Establishing Shinjin: the Premise of Peace and Tranquility

Eiken Kobai Soai University Japan


The topic of the 2008 Conference is gYo no naka annon nare.h (gMay peace and tranquility prevail throughout the world.h)

As everyone knows, the following words may be found in a letter by Shinran:
gThose who feel uncertain of birth should say the nembutsu, aspiring first for their own birth. Those who feel that their own birth is completely settled should, mindful of the Buddhafs benevolence, hold the nembutsu in their hearts and say it to respond in gratitude to that benevolence, with the wish, gMay there be peace in the world (May peace and tranquility prevail throughout the world) and may the Buddhafs teaching spread!h cc..
Seventh month, 9th day, to Shoshin-bo (A Collection of Letters 2 (1))

Simultaneous terrorist attacks occurred in the US in 2001, followed by the successive outbreaks of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, with related terrorist incidents still occurring in the years following.

We have the teaching of Shinran, which responds to the statement, gMay there be peace in the world (May peace and tranquility prevail throughout the world)h by saying that a person can kill this peace, so we must make efforts toward the realization of a society of true and real peace. Without this, there is no end to the present pattern of hurting.

As mentioned above, before the words gMay there be peace in the world (May peace and tranquility prevail throughout the world),h there are the words: gThose who feel uncertain of birth should say the nembutsu aspiring first for their own birth. Those who feel that their own birth is completely settled should, mindful of the Buddhafs benevolence, hold the nembutsu in their hearts and say it to respond in gratitude to that benevolence.h I think th is a very important point.

Those who feel uncertain of their birth do not understand clearly whether they are born in the Pure Land or not. What are called gpersons of nyakuzonnyakumoh (appearing to exist at times and not to exist at others; at times one is convinced that one will attain birth, and at other times one feels that one will not (2), their shinjin is not yet settled. As for the meaning of gthose who feel uncertain of birth should say the nembutsu aspiring first for their own birth, I do not think Shinran teaches them first to say the nembutsu without shinjin, for their birth.
As is stated in Hymns of the Dharma-Ages 66:
No less than people of shinjin,
Practicers of doubt who cling to self-power should
Awaken to the benevolence of Amidafs great compassion
And endeavor in saying the nembutsu (Hymns of the Dharma-Ages 66 (3)

We should first establish shinjin, and should say the nembutsu. This nembutsu is after establishing shinjin (with shinjin).
The year of composition is not written with the letter above from gA Collection of Letters 2.h Many scholars say Shinran wrote it before the Zenran Incident (disowning Zenran), when Shinran was 83 years old. But I think this letter was written after the Zenran Incident, when Shinran was at least 85 years old, because the text of A Collection of Letters 2h begins, gI have carefully read your letter dated the first of the sixth month.h (4)
In this sentence, gyourh refers to Shoshin. Shinran informed Shoshin in Kanto about disowning Zenran on May 29th of the year he was 84 years old, on the 9th day of the seventh month. Shinran wrote gA Collection of Letters 2h when he was at least 85 years old.

For Shinran, age 85 was late in life, and it was the year he began to write the gHymns of the Dharma-Ages.h In gHymns of the Dharma-Ages,h especially gHymns on the Offense of Doubting the Primal Vow,h Shinran condemned doubting the Primal Vow, and distinguished between gnembutsu with shinjinh (after establishing shinjin) and gnembutsu without shinjinh (before establishing shinjin). For this reason, I think the gnembutsuh in the statement gthose who feel uncertain of birth should say the nembutsu aspiring first for their own birthh refers to gnembutsu after establishing shinjin.h

After establishing shinjin, those who feel that their own birth is completely settled should, mindful of the Buddhafs benevolence, hold the nembutsu in their hearts and say it to respond in gratitude to that benevolence with the wish, gMay there be peace in the world (May peace and tranquility prevail throughout the world.)h

In this way, the premise of peace and tranquility is to be found in Shinranfs teachings on establishing shinjin. I also believe that true social activity can be practiced only by establishing shinjin.

About shinjin, Shinran wrote in gThe True Teaching, Practice and Realization of the Pure Land Way, in the chapter on shinjin guntainted by the hindrance of doubt, (5) and in the gNotes on Once-Calling and Many-Calling,h ghearing the Vow ot the Tathagata and being free of doubt.(6) This is shinjin, and there is no other.

Rennyo said in Article 93 of gHeard and Recorded during Master Rennyofs Lifetime,h

gIf I do not have shinjin, it is like I have nothing, and so if I tell others, to whom I want to give shinjin, to take it from me, they will not understand.h

Thus, shinjin is not made to be preached by those lacking shinjin.

In short, the Premise of shinjin is both preaching and social activity.

Notes

1. The Collected Works of Shinran. Jodo Shinshu Hongwangi-ha, p. 560
2. The Collected Works of Shinran. Jodo Shinshu Hongwangi-ha, p. 373
3. The Collected Works of Shinran. Jodo Shinshu Hongwangi-ha, p. 414
4. The Collected Works of Shinran. Jodo Shinshu Hongwangi-ha, p. 560
5. The Collected Works of Shinran. Jodo Shinshu Hongwangi-ha, p. 94
6. The Collected Works of Shinran. Jodo Shinshu Hongwangi-ha, p. 474
(Fifteenth European Shin conference in the town of Bad Reichenhall, Germany,26,8,2008)