A Record in Lament of Divergences (3)
Every one of the assertions discussed above appears to arise out
of divergences from shinjin. As the late Master once related, in
Master Honen's day, among his many disciples there were few who
were of the same shinjin as Honen, and because of this, Shinran
became involved in a debate with some fellow practicers. It happened
in this way.
Shinran remarked, "My shinjin and the Master's are one."
Seikan-bo, Nembutsu-bo, and others among his fellow practicers strongly
argued, "How can your shinjin and be the same as the Master's?"
Shinran responded, "The Master possesses vast wisdom and learning,
so I would be mistaken if I claimed to be the same in those respects,
but in shinjin that is the cause of birth, there is no difference
whatever. The Master's shinjin and mine are one and the same."
The others remained skeptical, however, asking how that could be.
So finally they all decided that the argument should be brought
before Honen to determine which side was right.
When they presented the details of the matter, Master Honen said,
"My shinjin has been given by Amida; so has that of Zenshin-bo
[Shinran]. Therefore they are one and the same. A person with a
different shinjin will surely not go to the Pure Land to which I
Thus, it seems likely that among people of the wholehearted, single
practice now also, there are those not one in shinjin with Shinran.
Although all of the above are repetitions of the same words, I record
them here. While the dew of life life barely clings to this withered
leaf of grass that I am, I can lend an ear to the uncertainties
of the people who accompany me along the way and relate to them
what Master Shinran said. But I lament that after my eyes close,
there will almost certainly be confusion concerning the teaching.
When you are confused by people who discuss such views as those
noted above, carefully read the sacred writings that accord with
the late Master's thought and that he himself used to read. In the
scriptures in general, the true and real and the accommodated and
provisional are mixed. That we abandon the accommodated and take
up the real, set aside the provisional and adopt the true is the
Master's fundamental intent. You must under no circumstances misread
the sacred writings. I have selected several important authoritative
passages and appended them to this volume as a standard.
The Master would often say,
When I consider deeply the Vow of Amida, which arose from five
kalpas of profound thought, I realize that it was entirely for
the sake of myself alone! Then how I am filled with gratitude
for the Primal Vow, in which Amida resolved to save me, though
I am burdened with such heavy karma.
Reflecting once more on this expression of Shinran's inmost thoughts,
I find that is does not differ in the least from those precious
words of Shan-tao:
Know yourself to be a foolish being of karmic evil caught in
birth-and-death, ever sinking and ever wandering in transmigration
from innumerable kalpas in the past, with never a condition that
would lead to emancipation.
Thus how grateful I feel for Shinran's words, in which he gives
himself as an example in order to make us realize we are in delusion,
knowing nothing at all of the depths of our karmic evil or the vastness
of Amida's benevolence.
In truth, myself and others discuss only good and evil, leaving
Amida's benevolence out of consideration. Among Master Shinran's
I know nothing at all of good or evil. For if I could know thoroughly,
as Amida Tathagata knows, that an act was good, then I would know
good. If I could know thoroughly, as the Tathagata knows, that
an act was evil, then I would know evil. But with a foolish being
full of blind passions, in this fleeting world- this burning house-
all matters without exception are empty and false, totally without
truth and sincerity. The nembutsu alone is true and real.
Indeed, I myself and others speak only falsehoods to each other.
In this, there is a truly regrettable thing. When, regarding our
saying of the nembutsu, we discuss the nature of shinjin or explain
it to people, we ascribe to Shinran even words he never spoke in
order to silence others and to settle controversies with our own
opinions. This is indeed saddening and deplorable. This matter should
be carefully pondered and understood.
These are by no means my own words, but since I do not know the
lines of discourse in the sutras and commentaries and cannot understand
or discern the profundity of the scriptural writings, undoubtedly
they seem foolish. Nevertheless, recalling a hundredth part- only
a fragment- of what the late Shinran said, I write it down. How
sad it would be to abide in the borderland instead of being born
directly into the fulfilled land, even though one has the fortune
of saying the nembutsu. That there be no differing of shinjin among
the fellow practicers, I take my brush with tear in my eyes and
record this. Let the title be Tannisho- A Record in Lament of divergences
[from True Shinjin].
It should not be shown about indiscriminately.
[A Note on the persecution
of the Nembutsu
Appended to Manuscript Copies of Tannisho]
It was while the former emperor Gotoba was in power that Master
Honen established and spread the nembutsu school based on the Primal
Vow of Other Power. Then monks of Kofuku-ji, accusing Honen of being
an enemy of the dharma, presented a petition to the court to the
effect that there was lawless conduct among his disciples. Because
of these groundless rumors, the following persons were found guilty
Master Honen and seven of his disciples were exiled, and four other
disciples were executed.
The Master was banished to a place called Hata in Tosa province
and, stripped of ordination, given a secular name: the male Fujii
no Motohiko; he was seventy-six years old.
Shinran was exiled to Echigo province. His secular name was Fujii
no Yoshizane, he was thirty-five.
[Among the others exiled:] Jomon-bo, to Bingo province; Chosai
Zenko-bo, to Hoki province; Kokaku-bo, to Izu province; Gyoku Hohon-bo,
to Sado province.
It was also determined that Kosai Jokaku-bo and Zenne-bo both receive
banishment, but the former abbot of Mudo-ji temple took them under
The persons sentenced to banishment were the eight listed above.
Those sentenced to death:
|1. Saii Zenshaku-bo;
Those were sentences passed down by Dharma-seal Soncho of the second
Shinran was deprived of his status as a priest and given a secular
name. Hence he was neither monk nor layman. Because of this, he
took as his own surname the work Toku (stubble-haired). For this,
he applied to the court and obtained permission. This petition is
still preserved in the Office of Records.
After his exile, he signed his name Gutoku Shinran.
This sacred writing is an important scripture
in our tradition.
It should not be indiscriminately shown
to any who lack past karmic good.