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Shinran and His Work, by Arthur Lloyd, [1910], at

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Chapter XVII



(§ 86–87)

The paragraph in the Catechism, on which this chapter is based, discusses the attitude of the Shinshu believer towards other forms of faith, and especially of Buddhist faith. The word Keijin does not occur in Shinshu Hyakuwa, but is a term employed in other Shinshu books to denote that reverence or respect which we should show towards all things connected with any religion, even though it be one of which we ourselves do not approve. It is a common feeling among Japanese that the Westerner is lacking in Keijin, and on one or two occasions, when I have received permission to attend and watch a service in a Buddhist Temple, I have been warned beforehand of the duty of behaving with outward respect during the solemnities and in the Temple.

The author of Shinshu Hyakuwa does, however, treat of Keijin. He says that for the Shinshu believer there is no need to offer worship to any other Being besides Amida. The other Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, whom the other sects of Buddhism worship, nay, even the gods of Japan and India, outside of Buddhism, must only be considered as so many partial and fragmentwise manifestations of Amida Himself, and the worship, therefore, which the Shinshu offers to Amida, must be considered as

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including that which is supposed to be due to every other Being that is set up as claiming the worship of man. *

But when a Shinshuist goes to places of worship belonging to other sects and religions, he must treat the worship he finds there with respect and reverence, and he must not think that, by bowing before the image of Kwannon, or Fudō, or Benten, he is taking away from the honour due to Amida alone. 

In Shinshu Seikun, Keijin forms a portion of the chapter on human life.

Human life may be viewed from four aspects.

I. The relations between Religion (Buppō #) and the State Law (Se-Hō #), sometimes also called O Hō (the Law of the King #). The two are compared to the two wheels of a cart, or the two wings of a bird. Progress is impossible without the equal use of both. The King's Law is to be received with respect, like the present from a

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superior, which the recipient takes in both hands, and reverentially lifts to his forehead. The Religious Law is to be taken within, and received into the secret palace, where the monarch sits enthroned. (Ohō wa hitai ni ate yo, Buppō wa naishin ni fukaku takuwae). The Religious Law is compared to the house-master (Aruji), who sits at home and manages his own house: the King's Law is the honoured guest (Kyakaijin), who seeks admission to the mansion, and is treated with consideration. The visitors are not always alike in appearance and character (some birds have long legs and some short); but the householder receives them all alike. The Religious Law is always the same. It is based on the gokai* the five commandments of Buddhism, which correspond to the well-known five principles of Confucianism jin, gi, rei, chi, shin . It adapts itself to the various circumstances of human life. Its presence in a man may be known by his observance of the King's Law.

II. The second part concerns itself with the care we should have whilst in the world. (Shose no yōjin. We live in the world, of human beings, we must have sympathy and long-suffering; else human intercourse becomes impossible. But sympathy and long-suffering are not the only essentials of human life. Man, it is known, differs from the animals in the faculties he possesses of preparing comforts for himself. He cooks his food, he fashions his clothes

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he builds himself shelters. These faculties give him many advantages, but they also expose him to the temptation of covetousness, the desire of having, the pride of life. The pride of life leads to envy, jealousy, sorrow, and, above all, to the loss of inward peace. If we would preserve our inward peace, and maintain the harmony of social life, we must practice yōjin, circumspection, and self-denial. We must be ready to sacrifice our own will to that of others.

III. This will best be done by the practice of the way of man (hito no michi). This way has been clearly expounded in the Sutras on which the Shinshu base their doctrines. It has also been treated of, with more telling effect, by the great Rennyo Shōnin, in his work entitled Jiki shinshu (#) which is recommended to Shinshu believers for their devotional reading. It tells the reader how he can serve his master, how he can be dutiful to his parents, how he should associate with his friends, and how he should cultivate peace of mind.

IV. In this way we are brought to Keijin. We should not despise, or treat with irreverence, the Worship of any gods, Buddhas, or Spirits. Nor. should we consider that respect paid to them in any way interferes with the sole devotion which we give to Amida.

For (a) it must be the wish of all other Buddhas that worship should be given to Amida alone. These Buddhas may, therefore, be considered as themselves transferring to Amida the worship which ignorant worshippers offer to them. But no instructed Shinshuist, knowing that he can have direct access to

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[paragraph continues] Amida, would feel it his duty to offer a round-about worship to other, subordinate, Buddhas.

And (b) we may consider that many of the gods whom various nations worship are themselves but temporary or partial manifestations of Amida (bunshin #). In such a case, the same rule will serve to guide us as in the case of the worship offered to the Buddhas.

But (c) many of the so-called gods are evil spirits whom men seek to propitiate by the offering of worship. The Shinshuist need have no fear of them; he is under the protection of Amida, and is therefore safe.

The chapter then goes on to consider the prayers that men will offer to gods and Buddhas when misfortunes befall them. Such prayers must be considered as contrary to Keijin, for they are, in a sense, dishonouring to the gods to whom they are addressed. For misfortunes come to us as warnings with remedial intent, and the true believer will use; them as such. Instead of asking to be delivered, he will probe his own heart to its depth, find the root of bitterness and eradicate it. Then the misfortune will disappear of itself.

Another way in which true Keijin may be shown is in the choice of our associates. "By imitating a thief, and playing at thieving, a man becomes a thief …… by imitating a righteous man, a man will learn to be righteous." There can be no greater contumely offered to Amida than the wilful exposing of ourselves to the danger of breaking his laws.

Again, Keijin prompts us to be modest. Haji wo shiranu wa chikushō ni onaji. "He who knows

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not modesty differs not from a beast." The believer will always be properly clothed: if he is a monk., he will be careful to wear his kesa (stole) properly. Layman or cleric, he will be respectful in a place of worship, and will no more dream of irreverence in the presence of San-kai mu-ni-no Nyorai, "the Nyorai besides whom there is none other in the Three Worlds," than he would think of treating with disrespect some great earthly magnate. This respect and reverence he will also show towards idols, flowers, incense-burners, and all other accessories of worship. For though these things are nothing in themselves (mokuzō moto no ki no hashi, ezō wa kore moto no hakushi, "the idol was originally only a piece of wood, the picture nothing but a sheet of white paper"), yet they are symbols of worship, and the man that has in him no capacity for worship is ho better than the brute beast. The power of worship is one of the distinguishing faculties of man.

But Keijin will especially show itself in our behaviour under sorrow and bereavement. The separation from those we love is the most painful ordeal we have to face. If we have Keijin, we shall not affront the deity by vain regrets and idle reproaches. We shall turn our eye to the Paradise of Bliss, and show our respect for the Higher Powers by a resignation of ourselves to their decrees.

I may add that most of the contents of this chapter of Shinshu Seikun are taken from the writings of Rennyo Shonin, and date, therefore, from a period anterior to the advent of Christian missionaries in Japan.


124:* This is true as a general rule. I have noticed one exception in Shinshu practice. At a Shinshu funeral, of which I shall give an account later on, there is an invocation of "all the Buddhas," an invocation which, according to the strict interpretation of the Shinshu doctrine, must be unnecessary.

124:† It was doubtless Keijin that prompted a Buddhist priest to offer hospitality to the newly landed Jesuit missionaries in the sixteenth century, with permission to use his temple for the preaching of Christianity. When the Jesuits later on developed iconoclastic tendencies, and encouraged their converts to tear down Buddhist temples, it was a painful breach of the law of Keijin. It must be said, however, in justification of the Jesuits, that the destruction of Buddhist temples was not their work but that of their daimyō converts, and that Hideyoshi and other non-Christian Japanese were very ruthless iconoclasts when it suited their purpose. There is reason to believe that, in the 7th and 8th centuries, Christianity was looked upon merely as a variant form of Buddhism.

125:* #.

125:† #.

125:‡ #.

Next: Chapter XVIII. The Shinshu on Faith-healing.