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Principal Teachings of The True Sect of Pure Land, by Yejitsu Okusa, [1915], at


Buddhism is a most complex system of religion, and its founder, Shākyamuni, taught his followers in various ways according to their different abilities, characters, and dispositions; the Buddha opened many a gate of entrance for his disciples, and of these we now distinguish generally two main entrances or pathways

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to salvation. One of them is the way directly leading to the truth of salvation whereby one can escape from a world of suffering; while the other is a provisionary way which will prepare one to enter finally upon the path of truth. It is necessary for students of Buddhism to keep this distinction in mind. Let us now see what an insight Shinran Shōnin had into the essential truth of Buddhism, according to what it taught in the above-mentioned three sūtras and by those seven great predecessors of his.

Buddhism divides itself into two principal schools, the Lesser and the Greater Vehicle; the former is for the Shrāvakas and Pratyeka-buddhas, who are satisfied with a comparatively inferior attainment, while the Greater Vehicle teaches the way of great enlightenment whereby is made possible the attainment of Buddhahood. Therefore, the doctrine of the Greater Vehicle must be regarded as

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superior to that of the Lesser Vehicle. But in the former we again distinguish what is called the "Path for the Wise" (shōdōmon) from that of "Pure Land" (jōdomon). The "Path for the Wise" is one that will lead a Buddhist to sagehood while on earth, by uprooting the passions and disciplining himself in all virtues; whereas the "Path of Pure Land" teaches us to attain to Buddhahood by being born in the Pure Land of Amida. The "Path for the Wise" requires one to gain enlightenment through one's own efforts, and its prescribed discipline is naturally beset with difficulties. Therefore, it is properly called the "jiriki-kyō" or the doctrine of self-salvation, by which it is meant that one can be saved by one's own efforts; or the "nangyō-dō," which is to say, the way difficult to practise.

The "Path of Pure Land," on the other hand, teaches the possibility of attaining enlightenment through a power

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other than oneself; and, therefore, this way must be considered far easier than the other, and we call it the "tariki-kyō," that is, the doctrine that teaches salvation by a power other than one's own; it is also called the "igyō-dō," which means the way easy to practise. It is evident, then, that if a man is not highly endowed with wisdom and intelligence, the following of the "Path for the Wise" must be said to be extremely difficult. For such people as ourselves who were born in these latter days far from the time of the Buddha, and who are not endowed with wisdom nor intelligence, the best policy will be to walk along the "Path of Pure Land," believing in salvation through the grace of Amida.

The Buddhism of the Greater Vehicle can also be viewed as having two classes of teaching, the "Gradual" (zen) and "Abrupt" (ton). The "Gradual" is the doctrine that teaches the attainment of final enlightenment after gradually pas-

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sing through stages of discipline; while, according to the "Abrupt" teaching, one can reach the goal, as if by a sudden leap, without successively passing through various stages of ascension.

This distinction of the "Gradual" and the "Abrupt" can also be applied to the "Path for the Wise" as well as to the "Path of Pure Land." The "Gradual" teaching in the "Path for the Wise" says that Buddhahood is attainable by practising the six virtues of perfection (pāramitas) for a period of three asamkhyas and one hundred great kalpas. The "Abrupt" teaching in the "Path for the Wise," on the contrary, shows no such patience, for it declares that when a man gets enlightened as to his spiritual oneness with the Buddha, he is a Buddha. While this latter teaching of Buddhism points out the direct way of attaining Buddhahood, the "Gradual" way must be said to be provisional in its relation

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to the one just mentioned, in as much as its function is to prepare one for the final and real comprehension of the truth.

Now, the distinction of the "Gradual" and the "Abrupt" in the "Path of Pure Land" is that, according to the former, one is able to enter into the Pure Land of Amida only by degrees, and not, as it were, at a stroke; for a man can only be born on the outskirts of Pure Land if he wishes to be there by the accumulation of good deeds through his own efforts, and it is after another accumulation of merits that he can have his faith firmly established and at last be a resident in the Pure Land proper: whereas the "Abrupt" doctrine teaches that when a man, having an immovable faith in the absolute saving power of Amida, completely resigns himself into the hands of the Buddha, this faith of his at once determines his destiny to be born in the Pure Land proper, and

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he is able to have a spiritual insight into the enlightenment of the Buddha. It is apparent, then, that this latter teaching penetrates more deeply into the truth of the doctrine of Pure Land than the other one, which is merely a provisionary or preparatory step leading up to the ultimate truth.

There are, thus, two classes or grades of teaching in the doctrine for the Wise as well as in that of Pure Land, provisionary and ultimate. But the ultimate teaching in the doctrine for the Wise, when compared to the corresponding grade of teaching in the doctrine of Pure Land, must be regarded as still belonging to the preparatory grade; for the former is the path beset with difficulties requiring an extraordinary amount of discipline to overcome them. The tabular view that follows will make us understand the foregoing argument more graphically:

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The Lesser Vehicle (Hinayāna)

for Shrāvakas

The Provisionary

and Pratyekabuddhas

The Greater Vehicle (Mahāyāna)


Path for the Wise—Provisionary one (Shu-shutsu). 43

Path of Pure Land—Provisionary one (Wō-shutsu) 44


Path for the Wise—Ultimate teaching (Shu-chō) 45

Path of Pure Land—Ultimate teaching (Wō-chō) 46

The Ultimate.

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[paragraph continues] The conclusion of all this is that the "Abrupt" teaching in the doctrine of Pure Land is the final path leading to the truth of Buddhahood attainable by all sentient beings; and this is no more than the teaching of the True Sect of Pure Land.


63:43 "Lengthwise going-out."

63:44 "Crosswise going-out."

63:45 "Lengthwise passing-over."

63:46 "Crosswise passing-over"

These four terms are too technical to be briefly explained here; suffice it to quote a passage from the Shinshū-kyōshi ("Principal teachings of the True Sect" by K. Ogurusu), relating to the subject. The translation is by Mr. James Troup of England.

"Again, within the Shōdōmon there are the methods (schools) of 'lengthwise going-out' and 'lengthwise passing-over.' The Hossō and San-ron Sects belong to the school of 'lengthwise going-out'; the Ke-gon, Tendai, Shin-gon, and Zen Sects belong to that of the 'lengthwise passing-over.' In the Jōdo-mon there are the methods of 'crosswise going-out,' and 'crosswise passing-over.' Salvation by various actions constitutes 'crosswise going-out.' This depends on the power of one's self. Salvation by remembrance of the Name of Buddha constitutes 'crosswise passing-over.' This depends on the Power of Another."

Next: III. Why Called the True Sect of Pure Land?