Finger, Text, and Moon: Dennis Hirota and Iwasaki Tsuneo

  • 1 University of Pennsylvania,, Philadelphia, United States of America

Abstract

Dennis Hirota is a modern master of Shin Buddhism who for several decades has explicated the role of natural language in fostering Buddhist awakening. At the core of his oeuvre is the claim that Shin Buddhism’s founder, Shinran Shonin (1173-1263), accepted the earlier Mahayana teaching of nondual awareness as a necessary condition for awakening. Shinran’s unique contribution was to insist that ordinary persons were, as a matter of historical circumstance, incapable of the disciplines required to arrive at non-dual awareness. It was just this circumstance that the historical Buddha foresaw when he taught the Larger Pure Land Sutra, in which the mind of the Buddha Amida, perfect wisdom and compassion, became available to ordinary people who call his Name in joyful sincerity. This is a difficult teaching of “non-practice” that embraces many subtleties. As a heuristic to ease the way into Shinran as Hirota presents him, this paper introduces a painting by the modern Japanese scientist and artist, Iwasaki Tsuneo. This is not a “Shin painting,” but certainly a “Mahayana painting” that connects the aspiration of an ordinary person to ultimate truth through the text of the Heart Sutra, arguably the quintessential Buddhist teaching of non-dual awareness.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Alhadeff, Gina. “Moving Targets.” New York Review of Books, (June 7, 2018), 26.

  • Arai, Paula. “Seeing the Wisdom of Compassion: The Art and Science of the Heart Sutra.” Presentation at the Institute of Buddhist Studies, Berkeley, June 25, 2016.

  • Bandō, Shojun, Harold Stewart, Ann T. Rogers, & Minor L. Rogers (trans.). Tannishō: Passages Deploring Deviations of Faith, and Rennyo Shōnin Ofumi: The Letters of Rennyo. Berkeley: Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, 1996.

  • Beale, Samuel, „The Paramita-hridaya Sutra. Or The Great Paramita Heart Sutra.” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Number 2, (December 1865), 25-28.

  • Bermant, Gordon. Seeing What Is Already There. New York: American Buddhist Study Center, 2005.

  • Bermant, Gordon. “Already but Not Yet: Calling and Called in Religious Time.” In Being Called: Scientific, Secular, and Sacred Perspectives, edited by David Bryce Yaden, Theo D. McCall & J. Harold Ellens. 243-260. Santa Barbara: Praeger, 2015.

  • Bermant, Gordon. “The Nature and Significance of Subjectivity in Shin Buddhism.” Special Section on Subjectivity in Shin Buddhism. Pacific World, Third Series, Number 19, (2017), 31-52.

  • Bloom, Alfred. The Ultimacy of Jodo Shinshu: Shinran’s Response to Tendai. The Pure Land, Vol. New series 10-11: 12, (1994), 28-55.

  • Blum, Mark. The Origins and Development of Pure Land Buddhism: A Study and Translation of Gyōnen’s Jōdo Hōmon Genrushō. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

  • Buswell Jr., Robert E.& Lopez, Jr., Donald S. “Pure Land.”, in Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism, edited by Buswell & Lopez. 683. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014.

  • Corless, Roger Tashi. “Shinran’s Proofs of Pure Buddhism.” In Buddhist Hermeneutics, edited by Donald S. Lopez, Jr. 273-290. Honolulu: Kuroda Institute, University of Hawaii Press, 1988.

  • Hirota, Dennis (Trans.). Tannishō: A Primer. Ryukoku University Translation Center, (1982, 1991).

  • Hirota, Dennis, Inagaki, Hisao, Tokunaga Michio, & Uryuzu, Ryushin. The Collected Works of Shinran. Two volumes. Kyoto: Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, 1997

  • Hirota, Dennis. Asura’s Harp: Engagement with Language as Buddhist Path. Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter, 2006.

  • Inagaki, Hisao. The Three Pure Land Sutras. Kyoto: Nagata Bushodo, 1994.

  • Lopez Jr., Donald S. (ed.). Buddhist Hermeneutics. Honolulu: Kuroda Institute, University of Hawaii Press, 1988.

  • Maida, Shuichi. The Evil Person: Essays on Shin Buddhism. 1st edition. Haneda, Nobuo (Trans.) Los Angeles: Higashi Honganji North American, 1989.

  • Nattier, Jan. “The Heart Sutra: A Chinese Apocryphal Text.?” The Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, 15:2, (1992), 153-223.

  • Osho. Finger Pointing to the Moon: Discourses on the Adhyatma Upanishad. Rockport, MA. Element Books, 1994.

  • Red Pine. The Heart Sutra: The Womb of Buddhas. Washington, D.C.: Shoemaker & Hoard, 2004.

  • Tabrah, Ruth. The Monk Who Dared. Kailua, HI: Press Pacific, 1995.

  • The Śūraṅgama Sūtra: a New Translation with Excerpts from the Commentary by the Venerable Master Hsüan Hua. Ukiah, CA.

  • The Buddhist Text Translation Society, 2009.

  • Thich Nhat Hanh. “New Heart Sutra Translation.” Plum Village, September 13, 2014. https://plumvillage.org/news/thich-nhathanh- new-heart-sutra-translation/ (accessed May 28, 2018).

  • Thurman, Robert. “Buddhist Hermeneutics.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion. 16:1, 1978, 19-39.

  • Ueda, Yoshifumi & Hirota, Dennis. Shinran: An Introduction to His Thought. Kyoto: Hongwanji International Center, 1989.

  • Yifa, Ven, M.C. Owens, P.M. Romaskiewicz (Trans.). Prajnaparamita Heart Sutra: Translated from the Chinese Version of Xuanzang. Hacienda Heights, CA. Buddha’s Light Publishing, 2007.

OPEN ACCESS

Journal + Issues

Open Theology is an international Open Access, peer-reviewed academic journal that welcomes contributions written in English addressing religion in its various forms and aspects: historical, theological, sociological, psychological, and other.

Search