(meaning "Borderless Garden of Truth") is a New Religious Movement
established in 1936 by Shinjo Ito
—a former Shugendo
follower and Shingon Buddhist
—and his wife Tomoji Ito. According to Peter Bernard Clarke, "Their religion can be regarded as a popularized form of esoteric Buddhism in which the life history of the founder and his family play an important soteriological
role." Indeed, the religion, "...centers around the belief that the two late sons of the family reside in a distant paradise and that, by means of telepathy, the members of the family can evoke the late sons' powers and blessings on the Shinnyo-en devotees. Today, Shinnyo-en, with more than one million followers, numbers among the wealthiest Japanese Buddhist organizations; it has branches in many parts of the world, including the United States." According to self-reports in 1987, Shinnyo-en had 2,079,954 members in its ranks. Integral to Shinnyo-en is the Nirvana Sutra
, which served as the inspiration for Shinjo Ito's first significant sculpture called "Great Parinirvana" (Ito was also a renowned sculptor).
Peter Bernard Clarke also says, "The main practice of Shinnyo-en is called 'sesshin-training' and consists of the interaction with the spirit world through trained mediums called reinōsha. It was believed that with the death of the wife of the founder in 1967, the power of salvation, called bakku-daiju, through interaction with the spirit world was made available to the whole world. According to the teaching 'she departed from the spirit world to extend the salvation transcending all the differences in languages, religions and nationalities." Shinnyo-en "teaches that meditation is the most fundamental of religious practices and recitation of a sutra's title is "an often practiced form of
devotion. Additionally, Ronald Nakasone and Susan Sered have written that "...a number of Okinawan women in the New York area have joined the Shinnyo-En Buddhist sect because it is 'similar to Okinawan religion, with attention to the ancestors.'
Shinnyo-en was established in 1936 by Shinjo Ito
and his wife Tomoji Ito but was not officially recognized until 1953. Founded in the suburb of Tachikawa
, the organization was originally named Risshōkaku. According to A Bibliography of Japanese New Religions Movements With Annotations
, "Before that Shinjō had studied and mastered the science of divination
, which had been passed down in his family. In December, 1935 Shinjō and Tomoji enshrined the image of Achala and they began the 30-day winter training from the beginning of the New Year in 1936. Tomoji succeeded to Reinō
(the Spiritual Faculty) from her aunt on 4 February 1936. From that time, Tomoji and Shinjō began a new career together entirely devoted to religion, serving as 'mediums of salvation' to people who came to have their fortunes told. Ito had been a former Acharya
in the Shingon
sect of Japanese Buddhism
, and until 1948 his organization remained affiliated with them so as to receive legal recognition. However, in that year they split away and named themselves Makoto Kyōdan-which was changed again in 1953 and incorporated as Shinnyo-en. In addition to the Gedatsukai
, which was established in 1929, Shinnyo-en is among the first religious movements to emerge out of the Shingon
sect of Japanese Buddhism
- Abeysekara, Ananda Colors of the Robe: Religion, Identity, and Difference. The University of South Carolina Press.
- Clarke, Peter Bernard Japanese New Religions: In Global Perspective. Routledge.
- Clarke, Peter Bernard A Bibliography of Japanese New Religions Movements With Annotations. Japan Library.
- De Bary, William Theodore; Gluck, Carol; Tiedemann, Arthur E. Sources of Japanese tradition. Volume 2, 1600 to 2000. Columbia University Press.
- Dumoulin, Heinrich; Maraldo, John C. Buddhism in the Modern World.
- Hori, Ichiro Japanese Religion: A Survey by the Agency for Cultural Affairs. Kodanska International.
- Leonard, Karen Isaksen Immigrant Faiths: Transforming Religious Life In America. Rowman Altamira.
- Shimazono, Susumu From Salvation to Spirituality: Popular Religious Movements in Modern Japan. Trans Pacific Press.