Kiyozawa Manshi (1863–1903) was a priest, scholar, educator, and reformer in the Otani branch of Shin Buddhism. As the founding figure of the Seishinshugi (“spirituality at the forefront”) movement, he was instrumental in revitalizing Japanese Buddhism even as it met the challenges of modernization. In his short life, Kiyozawa, through his ideas and his example, laid the groundwork for later generations of scholars, priests, and layfolk to live by principles that regard personal experience as the basis for religious understanding.

The diagram and following passage are from an entry in Kiyozawa’s diary dated October 26, 1898. Here, he describes spiritual introspection, faith in Amida Buddha, and the desire to help others as a positive feedback loop.

  • Daily I encounter things that I cannot control.
  • If I wish for things to follow my will, I must understand my limits.
  • It is for this reason that the desire to examine the self arises.
  • The result of self-examination is the desire to do good.
  • The desire to do good leads to Other Power faith.
  • Other Power faith develops into gratitude.
  • Gratitude (recitation of the Name [of Amida Buddha] in praise) becomes the desire to attain faith and teach others to have faith.
  • The desire to attain faith and teach others to have faith leads to the desire to practice and teach others.
  • And the desire to practice and teach others comes back once again to the desire to do good and so on.

These are linked together as a circle.

(trans. Robert F. Rhodes)