JODO SHINSHU: A BRIEF INTRODUCTION


The literal translation of Jodo Shinshu is the True Pure Land Religion. There are ten branches of which the two major ones are commonly called Nishi Hongwanji and Higashi Hongwanji. Their true names are Hompa Hongwanji and Otaniha Hongwanji respectively. There are no marked doctrinal differences between these two branches; the difference is in their historical development. In the rituals there is a slight difference such as in the chanting of the sutras.

The teaching of Jodo Shinshu shares with all people a way to mindfully realize the true reality of human existence and to live a fulfilled life, grounded on something more profound and essential than mere happiness or unhappiness, with the guidance of Amida Buddha.

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Nishi Honganji, mother temple in Kyoto, Japan


The founder Shinran Shonin, who lived in the 12th century Japan, revealed this teaching for the sake of all human beings in suffering. The teaching resonated with many people regardless of social status.

In its almost 800-year history, Jodo Shinshu has become the most widespread form of Buddhism in Japan. This tradition came to Hawaii and North America in the late 19th century and was sustained initially by Japanese immigrant families. It has grown to include more than 100 temples in the Canada and and the United States. The congregation is also changing and has become more racially diverse.

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