The Info List - Shinran

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(親鸞, May 21, 1173 – January 16, 1263)[1][2] was a Japanese Buddhist monk, who was born in Hino (now a part of Fushimi, Kyoto) at the turbulent close of the Heian Period
Heian Period
and lived during the Kamakura
Period. Shinran
was a pupil of Hōnen
and the founder of what ultimately became the Jōdo Shinshū
Jōdo Shinshū
sect in Japan.


1 Names 2 Biography 3 Timeline 4 Doctrine

4.1 Primacy of faith 4.2 Amitabha
Buddha and the Pure Land 4.3 Age of Dharma
decline 4.4 Other religious practices

5 Statue 6 Ashes 7 See also 8 Notes 9 Literature 10 External links

Names[edit] Shinran's birthname was Matsuwakamaro. In accordance with Japanese customs, he has also gone by other names, including Hanen, Shakku and Zenshin, and then finally to Shinran, which was derived by combining the names of Seshin ( Vasubandhu
in Japanese) and Donran (Tanluans name in Japanese). His posthumous title was Kenshin Daishi.[3] For a while, Shinran
also went by the name Fujii Yoshizane.[4] After he was disrobed, he called himself Gotoku Shinran, in a self-deprecating manner which means "stubble-haired foolish one," to denote his status as "neither a monk, nor a layperson".[citation needed] Biography[edit] Shinran
was born on May 21, 1173, to Lord and Lady Arinori, a branch of the Fujiwara clan, and was given the name Matsuwakamaro. Early in Shinran's life his parents both died. In 1181 and desperate to know what happens after dying, he entered the Shoren-in temple near present-day Maruyama Park
Maruyama Park
in Kyoto
at age 9. He wrote this poem on entering: "Like the cherry blossom, the heart planning on tomorrow is ephemeral indeed --what sudden storm may not arise in the middle of the night". Actually aware of his own impermanence, he was desperate to find a solution. He then practiced at Mt. Hiei
Mt. Hiei
for the next 20 years of his life. Letters between his wife and daughter indicate that he was a Tendai
dōsō (堂僧, "hall monk").[5] According to his own account to his wife Eshinni (whose letters are preserved at the Hongan-ji), in frustration at his own failures as a monk and at obtaining enlightenment, he took a retreat at the temple of Rokkaku-dō. There, while engaged in intense practice, he experienced a vision in which Avalokitesvara
appeared to him as Prince Shōtoku, directing Shinran
to another disillusioned Tendai
monk named Hōnen.[6] In 1201, Shinran
met Hōnen
and became his disciple. During his first year under Hōnen's guidance, at the age of 29, Shinran attained enlightenment, or salvation through Amida's Vow. Though the two only knew each other for a few years, Hōnen
entrusted Shinran with a copy of his secret work, the Senchakushū. However his precise status amongst Hōnen's followers is unclear as in the Seven Article Pledge, signed by Hōnen's followers in 1204, Shinran's signature appears near the middle among less-intimate disciples.[7] During his time as a disciple of Hōnen's Shinran
caused a great stir among society by publicly getting married and eating meat. Both practices were strictly forbidden for monks, but Shinran
took these drastic steps to show that Amida's salvation is for all people and not just for monks and priests. In 1207, The Buddhist establishment in Kyoto
persuaded the military to impose a nembutsu ban, after an incident where two of Hōnen's most prominent followers were accused of using nembutsu practice as a coverup for sexual liaisons.[8] These two monks were subsequently executed. Hōnen
and Shinran
were exiled, with Shinran
being defrocked and sent to Echigo
Province (contemporary Niigata Prefecture).[9] They never met each other again. Hōnen
would die later in Kyoto
in 1212.[1] Although Shinran
was critical of the motivations that ultimately led to the exile, and the disruption of Hōnen's practice community, the exile itself proved to be a critical turning point in Shinran's religious life. Having been stripped of his monastic name, he renamed himself Gutoku (愚禿, "Foolish, bald-headed one"), coming to understand himself as neither monk nor layman. While in exile, Shinran sought to continue the work of Hōnen
and spread the doctrine of salvation through Amida Buddha's compassion, as expressed through the nembutsu practice, however in time his teachings diverged from Hōnen enough that later followers would use the term Jōdo Shinshū
Jōdo Shinshū
or "True [Essence of the] Pure Land
Pure Land
Sect", as opposed to Jōdo-shū
or "Pure Land Sect". Shinran
married his wife, Eshinni, and had seven children with her. Five years after being exiled in Echigo, in 1211, the nembutsu ban was lifted and Shinran
was pardoned though he chose not to return to Kyoto at that time. Instead, Shinran
left for an area known as Inada, a small area in Kantō just north of Tokyo. In 1224 Shinran
authored his most significant text, Kyogyoshinsho, which is a series of selections and commentaries on Buddhist sutras supporting the new Pure Land Buddhist movement, and establishing a doctrinal lineage with Buddhist thinkers in India and China. In 1234 Shinran
left the Kantō area and returned to Kyoto, with his daughter Kakushinni. On returning to Kyoto, Shinran
discovered that his eldest son, Zenran (善鸞 1217 ? - 1286 ?), who remained in Hitachi and Shimotsuke provinces was telling people he received special teachings from Shinran
and was otherwise leading people astray.[6] Shinran
wrote stern letters to Zenran (frequently addressed by his Buddhist name Jishin-bō (慈信房)) instructing him to cease his activities, but when Zenran refused, Shinran
disowned him:[10]

Hence, from now on there shall no longer exist parental relations with you; I cease to consider you my son. I declare this resolutely to the three treasures and the gods. It is a sorrowful thing. It rends my heart to hear that you have devoted yourself to misleading all the people of the nembutsu in Hitachi, saying that [what they have been taught] is not my true teaching. Rumors have reached as far as Kamakura
that I have instructed you to denounce the people in Hitachi who say the nembutsu. It is deeply deplorable.

died in Kyoto
the year 1263 at the age of 90.[1] Kakushinni was instrumental in maintaining the mausoleum, and passing on his teachings, with her descendants ultimately becoming the Monshu, or head of the Honganji Temples built around the Mausoleum.

Statue of Shinran
Shonin in Kyoto.


Part of a series on

in Japan


Jōjitsu Hosso Sanron Kegon Ritsu Kusha Tendai Shingon Pure Land Zen Nichiren


Saichō Kūkai Hōnen Shinran Dōgen Eisai Ingen Nichiren

Sacred texts

Avataṃsaka Sūtra Lotus Sūtra Prajñāpāramitā Heart Sūtra Infinite Life Sūtra Mahāvairocana Sūtra Vajraśekhara Sūtra

Glossary of Japanese Buddhism

v t e

1173 - Shinran
is born 1175 - Hōnen
founds the Jōdo-shū
sect 1181 - Shinran
becomes a monk 1201 - Shinran
becomes a disciple of Hōnen
and leaves Mt. Hiei 1207 - The nembutsu ban and Shinran's exile 1211 - Shinran
is pardoned 1212 - Hōnen
passes away in Kyoto
& Shinran
goes to Kantō 1224(?) - Shinran
authors Kyogyoshinsho 1234(?) - Shinran
goes back to Kyoto 1256 - Shinran
disowns his son Zenran 1263 - Shinran
dies in Kyoto

Doctrine[edit] Shinran
considered himself a lifelong disciple of Hōnen, in spite of their separation. According to a letter composed by his wife, Eshinni:[11]

People would say all types of things about where the master [Hōnen] might go. They would even say that he was headed for an evil rebirth (akudō). Whenever people spoke such things, [Shinran] would reply, "I am one who believes that I would even go [with him], since from realm to realm and from rebirth to rebirth I am lost already.

Hōnen's disciples were said to have been largely divided by questions arising from the need for a single invocation (nenbutsu) of Amitabha's name versus many-callings, and thereby emphasis on faith versus practice. Shinran, like Hōnen's disciple Kōsai, leaned more toward faith over practice, however he did not advocate the single-recitation teaching.[12] While Shinran's teachings and beliefs were generally consistent with the Pure Land
Pure Land
Buddhist movement at the time, he also had idiosyncrasies as well: Primacy of faith[edit] In any case Shinran, like others in Hōnen's community, felt that in the age of Dharma
Decline, it was no longer possible to achieve enlightenment through traditional monastic practices, and thus one could only rely on the vows of Amitabha
Buddha, particular the 18th or "Primal Vow" and seek rebirth in the Pure Land. In a passage from his magnum opus, the Kyōgyōshinshō, he writes of himself:[11]

Therefore, reverencing the expositions of the treatise masters and relying on the exhortations of the religious teachers, I, the Bald-Headed Fool Shinran, abandoned forever the provisional path of manifold practices and good work, and separated myself once and for all from birth in the forest of the twin śāla trees. I turned to the true path, the basis of virtue and good, and gave rise to the aspiration for birth [in the Pure Land] that is difficult to comprehend. But now I have utterly abandoned the expediency of the true path, and have converted to the ocean-like vow singled out [by Amitabha
Buddha]. I have separated myself straightaway from the aspiration for birth that is difficult to comprehend, and I long to attain birth that is difficult to fathom....

In this passage, Shinran
explains that he not only gave up traditional monastic practices to focus on rebirth in the Pure Land, but that in time he eventually gave up on practices related to rebirth in the Pure Land, instead relying solely on faith in the vow of Amitabha
Buddha. In the Kyōgyōshinshō, third fascicle, Shinran
explores the nature of shinjitsu no shinjin (真実の信心, "true faith"), by describing it as something bestowed by Amitabha
Buddha, not arising from the believer.[11] Through this endowment, faith is awakened in a person, and the recitation of the Buddha's name or nembutsu because an expression of praise or gratitude. However, this cannot occur until the believer fully entrusts themselves to Amitabha
Buddha, even for a moment. Once this state of faith is bestowed, one is assured of rebirth in the Pure Land, and ultimately enlightenment. Shinran cautions though:[11]

True faith necessarily entails Amida's name, but Amida's name does not necessarily entail faith, [which is derived] from the power of [Amida's] vow.

Further, once a follower has awakened to this deep faith, one should live life as an expression of gratitude, follow basic moral conduct and to fulfill one's social obligations.[12] Amitabha
Buddha and the Pure Land[edit] The last three fascicles of the Kyōgyōshinshō delve into the nature of Amitabha
Buddha and the Pure Land. The Pure Land
Pure Land
is treated as a temporary refuge whereby one can attain enlightenment, and then return to this world to lead and teach others as a bodhisattva. Elsewhere, Shinran
is quoted in the Tannishō (歎異抄, "Lamentation of Divergences") as saying:[13][14]

浄土の慈悲といふは、念仏して、いそぎ仏になりて、大慈大悲心をもて、おもふがごとく衆生を利益するをいふべきなり。 Jōdo no jihi to iu no wa, nenbutsu shite, isogi hotoke ni narite, daiji-daihi-shin wo mote, omou ga gotoku shujō wo rieki suru wo iu beki nari. The compassion in the Path of Pure Land
Pure Land
is to quickly attain Buddhahood, saying the nembutsu, and with the true heart of compassion and love save all beings completely as we desire.

On the nature of Amitabha
Buddha, Shinran
stated that in their true form, both the Buddha and the Pure Land
Pure Land
are beyond comprehension, but due to people's ignorance and attachments they can only perceive Amitabha
in terms of his physical form described in the sutras, as well as the layout of the Pure Land.[11] If one attains true faith, then upon rebirth in the Pure Land, one can perceive their true form. However, if one's faith is incomplete, or they continue to rely on their own efforts, then they will be reborn in the outer regions of the Pure Land, and will still perceive Amitabha
Buddha through physical forms until eventually attaining true faith and proceeding further. Shinran's definition of Amitabha
Buddha as the absolute, equating the Pure Land
Pure Land
with Nirvana
itself, therefore differed somewhat from traditional interpretations of the Pure Land
Pure Land
in Buddhist scripture.[11] Age of Dharma
decline[edit] Shinran's interpretation of the final age of the Dharma, was consistent with other Buddhist thinkers of the time. In particular, he drew inspiration from a Chinese Buddhist master named Tao-cho
who centuries earlier taught that in the latter age of the Dharma
the Pure Land teachings were the most suitable for the capacities of the people of the time.[11] Shinran
felt this decline was inevitable that Japan
was already 600 years into age of Dharma
Decline, and that people were no longer capable of maintaining Buddhist practice, let alone enlightenment. Thus, only the vow of Amitabha
Buddha to save all beings could be relied upon. Other religious practices[edit] Shinran
acknowledged the religious practices of Japan
outside the Buddhist tradition, including Shinto kami, spirits, divination, astrology, etc., he believed that they were irrelevant in comparison to the power of Amitabha
Buddha.[11] To this day, omamori, ofuda and other charms are not found in Jodo Shinshu
Jodo Shinshu
temples. Statue[edit]

Statue of Shinran
Shonin on Riverside Drive, New York. A survivor of the bombing at Hiroshima, the statue was brought to New York in 1955

A statue of Shinran
Shonin stands in Upper West Side
Upper West Side
Manhattan, in New York City. Located on Riverside Drive between 105th and 106th Streets, in front of the New York Buddhist Church, the statue depicts Shinran in a peasant hat and sandals, holding a wooden staff, as he peers down on the sidewalk. Although this kind of statue is often found at Jōdo Shinshū
Jōdo Shinshū
temples, the statue is notable because it survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, standing a little more than a mile from ground zero. It was brought to New York in 1955. The plaque calls the statue “a testimonial to the atomic bomb devastation and a symbol of lasting hope for world peace.” Ashes[edit] On March 14, 2008, what are assumed to be some of the ash remains of Shinran
were found in a small wooden statue at the Jōrakuji temple in Shimogyō-ku, Kyōto. The temple was created by Zonkaku (1290–1373), the son of Kakunyo (1270–1351), one of Shinran's great grandchildren. Records indicate that Zonkaku inherited the remains of Shinran
from Kakunyo. The 24.2 cm wooden statue is identified as being from the middle of the Edo period. The remains were wrapped in paper.[15] See also[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Shinran.

Faith in Buddhism


^ a b c Popular Buddhism
In Japan: Shin Buddhist Religion & Culture by Esben Andreasen, pp. 13,14,15,17 University of Hawaii Press 1998, ISBN 0-8248-2028-2 ^ The Life and Works of Shinran
Shonin ^ https://www.britannica.com/biography/Shinran-Japanese-Buddhist-philosopher ^ Young Man Shinran: A Reappraisal of Shinran's life. Takamichi Takshataka, Wilfred Laurier Press, page 2 ^ Bloom, Alfred (1968). "The Life of Shinran
Shonin: The Journey to Self-Acceptance" (PDF). Numen. 15 (1): 6. doi:10.1163/156852768x00011. Archived from the original on 2011-06-11. CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link) ^ a b Shinran's Biography Nishi Honganji Homepage ^ Dobbins, James C. (1989). Jōdo Shinshū: Shin Buddhism
in Medieval Japan. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-33186-2.  ^ Bowring, Richard. Religious
Traditions of Japan: 500-1600. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005. 247. ^ Buswell, Robert Jr; Lopez, Donald S. Jr., eds. (2013). Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism( Shinran
). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. p. 807. ISBN 9780691157863.  ^ "Uncollected Letters, Collected Works of Shinran". Retrieved 2016-01-12.  ^ a b c d e f g h Dobbins, James C. (1989). "Chapter 2: Shinran
and His Teachings". Jodo Shinshu: Shin Buddhism
in Medieval Japan. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0253331862.  ^ a b Watts, Jonathan; Tomatsu, Yoshiharu (2005). Traversing the Pure Land Path: A Lifetime of Encounters with Hōnen
Shonin. Jodo Shu Press. pp. 136–137. ISBN 488363342X.  ^ "The TANNISHO: Chapters I to X". Retrieved 2015-06-30.  ^ "歎異抄の世界" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2015-06-30.  ^ "親鸞の遺骨?が木像胎内から 京都・常楽寺". Asahi Shimbun. 14 March 2008. Archived from the original on 2008-03-16. Retrieved 2008-03-15. 


Bloom, Alfred: The Essential Shinran: A Buddhist Path of True Entrusting, (World Wisdom) 2007. ISBN 978-1-933316-21-5 Ducor, Jerome : Shinran, Un réformateur bouddhiste dans le Japon médiéval (col. Le Maître et le disciple); Gollion, Infolio éditions, 2008 (ISBN 978-2-88474-926-8) Albert Shansky: Shinran
and Eshinni: A Tale of Love in Buddhist Medieval Japan, ISBN 1-4241-6301-3 (10), ISBN 978-1-4241-6301-4 (13) Dobbins, James C. (1989). Jodo Shinshu: Shin Buddhism
in Medieval Japan. Bloomington, Illinois: Indiana University Press. ISBN 9780253331861; OCLC 470742039 Dobbins, James C. (1990). The Biography of Shinran: Apotheosis of a Japanese Buddhist Visionary, History of Religions 30 (2), 179-196 Kenneth Doo Young Lee: "The Prince and the Monk: Shotoku Worship in Shinran's Buddhism", ISBN 978-0-7914-7022-0 Kokubu, Keiji. Pauro to Shinran
(Paul and Shinran). Kyoto: Hozokan, 1984. (This comparative study written in Japanese.) Shigaraki, Takamaro: A Life of Awakening. The Heart of the Shin Buddhist Path. Translation by David Matsumoto. Hozokan Publishing, Kyoto, 2005 Shinran
Shonin, Hisao Inagaki (trans): Kyōgyōshinshō: On Teaching, Practice, Faith, and Enlightenment, Berkeley: Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, 2003. ISBN 1-886439-16-8 Takamori, Kentetsu; Akehashi, Daiji; Ito, Kentaro: "You Were Born For A Reason, The Real Purpose Of Life (Ichimannendo Publishing, Inc. 2006) ISBN 978-0-9790471-0-7 Takamori, Kentetsu: "Unlocking Tannisho: Shinran's Words on the Pure Land Path" (Ichimannendo Publishing, Inc 2011) ISBN 978-09790-471-52 Ueda, Yoshifumi, and Hirota, Dennis: Shinran: An Introduction to His Thought. With Selections from the Shin Buddhism
Translation Series. (Kyoto: Hongwanji International Center, 1989.) S. Yamabe and L. Adams Beck (trans). Buddhist Psalms of Shinran Shonin, London: John Murray 1921 (e-book) Sokusui Murakami (2001). Joy of Shinran: Rethinking the Traditional Shinshu Views on the Concept of the Stage of Truly Settled, Pacific World Journal, Third Series, Number 3, 5-25. Archived from the original

External links[edit]

Works by Shinran
at Project Gutenberg Works by or about Shinran
at Internet Archive The Collected Works of Shinran Commentary on Shinran's Wasan (Hymns) in Three Volumes Homepage for Jodo Shinshu
Jodo Shinshu
Hongwanji-ha Hongwanji International Center - English

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WorldCat Identities VIAF: 25398003 LCCN: n81127017 ISNI: 0000 0000 8104 7337 GND: 118755129 SUDOC: 028389506 BNF: cb120234747 (data) BIBSYS: 9058