Sekisen school (石泉学派)

Sekisen school is one of the schools under Jodo Shinshu (the True Pure Land Sect of Buddhism) Hongan-ji school. It follows Sekisen Soei, gakuso (scholar priest) of the same school who established Sekisen juku (a private academy) in Nagahama (current Nagahama, Kure City, Hiroshima Prefecture) during the Edo period.

According to the interpretation of kyogaku (education and learning) by Hongan-ji school, Sekisen school and Kuge school are the two major schools of Jodo Shinshu Hongan-ji schools. Since Kuge school's theories are used as the official kyogaku of Jodo Shinshu Hongan-ji school today, Sekisen school is regarded as a heterodoxy.


Fundamental differences with the theories of Kuge school concern the 'faith,' which is one of the significant creeds of Jodo Shinshu.

Sekisen school
The school defines 'faith' as 'cleansing of mind' and teaches 'faith' which is consistently subjective and one-dimensional. This means visualization of Amida Nyorai (Amitabha Tathagata) within one's mind.

Kuge school
In this school, Amida Nyorai is assumed as actually existing in the real outside world, and 'faith' is defined as 'depending on' or 'relying on' Amida Nyorai; here, 'faith' has a target and is two-dimensional.

Historical background
Normally, Buddha's teachings preach complete self-help; as such, Jodo-mon (another name for Jodo Shinshu), in which help by others based on faith in Amida Nyorai is the fundamental creed, existed as a heterodox school. This was severely criticized by traditional Buddhists who regarded it as upsetting the root of Buddhism.

According to Takamaro SHIGARAKI, a scholar of Shinshu sect, this resulted from great distortion in the style of faith of Shinshu sect by the succeeding leaders of Shinran's teachings, especially Rennyo, whose teachings were political and full of deceptions and in which Rennyo himself did not believe.
(cf. Oboihon (a teaching by Rennyo), Goseigomen (a teaching by Shonyo, Rennyo's great-grandchild), exchange between Ikkyu and Rennyo over the statue of Amida Nyorai)

This issue has been argued in various ways within the school as well. Attempts to understand the two contradictory concepts, the idea of salvation by Amida Nyorai, and Buddhism as a way of self-help, led to the formation of the kyogaku which emphasized exercise of invoking the name of Amida Buddha and which regarded faith as 'the mind being clear and pure'. It was intended to bring back the original track of Buddhism into the learning of traditional Shinshu sect, which strictly denied self-help due to the existence of various ianjin (heterodoxies).

[Original Japanese]