from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jōdo-shū ( Japanese 浄土 宗 , dt. "School of the Pure Land") is a school of Japanese Buddhism , which can be assigned to the so-called Amida Buddhism or the Buddhism of the Pure Land . According to tradition, it was donated in 1175 by the Tendai monk Hōnen (1133-1212).

At the center of the teaching is the trust in the power of the Buddha Amitābha (Skt. Immeasurable Light) or Amitāyus (Skt. Immeasurable Life) (Japanese 阿 弥陀 , Amida ) and the hope of rebirth (literally "Hingeburt", ōjō往生) in his Pure Land ( 淨土 , jìngtǔ ; jap. jōdo ).

The Buddhism of the Pure Land , including the larger Jōdoshin-shū , which emerged from the Jōdo-shū, currently includes almost 20 million Japanese. The Jōdo-shū itself, the Hōnen considered its founder, has about 6 million followers, 6,932 temples and 8,000 clergy (over 90 percent men) in Japan, making it one of the most important Japanese Buddhist denominations.


According to tradition, the Jōdo-shū was founded in 1175 by the Tendai monk Hōnen (1133-1212) when he decided to leave the Enryakuji Monastery on Mount Hiei, northeast of Kyoto , to teach the people of the Pure Land spread. Hōnen propagated the then already popular practice of venerating the name of the Buddha Amida (a practice called nenbutsu念 仏in Japanese , from Skt. Buddhânusmŗti , "Buddha- mindfulness "), in the wish that in whose pure land the To be born supreme bliss. He claimed that this was the only appropriate and purposeful practice in the "end times of the Dharma ". Hōnen chose the so-called Three Sūtras of the Pure Land ( jōdo sanbukyō浄土 三 部 経) as the authoritative basis of his teaching and saw the interpretation of these writings by the Chinese monk Shandao善 導 (613-681) obliged.

Under the ideational direction of Hōnen, the movement of "devotional and exclusive Buddha-visualization" ( ikkō senju nenbutsu 一向専 修 念 仏) grew rapidly and became one of the most popular, but also most controversial schools of Japanese Buddhism. Many monks, nuns and lay people valued Hōnen's simple but convincing message, which also guaranteed sinful and untalented people safe liberation from the cycle of birth and death. However, the established Buddhist orders and schools criticized the movement for being intolerant, marginalizing, one-sided and heretical. After a series of scandals sparked fears that Hōnen's followers might spark social unrest and bring about the decline of the country, secular authorities yielded to the demands of the Buddhist establishment and banned the movement's activities in 1207. Hōnen and six of his closest disciples, including Shinran , founder of the Jōdoshin-shū , were returned to the lay status and sent into exile. Two monks from close proximity to Honen were even executed. However, these and other suppressive measures did not detract from the popularity of the Pure Land Doctrine.

After Hōnen's death in 1212, the movement split into several branches, among which the so-called Chinzei branch 鎮西 派 finally dominated. If one speaks of "Jōdo-shū" today, this branch is usually meant. Despite its popularity among ordinary people as well as among the elites, the Jōdo-shū, sometimes denigrated as an "appendage sect" of the Tendai-shū, failed to be recognized as an independent denomination until the early 17th century. After the Second World War, several factions split off, but they merged again in 1962. The Chion-in, a temple that was founded in 1234 by Hōnens disciple Genchi 源 智 (1182-1238) on the site in Kyoto, where his master once resided, is considered the headquarters of the Jōdo-shū. A second, much smaller branch of the Jōdo-shū is the Seizan-ha 西山 派, which has less than 500,000 followers.

Current situation

A monastic way of life, according to Hōnen's understanding not a condition of salvation, is mainly maintained today by a few nuns, while the temples are usually run by married male priests. Like the priests of other denominations in Japan, they usually have another job, as the income from temple operations is often no longer sufficient to survive in a strongly secularized and shrinking society. The priestly office is hereditary in a patrilineal succession. Today the Jōdo-shū runs universities, colleges, schools and kindergartens and promotes various scientific and social activities. She is a member of the Japan Buddhist Federation , through which she is also affiliated with the World Fellowship of Buddhists . Important Jōdo-shū strongholds outside of Japan are regions with large Japanese populations such as Hawaii (14 institutions), the United States (2 temples) and Brazil (2 temples). So far the denomination has not developed any noteworthy missionary activities among non-Japanese.


  • Blum, Mark L. The Origins and Development of Pure Land Buddhism: A Study and Translation of Gyōnen's Jōdo Hōmon Genrushō . New York: Oxford University Press, 2002
  • Coates, Harper H. and Ishizuka Ryūgaku, eds. Hōnen the Buddhist Saint: His Life and Teaching. Compiled by Imperial Order . 5 vols. Kyoto: The Society for the Publication of Sacred Books of the World, 1949 [1925]
  • Christoph Kleine : Hōnens Buddhism of the Pure Land: Reform, Reformation or Heresy? (Religious Studies, Vol. 9.) Frankfurt / Main 1996, ISBN 3-631-49852-7 .
  • Christoph Kleine : Buddhism in Japan: history, teaching, practice. Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 2011, ISBN 978-3-16-150492-1 .
  • Christoph Kleine . Pure Land Buddhism: From Chinese and Japanese Traditions . 1st edition Berlin, Berlin: Insel Verlag; World Religions Publishing House, 2015.
  • Christoph Kleine : "Jingtu zong / Jodo shu." In Religion in Past and Present, 4th ed. Vol. 4. Edited by Hans Dieter Betz et al., 505–6 4. Tübingen, 2001.
  • Christoph Kleine : “Jodoshu.” In Religions of the World: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Beliefs and Practices. Edited by Gordon Melton and Martin Baumann, 725. Santa Barbara, Denver, London, 2002.
  • Daigan Matsunaga, Alicia Matsunaga: Foundation of japanese buddhism, Vol. 2: The Mass Movement (Kamakura and Muromachi Periods). Buddhist Books International, Los Angeles / Tokyo 1996, ISBN 0-914910-28-0 .
  • Traversing the Pure Land Path: A Lifetime of Encounters with Honen Shonin. Jodo Shu Press, 2005, ISBN 4-88363-342-X , pp. 89-94.
  • Hisao Inagaki , Harold Stewart (transl.): The Three Pure Land Sutras. Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Berkeley 2003, ISBN 1-886439-18-4 PDF .

Web links