- “Tannisho (Lamenting the Deviations) is a major Pure Land Buddhist classic. Although it is little known in the West, it is one of the most important texts to appear in the history of religion.
In Unlocking Tannisho, Juliet Winters Carpenter’s skillful translation and Kentetsu Takamori’s unambiguous commentary clarify the essential meaning of this text that offers a universal spiritual challenge for modern people.”
- Dr. Alfred Bloom- professor emeritus of religion at the University of Hawaii
- “Unlocking Tannisho: Shinran’s Words on the Pure Land Path” is an English translation of the famous Shin Buddhist text “Tannisho” by Ms. Juliet Winters Carpenter. Her lively rendition of the text gives new life to this religious classic, enabling western students to appreciate Shinran’s inspiring and challenging, universal religious insights. This .pdf document comprises the more famous first 10 sections of the “Tannisho,” which are brief quotations of Shinran expressing the essence of his Pure Land Buddhist teaching. The complete translation of “Unlocking Tannisho” also contains the 10 sections, as well as commentary by Takamori Sensei illuminating the spiritual issues that Shinran sets forth in his incisive statements. The larger, complete text can be secured from the Ichimanendo Publishing Company.
- Shinran, a 13th-century Japanese Buddhist monk, is acknowledged as the founder of the Jodo Shinsu sect of Pure Land Buddhism; the Tannisho, also known as the Lamentations of Divergences, is a record of his thought. This new version was prepared for Japanese readers by Takamori, the chair of the Jodo Shinsu organization, in 2008. A hit in Japan, it abbreviates some portions of the Tannisho while expanding upon and explaining others. Both Takamori and translator Carpenter emphasize the misinterpretations to which Shinran’s ideas are prone, and, for the Buddhist reader, this lavishly illustrated book should go a long way toward expounding a direct and truly Japanese understanding of Shinran’s teaching. VERDICT Takamori’s version of the Tannisho should make an important addition to any library on Japanese Buddhism, academic or personal.
- We are all on a journey. Where is it going? What is the purpose of life’s voyage?
A few sages have tried to give us an answer. Sakyamuni was one. Born the son of a king he gave up the easy life to search for real happiness. He would achieve enlightenment at the age of thirty-five and become a Buddha. This was five hundred years before the life of Jesus Christ.
The teaching of Buddha was passed on to Japanese Buddhist master Shinran through China and the Korean peninsula. He taught a form of Buddhism for all peoples, high and low, a faith through which all peoples could be saved. He rejected that salvation was principally for the privileged: the elite and the monks. He taught the absolute equality of all people emphasizing the infinite preciousness of every human life.
His words were recorded in Tannisho by his disciple Yuien. This is regarded as a literary classic, a stunning interpretation of the Pure Land path. However, over the centuries the Tannisho has been subject to numerous misinterpretations. Now the Japanese Buddhist scholar, Kentetsu Takamori, has given us a new insightful translation of this work in English accompanied by amplification. It aims to help the reader “unlock” the true meaning of the original texts. The book, thus called, “Unlocking Tannisho,” is a contemporary key to the past. It is produced by Ichimannendo Publishing Inc. of Los Angeles and Tokyo.
Shinran’s legacy has endured to become a leading school of Buddhism in Japan today. This book will help it to spread overseas. At its core is the objective for each of us to discover a universal purpose of life; to rejoice that we were each born a human; and to reach bliss in this life through the teachings and wisdom of the Amida Buddha.
It is now over sixty-five years since the terrible destruction Japan suffered in World War II. However, Japan rose from the rubble. The people rejected the notion that the emperor was a god and that the Japanese people themselves were divine or special.
The ideas of Shinran have been truly liberating as hinted by the author, Takamori, in his introduction. A new found regard for the infinite preciousness of each human life has been an underpinning of the Japanese spirit in the postwar era. This same spirit will undoubtedly help Japan through the latest crisis, the 2011 tsunami and its aftermath.
In Shinran’s teachings, so clearly enunciated in this translation, perhaps we can find the strength to help us on our journey through the uncertainty and apparent chaos of today’s world. As Shinran wrote, echoing the Amida Buddha, “Once life’s true purpose is known, all suffering acquires meaning.”
– Keith Lorenz (Former news correspondent for NBC and other media)
Hawaii Pacific Press (July 1, 2011)
about the book | about the author | content | flyer