MEANING OF KIKYOSHIKI
Hongwangi International Centre
This is taken from
an explanatory booklet, The Confirmation Ceremony, published by Hongwanji
International Centre, and given to each candidate. 'Confirmation'
is the translation given for Kikyoshiki, which in the West we would
better understand as a 'Ceremony of Refuge in Amida Buddha'. The text
is printed here exactly as in the booklet, with the exception of the
sub-headings and some minor corrections.
this Shin Buddhist ceremony, perfonned before the altar of Amida
Buddha and Shinran Shonin, one takes the important step of affirming
reverence for the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, and one's determination
to tread the path to Buddhahood.
In the time
of Sakyamuni Buddha, one was permitted to join the Buddhist community
(sangha) upon receiving the precept of the three refuges under the
guidance of a monk, and shaving one's head. To receive the precept
of the three refuges means to declare before one's teacher that
one takes whole-hearted refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha,
and to vow that one will not deviate from them.
refers to Sakyamuni. 'Dharma' to Sakyamuni's teaching and 'Sangha'
to the community of followers who have entrusted themselves to Sakyamini
Buddha's teaching. Because these form the basis of what one values
most in one's life, they are called the 'three treasures'. Shaving
one's head symbolises departure from worldly ways of life and entrance
into a life devoted to the path of Buddhism, which transcends the
The teachings of Sakyamini Buddha are so extensive that they are
said to number 84,000. It is not surprising then, that after the
Buddha's death, various schools developed based on different aspects
of his teaching. Shin Buddhism (Judo Shinshu) is the Buddhist path
of great compassion clarified by Shinran Shonin. Shinran teaches
that Sakyamuni appeared in the world in order to reveal the Vow
of Amida Buddha to save all beings; it is the saving of all people
by Amida Buddha that is Sakyamuni's fundamental teaching.
Ceremony in Shin Buddhism, therefore, shares a common meaning with
the precept of the three refuges administered in the time of Sakyamuni
Buddha, but it also has a special meaning. In the Confirmation Ceremony,
the Buddha of the three refuges is not simply Sakyamuni, but refers
especially to Amida Buddha, who is the heart of Sakyamuni's teachings.
Sakyamuni came into the world to teach the Vow of Amnida Buddha,
and our salvation is brought about by Aniida. Dbarma' is the teaching
of Amida's compassionate working to save all beings, and 'Sangha'
refers to people who have entrusted themselves to Amida.
Since there are no precepts in Shin Buddhism, instead of receiving
the precept of the three treasures, one participates in the Confirmation
Ceremony. Also, Shin practition-ers do not shave their heads, but
undergo a ritual and symbolic cutting which has a similar meaning.
On participating in the Confirmation Ceremony, one receives a Buddhist
name (homyo). These names are in the form of Shaku and two Buddhist
terms. The word Shaku means 'disciple of Sakyamuni' and signifies
that the person has joined the followers of the teaching of Sakyamum
Buddha, a teaching that transcends race or nationality.
In Shin Buddhism, the Confirmation Ceremony is as a rule performed
Monshu (Chief Abbot) However, depending on the circumstances, it
may also be performed by a representative of the Monshu.
As a Shin Buddhist, one endeavours to hear the teaching of Amida's
Primal Vow, and also to transmit it to others. Further, one clearly
grasps the principle of cause and effect that is basic to the Buddhist
teaching, and does not rely on superstitions and beliefs of any
kind that contradict it.
account is by David Alder, who received Kikyoshiki.
Before I describe
the ceremony, I would like to thank the Zenmon, Rev Nagatani and
the representatives from Nishi Hongwanji, as well as all the Japanese
members who support us in so many ways. I would also like to thank
Jim and the Buddhist Society, and everyone who contributed to making
the Kikyoshiki cere-mony such a happy and successful occasion.
Jim's opening address mentioned the significance of the event for
British Pure Land Buddhism. He remarked that this was a moving occasion,
bringing back a flood of memories from when he received Kikyoshiki
with Jack Austin in London
1976. Indeed, this was the first time that the ceremony has been
performed in London since that time.
Rev Nagatani led the opening service, and together we recited the
(in traditional Sino-Japanese) followed by nembutsu.
He then explained the meaning and challenges, as well as the limitations
of the ceremony for the recipients. Personally, I thought this was
a most important point in view of the problems associated with the
ego and spiritual pride.
After this, the twelve recipients received Kikyoshiki from the Zenmon,
Lord Ohtani. The confirmation ceremony involved affirming our faith
in Axnida Buddha, reciting the three refuges, and having our heads
symbolically shaved by the Zenmon. Lord Ohtani placed a razor on
each recipient's head to symbolise tonsure.
Afterwards, during refreshments in the library (kindly provided
by the Buddhist Society) Rev Nagatani presented Jim - representing
the PLBF Sangha - with a magnificent Amida Scroll for use at meetings.
Altogether, the service was a solemn and joyful occasion, and I
am happy that members of the Buddhist Society also attended.
Lastly, in response to general conversation and comments in the
newsletter, I hope this Kikyoshiki ceremony will in some way help
to forge a living Sangha, where we will get used to meeting and
Namu Amida Butsu
first appeared, with the Author's permission, in PLN 7, September
1996. Republished here in agreement with the compiler/editor of
the inaugurate hard copy Journal. The Author, any person or any
organisation credited, quoted or connected with this article are
cordially invited to contact me with any comments, amendments, fresh
contributions or complaints. email