Reflections on the Kyo Gyo Shin Sho: A Guide
by Hisao Inagaki, Professor Emeritus Ryukoku University, Kyoto, Japan

Motives for composing the Kyogyoshinsho

Honen's Nembutsu teaching is simple and straightforward, easy to understand and practice. So is the basic standpoint of Shinran's Faith of the Other-Power. While living in the Kanto area, he was engaged in spreading the teaching of Nembutsu-Faith among local residents. They were only too happy to receive and live up to it. Seeing that his message was effectively reaching out even to people of little or no education, he strengthened his belief in the Other-Power teaching and strongly felt the need to establish the doctrinal system which would embrace the length and breadth of Amida's saving work. It is believed that he used to visit a local library to collect materials for this purpose.

There was another motive for Shinran’s writing of this comprehensive work on the Nembutsu-Faith. Still fresh in his memory was the fact that when Honen's Senjakushu was made public after his death, scholarly monks of the older schools on Mount Hiei and Nara unleashed vehement attacks on Honen's teaching. His disciples tried hard to counter them and defend the master's Nembutsu teaching. Shinran followed suit but took a long time to prepare. He was scrupulous in bringing out a new Pure Land system with an unprecedented scope and depth. His Kyogyoshinsho not only defended the Nembutsu teaching against attacks from the traditional schools but also proclaimed the Other-Power Faith and Practice as the ultimate Mahayana teaching. Shinran began to compose the Kyogyoshinsho while he was in the Kanto area. He kept revising it even after he returned to Kyoto when he was over sixty.

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