Kanji for Muryoko

'Infinite Light'

Journal of Shin Buddhism


Tariki, Embracing Despair; Discovering Peace
Hiroyuki Itsuki

Tariki is a beautifully crafted introduction to Shin Buddhism and its underlying premise - Trust in 'Other Power'. The book achieves this lucid, yet insightful introduction through personal accounts of Itsuki's past, while drawing on powerful analogies from our everyday lives. Furthermore, the book provides a historical overview, focusing on the main exponents, namely Shinran, Honen and Rennyo. In describing their efforts to promulgate and develop this spiritual practice, Itsuki comments on the inner thoughts and encounters of these three men during Shin Buddhism's inception.

Itsuki's poignant past is one of ineffable hardship and formidable struggle to survive and make sense of the inexorable suffering that permeated much of his earlier life and those close to him. These profound and intimate reflections subtly create the environment for introducing the reader to the concept of 'Other Power' - Tariki. The reflections of Itsuki's past accentuate the futility behind our personal efforts in making sense of a life that is clouded with disappointment and uncertainty. Working alone, and in braving the vicissitudes of life, he stresses we are impotent in the face of this ineluctable and harsh truth. However, from this seemingly inextricable position, Itsuki demonstrates how the concept of trusting in 'Other Power' ensures the burden of one's salvation is placed in the control and guidance of a beautiful, un-compromised and ubiquitous force, namely Amida Buddha. Itsuki goes on to explain that the calling of Amida's name channels Amida's saving power within you, and it is this realization that ensures one's salvation by entering Amida's Pure Land.

In conclusion, Tariki is the consummate book for those searching for a starting point. It is written in such a way as not exclude the complete novice, removing any esoteric or academic feel often associated with Eastern philosophy texts. On a more personal level, I found this book to be confronting, insightful and profound reading. In many ways, this book has left an indelible mark on my life. In the words of Itsuki - 'Tariki is a philosophy that transcends time; it leaps over all boundaries, and in chanting the Buddha's name past and future are one, practice and attainment are one, suffering and enlightenment are one.'

George Paras

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