The Spirit of Honen Shonin for the World
A Message for the Beginning of the 21st Century from Jodo Shu
It is believed that the 20th Century marked a time of limitless potential for humankind. The progress of scientific technology and rational though enriched human culture and our daily lives. However, as at the same time, we created a legacy of darkness with the terrible power of nuclear weapons, the ideologies of nationalism and racism, the destruction of our natural environment, the cultivation of human excess and greed, the disintegrating family unit, and the erosion of morals and education.
Unable to escape this legacy, we must recapture what Honen Shonin spoke of as "the self-awareness of ordinary folks". In order to turn the tide of this darkness, we must confront and resolve the various problems of armed conflict, environmental crisis, moral degradation, outmoded education, human rights violations, and insufficient social welfare.
Honen always taught that if we recite the nenbutsu with firm trust in Amida Buddha's original vow (hongan), a genuine way of living emerges, and we can attain Birth in the land of Amida Buddha. In this way, the nenbutsu, "Namu Amida Butsu", has led many people out of their darkness.
Honen Shonin confronted the sorrow of people mired in delusion and so gained insight into a new kind of liberation. The culmination of Honen's teaching can be stated as "The Pure Land Way is to accept one's ignorance to gain Birth in the Pure Land" and "Do not busy yourself with your finite wisdom, but endeavor to simply recite the nenbutsu." In this way, "the self-awareness of ordinary folks" can be understood in Honen's direct confrontation with his own limitations. The view of humanity is a starting point for resolving the various problems of the 21st century.
The essential thought of Buddhism is Dependent Origination (pratitya-samutpada). Dependent Origination teaches us that all human life comes together as one. We live in mutual interdependence.
Honen Shonin revered the great Chinese Master Shan-tao (Zendo) who wished that "all sentient beings vow to be born together in the Pure Land." Indeed, this vow reflects the mind of Honen and shows his understanding of "co-existence" as based on the thought of Dependent Origination. This teaching of "co-existence" is truly a guiding principle for the 21st Century.
Jodo shu, its priests and temple families, vow to spread this message of Honen Shonin's spirit to families, communities, and the world at large.