SHIN AND ZEN INTEGRATED PRACTICE

PURE LAND HISTORY
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The Founder of Shin Buddhism
Shinran: the great Buddhist reformer
Shinran Shonin

A devotional denomination of Mahayana Buddhism in China, Korea, Vietnam and Japan, centering on veneration of the Buddha Amitabha (in Japan also known as Amida). According to the Pure Land Sutras, composed in India in the 1st century B.C.E., Amida vowed to save all sentient beings by granting them rebirth in his realm, the "Western Paradise," a pure land endowed with miraculous characteristics ensuring its inhabitants easy entry into nirvana. Salvation can be attained by invoking the name of Amida with absolute faith in his grace and the efficacy of his vow. It was believed that Amida and his retinue would appear to the faithful at the time of death and convey them to his paradise.

In both China and Japan the movement gained impetus from the idea of the "end of the Dharma," which divided the development of Buddhism into three ages, that of the true, the counterfeit, and the decaying dharma, or Buddhist teaching. Those living in the present (the final, degenerate age) cannot attain enlightenment by the original means of self-effort, austerity, and superior knowledge and must rely entirely on faith. There were devotees of Amida in China as early as the end of the 3nd century C.E.; the sect was officially founded in 402 by its first patriarch, Hui-Yuan. Later masters spread the faith among the masses, sometimes using evangelical methods of contrasting the torments of hell with the bliss of the "Western Paradise." In Japan, Pure Land Buddhism was established as a sect by Honen (1133-1212), who taught that even those who had mastered Buddhist philosophy "should behave themselves like simpleminded folk" and renounce all practices except the nembutsu, recitation of the formula Namu Amida Butsu [homage to Amida Buddha]. His disciple Shinran (1173-1262) carried Honen's teachings to their logical conclusion by abandoning monastic celibacy and marrying. Shinran held that reliance on one's own effort or on any practice other than the nembutsu would show lack of faith in Amida. He broke with Honen's followers on these issues and became the leader of the True Pure Land Sect oe Jodo Shinshu (Shin Buddhism in the West), which grew to be the largest Buddhist  religious denomination  in Japan. Today Pure Land Buddhism has the most adherents in the world. Shin Buddhism is the largest denomination within Pure Land Buddhism with churches, associations and smaller sanghas throughout the world: mainly in the USA, Canada, Brazil, Great Britain, Singapore and with smaller groups in Argentina and Mexico.

 
 
Copyright 2008. G.R. Lewis, All Rights Reserved

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