the other-power mind of faith). He argues that true birth in the Pure Land is only realized through the latter, not the former. In this presentation, I will consider the significance of this original understanding of the mind of faith.

Eisho Nasu (Ryukoku University) “Genshin’s Discovery of the Easy Way to Receive Confirmation for Enlightenment (vyākaraṇa) in the Present Life”

In the Ōjōyōshū (Essentials of Birth in the Pure Land), the Tendai Master Genshin (942–1017) introduced the novel interpretation that Pure Land practitioners can receive confirmation for enlightenment simply by hearing the Buddha’s name while simultaneously cultivating faith to attain birth in the Pure Land. Before Genshin, it was commonly understood that practitioners needed to achieve a visualization of Amida Buddha to confirm their future enlightenment. This presentation examines Genshin’s discussion of his theory, and how his interpretation inspired Shinran (1173–1262) to develop the theory of attaining the stage of truly settled in the present life (genshō shōjōju).

Takami Inoue (Otani University) “The “Awakening” Open to All People: sotāpanna (“stream-entry”) and shōjōju (“company of the truly settled”)”

Shinran emphasized that those who embrace genuine shinjin (“entrusting heart”) immediately join the “truly settled” (shōjōju), who are then destined for nirvana. This emphasis on faith and realization “in this life” (genshō) is one of the significant features of Shinran’s Pure Land thought. This presentation will demonstrate that the ideal of the “truly settled in this life” is equivalent to sotāpanna (“stream-entry”) in early Buddhism, typically characterized as being “assured (niyata) and destined for perfect awakening (sambodhiparāyana).” The sotāpanna and shōjōju represent the Buddhist awakening that is open to everyone, although this has been downgraded in monastic traditions throughout history.

Respondent: Galen Amstutz (Institute of Buddhist Studies)