The Truth is that all life is interdependent and interconnected. Everything exists because they are inter-dependent and caused by other things. All things spring forth from innumerable causes and conditions, which in turn, are inter-dependent with innumerable causes and conditions. Nothing exists by itself, nor arises by itself with a fixed, permanent existence. Thus, the Buddha spoke of “no-self” and the inherent emptiness of things we crave but which ultimately never bring us happiness.
The Buddha shared this wisdom with other people for the next 45 years. Over that period of time, he gave many sermons and instructed many people using various words, means, practices and actions.
Sakyamuni Buddha passed away at the age of 80. After his death, his followers compiled a record of his life and sermons, which became the Buddhist sutras, or scriptures. From those sutras over the proceeding several centuries, various schools and sects of Buddhism emerged. Out of that stream came a path which opened the way for anyone, anywhere, to encounter the light of the Buddha’s teachings. That path is called Jodo Shinshu.
A thousand years after Sakyamuni Buddha passed away, Buddhism had traveled from India, through China to Japan, where it began to flourish. Over the next several hundred years, Buddhism evolved in different ways, focused on specific practices and sutras. By the 13th Century, Buddhism had become a state-sponsored religion and its temples had become powerful and wealthy.
The life of Shinran Shonin
Shinran Shonin (1173-1262) was born during those times. Separated from his parents, he entered a Buddhist monastery at age nine. He spent twenty years as a Tendai priest on Mt. Hiei near Kyoto immersed in studies and strict practices, but felt restless and unfulfilled. In frustration, he left the temple in search of solace. He eventually met a teacher, Honen Shonin, who encouraged him to find meaning in his life through the story of Amida Buddha, which symbolizes infinite wisdom and compassion.