- Sharp sword: Reference to Shan-tao's Hanju-san, in
which he says that calling on the name of Amida Buddha serves as a sword to cut off
earthly desires, karma and suffering.
- Heal all ills: One of the twelve vows of Yakushi Buddha, which appear in
the Hongan-yakushi Sutra. This sutra also says that if one hears the name of Yakushi
Buddha, he can be free from all desires.
- Passage from the Yakuo (23rd) chapter. Here this is a reference to a
practice of the Tendai sect.
- Another reference to the Tendai sect,which held a ritual of prayers based
on this passage.
- Ceremonies: According to the Ninno Sutra, a type of
ceremony originally held by the god Taishaku to defeat the evil king Chosho. The ceremony
of the Ninno Sutra was sometimes conducted to protect or bring about peace.
- Filling five jars with water: Ritual in which priests of the Shingon sect
placed five jars, colored white, blue, red, yellow, and black, on a platform, and put into
them, respectively, gold, silver, lapis lazuli, pearls and crystal. In addition, they
placed in these jars the five grains, five herbs, and five types of incense, and then
filled them with water and set flowers in them. The ritual of filling the jars in this
manner was believed to eliminate disasters.
- Seven guardian spirits: Spirits referred to in the Kyakuon-shinju Sutra.
- Five mighty bodhisattvas: Reference in the Ninno Sutra. According to this
sutra, if a ruler embraces the correct teachings of Buddhism, these five powerful
bodhisattvas will protect him and the people in his country.
- Ceremonies: Ritual for protecting the country. The four corners of the
capital mean the northeast, southeast, southwest, and northwest. In these four corners of
the capital, the god who eliminates epidemics and the god of medicine were enshrined as
protection against the invasion of demons and evil spirits. These gods were also enshrined
at the four boundaries of the country for similar reasons. This ritual was often held when
an emperor became ill. In the Kamakura period (1185-13the gods were enshrined at the four
corners of the site of the government buildings and at the four boundaries of Kamakura.
- Five planets: Jupiter, Mars, Venus, Mercury and
Saturn. The more distant planets remained undiscovered in thirteenth-century Japan.
- Three treasures of Buddhism: The Buddha, Law, and Priesthood. The
sentence indicates that various sects of Buddhism are still prospering. See also Three
treasures in the Glossary.
- This refers to an oracle said to have been received from Bodhisattva
Hachiman in the reign of the fifty-first sovereign, Emperor Heizei (774-824). The
"Rissho Ankoku Ron" was written in the reign of the ninetieth sovereign, Emperor
- Four kinds of Buddhists: Also called four kinds of believers: priests,
nuns, laymen and laywomen.
- Yakshas: One of the eight kind of lowly (nonhuman) beings who protect
Buddhism. Originally Hindu demons, they were later incorporated into Buddhism as
protectors of the True Law, under the command of Bishamonten, one of the Four Heavenly
Kings. See also Eight kinds of lowly beings in the Glossary.
- Worlds of form and desire: First two divisions of the
threefold world, the world of unenlightened beings of the six paths. See also Threefold
world in the Glossary.
- Seven flavors: Sweet, pungent, sour, bitter, salty, astringent, and faint
- Three essences: The power of earth, the power of worldly and Buddhist
laws, and the power of human life and society.
- The ten kinds of evil behavior: Killing, stealing, committing adultery,
lying, deceiving, defaming, engaging in duplicity, greed, anger, and stupidity.
- Twenty-eight constellations: Celestial houses, divided into four houses
of seven major heavenly bodies each, corresponding respectively to the four directions and
four seasons of east, or spring; south, summer; west, autumn; and north, winter.
- Kshatriya: Second of the four classes or castes in
ancient India: the priestly class, military, and ruling class (Skt. kshatriya), farmers
and traders, and serfs.
- Anointed kings: Rulers of major kingdoms. In ancient India, when the
ruler of a powerful kingdom ascended the throne, the rulers of smaller kingdoms and their
ministers poured water on his head.
- Prasenajit: King of the country of Koshala. He converted to Buddhism at
the urging of his wife and through Shakyamuni's instruction and endeavored to protect and
support the Buddhist order.
- Sumeru worlds: Planets. According to ancient Indian cosmology, each world
had a sun, a moon, and a great Mt. Sumeru at its center, surrounded by four continents.
The southern continent, Jambudvipa, was considered to be the land where Buddhism spread.
- Two, three, four or five suns appear at the same time: Reference to an
unusual phenomenon when the sun is seen as a multiple image. Such illusions involving the
sun have appeared in the form of many bright disks arcing outward from the sun. Scientists
say that they are caused by reflection or refraction of light by ice crystals floating in
- Metal Star: Venus. The Broom Star, the Fire Star and
the Water Star respectively mean comets, Mars and Mercury.
- Different types of disaster caused by fire. Demon fire refers to fires of
unknown origin attributed to the anger of demons. Dragon fire means fires ascribed to the
wrath of dragons, who were thought to be able to convert water to fire at will. This may
have indicated fire caused by lightening. Heavenly fire was said to be caused by the wrath
of Heaven, and mountain god fire -- possibly a reference to volcanic eruptions -- by the
wrath of mountain gods. Human fire refers to fires caused by human error or negligence.
Tree fire probably indicated forest fires caused by spontaneous combustion, and bandit
fire meant fires set by invaders.
- Five grains: Wheat, rice, beans, and two types of millet. Also generic
term for all grains, which is its meaning here.
- Fire bandits, water bandits, wind bandits and demon bandits: Bandits who
do evil amid the confusion of disasters caused, respectively, by fire, water and wind.
Demon bandits are said to be abductors.
- This refers to the tradition that Emperor Ming (27-75) dreamt of a golden
man levitating above the garden. He awakened from sleep and asked his ministers about his
dream. One of them said that he had once heard of the birth of a sage in the western
region during the reign of King Chao of the Chou dynasty and that this sage had been
called the Buddha. The emperor sent eighteen missionaries in order to obtain the Buddha's
teachings. They brought Buddhist scriptures and images of the Buddha to China in 67 A.D.
- Shotoku (574-622): The second son of the thirty-first
emperor, Yomei, famous for his application of the spirit of Buddhism to government. As the
regent for Empress Suiko, he carried out various reforms. He revered the Lotus Sutra,
Shrimala Sutra and Vimalakitri Sutra, writing commentaries on them.
- Mt. Hiei: Site of Enryaku-ji temple, head temple of the Sammon school of
the Tendai sect. This school derives from Jikaku, the third high priest of the Tendai
sect, who incorporated the esoteric teachings of the Shingon sect into the doctrine of his
own sect, thereby causing confusion.
- Onjo-ji and To-ji: Onjo-ji is also called Mii-dera, the head temple of
the Jimon school of the Tendai sect. This school derives from Chisho, the fifth high
priest of the Tendai sect. To-ji (Eastern Temple) is a principal temple of the Shingon
sect, more properly called Kyo'o-gokoku-ji.
- Five areas adjacent to the capital: Areas under the direct control of the
- This refers to those who set store by the practice of meditation.
- This refers to those who attach greater importance to
abiding by the teachings than to practicing meditation. Haklenayasha was the twenty-third
of Shakyamuni's twenty-four successors. Kukkutapada is near Rajagriha, the capital of
Magadha. Mahakashyapa transferred the teachings to Ananda and died on this mountain.
- Six supernatural powers: 1)The power of being anywhere at will; 2) the
power of seeing anything anywhere; 3) the power of hearing any sound anywhere; 4) the
power of knowing the thoughts of all other minds; 5) the power of knowing past lives; and
6) the power of eradicating illusions.
- Four stages: The four stages which the people of shomon (Learning) can
attain. The highest of the four is arhat.
- Senchaku Shu: "The Sole Selection of Nembutsu," a two-fascicle
work written in 1198 at the request of Kujo Kanezane, which is the fundamental
justification of the Jodo sect. In it Honen, basing himself on the three major sutras of
the Jodo sect, exhorted people to discard all teachings other than the Nembutsu teachings.
- Tao-ch'o (562-645): The second patriarch of the Jodo school in China.
- Sacred Way teachings and Pure Land teachings: The
former are the teachings which assert that one should practice in this real saha world and
attain enlightenment through his own effort. In contrast, the Pure Land teachings define
the saha world as a defiled world and assert that one should aspire to rebirth in the
western Pure Land by relying on the power of Amida Buddha.
- Sanron, Hosso, Jiron, and Shoron: Sanron literally means three treatises
and refers to the three treatises on which the Sanron sect is based. They are Nagarjuna's
Chu Ron and Junimon Ron and Aryadeva's Hyaku Ron. This sect was founded by Chia-hsiang and
introduced to Japan in 625. The Hosso sect aims at discovering the ultimate reality by
examining the aspects and characteristics of all things. The sect's basic works are the
Gejimmitsu Sutra, Yuishiki Ron and Yuga Ron. In the period of the T'ang dynasty
Hsuan-tsang brought this teaching from India to China and his disciple Tz'u-en founded the
sect. In 653, Dosho brought this teaching to Japan after his study under Hsuan-tsang. The
Jinron sect was founded in China by Hui-kuang with Vasubandhu's Jujikyo Ron (Treatise on
the Ten Stages Sutra) as its basic teaching. The sect prospered in the Liang dynasty but
was later absorbed by the Kegon sect. The Shoron sect was based upon Asanga's Shodaijo Ron
(Collection of Mahayana treatises). It prospered in the Ch'en and Sui dynasties but was
later absorbed by the Hosso sect.
- T'an-luan (476-542): The founder of the Jodo school in China.
- Shan-tao (613-681): Priest of the Jodo school in China during the T'ang
dynasty. In the Ojo Raisan (Praise of Rebirth in the Pure Land) he classified Buddhist
practices into the categories of correct and incorrect. According to him, the correct
practices are those directed toward Amida Buddha. The correct practices are further
divided into five, that is: 1) reading and reciting, 2) meditating, 3) worshiping, 4)
calling on the name, and 5) praising and giving offerings. These five practices are
directed toward Amida Buddha, the Pure Land sutras and the Pure Land. The incorrect
practices are also divided into five, in the same manner. The latter part of the text
discuses the incorrect practices.
- Jogen Nyuzo Roku: A list of the sutras which the priest Yuan-chao
selected at Emperor Te-tsung's command during the Cheng-yuan (Jap Jogen) era (785-804).
- Daihannya Sutra: "Great Wisdom Sutra" (Skt
Mahaprajnaparamitasutra). An extremely long sutra setting forth the doctrine of ku.
- Hojoju Sutra: One-volume Mahayana sutra expounding the eternity of the
- Two methods of concentrated meditation and unconcentrated meditation: In
the Kammuryoju Sutra, sixteen types of meditation and three kinds of practices are
described, which lead people to rebirth in the Pure Land. In the first types of
meditation, one concentrates his mind and meditates on the splendor of the Pure Land and
the features of the Buddha and Bodhisattvas. These types of meditation are regarded as
"concentrated meditation." The other three types of meditation and the three
kinds of practices can be carried out even if one's mind is not focused. Therefore, they
are called "unconcentrated practice." Honen regarded both concentrated and
unconcentrated practices as practices which the Buddha expounded in accordance with
people's capacity. He asserted that only the practice of Nembutsu was the Buddha's true
teaching as well as the sole teaching for the Latter Day of the Law. Nembutsu is
interpreted in various ways though it literally means to meditate on Amida Buddha.
Shan-tao and Honen took Nembutsu to mean calling on the name of Amida Buddha and
emphasized this practice.
- Three kinds of mind: Three requisites for reaching the Pure Land: 1) the
sincere mind, 2) the mind of deep faith and 3) the mind of resolve to attain the Pure
- Commentary on that sutra: Shan-tao's commentary, the Kammuryoju-kyo Sho.
- All the sage monks of the three countries: Those who
propagated Buddhism correctly. Indicates Nagarjuna and Vasubanhu in India, T'ien-t'ai,
Chang-an and Mia-lo in China, Dengyo and Gishin in Japan, and so on.
- Three Pure Land sutras: The basic scriptures of the Japanese Jodo (Pure
Land) sect. The Muryoju Sutra, the Kammuryoju Sutra and the Amida Sutra.
- This refers to the eighteenth of the forty-eight vows, described in the
Muryoju Sutra, that Bodhisattva Hozo (Skt Dharmakara), the name of Amida Buddha before his
enlightenment, made to bring all people to the Pure Land.
- Five preaching periods: See Five periods in the Glossary.
- Lotus Sutra, chap. 3.
- Two attendants: Bodhisattva Kannon and Seishi. See
Kannon in the Glossary.
- Gishin (781-833): Dengyo's successor and the first chief priest of
Enryaku-ji, the head temple of the Tendai sect.
- Shakyamuni and Yakushi: Buddhas whose images were enshrined in the head
temple of the Tendai sect on Mt. Hiei. It is said that the image of Yakushi was enshrined
as well as that of Shakyamuni because Yakushi Buddha, having vowed to "heal all
ills" (see footnote 2), represents the parable of the excellent physician in the
Juryo (16th) chapter of the Lotus Sutra.
- Kokuzo and Jizo: Kokuzo is a bodhisattva said to possess immeasurable
wisdom and blessings. An image of Bodhisattva Kokuzo was enshrined on Mt. Hiei. Jizo is a
bodhisattva entrusted by Shakyamuni Buddha with the mission of saving people. It is said
that he will appear during the period from the death of Shakyamuni Buddha till the
appearance of Miroku Buddha, in order to instruct the people of the six worlds. This
bodhisattva's image also was enshrined on Mt. Hiei, together with that of Kokuzo.
- At the ceremony of the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni Buddha transferred his
teachings to the bodhisattvas of the theoretical teaching such as Yakuo and entrusted them
with the mission of propagating them in the Middle Day of the Law. It is said that
Bodhisattva Yakuo was later born as the Great Teacher T'ien-t'ai in China and as the Great
Teacher Dengyo in Japan. Based on the Buddha's parable of the excellent physician in the
Juryo (16th) chapter, T'ien-t'ai and Dengyo used Yakushi Buddha (the Buddha of Healing),
lord of the Emerald World in the eastern part of the universe, as an object of worship for
their sect. In this sense, to neglect the Buddha Yakushi and revere the Buddha Amida is to
ignore the Lord Buddha's transmission.
- Three works in four volumes of the Pure Land
scriptures: The two-volume Muryoju Sutra, one-volume Kammuryoju Sutra and one-volume Amida
- Four treatises: The Chu Ron, Junimon Ron and Dainichi Ron by Nagarjuna as
well as the Hyaku Ron by Aryadeva.
- Nirvana Sutra: Sutra which expounds five bodhisattva deeds, as against
the single practice of the Jodo sect. See also Nirvana Sutra in the Glossary.
- Eshin (942-1017): The eighteenth chief priest of Enryaku-ji temple. He
put faith in the Pure Land teachings but later embraced the Lotus Sutra.
- His work: Ojo Yoshu written in 985, which influenced people not only in
Japan but also in China.
- Sixty volumes of Tendai literature: T'ien-t'ai's three
major writings (the Maka Shikan, the Hokke Mongu and the Hokke Gengi) consisting of thirty
volumes and Miao-lo's three commentaries on them which also consist of thirty volumes.
- Eight sects: Eight major sects of Buddhism well established in Japan
before the Kamakura period. Historically they fall into two categories: the Kusha,
Jojitsu, Ritsu, Hosso, Sanron and Kegon sects which prospered in the Nara period
(710-784), and the Tendai and Shingon sects which appeared in the Heian period (794-1185).
- Reference appearing in Honen's biography. According to this account,
Honen in a dream received permission from Shan-tao to spread the practice of calling on
the name of Amida Buddha and was entrusted with the Pure Land teaching.
- Former teachers of Pure Land doctrine: T'an-luan, Tao-ch'o and Shan-tao.
- An earlier period: The age in which Honen propagated the Pure Land
- Shih Chi: Work written by Ssu-ma Ch'ien of the Former
Han dynasty, recording history from the time of the legendary Yellow Emperor of ancient
China to that of Emperor Wu (140-87 B.C.) of the Former Han dynasty.
- Tso Chuan: Work attributed to Tso Ch'iu-ming of the Spring and Autumn
period (c. 770-403 B.C.). It is a commentary on the Ch'un Ch'iu or Spring and Autumn
Annals, a chronicle (722-481 B.C.) of twelve dukes of the state of Lu.
- Juan Chi (210-263): A Chinese poet.
- Uighurs: A Turkish people of Central Asia who prospered from the eight
through the mid-ninth century.
- This incident is known as the Jokyu disturbance. The wording of the
original has been expanded for clarity.
- Ryukan (1148-1227), Jokaku (1133-1247), Sassho (dates
unknown): Priests of the Jodo sect. Ryukan is the founder of the Choraku-ji school and
also called Kaiku or Muga (his posthumous name). He studied the Tendai doctrine under Koen
at Enryaku-ji temple and lived at Choraku-ji temple in Kyoto. Shoko is the founder of the
Chinzei school and second patriarch of the Jodo sect. At first he studied the Tendai
doctrine on Mt. Hiei, but he became Honen's disciple. Jokaku first studied the Tendai
doctrine, but converted to Honen's teaching and advocated the doctrine of one-time
recitation which teaches that if one once invokes the name of Amida Buddha he can be
reborn in the Pure Land. For this reason, he was excommunicated by Honen. Sassho also
studied Tendai doctrine but later followed Jokaku's teaching. Still later, he went on to
found his own sect.
- Chunda: A blacksmith in Pava Village who was deeply moved by Shakyamuni's
preaching and reverently prepared a meal for him. Soon after leaving Chunda's house,
Shakyamuni fell ill and passed away.
- Four grave offenses: Those particularly grave among the ten evil
offenses. They are killing, stealing, committing adultery and lying.
- Anagamin: (Jap anagon) The third of four stages which shomon people can
attain. Also, one who has attained this stage. The fourth and highest stage is arhat.
- Kasho: Figure in the Nirvana Sutra who put thirty-six questions to the
Buddha and heard the Buddha's teachings. He is different from Mahakashyapa (Jap Kasho),
one of the Buddha's ten major disciples.
- Diamond-like body: A reference to the state of
Buddhahood which can neither decline nor be destroyed.
- Five precepts: A basic code of Buddhism that prohibits killing, theft,
adultery, lying and intoxicating drink.
- Buddha Kasho: One of the seven ancient Buddhas. Of these seven the Buddha
Kasho was the sixth to appear, and Shakyamuni Buddha, the seventh.
- Dharma Body: Buddha who is the embodiment of the Law.
- Area within the seas: Japan. The phrase originally referred to China.
- Annual lectures: Lectures held on the anniversary of
T'ien-t'ai's death on November 24 each year.
- Avichi Hell: The hell of incessant suffering.
- White waves: A Chinese term referring to rebels and outlaws. Here,
"white waves" indicates Honen and other priests of the Pure Land sect as well as
the followers of other misleading sects. "The Ocean of the Buddha" signifies
Shakyamuni's teachings. The phrase "green groves" and "Mountain of the
Law" in the next sentence likewise refer to evil men and Shakyamuni's teaching
- Fu Hsi and Shen Nung: Legendary ideal rulers of ancient China. Their ages
are to have been peaceful and ideal ones.
- Yao and Shun: also legendary rulers said to have reigned after the time
of Fu Hsi and Shen Nung.
- Expressions that appear in early Chinese literature.
They indicate a dramatic change.
- Eminent men of the past: T'an-luan, Tao-ch'o, Shan-tao, Eshin and Honen.
- Gura: (Skt., kalakula) Imaginary insects which swell
rapidly in strong winds.
Back to the Gosho "Rissho Ankoku Ron"
by Will Kallander