Honen’s “One-Page Document”:

In China and Japan, many learned masters have taught that the nembutsu is to meditate deeply on Buddha. But that is not my understanding. Nembutsu is not meditation, nor does it come from study. It is nothing but reciting namu-amida-butsu and believing in our birth in the Pure Land. The Three Minds and Four Modes of Practice are all contained in this. If I am withholding any deeper knowledge than simple recitation of namu-amida-butsu, may I be lost to the compassion of the two buddhas and slip through the embrace of Amida’s original vow.

Those who accept this in faith, though they master all the teachings of Shakyamuni, ought to avoid putting on airs and simply recite namu-amida-butsu alongside illiterate followers of little understanding, no matter whether they be women or men.

I hereby seal this document with the imprint of my hands. The faith and practice of the Pure Land School are fully imparted here. I, Honen, have no teaching but this. To prevent misunderstandings after my death, I make this final testament.

The Ichimai-kishomon, Honen's "One Page Document." Honen's handprint appears in the upper right-hand corner. Courtesy of Konkai Komyo-Ji (Jodu Shu) in Kyoto.
The Ichimai-kishomon, Honen’s “One Page Document.” Honen’s handprint appears in the upper right-hand corner. Courtesy of Konkai Komyo-Ji (Jodu Shu) in Kyoto.

On January 23, 1212, just two days before his death, Honen, the founder of Japanese Pure Land Buddhism, was asked by his disciple Genchi to provide a record of his essential teaching. The result was the Ichimai-kishomon, or “One-Page Document.”

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