Shinran's Pathos of the Infinite in Kierkegaard's Words

Dissertation, Boston College (1992)

Abstract
This dissertation has a threefold aim: to clarify Shinran's pathos; to define the moment of his enlightenment; to reveal Shinran as an existential thinker. The existentialism of Shinran's thought is brought into sharper focus by the poignant words of Kierkegaard. The additional aim in this study is: to show the universality of the two thinkers' relation between the Infinite and a finite individual. ;Introduction. Despite Shinran's endeavor to eliminate passion, his pathos became a recipient of eternal peace. The reason for using the Greek term 'pathos' to express Shinran's existential passion is also explained. ;Background. A brief review of the historical background of Shinran's life and times. ;Chapter I. Shinran's pathos emerged as his anxiety over the gulf between himself and the objective truth as seen in the three Pure Land sutras. ;Chapter II. Shinran's subjective approach to the traditional Pure Land teaching heightened his pathos to know himself and the Power of Amida Butsu's Vows. ;Chapter III. By investigating the human being, Shinran's pathos led to despair over the inner-truth of self. ;Chapter IV. Shinran's pathos thus craved the outer-truth, Amida Butsu and his Vow. ;Chapter V. Shinran described three stages to attain enlightenment based on his own experience. It is a process of pathos' striving with self and the uncertainty. ;Chapter VI. When Shinran attained both inner-truth and outer-truth, his pathos had its culmination. In the moment of its culmination, Shinran's pathos encountered the paradox of Amida Butsu's Vows. This is the moment Shinran attained enlightenment. ;Chapter VII. Shinran became a witness of the truth while he experienced contradiction of himself by relating to the infinite with his finite body. The realization of individual pathos is Shinran's realization of the work of the true reality, Dharma, in all beings. ;In conclusion, through suffering which all human beings equally share, despite apparent differences, give everyone the opportunity to relate to eternity through one's pathos. The significance of the existential being is to exist between infinite and finite with the joy of new Birth in eternal life
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