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On Doshu
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Whenever I read out On Pilgrimage in the Snow, a letter by Rennyo Shonin (1415-1499), it reminds me of Doshu (?-1516), one of Rennyo Shonin's disciples, who is also known as a Myokonin. Amongst Shin Buddhist followers those particularly rich in faith and goodness are called Myokonin. Their faith is extremely pure.

On Pilgrimage in the Snow was written on 8th February 1473, two years after Rennyo Shonin had established a temple on a hill known as Yoshizaki in Hokuriku District. He had moved from Kyoto to Omi and again from Omi to Yoshizaki in order to escape the repeated attacks of militant soldier monks on the Mt. Hiei. Within a few years of moving to Yoshizaki, Rennyo Shonin had become so popular and his teaching had spread so rapidly, that huge numbers of people would come flocking to Yoshizaki to attend the meetings he held there.

February is the coldest month in Japan and Hokuriku District is famous for the heavy falls of snow. In winter the snow lies several meters deep and in some areas people go in and out through doors at first floor level.

Although it is by no means certain whether Doshu was already present amongst those followers who had gathered at Yoshizaki on the day the letter was written, Doshu was actually brought up in that same district and did become a pious Pure Land Buddhist through his encounter with Rennyo Shonin. He is also said to have served as an escort-guard to Rennyo Shonin for a certain length of time. There is no doubt that, as a seeker after truth, possessed of excellent and persevering mental ability, he worked for Rennyo with utmost spiritual devotion. Doshu's relation to Rennyo Shonin is a very good example of the relationship between master and disciple in Shin Buddhism.

Of his life we know very little except through a number of historical documents: The Rennyo Shonin Goichidaiki Kikigaki (The Record of Rennyo Shonin's Words and Deeds throughout his Lifetime), Articles 45, 131, 192 and 281, a part of The Shujinki (The Collection of Dust) and The Resolutions Made on 24th December, 1st Year of Bunki. These records that are believed to have been made by his contemporaries are very important for finding out about Doshu. In particular the last document, The Resolutions Made on 24th December, 1st Year of Bunki, usually known as Doshu's Twenty-One Resolutions, is invaluable because it was written by himself. It gives us a glimpse of his spiritual life. As I wasn't very happy with the English version of the document found in The Japanese Spirituality by D. T. Suzuki (translated into English by Prof. Norman Waddell), I have retranslated it for today's talk.

Firstly I would like to introduce you to Articles 45, 131, 192 and 281 of The Rennyo Shonin Goichidaiki Kikigaki and to make a few comments on them as we go along.



 
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