Impressed by Master Shinran’s Breaking Away from Buddhist Monastic Tradition

Yoshiyuki Miyai (picture) frequently visits Biwa- Lake Moriyama Shinran Center. He has heard that Shoshinge (Hymn of True Faith) contains all the teachings of Master Shinran. He's devoting himself to learning it. “Please take a look at these!”

Yoshiyuki said, taking his daily planner and The Buddhist Scriptures out of his bag. His daily planner was all full with plans to listen to Buddhism, and his Buddhist Scriptures had no blank spaces as he had many notes written beside the words regarding their meaning. Yoshiyuki says, “I couldn’t encounter true Buddhism until I was 70. I don’t want to waste even a single day.” He was born into a True Pure Land Buddhist family. However, when he was 33, family troubles led him to become mentally ill and he ended up believing in Zen (Rinzai) Buddhism.

Trying to fight off worldly passions in order to achieve enlightenment, he practiced Zazen (seated meditation) and went about his daily work following Zen teachings. Once he stayed in a temple for a year, devoting himself to Zazen and other ascetic practices.

Ten years ago, when he became 60, he converted into Rinzai Buddhism, yet he was worried about his constantly unquiet mind. Last April, he found a flyer advertising a lecture on Master Shinran’s teachings in his letterbox. At the time he thought that True Pure Land Buddhism taught nothing profound, so he went to the lecture not expecting much. However, while he was watching the first animated movie on Master Shinran, he was moved by the scene where Master Hōnen was yelling at Master Shinran, “You can’t listen to Buddhism in such a half-hearted way!” He felt then that they might be teaching the true teachings there. He found himself in tears. There was a reason for Yoshiyuki to feel that way. “While I was meditating, I couldn’t concentrate no matter how hard I tried. Various thoughts would throw off my focus. Even counting numbers from 1 to 10 with no thoughts in my mind was a very hard practice.” He had doubts that it was possible for ordinary people to quiet their minds and achieve enlightenment.

Yoshiyuki saw himself in Master Shinran’s struggle with his never-ceasing worldly passions on Mt. Hiei and felt there must be something in the teachings by which Master Shinran was saved. Just the way we are, filled with worldly passions As he attended Buddhist lectures, he became especially impressed by the fact that Master Shinran deliberately made an unprecedented break from Buddhist tradition by eating meat and taking a wife.

Back then in Japan, most Buddhist sects, like Tendai or Zen, were “the Buddhism of sages,” which forbade monks to eat fish and take a wife. Despite this, Master Shinran braved a storm of criticism to teach Pure Land Buddhism, or Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow, which saves people who eat meat and marry as they are. “I was so impressed by Master Shinran’s struggle for a great religious reform in that time.” He learned from the lecture that Master Shinran clearly taught throughout Shōshinge “to turn from the Buddhism of sages to Pure Land Buddhism.”

Yoshiyuki had a hard time parting from Rinzai Buddhism, which he had been depending on for more than 30 years. However, Master Shinran’s words, “Listen and believe without hesitation or delay” encouraged him not to hesitate to move forward. He therefore became a Shinran Follower last December. “In the 2000-Tatami- Mat Hall, I feel at home and a sense of security embraces me. I can’t help thinking that all my experiences until now were granted by Amida Buddha to lead me to Buddhism.”

Source: The Buddhist Village Times #50 | 2015, Impressed by Master Shinran’s Breaking Away from Buddhist Monastic Tradition

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