ylee111 wrote:Not to revive a dead thread, but I wonder if Ven Indrjala, Jikan, Astus, and others have any knowledge on this subject.
Since nobody replied to this I'd like to offer my 2 cents ... I will focus more on Jishu and Shinshu in this post, building on what has already been said of the other two schools.
Basically, both Ippen's Jishu and Shinran's Shinshu can be seen as 1) a radicalization of Honen's teachings and 2) a "reintegration" of Honen's teaching back into Mahayana
As for (1): what I mean by "radicalization" is that both Ippen and Shinran went to the extreme of the "Other Power" spectrum, eliminating any trace whatsoever of "Own Power" (or "Self Power"). In Shinran, this means that it's not through our own practice of nembutsu that we are born. It's not something that depends on your effort, how often and how much you say it. Birth is simply a matter of shinjin that is faith, and again this faith or trust or entrusting is not something we do, it's not our own act. Shinran often quotes Honen's saying, "in Pure Land Way, no working is true working". Shinjin, true entrusting in the Vow, saves us not because we deserve it or because we practice enough; it is simply a gift by Amida Buddha. This is completely monergistic. Monergism is opposed to synergism. Monergism means one is saved by an outside agency (like God or in this case, Amida) only - the practice of salvation is completely something done by the Other Power and not our own doing.
Why is this important? It's because if we are working within a framework of synergism, there's always the threat of calculation, of "spiritual materialism". You begin counting your nembutsu, and thinking the more you say it, the more chances are you will go to the Pure Land, you can get trapped in it like buying "Heaven points" with which you'll buy yourself a nice parcel in the Pure Land. It becomes exaclty the opposite of what it should lead to (selflessness). Our caculating mind is so cunning that it will use anything, even spiritual practice, to reinforce our own existence, or rather, its own existence, the perpetuation of calculative thinking.
Now Ippen, is very similar, but compared to Shinran, there are two things to be said. 1) he ditches even "faith" as another "self power" , something that is frail and unreliable ... 2) he was influenced by Zen (more non-dualist style compared to Shinran). - Ippen once met a monk who told him: "I'm sorry Ippen, I want to believe in the nembutsu, but it just doesn't happen. Faith doesn't arise in me. It's not my fault." - this led Ippen into a crisis ... what if faith simply doesn't arise in a person even though they hear about the 18th Vow and the Pure Land and the Easy Practice that saves everyone who calls? he went into a deep spiritual crisis and in the dream, an apparition (let's say a messenger of Amida) told him: "Oh you fool, why do you spread the nembutsu of interpenetration in the wrong way? Faith or no faith, it doesn't matter. Namu-amida-butsu itself is born." - This was the decisive thing ... now he disregarded even faith. Because faith AS a feeling in our minds is as impermanent as anything else ... like our thoughts, emotions, inclinations ... according to Ippen, our minds are totally unreliable so we can't hope to have a firm faith. Instead, only the Name itself is reliable. Only Namu-Amida-Butsu is reliable. The Name is the only refuge.
OK this is a little too long already. I won't go into point (2), but basically both Ippen and Shinran reintegrated Honen's teachings into a wider Mahayana context. Shinran by reactualizing the concept of "bodhicitta" which faded in Honen. And Ippen by using the "Mind-only" lingo, "one mind", no duality between the utterer of the Name and the Name itself ...
One last thing, even though it appears Ippen went to the extreme of the "Other Power" spectrum, that can be deceiving ... in fact, Shinran would agree with Ippen that our faith is fragile and unreliable like everything else. If by "faith" we mean the FEELING of believing. But what Shinran really means by "shinjin" is not something that is ours. It's not something that we do, it's Amida's own working, ... basically when we utter the Name in shinjin (true entrusting), it is Amida calling us, not us calling Amida; Ippen would say "it is the Name calling the Name".
Overall Shinran is more consistent and rational, and so his line survived and is the dominant school of Pure Land today. Ippen was a bit crazier, Zen-like character, but I really recommend the book "No Abode" if you can find it. It's full of "holy fire", ardent religious passion. Ippen is fire, Shinran is water.