Dharmacakra   The Teaching of Zuiken

Zuiken Saizo Inagaki

Zuiken Inagaki (1885-1981)


Introduction to the Kyo Gyo Shin Sho

  1. Foreword
  2. The Purpose of the Kyo-Gyo-Shin-Sho
  3. The Outline of the Kyo-Gyo-Shin-Sho
  4. The Seven Patriarchs in the Kyo-Gyo-Shin-Sho
  5. The True Teaching and the Temporary Teaching
  6. Relation between Gyo (Practice) and Shin (Faith)

The Outline of the Kyo-Gyo-Shin-Sho

The Kyo-Gyo-Shin-Sho by Shinran-Shonin consists of six volumes.

In the first volume, the True Teaching (Kyo) of the Buddha Sakyamuni, the World- Honoured One (Seson), is revealed according to the Larger Sukhavativyuha (The Larger Shutra of the Land of Bliss, Dai-Muryo ju-Kyo), through which Shinran- Shonin (1173-1263) founded the Sect of Jodo Shinshu, the True Religion of Salvation by Faith. In the second volume, he teaches the True Practice (Gyo) (or the Sacred Name of Buddha Amitabha); in the third volume, he teaches the True Faith (Shin); in the fourth, the True Attainment or Enlightenment (Sho); in the fifth, the True Buddha and the True Buddha's Country, Amitabha's Pure Land (Shin-Butsu-Do); and in the sixth volume, the Temporary Buddha and the Temporary Buddha's Country (Ke-shin-Do) is taught.

Firstly, the True Teaching (Kyo) denotes the virtue and power of the Buddha Amitabha and the adornments of His Buddha Country, that is, the teaching of the Larger Sukhavati-vyuha. In this Sutra the Bhagavat Sakyamuni, the Tathagata (Nyorai), proclaimed the forty-eight Vows of the Tathagata Amitabha, of which the Eighteenth Vow (Dai-ju-hachi-gan) is the most important, because through this Vow the Tathagata Amitabha revealed his own supreme wisdom and unparalleled great benevolence- a fact which can be explained only by a Buddha, and through which all beings can be saved from their karmic evil.

Secondly, the True Practice (Gyo) is the Practice of the Pure Land School, which is taught in the Larger Sukhavati-vyuha. It is the Sacred Name of Buddha Amitabha, or the recitation of the Name, that is, Adoration to Buddha Amitayus (Namo-mitayushe Buddhaya; Namu-Amida-Butsu ); Amitabha means the Infinite Light (Muryo-ko), and Amitayus denotes the Eternal Life (Muryo-ju). Therefore Amida Nyorai is the Buddha of Infinite Light and Life, or Buddha of Infinite Wisdom and Boundless Mercy. According to the doctrine of the Jodo-Shinshu, the glorification or the recitation of the Sacred Name is nothing but the virtue of the Sacred Name itself. The Sacred Name of the Tathagata Amitabha was revealed in the Larger Sutra of the Land of Bliss.

In the Seventeenth Vow it says:

If immeasurable and innumerable blessed Buddhas in immeasurable Buddha countries do not glorify my name, after I have obtained Bodhi (the supreme knowledge); if they do not preach my fame and proclaim my praise, and utter it together, then may I not obtain the highest perfect knowledge.

His Sacred Name is the root of all works; it is the whole of good deeds. Therefore, if a man practises it or glorifies His Name, taking refuge therein, he shall be born in that Buddha's country; and if a man believes in it, he shall obtain the highest perfect knowledge in the Land of Bliss.

Thirdly, the True Faith (Shin) is the belief in the Sacred Name (Namu-Amida-Butsu) as the true cause of power of entering the Country of the Tathagata Amitabha. This is the faith of His Eighteenth Vow. It says:

When I have obtained Buddhahood, if those beings who are in the ten quarters should believe in me with Serene Thoughts (Shi-Shin) and Joy (Shingyo) and should Wish to Be Born (Yokusho) in my country, and should have ten times of even once think of me (or repeat my name) (Naishi-Junen), ..if they should not be born there, then may I not obtain perfect knowledge; barring only those beings who have committed the five deadly sins, and who have spoken evil of the good Law.

A man, who believes in this Vow and trusts in His supreme Vow, shall be endowed with all the virtues of the Tathagata Amitabha of His Sacred Name, and shall be born in that Buddha country.

Fourthly, the True Enlightenment (Sho) is the highest perfect knowledge that is obtained through the True Practice (Gyo) and the True Faith (Shin) above mentioned. This Enlightenment (Sho) is to be gained by virtue of the Eleventh Vow. It says:

If in that Buddha country of mine beings who are born there should not all be firmly established (even in this life), viz. in absolute truth, till they have reached Mahaparinirvana (the Great Final Enlightenment), then may I not obtain the highest perfect knowledge.

This Enlightenment is called Ever Happiness (Joraku), Nirvana (Nehan), Dharma-kaya (Hosshin), Reality (Jisso, things such as they really are), Tathata (Shinnyo, The Truth), or All One (Ichinyo). In other Schools of Buddhism, Self-Enlightenment consists in the efforts (Jiriki) of the people; therefore it is called 'the Religion of Self Power or Effort' (Jiriki-kyo or Shodo-mon). It is not a genuine salvation, but a philosophical religion. The Jodo-Shinshu, on the contrary, teaches us to believe in the salvation by Amida-Nyorai, through His wisdom, mercy and power. It is a religion of salvation, and it is called Salvation by Other Power (Tariki-kyo or Jodo-mon). The Religion of Self-Efforts demands us to enlighten ourselves through our own efforts in the present life as the Buddha Sakyamuni did, following the steps that he walked; Jodo-Shinshu teaches us to believe in the Tathagata Amitabha and to enter the Buddha's country in the after life. But when we are born in that Buddha's country after death, we are immediately enlightened and are in perfect unity with the Absolute (Tathata) where there is no birth or death. This truth is too deep and too profound for us to comprehend, but we can believe. The truth of No-Samsara (cycle of birth-and-death) can be realised only in that Buddha country of the Tathagata Amitabha. The truth of No-Samsara is the True Enlightenment. Enlightenment means Living in Reality. The world of experience is but phenomenal and not real. Men of ignorance (Avidya) and delusion (Klesa) cannot truly comprehend things in its true nature. Reality (Jisso, Tathata) can be reached only through the transcendental wisdom which is acquired by virtue of Paramitas through Samadhi (Sammai, deep meditation). The insight through Samadhi gets at the real, which we call Tathata. Tathata is the true Light and the true Life which pervade the whole universe, and from which all Buddhas are born; all good and teachings come there from; Amitabha and His teachings are also nothing but the virtue of Tathata.

But we sinful men, through delusion of ignorance, separate ourselves from others, and from this selfish discrimination there arise passions, evil desires, love and hatred, covetousness, unrighteousness, and other innumerable sins. To correct this error the Bhagavat Sakyamuni, the incarnation of the Tathagata Amitabha, came into the world and, and taught the vanity of all things (the Truth of Emptiness of Void), and self effacement (Muga), and denied the existence of the Self (Ga) and empirical world. He himself fully acknowledged the truth and united with Tathagata or Reality. In other words, he obtained the highest perfect knowledge, and through this Supreme wisdom he produced the great unparalleled compassion. That is to say, he became a Buddha. This is Enlightenment, where there is no passion, no evil desire, no evil karma (Go), and no pain. To be Enlightened he taught us to have right wisdom and clean conduct, which we obtain by discipline, work and Samadhi. Therefore he taught the Noble Eightfold Path, which consists of- (1) right belief, (2) right resolution, (3) right speech, (4) right conduct, (5) right livelihood, (6) right effort, (7) right recollection, (8) right meditation; and the Six Paramitas, which are- (1) charity, (2) observance of the teachings, (3) patience, (4) effort, (5) recollectness (Samadhi), and (6) wisdom.

But as any man can easily imagine, these teachings are, in the true sense, very hard to observe and to practise as strictly as the Buddha taught; nay, almost impossible for ordinary people to follow, for they are the teachings for the wise.

On the other hand, the Buddha Sakyamuni, being compassionate to the unwise, the wicked, the unrighteous, and the sinful, taught the teachings of Pure Land, the Jodo-Shinshu. Our founder Shinran-Shonin turned into the Jodo-Shinshu, after he had walked on the Difficult Path of Self-Efforts (Nangyo-do) for as long as twenty years on the Mount of Hiyei. Shinshu is the Easy Path of Salvation (Igyo-do); the True Religion of the Buddha Sakyamuni, by which all people, the wise and the unwise, the good and the wicked, the righteous and the unrighteous are all emancipated from their delusions through the Supreme power of Buddha Amitabha, the Infinite Light.

By the teachings of Buddha Sakyamuni, and through Shinran-Shonin, all men can be saved, and they are to be born in the Buddha's country, where they attain the Real, Tathata (the Truth). This is the True Enlightenment.

Buddha Sakyamuni's Enlightenment was grand and sublime, full of Life and Light, and in his Enlightenment he found Amitabha, the Absolute Being. Many sermons were delivered by Buddha Sakyamuni during his life-time, but very often he taught most willingly about the Tathagata Amitabha, as Amitabha was the truth he had found in his Enlightenment. Indeed he was the incarnation of Buddha Amitabha, and he himself was Amitabha.

Fifthly, the True Buddha and the True Buddha's country (Shin-Butsu-Do): the True Buddha of Infinite Light (Wisdom) and Life (Mercy), the Tathagata Amitabha, who has obtained the highest perfect knowledge through the practice of the Noble Eightfold Path and the Six Paramitas for the accomplishment of his Forty-Eight Vows (Sacred Promises), Buddha Amitabha became a Buddha of Infinite Light and Life, being rewarded for his Vows especially through the Twelfth and the Thirteenth Vows.


The Twelfth Vow reads as follows:

If, after I have obtained the highest perfect knowledge, my light should be liable to be measured in this Buddha country of mine, even by the measure of a hundred thousand niyutas of kotis of Buddha's countries, then may I not obtain the highest perfect knowledge.

The Thirteenth Vow is as follows:

If the measures of my life after I have obtained Bodhi (Buddha knowledge) should be limited, even by numbering a hundred thousand niyutas of kotis of kalpas, then may I not obtain the highest perfect knowledge.

The Buddha's country of the Tathagata Amitabha is also full of Light and Life. Not only the Buddha Amitabha and His Country are full of Light and Life, but also the beings that are born in His Country are full of Light and Life, becoming Buddhas as soon as they have entered his Country after death. The Buddha Amitabha is the Lord of all Buddhas, and He is indeed the True Buddha worthy of His Vows (Hongan) and Practice (Gyo), and His Country is also the True Buddha Country worthy of His Supreme Promises and merits.

Amitabha's Country of the Land of Happiness (Gokuraku) is the Garden of Nirvana. Those who are born there, gain the Great Enlightenment of Nirvana, enjoy life everlasting, and are forever free from the bondage of birth-and-death. They are then able to manifest themselves over and over again in the worlds of Suffering in order to deliver their fellow-beings from wrongdoing and ignorance (Mumyo, Avidya).

Sixthly, the Provisional Buddha and the Provisional Buddha's Country (Ke-Shin-Do): in the sutra Meditation on Buddha Amitayus (Amitayur-dhyana-sutra; Kwan-Muryo ju-Kyo), it is written that the Buddha Amitabha appears before the believer who practices the Meditation on Buddha Amitayus and his Buddha Country, the height of the Buddha being six hundred thousand niyutas of kotis of yojanas innumerable as the sands of the river Ganga. In the opinion of Shinran-Shonin, the True Buddha is unlimited and should not be measured by number nor by quality; therefore a Buddha measured, however great he may be, is not a True Buddha (Shin-Butsu or Shin Shin), but he is a Provisionary Buddha (Ke-Butsu or Ke-Shin). And Shinran-Shonin is of the opinion that the Buddha and Bodhisattvas who have appeared in our sight when we practise the Meditation on Amitayus and His Buddha's country are all Ke-Shin or Temporary Beings; we, sinful men, are not able to see the True Buddha Amitabha in the present life, even with the eyes defiled with delusion. In this respect Shinran-Shonin's opinion is different from those of Zendo Daishi and Honen-Shonin, the founders of Jodo-Shu. The true Buddha Amitabha embodies Himself in His Sacred Name; therefore His Name (Myogo) is Buddha Amitabha Himself. We can be united with Amitabha only through His Name; to hear and believe in His Name is superior to or more virtuous than to see a Provisionary Buddha. From these viewpoints Shinran-Shonin determined the Buddha Amitabha who appears in the Ninth Meditation (Dai-Kukan) in the Amitayur-dhyana-sutra, and also he asserted that the Buddha's Country of Amitabha literally expressed in that sutra is not the True Amitabha's Country, but a Provisionary Happy Land, (of course, in the implicit sense it is the True Land) and that the True Buddha Amitabha and the True Amitabha and the True Amitabha's Country are mentioned in the Larger Sukhavativyuha Sutra (Such a great sage as Vasubandhu (Tenjin-Bosatsu) could see the True Land through the Temporary Land in deep Samadhi, for he was partly united with the Truth of Tathata). We Shin-shu followers are heartily moved to hear His Name through the Vow of Amitabha, and by hearing His Name we believe in His Great Compassion, which is the true cause of entering His Happy Land; Buddha's Enlightenment.

The full text of the Ninth Meditation is as follows:

Further, when this perception (the spiritual eyes above mentioned) is gained, you should next proceed to meditate on the bodily marks (Shinso) and the light (Komyo) of Buddha Amitayus. Thou shouldst know, O Ananda, that the body of Buddha Amitayus is hundred thousand million times as bright as bright as the colour of the Ganbunada gold (Embudangon) of the heavenly abode of Yama; the height of that Buddha is six hundred thousand niyutas (of kotis of yojanas) (Yujun) innumerable as are the sands of the river Ganga.
The white twist of hair (Byaku-go) between the eyebrows all turning to the right, is just like the five Sumeru Mountains (Shumi-sen).
The eyes of Buddha are like the water of the four great oceans; the blue and the white are quite distinct.
All the roots of hair of his body issue forth brilliant rays which are also like the Sumeru Mountains.
The halo (Enko) of that Buddha is like a hundred millions of the Great Chiliocosms (Sanzen-Daisen-Sekai); in that halo there are Buddha's miraculously created (Kabutsu), to the number of a million of niyutas of kotis innumerable as the sands of the Ganga; each of these Buddhas who are also miraculously created (Ke-Bosatsu).
Buddha Amitayus has eighty-four thousand signs (So) of perfection, each sign is possessed of eighty-four thousand minor marks (Ko) of excellence, each mark has eighty-four thousand rays, each ray extends so far as to shine over the worlds of the ten quarters, whereby Buddha embraces and protects all the beings who think upon him and does not exclude (any one of them). (This expression of His rays is as valuable as in the Larger Sutra). His rays, signs and so forth, are difficult to be explained in detail. But in simple meditation let the mind's eye dwell upon him.
If you pass through this experience, you will at the same time see all the Buddhas of the ten quarters. Since you see all the Buddhas it is called the Samadhi of Remembrance of Buddhas (Nembutsu-Zanmai).
Those who have practised this meditation are said to have contemplated the bodies of all the Buddhas. Since they have meditated (Kanzuru) on Buddha's body, they will also see Buddha's mind. It is great compassion that is called Buddha's mind. It is by his absolute compassion that he receives all beings. (We ordinary people who are unable to meditate on His body can see Buddha's great compassionate mind through hearing and believing in His Sacred Name, and by virtue of which can we be born in the Pure Land).
Those who have practised this meditation will, when they die, be born in the presence of the Buddhas in another life, and obtain a Spirit of Resignation (Mushonin) wherewith to face all the consequences which shall hereafter arise.
Therefore those who have wisdom should direct their thought to the careful meditation (Kan) upon that Buddha Amitayus. Let those who meditate on Buddha Amitayus begin with one single sign or mark - let them first meditate on the white twist of hair between the eyebrows as clearly as possible; when they have done this, the eighty-four thousand signs (So) and marks (Ko) will naturally appear before their eyes. Those who see Amitayus will also see all the innumerable Buddhas of the Ten quarters. Since they have seen all the innumerable Buddhas, they will receive the prophecy (Ki) of their future destiny (to become Buddhas), in the presence of all the Buddhas; such is the perception gained by a complex meditation on all forms and bodies (of Buddha), and it is the Ninth Meditation. ([all the above quotations are from] from the Sacred Books of the East)

The Temporary Buddha Country miraculously created is the same country, the outskirts (Henji) of the True Buddha Country, as is written in the sutra Bodhisattvas Who Dwell in the Calyx of the Lotus-flowers (Bosatsu-Shotai-Kyo).

The True Buddha Country and the true Faith through which we can be reborn therein are described in the Larger Sukhavati-vyuha Sutra, and in Bodhisattva Vasubandhu's Discourse on the Pure Land (Jodo-ron) and its Commentary (Ron-shu) by Donran-Daishi, we can see the significance of Amitabha's True Country and the True Faith of Shin Buddhism.

  1. Foreword
  2. The Purpose of the Kyo-Gyo-Shin-Sho
  3. The Outline of the Kyo-Gyo-Shin-Sho
  4. The Seven Patriarchs in the Kyo-Gyo-Shin-Sho
  5. The True Teaching and the Temporary Teaching
  6. Relation between Gyo (Practice) and Shin (Faith)