Traversing the Pure Land Path:
A Lifetime of Encounters with Honen Shonin

Editor’s Forward

PART I: “Just as You Are” : Encounters with All Sorts

    “Just As You Are”
            Zoom In: Story of Amida Buddha and the Original Vow
    The Nenbutsu

1. Of the 84,000 Dharma Doors – Why Nenbutsu?
        Zoom In: The Three Pure Land Sutras (Jodosanbukyo)

        Practice or Doctrine? Honen’s “Easy” Path to the Pure Land
            The Tendai Scholar Kenshin
                Zoom In: The Syncretic Nenbutsu
            The Ohara Debate
                Zoom In: Genshin & the Popularization of the Nenbutsu
            Kenshin’s Ojo

        The Dharma of One Taste: Nenbutsu for the Ascetic and the Ordinary       
            The Sanron and Shingon Scholar Myohen

                Zoom In: The Mystical Nenbutsu
            Myohen Enters the Pure Land Way
                Zoom In: The Recited Nenbutsu
            Honen’s Instructions: Repetition and Use of the Rosary
            Myohen’s Ojo
        Honen’s Conclusions on Traditional Buddhist Practice &
        the Single-Minded Practice of the Nenbutsu (senju-nenbutsu)
            On Certainty and Uncertainty
                Zoom In: The Ordinary Deluded Person (bonbu) & Tao-ch'o
            The Way of the Original Vow (hongan)
            Wisdom Unnecessary
            Meditation Unnecessary
                Zoom In: The Meditation Sutra & Shan-tao

2. Samurai Nenbutsu
        Birth (ojo) on the Battlefield
        From Soldiers to Spiritual Warriors
        True Bravery in Death

3. “Selection and Rejection”: Honen’s Encounters with the Establishment
        Serving Emperors
        Honen’s Patron Kujo Kanezane
            Zoom In: The Senchakushu
        Attacks on the Pure Land Movement
        Kanezane’s Ojo

4. Amida’s Beloved
        The Birth (ojo) of Women
            The Prostitute Finds Birth
                Zoom In: Amida Buddha’s 35th Vow
            Amida's Vow Includes Women Too
                Zoom In: The Five Obstacles (go-sho)
            Honen’s Letter to a Dying Nun
            Honen’s Instructions: The Special Nenbutsu Retreat (betsuji nenbutsu)

      The Poor & The Criminal
            Taking Life but Gaining Birth
            The Robber’s Mind of Practice
            Two Kinds of People
            Kyo Amidabutsu’s Ojo        
                Zoom In: The Five Forms of Prayer (gonenmon)
            Honen’s Instructions: The Nenbutsu and Daily Living
                Zoom In: The Four Modes of Practice of the Nenbutsu (shishu)

PART II: From Practice to Faith and Back Again: Honen’s Monastic Lineage

    Honen’s Ojo
    The Pure Land Community After Honen
    Understanding Honen’s Disciples through His Senchaku Process

1. The Wandering Nenbutsu: Retreat from and Re-entry into the World
    The Tradition of the Nenbutsu Hijiri
    The Singing Nenbutsu
        Zoom In: Guiding Lights: Bodhisattvas Kannon & Seishi
        Zoom In: The Three Ages of the Dharma (shozo-matsu)
    The Votive Nenbutsu
    Honen’s Visionary Insight amidst Daily Life

2. The Way of Practice
    The Many Callings
        Risshi Ryukan of Chokuraku-ji
        Ryukan’s Exile and Ojo
        Honen on the Meaning of the Profound Mind (jinshin)
            Zoom In: Faith and the Three Minds (sanjin)

    The Vow of Service
        Zensho-bo of Renge-ji Temple
            Zoom In: Merit Dedication (eko)
        Honen on the Meaning of the Longing Mind (ekohotsuganshin)

    The Confidence of the Deluded? The Power of Amida
        Nyudo Rensei of Kumagai
        Rensei’s Incredible Vow
            Zoom In: The Nine Grades of Being (kuhon) in the Pure Land
        Rensei’s Ojo
        Honen on the Meaning of the Sincere Mind (shijoshin)

3. The Way of Faith
        The “Unvarnished” Nenbutsu
            Zenne-bo Shoku of Seizan
                Zoom In: Two Buddhas, One Essence
            Shoku Explains the Unvarnished Nenbutsu (shiroki nenbutsu)
            The Three Types of Karmic Relations (san-en) with Amida Buddha
            Honen on the Three Types of Relations
            Shoku’s Ojo

        The Single Calling
            Jokaku-bo Kosai of Shogebo Temple
            The Spread of the Single Calling and Honen’s Rebuke
                Zoom In: Innate Enlightenment (hongaku) & Honen’s Disciples
            Honen’s Instructions: Recitation
            Honen’s Reply to a Disciple (Isshi koshosoku)
                Zoom In: The Five Grievous Acts (go-gyakuzai) & The Ten Transgressions (ju-aku)

        The “True” Pure Land
            Gutoku Shinran
            Precepts, Ethics and Tolerance in the Way of Faith        
            Honen’s Stance on Other Faiths

4. Searching for the Middle Way
        Shoko-bo Bencho of Chinzei
            Zoom In: The Three Kinds of Nenbutsu
        The General and Specific Nenbutsu
        Chosai and The “Vow of Various Practices” (shogyo hongan)
        The Creation of Jodo Shu
        Bencho’s Ojo
        A Final Word from Honen on the Middle Way between Faith and Practice
        Honen – The Father of Japanese Pure Land Buddhism

Conclusion: Honen’s Final Words: The One Sheet Document

Photograph Credits
Glossary & Index