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»Voice of the Nembutsu    »Dharma Teachings    »Jodo Shu Hymns (eisho)
Jodo Shu Hymns (eisho)
Nikai-do at Katsuo-ji in Settsu
At the brushwood door,
white clouds form
at dawn and dusk.
When will I see them
turn to purple?
by Honen Shonin

In December 1207 (the first year of Shogen), after spending nine months in exile, Honen Shonin was pardoned. However, he was not permitted to return to Kyoto and ended up staying at the Nikai-do of Katsuo-ji in present day Osaka. Here, during the previous Heian Era, Shonyo Shonin had spent a period in silent retreat. Seeking for Birth in the Pure Land, he had a vision of Samanera (novice) Kyoshin in a dream and set about earnestly practicing the nembutsu. And so this spot became a place of Birth through recitation at the moment of death. In this same place, Honen also practiced this nembutsu in deep retreat for four years until the age of seventy-nine, when in November 1211 (the first year of Kenryaku), he received permission to return to Kyoto. During this time, he experienced deep absorption in the nembutsu (nembutsu zammai) through a daily practice of 60,000-70,000 recitations. This verse reflects his thoughts on this last place before his summons to return home.

Explanation of Verse: In this small hut on Kachio mountain, white clouds gather in the morning and at dusk. When my life comes to an end, I know Amida Buddha will surely appear on a purple cloud to greet me. When I think of this, these white clouds turn purple and I wonder when this day will be. I hope that this welcome will be soon.

Honen stops for a stay at Katsuodera in Settsu (Honen, Settsu-koku Katsuodera-ni shiju-suru) from the Honen Shonin gyojoezu, scroll 36, section 9.
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