Kofuku-ji Petition

by Gedatsu-bo Jokei

1. The error of establishing a new sect

Honen has established his Pure Land sect without imperial permission. This sect also lacks a legitimate Pure Land lineage.

[Honen acknowledged in the Sanbukyoshaku that there was no official lineage for his teaching of the Pure Land, but later on in the Senchakushu he formulated his idea of the five Chinese Pure Land patriarchs from which he received his lineage. During Honen's lifetime, since official recognition was based on an established lineage, the sect was never officially accepted.]

2. The errors of establishing a new image

Some of Honen's followers have designed a mandala that depicts the rays of light that emanate from Amida Buddha embracing those who practice the exclusive nembutsu but not those engaged in other practices.

[This mandala was based on a description in the Meditation Sutra (Kuan wu-liang-shou ching). Although this mandala is also mentioned in Myoe's Zaijarin, none of the designs are extant.]

3. The error of slighting Shakyamuni

Honen and his followers have forgotten the original teacher, Shakyamuni Buddha, the one who has originally preached the Pure Land sutras and taught people about Amida Buddha and the possibility of birth in his Pure Land.

[This criticism was aimed at Chapter 2 of the Senchakushu in which Honen creates the division between the five right practices (shogyo) and the miscellaneous practices (zogyo).]

4. The error of obstructing manifold practices and good deeds

Exclusive nembutsu followers have dismissed all other practices as "miscellaneous practices" (zogyo).

[This meant to expose the feeling about nembutsu practitioners that they thought the Lotus Sutra was a teaching for gaining hell and such traditional merit making activities like building stupas and making images were despicable. The accusation corresponds to Myoe's Zaijarin in which he attacked Honen's use of a Shan-tao passage in Chapter 3 of the Senchakushu of calling non-nembutsu followers "bands of robbers" for obstructing the way of nembutsu followers to the Pure Land. This was taken very seriously as an attack on the greater Mahayana tradition and as a basic disruption of people's freedom to follow their own practice.]

5.The error of denying worship to the sacred kami

Honen's followers have asserted that those who place their trust in the native deities or kami and worship at their shrines will fall into hell.

[This charge was also aimed at Chapter 2 of the Senchakushu]

6.The error of ignorance concerning the Pure Land

Even the Meditation Sutra (Kuan-wu-liang-shou ching) sets forth practices other than the nembutsu and advocates the cultivation of the three disciplines of precepts, meditation and wisdom as causes for birth in the Pure Land. To claim that the nembutsu alone brings about such birth is a misunderstanding.

[This charge was aimed at Chapter 3 of the Senchakushu.]

7.The error of misunderstanding the nembutsu

Originally, "nembutsu" means not only the recitation of Amida Buddha's name but contemplation of the Buddha. The chanted nembutsu advocated by Honen's followers is in fact the most inferior form of nembutsu, the contemplative nembutsu being far superior.

[This charge was aimed at Chapters 3 and 8 of the Senchakushu.]

8.The error of obstructing the practices of other Buddhists

By denying the soteriological efficacy of the precepts and asserting that one with faith may commit evil with impunity, the exclusive nembutsu followers are bringing about the destruction of Buddhism.

[This charge was based on the feeling that Honen taught gambling, eating meat for monks and breaking the precepts doesn't affect birth in the Pure Land. Therefore, it was concluded that the essence of Honen's teaching was to break the precepts which was tantamount to the destruction of Buddhism.]

9. The error of bringing disorder to the country

The Buddhist law (buppo) and the imperial law (oho) are intimately connected. By undermining Tendai, Hosso, Shingon and the rest of the eight sects, the exclusive nembutsu practitioners threaten the welfare of the country.

Dainippon Bukkyo zensho, vol. 124, 103-112.

The following translation is based on that appears in Robert Morrell, Early Kamakura Buddhism : A Minority Report (Berkeley, California: Asian Humanity Press) 66-88. slightly modified.