Seishimaru (Childhood name of Master Honen) who lost his father at the age of nine became a priest at nearby Bodai-ji Temple under the supervision of Kangaku according to his father’s will. Startled by Seishimaru’s prodigious brightness, Kangaku started thinking that “I should not bury his talent in a remote country place like here. I will send him to Mt. Hiei so that he can study to become a great priest.”
The main temple of the Tendai sect was located in Mt. Hiei. At that time, along with Koyasan, Mt. Hiei was also the center of Japanese Buddhism. As a result of this, geniuses from all over Japan gathered there. Seishimaru entered Mt. Hiei at the age of 15. The recommendation letter from Kangaku says, "I will send you one statue of Manjusri (Bodhisattva). Priests from Mt. Hiei wondered where the statue of Manjusri was at first, but they realized later that what Kangaku meant by Manjusri was Seishimaru himself.
Seishimaru changed his name to Genku (later Honen) and was in his element when practicing academic training. He had deep understanding of doctrines not only for the Tendai sect, but also for the other sects (Hasshu Kengaku). By the time he reached the age of 40, he had no equal in the field of Buddhism.
However, even if fame and status are obtained, the solution of the great problem which is the purpose of pursuing the path of Buddhism after death was still not achieved.
In order to pursue salvation of the great problem after death, he headed to Ho'onzo (storing all the sutras) in Kurodani.
In order to solely pursue salvation of the great problem after death, Master Honen headed to Ho'onzo (storing all the sutras) in Kurodani. He was determined to never leave this Ho'onzo until the way to save himself becomes crystal clear. Master Honen read the sutras day after day. Reading all over 7,000 volumes of sutras is a difficult task. He read it very carefully in search of the salvation by saying "The answer is in this sutra". He became disappointed when he could not find the answer, but he kept reading one by one. Finally, he read through all the sutras, but could not find the path of salvation. At the same time, the impermanence is approaching swiftly. He started to read sutras all over again. However, he could not find the salvation of mind even after 2nd and 3rd try. By the 5th try, the sutras were worn out because of his tears. And shortly after that, he read the passage of Master Shantao in the Commentary on the Contemplation Sutra, that goes “ 一心専念弥陀名号、行住坐臥、不問時節久近、念々不捨者、是名正定之業、順彼仏願故.” At that very moment, he was saved by Amida Buddha’s Vow, reciting nembutsu of gratitude. Thereafter, Master Honen moved to a monastery in Yoshimizu, Kyoto, and started sharing vigorously Amida Buddha’s Vow which is the sole way for the salvation for all people.