Demythologizing Pure Land BuddhismYasuda Rijin and the Shin Buddhist Tradition

Demythologizing Pure Land BuddhismYasuda Rijin and the Shin Buddhist Tradition

Paul B. Watt

Print publication date: 2016

ISBN: 9780824856328

Publisher: University of Hawai'i Press

Abstract

The True Pure Land sect of Japanese Buddhism, or Shin Buddhism, grew out of the teachings of Shinran (1173–1262), a Tendai-trained monk. Shinran held that even those unable to fulfill the requirements of the traditional Buddhist path could attain enlightenment through the experience of shinjin, “the entrusting mind”—an expression of the profound realization that the Buddha Amida, who promises birth in his Pure Land to all who trust in him, was nothing other than the true basis of all existence and the sustaining nature of human beings. Over the centuries, the subtleties of Shinran's teachings were often lost. Rituals developed to focus one's mind at the moment of death so one might travel to the Pure Land unimpeded, and an artistic tradition celebrated the moment when Amida and his retinue of bodhisattvas welcome the dying believer. Many Western interpreters tended to reinforce this view of Pure Land Buddhism. This book introduces the thought and selected writings of Yasuda Rijin (1900–1982), a modern Shin Buddhist thinker affiliated with the Ōtani, or Higashi Honganji, branch of Shin Buddhism. Yasuda sought to restate the teachings of Shinran within a modern tradition that began with the work of Kiyozawa Manshi (1863–1903) and extended through the writings of Yasuda's teachers Kaneko Daiei (1881–1976) and Soga Ryōjin (1875–1971). For them, and Yasuda in particular, Amida did not exist in some other-worldly paradise but rather Amida and his Pure Land were to be experienced as lived realities in the present.