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Honen's Main Disciples

Some two hundred monks became specially attached to Honen and may be called his disciples. Some, like Shinku, Kansai and Genchi, were always at his side waiting upon him and listening to his words. Others like Bencho, Shoku, Ryukan, Seikaku, Tanku and Shinran, through the public or private instruction they received from him, broke with their own schools and openly joined his. The third class of his disciples, such as Kenshin, Jichin, and Myohen, never left their own schools but were profoundly influenced by Honen in their life and teaching. As we have seen with Honen's lay followers, Honen used a variety of teaching methods and emphasized different aspects of the Pure Land way to suit the capacities of different followers. His monastic followers show this variety in greater depth since so many went on to build their own Pure Land communities based on the unique teaching each received from Honen.

While Honen clearly saw that faith and practice should be in balance, some of his ablest disciples had a tendency to lay stress on one or the other. While Bencho, Ryukan, and Chosai moved more towards practice and self-power (jiriki), Kosai, Shoku, and Shinran moved more strongly towards faith and other-power (tariki). The former insisted that a nembutsu practitioner should repeat the sacred name of Amida as many times as possible with all his heart, for Honen had said, "If a person says they can be Born in the Pure Land by ten repetitions, or even one, and then begins to be careless about the practice, their faith will hinder their practice.ªh The latter, on the other hand, maintained, as Honen had said, that, ªgThe most important thing for a nembutsu practitioner is to understand what the Original Vow (hongan) of Amida is and to put his trust in the power of the Buddha. Our Birth in the Pure Land is not in the least affected by our goodness or badness but depends solely upon Amida Buddha's power. As it is all by Amida Buddha's power, however deluded we may be, everything depends solely upon our trusting in the power of Amida Buddha's Original Vow." For the former group, the word ªgfaith" meant the Three Minds (sanjin) towards Amida and reciting his sacred name prescribed in his Original Vow; while for the latter, it meant understanding the significance of the Original Vow, or the fundamental wisdom and power of Amida Buddha, and putting one's trust in it. They were not satisfied with the idea of faith in the simple calling upon the sacred name of Amida. Rather, they carried it to a point of totally embracing the other power (tariki) of Amida.

Honen's Important Disciples:
Shoko-bo Bencho: The Chinzei School
Risshi Ryukan: The Choraku-ji School
Zenne-bo Shoku: The Seizan School
Ippen: The Ji School
Shinran: The Jodo Shin School
Kakunyo-bo Chosai: The Kuhon-ji School
Jokaku-bo Kosai
Seikan-bo Genchi
Ku Amida Butsu

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