The Creed of Half Japan, by Arthur Lloyd, , at sacred-texts.com
Buddhism during the Nara Period 1 from A.D. 621–782
The activities of Kumarajīva seem to have led to the dismemberment of the Mahāyāna, which, in spite of the variety of doctrines it contained within its ample folds, had hitherto contrived to preserve a united front. The sectarianism of Chinese Buddhism was aided by the distracted state of the Chinese Empire, broken up into many kingdoms, each striving for the mastery; and we have seen some of these rival states casting about for supporters, and trying to enlist sympathy for themselves in the Korean peninsula and in Japan. We have seen Korea similarly divided into warring kingdoms, some of which—Kudara and Mimāna—looked to Japan for aid, while Shiragi, relying on Chinese support from the kingdom of the Wei, boldly resisted Japanese intervention; and Koma, too weak for independent action, sat on a fence and vacillated between Japan and Shiragi, according to the interests of the hour. And, lastly, we have seen Japan under Shōtoku Taishi gradually inclining more and more towards a following of China, and taking the Empire of the Sui (590–618) as its model, both in religion and in secular politics.
Shōtoku died in 621. Three years before his death, the dynasty of the Sui, in China, with its costly ambition and magnificence, had been obliged to make way for the family of the Tangs, who ruled till 907, and who inaugurated a period of greatness and prosperity such as China had not known since the downfall of the great House of Han in 220 A.D.
The Tangs began badly for Buddhism. Kaotsu (618–627), their first ruler, broke up Buddhist monasteries right and left, and sent 100,000 bonzes back to lay life where they would be obliged to work, and neither his successor Taitsung nor his wife Ch’angsun 1 had any sympathies for the faith. But the Buddhists knew how to win their way back to favour in the course of a few years, and the Tangs had not been fifty years on the throne in China ere Buddhism was once more in full force, and on a far more splendid basis than before. Under the Tangs it became essentially a Chinese faith; it had, as it were, discarded its Indian waistcloth and adopted the flowing robes of the Celestial.
In the selfsame year that Shōtoku Taishi died, there was erected at Singanfu, at that time the capital, the first Zoroastrian temple ever built in China. The Tangs had owed very much to the support of the Turkish tribes on the western frontier of China in the days when they were busy winning their crown, and it was probably due to this
connection between the Empire and the tribes on its borders that the Magians took the opportunity of preaching in China itself. Singanfu, which lies in the province of Shensi, is not far removed from the then abodes of the Turkish tribes; indeed, it was once suggested to Kaotsu, by some pusillanimous advisers, that he should remove his capital to some safer spot in the province of Honan, where he would be free from the danger of incursions from the barbarians.
The year of Shōtoku's death was also the year of the Hejirah, the year in which Mohammed fled to Medina and announced his divine mission to the astonished world. Ten years later, Izdegerd, King of Persia, was fighting for his very existence against the victorious Arabs who had gone forth conquering and to conquer, and by the year 640 the whole of Persia, with Merv, Balkh, Herat, everything as far as the Indus and the Oxus, had submitted to the sword of the new-born enthusiasm. That Persia, in the pangs of her last crisis, appealed to China for help is known. After Izdegerd's death in 651, his son fled into Turkestan, from whence he made his way to China. He succeeded in persuading the Chinese to take over the administration of the whole country between their frontier and that of the Arabs, and it was as Chinese Viceroy of that district that he was attacked and defeated by the Arabs in 670, and obliged once more to flee to Singanfu. 1
Was it chance, or was it the design of Heaven, that, in the year 636, shortly after Izdegerd had entered upon his last fatal war against the Arabs, there arrived in Singanfu a Christian mission hailing from Persia?
When the Nestorian protest against the use of the word Theotokos as applied to the mother of Our Lord
had been condemned by the Council of Ephesus in A.D. 431, the followers of Nestorius, finding themselves liable to unjust persecution in the Roman Empire, withdrew into Persia, where they were well received, and enabled to establish flourishing communities, not only in Persia, but in Balkh, Merv, Central Asia, and India. They were loyal to the country of their adoption, as well they might be; that country was now in distress, and was looking to China for help; a Christian mission in China might be productive of much good, both spiritually and politically. The mission was, therefore, sent; 1 it arrived at Singanfu in 636, and was well received by the Emperor and his successors, some of whom issued edicts in favour of the faith, or gave money for building "temples of felicity," as they were called, whilst one went so far in his patronage that,
without becoming a Christian, he would still keep the Christmas festival with his Nestorian subjects. There were times of persecution, to be sure; but the Nestorian missions survived them all. In the year 1293 the Franciscans under John of Montecorvino arrived at Peking, and found the Nestorians in full force; in 1304, the Nestorian Patriarch of Baghdad, the head of the whole Nestorian Church, submitted himself to Rome, and the Chinese Nestorians seem to have thought it best to follow his example. In 1305, John de Montecorvino reported very large accessions to his flock, and the Nestorians of China disappear from history.
There was also in Singanfu and its neighbourhood the zeal of Buddhism, aroused by the sense of its new dangers. The luxury of the Sui, and of many of the sovereigns of the illegitimate states, had been suffered by the Buddhists to go unreproved. Nay, they had profited by the distractions and evils of the times, and had secured for themselves wealth, position, and exemptions from taxation as the price of the support they gave to luxurious and ambitious princes. All these things had brought upon them the hatred and contempt of the lettered classes, and the undisguised hostility of powerful sovereigns, like Kaotsung and others, must have warned them to set their house in order if they would continue in their former prosperity. We can see many signs of this movement of reform produced by fear. The new school of translation inaugurated by Kumarajīva, the suggested amalgamation of Buddhism with Taoism, the new revelations (for they amounted to that) of the Hossō and the Kegon, and the wide-embracing system inaugurated by Chisha Daishi of the Tendai, all point to the same conclusion.
Bodhidharma and Zendō 1 alone aimed at simplification,
but the former was not represented at the capital of the Sui and Tang. Zendō, however, was there, and his preaching of salvation by faith was welcomed by the poor. He was the popular preacher of the hour, and the popularity of his preaching drew upon him the hostility of the other sects. Tendai, Hossō, Kegon have always been the enemies of the simple faith preached by Zendō. They have always treated it as something alien to Buddhism, and so perhaps it was. At any rate, there it was in Singanfu, side by side with many alien faiths, during that momentous half-century which meant so very much for the religious development of the Far East.
It was probably about this time also that the Manichæan missions reached China proper. They had long ere this time been in the Turfan and Khotan districts, but probably never reached China itself until the time of the Tangs. The recent discoveries of German and other explorers are likely in a short time to add so much to our knowledge of Manichæism that it is not worth while here to dilate upon the subject. Let us content ourselves with noting that Manichæism was in China, and was one of the rivals of Buddhism.
Magians, Christians, Manichæans, three rivals, and the old enemies to boot, Confucianism and Taoism. With Kaotsu and Taitsung on the throne of the united empire, and putting down Buddhist monasteries with a strong hand, things looked very dark indeed for the Chinese Mahāyāna. Hiouen Thsang was the man who saved it in this crisis. Born in 602, and admitted to the priesthood in 622, Hiouen Thsang determined to travel to India and collect accurate information and materials from the original home of Buddhism for the defence of the faith which he saw threatened from within and from without. It is quite possible that he mistrusted the Central Asian traditions.
[paragraph continues] Starting in 629, he made a tour of such Buddhist countries in Central Asia as had not yet fallen a prey to the Arabs, and in India, where he was royally treated by the great king Siladitya Harsha, one of the last of its Buddhist sovereigns. When he returned to China, the movement hostile to Buddhism had for the time spent its strength, and when, about 646, he published translations of some of the new books he had brought with him, the Emperor himself deigned to write a preface. 1
Hiouen Thsang, the Max Müller of his day, was in direct relations with Japan. In 655, about the time of the accession of the Empress Saimei, a priest from Kawachi, a Sōzu 2 of the name of Dōsō, went over to China with the ambassadors sent to announce the new sovereign's accession, and there, meeting with Hiouen Thsang, learnt from him the Hossō or Dharma-lakshana doctrines, which the great doctor was preaching. Five years later, in the same reign, two more priests, Chitsū and Chitatsu, crossed to China in a ship of Shiragi, and were initiated into the Hossō mysteries by Hiouen Thsang and his coadjutor Jion daishi. In the third year of Taihō (704), another batch of these priests went to China, armed with letters from their sovereign, and studied the doctrines
of the Unity (Yuishiki) under Chishō Daishi. Thus three 1 distinct strains of Hossō teachings came to Japan, and blended there, and though the Hossō sect, qua sect, disappeared shortly after the close of the Nara age, it left permanent traces in the religious history of the country. For Dōsō and Chitatsu had as their principal disciple the celebrated Gyōgi Bosatsu 2 to whom is attributed the invention of the Ryōbu Shintō, 3 which made it possible for Buddhism to strike deep roots in the religious consciousness of Japan.
If we trace back this teaching to its earliest origin we shall see what it meant, and how powerfully it was likely to affect the situation in Japan. We shall also see, incidentally, how far the Mahāyāna had by this time travelled from the simplicity of S’akyamuni's teachings.
The Hossō sect traced itself back to the brothers Asangha and Vasubandhu, whom we may place at the beginning of the fourth century A.D. It was an age of syncretism and eclecticism. Mani, the founder of Manichæism, had already worked out his great religion, which was destined to spread so widely and to have so extended and varied an influence, and Mani had laboured in India, as well as studied in Alexandria and Babylon. The Buddhists in India, hard pressed by the arguments of Hindu philosophers, such as the doughty Sankarāchārya, were casting about for new ways of putting their principles before the Hindu world. The Dharmalakshana or Hossō teachings of Asangha and Vasubandhu were intended to build a bridge between Hinduism and the Mahāyāna, of such a nature that the Buddhist might, as it were, invade the territory of Hinduism and conquer without seeming to do so.
The teaching was based, as I have said, on a revelation or quasi-revelation. Whilst Asangha was lecturing in Ayodhya, the present Oude, in India, he received a heavenly visitor, the great Bodhisattva Maitreya, 1 the disciple of S’akyamuni, who had received the promise of becoming the future Saviour of the world, and who was waiting in the celestial regions for the fulness of the times to come. Maitreya, appearing in the lecture hall, expounded for Asangha a secret and mysterious doctrine which he had been commissioned to deliver. He had come from a Buddha greater and wiser than S’akyamuni, from the great Buddha Loc’ana, or Roshana, whose colossal statue is now known as the Daibutsu of Nara, and who is not to be confounded with the Vairoc’ana of the Shingon sect, introduced later by the Kegon doctors and Kobōdaishi;
[paragraph continues] Roshana, said Maitreya, was the Supreme Being, invisible but all-powerful. When He showed Himself upon earth, it was through the personality of two great spiritual Beings, Maitreya Himself, and Manjuśri, the potent Bodhisattva of China. 1
One of the keynotes of the Hossō teaching (it would require a large volume to describe it all) is the doctrine of Oneness from which the other name of the sect, the Yuishikikyō, or Oneness sect, is derived. A Christian would say, "God is One, and besides Him there is none other." But the Hossō sect (if we may use the word "God" for Buddhist speculations) would put it a little otherwise. "God is One, and besides Him there is nothing." The Universe, or God (for the two were treated as identical) was looked upon as a mighty ocean, unfathomable and unlimited, and the phenomena of nature and life, trees and plants, birds and beasts, sun and stars, men, angels, and even the gods whom men worshipped, were but the waves which appear for a moment on the surface, vanish, and reappear in a different shape. The wave I look at now is but a rearrangement of the drops in the wave which appeared in a different shape in another part of the bay. The god I worship now, on the Himalaya slopes, I call by the name of S’akyamuni; rearrange the particles that compose him, and he will appear presently on the plains of the Ganges as the Hindu Vishnu. The name and the form have been changed, the essence which is a part of the great Ocean of the Universe, which is God, is unchanged, and remains identically the same. Thus it came in India that men passed from one cult to
the other, and that the Hindus, to this day, look upon S’akyamuni as one incarnation of their god Vishnu.
This was the doctrine which enabled Gyōgi Bosatsu, and other leading priests of the Nara period, to propound the doctrine of Ryōbu-Shinto (or Ryōbu-Bukkyō, as it is also called). According to this doctrine, the ancient gods of Japan, Amaterasu, the goddess of the Sun, and the other divinities whom the Japanese had brought from their unknown original homes on the continent of Asia, were not independent spiritual Beings, but merely fresh incarnations of that same divine Essence which had moved for a while on the surface of things, as this or that one of the great Bodhisattvas and Buddhas of the Indian religion. Buddhism had not come to destroy the faith of Japan, but to strengthen it with the additional light that was shining forth from India and China. How far the movement was a popular one, may be doubted. The common people counted for very little in those days; it was an oracle, issuing from the Temple at Isé, that authoritatively proclaimed the identity of Amaterasu and Vairoc’ana. 1 A few years before, in the year 616, the great god of Miwa 2 had very obligingly let it be known throughout Japan that the proper ministers to take charge of funeral rites were the Buddhist clergy. 3 This amounted practically to an endowment of Buddhism.
Another sect which made its appearance in Japan during the Nara period was the Kegon, or Avataṃsaka sect, which was introduced in 736. It was one of purely Chinese origin, though the books on which it was based came originally from India, and had been founded at the end of the Sui and beginning of the Tang dynasties, between 600 and 660, by a priest whose name the Japanese pronounce as Tojun ( ). It represented, when it arose, one of the latest developments of Chinese Buddhist thought (it came into prominence a little after the Hossō). The Japanese have always wanted to have the very latest in every department of human thought.
Like the Hossō, the Kegon went back for its origin to the very beginnings of the Mahāyāna. When Nāgārjuna, in his wanderings, had reached the Himalayas, he was taken to the Dragon Palace under the Sea, out of which he fetched the wonderful book known as the Avatamsaka Sūtra, 1 which was to form the basis of the new sect. It is a very difficult book, and very long: many translators in earlier times had tried their hands at it, but had only produced fragmentary versions of individual chapters. 2 Now at last, in the Tang period, a version of the whole was accomplished. The enterprise had the warmest encouragement from the Court, and one of the Tang empresses early in the eighth century, not only sent to Khotan to procure a complete copy of the Sanskrit Sūtra,
but also wrote a preface for the Chinese version when it came out. 1 It may have been that, in view of the close proximity once more of Christianity, Buddhism felt the need of advancing supernatural claims. 2 The Avataṃsaka Sūtra is full of the supernatural. In the days of S’akyamuni's life, immediately after he had, under the Bo-tree, attained to Enlightenment, he had (so it was said) remained in a trance of awe and wonder for the space of two weeks. It was now alleged that during that time he had in spirit ascended to the highest heaven, where, in a kind of Transfiguration, he had conversed with the two great Bodhisattvas—Manjuśri and Samantabhadra—in the very presence of the Supreme and Everlasting Buddha Vairoc’ana. 3 The doctrines thus delivered had been of a very deep and mysterious character, too deep for the ordinary mind of men to comprehend. S’akyamuni had therefore laid them aside for a while, and had not reverted to them again until towards the close of his ministry, when the disciples were sufficiently advanced to receive them.
We have thus, as it were, three different Buddhist
[paragraph continues] Trinities—the Trinity of the Hossō, namely, Roshana, Maitreya, and Manjuśri; that of the Kegon, Vairoc’ana, Samantabhadra (Fugen), and Manjuśri; that of the Pure Land, Amitābha, Kwannon, and Seishi—all claiming to come from the beginnings of the Mahāyāna, all supposed to have appeared simultaneously in China, just at the time when Christian missions first made their way to that empire, and all three brought over to Japan during the early years of the Nara period. At bottom the three sets meant pretty much the same thing, and the ethics of Buddhism were much the same whoever preached them; but the three represented sectarian differences, and there speedily appeared rivalries between jealous monks competing with one another for the favour of the court and nobility. This was one of the characteristics of the Nara age. 1
The student who has the time, inclination, and opportunity to prosecute further the study of this period, will find it full of very valuable historical material which throws a flood of light on the present life and thought of the Japanese people. Such a research lies far beyond the scope of the present work. 2 We may, however, refer to one or two points of importance.
Amongst a number of sovereigns of no special importance Kōtoku Tennō (645–654) is distinguished for the zeal with which he worked along the lines of political and civil reform laid down by Shōtoku. The Taikwa reforms (so called from the Nengo 1 or year-period in which they were issued—an institution then first borrowed from China) brought the institutions of Japan very near to the Chinese models. The old offices of the Ōmi and Ōmuraji 2 were abolished, and three new officers, with Chinese titles, Sadaijin, Udaijin, Naidaijin, appointed to take their place. Exact reports were demanded from the governors of the provinces as to the conditions and needs of the people, a simple but (for the time) sufficient Court of Appeal was instituted, in the shape of a box placed at the palace gates to receive the complaints of the people, provincial boundaries were fixed, and the Handen shuja-hō whilst providing that each peasant family should have a minimum allotment of rice land (two tan for a man, and a little more than one tan for a woman), also provided for the revenues of the State by taking one-twentieth of the produce for State purposes. Thus the State became the universal landlord, and the people paid a single tax inclusive of rent. The reforms were not carried out without opposition. Soga Ishikawamaro, who held the office of Udaijin, was falsely accused
by his enemies and unjustly done to death in 649. 1 Less than fifteen years later the Emperor Tenji (662–671) found it necessary to extirpate the Soga family, and to call to his assistance the family of the Fujiwara, 2 who have contrived to hold their great position, in one form or another, down to the present day. Tenji Tennō outlined the great Taihōryō 3 Code of Laws, which, promulgated in a subsequent reign, in A.D. 701, remained in force, with but few modifications, right down to the commencement of the Meiji era.
The Nara period also saw the publication of the two great chronicles of ancient Japan—the "Kojiki" and the "Nihongi," 4 published, the one in 712, and containing the history of Japan from the creation to the close of the reign of the Empress Suiko (A.D. 628); the other, published in 722, and covering very much the same ground. In estimating their value, it must be remembered that they are chronicles and not histories, and that, even so, the writers were obviously inspired with a desire to assert for Japan an antiquity, and consequently a dignity, equal to that claimed by the empire of the haughty Tangs. The lives of early sovereigns have therefore been in some cases extended beyond all bounds of probability, and
there are inconsistencies (not to say falsifications) which modern writers (even Japanese among them) have not failed to note. 1 There is practically no credible history of Japan and Japanese events before the introduction of Buddhism.
For the rest, the age was uncritical, superstitious, and therefore credulous. When the Kegon Scriptures were being expounded in the palace a pink cloud hovered over the building, which was taken to denote the presence of a celestial audience. A priest in the mountains of Tamba, who served a temple dedicated to Kwannon, was snowed up one winter's day, and, being cut off from access to the outer world for nearly a week, was in danger of starvation. As he prayed he heard a sound in the veranda, and, going out, found a joint of venison placed there. He ate it and lived, though by eating it he broke the laws of Buddhism. Some time after this, whilst cleaning his temple, he discovered the giver of the venison. From the thigh of the statue of Kwannon had been cut a piece of—wood, shall we call it? or flesh?—the exact size of the venison that had been placed on the veranda. 2 The deity himself, at the cost of a painful self-sacrifice, had saved the life of his worshipper.
Wonder was in the air, and therefore when the Goddess of Isé proclaimed her identity with Amitābha, or Vairoc’ana, it was believed; and when the strange tales of the "Kojiki" came out, they also were accepted in faith. It is easy to sneer at the ages of credulity; it would be wiser, perhaps, to look back at the strange stories current in Europe during the same period, which our forefathers
believed with simple credulity. People who live in glass houses cannot afford to throw stones. At the same time no one could possibly hold up the Buddhism of the Nara age as a model for any one's admiration or imitation.
Additional Note to Chapter XIX.
(Extracted from "Shinran and his Work," as showing the great importance of Zendō in the history of the Jōdo Mahāyāna.)
Kōmyōji ( )
In the year 614 A.D. a boy was born in China. By what precise name his parents first knew him I do not know. Judging from the analogy of other men similarly situated, he had many names at different periods of his life. The name by which he was last known was Zendō ( ), but that was almost certainly not the name of his childhood. His family name was Shu ( ), and he was born in the district of Shishū ( ).
When he was born the Sui 1 dynasty was tottering to its fall, and had in fact only four years more of life. Already, we may believe, was the Duke of Tang, on the extreme north-west boundaries of the Empire, conspiring with Turkish and other chieftains, and meditating that great coup d'état, which put his master at his mercy and seated himself firmly on the Celestial
[paragraph continues] Throne, as the founder of a Dynasty, the most magnificent China had ever yet seen, and which was to continue for well-nigh three centuries. 1 The miseries of the people, heavily burdened and harassed to support the luxurious and ostentatious extravagance of the Sui monarchs, tended to encourage his hopes, and with the practised eye of the statesman he could see that it only needed a strong man at the helm to make China a world-power with very widely extending influence. For the inland states on the Western frontiers were already looking to China for aid against the terror of the Arab, shortly to be kindled to victory by the enthusiasm of the new faith inspired by Mahomet, and only a few years were destined to elapse before Persia, at war with Constantinople, and overrun by the Arabs, should come to China in the vain hopes of an alliance against the new foe. 2 To give another note of time, Shōtoku Taishi, 3 the greatest of Japan's early statesmen, and as
great in the religious world as he was in the political, was already busy with his celebrated reforms. The Constitution of the 17 Articles had already been in force some ten years when Zendō was born; the ruler of Japan had already given offence to the vainglorious Sovereign of the Sui by the letter in which the "Eastern Emperor" sent his greeting, as an equal in rank, to his brother the "Emperor of the West," and Korea, which had already done so much for Japan in the way of religious and civilizing influences, was giving Japanese statesmen a good deal of political anxiety. 1
In matters of religion, Confucianists and Taoists were apparently going on much as usual; but the Buddhist world, distracted partly by the immense volume and bulk of its own religious books, and partly by the multiplicity of the new ideas which the growing commercial activity of the people was importing from foreign countries, was in a state of apparently fermenting chaos. 2 Bodhidharma's attempts at reform (A.D. 520) 3 were already a century old, and his way had already lost some of its prestige: new sects,
e.g. the Sanron, Jōjitsu, and Tendai, were already in process of formation, if not actually formed, and Hiouen Thsang had already (A.D. 611) entered the order of monks, 1 and was now preparing for the celebrated journey to India for the purpose of studying at first hand the doctrines of his faith.
Some reform was certainly needed. In the year 618, the Duke of Tang deposed his master, and took his seat on the Imperial throne as Kaotsu, the Founder of the Tang dynasty. One of the most striking incidents of his reign was the presentation of a petition to the throne against Buddhism. It was presented by leading men among the literati and Confucianists, and was strongly worded. 2 Kaotsu accepted the petition and acted upon it. He ordered a general dissolution and suppression of Buddhist monasteries, and sent 100,000 monks and nuns back into lay life. It was probably a necessary measure. The monks were very numerous and very powerful, and they claimed exemption from State control. Abuses of many kinds are apt to spring up in institutions the members of which claim not to be placed on the same footing with ordinary citizens.
Zendō entered the Buddhist order at a very early age. I cannot find whether it was before or after the suppression of the monasteries by Kaotsu; but it was most probably before that event, and his teacher was a certain Shōshō ( ) of Misshu ( ), a prominent person in the then newly-formed Sanron sect. This sect, which is also called the Ichi-dai-kyōshu, or "Sect of the Teachings of Buddha's whole life," made it a feature of its teachings that it professed to accept every one of the many thousand volumes of the Mahāyāna Canon as of equal authority, without assigning to any single one a pre-eminent place among its compeers. It aimed at the most complete and glorious comprehensiveness
[paragraph continues] (a comprehensiveness, which, I fear, can only be attained by the sacrifice of the critical faculty). Zendō's Buddhist biographer 1 adds that he also studied the Vinaya discipline (a fact which may be taken as showing traces of a somewhat practical turn of mind), and notices further that, during these student days, he was continually restless, that he sighed for greater definiteness, and expressed a longing for that simpler doctrine of Salvation by Faith in Amida, which has always had its exponents in China as well as in Japan.
At last, weary of the confusion, he went into the library, prayed for guidance, closed his eyes, and put out his hand for the book which was to simplify his Creed. The same story is told of others in Chinese Buddhism: in Zendō's case, his hand fell upon the volume of the Kwangyō (the Amitayurdhyāni Sūtra), 2 which relates how S’akyamuni comforted Queen Vaidehi in her distress
by reminding her of the mercies of Amitābha, "who is ever near thee." Zendō read and received comfort; but he could not understand all he read, and where he was there was none to explain it.
But he heard that, south of the Yangtze, at Rozan ( ) there were traditions and books which might explain what he wanted. It was here that Eon ( ), who died A.D. 416, had worked for thirty years, and had founded, in connection with a body of friends known as the "eighteen sages of Rozan," a guild known as the White Lotus Society, which was the first association of Buddhist monks and laymen for the joint adoration of Amida Butsu. Zendō learned all that he could at Rozan, and then recommenced his travels, consulting as many religious teachers as he found likely to be able to give him helpful advice and counsel. What he learned from these teachers induced him to adopt a rule of life, known as han shu sammai ( ), which reads almost like the stern rule of some Christian ascetic, still more so, perhaps, of that of some Manichæan fanatic. Mi tsune ni butsu wo raishi, kuchi tsune ni butsu wo tonae, kokoro tsune ni butsu wo omou. "His body ceaselessly engaged in the worship of Buddha, his mouth ceaselessly engaged in the recital of Buddha's praises, his heart ceaselessly meditating Buddha." With this in mind he retired to the Temple of Goshinji ( ) in Shunnan, where, amidst beautiful mountain scenery, and in the solitude of retirement, he "beat out his music." It is quite evident that this retirement, which lasted for some years, was of great value in the formation of his religious ideas. The name of the temple signifies, not inaptly, the "Temple for the Instruction of Truth." He remained here until his 29th year, returning to Singanfu in the year A.D. 643. 1
His stay, however, was for a short time only. Ever since his first conversion to Amidaism in the library, he had evidently been searching for any traces he could find of Amida followers in China. He had been to Rozan to examine Eon's literary remains and to get into touch with the White Lotus Society. We may presume that the Goshinji to which he retired was a place at which he would find persons in sympathy with his religious sentiments. Now he heard that Dōshaku ( ), the monk who is reckoned as Zendō's predecessor in the list of Shinshu patriarchs, was teaching in the district of Shinyō ( , Chinyang in Kiangsi), and he set off at once to visit the aged man.
Dōshaku, who is reckoned by the Jōdo Buddhist as the fourth patriarch of the Amida Doctrines, and therefore as Zendō's immediate predecessor, was born in Heishū ( ) in the year A.D. 553, and died in 636. He had experienced the persecution which the Buddhists had undergone during the reign of Wu-ti of the Chow ( ) Dynasty, 1 and he was one of the few brave ones who remained faithful in spite of the violence of the storm. His predecessor, the third patriarch, Donran, 2 had taught with considerable
effect in the district in which Dōshaka was born, and though he had been dead twenty years when Dōshaku came into the world, his influence was still felt in the neighbourhood. It was kneeling before the stone pillar erected to Donran's memory that Dōshaku made his vow to propagate the Doctrine of Salvation by Faith in Amida. Dōshaku was forty-eight years of age when he thus enrolled himself as a posthumous pupil of Donran's; but he is said to have developed the doctrine beyond what Donran had done. Donran had been drawn by the hope of eternal life, and it was this hope, set before him by the Indian monk Bodhiruci, that had made him burn his Taoist books of magic and set himself to the study of Amidaism. In Dōshaku's hands the Amida doctrine had developed in the direction of personality. He taught (if we may believe his latest biographer, Mr. Tada) 1 that Amida must be considered to be a personal Being and not a mere abstract ideal, and the book which he placed in Zendō's hands was the Larger Sukhāvati Vyūha, the book which gives the account of Amida's life, of His Incarnation in the person of Hōzō Biku, His labours undertaken for the Salvation of men, the successful accomplishment of His Great Vow, and His return to glory as King of His Western Paradise. This doctrine Zendō accepted and preached. He may be said to have carried the doctrine a stage further. The followers of Hōnen Shōnin (otherwise known as Genkū) form three communities: (i) the Shinshu, founded by Shinran, and (ii and iii) the two sub-sects of the older Jōdo sect, the Chinsei-ha and the Seizan-ha. 2 The Chinsei-ha, agreeing in this respect with the Shinshu, differ from the Seizan-ha in the matter of reciting the Nembutsu. The latter community treat the Nembutsu as an act of adoration addressed to all the Buddhas; the Chinsei-ha and Shinshu treat it as addressed to Amida alone, as being the only Buddha, and the one to whom everything else is subordinate and subservient; and this practice, according to Murakami. 3 is due to the teachings of Zendō. To Zendō, therefore, the doctrine of faith became a doctrine involving a belief in a single Being, without beginning of days or end of life, unbounded
in every respect, who, for man's salvation, had become a man, had accomplished a scheme of salvation, and had returned to his original glory.
Zendō's biographers relate how, when the patriarch was on the way to visit Dōshaku, his road lay through forests and mountains, so rough and impassable that, at last, worn out with fatigue, he had to lie down to rest in a cave. He was fainting with hunger and weariness, and it was two days before he could raise himself. Then it seemed to him that a voice sounded in his ears: "Pull yourself together, and struggle on: your difficulties will disappear." We may perhaps inquire what these difficulties were and how they disappeared.
Dōshaku is said to have died in the year A.D. 637. The date cannot be implicitly trusted, for it is also said that Zendō was twenty-nine years old when he visited Dōshaku and accepted Amidaism, an impossible age, if Zendō was born in A.D. 614. The explanation probably will be found in another statement to the effect that Dōshaku died five years after the visit of Zendō. That would make Zendō twenty-three years old when he visited Dōshaku, and we may easily believe that the conversion to Amidaism, as he came to learn it, may have been a slow process, not fully accomplished for several years. But, whichever way we look at it, the conversion of Zendō to the full faith in Amida must have taken place about the year A.D. 636 (if anything a little later than that year), and in, or near, the capital city of Singanfu. From that date, and in that city, he began his preaching activity.
China under the Tang dynasty had many dealings with Central Asia. The ruling family, as dukes of the dependent principality of Tang, had been much mixed up with Tartar and Turkish tribes, and it was apparently by their help that the family had been seated on the throne of China. From the moment, therefore, that the Dynasty was established, the new Empire became the cynosure of Central Asian eyes. 1 A Persian mission was sent by Chosroes II. praying for an alliance, and in 621 the first Zoroastrian temple was erected in Singanfu. The leader of this mission seems to have been a Magian of the name of Holu ("le fils du feu," as P. Gaubil calls him), who was very active in stirring up China against the Mahometans. Of Manichæans in China proper there seems to be no mention for many years to come, 2 but in 636,
almost synchronizing with the commencement of Zendō's preaching activity, arrived the Nestorian mission under Olopen, which has left behind it an enduring memorial in stone. Is it possible that the "difficulties" with which Zendō was troubled, when he lay wearied in the cave on his way to Dōshaku, were difficulties connected with the relations between the Buddhist Faith and the Faith which the Nestorians preached?
We can trace the development of Zendō's thought. Confused by the multiplexity of the popular Buddhism of his day, he turns to the scripture in which S’akyamuni is represented as comforting
[paragraph continues] Vaidehi with the proximity and tender watchfulness of Amida. Then he goes south of Rozan, to the remnants of Eon and his White Lotus Guild, after which, in the solitude of the Goshinji Temple, he works out his problem. In the meantime he hears of Christianity (by no means an impossibility if we remember the story of the introduction of silkworms into Europe a century before). What is he to do or say? He goes to Dōshaku to resolve his doubts, and Dōshaku tells him of "Eternal Life," and gives him the Sukhāvati Vyuha, which tells of Amida as a Person who came down upon Earth, who opened the door of salvation, and has gone to the place He has prepared for us. 1
After 636, then, we find, in Singanfu, two men preaching almost similar doctrines, the one preaching them in connection with Christ, the other in connection with Amida. It is further said of Zendō's activity that he was constantly helped by a mysterious priest who came to visit him every evening and helped him with his commentaries (see Tada, "Shoshingekōwa," p. 359). This mysterious collaborator may have been a Christian, and if so, the strange coincidences, the almost Pauline echoes, which are constantly to be found in Zendō's writings, would be amply accounted for. Nor is the supposition a baseless one; for we have one clear instance of such collaboration between a Buddhist and Nestorian about a century later, when the Nestorian priest King Tsing (or Adam, as he is called on the Singanfu monument) collaborated with the Indian monk Prajna in the translation of a book on the Six Cardinal Virtues (Shat Parāmitā Sutra). 1 The original was not in Sanskrit, but in the Hu ( ), i.e. the Persian, or, more probably, the Uigur language. At any rate, not much came of this attempted collaboration, which probably caused much jealousy and opposition. It was after a while forbidden by the Emperor Taitsung, who, in a published decree, ordered the Nestorian King Tsing to confine himself to the teachings of Mishiho, and to leave the followers of S’akyamuni to propagate the teachings of their master. 2
The suggestion of opposition raised against such collaboration, on the part of friendly disposed believers of the two religions, by more strait-laced partisans, brings me to another point of contact between Zendō and the Nestorians. It is said (my authority again is Mr. Tada) that great opposition was made against Zendō for his preaching. A butcher, whose customers had left him to turn
[paragraph continues] Buddhists, tried to murder the persuasive 1 monk who injured his trade. And not only did persons of low degree set themselves against them. The literati persecuted him and his followers, as did also the priests of the other Buddhist sects. When the Emperor Kaotsung died in 684, the reins of the Government fell into the hands of the Empress-Dowager Wu-hu, who was under the influence of a Buddhist monk named Hwai-yi, a monk of one of the sects opposed to Zendō's teaching, and Hwai-yi in 694 caused much popular discontent among the lower classes by burning a favourite temple, which may have been Zendō's. For the common people heard Zendō gladly, and it was his preaching of a Gospel to the poor and outcast that annoyed the literati and the "Salvation-by-knowledge" Schools of Buddhists.
Strange to say, the Nestorians, well received and honourably treated by Taitsung and Kaotsung, fall into disgrace, and are persecuted, as soon as Kaotsung's death leaves the supreme power in the hands of the Empress-Dowager Wu-hu, and her adviser Hwai-yi. The persecution of the Nestorians is instigated by the same people as that against the followers of Zendō, and much the same pretexts are alleged. Moreover, the persecution of the two bodies goes on for the same time, and relief comes to them simultaneously. Of the Nestorians we read that Huantsung (723–756), succeeding Wu-hu, rebuilds the "Temple of Felicity," as the Nestorian Church is called, that Huantsung's successor, Sutsung (756–763), coming into a disordered inheritance recovers Singanfu which was in the hands of rebels, and erects "luminous" temples in various parts of his Empire, and finally that the Emperor Taitsung (763–780), the same who discouraged the
collaboration of King Tsing and Prajnā, not only celebrated the Bon Festival with the Buddhists in the seventh month, but kept Christmas in the twelfth with the Nestorians, "burning incense" in a "luminous temple" with the "luminous multitude." As to Zendō's followers, we find them gathering round a teacher named Ekan, not very long after the master's death. Ninety years after that event, a monk named Hossō is mentioned as acquiring great fame, and in 793 Shōkō makes Uryūsan ( ) the headquarters of the teachings promulgated by Zendō. But by that time the Emperor Taitsung was already dead (ob. 780), and the collaboration between Amidaist and Christian had already been prohibited.
When the Nestorian mission first arrived in China in A.D. 636, they procured from the Emperor Teitsung a decree authorizing the erection of a Tatsin (i.e. a Syrian) temple. This name, however, may have led to confusion, for both Zoroastrians and Manichæans might conceivably have claimed the title (loosely construed), and in fact did so. When Huantsung, soon after 713, rebuilds the Nestorian Church, it is called a "Temple of Felicity." When Sutsung, in 756, recovers Singanfu, the Nestorian Churches are "luminous ( ) temples," and this name has come to be identified with Nestorianism ever since, both in China and Japan.
When Zendō died, the Emperor Kaotsung (650–683) granted to the temple in which he resided the honorific title of Kōmyōji ( ), which is only another form of "luminous temple." The popular explanation of this name is obviously a fanciful one. Bright rays of light do not come out of the mouths of even the most eloquent preachers of any faith, nor do books, however holy and mouldy, glow with a phosphorescent light. Yet that was what Shōkō is said to have seen issuing from the works of Zendō preserved in the library at the White Horse Monastery. 1 Kaotsung was an enlightened monarch, and if he gave the title of Kōmyōji, it must have been for the quality of the doctrine and not by reason of any doubtful miracle. But it is quite probable that "luminous temple" and Kōmyōji may have been used as alternative titles to describe the Faith in One Saviour as taught, both by the Nestorians and the children of Zendō, during the period of collaboration, and that later, when Taitsung ordered the two to keep apart, the name of Kōmyōji was taken by the Buddhist section
of the "movement" as their own specific designation, the Manichæans distinguishing their temple by the title Dai-un-kōmyōji.
This view receives considerable support from Japanese history. Shōtoku Taishi, whom the Shinshu honour as the first of their Zenchishiki or Saints, died in 621, shortly after the commencement of the Tang Dynasty. Buddhism was, therefore, in full swing in Japan when, in 636, the Nestorian Mission arrived at Singanfu, and Zendō began his preaching, and there were many Japanese students being sent yearly to China for purposes of study. 1 Not only so, but there were many Chinese families residing in Japan and naturalized there (ayabito), and it has been noticed that most of Kōtoku Tennō's Taikwa Reforms (A.D. 645–654) were worked out for him by these ayabito. 2 The whole of the Nara period was an age in which Japan was peculiarly sensitive to Chinese influences, and especially to the influences of Chinese Buddhism.
This influence seems to have reached its maximum during the reign of Shōmu Tennō (724–748) and his Consort Kōmyō Kōgō (the very name, a posthumous one, is in itself significant). Shōmu Tennō was a very zealous Buddhist. He founded hospitals and charitable institutions, and his Empress distinguished herself by personally undertaking the nursing of lepers 3—a truly Christian work. Japan was in no position at the time to undertake hospital work unaided. Foreign doctors had to be employed, and the industry of Japanese students has recently shown us the presence in Japan, at the Court, of a Nestorian Christian (the Nestorian Christians were famous all
over the East for their skill in medicine). 1 Here, therefore, we have possibly two instances of simultaneous collaboration, Buddhist and Christian uniting in the production of books in China, and in works of charity in Japan.
In 781, the Singanfu monument is erected, and shortly before, or afterwards, the Chinese Emperor finds reason for prohibiting the collaboration. In 782 the Emperor Kwammu comes to the throne of Japan. The Buddhists have been giving themselves airs for some time, and the ambitious priest Dōkyō, intriguing with the Empress Shōtoku (765–769), has assumed the title of Hō Ō, or "religious emperor," a kind of pope! Kwammu determines to put an end to the political intrigues of the Nara clergy, removes his capital to Kyoto, and sends Kōbō and Dengyo to China to investigate religion. They come back, the one with the Shingon, the
other with the Tendai. Again it is significant that these sects, and especially the Tendai, which became practically the State religion of Japan for many centuries, were the very sects which had organized the persecution against Zendō, when he first began to preach his doctrine of Salvation by Faith in Amida.
But the light still shone, in spite of the opposition of the Tendai. Zendō's books came over to Japan, Mr. Tada tells us, at different times between 796 and 858, and several monks, such as Kūya and Eikwan, kept alive the faith in Amida, invoking His Name on Hieizan, or wandering, disguised as travelling priests or horsedealers (umakata), from province to province, preaching a simple faith to country peasants. 1 And finally, the great Hōnen (Genial), breaking with the Tendai, as so many others had done, in order to return to the teaching of Zendō, founds at Kurodani a temple, still known as Konkai Kōmyōji, "the Illustrious Temple of the Golden Precept," which is to this day one of the chief seats of the Chinsei sub-division of the Jōdo sect. And it is this Chinsei-ha which preserves Zendō's rule of making the Nembutsu an invocation of the Great Amida alone, to the exclusion of all the rest.
191:1 The town of Nara was actually the capital of Japan only from 710 to 784, there having been no definite capital before that date. But Nara became so distinctly the dominating centre that its name may well be given to the whole period.
192:1 When Ch’angsun was dying she addressed her son in words somewhat to this effect: "Our life is in the hands of Heaven, and when it decides that we shall die, there is no mortal power that can prolong it. As for the Taoist and Buddhist faiths, they are heresies, and have been the cause of injury both to the people and to the State. Your father had a great aversion to them, and you must not displease him by calling on them on my behalf." She requested to be buried with great simplicity, exhorting her son to associate with good men and to avoid extravagance, especially in hunting and building.
193:1 E. H. Parker, "China: Her History, Diplomacy, and Commerce."
194:1 It purported to come from a certain Potolik, King of Fulin. Professor Hirth gives reason for saying that Potolik = Patriarch, and that Fulin is to be pronounced as Pat-lam, the birthplace of Christ being taken as = to Christendom, just as Magadha to the Chinese stood for India.
That the Nestorian mission was as much political as religious may e seen in the fact that an Olopen (was it a name or a title?) visited the court of the great Indian ruler Siladitya Harsha in 636. It is clear that the Nestorians, making common cause with their Persian protectors and friends, were actively engaged in trying to procure allies for them in their warfare against the Arabian invaders. Many Nestorian dioceses were destroyed when the Arabs annexed Merv, Balkh, Herat, etc., in A.D. 644. Hiouen Thsang, the Chinese traveller, was also in India at the time, returning to China in A.D. 645. It is also noteworthy that from this date both Siladitya Harsha and Taitsung now become more favourable to Buddhism. Neumann ("Asiatische Studien," i. 166) quotes, out of a Chinese work published about A.D. 502, a description of Persia, in which it is stated that there were many Buddhist temples in the Persian capital. Buddhist survivals are still to be traced in the doctrines of the Shiite, and still more so in those of the Sufite, sect of Mahometanism. It is quite probable that both Zoroastrianism and Manichæism were looked upon as legitimate variants of Buddhism. There were Nestorians in China before Olopen—some are mentioned as early as A.D. 508.
195:1 For Zendō, see note at the end of this chapter.
197:1 Hiouen Thsang gives us the best contemporary picture we possess of Buddhist India. If it were not for him and the other Chinese pilgrims; who visited India, we should know nothing of the history of that country for several centuries. Hiouen Thsang, in addition to his own contributions to the theology of Buddhism, brought back the materials with which the purely Chinese sects, such as Tendai and Kegon (Avataṃsaka), were afterwards established.
197:2 Sōzu, a Japanese ecclesiastical title equivalent to our canon or archdeacon. The lawlessness and want of discipline among the monks, whose numbers were very large owing to the indiscriminate patronage of the faith by devotee sovereigns during this period, gave rise to many attempts to regulate the Buddhist clergy by the appointment of overseers or superintendents.
198:1 There were actually four strains of the Hossō in Japan.
198:2 Gyōgi Bosatsu, a celebrated Korean priest (670–749), who enjoyed great influence in Japan. It was he who administered Baptism (Kwanjo) to the reigning emperor.
198:3 Ryōbu Shinto, an amalgamation of Buddhism and Shinto, which was not done away with officially until the beginning of the Meiji period.
One of the natural consequences of the adoption of the system known as Ryōbu ("two parts") was that, by treating the native gods of Japan as merely incarnations of one or other of the Buddhas, and as therefore entitled to the worship of the Buddhists, the Japanese were enabled to introduce into their Buddhism many non-Buddhist elements. Thus Amida and. Vairoc’ana, both of them symbolized by the Sun, came to be identified with Tenshōkōdaijin, the "Heaven-shining-mighty goddess," from whom the Imperial house claims descent. (The change of sex is unimportant, for many of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, e.g. Kwannon, are bisexual.) Thus, too, Buddhism, which absolutely forbids the taking of life, gained a Buddhified god of war in Hachiman, and Buddhist monks, who worshipped the god of war, could with quiet consciences take to fighting. Nichiren ("Seigoroku," p. 132) speaks of Tenshōdaijin and Hachiman as the true lords of Japan, revealed in later times as Buddhas, and Hideyoshi, who openly avowed his desire for deification, built for himself a temple in which he intended to be worshipped after his death as Shin Hachiman, the new god of war.
199:1 For this, see the, chapter on Hossō in vol. i. of "Bukkyō Kakushū Kōyō."
200:1 It is interesting to note how the different schools of the Mahāyāna nearly all present us with a Triad or Trinity. Between this Trinity of Locana, Maitreya, Manjuśri, and the Pure-land Trinity of Amitābha, Avalokites’vara, and Mahāsthāmaprāpta there is only a difference of names. The concepts are identical.
201:1 Nichiren (see "Sei-go-roku," passim)) was very scathing in his denunciation of this spurious oracle, as he termed it. Nichirenism had no official connection with Ryōbu, and yet, on occasions, it too would turn to Hachiman and Tenshōdaijin.
201:2 Miwa is a town in Yamato, with a well-known Shinto temple. The oracle is mentioned by Dr. Murakami on p. 859 of his handbook.
201:3 Most of the present funeral customs of Japan date from the Nara period. Strange to say, most of them imply the continuance of the soul after death. This is absolutely contrary to the original doctrines of Buddhism; but the Japanese belief in immortality was too deeply engrained to be easily eradicated.
202:1 See Nanjo, No. 87.
202:2 The list of Avatamsaka Sūtras given by Nanjo gives us some data for fixing the age of Nāgārjuna. One of the chapters was translated by Lokaraksha of the Han Dynasty who reached Loyang in A.D. 147. It would follow that Nāgārjuna must have lived before that date. Again, all Buddhist authorities in Japan place him 600 years after the Parinirvana. If we fix that at about 500 B.C. we get Nāgārjuna's date about 100 A.D., which agrees very well both with the translation of the chapter by Lokaraksha and with the year assigned by Eusebius and other writers for the terminus a quo of Gnosticism.
203:1 Nanjo, "Cat. of Tripitaka," Nos. 87, 88.
203:2 Mr. G. Sakurai, in the now defunct Hansei Zasshi, vol. xiii. p. 12, says that in A.D. 781 one of the Indian translators of the Tang period, Prajnã by name, who had come to China in order to get near the scene of Manjuśri's labours, was actually collaborating with the Nestorian priest King Ching, or Adam, the man who erected the Singanfu monument. Between them they made a translation of the "Shatparāmitā Sūtra," which they offered to the Emperor Tetsung. The Emperor, however, refused to receive it, saying that King Ching should devote himself to preaching the doctrines of Meshiho (Messiah), leaving the Buddhists to propagate the teachings of S’akyamuni. The book therefore appears in Prajnã's name only.
203:3 Vairoc’ana is said to be distinct from the Roshana of the Hossō, though in practice he is almost always identified with him. I have drawn my materials from the chapters on Hossū and Kegon in "Bukkyō Kakushū Kōyō," vol. i.
204:1 It is very interesting to trace chronologically the workings of the different Buddhist sects in the early years of Japanese Buddhism. Of the rival Trinities, the first to reach Japan is undoubtedly that which has Amitābha as its central figure. A century later comes the Trinity of Roshana, and still later again that of Vairoc’ana. For a while syncretism prevails, and an attempt is made to treat the three as identical. Geshin is the first to see that this syncretism is impossible. Finally, Hōnen and Shinran, in the twelfth century, get the courage of their convictions, and proclaim Amida as the True and only Refuge of the Buddhist believer.
204:2 I would call the attention of the European reader to the very suggestive work "Le Japon," by M. de la Mazelière, of which, I believe, three volumes have appeared. The author brings out very clearly the p. 205 points of Japan's indebtedness to China and India for the materials of much of her religious thought.
205:1 The practice of reckoning time by certain periods of years arbitrarily fixed from time to time, for the purpose of worrying the historian, had been long in vogue in China. Kōtoku introduced it in Japan, and there have been over 240 such periods since that time.
205:2 The Ōmi and Ōmuraji were in ancient times the ministers of the Emperor. The offices were hereditary. The new offices were not so in intention, but the Japanese is an oligarch by constitution, and the new offices gradually came to be monopolized by certain families.
206:1 That is the Buddhist version. It is claimed by Soga's enemies that he, true to family traditions, was aspiring to the crown.
206:2 To estimate the greatness of this aristocratic family, which has supplied such a long list of imperial consorts, the student is referred to the pages devoted to the subject in Fr. Papinot's "Dictionnaire d’Histoire et de Géographie du Japon."
206:3 For the Taihōryō, see Transactions Asiatic Society of Japan, vol. viii. p. 145.
206:4 Of the "Kojiki" there is a translation by Chamberlain (Asiatic Society of Japan, vol. x., Supp.); of the "Nihongi," one in English by Aston (Japan Society, London, Supp. I.); and one in German by Florenz (Mitteilungen der deutschen Gesellschaft für Natur and Völkerkunde Ostasiens. Tokyo).
207:1 See, e.g., vol. i. of Murdoch's "History of Japan."
207:2 I specially notice this particular instance, because the mention of venison seems to connect it with the deer Jātaka, which reappears in Christian folklore as the legend of St. Eustathius, and afterwards as that of St. Hubert.
208:1 The Sui dynasty ruled in China from 589–619 A.D. They came to power at the close of a long period of division, the Empire having been previously divided into many small kingdoms, with Chinese rulers south of the Yangtse, and Tartar or Turkish chieftains in the northern districts. Such were the Wei (Tartars), the Hsia (Hun), the Northern Yen (Tartar), the Western Liang (Turkish), and the Western Tsin (Thibetan). These smaller kingdoms are of great importance in the History of Buddhism, for it was in them rather than in China proper that Buddhism flourished before the Tang period. The Sui family had but two Sovereigns—Wenti (589–606), who united China and carried the Chinese name far among the Turks in the North and East; and Yangti (605–617), a man of violent temper, prone to debauchery and extravagance, who brought the Empire to the verge of ruin. He was overthrown by Li-yüan of the Tang family, who ascended the throne in A.D. 618, as Kaotsu.
209:1 It will be well to remember that under the earlier Tang Emperors, Chinese Viceroyalties extended as far as the frontiers of the Persian Empire, and that even monarchs like Siladitya Harsha of Kanauj acknowledged Chinese influence. It must also be remembered that Kaotsu suppressed Buddhist monasteries, sending 100,000 bonzes and nuns about their business, being stimulated thereto by petitions from Chinese literati. Buddhism had many enemies: e.g. in India, where Harsha's predecessor had likewise (in 601) dissolved the Buddhist monasteries, and even uprooted the famous Bodhi-tree. V. A. Smith, "Early History of India."
209:2 It will be well to keep a few dates in mind. The first Persian Temple (whether Zoroastrian or Manichæan is not quite clear) was erected at Singanfu, in 621, three years after Kaotsu's accession. The Persian Empire, under Chosroes II., was at the time at war with Rome (or rather Constantinople), a Persian army was on the Bosphorus. This war was a great strain on the Persian dominions, and there were other causes for anxiety. Mahomet, born 570, had announced himself as a prophet in 610, and the Hejira, from which all Mahometans date their years, took place in 622. Siladitya Harsha, whose Indian Empire extended over the whole basin of the Ganges, and who began as a warlike monarch, came to the throne A.D. 606. He, too, received an Embassy from the Persians, which he housed in a monastery near Multan, and massacred after entertaining them liberally. This must have been before his conversion to Buddhism, which seems to have been about 645 (V. A. Smith," Early History of India"). The Persians were evidently looking everywhere for helpful allies.
209:3 Shōtoku Taishi's political activity may be said to have begun with p. 210 the battle of Shikisen in 587, when the Shinto supporters were crushed. He became Crown Prince in 593, proclaimed Buddhism in 595, promulgated his Constitution of 17 Articles in 604, sent his celebrated letter to the "Emperor of the West" (Yangti of Sui) in 609, and died in 621. With him may be said to end the Korean period of Japanese Buddhism.
210:1 Korea, divided into several small states, was fluctuating in allegiance between China and Japan. Yangti of Sui sent an expedition to Korea (A.D. 615), and Shōtoku was much concerned to preserve Japanese influence in the peninsula.
210:2 With a few exceptions, the early books translated by the Buddhist missionaries of the Han period (ended A.D. 220) and of the era of confusion which followed, were so badly done as to be practically unintelligible. Kumarajīva, a native of Karachar, with apparently both Chinese and Indian blood in his veins, arrived at Changan in A.D. 406, and inaugurated a new era of translation. Amongst the books of which he provided fresh translations were the Sukhāvati Vyūhas and the Hokekyō. Kum, therefore marks a new period in the history of the Chinese Buddhism.
210:3 Not even with Kumarajīva's efforts could Buddhism in China be brought into a satisfactory condition. Bodhidharma's efforts were devoted to introducing a form of Buddhism which should not depend upon books, but teach men by contemplation to get straight to the Heart of Buddha.
211:1 Hiouen Thsang, born A.D. 602, enters the Order 622, about the time of Kaotsu's edict against the monasteries; unable to satisfy his mind, starts for India, 629, meets Silabhadra in India and enters the Nalanda monastery in 638, returns to China 645. The Emperor Teitsung writes a preface for his translation in 648. Hiouen Thsang is regarded as the founder of the Hosso sect, and it shows how close was the connection between Japan and China that the same sect appears in Japan 653, having been brought over by Dōshō, a student under Hiouen Thsang. It is noteworthy that H. T. did not bring Amidaism of the Zendō type back from India. Perhaps he did not find it there.
211:2 Kaeuffer, "Geschichte Ostasiens," vol. ii. p. 659.
212:1 Tada, "Shōshingekōwa," p. 347.
212:2 The Kwangyō, which is the second longest of the three Jōdo books, was not translated into Chinese until A.D. 424, its translator being Kalayasas, a contemporary of Kumārajiva. The Larger Sukhāvati Vyūha was translated as early as A.D. 147, by Anshikao and also by one of his companions, there being two later translations, one in 252 by Sanghavarman, and one of the Smaller Sukh. Vy. by Kumārajiva about 420. This would seem to point to the fact that Eon's teaching must have been based entirely on the earlier translations of the Larger Sukhāvati Vyūha, if, indeed, it was based on the present Amida books at all. Eon's spiritual father was Dōan (d. 390), a native of Ch’angshan in Chekiang, who moved to Jōyō ( ), where he was besieged and taken prisoner by a king named Fu Ken ( ), who ruled over one of the Central Asian principalities. During Dōan's lifetime, the Tsin Emperor Hiao-wu-ti was converted to Buddhism, chiefly owing to Tangut influences. Dōan professed to have the aid of Pindola (Jap. Bindzuru), and was devoted to all the Buddhas, though perhaps especially to Amida, as may be inferred from his nickname Miten no Dōan, "Doan of Mida's Heaven." Eon, who followed him, seems to have been entirely devoted to Amida, as was also the Society which ho founded, and which, there is some reason to suppose, was Manichæan. In the lifetime of Eon and Man began the streams of Chinese pilgrims to India, Fahian being the first. It is noteworthy that none of these pilgrims seem to have brought back anything definite about Amida from India. This is especially noticeable in the case of Hiouen Thsang, and it seems to point to the Central Asian origin of the Amida cult.
213:1 It is said of Eon that he was so strict in his observance of Buddhist discipline that when, on his deathbed, he was ordered to take honey, he first set his pupils to find out whether the Buddhist rule permitted it. While they were still examining, he died. Once he broke his rule of retirement by mistake, being so engrossed in conversation that he inadvertently went outside the bounds of his hermitage. This is a favourite theme for artists. We may here mention another theme, frequently found in Buddhist pictures, which may be called the "Narrow Way." A pilgrim, pursued by wild beasts, demons, and evil spirits, arrives at the edge of a precipice. In front of him are two lakes, the one of water, filled with sharks and other monsters of the deep, the other of fire and peopled with devils. Between the two is p. 214 a very narrow strip of precipitous rock, necessitating the wariest of walking, the first false step meaning instant destruction on the one side or the other. It is dark; but on the other side of the narrow pathway stands Amida, who has accomplished salvation. A ray of light issues from him, and the legend above him is Namu Amide Butsu, which Zendō taught men to translate "Trust ME, for I will save you"—the meaning of the word Jesus, but not that of the Buddhist legend.
214:1 The Chow [circ. 560) were a northern Kingdom, a rival, of the Wei, whose territories and powers they gradually usurped.
214:2 Donran died in 533. Like all the Amidaists, he was not a pure Chinaman, but a subject of one of the small northern kingdoms. Wu-ti, of the Liang, circ. A.D. 528, was a great admirer of Donran's. It is interesting to note that shortly after Donran's death, within the lifetime both of Dōshaku and Zendō, an attempt was made (the forerunner of the Ryobu Shinto in Japan) to amalgamate Buddhism with Taoism). I quote it to show that this was an age of syncretic aspirations, Donran may almost have been a contemporary of Vasubhandhu. Some trace of the tendency to make common cause with Taoism may be perhaps found in the syllable Dō ( ) in the assumed names of Dōan, or Dōshaku. Donran was certainly a Taoist before becoming a Buddhist. The Dō in Zendō's name is slightly different ( ), as though to emphasize some new principle that had come into his teaching.
215:1 Tada, "Shōshinge Kōwa," p. 349.
215:2 This is Mr. Murakami's division in Bukkyo Hyakkwa Hōten. But there are other disciples of Zendō in Japan, who do not trace their descent through Genkū and Shinran, notably the Yūdzūnembutsu and Ji sects, concerning whom a note will be given later on in this chapter.
215:3 Murakami, "Bukkyo Hyakkwa Hōten," p. 493.
216:1 P. Gaubil, "Mém. des Chinois," vol. xv. p. 399.
216:2 Acc. to the authors of Mem. Conc. la Chine (see xvi. 227, also p. 217 Kaeuffer, ii. 663) the first mention of Moni or Manichæan monks among the Tartar tribes occurs in 786. I am indebted to my friend Mr. S. Tachibana for the following data concerning the Manichæans, which somewhat modify these statements. In the fifth year of the Jōkwan (Chih Kwan) period of the Tang dynasty, i.e. A.D. 632, a Manichæan named Boku-go-ka-roku obtained from the Emperor Taitsung permission to erect a Tatsin Temple (Jap. Taishinji) at Singanfu. Tatsin was a generic name for Persia and Syria, and the name Taishinji was at first applied indifferently to all temples, Christian, Manichæan, or Zoroastrian, devoted to the propagation of faiths coming from those regions. In 734, the Emperor Hiüan Tsung ordered the destruction of all Manichæan Temples (probably of all Tatsin Temples), and forbade the promulgation of Manichæanism. In 746, the same emperor removed the prohibition and ordered that all temples belonging to religions of Persian nationality should be called Taishinji, whether in the two capitals or in the neighbouring country districts. In the third year of Daireki (Chin. Ta-lai), i.e. 768, Taitsung authorized Persian subjects to erect Dai Un Kōmyōji ( ), evidently as something distinct from the Taishinji, also as distinct from Buddhism. Again, in the third year of the Emperor Wutsung, A.D. 843, all Manichæan Temples were closed and many of their priests, nuns, and laity put to death or sent into exile. In the meantime the Kōmyō doctrine had reached Japan. It had been brought to China in the reign of the Empress Wu, in the first year of Yen Tsai, in 694 by a Persian of the name of Pu-ta-tan ( ). The Empress Jito was then on the throne. She was a zealous Buddhist. In the year 692, she received from the Chinese Ambassador a statue of Amida, and copies of a Sūtra called Son Kōmyō Kyō, which she caused to be preached throughout her empire. It is difficult not to connect this with the Faith that Zendō had preached. (Mr. Tachibana quotes from Bussotōki, fasc. 39–42. See also Haas, "Annalen des Japanischen Buddhismus," p. 318, and Dévéria, Journal Asiatique, ix.–x. p. 445).
218:1 I would like to call attention to an excellent article entitled the "Mystery of Fulin," by Dr. Hirth, of Columbia, which has just appeared in vol. xxx., part 1, of the Journal of the Am. Oriental Society. Dr. Hirth has long maintained (and gives reasons for so doing) that this embassy came from the Patriarch of Antioch as head of the Nestorian Church. There is also a great deal of information in Mrs. Gordon's recent work on the Messiah, a book which, despite its superabundant mysticism, is full of valuable information and most suggestive in the many hints and indications it gives for further investigation and research. It is interesting to observe that Olopen and his missionaries emphasize the fact that they come, not from the King of Persia or any political power, but from the Patriarch of Antioch, a purely spiritual personage with no political influence at all. Perhaps they did this on purpose to avoid being mixed up with Manichæans and Zoroastrians, who were more closely connected with the Persian State. Dr. Grierson, in his article on Bhakti-marga, in vol. ii. of Hasting's "Encyclopedia of Religions," shows us the same Olopen, three years later, in India, at the Court of Siladitya Harsha, whore he is well received. This will show us how Nestorianism was at work, quietly and unobtrusively, in India as in China. We know that there were Christians in China before Olopen, for the Emperor Justinian (527–565) received a present of silkworms brought to him by monks who had been living for some years either in Singanfu or in Nanking, These missionaries can scarcely have been Nestorians, seeing that Justinian had a great dislike to that body of Christians. On the Singanfu monument, erected 781, Olopen is described as Daitoku ( ). In the year 771, the Emperor Taitsung appointed ten Daitoku, men of recognized virtue and merit. The erectors of the monument would scarcely have ventured to give Olopen this title unless it had been (posthumously perhaps) conferred on him by the Emperor (see Murakami, op. cit., p. 804; and E. A. Parker, "Notes on the Nestorians," J.R.A.S, North China Branch, vol. xxiv. p. 297).
219:1 It is to be found in the Buddhist Canon. See Nanjo's Catalogue, No. 1004.
219:2 Prof. Takakusu called attention to Prajna in his Translation of I-Tsing's "Record of the Buddhist Religion," (Oxford, 1896). Mishiho is Messiah. Among the Jews in Kaifongfu, in Honan, are preserved portions of the prophets Zechariah and Malachi. A phrase which Zendō uses more than once is Fushi Sōgō, "the turning of the hearts of parents and children to one another," a phrase which at once suggests Malachi to the mind. Zendō's phrase was later made the title of the well-known Japanese Jōdo book, the Fushi Sōgō. I am much indebted to Dr. Haas, of Heidelberg, for calling my attention to this matter.
220:1 Tada says that Zendō's preaching was so persuasive that many of his hearers committed suicide by burning themselves alive. Mr. Tada rightly feels called upon to apologize for this; but no student of the Hokekyō will need to be reminded that to make a holocaust of oneself is set forth in the Hokekyō as the highest form of grateful adoration. But the word "holocaust" is also a good Christian expression, spiritually interpreted, and I venture to suggest that the holocausts in Zendō's time may have been of this kind. I am encouraged to think this by the fact that in the short biography of Zendō which appears in Shinshu Seikun, the word nyūjō ( ) is used to describe the occurrence. Nyūjō literally means "to enter into the state of determination," though Hepburn in his Dictionary, explains it as meaning voluntary suicide by fire.
221:1 See Nanjo, "Short History of the Twelve Buddhist Sects," p. 107.
222:1 See Haas, op. cit. I am much indebted to this work. I have already shown, in notes on Hiouen Thsang and the Manichees, how quickly Japan, at this particular period, was moved by any new religious movement in the capital of the Tangs.
222:2 See "Melanges Japonais," vol. iii. p. 287.
222:3 Murakami, op. cit., pp. 145–6. A little point, worthy of remark, is the following. In 639, Olopen, having established his missionaries at Singanfu, goes on to India and visits the court of Siladitya Harsha, at Kanauj. Shortly after this, wo read of Harsha's zeal for works of charity, leper hospitals, etc., institutions which Buddhism had scarcely known since the days of As’oka, but which have constantly been a conspicuous element in all Christian work. In Japan, what I may call the Kōmyō doctrines find their way into the country under Jitō and Mommu (637–697). Here also they are followed by a period of enthusiasm for works of charity which continues for a while, until the tares spring up and choke the good seed, and the Tendai, the ancient enemies of Zendō, get the upper hand.
223:1 The following are the data known about the Nestorian doctor Rimitsu. In the year A.D. 739 there arrived from China a ship-load of distinguished persons. (1) Kibi Mabi, who had been studying in China since 716, and who brought back with him the art of embroidery, the game of go, the biwa, and the Katakana alphabet. (2) Dōsen, the founder in Japan of the Kegon (or Avatamsaka) sect. (3) A Brahman priest, Bodhisena, from India. (4) A musician named Fat Triet (Buttetsu) from Cambodia; and (5) a Nestorian physician of Persian nationality named Rimitsu. The party were received on behalf of the Government by Gyogi, at Naniwa, and Gyogi was able to display his learning by conversing with the Indian Brahman in Sanskrit. A month later, a member of the Japanese Embassy in China returned to Japan with three Chinese and another Persian. The whole party were taken to court and the Emperor conferred official rank upon them, especial mention being made of Ritōho, a Chinaman, and Rimitsu. In 736 Shōmu was in the midst of his hospital schemes, and Rimitsu was evidently a distinguished physician. The Japanese must have been very different from what they are now if they neglected the opportunity of sucking his brains! Mr. Tachibana, who has furnished me with the materials for this note, bases his information on an article by Dr. Takakusu in "Shigakuzasshi," vol. iii. No. 7, and on Dr. Kume's "History of the Nara Epoch." That Rimitsu was a Christian was shown some time ago by Mr. Saeki. Ho could not have been a Manichæan, seeing that the Manichæans discouraged doctors.
Gyogi Bosatsu was the spiritual director of Sharma and his Empress Kōmyō. He was an advocate of Kōmyō doctrines, very practical, very charitable. He was a syncretist, and first originated the Ryōbu doctrine in Japan, stimulated thereto by the example of the Buddhists and Taoists in China.
224:1 It is said of Zendō that he and his disciples were much given to itinerant preaching. So were the Nestorians. The Greek merchant Cosmas Indicopleustes, who was in India A.D. 535, mentions a Nestorian order of itinerant preachers named Periodeutæ, or wanderers, who were busy in his days evangelizing in N. W. India. Olopen himself. may have been one; we find him in China and then in India. It is possible that Kūya and Eikwan may have been itinerant preachers after this type, having learned the value of it from Zendō. So also may have been the mysterious personage who, in 1095, appeared to Ryonin, the founder of the Yūdzūnembutsu, and told him of the "One man that stood for all men, and the one religious act that embraced all others." Ippen (1239–1239), the founder of the Ji Sect, wandered in his allegiance from the Tendai to the Seizanha of the Jōdo, and finally founded a sect of his own. He was a great student of Zendō, both as a teacher and as an artist, and his sect was intended to be a reproduction of Zendō's teachings. His nickname was Yūgyō Shōnin, "the itinerating preacher," and to this day, the head of the Ji sect is supposed to be always travelling about the country preaching.