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6. Soke / Shuke
淨土宗 is the title of Japanese "Pure Land Buddhism." This form is also romanized/known as "Jodo Shu" (jōdo shū).
Also known as Amidism for the fact that this is a branch of Mahayana (Mahāyāna) Buddhism which focuses on Amitabha (Amitābha) Buddha. This form of Buddhism, along with Chinese characters, came to Japan via China in the 5th century according to most historians.
See Also: Shin Buddhism
This literally means "pure land" or "clean earth."
淨土 is also the abbreviated title of a Buddhist sect which involves faith in rebirth of Buddha Amitabha (Amitābha) in the Western Heaven. Sometimes this sect is translated as "Paradise of the West." Other titles of this school of Buddhism include Amidism or Elvsium.
This is how to express "The Compassionate Amitabha Buddha" (especially for the Pure Land Buddhist Sect).
Some will translate as, "Homage to Amitâbha Buddha" or "I seek refuge in the Amitâbha Buddha."
This is valid in Chinese characters Japanese Kanji, and old Korean Hanja.
Sometimes modern Japanese use a different version of the 4th and last Kanji but the version shown here is the most universal.
This is used to pay homage to Amitabha Buddha.
This is the modern Japanese version of "Namu Amida Butsu" or "The Compassionate Amitabha Buddha."
Some will translate this as, "I sincerely believe in Amitabha; Lord have mercy on me."
This phrase especially applies to Japanese Pure Land Buddhists.
There is a more universal version using ancient characters (with more strokes) for the 4th and last characters. That version is also used in Chinese, Korean, and occasionally Vietnamese. This is used to pay homage to Amitabha Buddha.
This Japanese word means "head of family" or "originator."
In Chinese, this is a name for Shandao (善導), a writer of commentaries on the sutras of the Pure Land sect of Buddhism.
日蓮 is the title Nichiren.
This title refers to a Buddhist priest, who lived from 1222 to 1282. He is the founder of the Nichiren sect of Buddhism.
According to historical documents, the Nichiren sect was established in 1252. Adding the character for sect, this would be 日蓮宗 (Nichiren sect), which is also known as the 法華宗 or Lotus sect.
According to Soothill-Hodous...
Nichiren's chief tenets are the three great mysteries 三大祕法, representing the trikāya:
1. 本尊 or chief object of worship, being the great maṇḍala of the worlds of the ten directions, or universe, i.e. the body or nirmāṇakāya of Buddha.
2. 題目 the title of the Lotus Sutra 妙法蓮華經 Myo-ho-ren-ge-kyo, preceded by Namo, or, "Adoration to the scripture of the lotus of the wonderful law," for it is Buddha's spiritual body.
3. 戒壇 the altar of the law, which is also the title of the Lotus as above; the believer, wherever he is, dwells in the Pure-land of calm light 寂光淨土, the saṃbhogakāya.
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The following table may be helpful for those studying Chinese or Japanese...
|Title||Characters||Romaji(Romanized Japanese)||Various forms of Romanized Chinese|
|Pure Land Buddhism|
|jou do shuu|
jo do shu
|jìng tǔ zōng|
jing4 tu3 zong1
jing tu zong
|ching t`u tsung
ching tu tsung
|jou do / joudo / jo do / jodo||jìng tǔ / jing4 tu3 / jing tu / jingtu||ching t`u / chingtu / ching tu|
|Shin Buddhism||浄土真宗||jou do shin shuu|
jo do shin shu
|Namo Amitabha Buddha||南無阿彌陀佛|
|namu amida butsu|
|nā mó ē mí tuó fó|
na1 mo2 e1 mi2 tuo2 fo2
na mo e mi tuo fo
|na mo o mi t`o fo
na mo o mi to fo
|Namu Amida Butsu||南無阿弥陀仏||namu amida butsu|
|宗家||Shuuke / Shuke||zōng jiā / zong1 jia1 / zong jia / zongjia||tsung chia / tsungchia|
|nichi ren / nichiren||rì lián / ri4 lian2 / ri lian / rilian||jih lien / jihlien|
|In some entries above you will see that characters have different versions above and below a line.|
In these cases, the characters above the line are Traditional Chinese, while the ones below are Simplified Chinese.
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Professional calligraphers are getting to be hard to find these days.
Instead of drawing characters by hand, the new generation in China merely type roman letters into their computer keyboards and pick the character that they want from a list that pops up.
There is some fear that true Chinese calligraphy may become a lost art in the coming years. Many art institutes in China are now promoting calligraphy programs in hopes of keeping this unique form of art alive.
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The same calligrapher who gave me those lessons also attracted a crowd of thousands and a TV crew as he created characters over 6-feet high. He happens to be ranked as one of the top 100 calligraphers in all of China. He is also one of very few that would actually attempt such a feat.
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