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The International Association of Shin Buddhist Studies
9th European Block Conference
September 3-4, 2002
Lausanne University (Switzerland)
T. Arai ¦ K. Asuka ¦ M. Dake ¦ H. Ishida ¦ K. Mullen ¦ E. Nasu
N. Nomura ¦ G. Schepers ¦ E. Shimazu ¦ T. Teramoto ¦ M. Tokunaga
(Soai University, Osaka)
No Need for Arms and Armed Forces
- Establishing Peace Studies in the Light of Shinran's Thought -
Since the concerted terrorist attack on the United States on September 11 last year, the world seems to have lost its equilibrium. Nations including Japan have been driven by an urge to step up preparations for war under the pretext of self-defense or for the cause of "justice." The result is that tensions are mounting all over the world.
At this juncture, it is important for Shin Buddhists to define the meaning of peace in the light of Shinran's thought and to seek common grounds with peace movements of other traditions. In this connection, no one would argue against the proposition that the Buddha Dharma professes absolute pacifism, without giving any allowance to the use of violence for any reasons.
David P. Barash, an American psychologist and a leading figure in peace studies, said in his Introduction to Peace Studies that there are two types of peace: negative peace and positive peace. Negative peace is simply the absence of war, a condition in which no active, organized military violence is taking place. However, that situation is often brought about by the stronger party through repressive measures. On the other hand, positive peace means more than simply the absence of war or the absence of violence. It refers a condition of society in which any form of structural violence is minimized or totally eliminated.
In some of the letters to his followers, Shinran wrote that as a sign of practicing the nembutsu for many years with sincere longing for birth in the Pure Land and rejection of worldly values, one becomes kinder and warmer to one's neighbors and fellow Buddhists. The life of the nembutsu means infinitely negating the blind passions that well within oneself. That also means trying to eliminate seeds of conflict within society and with foreign countries. In this way, we can find Shinran's thought greatly in common with that of advocators of positive peace.
This paper is going to propose that being a Shin Buddhist is a way of living at peace with oneself, our families, neighbors, and the rest of the world. The Larger Sutra says (in paraphrase) that wherever the Buddha's teaching is practiced, the people are respectful to each other, the country is prosperous, and no conflict arises, and therefore, there is no need for arms or armed forces.
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(MA, Institute of Buddhist Studies, Berkeley)
Reexamining Shinran through the Anjo no goei
Although Shinran's life and thought are typically accessed through written sources - his works, letters, and the writings of his followers - visual materials also provides us with a wealth of information in an appealing and concrete way.
Of the three known portraits of Shinran, the Kagami no goei, the Kumagawa no goei, the Anjo no goei, the latter is best known for its details revealing features of Shinran's personal life, including his walking cane, a portable charcoal heater, cat-skin sandals, and colorful undergarments. These artifacts are testaments to the multiplicity of Japanese society in Shinran's time.
Recent scholarship on Japanese history has been critical of past tendencies to characterize medieval society as almost exclusively based in agriculture.
Items seen in this portrait depict the products of non-agricultural activities such as sericulture, forestry, and fishing. The fact that Shinran possessed these kind of items also indicates that he probably was in close contact with people like hunters, tanners, and weavers. These kind of people and their occupations were central in medieval society and economics.
In this presentation, I will first focus on the items depicted in the Anjo portrait, including Shinran's clothing, to discuss Shinran's interactions with followers in Mikawa, where the portrait was created and has been transmitted. I will then discuss how the elements of Shinran's personality that can be seen in the portrait also reflect the philosophical themes important in Shinran's religious thought.
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(Ass. Prof., Ryukoku University)
The Movement of Recent Studies on Kamakura Buddhism and the Tasks of Shinran Studies
Recent studies on Kamakura Buddhism in the field of medieval history require us to reconsider the framework of analysis.
For instance, two of the prevailing notions regarding the unique character of the movement of the new Kamakura Buddhism have pointed to its doctrinal popularization and to the exclusivism of its religious practice. However, it has recently been pointed out that these were not necesarrily characteristic features of "new" Buddhism alone, but in fact "old" Buddhism might have included features in common with them. This does not indicate a denial of the historical significance of "new" Kamakura Buddhism. Rather it indicates the inadequancy of the framework of past analysis in this area.
In this presentation I will touch upon the question of how Shinran's ideas have been understood within this kind of study. I also wish
to clarify the issues that are being raised for Shinran's studies in the future.
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(Prof., University of Shiga Prefecture)
Time-Space Interformation of Myth into the Here and Now
- The Zen Lineage and Dharmakara -
Dharmakara is not a historical figure. T'an-luan (476-542) asserts that Dharmakara was a bodhisattva with the "insight into the non-arising of all dharmas." In the Larger Sukhavativyuha-sutra, Dharmakara established Forty-eight Vows and the Pure Land, becoming Amida Buddha, the Buddha of Amitabha (Infinite Light) and Amitayus (Infinite Life). How could then a non-historical figure like Dharmakara and his Pure Land relate to us who live in the 21st century full of fears and troubles greatly caused by highly developed modern technologies and by our insatiate greed?
In this paper, Dharmakara serves as the "myth," religious in an existential sense, which is not factual or historical but the ground or source of our aspiration to work for the betterment of the world in which we are living.
Dharmakara is the myth of the past, for he appeared in the world "in the distant past-innumerable, incalculable and inconceivable kalpas ago" according to the Larger Sutra.
In Zen (Ch'an in Chinese) Buddhism, one of its characteristics is the method of handing down the teaching - the direct transmission from teacher to disciple or Patriarch to Patriarch. Lineage has played a significant role in Zen. This lineage coming down originally from the "Seven Buddhas of the Past" and through various Patriarchs and masters in India, China and Japan (and in the West) has been adopted as the source of legitimacy of Buddha-Dharma. In this regard, Hui-neng (638-717) is traditionally the most important and central figure in the history of Zen Buddhism, being generally regarded as the Sixth Patriarch of the tradition which has dominated almost all the major trends of the later Zen movement up to today. As a result of modern historical research of Zen Buddhism, especially of its early stage of formation, by scholars who have had access to the valuable manuscripts discovered at Tun-huang, some new facts have been revealed.
We have discovered, for example, many materials by Shen-hui (670-762), who greatly contributed to the rise of Hui-neng's school and its later development with a message of sudden enlightenment, although we are still uncertain about the historicity of Hui-neng
the Sixth Patriarch in China. The Zen or Ch'an lineage at its early stage is an invention. Yet, the lineage, created later in history, can mean much more than just a historical fact - something which brings forth our understanding of the universality of enlightenment.
This paper begins with first analyzing the Zen lineage, and then discusses the time-space interformation and one's awakening in the here and now, reexamining and elaborating the roles or meanings of the myths of Buddhism -- Dharmakara as the myth of the past and birth into his Pure Land after death (ojo in Japanese) as the myth of the future -- and reviewing the contemporary problems that we have in today' highly technological world.
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(Lecturer, Dept of Psychological Medicine, University of Glasgow)
Carl Jung and the Contemplation Sutra
The psychologist Carl Jung wrote various introductions and prefaces to early translations of Buddhist scriptures. This paper focuses on his commentary to the Contemplation Sutra. The paper will demonstrate how this short work is still of importance today particularly in regard to Jung’s psychological insights and his comments on the differences between the western and eastern philosophical approaches.
The social tensions of the historical period in which Jung lived are also reflected in the work; underlying tensions which continue to colour the religious landscape of Europe to the present day. These themes of Jung will be compared and contrasted to Shinran’s interpretation of the Contemplation Sutra.
The paper concludes by drawing out the implications for the dissemination of Jodo Shinshu teachings in the European context.
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(Dr., Institute of Buddhist Studies, Berkeley)
The Pure Land and the Lotus:
Zonkaku’s Ecumenical Vision of the One Vehicle (ekayana)
In the history of the Jodo Shinshu tradition, the early fourteenth century C.E. could be marked as the beginning of its “sectarian” period.
About a half century after the founder’s death, Shinran’s followers began establishing their institutional foundations in Kyoto and its vicinities. During this period, Zonkaku (1290–1373), the eldest son of Kakunyo (1270–1351), the third head priest of the Hongwanji, in response to followers’ questions compiled many apologetic texts clarifying the position of Shinshu teaching in the context of Mahayana Buddhist traditions.
Zonkaku’s ecumenical vision, however, is often criticized by modern scholars for compromising Shinran’s critical approach to conventional Mahayana practices, since it reintroduced Tendai exegetical methods of that classified Buddhist teachings using the Lotus Sutra and One Vehicle (ekayana). Although Zonkaku might have compromised Shinran’s critical approach, which is not acceptable from a purely doctrinal perspective, his efforts in resolving doctrinal confrontations without slandering other schools, I believe, should be given proper acknowledgment within the Shinshu tradition. Examining Zonkaku's works may also help us develop a methodology for intra-religious dialogue between Buddhist denominations, which is often much more difficult than dialogue between different religions.
In this presentation, I will focus on two of Zonkaku’s writings, the Hokke mondo (Lotus Dialogue) and the Kecchi sho (On Classification of Wisdom), both compiled around 1338 in response at the request of Shinshu followers then facing challenges posed by of the followers of the Hokke (Lotus) school established by Nichiren (1222–1282). His primary purpose in writing these apologetic texts was to provide the Shinshu followers with a doctrinal rationale to counter the teachings of the Hokke school, which openly criticize the Pure Land teaching. Despite the nonconformist attitude taken by the followers of the Hokke school in denouncing the Pure Land teaching, Zonkaku's response is less sectarian and his style of discussion is academically very open, referring to various Buddhist texts outside of the Pure Land scriptures. More importantly, Zonkaku tries to find common ground with the teaching of the Lotus Sutra instead of simply rebutting the opponent's criticisms.
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(Prof., Kyoto Women's University)
Story Within the Story: Narrative - Mundane and Sacred
Stories that are told, all stories directly seen or heard, are mundane, because in order to be told, a story must be set within a world. It may not be an everyday world. It may be an imaginatively augmented world. But even the most fanciful stories have their proprieties. The stories of an age or a culture take place within its world. Only in this sense they are necessarily mundane.
An American scholar says, " Within the traditional cultures there have been some stories that were told, especially on festal occasions, that had special resonance. Not only told but ritually re-enacted, these stories seems to be allusive expressions of stories that cannot be fully and directly told, because they live, so to speak, in the arms and legs and bellies of the celebrants. These stories lie too deep in the consciousness of a people to be directly told: they form consciousness rather than being among the objects of which it is directly aware."
This paper will apply this theory to Shinran's interpretation of the Three Pure Land Sutras that there are two aspects in them, "implicit" and "explicit." In doing so, we will come to know the profound meaning of the "story within the story" that he found in the sutras. The "story within the story" can be also described as an ambiguous term myths or sacred stories. They are sacred not so much because Buddhas, bodhisattvas, or gods are commonly celebrated in them, but because people's sense of self and world is created through them. What is more, only sacred stories that form people's living image of themselves and their world have been found fit to celebrate the powers on which their existence depends. The meaning found in the sutras is based on the story within the story, and rituals make us realize the story alluded in them.
In this stance, we will find the strong relationship among sutras, rituals, and religious salvation.
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(Dr., I.C.U., Tokyo)
Shinran and the Problem of Discrimination
Modern society tries to abolish all forms of discrimination through legal, social, and other measures. Although these efforts have been successful in many respects, discrimination in a variety of forms continues, and it will be difficult, if not impossible, to abolish it completely without a radical change in human attitudes. As long as people define their own identity and success in contrast to others and as personal achievements, there will always be discrimination of the weak, the handicapped, the minorities, the outsiders.
A change of attitude could be achieved by Shinran’s radical insight that his own as well as the human condition in general are utterly hopeless as long as people rely on their own resources. This deep religious experience places all on the same level, even with those regarded as the lowest members of human society, thus abolishing any form of discrimination. Also trust in Amida’s Vow must not lead to pride (hongan-bokori) - which may result in yet another form of discrimination – because it is not the
result of any effort or merit on the side of human beings.
On the other hand, trust in Amida’s Vow, the joyous experience of being “embraced and not forsaken” (Tannishô 16.5), can be shared by all, and it is rather the “evil” person to whom it will be granted in the first place and who, therefore, is in a privileged position (Tannishô 3).
Shinran’s insights have not prevented his followers in the Jôdo Shinshû from practicing various forms of discrimination, most conspicuously against the burakumin, but they continue to inspire those who fight against all forms of discrimination in modern Japanese society.
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(Research Institute of Social Sciences, Ryukoku University)
Blurred Image of Shinran in Contemporary Japan
The aim of this paper is to introduce variety of interpretations on Shinran and Shin Buddhism in Japan and to clarify the importance of
studying traditional Shin Buddhism and Shin Buddhists as the backbone of understanding Shinran and his followers in history.
There are many different understandings of Shinran and Shin Buddhism at least in Japan. Shinran himself has at least three different faces: a face as a scholar who wrote lengthy Kyogyoshinsho, a face of extreme penitence found in Tannisho and a face with full of joy
expressed in his hymns. Like primitive collar printing, these three colors of Shinran seem to be difficult to focus. Many scholars seem
to be studying one of those aspects of Shinran by using a particular filter.
Besides, Honganji scholars cannot monopolize interpretation of Shinran any more and actually there is variety of interpretations done
by all kinds of intellectuals now. Many famous Japanese philosophers, historians, novelists, scientists and even Marxist and Christian thinkers highly evaluated Shinran in their own way. Also, Shinran has been compared with or to well-known Western religionists such as St. Paul, Luther, Kierkegaard, etc., as if we could not fully articulate Shinran's thinking without understanding these Western thinkers. Overlaid by these Japanese and Western thinkers' faces, image of Shinran seems to be blurred out now.
As Shinran's images diversified and Shinran's thinking became highly intellectualized, ordinary traditional Shin Buddhists seem to be
out of sight among scholars. However, the Pure Land Buddhism, especially Shinran's teaching has been primarily for those poor illiterate peasants throughout history at least until recently. If Shinran's Buddhism is only for Shinran alone or handful contemporary intellectuals and could not fully be understood by those illiterate traditional followers of Shin Buddhism, Shin Buddhism might be none other than a kind of elitist religion. If so, how much significance could we find in Shin Buddhism?
In conclusion, the present author would like to encourage studying Shin Buddhism prior to Western influences. One of such methods
is, of course, to study traditional Shinshugaku established in the Edo period once again seriously and the other is fieldwork in living Shin Buddhist communities. As a researcher taking the latter methodology, the present author would like to introduce Professor Shiki Kodama's work, which challenged the long-established theory on Shin Buddhism in the Edo period.
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(NCC Center for the Study of Japanese Religions)
Shin Buddhist Thought on Myth and Natural Science in Modern Japan
One important issue of Shin Buddhist studies in the post war period is to reinterpret Amida Buddha or to reconstruct his conception by reflecting on the intellectual circumstances of today.
Enji Nakayama says in the introduction of his work, Amidabutsu no Ronriteki Rikai ("Logical Understanding of Amida Buddha") (Hyakkaen, Kyoto: 1953):
Shakyamuni seems to be understood historically, but it seems not sufficient that Amida?Buddha is unhistorical or even mythical. Recently I hear often this kind?of opinion. I think, this sort of issue becomes more problematic, because the world is changing radically today in many respects.
Genpo Hoshino employs the idea of demythologization from Bultmann's method of interpreting the New Testament, for his interpretation of the Pure Land (Jodo to sono Kaishaku - Burutoman no Hishinwaka ni chinamite) ("Pure Land and Interpretation of it - with relating to Bultmann's Demythologization") (Ryukokudaigaku Ronshu 372, Ryukokugakkai, Kyoto: 1962):
Before, that, which is unthinkable, ungraspable by ordinary way of thinking, and beyond language, was simply accepted. Now, that is not simply accepted because of the influence of scientific knowledge.
First of all, the description of the Pure Land in the Three Sutras is too mythical for the contemporary consciousness. However, the Pure Land teaching would not have been formed if it were posed merely as myth. To adapt the idea of the Pure Land to the contemporary consciousness while keeping much recognition of its absoluteness is not merely a missionary issue but a very important Buddhist theological issue.
The scholars mentioned above approach the issue according to the following two perspectives: (1) there is a mythical feature of Amida Buddha and his Pure Land, and (2) it is not anymore acceptable for the today's intellectual consciousness. In other words, they treat a mythical feature of Amida and his Pure Land as a problem only for the modern awareness. There seems to be the presupposition that this was not a problem for the pre-modern age.
Looking over the scholarly works of the late Edo period, however, we can see that their interpretations of Amida Buddha were different than what they are thought to be by the scholars above.
In the modern era must have occurred the invention of the paradigm that the mythical feature of Amida was believed simply as it was in the pre-modern age and that therefore a scholarly task to modernize the Pure Land Buddhist teaching was to strip off the "Myth of Amida".
This paper treats a problem historically how this modern paradigm has been formed through Meiji, Taisho and later period.
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(Prof., Buddhist Studies, Kyoto Women's University)
Rethinking Jodoshinshu Ethics
Buddhism, especially Jodoshinshu, has often encountered criticism from Christian thinkers for the lack of ethical implications in its teaching.
The criticism, however, is offered solely from a standpoint of Christian ethics, which seems to be quite unfair. It goes without saying that in the contemporary world, where many human affairs are globalized, Jodoshinshu followers are to be concerned with serious human problems.
How can we establish the basis for creating ethical standard, not in Christian or "humanitarian" way, but in Buddhist and Jodoshinshu way, in order to consider them?
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"Jodo-Shinshu Contribution to Dialogue with Christianity".
Panel Chair : Prof. Dennis Gira (Inst. for Science and Theology of Religions, Institut Catholique de Paris).
With Dr. Jean-Claude-Basset (Lecturer, Fac. of Theology, Lausanne Univ.)
and Prof. Nobuo Nomura (Buddhist Studies, Kyoto Women's Univ.).
- Two questions from Prof. Nomura :
- Question 1
Shinran describes "entrusting mind (shinjin in Japanese, some translate it as faith)" as consisting of the paradoxical two aspects, saying:
Deep mind is the deeply entrusting mind. There are two aspects. The first is to believe deeply and decidedly that you are in actuality a foolish being of karmic evil caught in birth-and-death, ever sinking and ever wandering in transmigration from innumerable kalpas in the past, with never a condition that would lead to emancipation. The second is to believe deeply and decidedly that Amida Buddha's Forty-eight Vows grasp sentient beings, and that allowing yourself to be carried by the power of the Vow without any doubt or apprehension, you will attain birth.
This is paradoxical because the one of the two aspects reciprocally negates the other. In order to understand it better, it could be expressed in another way; the fact that Shinran has the self-consciousness of himself to be "a foolish being of karmic evil caught in birth-and-death, ever sinking and ever wandering in transmigration from innumerable kalpas in the past, with never a condition that would lead to eman- cipation" is the very evidence that he is already grasped by Amida Buddha's Primal Vow.
(Gutoku's Notes, CWS vol. I, p. 604.)
In Christianity, faith is depicted in the New Testament. Let us take very famous passages on the "walking on the sea" and "faith as a grain of mustard seed" in the Gospel according to Matthew for example:
And in the fourth watch of the night he (Jesus Christ) came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out for fear. But immediately he spoke to them, saying, "Take heart, it is I; have no fear."
These passages amount to admission that even one of the closest disciples, Peter, has little faith and has doubt on Jesus Christ. In the same token, faith is also described in the second passage in which Jesus Christ scolds the disciples for not having faith as even a grain of mustard seed. But Biblical writers seem to show that faith with doubt on him is actual faith. Doubt for Peter is described as his understanding of "wind." His knowledge of wind based on reason is the substance of his doubt, because knowledge on wind comes into his faith and makes him think that he might sink.
And Peter answered him, "Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water." He said, "Come." So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus; but when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, "Lord, save me." Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, "O man of little faith, why did you doubt? And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God." (Matthew 14:25-33)
And when they (Jesus Christ and his disciples) came to the crowd, a man came up to him and kneeling before him said, "Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly…. And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him." And Jesus answered, "O faithless and perverse generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me." And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured instantly. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, "Why could we not cast it out?" He said to them, "Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you." (Matthew 17:14-21)
Is it correct to say, therefore, that faith is, in other words, the synergy of God's grace and human reason?
We know that faith has another aspect that is seen in Pauline letters. In his letter, St. Paul says by quoting a passage of the Psalms,
I have already charged that all men, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin, as it is written:
"None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands, no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside, together they have gone wrong;
no one does good, not even one."
In addition, quoting this passage in Pauline letter, Martin Luther clarifies faith and regards the passage as the expression of Christian self-consciousness of faith. He says :
Therefore the moment you begin to have faith you learn that all things in you are altogether blameworthy, sinful, and damnable, as the Apostle says in Rom. 3, "Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," and "None is righteous, no, not one…. All have turned aside, together they have gone wrong…" (Rom. 3:10-12). When you have learned this you will know that you need Christ, who suffered and rose again for you so that, if you believe in him, you may through this faith become a new man in so far as your sins are forgiven and you are justified by the merits of another, namely, of Christ alone.
In the Pauline letter and Luther's commentary, we see the difference from above passages in Matthew and the same self-consciousness as Shinran's entrusting mind. He says in his hymn :
(The Freedom of a Christian: Three Treatises Fortress Press, 1985, p. 281.)
Although I take refuge in the true Pure Land way,
Interpreting Shan-tao's commentary, he also says :
It is hard to have a true and sincere mind.
This self is false and insincere;
I completely lack a pure mind.
(Gutoku's Hymns of Lament and Reflection, CWS vol. I, p. 421.)
We should not express outwardly signs of wisdom, goodness, or diligence, for inwardly we are possessed of falsity. We are filled with all manner of greed, anger, perversity, deceit, wickedness, and cunning, and it is difficult to put an end to our evil nature. In this we are like poisonous snakes or scorpions.
On the one hand, as we see in the Gospel, faith seems to include doubt as its factor coming from our reason and, on the other hand, faith and doubt/sin/evil nature seem to be paradoxical just like the two sides of a sheet of paper.
(Kyo-gyo-shin-sho, CWS vol. I, p. 84.)
How should we understand the two kinds of expressions on Christian faith seen in the Gospel and the writings of St. Paul and Luther?
- Question 2
Unlike the O.T., Jesus Christ in the N.T. does not give sermons on how this world was created. He seems indifferent to the creation of the world by God.
In addition, in the Gospel according to John, we see the following verses,
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, without him was not anything made that was made. (John 1: 1-3)
The question is on the relationship of the creation of the world by God articulated in the O.T. with the world made by the Word (logos) in the N.T. As John says, in the very beginning there was the Word ? before anything including God. This leads us to the point that the way of thinking on God and the world in the N.T. seems to have no connection with those in the O.T. This point is important because it is strongly connected with the notion of history and ethics in Christianity.
It is because Christians have accepted the creation of the world by God and the Last Judgment that the Christian history can be said as a teleological progress from the beginning to the end, and that its ethics comes to be the framework so that the progress may not retrogress.
But if the creation by God should not be considered to be taken for granted as stated in the N.T., how should we think of history and ethics in Christianity?
(CWS = The Collected Works of Shinran; 2 vols. Shin Buddhism Translation Series. Kyoto, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Hongwanji International Center, 1997)
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