Buddhism affirms non-existence of a Creator. It argues that the universe develops in a variety of modes depending upon combinations of a variety of conditions, without being created or controlled by an absolute existence (i.e., God). This development resembles the World Wide Web, which is updated every day depending upon various conditions (advances in communication technology, the demands of people, diversification/sophistication of contents to be propagated), resulting in the emergence of services and circumstances which nobody could have foreseen in the past.
Here the question arises: is there no absolute criterion, like the God of monotheism, in Buddhism? – Yes, there is. It is the "enlightenment" experienced by Sakyamuni Buddha.
Before passing away at the age of eighty, Sakyamuni said:
"My brothers and sisters, this is my last moment. However, you must remember that this is merely the death of a body. My true nature is not the body – it is enlightenment. The enlightenment will guide you all forever and show you the right way."
Since then, Sakyamuni Buddha became known to be the founder of a religion. He is not only a person who disclosed precious teachings during his time, but is the eternal and universal presence that leads people at present and in the future, and whose teachings have spread across nations and borders.
The essence of the teachings is to comprehend the idea of anicca (impermanence: nothing remains the same) and anatta (no essence or soul exists in the individual), and to aim for true happiness, that is, nirvana. To follow the path told by Buddha, an increasing number of spiritual practitioners started to follow pure and simple lives, and pursue peaceful minds. In a leafy shade under a tree or in the depth of a mountain cave, each endeavored to practice meditation. In the age of Buddha, spiritual practitioners generally were wandering mendicants, so that the disciples constantly traveled to avoid attachment and continue their spiritual exercises. They were not engaged in labor and mostly depended upon alms from laypeople, sometimes teaching them about the dharma of Buddhism.
When Mahayana Buddhism arose thereafter, the teachings of Buddha were taught with wide variations for more people to comprehend and follow, in which the philosophy of Jodo, i.e., of Pure Land, is included. While the roots of the Jodo philosophy are originally found in Indian Mahayana Buddhism, the philosophy formed a larger trend propelled by propagation of Amitabha worship in China and Japan. Particularly in Japan, the philosophy was uniquely developed, eventually resulting in the establishment of a large sect, Jodo-shu, in the 12th century by Honen Shonin.
While the teachings of Jodo-shu were established in Japan in the 'Hei-an' period (around the 12th century), they are not limited to any specific age or specific region. They are still valid in the modern world, or in countries and cultures outside of Japan, as with the teachings of Buddha. It is a shame that the teachings of Jodo-shu have not been communicated outside of Japan. Moreover, even in Japan, not so many people respect or practice the teachings as living guidelines in daily life, although Jodo-shu is well known as a traditional culture. My ardent wish is to show that Honen Shonin directly inherits the spirit of Buddha and to revive the teachings of Jodo-shu as modern world teachings.
How can we set our lives in the absoluteness, wholesomeness, universality, and eternality beyond a frail, fragile, and small framework? How can we peacefully come to terms with our own inevitable death? What attitudes should we have when going about our daily lives? Jodo-shu can answer all these questions. I am happy to introduce these teachings to as many of you as possible with the aid of the Internet.