SHINNYO-EN (真如苑, Borderless Garden of Truth) is a Japanese new
religion in the tradition of the Daigo branch of the Shingon
It is open to lay and monastic practitioners alike. Its principal
teachings are based on the
Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra
Shinnyo-en was reported to have 860 000 members, and temples
and training centers in several countries in Asia, Europe and the
Americas. The temples are characterised by the
Shinnyo-en is the belief, expressed in the Mahāyāna
Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra, that all beings possess
As of 2014 the head of Shinnyo-en was Shinsō Itō (born 1942, also known as 'Keishu'), who holds the rank of Daisōjō, the highest rank in traditional Shingon Buddhism.
* 1 History * 2 Teachings * 3 Organizational structure * 4 Social action
* 5 Shinnyo practice
* 6 Missionary Activities * 7 Shinnyo Buddhist ceremonies * 8 Shinnyo-en and the arts * 9 See also * 10 References * 11 Sources * 12 Bibliography * 13 External links
Shinnyo-en was established in 1936 by
Shinjō Itō and his wife
Tomoji in the Tokyo suburb of Tachikawa. In December 1935, Shinjō
Itō and Tomoji Itō had enshrined an image of Achala believed to have
been sculpted by the renowned Buddhist sculptor
In May 1936,
Shinjō Itō was ordained by Daisōjō and Chief Abbot
Egen Saeki at
Sanbō-in , a temple of the Daigo school of Shingon
Buddhism. The Chief Abbot conferred to him the monastic name of
Shinjō, meaning "True Vehicle", and the title of Kongō-in, which
The community was first named Risshō-kaku, then the Tachikawa
Fellowship of Achala (
In spring of 1949, a young man, who then assumed a top position in the temple office, began violating the Buddhist precepts and became negligent in his training. He finally left the sangha in the fall of 1949 and filed formal charges against Shinjō in 1950. His primary claim was that he had been beaten during one of the sesshin trainings. Testimony by Shuten Oishi, director of the Federation of New Religious Organisations of Japan, provided proof that sesshin training does not involve physical abuse. Shinjō was given a sentence of eight months in prison, suspended for three years. The Federation of New Religious Organisations criticized this verdict as follows:
The fact is that the defendant should have been found "not guilty".
However, the social climate has led people to place so much emphasis
on individual rights, that any plea concerning a civil rights
violation, no matter how outlandish, will be heard by the courts. As
such, the Head of the
The sangha was permitted to continue, but under a different name. It was reorganized and renamed Shinnyo-en on June 21, 1951 and Tomoji Itō became its administrative head. After the revision of the Japanese Religious Corporation Act in April 1951, Shinnyo-en filed an application in the following year and received approval from the Minister of Education on May 16, 1953.
The first image of the reclining
During June and July 1967 Shinnyo-en's co-founders visited seven European countries and Israel on a religious goodwill mission and presented a nirvana image to several Universities and religious organisations.
The first Shinnyo-en Sanctuary outside Japan was inaugurated on March 2, 1971 in Mililani, Hawaii, followed by the dedication of temples in Honolulu (1973), San Francisco (1982), Taiwan (1985), France (1985), Los Angeles (1990), Italy (1990), Belgium (1991), Hong Kong (1992), U.K. (1994), Germany (1994), Singapore (1994), Australia (1999).
On September 11, 1997 the "Shinnyo Samaya Hall" was dedicated at
Shimo-Daigo, the lower part of
According to the Junna Nakata, the 103 Chief Abbot of Daigo-ji Monastery:
If we view the Buddhist tradition as a vertical line, and the world
we live in as a horizontal line,
Shinjō Itō placed the teachings of
Schrimpf commented on the introduction of the Mahaparinirvana sutra to Shinnyo-en members in 1956,
By choosing a text that is rather irrelevant in esoteric Buddhism, Shinjō Itō left the doctrinal path of Shingon, thus emphasising the uniqueness of his Buddhist teachings and training. This direction was further underlined by the replacement of Fudō Myōō as the main object of veneration by Kuon Jōjū Shakyamuni Nyorai, the dying Buddha who taught his last sermon (...).
The teachings also integrate elements of traditional Theravada,
As all religious organizations founded since the middle of the 19th century Shinnyo-en is classified by Japanese scholars as a new religious movement.
According to Schrimpf, "the community is divided into various units that form a hierarchical pyramid." The basic organizational unit of the Shinnyo-en sangha is said to be the “lineage” (Japanese : suji), which consists of a group of members mentored by a “lineage parent” (Japanese : sujioya). Practitioners usually gather at the temple and training centre for prayer, meditation and training, and, if they so wish, also at home meetings. The sangha as a whole encourages and participates in volunteer activities in the spirit of Buddhist practice.
The leadership in Shinnyo-en follows the Buddhist tradition of Dharma succession from master to disciple.
In 1982 Shinsō Itō (born 1942 as Masako Itō), the third daughter
of Shinjō and Tomoji, completed her Buddhist training and became a
successor in the Shinnyo dharma lineage. Shinjō announced her to
become his successor in 1983 and gives her the priestly name
'Shinsō'. A ceremony to confirm this dharma succession was held at
Shinnyo-en believes an individual's action can contribute to creating a harmonious society. Working towards this goal, the organization engages in interfaith dialogue, environmental activities, and disaster relief.
Shinnyo-en also supports organizations such as Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), the Red Cross Society, and the World Wildlife Fund.
Their cultural projects include the reconstruction of ancient musical
instruments, support for the Kiyosato Museum of Photographic Arts, the
excavation of ruins at Angkor
Shinnyoen, in 2001 planned to build nonreligious facilities —
including parks and sports and cultural centers — on part of the
1-million-sq.-meter plot between Musashimurayama and
During 2005-2007, Shinnyo-en supported and cooperated with the Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue to enact the Palestinian-Jewish Family Peacemakers Camp—Oseh Shalom - Sanea al-Salam, at Camp Tawonga that brought hundreds of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish youth and adults into relationship.
People who are interested in traditional Buddhist training are always welcome, but volunteer activities provide an additional avenue for Shinnyo-en to contribute to the wider secular community. (Shinso Ito)
Shinnyo-en practitioners are encouraged to practice
The Three Practices (三つの歩み, mittsu no ayumi) are:
* Joyful donations (歓喜, okangi, giving/generosity): Monetary or
other types of material donations; the giving of kind, encouraging,
harmonious words; offering one's home to guests or those in need of
shelter; offering one's seat in public transit etc. Monetary
contributions are voluntary and can be made to the organization of
Shinnyo-en or to any other organization/cause the practitioner deems
* Sharing of the
A sesshin involves receiving guidance from a 'Spiritual guide' (霊能者, reinōsha, medium), a person who has been specially trained and whose spiritual faculty (霊能, reinō') is recognized by the Shinnyo-en organization. This kind of guidance is given only at a Shinnyo-en temple and should help members to understand themselves in light of Buddhist concepts. This guidance lasts for about three minutes per person.
Shinnyo-en refers to the spiritual world from which the guiding messages emanate as the shinnyo reikai (真如霊界). This is not merely the dwelling place of the spirits of the dead, it also encompasses and is equated with the Buddha realm (仏界, bukkai). The spiritual guides' contact with this world is not direct, but aided by the intercession of two 'children' (両童子, ryō-dōji) and various dharma protectors, who are viewed as being one with forces of the heavens and earth. The Two Dōjis are none other than the first and second sons of Ito Shinjo, posthumously named, respectively, Kyodoin (教導院, died aged one year old) and Shindoin (真導院, died aged fifteen). Guidance from the Buddha realm is passed to the spiritual guides and subsequently to the practitioners.
Schrimpf describes the practice of sesshin as follows:
In a regular meditation, up to fifty or sixty followers will gather in a room, sit in a circle and meditate. They are faced by five to ten reinosha who are also in meditation. After a while, the media experience some kind of intuitive cognition. It is interpreted as something indicated (shimesareta) to them from the spirit world. They transform this cognition into words - the so-called spiritual words (reigen) - and transmit them to the person they are directed at. Often, these are rather abstract phrases, but usually the listener can relate them to a certain problem or situation he is coping with.
Practitioners have the opportunity to further their practice by studying at Shinnyo-en's dharma school. After three years of classes and fulfilling various requirements, including passing a written test and assessment of everyday practice, they are granted priestly ranks (僧階 sokai) and become dharma teachers.
FIRE AND WATER CEREMONIES
According to the Shinnyo-en website they practice water and fire ceremonies. "While most traditional Buddhist fire rituals focus on personal purification and awakening, the Shinnyo-en ceremony is dedicated to awakening people to their innate compassionate and altruistic nature, transcending all boundaries of age, gender, nationality, ethnicity, and religious tradition, and directing the positive energy of the ceremony outward with the hope that all people can live in a world of hope and harmony."
Through mindfulness and seated meditation, practitioners reflect on themselves and resolve to practice harmony, gratitude, kindness, and acceptance. The school teaches that one realizes his or her true potential by acting with compassion and concern for others. Therefore, practitioners are encouraged to cultivate mindfulness and self-reflection, and to apply in daily life the insights gained in seated meditation.
Shinnyo-en practitioners in pursuing the Path to
By learning to identify with others (or "place oneself in the shoes of another"), practitioners aim to cultivate the virtues of a bodhisattva.
In Shinnyo-en a school for the training of missionaries has been developed, and lectures are given on Shinnyo-en doctrine, history, and missionary methods. Members allowed to enter this school take three years to complete the prescribed course of study. At the end of that time, they are granted some kind of missionary status, depending on their test results, success in mission work, academic career, social standing, and the like. The system of missionary ranks is called sokai or “stages in Buddhist discipleship.”
SHINNYO BUDDHIST CEREMONIES
Traditional ceremonies, derived from
Prayers for ancestors and departed souls, such as the Lantern Floating ceremony, and O-bon (Sanskrit: Ullambana), are believed to also help cultivate kindness and compassion within practitioners.
With the wish of creating cultural harmony and understanding, Her Holiness Shinso Ito, Head Priest of Shinnyo-en, officiated the inaugural Lantern Floating Hawaii ceremony on Memorial Day, 1999.
Traditional fire ceremonies such as homa are performed to help practitioners overcome obstacles that hinder their spiritual progress and liberation.
SHINNYO-EN AND THE ARTS
Shinnyo-en believes art is a way to communicate universal, spiritual truth. Shinnyo-en sponsors many international cultural events to share their aesthetic philosophy. In addition, Shinnyo-en has staged several concerts showcasing the drumming of the Shinnyo-en Taiko Drumming Ensemble.
* ^ Mikiko, Nagai (1995). Magic and Self-Cultivation in a New
Religion: The Case of Shinnyoen, Japanese Journal of Religious Studies
22, No. 3/4, p. 302
* ^ Usui 2003, p. 224
* ^ Mikiko, Nagai (1995). Magic and Self-Cultivation in a New
Religion: The Case of Shinnyoen, Japanese Journal of Religious Studies
22, No. 3/4, p. 303
* ^ Shiramizu, Hiroko (1979). Organizational Mediums: A Case Study
of Shinnyo-en, Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 6, No. 3, p. 415.
* ^ Pokorny, Lukas (2011). Neue religiöse Bewegungen in Japan
heute: ein Überblick . In: Hödl, Hans Gerald and Veronika
Futterknecht, ed. Religionen nach der Säkularisierung. Festschrift
für Johann Figl zum 65. Geburtstag, Wien: LIT, p. 191
* ^ The Path of Oneness, p.392
* ^ The Path of Oneness, Shinnyo-en, English Revised Edition, 2009,
* ^ "Chronicle of Postwar Religions," published by Federation of
New Religious Organizations in Japan (新日本宗教団体連合会)
* ^ A Walk through the Garden Vol.II p.65-72
* A Walk through the Garden Vol.II Foundations of Shinnyo-en, Shinnyo-en, Japan, 1999 * Starting Out An introduction to Shinnyo Practice, Shinnyo-en, 2010 * The Path of Oneness, Shinnyo-en, English Revised Edition, 2009 * Melville, Sinclair. 'More than a Drop in the Ocean,' "Buddha Ripples," IAD publishing, 2009 * Usui, Atsuko. Women\'s \'Experience\' in New Religious Movements: The Case of Shinnyo-en. Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 30/3–4: 217–241. Nagoya, Japan: Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture, 2003
* Shinnyo-En (official website in English) * Saisho Goma/Homa Ceremony -Berlin * Lantern Floating Ceremony – Hawaii * Smile Foundation Newsletter India * UC Berkeley Press Release * RNS Buddhist Leader Her Holiness Shinso Ito Breaks New Ground in Thailand * Huffington Post, " Shinnyo-en Buddhist \'Eye