Jodo Shinshu Revolution

By Rev. Ken Yamada

When I first studied Jōdo Shinshū Buddhism, it really made no sense. A mythical buddha Amida supposedly embraced me with infinite compassion, assuring me of birth in the Pure Land when I die. I joked it was all “Buddha crazy talk.”

Years later, after experiencing suffering that life inevitably brings, Jodo Shinshu began to speak to me. My Higashi Honganji teachers related the teachings to life experiences, thought processes, perceptions, and emotions, guided by Shinran’s writings. Words and concepts were analyzed for their deeper and sometimes symbolic meaning. It all began to make sense.

For hundreds of years, Shinshu was transmitted and believed the way I first heard. How did these teachings transform so that contemporary people like me could understand? Kiyozawa Manshi (1863-1903) gets much credit—he’s considered the first modern thinker of Jōdo Shinshu. Continue reading “Jodo Shinshu Revolution”