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Tannishō

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The Tannishō (歎異抄?), also known as the Lamentations of Divergences, is a late 13th century short Buddhist text generally thought to have been written by Yuien, a disciple of Shinran. In the Tannishō, Yuien is concerned about the rising doctrinal divergences that emerged in Jōdo Shinshū Buddhism after the death of their founder, so he wrote down dialogues between himself and Shinran that he could recall when his master was alive.

According to Yuien's own writing in the preface:

While the master was still living, those who journeyed together with great difficulty to the distant capital with the same aspiration and who, unified in true entrusting, set their hearts on the coming land of Fulfillment, all listened at the same time to his real thoughts. But now I hear that among the countless young and old people who live the nembutsu, following after them, there are some who frequently express erroneous views never taught by our master. Such groundless views call for careful discussion which follows.

Many of the conversations found in the Tannishō are very candid when compared to more formal religious texts, and this may explain some of the popularity of the Tannishō among Shin Buddhists. The Tannishō allows Jōdo Shinshū Buddhists to peer into the mind of Shinran and see how he felt about practicing Jōdo Shinshū. The Tannishō was also a major impetus for the start of The Dobokai Movement[1] among the Higashi Hongwanji branch of Jōdo Shinshū.

Format

The Tannishō is divided into 18 sections (sometimes called chapters), though many of these sections are very short. Some are no longer than a couple sentences. However, each section deals with a separate doctrinal issue.

Sections 1 through 10 focus on Shinran's thoughts with regard to Jōdo Shinshū, the nembutsu and Amida Buddha, while sections 11 through 18 deal with heretical ideas that Yuien wanted to dispel or correct on the basis of what Shinran had taught him.

References

  1. Popular Buddhism In Japan: Shin Buddhist Religion & Culture by Esben Andreasen, pp. 72/ University of Hawaii Press 1998, ISBN 0-8248-2028-2

Additional Links

The Tannisho - translated by Dr. Taitetsu Unnoja:歎異抄

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