Honen The Buddhist Saint: Essential Writings and Official by Joseph A. Fitzgerald

By Joseph A. Fitzgerald

Honen Shonin (1133-1212 A.D.) based the most important Buddhist sect in Japan (Pure Land, or Shin). This edited biography comprises an creation via well known Buddhist student, Alfred Bloom.

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Extra info for Honen The Buddhist Saint: Essential Writings and Official Biography (Spiritual Masters: East and West)

Example text

The kami (gods) cannot punish those of us who do not bask in their light:'26 The outcome was the emancipation of the peasants from spiritual op­ pression, based on the fear of batchi or divine retribution in forms of pun­ ishment if they did not obey the demands of their overlords, the temples, shrines, and daimyo (local warlords) , who represented the divine powers on the land. Their release from superstition later led to the single-minded peas­ ant revolts (ikko ikki) in the time of Rennyo ( 14 1 5 - 1 499).

The attitude often taken by Honen's followers is illustrated by an inci­ dent recorded in the Shasekishu, where Shinto priests threatened to curse a farmer who transgressed on their land. He replied: "I have nothing to fear. Go ahead and curse me. We Pure Land Buddhists think nothing of divin­ ity. The kami (gods) cannot punish those of us who do not bask in their light:'26 The outcome was the emancipation of the peasants from spiritual op­ pression, based on the fear of batchi or divine retribution in forms of pun­ ishment if they did not obey the demands of their overlords, the temples, shrines, and daimyo (local warlords) , who represented the divine powers on the land.

They are to be pitied. 13 It is clear from these responses that H6nen had a distinctive influence in medieval society, arousing enmity or steadfast devotion. Shinran ( 1 1 731 262), one of his six or seven direct disciples and the founder of the Jodo Shinshu denomination, testifies to Honen's crucial influence on his life. Since this author is most familiar with Shinran, we offer him as example of the devotion inspired by Honen's work. Shinran's Encounter with 1ionen Shinran had struggled for twenty years from the age of nine to gain En­ lightenment on Mount Hiei.

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