SHIN BUDDHIST SPIRITUALITY

TANNISHO COMMENTARIES

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Tannisho I

 

After having read books that explain general Buddhist philosophy and practice…the words of Shinran himself truly drive home to me how revolutionary his thinking is.  [Tannisho Chapter I is] revolutionary, profound, inspiring and liberating.

 

In this simple and short chapter, the essence of all that is Shin Buddhism is contained using simple and direct prose. I can see and understand the egalitarian nature of Shinran’s thought – this is for all people, no matter who they are or what circumstances they may find themselves. I can understand that my enlightenment is assured, along with the realization of my limitations, that I am embraced by the infinite compassion. By simply entrusting in the Primal Vow, I need not fear evil or death or even struggle with trying to attain merit through some practice because my right behavior will arise spontaneously from the gratitude I experience from knowing that I am grasped, never to be abandoned.

 

I can say that while this practice is for all, it is also meant specifically for me. There is no other practice necessary. I can perceive life as it truly is, observe myself as a limited karmic being filled with blind passion and yet rejoice in the knowledge that I am embraced by infinite compassion just as I am. Then, of its own accord, the nembutsu arises and I am liberated.

 

--Bob Orsi

 

Tannisho I

 

 

I am always a battle with myself. Whenever something happens that puts me back in a painful time, I react with anger, sadness, despair and pain. It would seem that I am overreacting to what ever it is that brought out those feelings. Recently, I realized that my over reaction was based on years of repressed feelings. Anything that caused me to relive those feelings was to be lashed out at.

 

It is because of my practice, I think that I have been wondering about all this pain? Can I make friends with this dark side? Yes, I can accept it as a part of me, just as I am – Namu Amida Butsu. I’ll still have my struggles but that is o.k. The grasp of those painful times is loosening and bits of rubble are turning into gold.

 

There is unlimited Compassion and Light for me, no matter what. With practice, when something triggers a strong reaction, I will remember Namu Amida Butsu.

 

--Linda Clark

 

 

Tannisho IX

 

Sometimes – often – I experience doubt. Is this a valid practice? Does it really make a difference? Why don’t I experience the joy described in the poetry of the myokonin? Do I truly understand this? Shinran’s simple confession of his own doubt and frequent lack of joy is comforting. Further, his explanation of the part played by our blind passions make sense and puts my doubt and ambivalence into perspective. I can have all of the negative experience and still be able to see it as the working of infinite compassion illuminating my limited nature.

 

--Bob Orsi

 

Tannisho XI

 

Here is a profound expression of reassurance and certainty. Shinran goes to great length to illustrate how the Primal Vow is the spontaneous assuring of the Name are actually the same entity and that one need not fret over which practice is more correct. Furthermore, we are reassured that there is no need to strive or to calculate around one’s practice, that entrusting one self to the Vow and the Name is all that is necessary to realize birth. And then, Shinran goes even further by assuring those who do exert effort and calculation in their practice that even though it may look like a failure, their [spiritual] birth is nevertheless assured as well. Shinran is saying – here is our end to confession and anxiety, entrusting is all that you need.

 

--Bob Orsi

 

Tannisho XIII

 

 

“…when we think good thoughts, we think we are good….”

 

Shinran drives home that we are not our thoughts, we are not our accomplishments and  we are not even our actions. All that we are and what we do is the result of our karmic burden. The sage and the fisherman are on even ground. The assurance of [spiritual] birth of either is not determined by their practice or by their accumulation of merit or anything else attained through their own striving. All that is required is the true entrusting (shinjin). All else does not matter.

 

--Bob Orsi

Namu Amida Butsu!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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