Triple Gem
Chapter Thirteen

Honen Shonin

Jodo Shu - Pure Land (Mahayana) (Japanese)

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Founder - Honen Shonin (1133 - 1212)

1133 Born on April 7 in Mimasaka in present day Okayama Prefecture

1145 Leaves home to become a monk at the Tendai center of Mt. Hiei

1150 Moves to the Kurodani Retreat area of Mt. Hiei and studies under Eiku

1175 Has conversion experience reading Shan-tao's Commentary on the Meditation Sutra and leaves Mt. Hiei.

1186 "Ohara Debate" with group of Buddhist scholar-monks from Nara and Mt. Hiei marks seminal moment in legitimation and spread of teachings

1191 Gives series of lectures on the Three Pure Land Sutras (jodosanbukyo) to a large group of scholar monks at Todai-ji in Nara

1195 Genchi becomes the first of his major disciples

1198 Honen's magnum opus, the Senchaku Hongan Nembutsu Shu (Passages on the Selection of the Nembutsu in the Original Vow), is dictated and transcribed to his disciples Junsai, Kansai and Shoku.

1198-1206 Experiences sustained states of absorption and spontaneous visualization of the Pure Land which he chronicles in the Sanmai-hottokuki (Record of Attaining Samadhi)

1201 Shinran, the founder of Jodo Shinshu, becomes his disciple

1204 Writes the Shichikajo-kishomon (Seven Article Pledge) in response to the Genkyu Oppression by the monks of Mt. Hiei

1207 Sent into exile to Shikoku by Emperor Gotoba after two of his ladies in waiting are converted and become nuns under Honen's disciples Anraku and Juren who are subsequently beheaded.

1211 Finally is allowed to return to Kyoto four years after his pardon

1212 Writes Ichimai Kishomon (The One Sheet Document) and passes away on January 23 reciting the nembutsu

Main Image

Amida Buddha (Amitabha Buddha)


The cultivation of unshakable belief in the all-encompassing mercy of Amida Buddha, regardless of gender or social status; the recitation of the holy name of Amida Buddha, Namu Amida Butsu; the development of one's morality and the contribution to society; and attaining birth in the Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss of Amida Buddha.


The Triple Sutras of the Pure Land Buddhism based on the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha, namely,

1) Muryoju-kyo:
The Larger Sukhavativyuha Sutra is also known as the Large Sutra. The 48 vows of Amida Buddha are written along with their fulfillments.

2) Kanmuryoju-kyo:
This sutra describes both Amida Buddha and the majestic adornments of his Pure Land. Thirteen types of meditation are described in detail. This sutra states that anyone can be born into the Pure Land by the recitation of Nembutsu, Namu Amida Butsu.

3) Amida-kyo:
Known as the Small Sutra, this Sutra describes the beautiful scenery of the Pure Land of Bliss. The Amida-kyo is frequently read in various Jodo Shu ceremonies.

The Creed of Jodo Shu Buddhists

1) Believing in the salvation by Amida Buddha as preached by Shakyamuni Buddha in his teachings, we pray to Amida Buddha as our anchor, and give thanks and services in return.

2) Following the teachings of Honen Shonin, the founder of Jodo Shu Buddhism, we repeat the sacred name of Amida Buddha, and always try to be sincere and to be introspective.

3) We extend the circle of prayer to Amida Buddha, help one another, and try to contribute to the promotion of social purification as well as to peace and welfare.