Commentaries on the Jodosanbukyo

Sanbukyo taii (Commentary on the General Meaning of the Jodosanbukyo)

Opinion varies as to the authorship and date of this one-volume commentary. One theory holds that it is not Honen's work (Tsuboi, 40-44). Another maintains that Honen wrote this commentary before establishing Jodo Shu (Todo, 247-305). A distinctive feature of this work is its analysis of the "utterly sincere mind" (shijoshin) in terms of the two categories of self power and other power. This interpretation is not found in any of Honen's other works. (JZ. 9, 470-480; SHZ. 27-47)

Sanbukyo-shaku (Commentaries on the Jodosanbukyo)

This volume is a compilation of notes for lectures that Honen is said to have given at Todaiji in Nara in 1190, though this remains uncertain. These commentaries can be seen as the initial work towards the writing of the Senchakushu and thus are considered critical in understanding the development of Honen's thought. (SHZ. 47-158)

1) Muryojukyo shaku (Commentary on the Sutra of Immeasurable Life [Wu-liang-shou ching]):

This single fascicle work poses problems in that in the version of the Muryojukyo shaku that appears in the 1715 edition of the Kango Toroku, passages from the Senchakushu have been interpolated (Kishi, 1-54). The Muryojukyo shaku is a commentary on the Sutra of Immeasurable Life which Honen probably authored at a relatively early period after turning to the Pure Land teachings. The term senchaku appears several times in this work. It defines the Sutra of Immeasurable Life as the primary teaching of salvation in the Pure Land and other sutras as subordinate teachings of salvation in the Pure Land. The Muryojukyo shaku appears to represent a stage in Honen's teachings prior to the Senchakushu. (T. 83, 105b-115c; JZ. 9, 314-335; SHZ. 67-97)

2) Kanmuryojukyo shaku (Commentary on the Meditation Sutra [Kuan wu-liang-shou ching]):

This single fascicle work interprets the Meditation Sutra by drawing chiefly on Shan-tao's Commentary on the Meditation Sutra, while also referring to other commentaries. It interprets the main intent of the Meditation Sutra as the rejection of the miscellaneous practices (zogyo) of the Pure Land Path in favor of the recited nembutsu. Seven passages from the sutra are cited in support of this position and discussed in detail. (T. 2611, 83:115c-126b; JZ. vol. 9, 336-357; SHZ. 97-129)

3) Amidakyo shaku (Commentary on the Amida Sutra [A-mi-t'o ching]):

This small, single fascicle work says that since the Meditation Sutra set forth a variety of practices, novice practitioners might easily be confused. Thus Shakyamuni Buddha's intent in preaching the Amida Sutra was to develop firm faith in the efficacy of the verbal nembutsu, in order to avoid confusing his disciples. Because passages from the Senchakushu are also interpolated in this work, there are problems concerning its compilation (Kishi, 103-139). (T. 83, 126b-132a; JZ. 9, 358-370; SHZ. 129-147)


Kishi Kazuhide. "Sanbukyo shaku no kenkyu" (1-54) & "Gyakushu seppo to Sanbukyoshaku" (103-139) in Honen shonin kenkyu 1 ( Tokyo: Sankibo, 1983).

Todo Kyoshun. "Honen no shijoshinshaku," Honen shonin kenkyu (Tokyo: Sankibo, 1983).

Tsuboi Shun-ei, "Sanbukyo taii ni tsuite" in Honen jodokyo no kenkyu (Kyoto: Ryubunkan, 1982).