Master Genku is another name of Master Honen, who was the teacher of Master Shinran. It is clear from the following praise how much Master Shinran respects Master Honen.
"Never in all my lives in aeons past
Did I know the strong power for liberation.
Were it not for the true teacher Genku,
This life should have ended in vain as well''.
"Aeons Past" refers to the long past lives, in which Master Shinran underwent many cycles of birth and death.
The term "liberation" of "the strong power for liberation" means that we are saved from endless suffering and attain true happiness. Buddhism teaches that the purpose of life is to attain true happiness, in which our root cause of suffering is eradicated completely.
"Strong power" literally means strong power.
"Strong power for liberation" refers to the unnamable, inexplicable, inconceivable Vow of Amida which saves everyone from endless suffering and brings true happiness.
Master Honen clarified the Vow of Amida. This is why Master Shinran deeply respected “Master Genku” and even referred to himself as “I, Shinran, would never have encountered the vow of Amida without Master Honen, and I would stay in the endless cycle of suffering forever.” We will talk more about Master Honen’s teachings next time.
Master Honen was born about 880 years ago at Inaoka-no-sho in Kume, Mimasaka-no-kuni (currently Okayama Prefecture). He was called Sheishi-maru. His father was Ouryoshi, the local chief of police, and was called Urumano Tokikuni. Legend tells that Seishi-maru was a bright child.
At the age of 9, a samurai named Akashi Sadaaki and many warriors attacked Tokikuni's mansion in the middle of the night. Upon returning to the mansion, Seishi-maru found his father put to the sword, at breathing his last gasp.
At his father’s bedside, Seishi-maru said "I swear that I will avenge you, Father.” Then, Tokikuni said to young Seishi-maru, "Don't hold a grudge against the enemy who has attacked me, Seishi-maru. This has happened because of my past karma. If you defeat the enemy, then the enemy's child will attack you. This vendetta will continue over the generations. Instead, you should become a priest to and attain supreme enlightenment. Then, you should become the best priest in Japan in commemoration of my death.” Shortly afterward, Seishi-maru decided to become a priest according to his father's last words.
to be continued