Benchō(弁長, June 20, 1162 – March 16, 1238), is considered the second patriarch of the main Chinzei branch of the Jōdo-shū sect of Japanese Buddhism, after Hōnen. He is often called by another name: Shōkōbō Benchō (聖光房弁長) or just Shōkō. According to biographies, he first ordained as a priest of the Tendai sect at the age of fourteen, and entered Enryaku-ji temple in 1183. He first met Hōnen in 1197. Later, after Hōnen and many of his followers were exiled in 1207, Shōkō was exiled on the island of Kyūshū and taught the practice of the nembutsu there.
Unlike other disciples of Hōnen, Shōkō favored studying the more traditional Buddhist paths along with the Pure Land path. He also criticized the interpretations by other disciples of Hōnen, particularly Kōsai and Shōkū, who emphasized the nembutsu over other practices. However, unlike Chōsai, his teachings still emphasized repeated recitations of the nembutsu as the primary practice in Jōdo-shū. In the spectrum of followers of Hōnen, Benchō balances faith in the nembutsu with acceptance of other practices leading to rebirth in the Pure Land of Amida Buddha.
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