T’an-luan’s Theory of Two Kinds of Dharma-body as Found in Shinran’s Wago Writings1


SHINRAN’S WRITINGS IN classical Japanese are known as wago shøgyø2 (hereafter, wago writings). Of these we will examine his Notes on OnceCalling and Many-Calling, (Ichinen tanen mon’i)3 and Notes on ‘Essentials of Faith Alone’ (Yuishinshø mon’i).4 As Shinran himself states in these two wago writings, he composed these works for people with no particular scholarly ability.5 In these writings, Shinran makes special effort to provide notes and interpretations on the significant words and phrases found in various scriptures. Therefore, because it is nessessary to demonstrate his thought in a simple and easy to understand style for the sake of the readers of these writings, Shinran does not systematically elaborate a profound and abstruse doctrine as he does in his main work, Kyøgyøshinshø (The Teaching, Practice, Shinjin and Realization). Among the wago writings, Notes on Once-Calling and Many-Calling and Notes on ‘Essentials of Faith Alone’ are Shinran’s notes on the essential passages from the sutras and commentaries quoted in the works of Ry¥kan (1139–1227) and Seikaku (1166–1235), respectively, whom he respects as senior disciples of Hønen. In addition to the notes on the works of others, however, Shinran also introduces his own thought. In addition, these wago writings belong to Shinran’s later years, being compiled about ten years after he completed the Kyøgyøshinshø. For this reason, it is thought that within the simplicity of the wago writings we could discover Shinran’s unique realization (koshø) of the Buddhist path in its most complete and mature form. In this article, I would like to examine Shinran’s view of the theory of two kinds of Dharma-body (nishu hosshin) in particular as one significant issue of Shinran’s wago writings which weaves his unique realization of Buddhism into the fabric of these texts intended for a general, lay audience.


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