Synopses & Reviews
The Promise of Amida Buddha
is the first complete English translation of a seminal collection of writings by the Japanese Pure Land school's founder, Honen-shonin (1133-1212). The so-called Japanese Anthology
) collects his surviving short writings composed in Japanese, including letters of exhortation and public pronouncements. The vital writings provide a window into Honen's life and the turbulent era in which he lived and taught.
Honen-shonin, who lived in Japan in the twelfth century, saw that the complexity of traditional Buddhist practices made them inaccessible to people outside the monastic elite. Drawing on the Chinese Pure Land tradition, he re-imagined Pure Land practice for Japan and ushered in a new and dynamic practice that continues in the present day. In our degenerate age, says Honen, we cannot hope to reach enlightenment via the practices employed by the Buddhist masters of old. For us there is only one avenue to liberation--rebirth in the Pure Land of Amida, from whence our progress is irreversible and our ultimate release assured. The Pure Land is a heavenly destination made manifest through the pure vow of Amida to save all beings, and we secure passage to this land in our next life through pure faith in Amida at the very moment of death. The practice of faith in Amida is performed through nembutsu, the continual recitation of the mantra Namu Amida Butsu, which bonds us to Amida and brings us into his care.
"These records provide an invaluable glimpse not only into Honen's Pure Land Buddhism but also the landscape of Japanese society in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries."
About the Author
Joji Atone was born in Fukuoka, Japan, in 1951 and holds a PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Since 1992, he has been the director of Bukkyo University-Los Angeles Extension.Yoko Hayashi, MEd, is a retired educator living in Los Angeles. The daughter of a Japanese Pure Land missionary, she was born in Hawaii, where she spent her professional career.