TOP>What is Agon Shu?:The Significance of Founding Agon Shu

The Significance of Founding Agon Shu

The Agon Sutras, more than any other sutras, have been mistreated throughout the long history of Buddhism.

The Mahayana Sutras, such as the Mahayana Prajna, the Lotus Sutra, the Avatamsaka Sutra, and the Sukhavati Sutra, have been greatly esteemed by most schools of Buddhism. Many religious sects were founded based on these Mahayana sutras, and it is these sects, as Japan's traditionally powerful religious community, which have controlled Buddhism in Japan until today. The Agon Sutras, on the other hand, have been negligently considered to be the sutras containing the lowest of Buddhist teachings. Classified under the name of Hinayana Buddhism, the Agon Sutras have been virtually ignored by the rest of the Buddhist schools.

This can be traced back to the Chinese Buddhist monk Chihi (538-597) of the Tientai Sect, China, and his dissertation of “The Five Periods in the Buddha’s Teaching and Classification of the Various Tenets of Buddhism,” as well as other erroneous Buddhist commentaries, which mislabeled the Agon Sutras as inferior teachings. With the advancement of Buddhist studies in recent years, however, it has been confirmed that these dissertations and comments are totally incorrect. The advancement of linguistic studies, in particular, allowing analysis of Buddhist sutras based on research of Sanskrit, Pali, and the Buddha's local Maghadi dialect, has clearly shown that the Agon Sutras were the true teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha, while the so-called Mahayana Sutras were created and falsely attributed to Shakyamuni Buddha several hundred years after his death.

Unfortunately, while this affirmation was accepted in the academic Buddhist world, sadly the false views remain steadfast in the religious world of Buddhism. Established Buddhist orders founded on the Mahayana Sutras continue to ignore the Agon Sutras under the name of tradition, and Mahayana Sutras continue to reign as the supposed superior teachings of the Buddha amongst the general Buddhist population.

The time had come to correct these false views taught to the people under the name of Buddhism.

Kiriyama Kancho's correction of this historical error, and founding of Agon Shu in order to preach the true teaching of the Buddhia to the world, is highly significant.

His efforts and success in introducing to the world the Agon Sutras' Seven Systems and Thirty-Seven Practices for the attaining of Buddhahood, or Jobutsu-ho, teachings given scant attention in the past, are particularly notable.

Kiriyama Kancho wrote in his book,

“I am not saying that you should value the Agon Sutras simply because they are the only sutras Shakyamuni Buddha preached. I am saying that you should value them because only the Agon Sutras teach the value of Jobutsu-ho or the dharma of attaining Buddhahood. Buddhism is an abbreviation of the name Jobutsu-kyo, which is the religion that teaches Jobutsu, or the attaining of Buddhahood. Therefore, any Buddhism not teaching the ways for Jobutsu or attaining Buddhahood does not deserve to exist. Only in the Agon Sutras the Jobutsu-ho or the dharma of attaining Buddhahood is taught by Shakyamuni Buddha. This is why I say that if you proclaim yourself to be a Buddhist, you must value and respect the Agon Sutras and read them.
Had it not been for the Jobutsu-ho of Shichika Sanjushichidohon, or the Seven Systems and Thirty Seven Practices of the Agon Sutras, I probably would not have paid much attention to the sutras even if they were the direct teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha. By the same token, I do not pay any attention to Mahayana Sutras that do not contain Jobutsu-ho or the dharma of attaining Buddhahood.”

Kiriyama Kancho's words anger the traditional Mahayana Buddhist orders that dominate Buddhism in Japan. The impact of this anger is strongly felt both overtly and covertly by Agon Shu.

Kiriyama Kancho wrote, “There are many lies in this world. At least the person of religion should protect the truths with his life and propagate the truths to the world.” Taking pride in his words, more than 300,000 members today continue to keep their faith in Agon Shu.