Shichikajo-kishomon

(Seven Article Pledge)



The Shichikajo-kishomon was written in response to the Genkyu oppression during the winter of 1204 when the monks of Enryaku-ji demanded that Honen's exclusive nembutsu teaching be banned. Honen signed it together with 163 of his disciples and submitted to Shinsho. In the pledge, Honen sought to restrain on the part of his followers the sort of behavior that invited criticism from the Buddhist establishment [read Honen's rebuke of Kosai's "Single Calling" teaching]. A close reading of these seven articles reveals that each one corresponds to a common misinterpretation by other sects and also by Honen's own followers of his exclusive position. Honen's open submission of this pledge to the abbot of Enryaku-ji temporarily appeased his opponents.

Some scholars feel the Shichikajo-kishomon was not really written by Honen (Tamura, 238-40 & Tsuboi, 247-50), yet there are two other opinions which posit Honen did write this text (Ohashi, 282-285 & Katsuki,17-28). Recently this latter opinion that it is really Honen's work has become more widely accepted.

1. Refrain from denigrating other Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and from attacking Shingon and Tendai, for you are not versed in any of their teachings.

2. In your state of ignorance, refrain from indulging in disputes with men of wisdom or when encountering people with other religious practices.

3. Toward people of other persuasions or practices, refrain from saying, with your mind ignorant and biased, that they should abandon their practice. Refrain from wanton ridicule of them.

4. Refrain from saying that there is no observance of the clerical precepts in the nembutsu path, from avidly encouraging sexual indulgences, liquor, or meat eating, from occasionally calling those who adhere to the precepts men of indiscriminate practice, and from teaching that those who believe in Amida's original vow have no reason to be afraid when committing evil deeds (zoaku muge).

5. As an ignorant being who is unable to distinguish between right and wrong, you should refrain from deviations from the scriptural teachings, from what is not the teachings of your master, from arbitrarily putting forward your own doctrines, from needlessly seeking out disputes, from being laughed at by the wise, and from leading the ignorant astray.

6. In your state of ignorance, refrain from delighting so much in rhetoric, since you know nothing of the true teachings, from expounding various heresies (jaho), and from converting ignorant priests and lay people to the various heresies.

7. Refrain from expounding heresies which are not the Buddhist teachings, and from regarding them as true teachings. Refrain from the deception of calling them the teachings of your master.

November, the First Year of Genkyu (1204)

References:

Shichikajo-kishomon, SHZ. 789. Translation from James C. Dobbins, Jodo Shinshu (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1989) 17. slightly modified.

Katsuki Joko, gShichikajo kishomon-to Sosanmon Kishomon-toni tsuite : Sono Gisakusetsu-ni Taisuru Hanronh (Bukkyo Bunka Kenkyu 8, 1959).

Ohashi Shunno, gShichikajo kishomongissensetsu-o Utagauh (Indogaku Bukkyogaku Kenkyu 7:1, 1958).

Tamura Encho, Honenshoninden-no kenkyu (Kyoto: Hozokan, 1972)

Tsuboi Shun-ei, gShoki Honenkyodan-ni Okeru Honnan-nitsuite : Toku-ni Shichikajo & Sosanmon Kishomon-no Seiritsu-nitsuiteh(Indogaku Bukkyogaku Kenkyu 6:1, 1958).

Painting:

Honen transmits to the Zasu the signed pledges of his disciples (Honen, montei rensho no kishomon-o zasu-ni shintatsu-suru) from the Honen Shonin gyojoezu, Scroll 31, section 12.