Introduction: Tannisho – Intro and Sections 1&2 by Rev. Kaitlyn Mascher-Mace

“Learn the reasons behind why the Tannisho may have been written, who was asking the questions and why it is so popular even today. ” A video by Rev. Kaitlyn Mascher-Mace of the Tri-State Denver Buddhist Temple.

Quoted Scripture:

I have heard that you likened the Eighteenth Primal Vow to a withered flower, so that all the people have abandoned it. This is truly the offense of slandering the dharma. Further, to favor the five grave offenses and to harm people by misleading them is lamentable.

The offense here of disrupting the sangha is one of the five grave offenses. To make groundless accusations about me is to murder your father; it is among the five grave offenses. I cannot fully express my grief at hearing these things. Hence, from now on there shall no longer exist parental relations with you; I cease to consider you my son. I declare this resolutely to the three treasures and the gods. It is a sorrowful thing. It rends my heart to hear that you have devoted yourself to misleading all the people of the nembutsu in Hitachi, saying that [what they have been taught] is not my true teaching. Rumors have reached as far as Kamakura that I have instructed you to denounce the people in Hitachi who say the nembutsu. It is deeply deplorable.

CWS p. 583 – Uncollected Letters (6)

Each of you has come to see me, crossing the borders of more than ten provinces at the risk of your life, solely with the intent of asking about the path to birth in the land of bliss. But if you imagine in me some special knowledge of a path to birth other than the nembutsu or of scriptural writings that teach it, you are greatly mistaken. If that is the case, since there are many eminent scholars in the southern capital of Nara or on Mount Hiei to the north, you would do better to meet with them and inquire fully about the essentials for birth.

As for me, I simply accept and entrust myself to what my revered teacher told me, “just say the nembutsu and be saved by Amida”; nothing else is involved.

I have no idea whether the nembutsu is truly the seed for my being born in the Pure Land or whether it is the karmic act for which I must fall into hell. Should I have been deceived by Master Hōnen and, saying the nembutsu, were to fall into hell, even then I would have no regrets

The reason is, if I could attain Buddhahood by endeavoring in other practices, but said the nembutsu and so fell into hell, then I would feel regret at having been deceived. But I am incapable of any other practice, so hell is decidedly my abode whatever I do.

 If Amida’s Primal Vow is true, Śākyamuni’s teaching cannot be false. If the Buddha’s teaching is true, Shan-tao’s commentaries cannot be false. If Shan-tao’s commentaries are true, can Hōnen’s words be lies? If Hōnen’s words are true, then surely what I say cannot be empty.

Such, in the end, is how this foolish person entrusts himself [to the Vow]. Beyond this, whether you take up and accept the nembutsu or whether you abandon it is for each of you to determine.

Tannisho – A Record in Lament of Divergences – (CWS p. 662) –


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