Long-established temples that saw such teachings as heretical and a political threat, pushed the government to separately exile Honen and Shinran, forcing them to live a harsh existence in the countryside.
In seeing the miseries of the common people and in confronting his own suffering, Shinran looked deeply within himself and saw his true self. As human beings, he saw that we are filled with passions and delusions. Traditional practices of trying to tame the ego and overcome this “self” were fruitless.
Truth lay in seeing that we are such people, and in accepting ourselves as imperfect, ego-filled beings full of shortcomings. In coming to such acceptance, we come to realize that the light of Amida Buddha’s wisdom and compassion always shines on us, wherever we go and in whatever we do. Thus, there is no “practice” to follow. Living is enough.
The words in Jodo Shinshu that express a profound gratitude for this Truth are: “Namu Amida Butsu.” These words are referred to as the Nembutsu.
Jodo Shinshu liberated Buddhism from the idea that it is a path limited only to people who can meditate, follow precepts, fast, or follow a particular discipline. By listening to the Dharma and living our lives as best we can, we may walk on the path opened to us by Sakyamuni Buddha long ago.