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Shinran(1173 - 1262)

Shinran (1173–1263) lived during the late-Heian early-Kamakura period (1185–1333), a time of turmoil for Japan when the emperor was stripped of political power by the shōguns. Shinran's family had a high rank at the Imperial court in Kyoto, but given the times, many aristocratic families were sending sons off to be Buddhist monks instead of having them participate in the Imperial government. When Shinran was nine (1181), he was sent by his uncle to Mount Hiei, where he was ordained as a śrāmaṇera in the Tendai sect. Over time, Shinran became disillusioned with how Buddhism was practiced, foreseeing a decline in the potency and practicality of the teachings espoused.

Shinran left his role as a dosō ("practice-hall monk") at Mount Hiei and undertook a 100-day retreat at Rokkaku-dō in Kyoto, where he had a dream on the 95th day. In this dream, Prince Shōtoku appeared to him, espousing a pathway to enlightenment through verse. Following the retreat, in 1201, Shinran left Mount Hiei to study under Hōnen for the next six years. Hōnen (1133–1212) another ex-Tendai monk, left the tradition in 1175 to found his own sect, the Jōdo-shū or "Pure Land School". From that time on, Shinran considered himself, even after exile, a devout disciple of Hōnen rather than a founder establishing his own, distinct Pure Land school. (Source Accessed October 16, 2019)

On the topic of this person

Affiliations & relations

  • Founder of Jōdo Shinshū, or "True Pure Land School" · religious affiliation
  • Hōnen · teacher