Kanji for Muryoko

'Infinite Light'

Journal of Shin Buddhism

Nigel Pamphilion

Aspects of Shinjin

In the glossaries of the Shin Buddhism Translation Series, the term 'shinjin' is defined only as an absolute, as pure, diamond-like shinjin. Western Jodo Shinshu Buddhists are in the habit of using 'shinjin' as if it only had this absolute meaning.

My less than rigorous search of Mattosho turned up 26 instances of shinjin being qualified in some way, mostly in the direction of emphasising that what was being referred to was true shinjin. We find shinjin that is supreme, true and real, diamond-like and settled. However, Shinran also refers to shinjin that is not settled and shinjin that is shallow. Shinjin that is not settled or even shallow is still shinjin of the Primal Vow, unlike the other, entirely different kind of shinjin referred to in Mattosho, the shinjin of self-power.

If shinjin is to be properly understood by the Western Buddhist, appropriate connections will need to be made to other ways of describing the spiritual path from within Buddhism.

The defining act of a Buddhist is Going for Refuge. The Buddhist Refuge is traditionally described as the Three Jewels or the Three Treasures, the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. The Dharma is dependent on the Buddha, and the Sangha is dependent on the Dharma and so it follows that the Sangha is also dependent on the Buddha. Ultimately the three Refuges are one Refuge, and ultimately all Buddhists Go for Refuge to the Buddha.

Before the point where Going for Refuge becomes real, it is unsettled and may be shallow: adherence to the Buddhist path may falter and fade. The realisation of pure shinjin is the same as true, real and sincere Going for Refuge to the Buddha. At this point, one hears the sound of the deathless and there arises knowledge and vision of things as they really are. This is the point when enlightenment is assured and there is no falling back.

Equating shinjin with Going for Refuge avoids the pitfall of defining shinjin in such a way as to imply that wherever the term appears it always means the realisation of shinjin.

Each of you should attain your birth without being misled by people and without faltering in shinjin. However, the practicer in whom shinjin has not become settled will continue to drift, even without being misled by anyone, for he does not abide among the truly settled. (Shinran, Mattosho)



? shinjin

as entrusting in ...


as entrusting in ...

In this aspect, shinjin is unsettled and may be shallow.

as truly saying the Name that witnesses to the fulfilment of ...


as truly hearing ...

The single moment: this is the setlling of, the realization of Shinjin.

as gratitude for ...


as enjoyment of the Heart and Mind of Amida bestowed by ...

Shinjin is settled, realized.

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