The Creed of Half Japan, by Arthur Lloyd, , at sacred-texts.com
“Risshō Ankoku Ron”
The "Risshō Ankoku ron" is the title of Nichiren's essay which, being presented to the Kamakura Regent, brought down upon its author all manner of persecutions and troubles. It was Nichiren's warning against the evil courses which were bringing his country to decay. It has by no means ceased to have its prophetic value in the present day. I have, during the last few months, met with two new editions in Japanese of this essay, which, so the Nichirenists tell us, is as applicable to the Japan of to-day as it was to the Japan of Nichiren's time. The essay has, to the best of my belief, never been translated into any European language up to the present.
It is in the form of a dialogue. The reader must imagine the master of a house, who must be Nichiren himself, seated before his books in his study. The house is probably the hermitage which Nichiren built for himself among the sandhills behind Kamakura, where he gathered round him his earliest disciples, and where he actually composed this historic treatise. To him comes in a visitor, who at once plunges into the subject that lies nearest to his heart.
The Visitor. We have seen many signs in heaven and in earth:—a famine, a plague; the whole country is filled with misery. Horses and cows are dying on the roadsides, and so are men, and there is no one to bury them.
[paragraph continues] One half of the population is stricken, and there is no house that has escaped scot-free. 1
Hence many minds are turning to religion. "A sharp sword is the Name of Mida," 2 say some, and turn in prayer to the Lord of the Western land, whilst others take up the magic charms and formula against disease, which belong to the Lord of the Eastern Quarter. 3 Others, again, comfort themselves with the thought that disease is but a short-lived phenomenon, that old age and death are but phantasies, and stay themselves with the comfortable doctrines of the Hokke Truth. 4 Others, again, say that "the seven troubles come merely as a matter of rotation, soon to be succeeded by the seven forms of prosperity," 5 and with this thought they set themselves to the details of countless services and litanies. Others, again, in accordance with the doctrines of the Secret Shingon, 6 use copious sprinklings of Holy Water from the
five vases. Then, again, some enter into ecstatic meditation, and calmly contemplate the truth free from all care. 1 Some write the names of the Seven gods of luck 2 on pieces of paper, and affix them by the hundreds to the doorposts of their houses, whilst others do the same with the pictures of the Five Dairiki 3 and the various (Shinto) gods of Heaven and Earth.
In other parts of the country the lords are in fear. They remit taxes and govern their people with benevolence. But let men do what they will, the famine and the plague still rage, there are beggars on every hand, and the unburied corpses line the roads.
Now, Sir, when we see Sun, Moon, and Stars go on in their courses, when the Three Treasures (of Religion) continue to be respected, and when kings rule peaceably, we know that the world is not going to come to an end. But look around at the misery of the age, at the decay of Buddhism. What can be, think you, the cause of all this?
The Master. That is just what I have been moaning
about to myself. I see that our thoughts are running in the same channels. Pray forgive me if I enlarge on this topic.
When a man embraces the Buddhist religion he expects that his religion will be a means of obtaining Buddhaship; but, at the present day, neither does the power of the gods manifest itself, nor are there any signs to be seen of men attaining Buddhaship. When I look around me, my foolishness fills me with doubts about the future, when I look up to the sky I am filled with resentment, when I contemplate the earth I see matter for earnest thought. But when I come to examine things more closely 1 in the light of the Scriptures, I find that the whole world is in rebellion against what is right, and that men have universally become the slaves of evil; further, that on account of this not only have the good deities left the country, but even the saints abandon the place and refuse to come back to it. Evil spirits and demons have come to take their places, and calamities and sorrows have befallen us. These are matters that we cannot help speaking of, and that we can but fear.
The Visitor. I know that I am not the only one that bewails the sorrows of the Empire 2 and the miseries of my country. But I have never before heard the suggestion made that the gods and the saints were forsaking the country, and that demons and evil spirits were taking their places. Please tell me what Scriptural proof have you for your statement?
The Master. The proofs are many and most varied. For instance, it is said in the "Konkōmyōkyō," 3 "Although this
[paragraph continues] Sūtra exists in the land, it has no proper power or influence, for the people are backsliders at heart. They do not wish to hear it read, they do not offer it worship, nor respect, nor reverence. Neither are they able to pay proper respect and homage to the men of the Four sections when they see them. For this reason both we 1 and our families and all the hosts of heaven have lost our proper dignity and power; for men close their ears to the deep mysteries of the Sūtra; they turn with aversion from the sweet dew (of religion), and get out of the current of the stream of true Buddhism.
"These men cherish the causes of evil, they do despite to men and angels, they fall into the river of life and death, and wander from the road of Nirvana. Therefore, O world-honoured One, we, the Four Kings, and all our followers, with the Yashas and others, seeing these things taking place, shall forsake that country and cease to act as its protectors. And not only shall we forsake the king, but all the good deities whatsoever, that are the guardians of the land, will depart from it. When this forsaking shall have been accomplished then shall many calamities befall this land, so that it shall entirely lose its dignity and self-respect. Its people shall lose their virtuous minds and become criminals and malefactors, they shall rage against one another, they shall slander one another, and even wag their tongues against the innocent. There shall be plagues and comets; two suns shall appear simultaneously in the sky, with disturbed courses; 2 two-coloured rainbows, black and white, shall be seen with distressful omens; there shall be falling stars and earthquakes, and
voices shall come forth from wells. Storms and hurricanes shall come out of their due seasons; there shall be constant famines, and the rice shall perish even in its tender shoots. Brigands shall invade the country from foreign lands, and plunder it. The inhabitants shall suffer all manner of evils, and peace and comfort shall not be found there."
[Similar prophecies relating to the condition of the world in the days when Buddhism shall have perished are given from various Sūtras of the Mahāyāna. They differ from the one I have reproduced only in minor details. I therefore omit them here, and pass on to the conclusion of the Master's speech.]
These Sūtras put the case very clearly, and there can be no doubt as to their meaning. But men's ears are deaf and their eyes blinded: they believe in the corrupt teaching because they want to believe it, and they have lost the power to distinguish between truth and falsehood. In short, the whole world has departed from Buddha and the Holy Scriptures, and there is no desire to protect them. Can you wonder that the good deities and the saints should forsake the land, and that evil spirits and heretics 1 should bring about calamities and distress?
The Visitor (changing colour). The Emperor Ming-ti of the Later Han Dynasty understood the meaning of the vision of the Golden Man, and accepted the teaching that was brought to him on the White Horse, and our own Venerable Crown Prince, 2 when he had defeated the rebel Moriya, built temples and pagodas in our land. Ever since that time every one, from the Emperor down to the lowest of the people, has reverenced Buddhism and paid respect to the Scriptures. The great temples, Enryakuji, Kōfukuji,
[paragraph continues] Onjōji, Tōji, and others, erected in all parts of the land, bear witness to the continuity of the Faith; copies of the Scriptures are as plentiful as the stars in the firmament, and the overhanging roofs of the temples are like a protecting cloud over the land. The sons of S’ariputra 1 still set their faces to the Vulture's Peak; the disciples of Kakuroku still preserve the holy garments and vessels of S’akyamuni. How can you say that the traces of the Three Precious Things have disappeared, and despise the teaching of the present day? If you have any proof for your assertion, please show it me.
The Master. Quite true. Temples are very plentiful, and there is an abundance of sacred books. Buddhism has never lost its outward succession of preachers and adherents. But the priesthood is so corrupt that they lead men away from the paths of virtue, and the rulers are so ignorant that they cannot distinguish good from evil. Hear what is said in the Sūtra of the Merciful King (Ninnōkyō): "Evil monks, whose thoughts are on their own aggrandizement and wealth, preach doctrines which are destructive of religion and social order; princes and rulers, whose minds are ignorant and who cannot tell right from wrong, issue decrees and ordinances which are not after the Law. When these things come to pass, religion perishes and the country is brought to confusion." Again, it is written in the Sūtra of the Great Decease: "The Bodhisattva need not fear the rutting elephant: but evil knowledge is a thing to be dreaded. The rutting
elephant can kill the body, but the soul may be saved: the evil knowledge which comes through bad friends will cast a man's soul into hell." 1 The same thing is said in the Saddharma pundarika Sūtra, 2 and there is a passage in the Sūtra of the Great Decease which tells us that when, at the end of the Period of the Upright Law, all the saints shall have entered into Nirvana, there will be monks, in the period of Image Law, who shall recite the Sūtras only as a means of gaining a livelihood; who, although wearing the monkish Kesa, 3 shall be like hunters in search of prey, like cats watching for mice. Pretending to be wise and righteous, they will be full of jealousy and covetousness. Through them will the way of Buddhism be evil spoken of.
Now, sir, when I look round me at the world, that is exactly what I see. How can I help speaking my mind about the wickedness of the monks?
The Visitor (angrily). I assure you you are wrong. Wise kings rule over their countries according to the eternal rules of Heaven and Earth; holy men bear rule by showing them the differences between right and wrong. By virtue of his being a holy man, it is the office of a priest to exercise influence in the State, and none but a good man
ever gets the respect and reverence of ruler and people, however great may be his merits in other respects. But we see in our country a continued succession of wise men and saints who have been venerated by the people, and we may infer that the fact that they have been so venerated shows that they were deserving of reverence. Why, then, do you speak evil of dignities, and say that they were bad monks 2
The Master. In the reign of Gotoba (A.D. 1184–1196) there was a monk of the name of Honen, who wrote a book called the "Senchakushū," in which he abused the holy teachings of the age, and misled men by the thousands. Now this man, basing his arguments (again I abbreviate) on a mistaken interpretation of Nāgārjuna's writings, in which he follows Dōshaku, Donran, and Zendō, 1 his predecessors in heresy, divides Buddhism into two gates, the gate of Holy Practices, and the gate of Faith in the Pure Land, and advises all men, in this age of decay, to embrace the latter. As to the other forms of Buddhism, and as to the other Sūtras, including even the Saddharma pundarika and the Sūtras of the Shingon tradition, he uses four words to describe what should be our attitude towards them. "Give them up," he says, "close the books, lay them aside, fling them away." 2 By means of this doctrine he has misled thousands of his followers, both lay and clerical.
Now, this teaching is in direct contradiction to one of Amida's Vows, 1 as contained in the three Pure Land Sūtras in which alone he puts his trust. I mean the Vow that Amida takes to "clear away the five obstacles to the truth, and to remove the abuses of true Buddhism." It is in contradiction, likewise, to the teachings of the "whole life according to the five periods." 2 It can lead its author nowhere but to the lowest hell. We live in an age when saints are few; there are not many that can discern the dangerous nature of these teachings. Woe unto them! They do not smite the offender. Woe, woe! they acquiesce in the propagation of a false faith. From the princes and barons down to the common people, every one is now saying, that there are no Scriptures but the Three of the Pure Land, and no Buddha but the Triune Amida. 3 But in ancient days it was not so. The teachings which famous priests, 4 such as Dengyō, Gishin, Jikaku, and Chisho, brought with them from over the seas were revered by all the people. Mountains, rivers, and valleys were consecrated by the erection of sacred images of the Buddhas, and pilgrims flocked from all parts to worship at these holy places. S’akyamuni and
[paragraph continues] Yakushi Nyorai, 1 Kokūzō and Jizō, duly reverenced, bestowed peace after death upon their worshippers. Princes and nobles were generous in finding endowments for temples, and the services were frequent and reverent. And then came Hōnen, who turned away from his master, rejected his disciples, and bade men worship none but the Buddha of the Western land.
Hōnen pushed aside the Nyorai of the Eastern Quarter, 2 he exalted only the four volumes containing the Three Books of the Pure Land, and threw away the whole sacred Canon of the "Whole Life in Five Periods." As a consequence of his preaching, men refused to make contributions to temples that were not dedicated to Amida, and forgot to pay their tithes to priests who were not of the Nembutsu. Thus temples and halls have fallen into ruin, so that for a long time they have been uninhabitable, and many cloisters have fallen into disrepair, and are covered with rank vegetation on which the dew lies thick and undisturbed. But none heeded the ruin of the temples, none would repair or give support; and therefore the priests who lived there, and the deities who protected the people, have left the temples and refuse to return. For all this who is to blame but Hōnen and his Senchaku?
Woe, woe! During the last thirty or forty years, thousands of people have been enchanted and led astray, so that they wander in Buddhism as men without a guide. Is it not to be expected that the good deities should be angry when men depart from the truth? Is it not natural that evil spirits should make the most of their
opportunities, when they see men forsake justice and love unrighteous deeds? It is better far to exert ourselves to stay an impending calamity than to repeat the vain Nembutsu.
The Visitor (changing colour). Since the time when our true teacher S’akyamuni preached the Three Sūtras of the Pure Land, 1 we have had a succession of teachers elaborating this theme. Donran Hōshi preached much on the Four S’āstras 2 and devoted himself solely to the subject of the Pure Land; Doshaku ceased to think about the great work of the Nirvana, and gave himself wholly to the service of the Western Direction; Zendō laid aside all miscellaneous devotions to concentrate himself upon this special worship; Genshin organized (within the Tendai) a society of Nembutsu worshippers whose faith rested on many Sūtras. All these men worshipped Amida. Were not their labours blessed to the salvation of many? (Ōjō nō hito sore ikubaku zo ya?)
Again, you must remember that Hōnen Shōnin, as a young man, went up Mount Tendai (i.e. Hieizan), where he read through sixty volumes 3 of Sūtras, though he was but a young man, and mastered the principal doctrines of all the eight sects. He read the Sūtras through, seven times in all, and no commentaries or biographies escaped his attention. His knowledge was as bright as the sun,
and his virtue was higher than that of any of his predecessors. Yet he lost his way in Buddhism, and could not lay hold of Nirvana. Then he studied more diligently and meditated more profoundly than he had ever done before, and at last, throwing aside the Sūtras, he devoted himself to the invocation of Amida's Name. This he did by revelation, 1 having been commanded to hand down to posterity the practice of the Nembutsu.
Men spoke of him as an incarnation of Seishi, or that he was Zendō come to life again, and crowds of all ranks and of both sexes flocked to his sermons. His doctrines have now stood the test of many years, and yet you presume to set yourself up against the authority of S’akyamuni, and to deride the faith in Amida.
Why do you lay on the august administration the blame for the misfortunes of recent years? And how do you dare to abuse the teachers and saints of the preceding ages? You are blowing hair to find a wound; you are cutting the skin to make the blood flow. 2 I have been astonished at the violence of your language, and I advise you to be cautious and to fear, lest trouble befall you. Even now it is risky to be seen speaking to you.
(Rises from his seat, takes his cane, and prepares to leave the house.)
The Master (detaining his visitor, and smiling). A
bitter taste and a bad smell are nothing when we are used to them. But when you are not used to a thing you are apt to be troubled by it. When you hear truth for the first time you think it is falsehood; you mistake a rogue at a first glance for a saint, and a true teacher for a false prophet. But let me explain the whole matter to you. When our master Shaka was preaching the Sūtras of his whole life arranged according to the Five Periods, he preached his doctrines in a consecutive series so that he might the more easily distinguish the apparent Truth from the Absolute. 1 Donran, Dōshaku, and Zendō, however, seized hold of an Apparent Truth, and forgot the Absolute Truth that was yet to come. They did not understand the whole Truth of Buddhism. Hōnen was worse than they, for instead of merely following, he went beyond them, and advocated the giving up, closing, laying aside, and flinging away of all the many thousand works of the Mahāyāna Scriptures, as well as of all the innumerable Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and gods. And it was by such preaching that he deceived the people. 2
But in all this he was preaching, not Buddhism, but his own private opinions. He was a deceiver (mōgo) and blasphemer (akku) such as we have but seldom seen hitherto, though now there are many of them, and it is a great pity that so many people should be captivated by his preaching and admire his Senchaku. The Books are now neglected, for no one reads anything but the three Sūtras of the Pure Land; it is all the Buddha of the Western Paradise now, and the other Buddhas and Saints may go hang! A man like Hōnen can only be termed the pronounced enemy of the Buddhas, of the Scriptures, of the Saints, and of the common people. It is a terrible calamity that this heresy should have spread so widely.
You found fault with me just now for laying the blame of our recent calamities on the shoulders of the present administration. I have been afraid of the consequences myself, but allow me to give you a few historical examples to prove my assertion. [The historical examples are taken from China, and are intended to prove that when a Government neglects to promote the interests of true religion the country always has to suffer for it. The most striking instance is that of the troubles from invasions by barbarians which followed the Tang Emperor Wutsung's attacks on Buddhism in the seventh century A.D.] Hōnen himself lived during the administration of Gotoba; 1
we cannot find, even in the history of the Tang, a more striking instance than that. Please do not doubt or wonder at what I say. It is our duty to turn from wickedness and to follow after justice; to check wickedness at its source, and cut evil at the root.
The Visitor. I catch your drift, though I do not fully understand your meaning. I would, however, suggest that Buddhism is a wide topic, and that there are many ways of looking at it. By the way, have you ever yet presented a memorial to the authorities on this matter? Until you have done so, you, a man of the middle classes, have no right to speak as you do.
The Master. It is quite true. I am an insignificant person. Still, I have some knowledge of the Mahāyāna, and I know that a fly can ride a thousand miles on the tail of a racehorse, and that ivy can climb a thousand feet with the help of a pine tree. I am the servant of the Buddhas, and owe them fealty. How can I help being grieved when I hear the ruin of my Faith 2 It is said, in the Sūtra of the Great Decease, that if a monk sees a man injuring Buddhism and fails to reprove him, he is a worthless brother; but that if he speaks up and reproves him, he is a true brother. I am scarcely worthy to be called a monk, yet I am trying to do my duty.
Are you aware that during the year of Gennin (1224–5) the monks of the Enryakuji and Kōfukuji 1 memorialized
the throne on the subject of the punishment of Hōnen; and that, in consequence, the plates from which the Senchaku was printed were forfeited, and publicly burned as a thankoffering for the mercies of the Buddhas of the Three Worlds? Did you know that Inujin-nin of the Kanjin-in 1 was ordered to destroy the tomb of Hōnen? Or that Hōnen's disciples, Ryukwan, Shōkō, Jogaku, and Sassho, 2 were sent into exile and have not yet been pardoned? I don't think you can say that the authorities have not been memorialized on the subject.
The Visitor (somewhat mollified). I quite agree with you that Hōnen did advise his disciples to have nothing to do with the Sūtras, or with the other Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. What he always impressed upon his disciples was that they ought constantly to pray to Amida, and if men would always pray, the country would be at peace. The peace of the country is what we all desire. I cannot see how it can be the duty of the Government to put these people down.
The Master. I am not speaking from my own wisdom. I can but repeat that which I find in the Sūtras. And there I find the doctrine laid down most clearly. I cannot quote all the instances; I will give a few. [Here follow various instances from Sūtras in which the doctrine is laid down that the extirpation of heretics with the sword is the duty of every right-minded Government. S’akyamuni is brought in in one case as relating that in a previous existence, when he was the king of a country in Southern India, he had once slain a Brahman for speaking evil of Buddhism. But he had not suffered for his crime
in hell, because the Brahman was a heretic, and the killing of a heretic is no murder. 1] Thus Buddha provided for the preservation of his doctrines. But these men, the slanderers of Buddhism, have departed from the true ways. They have made graven images of Honen himself, and have carried his impious opinions from one end of the Empire to another. They have mutilated the images of Shaka, and placed Amida in his stead. They have removed Akshobya from his seat, and placed thereon the Lord of the Western Paradise. They have ceased to copy out and reverence the Scriptures, and their zeal is only for the Three Books of the Pure Land. They refuse to hear the lectures of Tendai Daishi, 2 and have ears only for those of Zendō. Woe be to this people. They disregard the warnings of S’akyamuni, and listen to the foolish words of the false prophets. If a man wish to secure the peace of the country, let him first begin by bridling the slanderers of Buddhism.
The Visitor. But is it necessary to punish with death such transgressions against religion? Do the Sūtras you quote bear you out in this? Is not such a punishment in reality a murder, and is not murder a sin? I find it written in the Mahāsampāta Sūtra, that "when a man shaves his head and assumes the monk's cowl, whether he keep the commandments or not, he is one whom angels and men should reverence, for he is a son of Mine. To
thrash him is to thrash a son of Mine, to revile him is to revile Me." Now, is it right for me to grieve the heart of our Great Father by injuring his sons? The man who attacked Maudgalyāyana fell into the lowest hell, and Devadatta, for the murder of an ecclesiastic, suffered long and continued torments. I cannot accept your doctrine, I cannot agree with your views. You may perhaps be able to prevent men from slandering the law of Buddha, but you will only do so by violating the Precepts.
The Master. After all that you have heard, after all my quotations from the Scriptures, do you still hold this position? Can you not perceive the truth of my arguments? I am talking about the hatred we should have for the slanderers of Buddhism: I am putting no limitations on the sons of Buddha. Beheading was the punishment assigned by the law of Buddhism before Shaka's times; the principle of the Sūtras since Nōnin has been only so accommodate the principles of the primitive faith to the prejudices of later ages. 1 If only all classes of people everywhere in the country would unite in abjuring error and following that which is righteous and true, what trouble or misfortune could happen?
The Visitor (composedly). Buddhism is a very wide subject. It embraces a very wide range of opinions, some of which are very obscure, so that it is hard to discover the exact meanings. Hōnen's Senchaku is still in circulation, despite its condemnation, and the entire rejection of the Scriptures, of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, is still being preached. You have given me Scriptural authority for your assertion that, under such circumstances,
saints and good deities will forsake the land, and I am more than half convinced by your arguments. And it is my sincere desire that the country henceforth may be peaceful and happy, from the sovereign on the throne to the lowest classes of the people. If we cease paying reverence to a single heretic, and, instead, reverence the mass of the priesthood, we can, I think, calm the white waves on the sea of Buddhism and clear its mountain-sides of scrub, so that our land will compare with the happiest periods of Chinese history, and men shall rightly appreciate the good points of Buddhism by noting its depths and its shallows.
The Master (highly gratified). Ah! A dove transformed into an eagle, a sparrow into a clam! This is delightful. You have come here and have been enlightened. It is true: if men will consider our misfortunes in this light, and will believe the words of Scripture, then the storms will abate, and the billows settle down, and the harvest be plenteous. But, unfortunately, men's minds change with their circumstances, like the reflection of the moon on waters, smooth and rough, like the aspect of an army with its swords sheathed, and with them drawn and brandished. You believe me now, but what guarantee have I that you will not speedily forget your good resolutions? But mark my words, if you wish the country to be peaceful and blest, you must consider well, and punish the wrong.
Five misfortunes out of the seven mentioned in the Yakushi Kyō have befallen us. Two still remain—a foreign invasion and a rebellion. 1
Two of the three mentioned in the Mahāsampāta Sūtra have been fulfilled, the one remaining is a foreign war.
[paragraph continues] Of all the misfortunes mentioned in the Suvarnaprabhāsa and in the Ninnōkyō, but one remains that we have not yet experienced, the misfortune of foreign invasion. When a country is badly governed, the first result is that the deities are disturbed: when the deities are disturbed, the minds of the people are thrown into confusion. When I consider these Scriptural prophecies and then look at the world around me, I am bound to confess that both the gods and the minds of the people are confused. You see the fulfilment of the prophecy in the past: dare we say that the remaining prophecies will fail of their fulfilment? And if, by reason of the bad state of our religion, these remaining calamities should come upon us, in what condition are we to bear them?
An Emperor can rule, because he is the Lord of his country; a Prince can rule, because he is the owner of his barony. But if a foreign invasion should come, or if rebellion should raise its head amongst us, what then? If country and home be lost, whither shall we turn? Is it not right to pray for one's country, if one desires its welfare?
But now men are anxious about their happiness in the world to come. So, forgetting present duties, they listen to the words of this heresy, and reverence the blasphemer of the Buddhas. They do it in ignorance: they have no desire to turn from the right way, and yet they have not the courage to follow the true Buddhism. In their hearts they are faithful—why, then, do they give ear to this heresy? They will die in their stubborn ignorance, and their souls will not return to the earth, but will sink to the bottomless pit of Hell (mugen no jigoku).
It is said in the Mahāsampāta Sūtra, that though a
king be respectful towards the clergy, though he obey the precepts of morality, though he have wisdom to discern the right from the wrong, yet if he fail to protect Buddhism from the attacks that are made against it, his rule will only serve to bring unhappiness to his land, sickness and misery to himself, his queen, his children, and his courtiers, and in the end he will fall into Hell. The same is the testimony of the Ninnōkyō. As sure as the sound follows the striking of the drum, as sure as the shadow follows the substance, or as characters written in the light remain (though invisible) after the light has been extinguished, so surely is it a fact that a grievous sin brings its own punishment. And what sin more grievous than to blaspheme against the Buddhas?
Woe unto them! They have missed the entrance gate that leads to the true Buddhism, and have fallen into the prison-house of a false sect. They are fettered, entangled, bewildered. Whither will their blind wanderings lead them? Stir up, I pray you, your slight desire for salvation and devote yourself with your whole mind to the unique excellence of the True Vehicle.
If you do this, then shall the Three Worlds become truly Buddha Lands, and the Ten Quarters treasure-houses that cannot be destroyed. If there be no decay and no destruction, the body will be in health, and the mind at rest. And the country will be in peace.
[The rest of the dialogue is unimportant. The visitor professes himself converted to the Master's views, and promises to take part in the active warfare against heresy.]
308:1 A chronological study (if possible) would show that this statement is no exaggeration. During the whole thirteenth century Japan was visited, as were other countries, with the black plague.
308:2 This is a quotation from a book called the "Hanshūsan." It reminds one of the "two-edged sword" of the New Testament.
308:3 The Lord of the Eastern Quarter is Akshobya. The Sūtras connected with him are mostly incantations, very different from the Amida Sūtras. The Chinese are much given to magic and sorcery, even Confucius having written a book on the subject. This may have been one of the reasons why one of the Han translators took with him some of the Akshobya Sūtras. Those men, with a strange inconsistency, discouraged astrology whilst advocating the use of magic formulæ.
308:4 Hokke Shinjitsu, "the Truth of the Hokke." I believe this to be the name of some interpretation of the "Saddharma pundarika," possibly a commentary. It is interesting to find the tenets of "Christian Science" thus anticipated in Japan.
308:5 As the seven fat kine in Pharaoh's dream were succeeded by the seven lean ones.
308:6 According to the Secret Rules of the Shingon ritual, the Holy Water, which is used both for baptismal purposes and also for lustrations, is not absolutely pure. It is mixed with Five Treasures p. 309 (I do not know what they are), Five Cereals, Five Drugs, and Five Species of Incense. When mixed, the water is placed in five jars or vessels on the altar, and used for lustrations.
309:1 The practice of Zen, or meditation, is still in constant use, and it is always more popular in times of stress and anxiety.
309:2 The Seven gods of luck are to be seen constantly as charms on the doorposts of Buddhist houses. So are many of the Shinto deities.
309:3 I have never yet come across the Dairiki (the Five Powerful Ones) in actual use. Their names are Kongōku, Ryūōku, Muibōku, Raidenku, Muryōrikiku. They are probably Chinese, and may have come into Japan through the Kegon sect, which, though based on the Avataṃsaka Scriptures, was actually organized in China. There is a fable about the demons having once invaded a certain country (Midaikoku), and having been driven out thence by the Dairiki invoked by means of amulets and charms. There are so many thousands of different amulets in use in Japan that it would be impossible to say that the Dairiki have now gone out of fashion.
310:1 Lit. "Looking through a hollow reed."
310:2 Ten ka, "under Heaven."
310:3 I.e. Suvarnaprabhāsa sūtra, "the Sūtra of the Golden Light" (see Nanjo's "Cat. Trip."). It is a late Sūtra, certainly much posterior to S’akyamuni's time. But it was much read in Japan in the early Buddhist centuries.
311:1 The speaker is one of the Four Guardian Kings whom Buddhism has adopted from the Hindus. They stand "at the four corners of the earth."
311:2 I am quite uncertain of the translation.
312:1 Gedō, "outside of the way." It is a common word for all non-Buddhist religions—Confucianism, Manichaeism, Christianity.
312:2 I.e. Shōtoku Taishi.
313:1 If this translation is the right one, I believe it refers to sects, such as the Kegon, who accepted as genuine the collection of Sūtras said to have been made independently by S’ariputra and Maudgalyāyana. The scene of all these Sūtras is laid on the Vulture's Peak near Benares. I have not been able to identify Kakuroku; but there have always been sects that have laid much stress on the possession of personal relics of S’akyamuni.
314:1 Cf. St. Luke xii. 5.
314:2 I have omitted the quotation from the Saddharma pundarika and abbreviated the one from the Sūtra of the Great Decease. I will here merely call attention to a parallelism between Christian and Buddhist history. About A.D. 70 or a little later all Christ's disciples have passed to their rest, and a new era begins. About this time in Buddhism comes the era of the Image Law. About A.D. 1000 commences a new era of ignorance with the Crusades, followed by a very imperfect Reformation. It is the period of Mappō, during which in both religions the doctrines of Faith are preached. This second Millennium is not yet finished, but one can see the dawn of better things beginning shortly after Clive's victory at Plassey—in the simultaneous and gradual religious awakening of both East and West.
314:3 The monk's stole.
315:1 I must refer my reader to what I have said concerning these Patriarchs of the Pure Land Sects in my little book, "Shinran and his Work" (Tokyo: Kyōbunkwan). I would also refer him to Dr. Haas’ very excellent treatise, "Amida unsere Zuflucht," in the "Religionsurkunden der Völker" (Leipzig: Dietrich). Dr. Haas has made a very useful collection of the writings of leading Amidaists, and I am very thankful to have had the opportunity of consulting his work before sending these pages to the printer.
315:2 The words in Japanese are sha ( ), hei ( ), kaku ( ), bō ( ).
316:1 This charge is perfectly true. As a matter of fact, the believers of the Pure Land sects never talk of any except the eighteenth Vow, leaving the other forty-seven strictly on one side. But then it is quite clear (see my Shinran and his Work") that there is a non-Buddhistic strain in their doctrines, which is almost Pauline.
316:2 According to the Tendai, who accept the whole of the Mahāyāna Canon, Shaka's ministerial life fell into five distinct periods, according to which the whole body of the Scriptures ought to be arranged.
316:3 Amida sanzon, referring to the Three Bodies of Amida—a striking parallel to our conception of the Trinity.
316:4 All these priests belong to the Tendai sect, which was marvellously comprehensive in its attempts to arrange all the Sūtras according to one system.
317:1 Yakushi Nyorai, the Master of Medicines, had twelve disciples, and went about healing sickness.
317:2 I.e. Akshobya, whose special virtues were magic and a supposed gift of long life.
318:1 We must remember that it is the constant teaching of Japanese Buddhism that these Sūtras were actually spoken by Buddha. The Visitor evidently belongs to the Tendai, but the Tendai opened its wide heart to Amida worship as well as to other forms.
318:2 The sect of the Four S’āstras is one which never reached Japan; it was purely Chinese.
318:3 Fasciculus, though rather a pedantic word, would be a better translation for the word Kwan. Kwan is really a bundle of six or eight volumes, enclosed in a case. Sixty kwan would therefore be 360 volumes at least.
319:1 This was in A.D. 1206 or 1207. Honen (otherwise known as Genkū) acted upon it, left Hieizan, built himself a cabin at Kurodani, near Kyōto, and there commenced his preaching of salvation by faith, thus being the founder of the older Jōdo. It is noteworthy that Nichiren never attacks his contemporary Shinran, who went much further than Hōnen in his preaching of Faith. This is, I think, due to the fact that Shinran's activities were at that time confined to remote districts.
319:2 Proverbial expressions for needlessly scratching old sores or raking up forgotten controversies.
320:1 According to the "Five Periods," Shaka preached (i) the Kegon, which was absolute Truth, but which was too strong for mortal ears. The Kegon was delivered in the Heavenly Regions; (ii) Agon, the elementary truth of the Agamas for ordinary mortals; (iii) Hannya; and (iv) Hōdō, periods of apparent Truth, i.e. absolute Truth adapted to the circumstances and capabilities of the hearers—"accommodations; (v) Hokke-Nehan, "absolute Truth." Between Amidaists and others the controversy is, which Sūtras most truly represent this period, the Saddharma pundarika, or the Amida books? It is very difficult to decide; it is also very difficult to fit the three Amide Sūtras into any place in the Canon.
320:2 One difficulty which Amidaists have to face is that their doctrine of the Sole Supremacy of Amida is not quite borne out by the teaching of the three books themselves, in which there are many other Buddhas mentioned, though undoubtedly in inferior positions to Amida. But of the joy with which the common people heard this simplified doctrine (from whatever source it was taken) there can be no doubt.
321:1 The Emperor Gotoba reigned from A.D. 1184–1198. Then he abdicated in favour of his son Tsuchimikado, and became a monk. But asp a monk (Gotoba-in) he continued to direct affairs in the name of his two sons, Tsuchimikado and Juntoku. When, in 1219, the real power passed into the hands of the Hōjō family, Gotoba tried to recover the lost prestige of the Crown, but was utterly defeated. The Hōjō used their victory without mercy. Gotoba, Tsuchimikado, Juntoku, were all banished, and Juntoku's baby son, Chūkyō, deposed after a reign of only seventy days. And yet the stupid hyper-loyalists of p. 322 Japan try to make out that the Japanese loyalty to the sovereign has always been a far superior article to anything produced elsewhere Gotoba was a steadfast patron of Hōnen Shōnin. Hence Nichiren's criticism.
322:1 These two temples, the one at Hieizan, the other at Nara, represent practically the old Indian sects and the newly established Japonicized establishment. It is as though we should say "Canterbury and Westminster," to denote Anglicans and Roman Catholics in England.
323:1 I have not been able to find the particulars about this incident.
323:2 It is noteworthy that Shinran is never mentioned by Nichiren. Still, though Shinran's main activities lay in districts far remote from the places where Nichiren laboured, he was also exiled.
324:1 It would be amusing, if it were not so inexpressibly sad, to remember that this treatise was written in 1258. In 1229 the Council of Toulouse revised the measures of Innocent III. for "the detection and punishment of heretics," and in 1232 the Inquisition in several countries was put into the hands of the Dominicans. Three centuries later, the Dominicans and Nichirenists meet face to face in Japan! The parallel is very striking; it is one of the bitterest sarcasms of history.
324:2 Not Dengyō, but the original founder of the Tendai in China.
325:1 I must confess myself to be utterly at sea as to the interpretation of this sentence. I do not know where to look for a description of Buddhism before Buddha, and the Buddhist dictionary (Bukkyō Iroha Jiten) which I have consulted throws no light on Nōnin ( ).
326:1 The invasion came in 1280; the rebellions were really going on all the while.