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Selection - The Story of Anan

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It was immediately after the end of World War II that the idea came to me to write about Anan, one of the ten great disciples of Sakyamuni. However, no sooner had I written the first few pages than I suddenly found myself plunged into a period of rigorous spiritual training1 which obliged me to put the project on hold. Following that, I turned my attention to the serialized publication of my autobiography, One Who Unites Heaven and Earth, for the Japanese magazine Byakko.2 Once this was completed, I soon resumed work on the novel Anan.3
Like One Who Unites Heaven and Earth, Anan was published in regular installments for Byakko magazine. Normally, to write the 40-page manuscript needed for each of these issues, a substantial amount of historical data would be an absolute must. In my case, however, I began writing each chapter with scarcely any reference material at all. Hideo Takahashi of our publications department did visit a number of libraries to gather relevant data for me, but this was a far cry from what would be considered adequate reference material for an historical novel.
Despite these circumstances I continued to write, relying mainly on my spiritual intuition. I can well imagine that, in reading this work, experts in the field might find numerous points which diverge from the established facts of history. However, since I feel that such discrepancies have little bearing on the essential message of the work, I humbly ask my readers for their indulgence, and urge them to bear in mind that the work was created as a novel.
For example, some readers may note that the characters Princess Sondari and King Aiku are not the same as the two famous historical figures with similar names who appear in the Buddhist scriptures. I was well aware that using those names might evoke criticism, but I went ahead and used them regardless of this, because my spiritual intuition strongly urged me to do so.
What matter most, I feel, are not historical details but the ideas conveyed through the story. In the original, full-length version, I emphasized that Anan was the first person to advocate the tariki4 approach to spiritual faith. I see enormous points of similarity between Anan and Shinran.5 Through my spiritual perception, I understood the reason for these remarkable similarities, which were destined to occur as a matter of course.
At any rate, one important motivation for me in writing Anan was to urge people to be careful not to separate their faith from their actions—a mistake commonly made by people who take a tariki approach. Another purpose was to drive home the point that, from its origin, Buddhism offered people an ‘easy path,’ which contrasted with the ‘difficult path’ of Brahmanism. These points were illustrated through the simple and pure-minded behavior of Anan, who wholeheartedly revered and tried to emulate his teacher. It will be a great joy for me if this book helps my readers to break through the mistaken view of Buddhism as being merely theoretical, and to begin recognize the countless ways in which it can be applied in one’s daily life.

by Masahisa Goi, adapted from the Postscript to the novel Anan

1. For a description of this spiritual training, see Masahisa Goi’s autobiography, One Who Unites Heaven and Earth (Byakko Press, 2005).
2. Byakko is the monthly publication of Byakko Shinko Kai, an organization founded to convey the teachings of Masahisa Goi to interested people. Since 1993, an English magazine is also regularly published.
3. The Japanese title is Shôsetsu: Anan (Byakko Press, 1958). This 726-page novel tells the story of Anan in three parts. The two comic books that make up The Story of Anan are based on the story told in Part I of the novel.
4. Tariki, which literally means ‘other power,’ is a method of complete entrustment to the great divine. It differs from the more difficult method of jiriki ('self power’), which recognizes and relies on the power of the individual self.
5. Shinran (1173-1262) was the founder of the Buddhist True Pure Land sect, which also espouses a tariki approach.

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