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Shinran and His Work, by Arthur Lloyd, [1910], at

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Chapter XII.

Of Faith in General, (i).

(Extracts from ancient writers.)

I have judged it best in this chapter, instead of following the order of the questions and answers in Shinshu Hyakuwa (of which a short analysis will be found in the next chapter) to give from another book, the Shinshu Seikun, already cited, a catena of passages taken, mainly, from Japanese writers of the Middle Ages. If the Christian reader, bearing in mind what I have said of the wonderful parallels between the story of Amida, incarnate for man's salvation in Hōzō Biku, and that of Christ, will read these passages in a Christian sense, he will, I think, find theta to be not devoid of edification. He will also, I believe, acknowledge that the devout worshipper of Amida, even though he may never actually have heard the name of Christ, may yet be far nearer to the Kingdom of God than many a man who calls himself a Christian, but shuts his eyes to the pure light of the Christian Faith. I shall take the liberty of interspersing among the extracts comments and criticisms of my own, but I shall do so in such a way as to make what is my own clearly distinguishable from what I have derived from ancient Japanese sources.

127. * "They who travel along the Way make Faith their starting point."

Genshin 942–1017.

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127. "It is said in the Nirvana Sutra that the Believing Heart is the Cause of Supreme Perfect Enlightenment. There are in truth innumerable causes of Enlightenment, but if you understand what a Believing Heart is you embrace them all."

Anon. *

127. "In the House of Life and Death we stay for a while with doubt and fear: into the City of Nirvana we make our entrance through Faith."

Genkū 1133–1212.

"Among the Shōnin's followers (i.e. Shinran's), the Believing Heart means Trust, and Trust is the same thing as Peace of Mind."

Rennyo 1415–1499.

[In this sentence, the word for "trust" is tanomu. Tanomu is used as a verb meaning to "entrust somebody with something" or to "commit some particular duty to some one's care." The believer in Amida entrusts his salvation to Amida's care, and after that he has peace of mind (anshin). The word tanomu is really the παρατίθεναι in 1. St. Pet. iv. 19. cf. also 2. Tim. i. 12.]

128. "That which is called Faith (the Believing Heart) is Faith in the Imputation (to us) of the Virtue of the Great Vow."


[I have here given "imputation" as the equivalent for the word ekō #. The word, which is used commonly for Masses

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for the dead, means "to divert from one person towards another." So the Virtue of the Great Vow is diverted or transferred from Amida to the believer. Cf. Romans iv. 18–25.]

128. "Faith is the implicit and absolute Belief in a man's words. For instance, if a man, whom we know and hold in confidence, should tell us of what he has seen,—here were mountains and yonder was a river,—we should believe what he tells us, even though we had not seen the country ourselves. Nay, though others should come and tell us a different story, if we had confidence in the first narrator, we should still believe his story, whatever the rest might say. Thus is it with our Faith. We believe in Mida's Holy Vow, because it is S’akyamuni that has told us of it, and we can have no two minds about it."

Shinran 1168–1257.

130. " The New Birth (ōjō) of all Sentient Creatures has been perfected by Amida: but Sentient Creatures remain in doubt and disbelief, and are consequently still entangled in the wheel of existence (ruten #). The Sun shineth to every quarter under Heaven, but the blind see it not, and are not enlightened, because their eyes are holden. Thus also, though our New Birth (ōjō) is all settled so far as Amida's Enlightenment of us is concerned, our want of belief causes us, poor sinful creatures, to remain in the wheel of Life and Death."


131. "In order that we may discern things, we want more than eyes, we must have the light of

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the Sun. Our New Birth is not the work of our own mind, it comes from the Mind of the Tathāgata. But here, as it is a question that regards His own words, we need not ask whether we have light on them or not, whether the darkness has been dispelled or not, whether the Tathāgata vouchsafes to us His enlightenment or not. "If I cannot procure Salvation for all Beings I will not accept the Buddhahood for myself," said the Tathāgata, when, as Hōzō Biku, He had reached the Stage of Perfectionment. The Sun has risen, shall we doubt whether Night still lingers? If the Sun has risen, the Night has gone, and the Sunlight alone is shed abroad. It is therefore of the utmost importance for us clearly to discern the enlightenment gained for us by the Tathāgata. For, if the Tathāgata, in the Person of Hōzō Biku, did not gain salvation (shōgaku) for us, our New Birth is a matter of uncertainty. But inasmuch as Hōzō Biku, who made the Vow, that he would not accept Buddhahood unless the New Birth were made possible for all Sentient Creatures, is really identical with Amida the Tathāgata, why should we have any doubt?"


[I would suggest, as a parallel passage to this, 1. Cor. xv. 12–18. I feel sure that the reader cannot fail to be struck by the constant, and, to my mind, significant echoes of Pauline doctrine that insist on making themselves heard.]

135. "There are three words that are practically

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identical, to entrust (tanomu), to believe (shinzuru), and Salvation (on-tasuke). For it is the Mystery of the tariki Faith that there is no room in it for doubt,—only for thankfulness."


135. "Just as a Son receives his father's goods (as a present earnest of future inheritance), even so do we receive, in the present life, the Merits of Amida's labours for us (i.e. ōjō). All Amida's prolonged labours were undertaken for the Salvation (on-tasuke) of each single individual amongst us, so that they are a matter for individual and personal gratitude, whenever the layman hears the recital of Amida's Vow made for his sake."


137. "Even though the Mind of Faith (kimyō no kokoro) should rise up within us, that is none of our doing. It is the Mercy and Compassion of Amida that is shining in our hearts."

[Cf. Eph. ii. 8; and especially 2 Cor. iv. 6. "God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus." The parallelism is all the more striking because of the use of the word φωτισμός by St. Paul.]

137. "The word shinjin, "believing heart," may also be read as "straight heart." It is found in the believer, and is therefore supposed to come from the believer. But this a mistake. It comes from the Heart of the Tathāgata. For, if faith came from the crooked heart of

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man, it could not be 'straight.' It is only because it is the gift of Amida that Faith can be described as 'straight.'"


[The character for shin in shinjin is #, and means both 'belief,' or 'faith,' and 'straightness,' and 'honesty.' Shinjin therefore means both a 'believing heart,' and also an 'honest heart.' The quotation is from an anonymous book, Shinshūkyō yōshū. It is described in Shinshu Seikun p. 563.]

245. "The word Is-shin (One Heart) signifies the Union of Hearts, that is, the Union of our heart with that of Amida. The Jūgiron of the Tendai sect says truly that in the world there is always a lover and a beloved, and that love is perfected when lover and beloved meet. Amida is the lover, we are the beloved, and when we turn with our whole heart to Amida and surrender ourselves to Him, our hearts become one with His, and i-sshin is realized. But a heart which is distracted over many things cannot realize this Union—that privilege is reserved for those hearts that are devoted to the thankful remembrance of Amida's Mercies (the Nembutsu)."


[Cf. St. Luke x. 40–42]

146. "In the Gate of Holy Path (Shōdōmon, see above chap. ii, p. 12) men work out Wisdom, and thus escape from life and death: by the Gate of the Pure Land, men return to foolishness, and thereby enter into Life (ō-jō). They put no trust in Wisdom, they profess themselves

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to be merely helpless, and unwise persons. But they put their whole trust in the Great Vow, and thus enter into Life.


[1. Cor. i. 17–25. When the rich young man came to Christ, the Master told him that if he would enter into life he must keep the commandments. That was the Shōdōmon. When He told him to abandon all the riches wherein he trusted, and "come follow me,"—that was the Jōdomon—"thou shalt have treasure in Heaven." S. Matth. xix. 16–22]

147. "When a man hears the preaching of the Pure Land, and, believing in it, feels a thrill of pleasure run through his frame, it shows that in some past life he has already heard something of that of which he now receives the full message. And now that he believes, he receives the New Birth. But if he hears as though he heard not, and gives no credence, he is one that has. but newly come up to the sphere of humanity from one of the three paths of evil. The impediments of sin have not yet been removed, and there is as yet no turning of Faith in his heart. Inasmuch as he does not yet believe he cannot yet escape from the bonds of life and death.


[There are in Buddhism six grades of Sentient Existence. 1. Heaven (where dwell gods and angels), 2. Man, 3. the Animals. All these have virtues and good qualities of their own. But below these come (4), Monsters of Greediness (gaki), and (5)

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[paragraph continues] Monsters of Lust and Violence (shūra), and these may be in human form, though devoid of the qualities of Humanity. Below all (6), are the demons that inhabit the Hells (jigoku). These last three are known as the san-akudō, or 'three bad spheres of existence.' It is the privilege of Man that to him the Gospel can be preached, for Man, though "lower than the Angels," has the hope of being "crowned with glory and honour." It is for this reason that we so often find the expression ukegataki jinshin wo ukeru, "to receive a human body which it is so hard to receive." This extract also illustrates another doctrine which I have frequently cone across in Shinshu writings, to wit, that the call contained in the recital of the Holy Name must in the end prove effectual. We may hear it once and again, and turn away, but it will have found a lodgment in the mind and ultimately (it may be a long time later), when the call comes, it will have a familiar and a welcome sound. (Rom. viii. 29. 30).]

166. " There are two ways of embarking on (the ship of) the Great Vow, and two ways of not embarking. To take the latter first, we do not embark on the Great Vow, when (i) we commit sin. For, in that case, we feel that our Salvation (ōjō) will not be secure, even though we repeat the Nembutsu. So we hesitate to take the decisive step. But (ii), we also refrain from

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embarking, when the religious mind (dōshin, lit. the heart of the Way, the virtuous mind) is aroused in us. For then we feel that, inasmuch as we are so very religious, we shall obtain Salvation for our own virtue and without any need of reciting the Nembutsu. We place our own Virtue first, and the Great Vow second, and so we neglect the Act of Faith.

Next, as to the two ways of embarking. (i). We embark, when we have committed as in. For then we feel that the commission of sin settles our fate and determines our condemnation to Hell. At that moment we hear the recital of the Sacred Name, and the thought, "Oh the joy of the assurance of Salvation!" comes to our mind, and we take the step of Faith, and embark. And (ii) the step is taken when we have the religious mind. For then we say, 'this virtuous feeling will not cause my salvation. This feeling has existed from a remote past, and yet I have not been freed from the bonds of life and death. I will not therefore ask myself whether I have religious sentiments or not, I will not revolve in my mind the weight or otherwise of the sins I have committed. I will only turn my thoughts to the Salvation which can be obtained by the Invocation of the Holy Name.' When a man thinks thus he embarks on the ship Tariki Hongwan (Faith in Another's Power—the Power of the Great Vow)."



93:* The numbers refer to the pages in Shinshu Seikun.

94:* When I put "Anon" after a quotation I mean that I have not been able to find the author's name. In the Shinshu Seikun only the names of the books are given.

Next: Chapter XIII. Of Faith in General, (ii).