Honen's development regarding auxiliary and miscellaneous practices over time.

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The Mantra Mongoose
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Honen's development regarding auxiliary and miscellaneous practices over time.

Post by The Mantra Mongoose » Sat May 16, 2020 2:20 am

Hey everyone, I wanted to ask those who follow Jodo Shu what they think about this paper. Its general thrust is to try an explain Honen's development of though regarding auxiliary, and miscellaneous practices over time. Its seems that Honen seemed to grow to believe that once a firm faith in the essential vow, and nembustu as the paramount practice was established a individual could use previously miscellaneous practices as auxiliary practices to support it. In "The Promise of Amida Buddha" pg 178 "A Reply to the Nun Holding the Second Rank in the Court of Kamakura", and pg 255 "the Dialogue on Twelve Topics" which is referenced in the paper seem to support the papers view that over time this was the case. I could be completely wrong about all of this so i wanted to see what everyone thinks. I even asked the Jodo Shu priest i email frequently, and he seems to support these claims though i could be taking him out of context.


This is the paper: http://jsri.jp/English/Jodoshu/conferen ... okawa.html

This is a diagram displaying the process of though: Image
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Hung! On the northwest border of the country Oḍḍiyāna,
On the pollen heart of a lotus flower,
The marvelous, supreme accomplishment has been attained.
You are renowned as the Lotus-Born,
Surrounded by a retinue of many Ḍākinīs.
Following you to be like you,
I beseech you to come and bless me.
Guru Padma Siddhi Hung -The Seven Line Prayer of Guru Rinpoche

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明安 Myoan
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Re: Honen's development regarding auxiliary and miscellaneous practices over time.

Post by 明安 Myoan » Sat May 16, 2020 6:00 am

Have another look at chapter 4 in the Senchakushu, on the Three Classes of People. More food for thought.
With a heart wandering in ignorance down this path and that, to guide me I simply say Namu-Amida-Butsu. -- Ippen

Reciting the nembutsu and believing in birth in the Pure Land naturally give rise to the Three Minds and the Four Modes of Practice. -- Master Hōnen

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The Mantra Mongoose
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Re: Honen's development regarding auxiliary and miscellaneous practices over time.

Post by The Mantra Mongoose » Sun May 17, 2020 6:46 pm

Have another look at chapter 4 in the Senchakushu, on the Three Classes of People. More food for thought.
Hey Myoan, I had another look, and it honestly supports the premise of the paper in my opinion. As i study Honen's though and more and reflect on the liturgy/ceremonies that the modern Jodo shu school has inherited from his successors its starting to make much more sense to me why it developed the way it did. For example, taking the five precepts as a Jodo Shu priest or layman, holiday veneration of Shayamuni Buddha and the pouring of the tea over his statue, refuge prayers, and others. all these practices become supports for nembustu as long as a settled faith/reliance in Amida's vow and nembustu is always placed first and foremost in practice. I even like how in "The Promise of Amida Buddha" Honen in one place even says are whole live can become auxillary practices for nembustu.
Hung! On the northwest border of the country Oḍḍiyāna,
On the pollen heart of a lotus flower,
The marvelous, supreme accomplishment has been attained.
You are renowned as the Lotus-Born,
Surrounded by a retinue of many Ḍākinīs.
Following you to be like you,
I beseech you to come and bless me.
Guru Padma Siddhi Hung -The Seven Line Prayer of Guru Rinpoche

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明安 Myoan
Former staff member
Posts: 2492
Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:11 am

Re: Honen's development regarding auxiliary and miscellaneous practices over time.

Post by 明安 Myoan » Thu May 21, 2020 5:08 pm

I think it's a very good article on the JSRI's site.
Especially for understanding the unique role of auxiliary practices in Jodo Shu, an exclusive nembutsu school.
You're right that the awakening of faith and nembutsu as the basis are key points that tie these ideas together, as illustrated in the JSRI diagram.

In the chapter on the Three Classes of People, Honen writes about the three "implications" of Shakyamuni Buddha teaching the countless other practices in addition to nembutsu.
They are (1) that Shakyamuni Buddha taught other practices in order to lead all beings to recite nembutsu, (2) that other practices can be supports to nembutsu, and (3) that the Three Classes of the Larger Sutra describe all the types of sentient beings received by Amida Buddha, each according to their conditions.
An example is the monk leaving home to support his recollection of Amida Buddha.

Honen Shonin says all three of these implications have support in Shantao's writings, but that among them, the first one is the essential teaching.

For example:
Shantao, Senchakushu p. 114 wrote: “When seen in terms of the meaning of the Buddha’s Original Vow, actually it is to have sentient beings single-mindedly and wholeheartedly utter the Name of Amida Buddha.” The various Contemplative and Distractive Practices are not [the intent of] the Original Vow. That is why they were not transmitted [to Ananda], Further, even though the Samadhi of Seeing the Buddha is the most outstanding among these practices, still it is not [the intent of] the Original Vow. That is why it was not transmitted to Ananda. The Nembutsu Samadhi is [the intent of] the Buddha’s Original Vow. That is why he transmitted it.
Shantao especially stressed the intimate karmic relationship with Amida Buddha as exemplified by nembutsu.

This correlates to Honen's advice in Promise, such as not clinging to one's former Buddhist practices, reciting up to 60,000 nembutsu a day with no other practices "coming to interfere," if we have time to recite verses to also recite nembutsu...

Then there's the matter of auxiliary practices.
For me, this is succinctly explained in the One-Sheet Document, that reciting the nembutsu and believing in birth in the Pure Land naturally give rise to the Three Minds and Four Modes of Practice.

In the Senchakushu, these Minds and Modes comprise a variety of possible activities.
For example:
Shantao, Senchakushu p. 88 wrote:[The practice of veneration] has five variations. The first is to venerate the Holy Persons with whom one has a karmic relationship; whether moving or standing still, sitting or lying down, one should never turn one’s back on the West; and one should never blow one’s nose, spit, or relieve oneself while facing the West. The second variation is to venerate the images and holy scriptures of those with whom one has a karmic relationship. For the former, one should make images and pictures of Amida in the Western Paradise. If one should be unable to create many images, then only one Buddha and two Bodhisattvas are enough. As for venerating the holy scriptures, one should place the Amida Sutra and the other Pure Land sutras in a covering of the five colors and should read them oneself and teach them to others. One should enshrine these images and sutras in a room and there one should come six times a day and bow to them, repent one’s sins before them, and, offering flowers and incense, specially esteem them.
...
The fourth is to respect the fellows with whom one shares a karmic relationship, that is, those who engage in the same practice. Even those who are not able to practice alone because of heavy karmic hindrances will certainly be able to practice well by relying on good friends. Thus they will be rescued from danger and saved from misfortune. Thus they are able to help and assist each other. People should deeply appreciate and esteem the good karmic relationship they have with their fellows.
And related to what you wrote about our lives becoming supports of nembutsu, the JSRI has this lovely passage from Honen:
Honen wrote:How should we spend this life? We should spend our life so that we can recite the nembutsu. If something hinders our practice of the nembutsu, it should be abandoned and stopped....... Clothing, food and shelter, these three are the auxiliary acts of the nembutsu, that is to say that anything which can enable a secure life is an auxiliary act of the nembutsu. People who do not recite the nembutsu and love and care about their bodies will surely fall into the three evil realms after death. Yet why should people who recite the nembutsu not care about their bodies which will be born in the Pure Land? You should care for yourself as much as possible. If you think such acts are not auxiliary acts of the nembutsu and become attached to them, they will become the karma for falling into the three evil realms. If you care for yourself in order to recite the nembutsu and attain birth in the Pure Land, such a secure life will become an auxiliary act of the nembutsu. Everything is like this.
Hojo-san at Jodo Shu Rinkaian Temple framed it as "not nembutsu in my life, but my life in nembutsu."

In the diagram, the awakening of faith is in the middle of the diagram, and precedes the re-adoption of practices previously set aside.
In "Honen the Buddhist Saint" pages 90-91, Honen wrote that if someone studies the Jodo Shu doctrine and practices Nembutsu but doesn't yet feel faith arise, that person should persist in study and practice, praying to the Three Jewels.

Aside from that, the awakening of faith isn't very directly addressed in Honen Shonin's writings.
Instead, he continually stresses the Three Minds and the 18th Vow.
Given my own process, I wonder if this awakening is a personal matter, different for everyone.
I may have to do some reading this week :reading:
With a heart wandering in ignorance down this path and that, to guide me I simply say Namu-Amida-Butsu. -- Ippen

Reciting the nembutsu and believing in birth in the Pure Land naturally give rise to the Three Minds and the Four Modes of Practice. -- Master Hōnen

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The Mantra Mongoose
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Re: Honen's development regarding auxiliary and miscellaneous practices over time.

Post by The Mantra Mongoose » Thu May 21, 2020 7:56 pm

Hojo-san at Jodo Shu Rinkaian Temple framed it as "not nembutsu in my life, but my life in nembutsu."
Hojo-San was the teacher i was talking about in my last post. he is a really wonderful man/priest, and i encourage people who are interested in Jodo Shu to reach out to him via email on the temples website.
In the diagram, the awakening of faith is in the middle of the diagram, and precedes the re-adoption of practices previously set aside.
In "Honen the Buddhist Saint" pages 90-91, Honen wrote that if someone studies the Jodo Shu doctrine and practices Nembutsu but doesn't yet feel faith arise, that person should persist in study and practice, praying to the Three Jewels.

Aside from that, the awakening of faith isn't very directly addressed in Honen Shonin's writings.
Instead, he continually stresses the Three Minds and the 18th Vow.
Given my own process, I wonder if this awakening is a personal matter, different for everyone.
I may have to do some reading this week :reading:
I agree whole hearty with everything your saying, I've come to really appreciate the nuance in Honen's teachings that really separate him from other pure land presentations I've seen in the past. IMO, and as i'm sure you know Honen really seems to talk about the awakening of faith not so much as a moment to attain, but as a relationship that is nourished between parent and child in differing degrees dependent on trust. your absolutely right that he really doesn't talk about the first moments of faith or its awakening up front, rather he seems to stress analogies in his teachings versus a more systematic presentation in his thought. I'm guessing that just because he was dealing with people who really wouldn't be able to grasp that type of teaching method, though i guess that begs the question why didn't he develop something for those who were close to him and ordained? the closest we get to that again IMO is the Senchakushu. Anyway, i could be absolutely wrong about all this, but thats what makes studying all of this interesting to me.
Hung! On the northwest border of the country Oḍḍiyāna,
On the pollen heart of a lotus flower,
The marvelous, supreme accomplishment has been attained.
You are renowned as the Lotus-Born,
Surrounded by a retinue of many Ḍākinīs.
Following you to be like you,
I beseech you to come and bless me.
Guru Padma Siddhi Hung -The Seven Line Prayer of Guru Rinpoche

User avatar
明安 Myoan
Former staff member
Posts: 2492
Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:11 am

Re: Honen's development regarding auxiliary and miscellaneous practices over time.

Post by 明安 Myoan » Thu May 21, 2020 9:46 pm

:thumbsup: That's true. Honen Shonin often recommends the attitude of Amida Buddha as parent, and Kannon Bosatsu and Seishi Bosatsu as close friends.

Some passages:
Senchakushu p. 90-91 wrote:The third [of the Four Practices] is the uninterrupted practice. This is to think of the Buddha always and to maintain a mind desirous of Rebirth. At all times one should keep these things in mind. As an illustration let us imagine a man [travelling in a foreign country] who is robbed and who, being left in a mean and miserable state, is undergoing various sufferings. Suddenly he thinks of his parents and wants to rush back to his home but lacks the means to equip himself for the journey. While he is in that foreign land he broods day and night on his plight, and his pain is too great to endure. Not even for a single moment can he rid himself of the thoughts of his parents. At last he is able to make the necessary preparations and actually returns to his home. There he rejoices in being close to his father and mother and is ecstatic with joy. The same is true of the practitioner. The goodness of his heart and mind has long ago been spoiled by deluding passions, and the treasures of virtue and wisdom were all lost. For long ages he has been swept along in the stream of birth and death and is not free to control [his own destiny]. Always the servant of the devil king, he runs here and there among the six paths and suffers from torments of body and mind. But suddenly he encounters favorable karmic conditions; he hears that Amida, the compassionate father, will save the multitudes of beings, never deviating from his universal Vow. Day and night in utter astonishment, he cultivates the aspiration for Enlightenment and longs for Rebirth. In this manner, he diligently and untiringly thinks of the loving kindness of the Buddha. Until the end of his life he continually weighs and ponders these things in his heart.
Promise of Amida Buddha, p. 397 wrote:We have been firmly fettered by the enemy of worldly passions such as greed and anger and have transmigrated in the cage of the delusive three realms. Upon seeing this, Amida Buddha, with deep sympathy like a compassionate mother, cuts our ties of transmigration with the sharp sword of his name, sets the cherished boat of the essential vow afloat on the waves of the ocean of anguish and leads us to the shore of the Pure Land. Upon reflection of this, our joy becomes too much for words; we can wring the tears of joy out of our sleeves, and our heart is overwhelmed in adoration of Amida Buddha.
Contemplation Sutra wrote:Hold fast to this sutra and do not forget it. Those who practice this samādhi will be able to see, during their lifetime, Amitāyus Buddha and the two mahāsattvas.
If good men or women simply hear the Name of this buddha or the names of those two bodhisattvas, the evil karma that would bind them to birth and death for innumerable kalpas will be extinguished.
And so, how much more merit will they acquire if they concentrate on them! You should know that all who are mindful of that buddha are like white lotus flowers among humankind; Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva and Mahāsthāmaprāpta Bodhisattva become their good friends.
They will sit in the seat of enlightenment and be born into the family of the buddhas.
With a heart wandering in ignorance down this path and that, to guide me I simply say Namu-Amida-Butsu. -- Ippen

Reciting the nembutsu and believing in birth in the Pure Land naturally give rise to the Three Minds and the Four Modes of Practice. -- Master Hōnen

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