Let us tell you about Nguyen Thao, who paid a visit to the 2,000 Tatami Mat Hall last year for the Congregation to Commemorate Master Shinran.
(An on-site report)
Thao lent Unlocking Tannisho to her aunt one day, but she couldn't get it back from her for some time. It seems that her aunt had become incredibly fond of the book.
Gravitating towards Master Honen
Thao's aunt, who is in her seventies, has had a keen interest in Buddhism since her twenties.
She read all sorts of books on the topic and at one time, she immersed herself in Zen Buddhism.
However, she discovered that attaining buddhahood through zazen practice (seated meditation) is far too difficult. A few years ago, she did some research on Pure Land Buddhism and finally encountered the teachings of Master Honen, which convey that we can be saved through the nembutsu alone.
Initially, she said to Thao, “I think it's wonderful that you are pursuing Master Shinran’s teachings, but I already have my own path. I will keep following the teaching of the nembutsu by Master Honen.”
A turning point through the animated movies of Master Shinran
Thao, who visited the 2000 Tatami Mat Hall for the Congregation to Commemorate Master Shinran, asked her aunt to watch the animated movies of Master Shinran with her in the hope that she would understand the true intent of Amida Buddha's Vow: salvation through faith alone.
At first, her aunt had said that she would only watch the scenes related to Master Honen. But her facial expression gradually changed as she watched volumes 1 and 2 of the animated movies.
“Master Shinran is so honest, brave and determined! I definitely want to watch more.”
She ended up watching all 6 volumes of the animation.
Just as a puzzle gets solved
She then read Unlocking Tannisho and declared, “This book is amazing. All the questions I have had are explained clearly and thoroughly. This book is definitely a must-read for everybody. I even feel that now that this book exists, all other books released so far are unnecessary.”
“In the teachings of Master Honen, there are parts that are very difficult to understand—very difficult. I really wanted to know the teachings of Pure Land Buddhism, so I read those parts with utmost care. However, I still did not understand. After encountering Takamori-sensei’s books, the questions I have had for so many years are all answered. The reason is that Master Shinran’s teaching only focuses on the essence of Pure Land Buddhism.”
She usually writes many notes in her books, but this time, she has avoided doing so.
“I do not want to write anything in this book because it is very important,” she says. She is reading Unlocking Tannisho over and over.
Go to Japan as soon as possible
Thao's aunt is usually a very mild person. But once she talks about Buddhism, she changes in her emotional tone. Recently she said to Thao, “You should go get a job in Japan and learn Japanese solely to understand the teachings of Master Shinran correctly. Keeping your current job and wasting your time is no good. Learn Japanese for 3 months in Vietnam and then go to Japan.”
Astonished at how much her aunt had changed, Thao said, “I would like to visit the 2,000 Tatami Mat Hall with my aunt next time.”