Nishida's Final Essay: The Logic of Place and a Religious World-view
By David A. Dilworth
Philosophy East and West
Vol. 20, No. 4 (1970)
Copyright 1970 by University of Hawaii Press
Written shortly before Nishida's death in Kamakura in 1945, The Logic of Place and a Religious World-view [a] is considered the most important essay of his later writings.  It is at least the most interesting, because in it he finally breaks his "silence" concerning Buddhist tradition. For the previous eighteen years he had been concerned with elaborating a "logic of the East" revolving around what he once called the experience of "the form of the formless, the voice of the voiceless ... which has been transmitted from our ancestors for thousands of years."  In fact, he had spent over thirty years evolving an original philosophical position centering upon the idea of absolute Nothingness (zettai mu [b]) and other Buddhist metaphysical ideas, but with hardly any use of the scriptural traditions of Buddhism to which he might have alluded. Now, in this last essay of ninety-nine pages, Nishida conjoined and applied his originally articulated "logic of basho" [c] to some famous scriptural passages from the Buddhist suutras, `saastras, or writings of great figures in Buddhist history. 
In the essay are to be found references to the Diamond Suutra, [d] the Praj~naapaaramitaa Suutra, [e] the "Eightfold Negation" [f] of the Maadhyamaka, The Awakening of Faith in the Mahaayaana, [g] The Record of Lin-ch'i; [h] to representatives of Pure Land Buddhism such as Shan-tao (Zendoo [i]) and especially Shinran [j] and to many Zen masters such as the sixth patriarch, [k] Nan-ch'uan, [l] Lin-ch'i, [m] Pao-chi of Pan-shan, [n] Pan-kuei, [o] Shao-chou, [p] Mu-nan (Bunan zenji), [q] Daitoo Kokushi, [r] and Doogen. [s]
At the same time Nishida continued to evolve his critique of Western philosophical categories. Among Western philosophers, Kant and Aristotle are especially taken to task from the point of view of Nishida's "logic of basho." On the positive side, he makes use of Kierkegaard, Pascal, Augustine, and
1. Nishida Kitaroo, Bashoteki ronri to shukyooteki sekaikan, in Nishida Kitaroo Zenshuu [The Complete Works of Nishida Kitaroo], 19 vols. (2nd ed.; Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten. 1965), XI, 371-464. All subsequent citations of Nishida's works will refer to volume and page numbers in this edition, hereafter abbreviated NKZ.
2. Nishida Kitaroo, Hataraku mono kora miru mono e [From the Acting to the Seeing], NKZ, IV, 6.
3. Some brief allusions to Buddhist tradition begin to emerge in Nishida's later writings. For example, some of the representative forms and figures of Mahaayaana Buddhism are mentioned in the 1934 work, Tetsugaku no kompon mondai [Fundamental Problems of Philosophy], NKZ, VII, 428, 450-451, etc. The pattern of making brief allusions to a few Mahaayaana Buddhist forms or figures (e.g., the Japanese Zen master, Doogen) can then be traced in some of the concluding sessions of his Tetsugaku rombunshuu [Philosophical Essays] (1937-45), NKZ, VII-XI (e.g., IX, 332-334, etc.). Finally, in his last volume of Philosophical Essays, Nishida wrote directly on the question of philosophy of religion in "Towards a Philosophy of Religion with the Concept of Pre-Established Harmony as Guide" (1944), NKZ, XI, 114-146, and in The Logic of Place and a Religious Worldview. The latter essay was a development of the ideas of the former.
Dostoievski to develop an existentialist dimension to his religious world view. Christian religious values are thus incorporated into his structure, and these again are synthesized to some extent with Zen and Pure Land religious values.
All these ingredients make The Logic of Place and a Religious World-view of interest to students of Nishida's thought. But perhaps the most interesting theme of the essay is his attempted synthesis of Zen and Pure Land religious values from the point of view of his own philosophy. The essay also has value as a unique attempt at synthesis of East-West religious values by a thinker who had developed an original philosophical system and vocabulary from the point of view of the East, or at least of Buddhism.
Brief Resume of Nishida's Career
Nishida was born in 1870 and died in 1945. He wrote almost continuously during his years as a professor of philosophy at Kyoto University (1911-27), during which time he produced six volumes of purely philosophical writings. Beginning from A Study of Good (1911) and Thought and Experience (1915), in which he worked out an initial notion of "pure experience" in somewhat eclectic and unoriginal terms, he went on to develop a phenomenology and ontology of a markedly voluntaristic, and even pantheistic, sort in Intuition and Reflection in Self-Consciousness (1917), Problems of Consciousness (1920), Art and Morality (1923), and finally From the Acting to the Seeing (1927).  This final work of his formal academic career was also a breakthrough to a new level of insight and philosophical vocabulary, in which Nishida went beyond the voluntaristic, and particularly Fichtean, position of his previous works to his central idea of basho, the topos or "place" of absolute Nothingness. From that point of departure, he pursued during the next eighteen years his "logic of the East," which was in fact a Buddhistic logic of the "true self" seen from various philosophical points of view.
This nature period of what has become known since 1927 as Nishida tetsugaku [t] may be divided into two phases: (1) 1927-32, when Nishida was fundamentally involved with epistemological implications of his doctrine of basho in From the Acting to the Seeing (1927), The System of the Self-Consciousness of the Universal (1930), and The Self-Conscious Determination of Nothingness (1932); and (2) 1934-45, when basho became the "place" of social-historical determination, or the world of the "dialectical universal" [u] --
4. For studies of Nishida's pre-Nishida tetsugaku notion of "pure experience" and religious thought, see the writer's "The Initial Formations of Pure Experience in Nishida Kitaroo William James," Monumenta Nipponica 24, no. 1-2 (spring 1969), 93-111; "The Range of Nishida's Early Religious Thought: Zen no Kenkyuu," Philosophy East and West 19, no. 4 (Oct. 1969), 409-421; and "Nishida's Early Pantheistic Voluntarism," Philosophy East and West 20, no. 1 (Jan. 1970), 35-49.
a notion developed in his last major systematic work, Fundamental Problems of Philosophy (in two volumes, 1933-34). In the final ten years of his life, Nishida produced six more volumes of Philosophical Essays, the last of which was The Logic of Place and a Religious World-view. 
It may be noted that the mature works written between 1927 and 1932 exhibit Nishida primarily as concerned with the problem of knowing -- that is, with epistemological questions such as the ground and apriorities of reflective judgment, of "concrete intuition" and what he sometimes called "true seeing" [v] in the topos of Nothingness -- while his thought from Fundamental Problems of Philosophy focused more on the "world of action" [w] in the topos of Nothingness. In this context he became involved in a general trend of the idealistic and ultra nationalistic 1930s to articulate the "Japanese Spirit" [x] and thereby became interested in developing a philosophy of cultural forms in general.  But metaphysically considered, these later writings show a greater affinity in thought-structure with the traditional Buddhist idea of engi [y] or "dependent origination/dependent causation" and are thus reminiscent to some extent of the Kegon notion of jiji muge, [z] "the unhindered mutual interpretation between phenomena" in the topos of Nothingness. Eastern culture, metaphysically considered, was interpreted by Nishida as such a culture of Nothingness and the Formless in contrast to Western culture, a culture of Being and Form. The Logic of Place and a Religious World-view contains all of these threads of thought in one synthesis articulated from the point of view of the meaning of the religious consciousness.
This Religious Dimension of Experience
I will now try to summarize briefly the leading ideas of The Logic of Place and a Religious World-view.
5. For farther background on the phases of Nishida's career, see Takeuchi Yoshinori, "Nishida's Philosophy as Representative of Japanese Philosophy," under "Japanese Philosophy," Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1966 ed., and "The Philosophy of Nishida Kitaroo," Japanese Religions 3, no. 4 (1963), 1-32; G. K. Piovesana, Recent Japanese Philosophical Thought, 1862-1962 (Tokyo: Enderle, 1963), pp. 85-122; Matao Noda, "East-West Synthesis in Nishida Kitaroo," Philosophy East and West 4, no. 4 (1954-55), 345-349; Shimomura Torataroo, "Nishida Kitaroo and Some Aspects of his Philosophical Thought," trans. V. H. Viglielmo in his Nishida Kitaroo: A Study of Good (Tokyo: Japanese Government Printing Office, 1960), pp. 191-217; Nishida Kitaroo: Intelligibility and the Philosophy of Nothingness, trans. with an introduction by Robert Schinzinger (Tokyo: Maruzen, 1958); and "Nishida Kitaroo: The Problem of Japanese Culture," trans. Masao Abe, in Sources of Japanese Tradition, ed. Ryusaku Tsunoda, William T. de Bary, and Donald Keene (New York: Columbia University Press, 1958), pp. 857-872.
6. See especially Nishida Kitaroo, "The Forms of Culture of the Classical Periods of East and West from a Metaphysical Point of View," translated by the writer in Japanese Religions 5, no. 4 (spring 1969), 26-50; and "The Problem of Japanese Culture," in Tsunoda et al., Sources of Japanese Tradition.
The first key idea of the essay, and in fact its point of departure, is Nishida's definition of the religious dimension of experience as a dimension and an apriority of the self that is independent of the epistemological and moral spheres. He uses the framework of Kant's three Critiques to suggest that Kant should have written a fourth Critique which mapped out an autonomous apriority of the religious consciousness. Therefore Nishida attempts at the start positively to suggest a multivariate epistemological-metaphysical structure of the existential self in which the religious consciousness is particularly freed from the sphere of the Kantian moral ought.
The first of the essay's five sections, each about twenty pages, is this disquisition on the Kantian moral self from the point of view of a metaphysics of basho, the true ground of the self which is neither the logical subject nor the universal predicate of the Aristotelian theory of predication. It is to be found in the direction of this Middle Path of the self's awareness (jikaku [aa]) of itself as neither-nor, but both-and subject and predicate. In other words, using what seem to be Maadhyamika and Zen thought-structures, Nishida begins the essay with a critique of Kant's Critique of Practical Reason in order to conclude positively to his own central idea of a dimension or "place" of "pure experience" which is the concrete ground of immediacy or self-identity of the contradictions between the logical subject and abstract universal predicate, or between the Aristotelian "subject that cannot be predicate" and the Kantian "predicate that cannot be subject."
Section two takes a new turn. It begins from the concept of the self's experience of sheer individuality as the essence of religious experience. Following Pascal, Nishida grounds this experience of sheer individuality on the self's experience of its sheer finitude, relativity, and total negation by the world, and particularly its realization of its fate to die. But this existentialist idea is given a Buddhist interpretation when he writes:
The question of religion is not a question of value. For only when we are conscious of the profound self-contradiction at the very ground of the self -- when we are self-conscious of the self-contradictions of the self -- does the very existence of the self become problematic. The sorrows of human life and its self-contradictions have been constant themes since ancient times. Many people do not deeply face this fact. But when this fact of the sorrow of life is faced the problem of religion arises for us. (Indeed, the problem of philosophy also arises from this point.) 
In a later passage, after developing his own philosophy of the content of the religious consciousness (which I will take up shortly), Nishida returns to this concept of sheer individuality in reference to Saint Shinran. He quotes Shinran's statement: "When I deeply reflect upon Amida's vow which he
7. NKZ. XI, 393.
contemplated for five kalpas of time, I find that it was for the sake of myself alone, Shinran." 
But as this reference to Shinran suggests, the consideration of this sheer and fragile existential individuality of the self leads to a further consideration of the absolute negation, the "egoless" nature of the true self.
The Logic of the Logic of Place as the Logic of the True Self
Section three of the essay now takes up this question of the egoless ground, the topos of Nothingness or Voidness as the locus of concrete immediacy of the true self, or again, basho as the mirror of self-identity of the existential contradictions of the individual self. Nishida does so by introducing what he calls the "logic of soku hi" [ab] of the Praj~naapaaramitaa Suutra" which he defines in terms of what: he calls the gyakutaioo [ac] or gyakugentei [ad] relationship between the individual self and the absolute. 
His interesting development of this theme is as follows, lie tells us that a true absolute does not negate the relative, for an absolute which stands opposed to the relative would itself be relative. Or similarly, a God who does not create is an impotent God, and therefore is not God. Hence there must be self-contradiction in God or the absolute itself, the true God or absolute must be a self-identity of contradiction.
If we attempt to express this in logical terms, we have to transcend rational, objective logic, which presupposes the subject-object dichotomy, and speak in dialectical and paradoxical terms. The problem then becomes one of attempting to speak in meaningful dialectical terms. Here Nishida introduces the term gyakutaioo teki ni, [ae] the root meaning of which I take to be "in terms of a correspondence (relation) of inverse polarity." This adverbial expression means "dialectically," but seems to stress that the items in dialectical relation are absolutely inverse, or contradictory directions of the same tension and polarity. (The term is used fourteen times in the subsequent text.) God or the absolute, we are told, must possess "absolute self-negation within itself by opposing itself as an absolute negation in a correspondence/relation of inverse polarity (gyakutaioo teki ni). Therefore because it is absolute Nothingness, it is absolute Being."  To explicate this idea Nishida quotes the phrase: "because there is Buddha, there are the sentient beings, and because there are the sentient beings, there is the Buddha."  He then rings a change on this
8. NKZ, XI, 431.
9. As may be clear below, Nishida uses the term soku hi (literally "is" and "is not") in the logical sense of "affirmation-negation." He develops this logical structure into a metaphysical description of the religious experience.
10. NKZ, XI, 398.
idea by adding: "because there is God as creator, there is the world as creatures, and because there is the world as creatures, there is God as creator."  He notes that from the perspective of Christianity this may be called pantheistic, but here again this would be a mistaken impression of those who conceive of God or the absolute in terms of objective logic. For, as stated above, the absolute is not merely nonrelative and does not negate the relative. Since it contains the self-negation of itself within itself, it rather requires the relative. "The true absolute returns to itself in the form of the relative." 
How can such paradoxes, which Nishida insists are not to be construed pantheistically, be conceived? Here he introduces what he calls the "dialectic of the soku hi of the Praj~naapaaramitaa Suutra," understood as the logic which can express this paradox, and by extension, which can provide the very logic of the question of the self-contradictions of the individual self's existential religious consciousness. First quoting the phrase in the Diamond Suutra which reads "because all beings are not all beings, therefore they are called all beings"; [af] Nishida provides his own commentary in the following words:
Because there is no Buddha, there is Buddha; because there are no sentient beings, there are sentient beings. Here I should like to recall the words of the National Teacher, Daitoo [Daitoo Kokushi, 1282-1337] who said:
Buddha and I, distinct from one another through one billion kalpas, yet not separate for one instant; facing each other the whole day through, yet not facing each other for an instant. [ag]
God who is merely transcendent and self-sufficient is not the true God. In one aspect, God must 'empty Himself.' It is precisely God who is both transcendent and immanent who is a truly dialectical God. We can call this kind of God the true absolute. 
This passage is Nishida's first explication of the logic of the soku hi and of the concept of gyakutaioo teki ni.
The above position, Nishida has insisted, is "absolutely dialectical in the sense of the self-identity of absolute contradictions."  He tells us that while even the logic of Hegel did not escape being an objective logic, it was "the philosophy of the Praj~naapaaramitaa Suutra of Buddhism which can on the contrary be said to have taken absolute dialectic to its ultimate conclusion."  Unfortunately, Nishida never quotes directly or explicates further the Praj~naapaaramitaa Suutra. He rather goes on to say that the negative theology of the "Eightfold Negation" (happu [ah]) of the Middle Path differs in essence from the notion of dialectic in the Hegelian sense.  For the Middle Path repudiates
14. NKZ, XI, 399.
17. The Middle Path of the Chinese Three Treatises (san-lun) school, which was a development of the Maadhyamika (Middle Doctrine) school of Naagaarjuna taught a dialectical logic known as "the Middle Path of Eightfold Negations," through which the ultimate reality of Voidness was reached. Thus logic systematically denies all assertions regarding things in the form of four double-negations: "neither birth nor extinction, neither annihilation nor permanence, neither sameness nor difference, neither corning in nor going out."
Nishida refers to this logic in The Logic of Place and a Religious World-view, but it can be demonstrated that he had been applying just this kind of thought-structure for many years to the notion of "the topos of true Nothingness," which is the ground of the self that is neither logical subject nor predicate, etc.
the notion of underlying substance or subject. And in terms of a true notion of creativity understood as "the transition, without underlying substance or subject, from the formed to the forming," the concept of God as Lord, or some subjective transcendence, is even less to be allowed.
From the foregoing brief summary of the ideas of section three, therefore, we can see that the notions of soku hi and gyakutaioo are identical in function. Both express the paradox of the dialectical identity of absolute contradiction between absolute and relative, or God and the world. Or perhaps we may say that the relation between affirmation (soku) and negation (hi) expresses the final metaphysical character of the world.  While moving in opposite directions, each requires the other and constitutes the other in a deeper paradox of immediacy and self-identity. Basho, as Nishida defines it, is the precise locus of this immediacy and self-identity.
An Eschatology of the Ordinary and Everyday
A third key idea of the essay is what I translate "an eschatology of the ordinary and the everyday." [ai] This is certainly to be understood as coming from the Zen side of Nishida's thinking, as we shall presently see. For lack of space I am going to cite only a few of Nishida's own citations from various Zen masters to illustrate the point. As a preface to doing so, let me say that this
18. Throughout his career, Nishida was interested in the negative theology of John Scotus Erigena, whose concept of God as both creans et creata and nec creans nec creata, etc., was sufficiently "dialectical" for Nishida's own insights. Nishida was, in fact, a creative interpreter of Erigena's thought. For a modern rendering of the logic of soku hi and the gyakutaioo relation between God and the World, I submit the following famous passage by Whitehead:
It is as true to say that God is permanent and the World fluent, as that the World is permanent and God. is fluent.
It is as true to say that God is one and the World many, as that the World is one and God many.
It is as true to say that, in comparison with the World, God is actual eminently, as that, in comparison with God, the World is actual eminently.
It is as true to say that the World is immanent in God, as that God is immanent in the World.
It is as true to say that God transcends the World, as that the World transcends God.
It is as true to say that God creates the World, as that the World creates God.
Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality (New York: Harper & Row, 1960), p. 528.
"eschatology of the ordinary and everyday" is not understood by Nishida as some idea separate from the foregoing metaphysical view. It is rather filling out the positive content of the paradoxical logic of the gyakutaioo teki relationship between absolute and relative which the religious dimension of experience entails. Thus Nishida continually tells us that his position is not to be conceived as mystical or pantheistic. Or to use the logic of the Middle Path once more it is neither subjective idealism nor an objective, pantheistic identification of God and the self.
In the following paragraph I will simply translate Nishida.
In terms of the logic of the soku hi of the Praj~naapaaramitaa Suutra, because there is absolute Nothingness there is absolute being, and because there is absolute motion there is absolute rest. The self exists in this relationship of inverse polarity or inverse determination with the absolute. Hence, that our lives always exhibit the truth that "precisely the present is the eternal present" [aj] does not mean a transcendence of time in a merely abstract way. The instant of time, which does not stop even for an instant, arises in a relation of inverse polarity or inverse determination with the eternal present. Therefore, "sa^msaara is nirvaa.na." [ak] To transcend the self itself means to return to the self. It is to become the true Self. For this reason it is said: "Since all minds are not mind, therefore each may be called Mind." And the phrase "mind is the Buddha, and the Buddha is mind" must also be grasped in this perspective. The point is not that our minds and the Buddha are identical in the terms of objective logic. The logic of true Emptiness of the Praj~naapaaramitaa Suutra can not be grasped through Western logic. Even Buddhist scholars have in the past not clarified this logic of soku hi. That the self returns to the absolute by fathoming its own source and ground does not mean separation from this actuality, but rather to penetrate to the very depths of this historical actuality. The self becomes an historical individual as a self-determination of the absolute present. Therefore "when I penetrate to attain the Dharma-body, there is nothing; it is essentially myself, Makabe Heishiroo." [al] The Zen master Nan-ch'uan has written: "The ordinary mind is the true Way." [am] And Lin-ch'i has written: "The Dharma does not have a special place to apply effort; it is only the ordinary and everyday -- relieving oneself, dressing, eating, lying down when tired." [an] It would be a great error to understand this even as being "non-conventional and unconcerned." [ao] It must indicate a total act, in the sense that "at each step, the blood drips down" [ap] ... As Doogen also says, "the self becomes true nothingness." [aq] He tells us: "to learn the Dharma means to learn the self, to learn the self means to forget the self; to forget the self means to be enlightened by the 10,000 dharmas" [ar] ... I call this seeing by becoming things, and hearing by becoming things. What must be denied is the dogmatism of the self conceived abstractly. What must be decisively repudiated is attachment to the self conceived objectively. 
Judeo-Christian and Mahaayaana religious values
I pass on directly to a fourth key theme of The Logic of Place and a Religious World-view, a theme that roughly corresponds to the content of section four
19. NKZ, XI, 423-424.
of the essay. This is Nishida's discussion of Judeo-Christian and Mahaayaana religious values in the light of the foregoing. Very briefly, Nishida here engages both in polemics from the side of Buddhism and synthesis from the point of view of the phenomenology of the religious consciousness which he has been elaborating.
Christianity, in his analysis, finds the absolute in the direction of an objective transcendence, and hence stresses the notion of obedience to God's will and the separate personality of God. Mahaayaana Buddhism finds the absolute in the direction of an "immanent transcendence," so that it teaches that we are pursued and embraced by absolute compassion. One point of relation between Christianity and Buddhism is found in what he terms "the religious concept of the expedient means (hooben [as]) -- that is, the absolute taking the form of the relative in order to save it. He says that this concept of hooben is illustrated in the Christian teaching of the Incarnation. Another similarity is found in the respective emphases on faith in the Word of God or Name of Buddha. Christianity too has a concept of the self-negation of the absolute in its doctrine of God who empties Himself. But Buddhism, according to Nishida, is to be preferred for its doctrine of all-embracing compassion and the immanence of the absolute.
We can note here that when Nishida talks metaphysics, he tends to use his language of basho, that is, a kind of interpretation of Zen ideas; but when he talks religion, he employs the language of Shinran and the Pure Land. It is one function of the looseness of Nishida's fundamental thought-structure that he can glide from one plane to the other with little sense of inconsistency or contradiction. But as I turn now to the fifth and final leading idea of the whole essay, I hope to show that Nishida himself was trying to work out a synthesis of Zen and Pure Land religious values -- at least, that is my interpretation.
Jinen Hooni [at]
The phrase jinen hooni, as Nishida uses it, derives from Shinran, or at least is used in the context of citing Shinran, who in fact has a. brief commentary on the Chinese phrase tzu-ran fa-ehr, of which jinen hooni is the Japanese equivalent. D. T. Suzuki has a translation of Shinran's commentary on the phrase in Mysticism: Christian and Buddhist:
Ji means 'of itself or 'by itself.' As it is not due to the designing of man but to Nyorai's vow, it is said that man is naturally or spontaneously (nen) led to the Pure Land. The devotee does not make any conscious self-designing efforts, for they are altogether ineffective to achieve the end. Jinen thus means that as one's rebirth into the Pure Land is wholly due to the working of Nyorai's vow-power, it is for the devotee just to believe in Nyorai and let his vow work itself out.
Hooni means 'it is so because it is so'; and in the present case it means that it
is in the nature of Amida's vow-power that we are born in the Pure Land. Therefore the way in which the other-power works may be defined as 'meaning of no-meaning,' that is to say, it works in such a way as if not working. 
One problem with this translation is that it is, in translation, Suzuki's interpretation of Shinran's words. Another obvious problem is that Shinran's own interpretation takes the form of an explication de texte. Even accepting Suzuki's interpretation, if I put together the phrases in which Suzuki's Shinran is literally translating the words, it comes out that jinen hooni means "Of itself or by itself naturally or spontaneously it is so because it is so." The phrase is particularly difficult to render into English because it refers to a dimension of immediate experience prior to the subject-predicate form of expression which Western thought and language generally presuppose.  In the present context the difficulty is doubly compounded. First, there is the fact that this seemingly "pure" Zen phrase has been taken over by Shinran to express a central insight of Pure Land Buddhism.  Second, Nishida used jinen hooni in the context of an apparent attempt to reach some synthetic view of the religious consciousness which transcended but included the planes of both Zen and Pure Land Buddhism. At any rate, I hope to demonstrate that the fifth and concluding section of Nishida's Logic of Place and a Religious World-view turns around his own use of the phrase jinen hooni. As might be expected, Nishida does not directly translate the phrase, which he uses repeatedly as a noun phrase (jinen hooni), as an adjectival phrase (jinen hooni teki [au]), and, alas, as an adverbial phrase (jinen hooni teki ni [av]) as well. It seems indeed to be the concluding idea of the essay and of Nishida's own philosophical career. 
How, then, did Nishida use this phrase within the structure he was elab-
20. D. T. Suzuki, Mysticism; Christian and Buddhist, World Perspectives, ed. Ruth Nanda Anshen, vol. 12 (New York: Harper & Bros., 1957), pp. 154-156.
21. Cf. Nishitani Keiji, "On Modernization and Tradition in Japan," in Modernization and Tradition in Japan, ed. Kuyama Yasushi and Kobayashi Nobuo (Osaka: International Institute for Japan Studies, 1969), pp. 72-96:
In the East, the meaning of the word "nature" (jinen, shizen) is said to be onozukura shikari -- being so of itself. Nature (jinen), being so of itself, being what it is of itself -- these mean that something like water, for instance realizes itself in a given place as water the being of which is of itself. This water is of-itself as water. Thus, first of all, this means that no power from outside forced it to be what it is. Or we can say that it is what it is of its own accord. This "of its own accord" (hitorideni) corresponds to the meaning of the Chinese character ji of jiko ("self"), or the shi of shizen ("nature"). This character has both the meaning of "of itself" (onozukara) and "for itself" (mizukara). Water presents itself as water "of itself." Water presents itself not forced by any power or will, but presents itself "spontaneously," but not spontaneously in the sense that it presents itself of its own "will." It is "of itself" and does not bear the character of "will." Neither does it bear the character of "subject of work" which I mentioned above. (P. 89)
22. In Sources of Japanese Tradition, p. 869, where Nishida is quoted as using the phrase jinen hooni, it has been translated as "effortless acceptance of the grace of Amida," which is a paraphrase from the point of view of Pure Land Buddhism.
23. Nishida died two months after concluding this essay.
orating in the essay, and how is it integral and essential to his religious world view? I think that the answer to these questions is that it was Nishida's way of attempting to articulate a synthesis of Zen and Pure Land religious values, and these with Christian and existentialist values too, to some extent at least.
Nishida first uses jinen hooni in the fourth section of the essay, where he tells us it refers to "creativity, to act creatively as creative elements of the creative world as the self-determinations of the absolute present." For, in this perspective, "we are truly historically world-creative as the self-determinations of the absolute present."  He then tells us that Indian Buddhism, although very profound as religious truth, did not avoid being otherworldly. "Even Mahaayaana Buddhism," he continues, "did not truly attain to the real. I think that in Japanese Buddhism there was realized an absolute negation-qua-affirmation in the sense of real-qua-absolute as something peculiar to the Japanese spirit in the sense in which Saint Shinran ... spoke of jinen hooni. However, in the past, it was not positively grasped." 
Here Nishida seems to be taking to task the Mahaayaana tradition for having interpreted jinen hooni in the sense of what he calls "absolute passivity." He wants to penetrate to a deeper level of what he calls "true absolute dynamism" within "true absolute passivity." He wants to see even such an intuition as this in the background of empirical science, which is also a structure of "seeing and hearing by becoming things." For jinen hooni involves "achieving enlightenment of the self by letting all dharmas advance,"  a phrase he takes from Doogen. He then tells us that jinen hooni involves the concept of "nonego." Hence it means breaking through the Kantian, ethical Sollen to a true religion of Other-power.
We can again note that Nishida's ostensible Zen interpretation turns unexpectedly back to the language of the Pure Land. The religious values of Doogen and Shinran, as least as they are traditionally understood, seem to be the two sides of Nishida's own polar logic of basho as it is being applied to the religious consciousness and evolved into his religious world view.
The next two times Nishida uses the phrase jinen hooni are from the point of view of Shinran. He tells us that jinen hooni involves the insight of Shinran when he said, in the following text from the Tannishoo which Nishida quotes, "my pronouncing the name of Amida was also the design of Amida":
By the inconceivability of Amida's vow, thinking of the Name of Amida which can easily be accepted and called upon, since Amida promises that "I will come to welcome those who pronounce this name," if believing "that one will be able to transcend life and death by the help of the mysterious power of the great compassion and vow of Amida," one thinks that "my pronouncing
24. NKZ, XI, 437.
25. NKZ, XI, 438.
26. NKZ, XI, 438.
the name of Buddha was also the design of Amida," then there is no selfish scheme at all. Therefore one can be born in the true Pure Land corresponding to the original vow. If one believes this inconceivability of the vow to be the very truth, then the vow's inconceivability and the inconceivability of the name of Buddha, are one and the same. 
This insight that "my pronouncing the name of Buddha was also the design of Amida" is now equated by Nishida with Shinran's notion of oochoo, [aw] the "shortcut to salvation" or transcendence by Other-power, in contrast with juchoo [ax] or transcendence through self-power.
Jinen hooni is thus equated with this insight into absolute Compassion at the ground of the self. For we are existential selves who exist in the mode of bashoteki u, [ay] literally "beings as basho." This existential structure is one that is neither subject nor predicate, but both subject and predicate. Hence the aprioris both of scientific, empirical cognition and of the universal laws of morality are grounded on the deeper apriority of the dialectical, ego-less source of the true self. Nishida does not say this directly, but it would seem that the dimension of jinen hooni is to be grasped as the very dimension of basho, which is the "ego-less" ground of absolute immediacy of the self discovered in the religious consciousness. Therefore Nishida concludes here that the Zen idea of kenshoo [az] ("seeing one's original nature") means to penetrate to the ground of the self-identity of the contradictory structure of the self, and accordingly to the ground of basho, in which "the ordinary and the everyday is the True Way." And he repeats his contention that his philosophy is the opposite of mystical philosophy.
To end this presentation of Nishida's synthetic use of jinen hooni, and perhaps further to illustrate the distinctly Japanese quality of this Japanese philosopher, let me simply cite Nishida's own final reference to the phrase. In this reference he says that the two seemingly contradictory moments of (1) the Japanese Spirit as it appeared in the Manyooshuu and (2) the religion of Other-power of Saint Shinran, are conceivable as one in terms of jinen hooni (i.e., jinen hooni teki ni). Throughout the essay Nishida has warned that his ideas cannot be understood in terms of the categories and logic of the philosophies of the West. Jinen hooni too must be pondered by us through the medium of some other logic. Nishida is inviting us to ponder it in terms of his logic of basho.
27. NKZ XI, 442.