Shinran and His Work, by Arthur Lloyd, , at sacred-texts.com
The word shōjin, though generally limited to fasting from meat, really has a much wider signification. It implies the purification of the soul from every impurity that may prove an obstacle in its path into the presence of the Unseen Deity.
The devout Shinshuist is taught, not merely to abstain at the proper seasons from meat, but to extend the scope of his fast by abstaining from fish, from wine, from tobacco, from pungent herbs, from all occasions that minister to sin. Shinshuism does not however fall into the Manichean error of considering these things bad in themselves. It merely rejects them, whenever, and so far as, they become ministers of temptation.
And if, human nature being what it is, the Shinshuist does not always rise to the high ideal thus set before him, we will not throw stones. We will think of our own shortcomings, and by our example help the Shinshuist to keep his own law better.
In § 99 we are warned that we cannot be saved by the observance of any ceremony. Ceremonies are to be observed, we are told, for the purpose of keeping our faith alive and warm, an effect which they undoubtedly produce if properly carried out. They
are also valuable indices whereby we may know the state and progress of a man's faith. For, says our author, when we see a zaike, which is trim and nicely kept, with signs of prosperity, if not of wealth, we may conclude with justice that the "parsonage people" are industrious and diligent. Similarly, when we find a zaike in which the duties of the Faith are laid aside, or perfunctorily performed, we may safely conclude that the religion of that family is at a low ebb.