Honen Shonin

Master Honen's One-Page Testament

(Dictated 1212 C.E.)

"The method of final salvation that I have propounded is neither a sort of meditation, such as has been practiced by many scholars in China and Japan, nor is it a repetition of the Buddha's name by those who have studied and understood the deep meaning of it. It is nothing but the mere repetition of the 'Namu Amida Butsu,' without a doubt of His mercy, whereby one may be born into the Land of Perfect Bliss.

The mere repetition with firm faith includes all the practical details, such as the threefold preparation of mind and the four practical rules. If I as an individual had any doctrine more profound than this, I should miss the mercy of the Two Honorable Ones, Amida and Shakyamuni, and be left out of the Vow of the Amida Buddha.

Those who believe this, though they clearly understand all the teachings Shakyamuni taught throughout his whole life, should behave themselves like simple-minded folks, who know not a single letter, or like ignorant nuns or monks whose faith is implicitly simple.

Thus without pedantic airs, they should fervently practice the repetition of the name of Amida, and that alone."

-- [from Coates and Ishizuka, "Honen the Buddhist Saint", pp. 728-29, English translation presented in "The Buddhist Tradition in India, China and Japan" by Wm. Theodore de Bary, NY 1969, p. 331]

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