It is said that Jōdo-shinshu denomination, which has the largest number of followers in
Japan, has done a 180 degree turn with the original Buddhist way of thinking. Hajime
Nakamura, a great scholar of Eastern ideas, gives commentaries on this ―― more to
come both in English and in Japanese.
Some people might argue that the Pure Land (Jōdo) sects advised their believers to
abandon this world and induced them gladly to seek the other world. But that is
a serious misconception of the essence of the Pure Land teachings. According to the
Pure Land Buddhism, this world is subordinate to the other world, and the other world
reveals itself in this world, the land of impurity. The practice of the most pious among the
believers is to realize what is beyond this world within this very world.
“The Larger Sukhãvati Sūtra” (Daimuryō-ju kyō) praises the splendor and grandeur of the
heavenly world (Sukhãvati-lokandhãtu), and at the same time it puts emphasis upon the
noble meaning of moral deeds in this world. The maintenance of abstention and
purification of one’s self with sincerity and determination in this world even for a day and
night would excel a hundred years of good deeds in the heavenly world. The reason is, it
is taught, that this world abounds with evils and men suffer from afflictions.
The idea that he who believes in the true wish of Amitãbha would be delivered even
though he remained a layman, persisted all through the Heian period (794-1185) as
an influential current of thought. From court nobles, warriors, and hunters, to prostitutes
and robbers, they all expected, even if they remained laymen, to be born again in the
Pure Land. It was Hōnen (1133-1212) who gave a theoretical basis to such a tendency of
thinking. And this idea of becoming a Buddha, although one was a layman, was handed
down to Nichiren (1222-1282).
It was Shinran (1173-1262) who pushed this secularism to its extreme. He completely
denied the life of an ascetic. He advocated becoming a Buddhist as a layman, and put it
into practice himself. He worshiped Prince Shōtoku, who was a layman, as “the father of
the religion of Japan.” And he maintained that the absolute state commended by the
Pure Land Buddhism can be attained in the secular life.
Let us compare his idea with that of the Chinese Pure Land Buddhism. The Chinese Pure
Land Buddhism attach great importance to the significance of the moment of death.
According to Tao-ch’o (502-645) of China, at the moment of death, a man’s whole
existence is revealed by way of overall settlement of the accounts of his conduct not only
in this world but also in former existence. “Should a streak of evil thought come to one’s
mind at the moment of death, that being by far the most evil of all evils, one should
certainly fall into the road of agony (hell, the inferno of starvation, and the world of
beasts), making nil all his blessings in three worlds, i.e. carnal, material, and non-material.
This Chinese Buddhist’s view was inherited by Hōnen.
の意義を重んじる。シナの道綽 (どうしゃく) によると、臨終においてその人の全存在
According to Shinran, however, one puts an end to this life of delusion at the moment of
the attainment of faith, and a new life begins thereupon. In his view, therefore, the
moment of death dose not count much. “The true believer of the Buddha, since the
Buddha accepts and never abandon those genuinely devoted to nembutsu prayers, is to
stay in the rank of those already destined to be saved. Such a person, therefore, does not
need to wait until the moment of death to pray for the welcome of the Buddha. When
one’s faith is settled, one’s birth in the Pure Land is also determined.” At the moment
when one attains religious belief even in an everyday situation, he preaches, the cause for
one to be reborn into the Pure Land had already established.
My first anthology is published now.
Please purchase it from Amazon if you are interested in.
- 作者:Nakamura, Hajime
- 発売日: 1964/06/01
- メディア: ペーパーバック