Excerpt from Chapter 9 – “Good and Bad”

Published June 17, 2017

One of the best-known passages in Tannisho is in chapter 3: “Even those who claim to be virtuous are subject to salvation; how much more so those who realize they are wicked! However, people usually say, ‘Even the wicked are subject to salvation, how much more so the virtuous!’ ”

At a glance, this passage seems to imply that bad people have a better chance at salvation than do good people. Before we reach such a simplistic conclusion, however, we have to pay attention to what kind of people are “good” and what kind of people are “bad.” Here is the subsequent passage in Tannisho: “Those people who try to accumulate merit through their own will and doing simply lack the humbleness to recognize that the Greater Life of the universe is constantly working upon them and they are not true to the human nature designed in them.” Here, in question are not the acts considered good but the state of mind or the presumption that one has done good things to be considered a good human being. In question is the attitude of a person who tries to appear to be a good person and hopes to be praised. This is the kind of person called “good” here. Religion does not prohibit acts that are considered morally or socially good, such as giving, helping, and laboring, but in performing these acts, if we have even a small ulterior motive of wanting to be recognized and praised, the good in us caused by the deed is nullified.