Collected Works of Shinran

On Jinen-Honi

[On Jinen-Honi]

Concerning jinen [in the phrase jinen honi]:

Ji means “of itself” – not through the practicer’s calculation. It signifies being made so.

Nen means “to be made so” – it is not through the practicer’s calculation; it is through the working of the Tathagata’s Vow.

Concerning honi:

Honi signifies being made so through the working of the Tathagata’s Vow. It is the working of the Vow where there is no room for calculation on the part of the practicer. Know, therefore, that in Other Power, no working is true working.

Jinen signifies being made so from the very beginning. Amida’s Vow is, from the very beginning, designed to bring each of us to entrust ourselves to it – saying “Namu-amida-butsu” – and to receive us into the Pure Land; none of this is through our calculation. Thus, there is no room for the practicer to be concerned about being good or bad. This is the meaning of jinen as I have been taught.

As the essential purport of the Vow, [Amida] vowed to bring us all to become supreme Buddha. Supreme Buddha is formless, and because of being formless is called jinen. Buddha, when appearing with form, is not called supreme nirvana. In order to make it known that supreme Buddha is formless, the name Amida Buddha is expressly used; so I have been taught. Amida Buddha fulfills the purpose of making us know the significance of jinen.

After we have realized this, we should not be forever talking about jinen. If we continuously discuss jinen, that no working is true working will again become a problem of working. It is a matter of inconceivable Buddha-wisdom.

[Shoka 2 {1258}, Twelfth month, 14th day]

Gutoku Shinran
Written at age 86