The Creed of Half Japan, by Arthur Lloyd, , at sacred-texts.com
Heian Buddhism 1
It was in the year A.D. 767, in the first year of the period known to the Japanese as Jingo Keiun, that a child was born in a village in Ōmi, not far from the shores of Lake Biwa, who was destined to exercise a great influence on the Buddhism of his country. The father, a Confucianist scholar, and yet withal a man of religion and piety, had often prayed for a son, and, having obtained his desire, showed his gratitude to Heaven by the care which he bestowed upon his son's education. Saichō (that was the name by which the son was later known) grew up a well-trained lad, with a liking for books and a wisdom a little (possibly) beyond his years.
His father was a man of religion and piety; it was small wonder that the son should follow so near an example. Buddhism was at its flood-tide of popularity during the eighth century, and the Court, dissolute and luxurious, and yet, like the Athenians, given to superstition, encouraged a very magnificent system of ritualism as a make-weight for its moral and ethical deficiencies. It was very natural that the boy's imagination should be caught by the outward splendour of the worship he saw around him, and that his favourite pastime should be
playing at church. His companions nicknamed him the "Little Abbot."
As he grew older his religious sense deepened, and he saw that splendour of ritual was only one side of religion, and by no means ṭhe most important. He understood that the outward magnificence of devotion might co-exist with a worldly and unregenerate heart, and the age in which he lived gave him many warning examples. When he was born Japan was ruled over by a woman, the Empress Shōtoku. Shōtoku first came to the throne in the year 749. She was then styled Kōken, and succeeded her father, Shōmu (823–840), who, after a reign of twenty-five years, had abdicated and retired to a monastery. Shōmu, like his aunt Gensho (715–823) who preceded him, had been a liberal patron of agriculture, arts, letters, and religion. The "Nihongi" was published in the reign of Gensho; under Shōmu were commenced the great temples of Hase-dera and Todaiji, and the celebrated Daibutsu of Nara. Dispensaries and hospitals were opened, bridges built, tiles used for the roofing of houses, and examinations instituted for the selection of candidates for Orders and the public service. Shōmu was the first Emperor of Japan to receive Baptism; 1 his whole life
was devoted to the furtherance of Buddhism and the exaltation of the monks, and in the end he joined the Order, and with his mother, the Empress Dowager, took the vows of the Bosatsu Kai.
Kōken, who followed him on the throne, carried her devotion still further. In the great temple of Todaiji 5000 monks recited the daily offices, and an Imperial decree forbade the taking of all life. After a reign of ten years, her minister, Fujiwara Nakamaro, advised her to abdicate in favour of a distant cousin, Junnin (759–764), and an unlawful affection which she had conceived for an ambitious and worldly priest, Dōkyō, 1 led her to acquiesce. But the, retirement of the Empress was not what Dōkyō desired, and Dōkyō had great influence with the clergy. A civil war ensued. Dōkyō and his followers defeated Fujiwara in a battle fought in the province of Ōmi, after which the victorious monk dethroned Junnin and restored Kōken to power. Junnin was banished to Awaji, where he died the following year. For centuries he was known in history as Awaji no haitei (the Imperial Exile of Awaji), and it was not till 1871 that tardy justice was done to his memory by his restoration, under the name of Junnin, to the official list of emperors.
Kōken then reascended the throne as Shōtoku. She had owed her restoration to the fidelity of her paramour,
and he claimed his reward. Dōkyō took the title of Hō-ō (the word which the Japanese always use for the Pope), and he claimed a temporal throne as well. But here public opinion stepped in, and the god of the temple of Hachiman 1 at Usa, a god then reverenced by Buddhist and Shintoist alike, pronounced his verdict. Never yet, he said, had a subject dared to raise himself to the Imperial throne. Shōtoku was reluctantly compelled to banish her lover. A very short time after, she died (769).
It was in the midst of these events that Saichō was born. And things did not go much better as time went on. Shōtoku was succeeded by Konin (770–781), but the change of sovereign brought no relief to the country. The Fujiwaras were reinstalled in office, it is true, and the meddling Pope Dōkyō banished to a safe distance, in what was then the remote province of Shimotsuke. But the Nara monks were not pleased to see an end put to their temporal power, and in the next reign, that of Kwammu (782–805), an insurrection of the Ebisu in the north—one of a series of similar outbreaks, and therefore possibly traceable to Dōkyō's sinister influence—gave the authorities a vast amount of trouble. Kwammu resolved that, at whatever cost, the interference of the Buddhist clergy in matters of state must come to an end, and accordingly removed his capital, first to Uda, and eventually to his new city of Kyoto, or Heian.
Now, is it to be wondered at that the lad Saichō, brought up amidst such surroundings, should speedily
realize that there is something else in religion besides its outward show? In the year 786, being then nineteen years of age, he resolved to give himself up to the religious life. But he did not wish to be a monk like those who were bringing the great monasteries of Nara into disgrace. He chose out for himself a solitary spot on the slopes of Mount Hiyei, within the borders of his own province of Ōmi, and there erected a small hut of grass and rushes, which saw the beginnings of his monastic life. Here he lived, prayed, studied, meditated, and contemplated; 1 in the intervals of these exercises, he tilled a few rods of ground; when he could not do that, he spent his time in carving a statue of Yaku-Ō, 2 which he presently set up in his little chapel.
Saichō's favourite books at this time were those which explained the doctrines of the Chinese sect of Tien-tai, a sect which, in China, seemed satisfactorily to have solved the difficult problem of the relations between Church and State. The sect did not then exist in Japan; but there were, here and there, a few men, mainly Chinese, who devoted themselves to the study and exposition of these doctrines. I will mention one name, as it throws a very favourable light on the religious feelings of the time. Ganjin Kwashō, to give his name its Japanese pronunciation, was a Tendai monk in Southern China whose lectures were attended by many students. He was an ardent
advocate of Foreign Missions, and often spoke on the subject to his students. At last one day he put the matter very strongly before them, and asked for volunteers. Not a single student answered the call. The next morning he told them after lecture that, no one having volunteered, he should go himself, and the superiority of example over precept was at once shown by the ready response of over twenty men, who had been willing to follow, but did not feel themselves competent to lead.
But it was easier to volunteer than to go. Storms, pirates, shipwreck, a casting away on a distant and inhospitable shore, all combined to delay the journey. Nearly ten years elapsed before Ganjin reached Japan; when he did so, he had already lost his eyesight through the hardships of his adventures, and it was sheer pluck that pulled him through. But merits like these were not likely to go unnoticed. Ganjin was given an honourable post at one of the Nara temples, where his undoubted sanctity was highly reverenced by many who could lay no claim to a similar virtue themselves. He was put in charge of the Kaidan, and thus became the minister of ordination for the monks. He died before Saichō's admission to the Order, but the books he brought with him influenced Saichō's course of life.
Saichō was fortunate (we might almost, I think, add long-headed) in his selection of a site for his monastery. Hiyeizan dominates the plain of Kyoto, and it was only five years after the consecration of the chapel with its image of Yakuō that Kwammu Tennō forsook Nara and established his capital at Heian (794). The following year, Saichō, whose fame for sanctity had spread very widely, was the celebrant at a great Dai Kuyō-e, or High Mass, at which the Emperor himself was present, as well as a large number of priests from Nara and the south.
[paragraph continues] Kwammu remained faithful all his life in his admiration for Saichō. He encouraged him to go from place to place lecturing on the Hokekyō, and one of the last acts of his reign was to commission him to go to China to consult the Tendai authorities at their chief seat, and thus to complete what was lacking in the system which he had been the means of establishing in Japan.
Saichō started in 802 1 as a chaplain (may we call him?) in the suite of Fujiwara Kadomaro, Japanese Ambassador to the Court of the Tangs. Storms delayed the party, and it was not until the following year that he reached China, making straight for the great monastery of Tientai, in the province of Chekiang. Here he prosecuted his inquiries with the energy of a man who knows exactly what he wants and can go straight to the point, and was soon ready to return again to Japan. His studies had touched upon the doctrines of the Zen and Shingon, but his main interest had been the perfecting of his own Tendai system by the acquirement of proper authority under the Vinaya, or Rules of Ecclesiastical Discipline. Here let me digress for a moment to summarize the chief points of the Tendai system.
It will be remembered that the earliest form of Buddhism in China was unsectarian, the early missionaries having been content to call themselves Buddhists without any further sectarian distinctions. From 265 to 589 we get Indian sects, Abhidharma or Kusha, Jōjitsu, Sanron, Jōdo, and Nirvana, some of which have already been summarized. From the beginning of the Sui, who ruled from 589 to 618, we get Chinese sects, the Kegon and Tendai, which gradually drive the others out of the
field. We have already spoken of Kegon; the Tendai was founded in 538 by Chisha Daishi, who had, however, had predecessors, and who claimed to derive his peculiar tenets from the long-suffering Nāgārjuna, who is claimed as the founder of nearly every heresy or sect in Northern Buddhism.
The fundamental principle of Tendai may be called introspection (Kwanshin no hōhō), but it is also a system of harmonization whereby an attempt is made to evolve something like harmony and order out of the bewildering chaos of the Buddhist Scriptures. Its teachings are divided into two great divisions or gates, the gate of teaching (Kyō) and the gate of meditation (Kwan), and it claims that a man can attain to Enlightenment by following either the teachings contained in the Scriptures or the practice of meditation and contemplation. It distinguishes three Vehicles instead of two: the Hīnayāna (or Shojō), the Apparent or Quasi-Mahāyāna of the Jōdo and Indian sects (Gondaijō), and the true Mahāyāna of the sects which originated in China—Zen, Shingon, Kegon, and itself (Jitsudaijō).
It embraced the whole collection of the Mahāyāna books, which it divided into five periods. S’akyamuni, it was said, had begun his ministry by preaching in heaven, to angels and men, the transcendent doctrines of the Kegon. These being too hard for ordinary, sinful men to comprehend, he had descended to Benares with the practical teaching of the Agon Scriptures. As times rolled on the teachings had been "developed" (vaipulya) in the Hodo books, as the next class were called. From development to wisdom (prajnā) was the next step; from wisdom to the consummated perfection of the Sad-dharma pundarika Sūtra was the natural conclusion. Thus the doctrines of S’akyamuni were 84,000 in number
beginning with extreme simplicity and ending in the clouds of mysticism. In the delivery of these many doctrines Shaka had used many ways of teaching: ton, or suddenness, letting the truth burst with full brilliancy on the mind of his hearers; zen, or gradual advance from strength to strength; himitsu, or esoteric symbolism; fujō, or parabolic uncertainty. He had adapted his sermons to all hearers, and had so contrived that in one and the same sermon the same words had conveyed Hīnayāna doctrines to some hearers and Mahāyāna to others who were able to bear it. He had indeed become "all things to all men."
The Tendai system, which embraced all, comprised many things which were not Buddhist at all. Its doctrine of shō aku no hōmon, or inherent evil, is dualistic; it asserts that in Shinnyo, which is the pantheistic god, there is an evil principle as well as a good, that the two are equal in duration and power. Manichæans 1 and Magi both held that doctrine, but it was scarcely a Buddhist principle. It must have been a very difficult task to get doctrines so mutually antagonistic as those of the Zen and Ado to live side by side in the same religious household.
But the main thing that Saichō wanted was spiritual and ecclesiastical authority. This the Chinese Tientai seems to have had little hesitation about granting, and Saichō was soon back in Japan, with a native episcopate in his own hands.
When Saichō first went to China he was followed, within a few months, by another young monk, who went at his own charges. Kūkai was born at Byōbu-ga-ura in Sanuki in 774. In 793 he followed Saichō to China,
and occupied himself with the study of the newly imported Shingon or Mantra, which had but recently arrived in China, by way of sea, from South India. He stayed longer in China than did Saichō. When he reached his home he found the latter in the midst of carrying out his plans of Buddhist reform, and engaged in fierce controversy with the monks of Nara and the Nanto. 1 The controversy was on the subject of the Kaidan.
Kaidan is the name given to a platform or dais, which is used for the distribution of certificates and diplomas to successful candidates for the priesthood. Its existence in any particular temple implied the right of the authorities of that temple to confer Orders, and the Buddhist monk is as jealous of his Apostolic succession as is the highest High Churchman amongst ourselves. 2 There had been no ordinations of monks in China before A.D. 250, previously to which the simple taking of the "threefold Refuge," in Buddha, the Law, and the Community of Monks had been deemed sufficient. The first regular ordinations had been held about 350, the custom having been brought into the country by an Indian monk of the name of Buddhoganga. These ordinations had been of the Hīnayāna type (mainly connected with the old Indian sect of the Dharmaguptas); they had found their way to Japan, where Kaidan had
been erected, at the Todaiji at Nara, in Chikuzen, and in Shimotsuke. They had also been much discredited by their connection with men like the ambitious and unprincipled Dōkyō.
But a new succession had been inaugurated by the Tientai in China, and Saichō, having received the necessary authorizations, erected, at his monastery on Hiyeizan, a new Kaidan at which ordinations were to take place according to the Chinese Mahāyāna discipline. Saichō had probably his good reasons for taking so serious a step; but his action set the whole of the South into a blaze of indignation and excitement. In the midst of it, Kūkai came back to Japan.
Which side would Kūkai take? He was a Southerner by birth, for he hailed from Sanuki; by education, for he was at the time attached to one of the great temples at the ancient capital. A feeling of loyalty prevented him from turning against his old friends in the South. At the same time, he was, like Saichō, convinced of the necessity of reform, and he had, moreover, a great friendship for Saichō, who had received Baptism at his hands.
Both sides appealed to him, and he was at a loss how to act. He resolved to steer clear of the controversy altogether, and went off on a series of missionary journeys throughout the land. His first journey was to the Kwanto districts, and right away to Shimotsuke and beyond. He was more than a mere preacher; he planned roads, suggested the making of bridges, encouraged agriculture and education, and simplified the writing of Japanese. The traveller will find his posthumous name of Kōbō Daishi in all parts of the land: he was the Apostle of the North, and the pacification of the troublesome northern tribes was much facilitated by his efforts. When he returned to Kyoto, the Kaidan controversy was still raging. So he
went off touring again, and this time perambulated his native island of Shikoku. 1 On his next visit to Kyoto, Saichō, now known as Dengyo Daishi, was dead, and Kōbō felt that he could at last hope to publish his own views of Buddhist doctrine without running counter to those of the friend for whom he had so warm an affection. He retired in the year 816 to his new monastery at Kōya San, in the province of Kii, and there wrote his "Sangōshiki," "Jūjūshinron," and the other treatises in which he develops his system. He died in 835, a venerable and venerated man. Buddhist Japan scarcely believes him to be dead even now. He is said to be sitting in his tomb in Mount Koya, waiting for Maitreya to come and convert the world. Then he will go forth from his place of waiting and join in the glory of victory.
In the first of the two works that I have just mentioned, the "Sangōshiki," Kōbō Daishi works out a comparison of the three great religions of the East, as he understood them—Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism. All three were to be found in the Japan of his day. Confucianism (of the ancient, unreformed variety) had been there longer than Buddhism, and the Confucian literati had joined hands with the Kami worshippers in opposing Buddhism, just as they had done with Taoism, in opposition to the same religion in China. The Shinto of Japan Kōbō seems to have treated as almost identical with the Taoism of China (etymologically, the two words are the same), and with very good reason. The inter-
course between Japan and China had been going on for over three centuries, during which period much had come into Japan besides Buddhism and Confucianism. The original Kami-worship had been raised, as it were, into a system by the very fact of its early controversies with Buddhism, and Dr. De Visser 1 has recently shown us how much of Taoism there lurks in the Shintoistic folklore of Japan. Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, formed in Kōbō's mind the three legs of a tripod on which the cauldron of the State might securely rest. Only the Buddhism which he taught was not quite the same as that with which we have been hitherto dealing.
During the Tang Period, in the first half of the eighth century, there arrived in China a certain number of men, mostly from Southern India, and travelling by the sea route, 2 who brought with them a new and evidently very late form of Buddhism, which had practically captured Thibet, then a leading kingdom of Asia, and which, from its very newness, was likely to captivate the imagination of the novelty-loving Japanese. This system Kōbō developed in his "Jūjūshinron," or "Treatise of the Ten Grades of Existence."
All sentient beings, said the Shingon doctors, may be divided into ten classes. The lowest were the sanakudō, or three had classes—the brutes, the demons, and the hungry spirits; next came man, and next above him the
denizens of heaven. These three grades belonged to the natural world. 1 The spiritual world consisted of those who were called out from the natural world to follow after the truth. Its lowest grade was the S’ramana, who strove after, and the Engaku or Pratyeka-buddha, who realized, the salvation of his own soul. That included the whole range of Buddhist believers, but there was an election within the election—the doctrines of Hossō, of Tendai, of Kegon, offered three successive steps, each higher than the last, for their respective devotees, and at the top of all stood the Shingon.
My readers will perhaps remember that in my earlier chapters I spoke of Vairoc’ana, the supreme Buddha—a reflection, as it were, of Osiris, whom we found in the Alexandrian Gnosis. Vairoc’ana is honoured as supreme by the Hossō, Tendai, and Kegon, and the order in which Kōbō places these sects seems to depend on the amount of honour which they were disposed to give to Vairoc’ana. 2
[paragraph continues] I fear I must repeat myself here a little to make things clear.
There are two Buddhisms: one is of a plain, simple sort, quite good enough for the practical purposes of this world; that is the Buddhism taught by S’akyamuni, whether in the Hīnayāna or the Mahāyāna. The true spiritual Buddhism is that proclaimed by Vairoc’ana, a Being so high that S’akyamuni (with a pun on his family name) "was not worthy to be his cowherd." This secret teaching had been delivered to Nāgārjuna by one who had received it from Vairoc’ana himself, had been secretly handed down during the ages, and had finally been published in the fulness of the times.
Like the gods of the Manichæans and Gnostics, Vairoc’ana is fivefold, and is represented by the five great statues of the Five Dhyāni Buddhas. To the mystic five correspond the five elements, the five senses, the five colours, the five planets, and many other groups of five. But they are really six, for just as Vairoc’ana, besides occupying his seat of honour in the midst of the Five, overshadows and embraces all his colleagues, so there is a sixth sense, a sixth element, etc., which overshadows and embraces everything (alaya shiki). The five are represented by five Chinese characters, representing the sounds A-ba-ra-ka-ki, and to these is added a sixth syllable,
un, A-ba-ra-ka-ki-un means "Glory to Abraxas," and Abraxas is the name found engraved on Egyptian rings and charms. It was the name used for "God" by Basilides and other Gnostics of the first century. 1
As with the Manichæans and Gnostics, the world is twofold. There is the "Diamond world" (Kongo-kai, Vajradhātu), in which all is at rest and eternal, without change, without decay. It is the world of ideas, the world of gods. The other, equally ancient, is the "Womb World" (Taizō-kai, Garbhadhātu), the world of change, decay, birth, death. The one world is good, the other evil, and thus—as with the Manichæans—evil and good are co-equal with one another and co-eternal.
In the Womb World there is a constant struggle; from the Diamond World, where dwell the Everlasting Powers, whose sum-total represents the Mandala or Pleroma of God, there issue forth countless rays of various light, incarnated or manifested in many shapes and forms of angels and gods, to aid man in his struggles. No lasting value need be attached to these forms. They are but the transient appearances of Vairoc’ana the Invisible, who is alone unchangeable and everlasting.
Heaven helps man by the enlightenment of his mind. In the Shingon system, as with the Manichæans, it is supposed to do so much more efficaciously by revealing to him certain magic formulæ and gestures, the performance
of which enables him to put the enemy to flight and compel Heaven to take his part. These formulæ are known as the secrets of the body, mouth, and heart. They are found in Manichæism; they also exist in the magical systems of Hinduism. The goma ceremony, which is the offering of pure fire, seems to connect the system with Hinduism, and yet the syllable ra, used as the name for "Fire," points to Egypt.
The Manichæans divided their followers into "Hearers" and "Perfect." So does Shingon. It introduced into Japan the term sokushin jōbutsu, which means that a man may, whilst still living, become a Perfect Buddha, higher than the gods of the trees and mountains, and, like S’akyamuni, equal to the Most High.
I will leave it to my readers to imagine what must have been the effect of a teaching which made the enlightenment of the mind a secondary matter, which laid its principal stress on magic formulæ and incantations, and which encouraged its believers to expect, during this life, a position equal to that of the Almighty.
And yet Kōbō Daishi was very far from being a bad man. We can look upon him with admiration, we can read most of his books with reverence, only, alas! we cannot help being reminded, as we read, of a Being who is sometimes "transformed into an Angel of Light." And when we look at the degradation of Japan during the Heian period, at the worldliness of the Buddhist clergy, at the trained fighting men of the Hieizan monastery, at the powerlessness of the sovereigns, at the robber bands which infested the capital at the very time when the artistic luxury of the court was at its height, at the Imperial palace burnt to the ground four times in the course of one short reign, at the sale of governorships, etc., for the purpose of raising money for Buddhist temples, at the
miseries of the people, and at the piteous spectacle of the Odorinembutsu 1 as a remedy for those miseries, we shall be inclined to think that, in Japan also, we have come across some of his traces.
225:1 Heian is the old name for Kyoto. Kyoto, which is even now the sacred city of Japanese Buddhism, was built in 794 by Kwammu Tennō, as his capital. Its name Heian signifies "Peace."
226:1 It is a significant fact that the Buddhist rite of Baptism (Abhis’ekha, Jap. Kwanjō) comes into prominence just at the period when Buddhism and Nestorianism came into contact. The same may be said of the care devoted by Buddhists at this period to the details of Ordination. Shōmu's reign actually saw the Nestorian Christian—the physician named Rimitsu—at the Nara Court. He was evidently honoured, for he was granted official rank along with a Chinaman named Ritsho, who became naturalized and took the name of Kiyomaru (Murdoch). Kiyomaru became the head of the university. It seems probable that Rimitsu was in charge of the hospital in which the Empress Kōmyō is said to have worked as a nurse during the smallpox epidemic. A few years later we find a Nestorian priest, Adam, collaborating with a Buddhist priest, Prajnã, on the translation of a p. 227 Persian ( ) or possibly Uigur text of a treatise on the Cardinal Virtues. This can hardly have been a Buddhist book, though the Cardinal Virtues must be much the same in all religions. The treatise known as "Shat parāmitā sūtra" appears in Nanjo's Catalogue as being the work of Prajnã alone. Prajnã was a follower of Zendo's, and there seems very little doubt that Zendoists and Nestorians were supposed to belong to the same ship.
227:1 A similar charge was brought against the priest Gembō, who had a temple built to his honour after his death to appease his spirit and prevent it from wreaking vengeance on his murderers.
228:1 Hachiman is the god of war. In life, he was the Emperor Ojin, the peaceful son of the warlike Empress Jingo, and his transformation into a god of battles has always been a puzzle. Originally a Shinto deity, he was adopted into the Buddhist pantheon (where his position was still more incongruous) by the Ryōbu. It was the ambition of Hideyoshi to be worshipped after death as Shin Hachiman, the New god of War.
229:1 By contemplation, which must be distinguished from meditation, is meant that quiet sitting, with mind and body perfectly still, which the Japanese know as zazen. When the absolute stillness can be attained, and the mind is free from all thought, the Vision of Truth is said to come to it, and the gate leading into the Invisible World is opened.
229:2 Yaku-ō (Skt. Bhaishajyarāja) is a divinity who plays an important part in the Hokekyō. The Vow which he is said to have taken before attaining to Buddhahood relates almost entirely to physical health and personal beauty.
231:1 There is a slight discrepancy in dates in the authorities I have consulted. Some say 804, but Fr. Papinot, in his Dictionary, says 802, and I have thought myself safe in following so good an authority.
233:1 The Manichæan expressions, and , the "two principles" and the "three moments" are both to be found in the Japanese Tendai.
234:1 Nanto, "the South," the name given in Kyoto to the district round Nara.
234:2 Thus, when a Buddhist priest is ordained, he receives "letters of orders" on which are given the principal names of the priests through whom the succession has come down to him from the Apostles of S’akyamuni. It seems impossible to trace this practice earlier than A.D. 250, before which date it was not deemed necessary in China. It is therefore quite possible that the Buddhists may have learned the practice from Christian neighbours in Central Asia. The only exception to this rule is the insignificant sect of the Yūdzūnembutsu, who trace their succession, not to S’akyamuni, but to the Vision of Amida vouchsafed to their Founder in the twelfth century.
236:1 In the Tsuzoku Bukkyo Shimbun there appeared, from the beginning of December, 1908, a series of articles describing the journey which Kūkai took on this occasion. It is a favourite route for pilgrims, and might still be followed by the adventurous foreigner. I have drawn my information as to Kūkai's attitude on the Kaidan question from an article which appeared in the same paper in September, 1908.
237:1 In papers read before the Asiatic Society of Japan on Japanese Folklore.
237:2 See, for instance, what Dr. Nanjo says about Vajrabodhi, Subhakarasiṇha, Amoghavajra, and Bodhiruci ("Catalogue Trip.," App. ii., Nos. 150, 153, 154, 155). The Shingon of Japan is very similar to the Buddhism of Thibet. Yet it is not identical, and the three books on which the Japanese Shingonists mainly rely are not to be found in the Thibetan canon. The Japanese Shingon came from South India.
238:1 It must be remembered that Buddhism never looks upon heaven as a place of moral or spiritual excellence. It is a world peopled by spiritual existences, but very much like our own, with good and bad in it. The least in the kingdom of Buddha is higher than the Buddhist heaven.
238:2 Both Hōnen Shōnin and Nichiren criticize Kōbō's arrangement of the order of precedence assigned to the sects—the latter with considerable asperity, as is his wont. It was from Nichiren that I got the allusion to S’akyamuni not being, in Kōbō's opinion, fit to be the cowherd of Vairoc’ana. Nichiren aptly says that if Vairoc’ana is a personage of so great importance, his existence should be proved as S’akyamuni's has been, and he roundly charges Kōbō with being a liar (dai-mōgo) for trying to palm off fictitious Buddhas on his countrymen.
A distinction is sometimes made between the Roshana of the Hossō, Kegon, and Tendai, and the Vairoc’ana (Beroshana) of the Shingon. It is of this latter that Nichiren seeks to have proofs. The fact seems to be that there are, as it were, two strains of cryptic teaching respecting Vairoc’ana. The one (Roshana) came overland, or from North-Western India, and is probably connected with Syrian Gnosticism. The second (Beroshana) came from Southern India, and has Alexandrine affinities. p. 239
The Japanese Tendai has its mantra or magic formulæ (Jap. darani), as well as the Shingon. But it has no mudra, or manual gestures. These are peculiar to the Shingonism brought in by Kūkai, or Kōbō. Neither does the Tendai accept the secret books said to have been found by Nāgārjuna at the Iron Tower in Southern India It gets its mantra and dharani from the Dragon Palace books, and from Maitreya's lectures in Asangha's lecture hall.
There were always certain differences between Syrian and Alexandrine Gnosticism. It is interesting to find them cropping up in Japan. They throw a flood of light on the obscure Book of Iao.
240:1 Tin is, of course, the hum of Om mani padme hum. The Shingonists say that Abarakakiun may be contracted into Om, which represents the first and last syllables of the sacred word. In the goma ceremony the god of Fire, RA, is worshipped with a ritual which has been described in the publications of the Musée Guimet. The Shingonists still practise Kwanjō, as do also the Tendai, and I have in my possession a tract, emanating from the Temple of Daishi at Kawasaki, in which the believer is urged not to delay coming to Baptism, and to come oft.
242:1 The "dancing nembutsu" was the name given to a priest, Kūya, in the fifteenth century, who went round the country repeating the nembutsu and dancing. He hoped by this means to convert the people to religious ways. The pathetic part of the phenomenon is that Kūya was an Imperial prince, and that he seems to show us the powerlessness of the Imperial House, kept in subjection by the dominant Fujiwaras, anxious to help the people, and yet too ill-instructed to be able to do it. There are forms of superstition which are absolutely well-intentioned, and such was Kūya's. Such also was the superstition of the man who, in the next century, made it a rule to repeat the formula Namu-amida-butsu 60,000 times a day. In the miseries of that age Japan could have been described in Tennyson's words—