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Buddhadharma : Spring 2012
70 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY SPRING 2 0 1 2 Whereas Honen emphasized the need to practice the recitation of the Name of Amida Buddha continuously, Shinran emphasized the need to do so with sin- cere engagement of one’s whole being— body, mind, and heart—that is, quality over quantity. Whereas Honen uplifted his followers with the promise of realiz- ing the Pure Land of oneness in the here- after, Shinran focused on the realization of shinjin, true entrusting to the Vow of Boundless Compassion in the pres- ent moment, here and now. Ultimately, however, like any discipline requiring sincere, single-minded practice, one could say that the realization of limitless compassion required both quality and quantity; present as well as future aspi- ration. Nevertheless, these differences in emphasis would have significant ramifi- cations for later developments. The four thinkers featured in Cul- tivating Spirituality are closely associ- ated with Otani University, the main divinity school and sectarian university of Higashi Honganji, located in Kyoto. All four studied Western philosophy and religion, undertook difficult paths to religious realization, and were vari- ously criticized, ostracized, and con- demned for “heretical” views and prac- tices. Yet, they all eventually achieved renown (in Kiyozawa’s case much of it posthumously) and came to be regarded as great religious leaders as well as thinkers. Kiyozawa was the founder of a new movement within Shin Buddhism which he called Seishinshugi, with a great emphasis on inward spiritual aware- ness honed through intense focus on the absolute “other power” and com- passion of Amida Buddha. He rejected the status quo, much of which in his eyes had become, on the one hand, a narrow scholasticism of sectarian intel- lectuals, and on the other, the business of religion, what has come to be known as “funerary Buddhism,” with its Reviews significant artistic, intellectual, and tech- nological developments of the Western world. When the “gunboat diplomacy” of Commodore Matthew Perry and others forcibly but peacefully brought Western culture into Japan in the latter half of the nineteenth century, and Japa- nese intellectuals and students began to travel to the West, a veritable explosion of activity was set off, and the ancient capital of Kyoto became a center of cul- tural, artistic, religious, and philosophi- cal debate as well as creative synthesis. The sudden influx of Western influ- ences brought about enormous changes in many cultural arenas, including reli- gion. The interaction between Japan and the West produced such figures as D.T. Suzuki, philosopher and popularizer of Zen in the West, and Shunryu Suzuki, the founder of San Francisco Zen Cen- ter who studied English in Japan and had dreams of bringing Zen to the West from quite early in his life. Zen practi- tioners and philosophers Kitaro Nishida and Keiji Nishitani were also known in the West as proponents of the “Kyoto School of Philosophy,” and through the work of scholars and translators such as James Heisig, Thomas Kasulis, and John Maraldo, many of their works have become available in English trans- lation. Yet, as in the case of the medieval period, the contribution of Pure Land thinkers has gone largely unnoticed, even though in Japan their work has been just as significant as the work of their Zen counterparts. Blum and Rhodes’ anthology focuses on the work of four scholar-practitio- ners in the Higashi Honganji branch of Shin Buddhism, which traces its origins to the founder Gutoku Shinran (1173– 1262), who himself began as a disciple of Honen but went on to develop his own distinctive interpretation of Pure Land thought and practice. The differ- ence between Honen and Shinran may be regarded as a matter of emphasis. A Peaceful Refuge a inthe b Heart of New York City New York Insight offers evening talks and sittings, workshops, courses, and daylong retreats for the integration of meditation teach- ings in daily life. PLEASE VISIT: www.nyimc.org New York Insight MEDITATION CENTER 28 West 27th Street, 10th Flr., NYC 212-213-4802