The Way of Jodo Shinshu
Reflections on the Hymns of Shinran Shonin

Welcome to The Way of Jodo Shinshu

Shinran Shonin (1173-1263) compiled fine scholarly works in classical Chinese. But he also composed three volumes of hymns (wasan) in the common language of his day, so that everyone could hear the dharma of Amida Buddha. His hymns proclaim the way of Jodo Shinshu ('true Pure Land Buddhism' also known as 'Shin Buddhism') to the world.

The Two Rivers and The White Path

Songs of Light
A survey of the three collections of Shinran's hymns
The Two Rivers and The White Path
An allegory about the way of Jodo Shinshu

Essays on Shinran's Hymns

(1) Jodo Wasan - Hymns of the Pure Land

The Pure Land

The Hymns of the Pure Land encourage us, through an exploration of the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha in the sutras, to take refuge in Amida Buddha, the Tathagata of inconceivable light.

The light of wisdom exceeds all measure,
And every finite living being
Receives this illumination that is like the dawn,
So take refuge in Amida, the true and real light.
(Hymns of the Pure Land 4)

(2) Koso Wasan - Hymns of the Pure Land Masters

T'an luan

In these verses we hear the living teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha and the seven Dharma Masters, who are the historical manifestation of the compassionate Vow of Amida Buddha, and continue to guide us in our time.

Eminent Pure Land teachers of India, China and Japan!
Out of pity and compassion embrace us,
And guiding us to realisation of true and real shinjin,
Bring us to enter the stage of the truly settled.
(Hymns of the Dharma Ages 57)

(3) Shozomatsu Wasan - Hymns of the Dharma-Ages

Last Dharma Age

Finally, we are now in a time far from that of Shakyamuni Buddha. Hence, true realisation is all the more remarkable, and brings immense gratitude and joy, deep self-awareness, and an enthusiastic life of nembutsu (Namo Amida Butsu).

Such is the benevolence of Amida's great compassion,
That we must strive to return it, even to
    the breaking of our bodies;
Such is the benevolence of the masters and true teachers,
That we must endeavour to repay it, even to our bones
    becoming dust.
(Hymns of the Dharma Ages 59)

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Jodo Wasan

Koso Wasan

Shozomatsu Wasan

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George Gatenby
Adelaide, South Australia
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