The One-Sheet Document (一枚起請文 ichimai-kishōmon ) is a document written by the founder of the Japanese Pure Land Buddhism school, Hōnen, two days before his death. The document is meant to summarize Hōnen's teachings for future generations, and serves as his final testament. The document was written on January 23rd, during the second year of Kenryaku (1212) and contains less than 300 words.
The document affirms Hōnen's belief that ultimately sentient beings are deluded and ignorant, but that through the entrusting of Amida Buddha, and through the recitation of the nembutsu, one can be reborn in the Pure Land. Of note is the statement:
|“||Even if those who believe in the nembutsu study the teaching which Shakyamuni taught his whole life, they should not put on any airs and should sincerely practice the nembutsu, just as an illiterate fool, a nun or one who is ignorant of Buddhism.||”|
This emphasized Hōnen's belief in an egalitarian form of Buddhism which contrasted with medieval Japanese Buddhism that emphasized many years of monastic study, and difficult esoteric practices not accessible to the majority of the population.
The full text of the One-Sheet document originally posted at the Jodo Shu English website is as follows:
"In China and Japan, many Buddhist masters and scholars understand that the nembutsu is to meditate deeply on Amida Buddha and the Pure Land. However, I do not understand the nembutsu in this way. Reciting the nembutsu does not come from studying and understanding its meaning. There is no other reason or cause by which we can utterly believe in attaining birth in the Pure Land than the nembutsu itself. Reciting the nembutsu and believing in birth in the Pure Land naturally gives rise to the three minds (sanjin) and the four modes of practice (shishu). If I am withholding any deeper knowledge beyond simple recitation of the nembutsu, then may I lose sight of the compassion of Shakyamuni and Amida Buddha and slip through the embrace of Amida's original vow. Even if those who believe in the nembutsu deeply study all the teachings which Shakyamuni taught during his life, they should not put on any airs and should practice the nembutsu with the sincerity of those untrained followers ignorant of Buddhist doctrines.
I hereby authorize this document with my hand print. The Jōdo Shū way of the settled mind (anjin) is completely imparted here. I, Genku, have no other teaching than this. In order to prevent misinterpretation after my passing away, I make this final testament."
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