“Tannisho” is said to be the Buddhist book that most people in Japan are reading.
And Shinran has been fascinating many people from intellectuals to ordinary ones.
Why? ――more to come both in English and in Japanese.
By “honesty,” I mean that he saw himself as he was and told the truth as he saw it.
Despite 20 years of training as a monk, he was honest enough to tell the world that
he was unfulfilled as a monk. He admitted that he was filled with ordinary selfish feelings:
したにもかかわらず、満たされなかった自分を正直に曝 (さら) け出しているのです。
I know truly how grievous it is that I, Gutoku (the stubbled-haired ignorant) Shinran,
am sinking in an immense ocean of desires and attachments and am lost in vast
mountains of fame and advantage. (Teachings Ⅱ, 279)
By “householder,” I mean that Shinran Shonin’s honesty about himself led him
to marry and to have children, and yet pursue the Dharma as a householder.
There were several founders of Buddhist schools who lived in Japan about the same time
Shinran did, but Shinran is the only one who had a family. He is easy for me to relate to
because he was a householder.
Shinran Shonin’s “humility” comes across clearly when he says, “I do not have
a single disciple,” (Tannisho, p.11) even though there were many followers
who looked up to him as their teacher. He felt he could not take credit
because their reason for seeking his guidance was not his own doing,
but the workings of Amida Buddha. How refreshing he is compared
to many self-serving religious teachers, both past and present!
By “here-and-now,” I am referring to his focus on this life. The teachers before him
emphasized the future life in the Pure Land. They neglected the spiritual change
that is possible in the present life. They gave all their attention to death-bed rituals
and visualizations, hoping to ensure birth in the Pure Land. For them,
the Pure Land was a realm located billions of Buddha realms to the west.
Those who were born in the Pure Land after death would find a place
where it would be easy to do the practice needed to become a Buddha.
Shinran Shonin took a radically different approach. He focused on the here-and-now
and rejected the importance of the death-bed rituals. Life would be nerve-wracking
if the seekers had to wait to the end of their lives to know for sure about their spiritual
fate. Instead, the assurance of complete enlightenment occurs with the spiritual
transformation called Shinjin awareness.
This awareness can come anytime in the life of the seeker. So, the seeker
no longer worries about her spiritual destiny and is able to engage her daily life
with greater confidence and optimism.
もはや悟りに関して煩 (わずら) うことなく、大いなる安心と希望の日々を送ることが
My second anthology is published now.
Please order it from Amazon if you are interested in.