Jinen (Naturalness) - Was aus meinen Träumen wurde

Direkt zum Seiteninhalt
in: Humanities 20, 1986, pp. 59-81
[Chinese characters omitted, minor changes]
                                    GERHARD SCHEPERS

Japanese are often said to have a traditionally close relationship to nature. This trait can also be found in Japanese religion. It does not mean, however, that the oncept of nature and the problems involved in it are widely discussed. Rather, the closeness to nature seems to be one of the reasons why there are, as far as I can see, only very few instances where the problem of 'nature' is considered at all in the context of Japanese religion. In a recent book on the traditional Japanese concept of nature,1 there are only two articles dealing with Japanese religion, one referring to Shugendō and to Esoteric Buddhism, the other to Shinran's term jinen‑hōni. With regard to the latter, references in Buddhist dictionaries, too, indicate that Shinran's thought is particularly important for the understanding of the Japanese word for nature, read jinen in Buddhist texts and shizen in modern Japanese. As we shall see when we consider its meaning it is better to refer to  jinen in English by using the term 'naturalness' instead of 'nature', as I did in the title of this paper, indicating by the quotation marks that it is used in a specific sense here.
There is also another reason why Shinran's thought is of particular interest, namely the closeness of some of his central concepts like 'faith' and 'salvation' to those of Christianity, a point which has often been stressed by scholars, and also for instance his emphasis on the individual, which is especially remarkable in a Japanese context.2 This seems
to indicate that Shinran, while firmly rooted in the Japanese and Buddhist traditions, has obviously been able, through his lifelong religious experience, to transcend them and reach a depth of insight and intuition that makes visible a truth beyond individual and cultural differences. This, it seems to me, is the reason why he is astonishingly free of religious and cultural traditions, why he can reject, modify, or accept them depending on his own religious experience, and why we find in his thought elements that are also basic to the Western religious tradition. Thus, Shinran's thought is particularly interesting from the point of view of comparative culture, for it enables us to  find  a  common ground, a pre‑condition for any comparative study.


Before we start discussing Shinran's concept of jinen‑hōni in detail it will be necessary to consider the terms referring to nature or naturalness, both in Japanese and English, in order to be aware of their different implications and the presuppositions on which they are based. Because of the complexity of this problem I can only attempt to give a rough outline here.

'Shizen' and 'Nature'
The larger dictionaries of both languages contain two main groups of meanings for the term 'nature' that are, with some variations, common to both Japanese and English. The first group is variously defined as animals, plants, mountains, etc., i.e., the whole physical world and the creative power operating in it and things or phenomena existing independent of man and untouched by him. But whereas for instance the Japanese Nihon Kokugo Daijiten gives no further specifications of this meaning,3 the Oxford English Dictionary lists quite a number of them, many of which refer to a contrast, for instance with art,
organized society, a cultivated condition, or the state of grace.4 In this case 'nature' can have a positive meaning, describing, for example, what is natural as opposed to what is unnatural or immoral; but it may sometimes also be rather negative, as in the case of the contrasts just mentioned or when it refers to certain bodily functions or organs. 'A natural' may even have the meaning of 'an idiot'.5 Such negative implications are not found in Japanese.
The other group of meanings that we find in both Japanese and English is 'nature' as the essential qualities or properties of a thing, as a person's or animal's innate character or as the inherent dominating power or impulse in these. Again there are typical differences. Whereas the Japanese term is used only in a general sense and its use is limited, in English it often refers to distinctive individual phenomena or persons, such as the specific character of a person or certain elements in it (e.g., man's animal nature), or even a thing or person of particular character itself (e.g. 'who, like so many buoyant natures').6 Such a usage would be impossible in Japanese.
The meaning of the terms 'natural', 'naturally', and 'naturalness' largely corresponds to what I have jus said with regard to 'nature'. In Japanese, however, where the adjectival and adverbial usage cannot be so clearly distinguished from that of the noun, we find a third group of meanings or shades of meaning, mainly in adverbial expressions, which has only a few parallels in English. It centers around the notion of spontaneity and can variously be rendered as being accepted with ease by everyone, not calculated, spontaneous(ly), of itself, smoothly, by chance. As English expressions like 'spontaneous naturalness'7 show, the notion of spontaneity obviously is close to that of naturalness, but not central, so that it has to be expressed separately. In case of jinen/shizen, however, 'spontaneous(ly)' or 'of itself'
is the original meaning, as we can already see from the two Chinese character it is composed of, namely ji/shi (of itself, spontaneous<ly>), and nen/zen which, besides the meaning 'to burn' expresses 'thusness' or 'suchness'. Until the Meiji Period the word shizen/jinen was used almost exclusively in its adjectival or adverbial form (shizen no, shizen ni) in the sense of onozukara (of itself, by itself). It is only since the turn of the century that the word has generally been used to translate English 'nature' and its equivalents in other European languages. Thus it gradually assumed most of the meanings  of 'nature', though there are still typical differences as we have just seen above. Before the Meiji Period,  the physical world was referred to by using terms like tenchi (heaven and earth), banbutsu (all things), or shinrabanshō (the whole of creation).8

The Buddhist Concept of 'Jinen'
In the Buddhist context, the word jinen is almost never used with reference to the physical world, to individual things or to their specific character. Clearly there is no concept of nature as a separate reality, and  accordingly it cannot become the object of a reflection on its character or a comparison with other realities, as is often the case in Western thought. Rather, jinen refers to a universal phenomenon, to a possible quality of all things. It can perhaps be best described as 'spontaneity' (as in the case of 'shizen') and as 'thusness', the two meanings which are also expressed by the characters ji and nen respectively.
The Bukkyōgo Daijiten lists eleven different meanings for jinen.  Only in two cases ('things that exist  of  themselves'   and  'the ego  or  the soul  of  living  things')  are there instances where the  term  refers to specific entities. Otherwise it means the fundamental character, the true form of things as they are, thusness, suchness, spontaneity, of itself, or free and independent without any attachment to persons and things, jinen‑hōni.9 The Japanese‑English Buddhist Dictionary explains the meaning of jinen as follows:

Spontaneity Existing by itself without dependence on other factors. I. This word may indicate the tathatā (shinnyo).10 II. In the Pure Land teaching this word is used to indicate the naturalness and ease with which a believer attains rebirth in the Pure Land simply through faith in Amida.11

While  the former of these two concepts was already developed in Indian Buddhism, the latter is Japanese and refers to Shinran's term jinen‑hōni . In this way we are led  from the modern meaning of the word shizen to its original meaning, which emphasizes spontaneity, and from there to Shinran's jinen‑hōni as the most explicit and characteristic expression,  in a religious context, of something that is fundamental  to the Japanese concept of 'naturalness'.

The Christian Concept of Nature  
Before discussing Shinran's concept of jinen‑hōni in detail, it would be interesting to compare these findings with the Christian view of nature. The contrast with the Japanese concept of shizen/jizen is most obvious if we look at the article on nature in Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart.12 It is interesting to note that the RGG has no
separate article on 'nature' but instead deals with it under the heading 'Nature and Christianity'. This immediately indicates a tension between these two. The article by W. Trillhaas explains how the originally positive evaluation of nature in early Christianity and up to the Middle Ages changed to an increasingly negative evaluation after the Reformation. The Reformers rejected the idea of an analogy between nature and the supernatural order, the state of grace. Nature, especially in the sense of human nature, was seen as the mediator of sin, and as being completely corrupt since Adam's fall. In Pietism, the way to salvation is a way against  nature. In philosophical thought, nature is often  understood to be what is opposed to spirit, as determined and unfree, and therefore what has to be overcome. In this sense, according to Trillhaas, the  overcoming of nature is a central idea in modern Protestant ethics. The article closes by emphasizing  the need to develop a new Protestant theology of nature in view of the advance of modern science and the much more positive evaluation of nature by modern Western man.
In  the Catholic counterpart of the RGG, the Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche,13 we find an article on nature by J.B. Metz. He first points out the original meaning of nature by referring to the Latin nasci (natura) and the Greek phyesdai (physis); both of these mean: being born, coming into being, or growing. 'Nature' thus denotes the basic act (actus  primus) of a being by which it comes into being and, therefore, the a‑priori norm of all its activities, its 'nature'.14 Whereas in the pantheistic view of nature a being exists wholly by itself and nature appears as the only ground and expression of the reality of beings, in Christianity God is seen as the ultimate ground, as the creator, or as the primary cause of the creative force of nature. Metz emphasizes that the real meaning of 'nature' can be grasped only by considering human nature. He then defines this as transcendence, as openness towards the absolute, and as existence or as person. Nature as history means, according to Metz, that man is nature not only in the sense of his fundamental nature, essence, or norm, but also in so far as he still has to become what he is, or, in other words, that he still has to decide for himself what he really is.15 This concept of nature shows some similarity with the notion of jinen in Japanese Buddhism and its double aspect of thusness and spontaneity. But whereas Christianity emphasizes the necessity of man's free decision, Buddhism seems to have no room for human freedom in this sense. Moreover, jinen does not imply the idea of a norm as in  the  Christian concept of nature.
These two examples of a theological interpretation of the concept of nature must suffice here. Actually, the Western notion of nature is extremely complex and difficult to grasp, and the difference between the Protestant and the Catholic view, for instance, is in no way sufficiently defined by the above brief reference to these two articles. Rather they may serve as an illustration of the range of possible interpretations that we find in Christian theology.

The Text
The term jinen‑hōni is used by Shinran in one text only, which, although it is short and rather difficult to understand, has often been referred to and discussed. But in spite of the efforts of many scholars we are far from a consensus on the meaning  of the text. The various interpretations differ considerably and sometimes even contradict each other.16
The  difficulties begin with the establishment of the correct text.  
We  have three versions which only slightly differ in wording, except that in one of them the first  four short sentences are missing. This is the text most  frequently quoted, namely the one in the Mattōshō,17 a collection of Shinran's private letters compiled seventy‑two years after his death. The Mattōshō also includes three papers on doctrinal matters, one of which is our text. But, as Masahide Satō has convincingly shown, the so‑called Kenchi Kikigaki seems to be the original, for various reasons.18 This version was written down by Shinran's chief disciple and secretary Kenchi after he had heard it directly from his master who was then eighty‑five (in 1258).19 It is almost identical with the third version, an appendix to Shinran's Shōzōmatsu Wasan, edited by  Rennyo in the 15th century.20 It thus seems that our text was originally an oral explanation of the doctrine to a disciple, and not a paper or even a letter written by Shinran himself, as is usually assumed.21 This also explains why the text contains some words rarely found in Shinran's writings (e.g. "Mida" instead of "Amida" or "mujōbutsu"), but on the whole Kenchi  seems  to have faithfully recorded his master's words.22
Following is the text of the  Kenchi Kikigaki:

As for the character gyaku, we call gyaku what is obtained in the state of cause. As for the character toku, we call toku what is obtained in the state of effect. As for the character myō, we call a name in the state of cause myō. As for the character , we call a name in the state of effect .
As for jinen,  ji means 'of (by) itself' (onozukara); it is a word which means 'to cause to be so' ('to cause to come about': shikarashimu), without any contrivance (intention, calculation, effort: hakarai) of the devotee. Nen is a word which means 'to  cause to be so', because it is due not to the contrivance of the devotee but to the Vow of the Nyorai (Tathāgata). As for ni , we call the working (causing to be so) hōni because it is the Vow of  the Nyorai. Hōni means to cause to be so due to this Vow, without the least contrivance of the devotee, by virtue of this Dharma (). In all, there is  nothing  that man can do on his part. Therefore, we should know that in the Other Power non‑meaning  (gi‑naki) is meaning.
Jinen is a word which from the first means 'to cause to be so'.
Mida (=Amida) Buddha's Vow has from the first nothing to do with the contrivance of the devotee and was made with the intention of welcoming (to the Pure Land) those who trust in the "Namo Amida". Therefore, when the devotee considers neither what is good nor what is bad this is called jinen. So I have heard. His Vow is meant to make us attain supreme Buddhahood (mujōbutsu). A supreme Buddha has no form. Since he is without form we speak of jinen. When one indicates that there is form, one does not call it supreme Nirvana (mujōnehan). In order to let it be known what this formlessness is like he is called Mida Buddha. This is what I have learned. Mida Buddha is there to let us know what jinen is like. After one has understood this one need not always be concerned with this jinen. If one is always concerned with jinen the 'non‑meaning is meaning' after all again assumes a meaning. This is the incomprehensible wisdom of the Buddha.23

The First Paragraph
The text consists of two parts, the first (the first two paragraphs) being an explanation, character by character, of the phrase "gyakutoku‑myōgō‑jinen‑hōni", and the second part discussing only the term jinen. In contrast to the second, the first part contains many repetitions  and is rather difficult to understand, because of its special character and the scarcity of contextual evidence. This could well be the reason why the first sentences were left out  when the Mattōshō was compiled since they seem to have no connection with the rest of the text.24
The phrases "gyakutoku‑myōgō" and "jinen‑hōni" occur nowhere else in Shinran. It seems that he found them, in this combination, in a text and explained them to  his  disciple, adding a further reflection on one of the terms, namely jinen.25 These philological considerations may not all seem equally important for the understanding of the text but they show one important fact: the term ni obviously appears here only because it was already combined with jinen in the phrase Shinran is referring to. The explanation of the term is almost the same as in the case of jinen. Also, after this explanation the word ni is never mentioned again and Shinran discusses only the term jinen. It is difficult to realize this fact if one considers the text without the first four sentences, and in this case the occurrence of the word ni could take on a special significance and thus lead to a misinterpretation of this passage.26
Now  let us consider the text in detail. The first four sentences are usually not discussed, although the terms used there, unlike ni, also occur in other texts of Shinran and are therefore easier to explain.
According to Satō,27 a comparison with other passages shows that myōgō means songō, the "Namo Amida Butsu",  the Holy Name. The expression gyakutokumyōgō (to obtain the Holy Name)" cannot refer to us, the shujō (sentient beings), who are full of passions and errors, but can only be said of Amida. In the two words gyakutoku and myōgō, Amida is the cause as Hōzō Bosatsu (Dharmakara Bodhisattva) and the effect as Amida Buddha. This distinction seems to have been made by Shinran for the first time28 and he frequently emphasizes it. According to the Muryōjukyō ('Sutra on <the Buddha> of Eternal Life'),29 Hōzō Bosatsu, moved deeply by the sufferings of sentient beings, had vowed to establish the Pure Land and promised not to accept enlightenment until all beings would be saved there. After having accomplished his Vow he became Amida Buddha, which means that in this sense all beings are saved already. What Shinran emphasizes here in the first four sentences is  important also for the understanding of the following paragraphs, it is the basis of the phenomenon described there in terms of jinen (ni).

The second paragraph is similar to the first in so far as it contains two parallel explanations of words, namely of jinen and ni. But now there is no relationship of cause and effect between the two and both terms are described in  almost the  same way. The reason for this is that the subject of the phenomenon described no longer is Amida but man or the devotee. Four times Shinran explicitly mentions a cause,  namely the Vow of the Nyorai (three times) and the  Dharma (once). This already clearly shows what he refers to when he speaks of jinen and ni, namely the Birth in the Pure Land (ōjō),30 which is due to Amida's Vow or, more specifically in our context, to the gyakutoku
myōgō, to his having obtained the Holy Name as explained in the first paragraph. What do the terms jinen and ni signify in this context? As already mentioned, Shinran's main concern is the explanation of the term jinen. ni is described in almost the same way as jinen. At the end of the paragraph Shinran resumes the explanation of the latter and continues it in the second part, where ni is no longer mentioned at all. There is only one explanation which refers exclusively to ni, taking up the character (Dharma, 'universal law') contained in it: "ni  means to cause to be so  ...  by virtue of this  Dharma (kono hō no toku no yue ni)". What does "Dharma" mean here? The fact that Shinran says "this Dharma" shows that it must refer to something in the preceding  text. It is perhaps best to assume with Satō31that it refers to the "myōgō", the "Holy Name", in the first paragraph, since it is also used in this way in another Shinran text,32 and  that "toku" then means the shitoku, the 'unsurpassed compassion' embodied in the  myōgō.
Shōson Miyamoto maintains that our text contains Shinran's interpretation of the Buddhis idea  of hōni‑dōri (dharmatā‑yukti, 'reasoning concerning the  ultimate reality or naturalness').33 But, as we saw, Shinran uses the term ni only in connection with jinen and the word ri appears only once at the end of the last paragraph in a different context clearly related to jinen ("kono dōri o kokoroetsuru nochi ni wa,  ... After one  has understood this ..."). Besides, it seems that, in Shinran's time, the term ni was normally used in the sense of something that happens naturally or as a matter of course.34 This is also the sense in the only passage in Shinran's works where he uses the term, namely in the  Kyōgyōshinshō:

  ... since unknown past all beings have been floundering in the sea of ignorance, repeating all forms of birth  and death and fettered in all forms of sorrow and  pain, thereby never experiencing pure faith. By nature no true faith could exist."35 (my italics)

ni  thus normally refers to things or phenomena in  this world and to the working of the karma. But in our text Shinran avoids any reference to the life of sentient beings and speaks only of the Birth in the Pure Land. It is therefore impossible to assume that ni is used here in a general sense, since in this case there would be no room for the working of Amida's Vow which Shinran twice emphasizes here.36 With regard to ni the contextual evidence may be somewhat scarce, but it shows at least that this term does not have any specific meaning here that is not contained in jinen already. According to Satō, the failure to realize this has led to a fundamental misunderstanding of the text and to the formation of what he calls the "Myth of Jinen‑Hōni".37

Having clarified this, we can now concentrate on the interpretation of jinen. This term is found in many Shinran texts and in some cases it is used there in a way similar to our passage. Most frequently it occurs in quotations from sutras and other Buddhist texts or in expressions taken from these (especially from the Daimuryōjukyō).38 Generally speaking, in Shin Buddhism jinen is used in three different meanings:

(1) Mui‑jinen, the naturalness or the as‑it‑is‑ ness of the Unconditioned, (2) Gōdō‑jinen, the necessary working of
one's karma, and (3) Ganriki‑jinen, the necessary working of the Vow‑Power.39

In addition to these we have the normal meaning of jinen that we find for instance in chapter 16 of the Tannishō: "whenever he (i.e. a follower of Faith) naturally gets angry".40
At  the end of the same chapter in the  Tannishō the word jinen occurs four times:

Birth is attained through Amida's compassionate means, when Faith is firmly established; hence, our own contrivance is not to be involved. If we look up to the Vow‑Power all the more as we realize our evilness, the feeling of tenderness and forbearance will arise in us as a course of nature (jinen no kotowari nite).
In anything related to Birth, we should, without clever thoughts, always remind ourselves fondly of our deep indebtedness to Amida's Benevolence. Then the Nembutsu is uttered. This is the natural outcome (Kore jinen nari). Non‑contrivance on our side is called 'naturalness' (jinen). This, indeed, is the Other‑Power. Yet, I have heard that some people talk, with a pedantic air, that there is another 'naturalness'. How deplorable it is!41

The term jinen no kotowari is also used in chapter six of the Tannishō ("When we become in accord with the principle of naturalness <jinen no kotowari>, we shall realize what we owe to the Buddha ...").42 In all these cases jinen clearly means ganriki‑jinen. Since Shinran is concerned here with practical problems of life of the devotee (What happens if someone gets angry, commits wrongs, turns against his teacher,
etc.), he emphasizes the working of the Vow‑Power in this  life which "naturally" leads man to the Pure Land. But he stresses that this "naturalness" is always related to "Birth" (in the Pure Land). For him there is no other 'naturalness' besides the working of the Other‑Power.  He does not use jinen when referring to the working of one's karma.
In several expressions found in Shinran's Wasan (Japanese Hymns) the term jinen refers exclusively to the Pure Land: "Jinen no Jōdo (the Pure Land of naturalness)",43 Nembutsu jōbutsu jinen nari (to become a Buddha through the Nembutsu is natural<ness>)",44 or "jinen wa sunawachi Hōdo nari (naturalness is, in other words, the 'Land of Recompense' <= the Pure Land>)".45
In our text, Shinran several times uses the term "contrivance" to denote an attitude or condition which is the opposite of 'naturalness'. The Japanese term is hakarai (will, intention; device, contrivance, calculation; discrimination; effort). It means "a mental faculty inherent in man's nature. Whether consciously or unconsciously, man always discriminatingly calculates good or bad, wise or ignorant, and so forth."46 Birth in the Pure Land owes nothing to man's contrivance. The same point is also stressed in the passage from the Tannishō quoted above and in two passages in the Ichinen‑tanen‑mon'i and the Yuishinshō‑mon'i, both written a year before the Kenchi Kikigaki.47In these texts, too, Shinran relates jinen to Birth in the Pure Land, referring also to the faith of the devotee caused by the working of the Vow. In the first part of our text he avoids any reference to the condition of the believer
and speaks only of the Birth in Amida's Land, emphasizing that this occurs in a 'natural' way, due only to the power of Amida's Vow, "by itself (onozukara)", "causing to be so (as it is) (shikarashimu)".
This realization is very important, because in most interpretations of our passage jinen‑hōni is understood as describing the condition of normal sentient beings (shujō). For instance, Yoshikazu Ishida maintains that

... the life of common mortals full of evil  passions, who "rarely have the mind of rapture and joy" nor "have the mind of desiring to be born in the Pure Land in haste",48 is infinitely meaningful as a life entrusted as it is to the Original Vow. "Jinen‑hōni" means such a world...49

Gidō Undō describes jinen‑hōni as follows:

The common mortals full of evil passions live on as they are through the Great Compassion of the Nyorai.50

He regards this "basic attitude of man to live on as he is" as "characteristic of the Eastern view of nature".51 Many similar examples could be added,52 but these two should suffice to show how funda-
mentally different such interpretations are from Shinran's concept of jinen.
In this context, jinen‑hōni is often related to this world by interpreting Birth in the Pure Land as something experienced in this life already. According to Daisetsu T. Suzuki, Birth in Amida's Land

... is to be understood in a modern way; that is, going to the Pure Land is not an event which takes place after death. The Pure Land is experienced while here, and  we  are carrying it with us all the time. In fact, Pure Land is surrounding us everywhere. We become conscious of it, we recognize that Amida has come to help us, after strivings have been experienced and exhausted. Then jinen hōni comes along. ni means "It is so because it is so."53

In contrast to this Shinran clearly states:

Some persons say that we have already attained Enlightenment even with our bodies full of evil passions. This is a most unreasonable view.54

Suzuki fails to show how his "modern" interpretation can explain this and many other similar passages in Shinran. The problem cannot be solved by distinguishing between the body in this world and the mind which is already in the Pure Land, as Suzuki does elsewhere.55 That this distinction is very problematic Suzuki admits himself. Moreover, Shinran emphasizes that it is precisely the mind which is far from being in the Pure Land and which does not even desire to be born there in haste.56
   What is the reason for this discrepancy between Shinran's thought and the interpretations of his modern followers? This question we
will have to consider after the discussion of  the second part of our text.

The Second Part
The  first  sentence of this part sums up the previous statements and now explicitly refers to Birth  in  the  Pure   Land. Amida Buddha's Vow leads, without fail, to Birth in his Land, which is beyond the distinctions of good and bad, or meaning and non‑meaning (as stated in the second  paragraph). Then Shinran raises a new question, namely what the  condition is of the believer when he has attained supreme Buddhahood, also referred to as supreme Nirvana. To describe this condition he uses the term jinen, but  now in a slightly different sense. Whereas before he emphasized the 'causing to be so', that is, the aspect of spontaneity of jinen, now he also stresses the thusness or suchness which here refers to ultimate reality or, in Buddhist terms the shinnyo.57 Both aspects are closely related, of course, as in the Western concept of nature where nature can be a creative an determining force as well as a basic or even ultimate reality, what Spinoza called Deus sive natura.58
What Shinran describes here in terms of jinen is clearly the Pure Land. In his hymns he speaks of "the Pure Land of naturalness",59 and in this case both terms seem to be used as synonyms.60 Originally in Buddhism, the Pure Land is not  the ultimate reality. The believer who could not attain  enlightenment in this world, was able to do so in the Pure Land and from there entered Nirvana. But Shinran identifies the Pure Land with ultimate reality, the supreme Buddhahood or Absolute Nothingness, as we can see from our text. In Buddhist sutras the Pure Land is often described as a paradise with  bright colours. Shinran, however, carefully tries to avoid sensuous images, except in some of
his hymns where he uses expressions taken from the Muryōjukyō.61 The Pure Land is beyond all things and phenomena and has no form, as our text says; it is even beyond words.62
How this ultimate reality can be known by man is the next point Shinran discusses in the text. We know of it only through the Buddha. He lets us know "what jinen is like". This is possible because the word jinen belongs to the world of our everyday experience, and at the same time transcends it in so far as it does not refer to concrete phenomena and  is used here in a sense that does not imply any sensuous images. Both aspects, jinen as spontaneity or "causing to be so" and jinen as suchness or thusness, are related here to ultimate reality. What  this jinen is like Amida reveals to man when he leaves the state of supreme Buddhahood or formlessness and appears as Hōzō Bosatsu. This jinen is the force which causes every man to be born in the Pure Land. If man renounces all  contrivance and reliance on his own power his condition may also be called jinen, as the second sentence of the second part suggests. Then he has entrusted himself completely to Amida and he has become one with the Other Power. But this can never be completely realized as long as man lives in this world of passion and ignorance. This is also expressed in the last sentences: the wisdom of the Buddha is beyond all comprehension. When man starts calculating and thinking about jinen, when he tries to understand it within the framework of his conceptsand ideas, then it assumes a (specific) meaning and ceases to be true naturalness, the thusness beyond all discrimination, forms, and meanings.
This concept of jinen shows some similarity to the Taoist view of nature and, therefore, a connection between the two has been suggested by a number of scholars.63 This  question cannot be discussed here but it should be pointed out that, though it would be interesting if such
a connection could  be shown, the central idea of Shinran's concept of jinen is fundamentally different. To him, men are "common mortals full of evil passions" with no hope of salvation, unless this comes from an entirely different dimension. Therefore he insists on the decisive difference between this world and the Pure  Land or between the 'natural' working of the karma and the 'naturalness' of Amida's Vow‑Power.64

If we now consider the whole text once  again, we may conclude that its main theme is the Pure Land and the working of Amida's Vow which causes man to be born there.  Of course this is also the central theme of Amida‑Buddhism. But Shinran deepens the understanding of the Pure Land, especially in contrast to popular descriptions of it, by describing it as ultimate reality and by identifying it with supreme Buddhahood and Absolute Nothingness, thereby emphasizing the connection with the original Buddhist tradition. This  aspect  is  also emphasized  by the expressions "neither what is good nor what is bad", "non‑meaning is meaning", and "formlessness". In this sense the Pure Land is absolutely different from this world, and there is no connection between them. Shinran is, however, able to retain the positive aspect of the teaching of the Pure Land, namely the mediation between the world of the Buddha and that of man, through the term jinen. It is a word that contains elements of his own cultural tradition (the idea  of onozukara, 'of itself') and normally refers to phenomena in everyday life, but he deepens it so that it can be used with reference to ultimate reality. Shinran obviously pays  special attention to this point. To him, Amida's Vow and the Pure Land are not natural in the sense
that a matter of fact is. They are something that cannot be expected or comprehended by man, as the expression Seigan fushigi, the unexpectedness or inconceivability of the Vow, indicates.65 Jinen refers to the thusness of the Pure Land and the supreme Buddhahood and, at the same time, to the power of Amida's Vow which  causes all men to be born in the Pure Land and become Buddhas themselves. Using J.B. Metz' words, we may say that jinen is both nature in the sense of something that is what it is, and nature in the sense of something that is in the process of becoming what it is.66 That Hōzō Bosatsu has become Amida Buddha shows that his Vow is fulfilled and that all sentient beings are saved by him in his Pure Land, and yet, as long as man lives in this world,  he is still on the way to Birth in the Pure Land and still becoming the Buddha that he is. Because of his deep religious experience Shinran is able to maintain the tension between these two poles, neither claiming that he is saved already nor ceasing to believe firmly and to trust in Amida's saving power.67
But as I have mentioned already, this point is usually not understood by those of his interpreters, who tend to regard jinen or jinen‑hōni as a condition or attitude in this world. They describe it as an acceptance of present reality as it is (sono mama, ari no mama).68 The reason for this misinterpretation seems to be not simply a misunderstanding of the text, but rather that the  attitude of accepting things as they are is a basic element in the Japanese mentality. Therefore we find it as a central element in almost all Japanese religions from Shintō to Zen Buddhism. Thus it is this attitude rather than Shinran's jinen‑hōni, correctly understood, which is representative of 'naturalness' in the context of Japanese religion, although it may be
an element more of Japanese culture and mentality than of religion. Its pervasive influence is demonstrated by the way in which it has influenced the interpretation of Shinran's  text on jinen(‑hōni).
Two passage from chapter 9 of the Tannishō and from a modern introduction to Shin Buddhism may illustrate the contrast between Shinran's view of the human predicament and the general Japanese understanding of 'naturalness', the acceptance of things as they are, letting them happen naturally as they occur:
"Even when I utter the Nembutsu, I rarely have the mind of rapture and joy, nor do I have the mind of desiring to be born in the Pure Land in haste. Why is this so?" I asked. "I, Shinran, have also had the same question", answered Shinran Shonin. "Now, Yuien‑bo, you are in the same state of mind!
If we reflect upon the whole matter again and again, we should realize that our Birth in the Pure Land is all the more assured, because we cannot rejoice at what we ought to so much as to dance in heaven and on earth. It is the working of evil passions that presses our minds and keeps them from rejoicing when they ought to rejoice. The Buddha, knowing this already, called us 'common mortals filled with evil passions'. Therefore, realizing that the Compassionate Vow of the Other‑Power is for the benefit of such (evil) persons like us, I feel it all the more trustworthy.
Again, we do not have the desire to be born in the Pure Land in all haste, and when we become even slightly ill, we feel helpless with the fear that we might  die. All this is also due to our evil passions. It is hard to leave our native land of sufferings where we have been transmigrating from immemorable kalpas ago up to the present. We feel no longing for the Pure Land of Serene Sustenance where we are yet to be born. How powerful and intense, indeed, are our evil passions!"69
A stream is a stream, a course of water made out to be such by the water that so runs and not one made by the will of others. It is the trace of the water that has run its course through years, not one or two, but thousands and millions and billions of years. The only concern of the stream can be to flow down its own course, not complaining, but silently or mutely; or, better still, smilingly and laughingly.  And thus runs a stream. This is all‑naturalness.
The life of a Shinshuist goes thus. This is 'Jinenhoni', the 'All‑Naturalness'. When the heavens pour down more than the stream can carry, there is a noisy water. This is sorrowful. If banks are low, it may at times overflow. But a flood soon drains away its watery volume, and there is a warm sun. It sheds its sweet light over the whole stretch of devastation. And from among the gravels of the broken field the violet now meekly breaks out into smiles, because it is springA Shinshuist now lays himself down on the carpet of crocuses or looks up at the garland of honeysuckles. A parade of flowery procession goes all around; and  there is an orchestra of the season.  He listens.  This is  all‑naturalness.
Nothing is complained about; none is spoken ill of; no hindrance comes in between. The stream of life  goes its own course, with perhaps timely hummings. It continues its travel and at last joins the great  ocean where all differences are lost, the sea of Great Nirvana.70

1) T. Sagara, M. Bito and K. Akiyama (eds.): Kōza‑Nihon‑shisō 1 Shizen, Tokyo: Tōdai Shuppankai, 1983.
2) See e.g. M. Kōsaka: "The Status and the Role of the Individual in Japanese Society," in C. Moore (ed.): The Japanese Mind. Essentials of Japanese Philosophy and  Culture, Tokyo: Tuttle, 1973, p. 250.
3) Nihon Kokugo Daijiten, vol. 9, Tokyo: Shōgakkan, 1975, pp. 550f.
4) Oxford English Dictionary, vol. 7, Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1961, pp. 41f.
5) Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Springfield, 1976, p. 1507.
6) Ibid., p. 1508.
7) Ibid., p. 1507.
8) As to the history of the term  jinen/shizen, see A. Yanabu: Honyaku no shisō. Shizen to Nature, Tokyo: Heibon‑sha, 1977; T. Sagara: "'Shizen' toiu kotoba o meguru kangaekata ni tsuite. 'Shizen'‑keijijōgaku to rinri iu koto," in T. Kaneko (ed.): Shizen Rinrigakuteki‑kōsatsu (Nihon‑rinrigakkai‑ronshū 14), Tokyo: Ibun‑sha, 1979, pp. 227‑260; T. Sagara: Nihonjin no kokoro, Tokyo: Tōdai Shuppankai, 1984, pp. 219‑250; R. Minamoto 5b: "Nihonjin no shizenkan", in Iwanami‑kōza tetsugaku 5: Shizen to kosumosu), Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1985, pp. 348‑374.       
9) H. Nakamura (ed.): Bukkyōgo Daijiten, vol. 1, Tokyo: Tōkyō Shoseki, 1975, pp. 557f.
10) Shinnyo means thusness, suchness, the true form of  things, or reality.
11) Japanese‑English Buddhist Dictionary, Tokyo: Daito Shuppansha, 1965, p. 137.
12) W. Trillhaas: "Natur und Christentum," in Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart, vol. 4, Tübingen, 1960, 1326‑1329.
13) J.B. Metz: "Natur," in Lexikon für Theologie und  Kirche,  vol. 7, Freiburg, 1962, 805‑808.
14) Ibid., 806: "Dieses 'Hervorgehen' ist dabei nicht zu denken als der transitorische Akt eines wirklichen Seienden (actus secundus), sondern als der ständig gegenwärtige Grundakt (actus primus) der ontologischen Verwirklichung des Seienden selbst (als 'Naturierung') u. dadurch als ermöglichendes Prinzip u. apriorisches Gesetz der Aktivität des Seienden (als 'Natur')."
15) Ibid., 807: "... muß der Mensch noch werden, was er ist, ... gleichsam noch selbst entscheiden, als was er wirklich ist."
16) Cf. M. Satō: "Shinran ni okeru jinen‑hōni, in T. Sagara, M. Bitō and K. Akiyama (eds.): op. cit. (note 1), pp. 145f.
17) SSZ (=Teihon Shinran Shōnin Zenshū), Kyoto: Hōzōkan, vol. 3, 1973, Shokan‑hen, pp. 72‑74.  
18) M. Satō: op. cit. (note 16), pp. 147‑149.
19) Cf.  SSZ (op. cit. note 17), vol. 3, Shokan‑hen, p. 56; also S. Miyamoto: "The Relation of Philosophical Theory to Practical Affairs in Japan," in C. Moore (ed.): The Japanese Mind. Essentials of Japanese Philosophy and  Culture, Tokyo: Tuttle, 1973, p. 20 (Shinran's age is given there as  "eighty‑six" according to the traditional Japanese way of calculation).
20) SSZ , vol. 2,  Wasan‑hen 1, pp. 220‑223.
21) Cf. M. Satō: op. cit. (note 16), pp. 147‑149.
22)  Ibid., p. 149.
23) SSZ, vol. 3, Shokan‑hen, pp. 54‑56. For my translation I have consulted the following translations of the fifth chapter of the Mattōshō, which, however, I found all not quite convincing: A. Bloom: Shinran's Gospel of Pure Grace, Tucson: Univ. of Arizona Press, 1965, pp. 43f.; S. Miyamoto: op. cit. (note  19), pp. 13f.; D. Suzuki: Mysticism: Christian and Buddhist, New York: Harper & Brothers, 1957, pp. 154f.;  K. Yamamoto: The Shinshu Seiten. The Holy Scripture of  Shinshu, Honolulu: Honpa Honganji Mission of Hawaii, 1955, pp. 254f. (cf. ibid., 251f.).  
24) Cf. M. Satō, op. cit. (note 16), pp. 149‑151.
25) Cf. ibid., p. 151f.
26) Cf. e.g. the interpretation of S. Miyamoto: op. cit. (note 19), who emphasizes the importance of the term ni (see before note 33 below).
27) Op. cit., pp. 153‑156.
28) Ibid., p. 155.
29) Cf. e.g. A. Bloom: op. cit. (note 23), pp. 1‑4.
30) Cf. T. Sagara: Nihonjin no kokoro (op. cit. note 8), pp. 241f.; M. Satō: op. cit. (note 16), pp. 157f.
31) M. Satō: op. cit. (note 16), pp. 158‑161, 165.
32) In the  Yuishinshō‑mon'i, SSZ (op. cit. note 17), vol. 3, Wabun‑hen, pp. 173, 204.
33) S. Miyamoto: op. cit. (note 19), pp. 12‑23. See also his "Comments" in the same book, pp. 61‑63.
34) M. Satō: op.cit. (note 16), pp. 162‑164.
35) The Kyogyoshinsho, trans. and annot. by K. Yamamoto, Ube: The Karinbunko, 1975, p. 120. The word also occurs twice in the collection of excerpts from various Buddhist texts at the end of the Kyōgyōshinshō: ibid., pp. 312, 325 (not 235 as in M. Satō: op. cit. <note 16>, p. 186).  
36) Cf. M. Satō: op. cit. (note 16), 164‑166.
37) Ibid., pp. 165f.
38) Cf. R. Mori: "'Jinen‑hōni' shōsoku no seiritsu ni tsuite.," in Shigaku Zasshi 60 (1951), pp. 9‑12; M. Satō: op. cit. (note 16),  pp. 168‑173.
39) The Tanni Shō. Notes lamenting differences, trans. and annot. by Ryōsetsu Fujiwara, Kyoto: Ryūkoku Daigaku, 1962,  p. 29, explanatory footnote 2.
40) "...   jinen ni hara omo tate": ibid., p. 66. (From the point of view of Buddhism this could also be called gōdō‑jinen, but Shinran seems not to use it in this sense here.)
41) Ibid., p. 68.
42) Ibid., p. 29. Cf. also the  similar  passages in the Ichinen‑tanen‑mon'i, SSZ (op. cit. note 17), vol. 3, Wabun‑hen, pp. 137f. and the Yuishinshō‑mon'i, ibid., pp. 159f., 191f.
43) SSZ (op. cit. note 17), vol. 2, Wasan‑hen, pp. 44, 115.
44) Ibid., p. 118.
45) Ibid.
46) The Tanni Shō (op. cit. note 39), p. 31, footnote 2.  A. Bloom's (op. cit. <note 23>, pp.  43f.) translation "self‑ assertion" and D.T. Suzuki's (Shin Buddhism Japan's major religious contribution to the West, London: George Allan, 1970, p. 68) reference to "the Christian idea of pride" do not seem to be justified.
47) See  the longer passage quoted above and the last two passages referred to in note 42.
48) Both are quotations from the Tannishō, chapter 9: op. cit. (note 39), p. 32. The whole passage is quoted below at the end of this paper.
49) Y. Ishida: Shinraku no ronri. Gendai to Shinran no shisō, Kyoto: Hoōzōkan, 1978, p. 111.
50) G. Undō: "'Myōkōnin' no jinenhōni‑teki‑taido ni tsuite," in Musashino Joshi Daigaku Kiyō 3 (1968), p. 7.
51) Ibid., pp. 7f.
52) Cf. the references in Satō: op.cit. (note 16), pp. 144, 165. Cf. also K. Yamamoto (An Introduction to Shin Buddhism,  Ube: The  Karinbunko, 1963) who maintains that in the "Jinenhonisho ... Shinran's view of human existence is partially shown" (pp. 122f.; cf. 140f., quoted  below before note 69). A. Bloom completely misunderstands the text when he speaks of the "identification of the devotee and nature" and says: "Thus to do what is natural, what is  uncontrived, and spontaneous has the highest religious significance." (op. cit. <note 23>, p. 44).
53) Op. cit. (note 46), p. 71.
54) The Tanni Shō (op. cit. note 39), p. 61.
55) Collected Writings on Shin Buddhism, Kyoto: Shinshu Otani‑ha, 1973, pp. 56f. He adds: "To live this mystery is  known as being 'natural' ..." (ibid.).
56) See e.g. the passage quoted at the end of this paper.  
57) Cf. M. Anesaki: History of Japanese Religion. With Special Reference to the Social and Moral Life of the Nation, Tokyo: Tuttle, 1963, p. 183; T. Sagara: op. cit. (note 8), pp. 243ff. Cf. also note 10 above and the context there.
58) Cf. above after note 13.
59) Cf. before note 43 above.
60) Cf. M. Satō: op. cit. (note 16), p. 176.
61) Cf. ibid., pp. 169‑173.
62) Cf.  ibid., pp. 173f.
63) Cf. e.g. A. Bloom: op. cit. (note 23), pp. 43f.; G. Undō: op. cit. (note 50), p. 8; R. Minamoto: op. cit. (note 8), p. 359.
64) Cf. G. Undō: op. cit. (note 50), p. 8. Concerning the Taoist view of nature see e.g. M. Mori: Rōshi Sōshi: Jinrui no chitekiisan 5, Tokyo: Kōdan‑sha, 1978; S. Takahashi: "Rō Sō ni okeru shizen", in T. Kaneko (ed.): Shizen. Rinrigakuteki‑satsu (Nihon‑rinrigakkai‑ronshū 14), Tokyo: Ibun‑sha, 1979, 104‑129.
65) Cf. e.g. The Tanni Shō (op. cit. note 39), p. 38. The distinction Shinran makes here is similar to the traditional distinction in Christianity between what is natural and what is supernatural. In both cases it is emphasized that salvation is something which in no way could be expected by man and that it is not 'natural' in this sense.
66) See above before note 5.
67) A similar tension can be found in the Christian concept of salvation, especially in Paul (cf. e.g. R. Bultmann: Theologie des Neuen Testaments, Tübingen, 1965, p. 279.
68) See above before note 52.
69) The Tanni Shō (op. cit. note 39), pp. 32‑34.
70) K. Yamamoto: op. cit. (note 52), pp. 140f.
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