1. When and where was the Buddha born?
According to one tradition, the Buddha was
born in India in 463B.C.and
died at the age of eighty.
Whatever the details, it can be said that
the Buddha was active some 2,400years ago,
approximatery 400 years before Christ.
In the region where present-day Tarai in
Nepal borders on India,
there was at that time a state ruled by the
The Buddha was the son of the tribal
and was therefore a prince.
The Chinese called this tribe Shaka in Chinese characters,
and that custom has been followed by the
He was the only son of Kings Suddhodana
and Queen Maya.
Since he was named Siddhartha and his father's
surname was Gautama,
he was called Gautama Siddharha.
2. What is Buddhism?
Buddhism is the teachings of the Buddha,
just as Christianity is the teachings of
Jesus Christ and
Islam is the teachings of mohammed.
Yet there is one major characteristic that
is unique to Buddhism,
and this is htat those who embrace
can also become Buddhas.
In Christianity, Judaism and Islam,
believers are encouraged to learn the teachings
of the founder
and to devote themselves to a unique,
absolute deity, but human beings cannot become
However, in Buddhism, by learning the truth
concerning the universe and human beings,
anyone is said to be able to become a buddha.
Hence it can be said that ultimately
is everyone's attempting to become
3. What kaid of person was Shinran (1173-1262)?
A disciple of Honen, Shinran developed his teacher's ideas and founded
the Jodo Shin sect of Pure Land Buddhism.
He was born in a family of the nobility in
But his family was poor and noble in a name
so when he was nine, hi was sent to in a
Later he was sent to serve wa a menial monk
at one of the temples on Mt.HIei.
It appears that Shinran's personality led him to stare attachments.
Neither the monks nor the doctrines on Mt.Hiei were able to save Shinran from this aoguish.
It was then that he heard regular rumors
about Honen propagating in the city.
Bearing this unresolvable anguish,
Shinran decided to carry out a hundred-day
retreat at Rokkaku-do,
which had been constructed by Prince Shotoku.
On the ninety-fifth day, Kannnon Bosastu
appeared in Shinran's dream and
proclaimed an affirmtion of his sufferings.
Shinran left the hall, his anguish intact,
visited Honen who was preaching his belief
in Amida Buddha.
This encounter changed Shinran's life.
Upon hearing Honen's teachings,
he was deeply maved and he immediately became
As Honen's disciple,
Shinran was able to delve into the depths
of the teachings of the Jodo sect,
but when Honen was banished to Shikoku, Shinran
too was implicated and
sent to what is now Niigata Prefecture.
was then thirty-five.
Pardoned four years later, Shinan set out
for present-day Ibaraki prefecture
where he spread the teacings of the nembustu.
The preaching of the absolute power of the
that one need only trust enfirely in Amida
captured the hearts of the people in that
It is also said that it was there that
wrote Teaching, Practice, Faith, Attainment.
After continuing propagation in the Kanto
area for a while,
Shinran moved to Kyoto where he a large number
He left this world at the age of ninety.
4. What is the Jodo Shin sect?
Honen's disciple Shinran founded the Jodo
In the present day the sect is divided into
the Jodo Shinshu Honganji branch,
with Nishi Honganji as its main temple, and
the Shinshu Otani branch,
with Higashi Honganji as its
When Honen was banished to Shikoku, Shinran
was sent to presento-day NIigata.
Afterwards when he was pardoned,
Shinran moved with Eshin whom he had married in
Echigo province to the Kanto area,
and it seems that around this time he had
formed his own way of thinking.
In the Buddha of Infinite Life Sutra is the story of
Amida Buddha before he became a buddha
still known as
It was while Amida was this bodhisattva
that he made forty-eight vows and
pledged not to become a buddha until
he had fulfilled them.
The eighteenth and if he could not bring
ten prayers then he would not become a buddha.
Shinran foused on this vow. Amida had alredy
become a buddha,
which meant that the vow was already fulfilled.
n other words, if we but have faith in Amida,
we have already been saved.
Taking the nembutsu as an invocation of gratitude to the Buddha,
he categorically denied practices of "one's
own power"as superfluous.
He preached absolute reliance on "power
of the other(=Amida),
"such that one is saved when one
The teaching of Shinran were transmitted
to posterity at Honganji,
and with the appearance of Rennyo,
the eighth head abbot, the Jodo Shin sect
witnessed dramatic growth.
Its influence touched off uprisings of the
common people against the authorities,
but under the eleventh abbot Kennyo the sect was suppressed by Oda Nobunaga.
During the subsequent period of warring states
the Jodo Shin sect split into the East and
West Honganji factions
which have remained to the present