The Creed of Half Japan, by Arthur Lloyd, , at sacred-texts.com
China in the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Centuries
It is very difficult for the mind to frame for itself a distinct picture of China from the middle of the third century A.D. to that of the sixth. The three kingdoms of the Wei, the Wu, and the Shu, of which I have spoken in a previous chapter, came to an end in A.D. 265, when Szuma I. established himself as the first ruler of the Tsin dynasty on the ruins of the Wu and the Shu, which he annexed to the Wei. The Tsin dynasty formally united China under one sovereign, but the unity was apparent rather than real. There were many semi-independent principalities, which were extremely reluctant to acknowledge the supremacy of the Dragon Throne, and the unification of the empire was not carried out without considerable difficulty. Many of these border principalities were Buddhist, and it was from them, more even than from India, that came that overwhelming flood of Buddhist books and translators which has served to make the history of Buddhism in China such a hopeless chaos. Many of these translators brought their books from Khotan. Khotan, about the year A.D. 270, was a semi-independent state, tributary to China, with which it had very close trade relations. Buddhism was practically the only religion of the country, the common language was an Indian dialect, and the script a form of Sanskrit known as Kharoshti. There were other principalities of
the same sort. How small was the intercourse with India proper may be inferred from the fact that, during the years 317–439, out of thirty-six translators mentioned by Nanjo, twelve came from the western regions (including Khotan), eight from Kubhâ (Kabul), ten from various parts of China proper, two from Turkestan and Bokhāra, and only four from India.
The Emperor Wu-ti (for this was the name that Szuma I. assumed on his accession) was an extremely able ruler. He not only unified the country and saved it for the time from foreign invasion, but he also did much for literature and the general development of the empire. He encouraged travel (we read of a Chinese scholar, Tsushi, or the "Red Teacher," being sent to India), and in the year 284 he received at his capital (more probably at Nanking) an embassy from a Roman emperor. It was the year of Diocletian's accession: the embassy, which may have been some time on its way, must have been sent by Probus (276–284), or by Aurelian, the "Restitutor Orbis" (270–276). Possibly it was not an embassy at all, but only a company of traders whom the vanity of the Chinese raised to the dignity of ambassadors.
Wu-ti died in 290, and was succeeded by his son Hweiti, a simpleton "who could not distinguish pulse from wheat," and who was entirely in the hands of an unprincipled wife. The country was immediately a blaze of rebellion from one end to another, and the Tartars on the frontier set up a rival kingdom in Shansi, with a pretender on the throne who claimed descent from the great family of the Han. The Han had not yet been forgotten, and the great Wu-ti had after all only been a successful usurper. The feeble Hweiti was poisoned in 306, his successor was killed in battle against the Tartars in 311. Mingti, who succeeded him, was compelled to remove his
capital from Lôyang to Singanfu, and in 317 Mingti's successor, Yuanti, was obliged to make another remove, and to bring his capital to Nanking. From 317 to its extinction in 420, the dynasty was known as the Eastern Tsin. Thus China, remaining united in name, was divided into two portions, the line of division being the Yangtze river. In the south the Chinese ruled, in the north the Tartars. India had its own troubles, and concerned itself very little about its missions to China.
It will easily be understood that the sympathies of the Buddhists would be more with the Buddhist principalities on the north and west than with the Confucianist Chinese State of Tsin. 1 The "Bibliothecal catastrophe," or "burning of the books," instituted by Hweiti in A.D. 306, must have been directed against the Buddhists and their importations, and appears to have been well deserved. It also possibly affected the Taoists. It would almost seem as though something had for a while driven Taoists and Buddhists into a common camp. About the year A.D. 240, Taoist sectaries began to live as Buddhist monks in bamboo-groves and caves, and to cultivate the philosophy of the Void, as did many of the Buddhists: nay, even the Confucianists were tempted to follow suit by erecting images of "the Five Rulers" in the Temples of the God of Heaven. The literati saved Confucianism from this stupid imitation of the Five Dhyāni Buddhas; shortly after Hweiti's "bibliothecal catastrophe," the votaries of the Void were forcibly put down, on the ground that their doctrines and practices were subversive of public order. But it is evident that these measures
were limited to the dominions of Hweiti and his Tsin successors.
In the year 335 A.D. an Indian monk, of the name of Buddhoganga, persuaded the Emperor She-hu of the Posterior Chow to allow Chinese subjects to take monastic vows. The Chow were Huns, 1 in touch with the main body of their tribe, whose vanguards, driven from their homes by the same process of desiccation which had sent the Chow against China, were now on their way to Europe. The permission obtained by Buddhoganga enabled Buddhism, at any rate in the Chow dominions, to become a native growth instead of an exotic. This is the first sign that Buddhism was becoming an object of serious study to the Chinese people.
Buddhism was also much furthered by the establishment at Singanfu of the Empire of the Anterior Thsin. This dynasty was of Tangut, or Thibetan origin, and had extensive trade relations both with India and the West. They were very zealous Buddhists, and did much for the spread of their faith. Cave temples, after the manner of the celebrated holy places of India, were established in this kingdom about A.D. 370, and it was from the kingdom of the Anterior Thsin also that, in A.D. 372, the first Buddhist missionary was sent to the Korean kingdom of Koma.
In 366 there was translated into Chinese a portion of the Avataṃsaka, or Kegon Scriptures. The reader will remember that these were the Scriptures fabled to have been brought by Nāgārjuna from the Dragon's Palace
at the bottom of the sea. How suitable those weird books must have seemed for reconciling the occupants of the Dragon-throne to the faith of the great Sea-dragon! In the year 381 Hiao-wu-ti, Emperor of the Anterior Thsin, was the first ruler of China openly to profess the Buddhist faith. 1 He built large monasteries and did much for the spread of Buddhism in his extensive dominions. He was not a great gain, perhaps, to his new religion. He was a very sensual man, and was smothered by one of his concubines whom he had offended.
The Thsin dominions extended far to the West, possibly as far as Bokhara, with which country they had, at any rate, many trade relations, and from which they received Buddhist missionaries. In 375, two Christian missionaries, Palladius, a Goth, and Musæus, Bishop of Aduli, were sent from Galatia to India. Palladius turned back, Musæus went on from India to Bokhara, and there established a mission. 2 It was probably not without some results.
Communications with India were restored. The peninsula was now under the sway of the later Gupta sovereigns. Samudragupta (326–375) ruled over an empire larger than any that had acknowledged a purely Indian sovereign since the days of As’oka. He was paramount in the peninsula, and his alliances extended from Ceylon to the Oxus, where he came in touch with the Thsin. Neither he nor his successor Chandragupta II. (shall we call him Vikramāditya?) were Buddhists. They were both worshippers of Vishnu, but both were tolerant men and gave free liberty to Buddhism and Jainism. What wonder is it that, the way being once more open to the Holy Land of Buddhism, devout Chinese pilgrims
should have flocked to visit the places associated with the birth, life, and death of S’akyamuni? And what wonder that the net result of the journeys of these pilgrims was to give them, and, through them, their countrymen, a juster appreciation of the religion of the Master? Much strange matter had come into China by all manner of by-paths and highways. True it all claimed to be Buddhist, but it was not all such as Pataliputra, or even Peshawur, would have recognized.
The first of these pilgrims was Fah-hian, who started in 399 and returned by way of the sea in 414, four years after Alaric had sacked Rome, and the year after the accession of Kumaragupta I., whose reign was likewise to be disturbed by the inroads of the dreaded Huns. Fah-hian found Buddhism flourishing in Khotan, Yarkhand, and Kashgar, in Kashmir, Punjaub, and the valley of the Indus. At Pataliputra he found two monasteries, one for the followers of each Vehicle, but many of the holy places connected with the life of S’akyamuni—S’ravasti, Kapilavastu, Kus’inagara, and even the Bodh Gaya itself—were in decay. Men did not trouble themselves about the historical Buddha; they were too much occupied with his deified aspects. Whilst Fah-hian was still in India, the Buddhist monk Buddhaghosha reached Burma, but there was no sign of Buddhism to be seen in Java.
But before Fah-hian returned to China, there had arrived at Singanfu a man whose activity constitutes an epoch in the history of Chinese Buddhism—the celebrated Kumarajīva.
Kumarajīva came of a family that had long been domiciled at Kharachar, a town and kingdom in Eastern Turkestan, at the foot of the Tien Shan mountains. Entering the Fraternity at the age of seven, he was sent
for his education to Kubhā (Kabul), where he was put under the charge of a famous Hīnayānist priest, who was cousin to the king of that country. At the age of twelve, i.e. in 352, he returned to Kharachar, where he remained until 383, spending the thirty years of his sojourn there in the prosecution of his theological studies. He was admirably suited for the work of an interpreter. An Indian by descent and by education, he was familiar with all the twists and turns of Sanskrit; in Kharachar he had been forced to familiarize himself with Chinese and one or more Turkish dialects. There are vague hints to be found here and there of sporadic Christian communities in that part of Central Asia.
In 383 the town of Kharachar was attacked and destroyed by Chinese from Thsin, and Kumarajīva, still in the prime of life, was taken prisoner, and carried, first to Liancheu, and thence, in 401, to Singanfu, where he was attached to the court of Yao Hing, second ruler of the Posterior Thsin. His fame as a scholar had preceded him; he had established his reputation as a Saint by a very successful resistance to a fleshly temptation thrown in his way by his Chinese captors, and was received by the Thsin court with much honour. His opinion was at once asked with regard to the numerous translations of Buddhist Scriptures with which the country was flooded. Travellers to India had already brought back stories of how the Buddhism being introduced into China differed from that of India; it was certain that the translations into Chinese offended the literary tastes of the educated classes. What guarantee was there that they were even accurate translations?
Kumarajīva's verdict was that the translations made hitherto were neither accurate nor elegant, and that he had better be set to the task of revision. This work
occupied him for the rest of his lifetime, and was the joy and pride of his declining years. The proper conversion of China had been laid upon him as a charge by his teachers both in Kabul and in Kharachar, and he was glad to be able to set himself to the task. "I have translated many books," he said to his disciples on his death-bed, "and ye shall know by a sign that I have done my work well. When my body is cremated, it will all be consumed, but the tongue only will remain untouched by the fire." So his disciples knew that his written words were true and correct.
Among Kumarajīva's most notable translations were the Smaller Sukhāvati-vyūha, 1 the Saddharmapundarika, and the three S’āstras 2 which form the basal teaching of the Sanron sect. These last he had studied under Suryasoma in Kharachar, and it was to the expounding of them that he devoted the greater part of his energy. The result of his labours was the formation of a sect—the so-called Sanron—the first definite sect in Chinese Buddhism, a sect which was brought to Japan in A.D. 625 by Ekwan, where it flourished for some time before being finally merged into other schools.
Kumarajīva died about the year 420, just as the Thsin Dynasty was being replaced by the Sung. Four years before him died Eon (Chinese Hwui-Yin), the Founder of the White Lotus Society. Eon is not reckoned among the patriarchs of the Amitābha sects in Japan, but he is surely deserving of such honour, for he was the first to gather into a distinct body a band of monks and laymen combined for the sole invocation of Amida's name. There is a great deal to be said for the contention of the Amidaists that their beliefs are of the essence of the Mahāyāna; that they are, in fact, the one true form of that religion. We have seen the faith in Amida with As’vaghosha in the first century A.D., with Nāgārjuna, Anshikao, Lokaraksha, and other Han missionaries in the second. In the third there was Sanghavarman (252), whose translation of the larger Sukhāvatî Vyūha is still much used. In the fourth century we have Dō-an (Thâo Ān, ob. 390), of whose faith we know from a story that is told of him. A certain very conceited Indian monk entered into conversation with him. "I am Shūsakushi," said the Indian (I give the Japanese equivalent for his name); "I am well known within the four seas." "Oh, are you?" said Dō-an. "My name is Dō-an, and I am well known in the Paradise of Amida." The repartee shows Dō-an's faith quite clearly. Eon was a disciple of Dō-an. Like his master, he lived south of the Yangtze, in districts where there was not so much Buddhism, perhaps, as in the dominions of the Thsin. He does not seem to have troubled himself very much about the Amida Scriptures (of which only one was accessible to him in a Chinese dress), but to have led a monastic life constantly devoted to the worship of Amida. His writings had a great influence on the Amidaist Patriarch Zendō. It has been said that he was a Manichæan: the
[paragraph continues] White Lotus Society still exists in China, I am told, and its members sing hymns which it is hard to distinguish from Christian ones. 1
With Kumarajīva commences the period of Saddharmapundarika influence. That remarkable book (the connection between which and one of the Gnostic books I have already pointed out) may be spoken of as a species of Buddhist Apocalypse.
The Master, on the Vulture Peak, awakes from his trance to show his auditors that, though men may think there are three forms of saving doctrine, there is really only one, the apparent differences arising from the fact that the One Truth has to be adapted and modified to suit the needs of those to whom it is delivered. This is illustrated by various parables, and the hearers have the lesson impressed upon them that the ultimate goal of all endeavours must be to reach All-knowingness. And to know everything is the same thing as to know nothing.
The Master is endowed with all knowledge and with all power. He knows the past, the long record of his own existences, and the future, the destinies of his hearers, both of which he describes. His knowledge is so great that even the Buddhas made Perfect in the past are anxious to hear his Wisdom, and he proposes himself, made one with a great Buddha of previous times, for the adoration of the congregation.
Then he sends forth his disciples to preach his gospel. He promises them his protection, and he encourages them by showing the wonderful success of their preaching. It will really be He that preaches, and not they. Every one of their countless myriads of converts has been somewhere at some time his personal disciple. He gives them rules for their conduct in preaching.
At the head of the bands of those that shall believe are four great Bodhisattvas. The later chapters make us infer that "the Four" are Yakushi, Kwannon, Fugen, Myō-On. 1 Nichiren claimed that he himself was one of the Four. Whoever they are, they are beings of great power, and they stand around the Master, who is supreme, and uncircumscribed in time or space.
If Professor Takakusu is right, we must assign to this period the two brothers Asangha and Vasubandhu, who play such an important part in the development of the Mahāyāna. Takakusu places them about A.D. 445, and gives reason for so doing. But Vasubandhu, on the list of the Mahāyāna Patriarchs given by Nanjo, comes just halfway between Nāgārjuna and Bodhidharma. We know Bodhidharma's date, A.D. 520; if we place Nāgārjuna about A.D. 120, we shall find that a halfway date will place Vasubandhu about A.D. 300, which fits in better with what one can judge of the effects of his work. Vasubandhu, like Nāgārjuna, is claimed by many sects. He belongs to the Kusha, the Hossō, and the Jōdo, the latter, especially, esteeming him to be one of the most powerful advocates of Faith in Amitābha and Rebirth in the Pure Land.
His brother, Asangha, who was a Mahāyanist before him, is looked upon as the founder of the Hossō or
[paragraph continues] Dharmalakshana sect. A story is told of him which throws an interesting light on the superstitions of his day. He was delivering a course of lectures in a preaching-place in Ayodhya, his place of residence. The lectures were not his own. Every evening he ascended to the Tushita Heaven and was coached for the next day's lesson by the Great Maitreya himself, the Buddha of the Future. One day a student doubted his word. "You must not do that," said the Professor; "what I am giving you I obtained from the Tushita Heaven, from Maitreya himself." With an incredulity which would have done honour to a class of Japanese students his auditors refused to believe him. "Very well, then," said Asangha, "I'll bring my Maitreya with me next time!" And the lessons thus delivered were the foundation of the doctrines of the Hossō Sect!
A. Note on the Chinese Sects.
The following notes on Chinese sects will be found useful for reference, as some of them will occur again in the Japanese chapters. Many of them were extremely superstitious and corrupt; but few professed much real reverence for the teachings of S’akyamuni, and in none, except in the Jōdo, do we find any of the enthusiasm that uplifts its followers. I take my information mainly from Nanjo and Murakami.
1. The Abhidharma sect. This in India was reckoned as one of the twenty sects of the Hīnayāna. It was based on the Commentary on the Abhidharma treatises written by Kātyāyaniputra, and was brought to China about A.D. 394 by three Indian monks, Sanghadeva, Dharmanandin, and Sanghabhiiti. It seems to have prospered until about A.D. 440. 1 have found no traces of it in Japan.
2. Jōjitsu, based on Harivarman's "Satyasiddhis’āstra" (Nanjo, No. 1274), and brought to Singanfu by Kumarajīva in 401. It was opposed to the doctrines of the Sarvāstivādins. It prospered in China until the beginning of the Tang period, when it was absorbed by the Tendai. It appeared in Japan only to disappear again.
3. Sanron, based on three S’āstras, two by Nāgārjuna, one by
[paragraph continues] Deva, with commentaries by Asangha and Vasubandhu. It was severely metaphysical, and was in high esteem in China during the Sui dynasty (589–618). Under the Tang it lost its prestige. It was brought to Japan during the time that the Sui influence was strong, and its first recognized head was Ekwan (624), but was ousted from favour by the Hossō and Kegon.
4. Nirvana (Nehan). May be said to have flourished from A.D. 386 to A.D. 589, first among the Lian, and afterwards at Nanking under the earlier Sung. It was one of the first sects to construct a "Harmony" of the numerous miscellaneous Sūtras. It divided Shaka's life into five periods, and considered the Sūtra of the Great Decease (Nehangyō) as representing the highest and final teachings of the Master. The Saddharmapundarika and the most of the Amida books had not yet come to the fore in China when this sect was started. It was absorbed under the Tang by the Tendai sect, and reached Japan under that name.
5. Jiron, based on the Das’abhūmika, with Vasubandhu's (not Nāgārjuna's) commentary. Introduced by Bodhiruci A.D. 508, it flourished under the Northern Wei (386–534). It was eventually absorbed by Kegon.
6. Jōdo. This sect is an effort at simplification. It tries to present one object of Faith to its followers. Its best-known teacher is Zendō, a contemporary of the Nestorian missionaries at Singanfu. He advised his followers (and in this he was followed by the Japanese Hōnen) to throw away the other books of the Canon, and to pin their faith on the central clause of Amida's vow. His writings contain some wonderfully striking echoes of Scriptural phrases, e.g. "the turning of the hearts of the children to the Fathers, and vice versâ"," and the warning against adding to or taking from the words of his book. Haas ("Amida Buddha unsere Zuflucht") gives quotations from his works, as well as from those of Donran and Dōshaku.
7. Zen, another effort at simplification. Bodhidharma, who arrived in China in A.D. 527, advised his followers to throw away all books, and to strive to attain to Enlightenment by way of Meditation. Bodhidharma taught in the Kingdom of the Lian, and afterwards among the Northern Wei. This sect, like the Jōdo, has had a great influence in Japan. I have a chapter on it in my "Wheat among the Tares." See also "Sermons by a Buddhist Abbot," published by the Open Court, Chicago. It was not taught much at Singanfu, and was consequently slow in reaching Japan.
8. Ritsu, founded as a separate organization by Dōsen, at the beginning of the Tang period. But the Vinaya discipline had been taught long before that time, and came very early to Japan (see chapter on Dharmagupta), "If a man does not practise the Dhyāna and Samādhi, i.e. meditation and contemplation, he cannot understand the truth. If he does not keep all the precepts, he cannot accomplish his excellent practice." This would seem to show that the Ritsu is in some ways an amplification of the Zen. The sect in Japan was ultimately merged in the Shingon.
9. Hossō, i.e. "the sect that studies the nature of things," also known as the Dharmalakshana, or Yoga sect. This is the doctrine contained in the lectures given by Maitreya for Asangha to which I have already alluded. It was established in China by Hiouen Thsang, about A.D. 640. It was brought to Japan in 653 by Dōsō, who transmitted it to Gyōgi, and again, independently, in 712 by the notorious Gembō. It was the Hossō that brought about in Japan the system known as Ryōbu Shinto. It cannot be accused of having done much for the bettering of humanity in Japan.
10. Tendai, so called from the mountain on which its chief founder, Chisha Daishi, had his monastery. It is based on the Saddharmapundarika, and is one of the harmonizing sects. Emon (A.D. 551) is the first man to grasp the full significance of the Lotus Scripture. He was assisted in his work by Eshi and Chi-ki, the latter of whom, under the name of Chisha Daishi, becomes the actual founder of the sect. This sect sets out to be all embracing. Its supreme Buddha is Vairoc’ana, who transmitted his teaching to S’akyamuni, who transmitted it to Maitreya, and thus through Asangha's lecture-hall to the world. It divides the period of S’akyamuni's life into five. It admits Amida as another name for Vairoc’ana. It practises Yoga, and charms like the Hossō and Shingon do, but rejects the Shingon claim of a revelation to Nāgārjuna through the sage of the Iron Tower. Chisha Daishi died in A.D. 597.
11. Kegon (Avataṃsaka). The basal scriptures were translated in A.D. 418 by Buddhabhadra (Kakugen). It had a great vogue under the Tsin (557–589) and throughout the Tang period. In Japan it arrived later than the Hossō, but was swallowed up by the Shingon (see below on Namudaishi) and Tendai.
12. Shingon. We have seen that this sect (as also the Tendai) contains doctrines very similar to those of the Gnostics of Alexandria. The Secret Shingon was not, however, brought to China
till 710, when it was brought by Subhakarasiṇha (Zenmui), Vajrabodhi, and Amoghavajra. The Tendai claims to have the true Shingon, which it obtained by another route. There was a Syrian Gnosticism as well as an Egyptian one.
B. Note on the Three Amida Books.
The three books are—
1. The Larger Sukhāvati Vyūha, translated by Lokaraksha, 1 Anshikao, and numerous other translators during the first three centuries. The translation most in use now is that made by Sanghavarman in A.D. 252. "This Sūtra gives a history of the Tathāgata Amitābha, from the first spiritual impulses which led him to the attainment of Buddhahood in remote Kalpas down to the present time when he dwells in the Western world called Sukhāvati (Goku-raku), where he receives all living beings from every direction, helping them to turn away from confusion and to become enlightened" (Nanjo). The Sūtra is known in Japanese as the Muryōjukyō.
It should be noticed that, in spite of what is said in the Sūtra, Amidaists always speak of Amida as an Eternal Being without beginning or end. Also that very little attention is paid to any
portion of Amida's Vow except to that portion (eighteenth section) which relates to Salvation through Faith in Amida's Name.
2. The Smaller Sukhāvati Vyūha (Japanese Amida Kyō), brought to China by Kumarajīva soon after A.D. 400, and by him translated. It is not certain whether Eon had access to this Sūtra or not. Probably not. "It is taught in this Sūtra that if a man keeps in his memory the name of Buddha Amitābha one day or seven days, the Buddha together with Bodhisattvas will come and meet him at the moment of his death in order to let him be born in the Pure Land Sukhāvatī; and that this matter has equally been approved by all the other Buddhas of the Universe." Eon's ceaseless devotion to the Sacred Name seems scarcely necessary in view of the words of the Sūtra, "one day or seven days."
3. Amitāyur-dhyāna-sūtra (Jap. Kwammuryōjukyō), translated by Kalayas’as in A.D. 424, eight years after Eon's death. In this Sūtra, Queen Vaidehi is weary of this wicked world, and is coin-forted by S’akyamuni, who teaches her how to be born in the Pure Land, and instructs her in the three kinds of goodness. These are (i) worldly goodness, e.g. filial piety, loyalty, respect for parents, etc.; (ii) morality, of that internal and unworldly kind which is the first foundation of the religious life; and (iii) the goodness of practice, which includes the practical application to life of the Four Great Truths and the Six Pārāmitas or Cardinal Virtues. A good seed produces good fruit in abundance. If we sow the seed of the three goodnesses we shall reach, as a fruit, the ninefold bliss of the Pure Land.
154:1 There is a long and painstaking article on the history of the Tsin Dynasty by Ch. Pithon in China Review, vol. xii. p. 401. He shows that during this period the illegitimate states were the true props of Buddhism, just as in Germany it was the small states that favoured the Reformation.
155:1 In 375, the Huns, with the Alani and Ostrogoths, crossed the Volga and attacked the West Goths. The latter applied for help to the Emperor Valens, and it was on this occasion that they brought into prominence the bishops, priests, nuns, etc., whom they had according to their ancient rites. See the quotation from Eunapius at the end of the preceding chapter.
156:1 China Review, vol. xi. p. 308.
156:2 Mentioned by Cosmas Indicopleustes.
159:1 See note on the three Amida books at the end of this chapter.
159:2 The three S’astras are (i) "the Madhyamika-s’āstra, or "Book of the Mean" (Chūron); (ii) the S’ata sātra, or "Collection of one hundred Essays" (Hyaku-ron) and (iii) Dvādas’anikāya s’āstra, or "Book of the Twelve Gates" (Jūni mon ron). They were composed by the Bodhisattvas Nāgārjuna and Deva to clear the confusion arising in men's minds from the distinctions between entity and non-entity. They expound, from a Mahāyānistic standpoint, the whole teachings of Buddha's long life, with special emphasis perhaps on the "Twelve Gates" that lead to the Inmost Shrine of Perfect Enlightenment. They accepted the Kegon, the Âgamas, the Saddharmapundarika as three periods in S’akyamuni's ministerial career, and placed the Saddharmapundarika last as being the crown of Buddha's personal teachings. It is not the object of this book to explain Buddhist philosophy. I leave these questions for discussion in a later volume.
161:1 I have had no opportunities of verifying this statement, nor have I been able to find any account of the White Lotus Society in any publication accessible to me. The statement may be capable of verification by persons residing in China. I have discussed the question in the appendix to "Shinran and his Work."
A book of dialogues, mainly religious, between Eon and Kumarajīva exists in the library of the Shinshu Daigakko at Sugamo near Tokyo. The work is said to be unique, no other exemplar being known to exist. Through the kindness of the librarian of that institution, a copy is now being made for me.
162:1 Their names in Sanskrit are Bhaishajyarāja, Avalokites’vara, Samantabhadra, and Gadgadasavara.
166:1 With regard to the earliest extant Chinese translation of this work, the one made by Lokaraksha in A.D. 147, it is worthy of notice that Hōzō Biku, the earthly phase of Amida, there makes his vow before not the last, but the first of his eighty-one predecessors, and that the Name of that Being is Lokeśvararāja, "the King, the Lord of the World." In the description of his Vow, the conditions of salvation are faith and obedience, not faith only, and the obedience required embraces the ordinary morality, which is largely common to all religions. In Sanghavarman's translation the twenty-four paragraphs of the original vow have been expanded to forty-eight; the chief stress being laid by subsequent teachers on the paragraphs which accentuate the importance of Faith alone as a means of salvation. But even in the earliest version it is laid down most distinctly that, though there are many Buddhas (as there are gods many and lords many), yet they all are summed up in Amitābha, the Buddha of Infinite Purity, whose vow was made countless ages ago in the presence of the Buddha whose name is "the King, the Lord of the World."
If we judge by the dates of the translations, the other Amida books clearly do not belong to the first stages of the Amida cult.