The Essentials of Jodo Shinshu

Name of Teaching: Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji (The True Essence of Pure Land Buddhist Teaching)
Founder: Shinran Shonin (May 21, 1173 to January 16, 1263)
Name of School: Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha
Head Temple: Ryukoku-zen Hongwanji (Nishi Hongwanji)
Object of Reverence: Amida Buddha (Namo Amida Butsu)

The Four Noble Truths

1. The Truth of Suffering (Kutai)
The Buddha declared that this world if full of suffering; that actual existence including birth, decrepitude, sickness and death is suffering and sorrow.
This is called the Truth of Suffering.

2. The Truth of the Cause of Suffering (Jutai)
The cause of human suffering lies in ignorance and Karma. Ignorance and its resulting Karma have often times been called "desire" or craving.
The Buddha declared:
Verily it is this thirst or craving, causing the renewal of existence, accompanied by sensual delight, seeking satisfaction now here, now there - the craving for gratification
of the passions, for continual existence in the worlds of sense.

3. The Truth of the Cessation of Suffering (Mettai)
The extinguishing of all human ignorance and Karma results in a state known as Nirvana. This is the Truth of the Cessation of Suffering.

4. The Truth of the Path to the Cessation of Suffering (Dotai)
The Truth of the Path to the Cessation of Suffering is the Noble Eight-fold Path.

The Noble Eight-fold Path

1. Right Views - to keep ourselves free from prejudice, superstition and delusion and to see aright the true
nature of life.
2. Right Thoughts - to turn away from the evils of this world and to direct our minds towards righteousness.

3. Right Speech - to refrain from pointless and harmful talk to speak kindly and courteously to all.

4. Right Conduct - to see that our deeds are peaceful, benevolent, compassionate and pure; to live the
Teaching of the Buddha daily.
5. Right Livelihood - to earn our living in such a way as to entail no evil consequences.

6. Right Effort - to direct our efforts incessantly to the overcoming of ignorance and selfish desires.

7. Right Mindfulness - to cherish good and pure thoughts for all that we say and do arise from our thoughts.

8. Right Meditation - to concentrate our will on the Buddha, His Life and His Teaching.

Since these eight paths can be put into the categories of precepts, meditation and wisdom we can say that the
path of practice of Buddhism is the Three Vehicles of Learning. By following the precepts we learn to control the body and mind. Through mediation we learn to unify our mind. Wisdom is attained by the practice of the above two and through this wisdom all ignorance and passions are cut off and true state of Enlightenment is then realized.
As we look upon Buddhism we find that the various ways of explaining this state of Nirvana
and the methods of attaining that state of Enlightenment are not one. The reason for this is that Buddha's sermons were like the diagnosis of a good physician. Just as a physician prescribes his medicine according to his diagnosis of the patient, so the Buddha taught teaching which were simple or complicated, high or low, according to the capabilities of his congregation. Again, even though the sermon is the same the disciples interpreted it differently. Thus, through its long history Buddhism underwent many changes. Scriptures:SUTRAS: The Three Pure Land Sutras Delivered by Shakyamuni Buddha 1. Bussetsu Muryoju Kyo [The Sutra of the Buddha of Immeasurable Life] 2. Bussetsu Kammuryoju Kyo [The Sutra of Contemplation of the Buddha of Immeasurable Life] 3. Bussetsu Amida Kyo [The Sutra on Amida Buddha]SHINRAN SHONIN’S WRITINGS: 1. Shoshin Nembutsuge [Hymns of True Entrusting Heart and the Nembutsu ], excerpt from theChapter on Practice” of Kyogyoshinsho 2. Jodo Wasan [Hymns of the Pure Land] 3. Koso Wasan [Hymns of the Pure Land Masters] 4. Shozomatsu Wasan [Hymns of the Dharma-Ages]RENNYO SHONIN’S GOBUNSHO LETTERS Teaching: Attaining the “entrusting heart” – awakening to the compassion of Amida Tathagata (Buddha) through the working of the Primal Vow. We shall walk the path of life reciting Amida’s Name (Nembutsu). At the end of life, we will be born in the Pure Land and attain Buddhahood, returning at once to this delusional world to guide people to awakening. Purpose: The Hongwanji school is a community of people joined together revering the teaching of Shinran Shonin and saying the Nembutsu. We seek to share with others the wisdom and compassion of Amida Tathagata. By doing so, we shall work toward the realization of a society in which everyone is able to live a life of spiritual fulfillment. Tradition: The Honpa Hongwanji is a community of people joined together by the gladness of a common faith in Amida Buddha. As Jodo Shin Buddhists, we shall seek to be humble and sincere in words and in deeds, to be responsible citizens of our society and to share with others the teachings of Jodo Shinshu. Understanding fully the principle of causality, we shall not practice petitionary prayer and magic, and do not depend on astrology and superstitions.