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»Voice of the Nembutsu    »Dharma Teachings    »Jodo Shu Hymns (eisho)
Jodo Shu Hymns (eisho)
Tanjo-ji in Mimasaka
A Muku tree
with two banners coming from heaven,
the teaching of the Master
will not decay for ages to come.
by Horiki-bo Rensei

Tanjo-ji was built on the remains of the house in which Honen Shonin was born on April 7, 1133 (the second year of Chosho) in present day Okayama. This verse was written by the Kanto samurai Kumagai Naozane, a disciple of Honen's who took the ordained name of Horiki-bo Rensei. Rensei wrote the verse while paying respects to Honen's parents' grave and making an offering of an image made by Honen himself. Just before conceiving Honen, it is said his parents had hung a votive tablet at the Iwama Kannon Shrine, and soon after, Honen's mother had a dream of swallowing a razor. Rensei was told of another auspicious omen concerning Honen's birth revealed by two shining white banners streaming from a Muku tree in the garden. Upon gazing at this same tree, Rensei was moved to compose this verse.

Explanation of Verse: When Honen was born, two white banners came streaming out and hung sparkling from a Muku tree. We have received the teaching from Honen that although we are deeply immersed in bad karma, we can be led to the Pure Land by Amida Buddha through reciting the nembutsu. Through the past, present, and future, the teaching of the nembutsu never decays. The Muku tree is a sign of Honen's birthplace where the gods expressed their joy. Namu Amida Butsu.

Painting:
At the time of Honen's birth, white banners fall from heaven (Honen tanjo-no-toki, shirahata ten-yori furu) from the Honen Shonin gyojoezu, scroll 1, section 11.
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