Rennyo Letter 09

Volume I Letter No. 9

MONO IMI NO SHO

(CHAPTER ON ABSTINENCE AND TABOO)

People have said from long ago that our Jodo Shinshu Sect is a laughably defiled Sect.  In truth, they are pointing to a condition with justification.  The reason for this is that there are people in this Sect without due understanding who explain points in the Teachings of our School to those of other sects without due circumspection.  This is a great mistake.  By, “adherence to the manner of conduct as set forth by this Jodo Shinshu Sect,” is meant that a person well understands the matter of keeping the traditional teachings of our School firmly in his heart and refrains from showing even a hint of it outwardly.  However, since some have thoughtlessly expounded the teachings of our Sect to those of other sects without due consideration recently, people have labeled our Sect as being without depth.  Due to the existence of such persons with poor understanding among us, people look upon our Sect as defiled and hateful.

You should understand that the core of the trouble lies not in the people of the other sects being bad, but in the poor judgment of the people within our own Sect.

Now, with respect to abstinences and taboos, we can say that, relative to the Dharma, we do not observe abstinences or taboos in our Sect.  Should there not be avoidances pertinent to our association with those of the other sects and to those in governmental circles?  It goes without saying that in our contacts with those of the other sects, certain refrainments as mentioned above must be observed; and too, there must not be slander on our part because others do observe abstinences and taboos.  However, it must be remembered that those who wish to pursue Buddha’s Dharma are not limited, by any means, to only the followers of the Nembutsu.

It is clearly written in many sutras that there are to be no abstinences or taboos.  For instance, in the Nehan-Kyo it states, “Passage is given in the Japanese calligraphic form of the Sutra

).  The meaning of this passage is, “Within the Teachings of the Tathagata, there are no such things as the selection of appropriate sign-filled days for luck or favorable times…” Again, in the Hanjyu-Kyo, it states, “…(passage is given in the original Chinese form with transposed okuri-ten Japanese reading…

).”  The meaning of this passage is, “A lay woman who seeks the Truth after having heard this Teaching and desires to learn it, should place her reliance on the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.  She must not aspire to some other Path, pray to heavens, worship demons and deities, and select lucky days and favorable times.”  Although there are other passages from sutras that state the same thing, the above passages will suffice here.

It appears to me that the followers of the Nembutsu especially ought not to have any anxieties over abstinences and taboos.  You should understand this very clearly.

With reverence, I remain

9th month, 5th year of Bunmei (1473)

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