Honen Shonin has been one of the ancestral teachers most important to me. I love his humanity. He talks about how he learnt Buddhism and learnt that pure contempation depended upon pure moral conduct and that wisdom depended on pure contemplation. he reflected on his own life and saw that even though he had had a first class monastic education in the best dharma centre in his country, had had ample time and space to practice and access to excellent facilities, there was not a single precept that he had managed to keep consistently, not a single contemplative exercise that he had mastered in the way described in the texts. furthermore, he asked himself, if that was true of himself, how could it be for ordinary people who had not had the advantages that he had had? what hope was there for the fisherman, the shop-keeper, the farmer or the soldier?

It despair over this ll important question, Honen discovered the work of Shan Tao, a Chinese master from several centuries earlier. Shan Tao offered a solution which was to call upon the Buddhas, especially Amitabha buddha, for help. Admitting that we need help is enormously freeing. Recognising that the Buddhas are wiser than we are cuts through our dilemma. This is a practice for ignorant beings - one does not need to know the ontological status of Amitabha or the precise mechanism by which spiritual help comes to us. Virtually all cultures throughout history have had some such notion dressed up in different clothing. When we call out and express the deep longing in the human heart, we place ourselves in concert with great sages and humble practitioners of innumerable different creeds throughout history. We also affirm the special qualities that the Buddhas bring into this world - peace, harmony, patience, reconciliation and grace.

Honen then spent the rest of his life reaching out to people and sharing with them the inspiration that he had received. He became a great propagator of the Dharma in japan, just as Shan Tao had been in China. He was able to be so primarily, i imagine, because he had accepted his own human nature and so was able to accept that of others.

Views: 106

Replies to This Discussion

I feel quite attracted and interested in Honen as you describe him. I would like to know if there is some reading or book to read about his experience of faith and life .I find him very inspiring. Thank you David

Regarding Honen, a useful resource is the Jodo Shu Research Institute website.

Great!, Thank you so much David :)


ITZI Conference 2019

Subscribe to ITZI Conference Newsletter

* indicates required

Blog Posts


Posted by David Brazier on June 26, 2019 at 18:04 6 Comments

My medical condition continues to be a mystery. It is clear that I do not have any of the big nasty things - brain tumour, cracked skull, stroke, etc - as these have been ruled out by MRI investigation. Nonetheless I continue to have persistent, continuous head pain that varies in intensity and I become exhausted by the least effort so that I am functioning like an invalid incapable of doing very much. There is always a possibility that the whole syndrome is a…



Posted by Dayamay Dunsby on June 2, 2019 at 1:02 4 Comments

“Do we know what it means to be struck by grace? It does not mean that we suddenly believe that God exists, or that Jesus is the saviour, or that the Bible contains the truth. Grace strikes us when we are in great pain and restlessness. It strikes us when we walk through the dark Valley of a meaningless and empty life. It strikes us when we feel that our separation is deeper than usual, because we have violated another life, a life which we loved, or from which we were estranged. It strikes us… Continue


Posted by Geeta Chari on April 26, 2019 at 22:13 3 Comments

This is a short video of a Buddhist monk and his family. 

It raised questions on parenting and Buddhism - does detachment (or perhaps quietism), as practiced here, lead to demotivation and disengagement with the world around one?

His children find the detachment practised by the monk disquieting. They appreciate the irony of detachment, which is supposed to…


Zero Limits

Posted by Dayamay Dunsby on April 20, 2019 at 14:13 0 Comments




I have recently been made aware of a practice known as Ho’ponopono. Ho’ponopono is an ancient Hawaiian healing practice, based on universal forgiveness, that was rediscovered and popularised in the 80s. A man called Joe Vitale(Hawaiian I think)  became enchanted by the practice after his daughter was healed from an…


© 2019   Created by David Brazier.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service