UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Hōnen Shōnin and the Pure Land movement Gilday, Edmund Theron


In this study of Honen Shonin and his relation to the institutionalization of an independent Japanese Pure Land school, I have attempted to isolate the religious and doctrinal issues which affected the evolution of Pure Land salvationism in general and Japanese Buddhism in particular. The background for this:analysis is provided in Part One, which is a discussion of the religious background to Honen and his ideas, and a summary of the immediate historical and religious circumstances, put of which Honen's Pure Land soteriology emerged. Part Two consists of a detailed analytical description of the Senchaku-shu ( ), Honen's major dissertation on Pure Land doctrine. My thesis is that the reconciliation of the two main currents which converged during the late Heian and early Kamakura periods, namely the Pure Land tradition transmitted from India to East Asia and the popular religious forms indigenous to Japan, climaxed in the single-practice Pure Land movement of H5nen. This reconciliation was not as much the result of internal institutional processes, however, as of the unique cultural and historical circumstances present in the last quarter of the twelfth century, when Honen was most actively engaged in his ministry. My intention is to show that Honen's contribution to the Pure Land tradition and his significance in Japanese religious history have been greatly underestimated, particularly in the West, and it is my hope that this study will provide a solid base from which to initiate a new evaluation of Honen and his movement.

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