Senchaku hongan nenbutsu shu (A Collection of Passages on the Nembutsu Chosen in the Original Vow) (選択本願念仏集)

"Senchaku hongan nenbutsu shu" is a treatise in two volumes comprising sixteen chapters written by Honen in 1198 on the request from Kanezane KUJO, who was a Kanpaku (chief adviser to the Emperor). It is usually abbreviated as "Senchaku-shu." It includes sutras quoted from the Jodo Sanbu-kyo, their explanation by Shandao, and Honen's opinion on them. In Jodo Shinshu (the True Pure Land Sect of Buddhism), it is called "Senchakuhongan nenbutsu shu" or "Senchaku-shu."

The treatise states that, in the Age of the Final Dharma, invocation of the Buddha's name is the sole appropriate instruction, and that people should return to the jodo-mon (Gateway of the Pure Land) from the shodo-mon (Gateway of the Holy Path), throw away zogyo (miscellaneous practices), and devote themselves to shogyo (right practices) of Buddhist invocation.
The treatise marked a breakthrough in the history of the Jodo (Pure Land) sect.


The treatise is on the Rikkyo Kaishu (establishment of a new sect) of the Jodo sect and advocates an exclusive practice of chanting the name of the Buddha based on senchaku hongan (Selection of the Original Vow, the eighteenth vow in the forty-eight vows) and declares the independence of the sect.

This document indicates the doctrine of nenbutsu (Buddhist invocation) ojo (birth in the Pure Land) as 'Namu Amida Butsu (Homage to Amida Buddha), ojo comes only after nenbutsu' at the beginning, and explains that invocation of the Buddha's name is the only practice of senchaku in the following 16 chapters.

Each chapter comprises declaration of a theme, its sources, and Honen's opinions.
The theme deslaration briefly describes each theme, the sources introduce the Buddhist scriptures and interpretations that constitute the basis for each theme, and Honen's opinions state his own comments starting with the phrase 'in my opinion.'

Among others, the first three chapters, Nimonsho (chapter of two gateways), Nigyosho (chapter of two kinds of practices), and Hongansho (chapter of the Original Vow), explain the key doctrines of the treatise.

Nimonsho divides Buddhism into the 'Shodo-mon' (Gateway of the Holy Path) and the 'Jodo-mon' (Gateway of the Pure Land) according to Tao-cho's theory. It abolishes the 'Shodo-mon,' declares the independence of the Jodo Sect, designates three sutras and a thesis ('Jodo Sanbu-kyo' [The Three Pure Land Sutras] and "Muryoju-kyo ubataisha ganshoge") as their basis, and demonstrates that these concepts were instructed generation-to-generation from master to disciple by Donran, Tao-cho, Shandao and other masters.

Nigyosho explains that, based on "Kammuryojukyosho" (Jugyo Risshin Jaku) by Shandao, invocation of the Buddha's Name is the very Shojo no go (a Rightly Established Practice) for birth in the Pure Land that meets the way of Buddha among the five shogyo (right practices), and encourages people to do away with zogyo (miscellaneous practices).

Hongansho states that Dharmakara Bodhisattva selected nenbutsu (Buddhist invocation) as the only practice and abandoned the rest in the Eighteenth Original Vow, because invocation of the Buddha's Name is the best, the easiest to achieve, and complete practice.

These three chapters are summarized as 'Sansen no Mon' (Ketsukan no Mon), which is regarded as the conclusion of the treatise, and it conforms with the title and theme deslaration (Hyoso no Mon).

[Original Japanese]