In late 1206, while the Japanese Emperor Gotoba was away from the capital on a pilgrimage to the Kumano Shrine, his consorts Suzumushi and Matsumushi joined a Nembutsu gathering led by Honen’s followers Juren-bo and Anraku-bo. After hearing the Nembutsu teaching, the emperor’s consorts experienced a great change of heart and took ordination as Buddhist nuns.
When the emperor returned and discovered that Suzumushi and Matsumushi had renounced their lives in the imperial palace to join Honen’s Nembutsu Sangha, he became enraged and ordered Juren-bo and Anraku-bo to be executed along with two other leading followers of Honen. Honen was ordered to be exiled on the island of Shikoku. Seven more of his followers, including Shinran, were dispossessed of their priesthood and sent into exile, scattering the community throughout Japan. While many lamented the exile, Honen instructed his disciples that this too should be accepted as the flow of karmic causes and conditions in their lives. The following were his parting words to the Sangha:
“Do not resent my being sent into exile, for I am approaching eighty years of age. Even if we were living together as teacher and students in the capital, my departure from this saha world is drawing near. Even if we are separated by mountains and oceans, do not doubt that we will meet again in the Pure Land. Though we may reject this world, our human existence carries on. Though we may cling to life, our death will come. Why insist upon being in a certain place?Continue reading “The Vow of the Buddha is Deep”