Higan is an abbreviation of “To-Higan” which literally meaning “to reach the other shore.” In Buddhism, the world of suffering is referred to as “this shore” and the world of Enlightenment is called “other shore.”
The term Higan comes from the Sanskrit word Paramita - “gone to other shore,” and suggests the Six Paramitas of charity, morality, patience, effort, meditation, and wisdom. Various sutras teach that six paramitas or perfections of practice are the way of reaching the other shore from this shore.
In Jodo Shinshu, the observance of Higan is simply the expressing of our gratitude to Amida Buddha for awakening us to Boundless Compassion and Wisdom. Our part in this observance would be to put into action the Compassion which comes to us vertically from Amida Buddha and to apply it horizontally in our relation with man and other living beings on this earth. This appreciation in our daily life is the Jodo Shinshu way of expressing our gratitude and thanksgiving for the wondrous virtues extended to us unconditionally and equally for all just like the sun’s ray which falls on the earth.
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