Sacred-Texts Confucianism Shinto Index Next
BY GEORGE WM. KNOX, D.D.
[Read January 20, 1892.]
Previous to the recent introduction of western literature and science, the intellectual development of the Japanese may be studied in three periods, each characterized by a distinctive system of religion and ethics.
The first period came to an end in the eighth century of our era. It was the period of Shintō and of pure native thought. It has been fully treated in the Transactions of this society.1
The second period began with the introduction of Buddhism and, with it, of the Chinese civilization in the sixth and seventh centuries A.D. Thenceforth for a thousand years the new religion was supreme. "All education was for centuries in Buddhist hands, Buddhism introduced art, introduced medicine, moulded the folk-lore of the country, created its dramatic poetry, deeply influenced its politics and every sphere of social and intellectual activity."2 Religiously its highest distinctively Japanese development was in the p. 2 thirteenth century, when the Nichiren and Shin sects were founded. Its impress is deep upon the literary masterpieces of the eleventh and twelfth centuries.3
The third period began with the establishment of peace under Tokugawa Ieyasu and continued until the period of Meiji in which we live. It is the period of the Chinese philosophy as interpreted by the great scholars of the Sō (Sung) dynasty in China.
These periods intermingle and overlap. Repeated instances of Chinese influence are detected even in the earliest remains of pure Japanese literature; in the second period the influence of the earlier remained and the force of the Confucian teaching was strongly felt. And in the third period not only did the influences of the three intermingle, but they came to philosophical and religious self-consciousness and conflict.
The Confucian ethics came to Japan early in the Christian era, just how early is uncertain. The wide influence of Chinese thought and civilization date from the introduction of Buddhism; but the distinctive triumph of the Chinese philosophy was in the seventeenth century of our era. In Japan as in China the prevalent philosophy must be distinguished from the traditional and dogmatic ethics.
PHILOSOPHY AND ETHICS.
This distinction often has been overlooked and the philosophy has been identified with the teachings of the Sages. Then, as a second step, these teachings are described as "an attempt to isolate the purely human side of morals,"4 finding its sole origin "in the conviction that human moral life has its hasis and its safeguards in human nature."4 The words of Confucius and Mencius appear to be "a set of moral truths—some would p. 3 say truisms—of a very narrow scope and of dry ceremonial observances, political rather than personal."5 However true this characterization of the early Chinese teachings may be, one dissents when it is set forth, finally, as "the creed of educated Chinamen";4 nor, so far as my limited study goes, can I find that it has satisfied "the Far-Easterns of China, Korea and Japan."
It is not necessary to linger over the efforts to prove the original monotheism of the Chinese nor to recount the religious elements in the teaching of Confucius.6 After his death there was a rapid "degeneracy," for his "set of moral rules" left an open door for other doctrine. In the time of Mencius scholars openly ridiculed the "Master," and in spite of Mencius's opposition Taoism gained in strength. Later on for centuries Taoism had "the field pretty much to itself;"7 until at a subsequent date this mystical system received "Buddhism with open arms."8
As early as 65 A.D. the Imperial sanction was given to the Indian religion, and thenceforth for centuries men were zealous for both Confucius and Buddha.9 So in the time of the Eastern Tsin "Buddhism was the chief religion, . . . and the doctrines of Confucius were much esteemed;"10 and p. 4 again we read of the emperor Wuti of the Liang in the sixth century: "Wuti did much to restore literature and the study of Confucius; . . . In his latter days he was so great a devotee of Buddhism that he retired to a monastery like Charles V."11 This harmony continued with little to disturb it until the time of the Sō (Sung).
It was during this period of Buddhist supremacy that the Chinese literature was brought to Japan, and here too it was honoured but made no effort to disentangle itself from its ally; the Buddhist religion, and not the Confucian ethics, bring characteristic of the period.
When, however, under Tokugawa rule, Chinese thought a second time made conquest of Japan, it was no longer friendly to Buddhism. While Japan had slept its long sleep of centuries (from the twelfth to the seventeenth) China had been awake. At last Confucianism had taken on the form of a developed philosophy and with its new self-consciousness had attacked and routed its quondam friend. This new philosophy has satisfied the intellect of China and introduced into Japan won its way here also at once. The ages of Buddhistic faith came to a close and the intellect of Japan accepted in the place of the Indian religion the pantheistic philosophy of Shushi (Chu Hi).12
The luxury and poetry of the Tō (Tang) were followed by the struggles of the Sō (Sung, A.D. 970-1127, or including the "Southern Sung" until 1277). During the reigns of Chin-tsung and of his son Tin-tsung "a violent controversy arose among the literati and officials as to the best mode of conducting the government. Some of them, as Sz'ma Kwang the historian, contended for the maintenance of the old principles of the sages. Others, of whom Wang Ngan-shi was the distinguished leader, advocated reform p. 5 and change to the entire overthrow of existing institutions. For the first time in the history of China two political parties peacefully struggled for supremacy, each content to depend on argument and truth for victory. The contest soon grew too bitter, however, and the accession of a new monarch, Shin-tsung, enabled Wang to dispossess his opponents and to manage state affairs as he pleased. After a trial of eight or ten years the voice of the nation restored the conservatives to power, and the radicals were banished beyond the frontier. A discussion like this, involving all the cherished ideas of the Chinese, brought out deep and acute inquiry into the nature and uses of things generally, and the writers of this dynasty, at the head of whom was Chu Hi, made a lasting impression on the national mind."13
THE PHILOSOPHERS OF THE SŌ.
The best known of the "orthodox" philosophers of the Sō are Chow Tun-i, (A.D. 1017-1073), the brothers Ch'eng (A.D. 1032-1085, and 1033-1107), and above all Chu Hi. Of the younger Ch'eng it is said,—"His criticisms on the classics opened a new era in Chinese philosophy and were reverently adopted by his great successor Chu Hi."14 The names of Ch'eng and Chu are associated together, and the dominant philosophy is called the system of Tei-Shu (Japanese pronunciation).
These philosophers may be compared to the schoolmen of Europe. They were no longer satisfied with the earlier unsystematic exposition of the Confucian ethics, but called metaphysics to their aid and transformed the groups of aphorisms and precepts into an ontological philosophy. As the schoolmen mingled with the teachings of the prophets and apostles elements drawn from Grecian and Eastern philosophy, so did these Chinese schoolmen mingle elements drawn from Buddhism and Taoism in their system based ostensibly on the classics. Their indebtedness to these two p. 6 religions was none the less real because of their vehement rejection of both as heretical. And as the teachings of the schoolmen ruled European thought for centuries and were the medium through which the words of Christ were studied, so were the teachings of the Tei-Shu school supreme in the East and the medium through which China and Japan studied and accepted the words of the Sages. To disregard their philosophy and suppose that the earlier and simpler teaching has remained supreme, is as if we should disregard the whole historical development of theology and state that the synoptic gospels have contented Europe for eighteen hundred years.
Shushi was born in the year 1130 and died in the year 1200. He was historian and statesman as well as commentator and philosopher. Educated in Buddhism and Taoism, he rejected both and completed the system of Ch'eng. He was repeatedly employed by the emperor in posts of high importance, but finally died in retirement. His system has remained the standard in China and no deviation from his teaching has been permitted in the examinations. His commentary is the orthodox exposition and his philosophy the accepted metaphysic.15 "The Sect of the Learned" designates his followers.
The philosophy of Shushi (Chu Hi) is thus described by Eitel:—"Though modern Confucianism has long discarded the belief in the one supreme God, of which their classical writings still preserve a dead record, and though they substituted for the personal God whom their forefathcrs worshipped, an abstract entity, devoid of personality, devoid of all attributes whatsoever, yet they look upon nature not as a dead inanimate fabric, but as a living, breathing organism. They see a golden chain of spiritual life running through every form of existence and binding together, as in one living body, everything that subsists in heaven above or on earth beneath. What has so often been admired in the natural philosophy of the Greeks,—that they made nature live; that they saw in every stone, in every tree, a living spirit; . . .—this poetical, emotional and reverential way of looking at natural objects, is equally a characteristic of natural science in China."
There is a "child-like reverence for the living powers of nature," a "sacred awe and trembling fear of the unseen," a "firm belief in the reality of the invisible world and its constant intercommunication with the seen and temporal."
"Choo-He's mode of thinking has in fact been adopted by modern Confucianism." According to him "there was in the beginning one abstract principle or monad, called the 'absolute nothing,' which evolved out of itself the 'great absolute.' This abstract principle or monad, the great absolute, is the primordial cause of all existence. When it first moved, its breath16 or vital energy congealing, produced the great male principle. When it had moved to the uttermost p. 8 it rested, and in resting produced the female principle. After it had rested to the utmost extent, it again moved, and thus went on in alternate motion and rest without cessation. When this supreme cause divided itself into male and female that which was above constituted heaven, and that which was beneath formed the earth. Thus it was that heaven and earth were made. But the supreme cause having produced by evolution the male and female principles, and through them heaven and earth, ceased not its constant permutations, in the course of which men and animals, vegetables and minerals, rose into being. The same vital energy, moreover, continued to act ever since, and continued to act through those two originating causes, the male and female powers of nature, which ever since mutually and alternately push and agitate one another, without a moment's intermission.
Now, the energy animating the two principles is called in Chinese K'e (Japanese Ki), or the breath of nature. When this breath first went forth and produced the male and female principles and finally the whole universe, it did not do so arbitrarily or at random, but followed fixed, inscrutable, and immutable laws. These laws or order of nature, called Li, were therefore abstractly considered prior to the issuing of the vital breath, and must therefore be considered separately. Again, considering this Li (Japanese Ri), or the general order of the universe, the ancient sages observed that all the laws of nature and all the workings of its vital breath are in strict accordance with certain mathematical principles, which may be traced or illustrated by diagrams, exhibiting, the numerical proportion of the universe called Su, or numbers. But, . . these three principles are not directly cognizable to the senses: they are hidden from view and only become manifest through forms and outlines of physical nature."17
ITS JAPANESE OPPONENTS
This is the system which came to Japan in the 17th century and won the adherence of all educated men. It displaced Buddhism at once and finally in the regard of the higher classes. Buddhism indeed made no defence but accepted its fate. Later on however the orthodox Chinese philosophy encountered other enemies. The revival of an interest in history, fostered by the Tokugawa, was followed by a revived interest in Pure Shintō, a Shintō disentangled from its Buddhistic ally and restored to its supposed early form. This religion was intensely national and intensely anti-Chinese in spirit.18 It waged its war, not wholly without effect, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It affected somewhat the later writers of the Chinese school. But the followers of Confucius, or better of Shushi, to the end commanded the assent of the great majority of educated men. And this, too, in spite of still another attack. This was made by the school of Ōyōmei ###. In opposition to the "scientific philosophy" of Shu-shi it sought to substitute an idealistic intuitionalism.
Shushi attempted to agree with the differing schools of Chinese thought, bringing them together in spite of their inherent differences. He was to this extent an eclectic. He was strongly conservative and held fast to the past, it being understood of course that his own interpretation was to be accepted as the teaching of the past. He was historian and commentator as well as philosopher. Already in his own time his views met opposition in favour of a free development of thought. And among the men of his time Rikusōsan19 p. 10 insisted that his own heart, and not the past should be the chief object of study. He however wrote little and his first great follower was Ōyōmei.
Ōyōmei was born in the year 1472 A.D. and died in the year 1528. He was a provincial governor "and in this capacity gained high renown through his conduct of military affairs. In 1518 he subdued an insurrection in Kiang-si and in 1527, conducted a campaign against the wild tribes in northern Kwang-si."20 He is famous for his humour and for his fine literary style. His style is clear and intellectual, and no one has since equalled it in China or Japan. He was peculiarly fond of studies pertaining to war. He was also a poet of originality and power. In China many scholars accepted his doctrine at once, but in Japan his following has been small, for the Tokugawa government gave its patronage wholly to the school of Shushi and forbade the public teaching of the doctrines of Ōyōmei.
Ōyōmei was not a repeater of past wisdom, nor a commentator: he sought to find all truth within his own heart. He cared nothing for the scientific investigation of the outer world, nor for the study of history. He even thought that all reading might be dispensed with and refused to commiserate a scholar who was lamenting the loss of his sight, Ōyōmei assuring him that he should be content, since he bore all truth within his own heart and needed not eyes to aid in studying that.
SPIRIT AND LAW.
Differing thus in method he also denied the fundamental positions of the philosophy of Shushi. The latter, as we have p. 11 seen, taught the existence of both "ki" and "ri," spirit and law. His conception of "ki" corresponded to the Stoic doctrine of "pneuma."21 Ki by no means necessarily implies personality. Sometimes it is described as if it were the essence, the inner power, of all things. It is not "spiritual" in our modern and defined use of the word. It is identified with the air. It exists in all things. All things may be called "ki," the grass, the trees, the human body. But man's heart is also "ki" and shows its nature when the passions are aroused. From this point of view we might think Shushi as strict a materialist as the Stoics, but then too we should interpret matter in the Stoic and not in the modern sense. There are formless ki and ki impalpable and invisible. Over against the ki is placed the "ri," the law, the principle of nature. Ri is invisible and is the same as the "Way," as reason. It is not however merely abstract, for then would it be the same as the Buddhist "nature." Ri is an entity as real as ki, indeed even more truly an entity for it (theoretically) preceded ki and ki depends on it.22 Still in the actual world there is no ki without ri and no ri without ki. Man's heart, his ki, is polished and refined by the ri, so the ri must be studied and thus the fundamental process is "the distinction of things."23 If we do not thus "know," even the best action will not avail.24
Now Ōyōmei was an idealist and would have none of this distinction into ki and ri. Outside of the heart itself there is no ri, no law, no principle. The heart and the ri are identical. All the ri is contained within the heart and there is no place for "the distinction of things." The heart is the same as the "Way" and the "Way" is the same as "Heaven." If a man knows his heart he knows the "Way" and if he knows the "Way" he knows Heaven. All depends on purifying the heart. Good and evil are all of it, and there is neither good nor evil apart from it. Men are all good as Shushi, after Mencius, taught, and can all purify their hearts if they will, though in this too there are natural differences. All men are divided into three classes, and the highest have an intuitive knowledge that is their own innate standard. This innate knowledge is however in all men; make it clear and all is clear. And it is purified by obedience to the five relations and the five virtues. We gain nothing from without; all is already within and needs only to be thus studied by obedience. To act is to know. If we say we know, we already act or we do not truly know. Knowledge is the beginning of action and action is the completion of knowledge.
Thus ethical science is the only science and nothing else is worthy of our attention or thought.25
Ōyōmei fully accepted idealism. He asserted that apart from our hearts there is nothing. The flower comes into existence when it becomes known and ceases to be when it passes out of our knowledge. But he also teaches a cosmological idealism, as he asserts that there is this all important innate knowledge, the best endowment of man, in everything, in grasses, stones, trees, in Heaven and in Earth. p. 13 By virtue of it each thing is itself and all partake of the same ethical law.
Ōyōmei was in his early years a believer in Buddhism and his writings show strong marks of its influence, but he rejected it as a system. He taught that his purpose differed from the Buddhist. The end of his doctrine was not self-absorption in mystic contemplation, but the attainment of virtue, the attainment of the practical virtue needed by men alive and of the world.
JAPANESE FOLLOWERS OF ŌYŌMEI.
The profound repugnance this system excited among the followers of Shushi is well represented in the Shunda-Zatsuwa.26 The government of the Shōgun forbade its propagation and permitted only the orthodox teaching in its schools. Several well known scholars are reputed followers of Ōyōmei, although their published writings do not expreesly indicate the fact. Among others is Nakai Tōju (Ōmi Seijin). He lived in the first half of the seventeenth century and was a voluminous writer. In his writings on ethics he does not profess his dependence on Ōyōmei, yet agrees with him in all the essentials of his system.
THE OKINA MONDŌ.
"How can we be sure then of the proper course of conduct? Hold fast in our hearts the great principles of unselfishness and humility, cast evil out of our hearts and follow truth."27 His teaching aoes not expressly differ from the "orthodox" school, yet his emphasis is different. He exalts "heart learning," insists upon the supreme duty of "polishing the illustrious virtue" of our hearts and proclaims the Confucian laws to be the "manifestation of the virtues of the heart." To him the heart learning is in all, but the sage intuitively beholds it p. 14 while others are indebted to his teaching. Still may all, even the ignorant, attain the blessedness of virtue, as the heart learning extends from lowest to highest, and all go therein, yet with distinction of powers and place. "The great highway is for all, but the travellers are not of equal strength. There are men and women, old and young, weak and strong; for every one there is a duty suited to his powers, and doing that he fulfils the law of filial piety."28 "But," objects the questioner, "this virtue is so broad that I cannot attain it." And the answer is,—"That is the suggestion of a bad heart. You can attain it just because it is so broad. The light of sun and moon goes everywhere, and each one according to the strength of his eyes can use it; so every one, man and woman, learned and unlearned alike, can obey this virtue according to each one's ability. In Heaven it is called Heaven's 'Way' and on earth, earth's 'Way.' Originally it had no name, but for the sake of teaching the ignorant the Sages called it 'filial obedience'"29 "It dwells in the universe as the spirit dwells in man. It has no beginning nor end. Without it is neither time nor being. In all the universe there is nothing without it. As man is the head of the universe, its image in miniature, filial obedience is in both body and spirit and is the pivot of his existence." "As a looking-glass reflects many shapes and colours but is itself unchanged, so does filial obedience reflect all the virtues, itself unchangeable. All the virtues, all duties may be resolved into it, end it is called filial obedience, because obedience to parents is the beginning of the 'Way.' Its essence is to perceive that as our bodies are derived from our parents and are yet one with them, so are their bodies derived from the spirit of heaven and earth, and the spirit of heaven and earth is the offspring of the spirit of the universe; thus my body is one with the universe and the gods. Clearly perceiving this p. 15 truth and acting in accordance with it is obedience to the 'Way.' This 'obedience is like the great sea, and the various relationships are like vessels with which we dip out the water; as the vessel is big or small, round or square, so the water appears, but it is all alike the water of the great sea."28a
It is this implicit dependence upon the intuitions of the heart that gives the system of Ōyōmei its attractiveness to many Japanese. "His followers were few, but were all strong men,"29a we are told. And on the other hand,—"Shushi's teaching is admirable but it weakened and enervated the spirit of the Japanese."30
DIFFERENCES AND AGREEMENTS.
The two systems differ, but their points of agreement are more than their divergencies. They are mere varieties of the Jukyō, "The Sect of the Learned." Both rest upon the same fundamental ethical propositions, however distinct, their more metaphysical principles. They are alike in the belief that righteousness is life. The shortest time is sufficient, is the "true long life," if spent in conformity to the 'Way.' A clear perception of the 'Way' includes all the rest; this is the true long life and wealth and peace, for if the heart be at rest outward circumstances matter not. And an evil heart includes all the curses; sights and sounds are painful; even without outward sorrow there is no rest."31 Both rest their authority ultimately upon the classics, though the Ōyōmei school put less stress upon mere learning. "If one sentence of the Book of Changes be mastered it will teach all that is in the classics. But the Book of Changes is difficult p. 16 of comprehension, so Confucius wrote the Classic of Filial Piety. This will suffice; but after it is mastered, according to time and strength we are to go on to others." This doubtless is a point of great practical difference, the orthodox school recommending a study of the books that shall occupy the entire life. Yet both agree in reprobating a scholarship that is apart from morals, that is not expressed in action, that does not govern the life. "True learning is disregard of self, obedience to the Way, and the observance of the five relations. Its eye-ball is humility. Wide learning applies all this to the heart. False learning desires the honour of wide learning, envies those who excel, wishes only for fame and makes pride its eye-ball. It has nothing to do with obedience and the more one has the worse he is. Let us beware lest we tread the evil way leading down to the brutes and the dominion of the devils. False learning fosters this pride and never thinks of casting it away."32 "Humble folk who obey but cannot read are taught by others; not reading it is as if they read. That is heart-reading, for it conforms to the heart of the Sages. Mere reading with the eye while the heart is far away is not true reading; it is to read as if reading not. In the age of the gods, imitation of the conduct of the Sages was true learning. Now there are no Sages, and true learning consists in understanding the classics and regulating conduct thereby. Thus may we polish the illustrious jewel of our hearts. To cast away the classics and trust our dark misled hearts, is to cast away the candle and seek in the dark for that which is lost."33
ATTACK ON BUDDHISM.
Both systems strongly express their hatred of Buddhism and ignore their indebtedness to its teaching. "In India Shaka (Buddha) himself never got beyond the outside p. 17 of things. His purpose was indeed good but he was ignorant of the essential principles. After his death even the semblance of truth disappeared, and his system dissuaded from virtue and excited to evil. It is to be classed with Taoism, and is a thorn in the 'Way,' an obstruction to the gate of truth; it is to be avoided as one would flee an evil voice and the temptations of lust."34
Ōmi Seijin was the first great writer on the Chinese philosophy in Japan and his memory is still cherished as a man pure in life, strong in influence and great in letters. He established a school and had many followers, of whom Kumazawa Ryōkai is the best known. Later Ōshio Heihachirō is the chief representative of the Ōyōmei school. He left little in writing, but is everywhere known for fierce opposition to Tokugawa and his connection with the Ōsaka insurrection of 1839.35
THE ORTHODOX SCHOOL.
The scholar who is usually said to have been the first exponent of the Chinese philosophy is Seiga. He wrote no books. The great scholars of the orthodox school formed a group at the end of the seventeenth century. Of these men the best known is Arai Hakuseki. With his name are associated the names Ito Jinsai, Ogyu Sōrai36 and Yamazaki Ansai.
These writers were transmitters of the wisdom of the Chinese and worshipped at the shrine of Tei-Shu. No Western ever held more closely to the plenary inspiration of the Bible as expounded by his favourite commentator than these men to the Chinese Classics. They contain the absolute, eternal truth of Heaven and Earth. By it the universe with all its hosts were formed. This "Way" is the unchanging wisdom, the everlasting reason, the Divine archetype. No deviation from it can go unpunished and no variation in its exposition can be endured. It is not more remarkable that the Japanese orthodoxy attempted no improvement, no amendment in the Classics, than that our orthodox writers attempted no improvement or change in our sacred text. As western writers on theology fill their pages with Biblical references, these writers on the Chinese philosophy fill their pages with allusions to the classics. Direct quotations abound, and referencee and phrases, so that every sentence has its classical colour.
It is surprising that the Japanese scholars have attempted no systematic exposition of either the orthodox or the heterodox philosophy. They have been content to go to the writings of Shushi and of his Chinese expositors. So too have his commentaries satisfied them. There is not an original and valuable commentary by a Japanese writer. They have been content to brood over the imported works and to accept unquestioningly polities, ethics and metaphysics.37
WANT OF ORIGINALITY.
This foreign system moulded the intellectual life of the nation. Within its boundaries thought moved and was confined. As the new was forbidden so was the old cast off. Buddhism and Shintō were as heretical as the teaching p. 19 of Ōyōmei. Society, government, education, literature, religion and ethics, all were supplied from this one source. Buddhism, as we have seen, influenced the thought of the Chinese philosophers, but it was permitted no new influence, it was permitted to add no new ideas here in Japan where it had been supreme for a thousand years. Shintō effected no modification. And the Japanese produced no scholar who could do more than repeat what he had been taught. Yet this philosophy in thus permeating the nation's life could not fail to be modified. It felt the influence of the national ideals. It varied from its original standard, yet not as modified in statement or in system but as insensibly taking on a new colour and feeling a new spirit.
It follows that one cannot readily point out the distinguishing characteristics of the Chinese philosophy in Japan. There is certainly a difference. Here the samurai takes to himself the title reserved in China for the literati and adds arms to letters. The vocation of arms occupies thus the highest place of honour. So too does loyalty take precedence of filial obedience and the ethical philosopher can praise without qualification men who desert parents, wife and children for the feudal lord.38 And with this loyalty is an undue exaltation of a disregard of life, an exaltation that comes near to canonizing those who kill themselves no matter how causelessly, no matter though crime be the reason for an enforced suicide.39 The impetuous, uncompromising, warlike, partisan character of the people is reflected in their morals.
CONFUCIANISM AND THE PEOPLE.
The Confucian literature in Japan so far instructed the mass of the people as to provide summaries of moral rules for them. But these moral rules could exist in harmony p. 20 with a prevailing Buddhism. And as in China for centuries and in Japan for a thousand years the Chinese ethics knew no quarrel with the religion of the Buddha, so even after the educated men in Japan had given up Buddhism it still retained its full power over the lower classes and could incorporate the Confucian ethics with itself.
One effort, long continued, was made to win the people not merely to the Confucian ethics but to the foreign philosophy. Toward the close of the eighteenth century a school of popular preachers expounded the rudiments of the Chinese system to the people. They made such concessions to Buddhism as they thought the case demanded, but sought to substitute their system for the people's faith. They continued in a succession until the middle of the nineteenth century but their failure was complete. They made no lasting impression upon the nation's mind. The Chinese philosophy remained the exclusive possession of the higher classes.40
THE REJECTION OF BUDDHISM
The choice of the Chinese philosophy and the rejection of Buddhism was not because of any inherent quality in the Japanese mind. It was not the rejection of supernaturalism or of the miraculous. The Chinese philosophy is as supernaturalistic as some forms of Buddhism. The distinction is not between the natural and the supernatural in either system but between the seen and the unseen. The Chinese philosophy does not reject the extraordinary; it has a belief in an all-pervading natural "law", but the wonderful and the prodigious are contained therein. It too has its Theophanies p. 21 and its faith-compelling signs. It was not the rejection of a religion for a philosophy, for Buddhism can be as philosophical as Shushi or Ōyōmei, in fact these drew much of their doctrine from its stores. And the Chinese philosophy is as religious as the original teaching of Gautama. Neither Shushi nor Gautama believed in a Creator, but both believed in gods and demons. By the twelfth century A.D. the earlier belief in monotheism, granting that once there was such belief in China, had disappeared. In a single passage the Shundai Zatsuwa seems to indicate belief in one personal God, but the expressions fade away, and there remains only a belief in the Divinity of the immanent forces of the universe.41 It holds to "a power not ourselves that makes for righteousness" and to our constant dependence upon the Unseen. It has little place for prayer, but has a vivid sense of the Infinite and the Unseen and fervently believes that right conduct is in accord with the "eternal verities." Its morality "is touched with emotion."
THE ETERNAL VERITIES.
In neither Shushi nor Ōyōmei is there firm grasp of the idea of personality. As there is no personal Creator, man is the highest expression of the forces of the universe. Even gods and devils fear his "determined mind." But as in the makrokosm so in the mikrokosm: the ultimate realities are force and law. Man has no immortal soul. He is highest in the scale of existence, yet is he only one in the endless series. The station is greater than the individual and it determines him. His whole duty is to live as befits his station. The Buddhist doctrine that a man may leave his station and become a priest is to be abhorred. It comes from the false doctrine of "three worlds." Shaka forsook his kingdom and became a hermit. He did not know fully the truth. To the Confucianist such asceticism is the act of p. 22 a madman. Every man is to follow the "Way" with unshaken heart in the station in which he was born. To think certain acts virtuous is the error of the ignorant and the heretical."42
THE ORIGIN OF EVIL.
For all evil is disarrangement. Confusion is the essence of evil. Strictly speaking there is no other evil. "Nothing is bad by nature but everything is good, yet with a distinction of rank." When this distinction of rank is preserved all are good. But this ideal goodness is rarely realized. "The gods are the activity of Heaven and Earth, the excellent power of the In and Yō, and of the true 'law.' . . . . . But as the gods come to the world there is both good and evil. For though the working throughout the four seasons of the five elements is of . . . . . no evil at all, still as that 'spirit' is scattered throughout the universe and confused there arise unexpected winds, heat, cold and storms."43 So is it with man and all that is his. As a part of nature he too is good, originally good, but as his "nature is individualized both good and evil appear."44 Let him put himself in harmony with the true nature,—above all let him obey with unshaken heart, and all will be well.
So with the state, crime is "confusion." The ancient order has been lost and therefore evil appears. "In the time of old the Sage was on the throne; the Superior Man was next in authority and all who ruled were wise, the stupid occupying their natural position below the rest. So from highest to lowest wisdom determined the rank and there was none evil. The only distinction was of superior and inferior."45 And the Sage ruled by doing "nothing." It was enough that he was enrobed, enthroned, with folded p. 23 arms. Not by vain exertions and strife may the empire or the individual be ruled. It is by doing nothing, by letting nature have its way that a Divine excellence is attained.
THE DEEPER SELF.
Man's deepest "self" lies hidden far below his changing "self" of act and thought and desire and will. In mysterious darkness it is nourished and by doing naught. Let not man break in on that depth; let him not direct and will and wish. The springs of his being reach down to the springs of the universe itself. Without selfishness, without rash self-determination, let the truer, deeper "self" be nourished and from that strength the life will come and then in act and word there shall be no danger of a fall.46 And at death man shall return to the all pervading spirit, "as a vapour in the sky melts away, as a drop mingles with the sea, as fire disappears in fire."47 He can have no immortal soul. For his conscious self there is "nothing beyond slipping into the grave." His highest hope is that his influence for good may survive; and his greatest fear is that his memory may be accursed.48 He worships his ancestors as commanded by the Sages, but that worship does not necessarily imply the doctrine of a conscious, personal immortality.49 "The soul wholly dissolves p. 24 at death but my spirit is one with the spirit of my ancestors. So though all other spirits dissolve yet does the root of this remain and when I worship their spirits gather again. So it was that the Sages enforced this worship. And as my spirit is one with the spirit of my ancestors, so is the spirit of the noble one with the spirit of his dominion, and when he worships the spirits of the dead respond. When I speak of the universe there is indeed only one spirit; when I speak of myself, my spirit is the spirit of my ancestors and so it is that when I 'feel,' they 'respond.'
ADOPTED ON FAITH.
Without critical examination and upon faith Japan accepted the Chinese philosophy. Once it had accepted the Chinese ethics in alliance with the Buddhist religion; as trustingly it adopted the philosophy of Tei-Shu with all its hostility to the Indian faith. Nor did the "eclipse of faith" cost the scholars of the period of the Tokugawa any heart burnings. Buddhism went at once at the bidding of this new comer and left "not a wrack behind." In acceptance and rejection alike no native originality emerges, nothing beyond a vigorous power of adoption and assimilation. No improvements in the new philosophy were even attempted. Wherein it was defective and indistinct, defective and indistinct it remained. The system was not thought out to its end and independently adopted. Polemics, ontology, ethics, theology, marvels, heroes, all were enthusiastically adopted on faith. It is to be added that the new system was superior to the old, and this much of discrimination was shown.
It is not my purpose to discuss the Chinese philosophy, not even the Tei-Shu philosophy as represented in Japan. p. 25 I desire to represent the spirit and thought of Old Japan, of the educated men of the Tokugawa period. And a Japanese can best do this, a Japanese who gives his account with undisturbed faith and who is a recognized master among his countrymen. In the Shundai Zatsuwa of Kyusō Murō we have the ruling ideas of the Japan that has forever passed away.
Murō Naokiyo was born in Yanaka, in Musashi, on the 30th March, 1658. From the home of his ancestors, Egagori in Bichu, he called himself Ega. From his earliest childhood he was distinguished for his love of books and unremitting diligence in study. His life was the wholly uneventful career of a professional scholar. When fifteen years of age he went to Kaga and was employed by the prince of that province. Here he lived in a dismantled cottage which he named The Pigeon-nest, and from the cottage he adopted the same name for himself, Kyu-sō, a name by which he was thenceforth known, and that is inscribed on his tomb.
Once when expounding The Great Learning before his prince the latter was so greatly pleased that he sent Kyusō to Kyōto to continue his studies in the school of the celebrated Kinoshita Jun-an. Here Kyusō took first rank and made great progress both in acquirements and in literary style.
From the year 1711 until his death he was employed by the Tokugawa Government and wrote several books at its command. He received the highest honour the Government could bestow, and rose to great influence and authority. He was the devoted advocate of the Tokugawa family and of the orthodox school of Chinese philosophy, and made small attempt to moderate his expressions when writing of their enemies. It was during his life that the famous forty-seven ronin performed their exploit, and Kyusō gave them the name by which they are still remembered, Gi-shi, the Righteous Samurai.
He died on the 9th September, 1784, and was buried at his own request in Edo, Odzuka, Tsukuba-yama-no-ushiro, his grave marked by a simple stone engraved, "Kyusō Murō Sensei no Haka," the grave of the scholar Kyusō Murō.50 Since his death his reputation has increased, and he has taken a distinguished place among the scholars of Japan, being especially remembered for his great learning.
THE SHUNDAI ZATSUWA.
The Shundai Zatsuwa, Suruga Dai Miscellany, thus named from Kyusō's residence on Suruga Dai, is a posthumous work first published by his grandson in the year 1750. It purports to be a collection of talks with his friends and pupils. They would linger a while after Kyusō had completed his exposition of the Chinese books, asking questions and discussing themes suggested by the lecture. And these conversations written down were made into this book. It belongs to the class called "miscellanies," the works which best represent the spirit and the attainments of the Japanese scholars.51
The Shundai Zatsuwa covers a somewhat wide range. It contains polemic against the enemies of the faith, metaphysics, fundamental ethical principles, politics, religion, the art of war, and the laws of literature and poetry.
It has not been necessary for my purpose to translate all. The literary criticisms, the discussions of poetry and of military strategy have been omitted. So too have many of the historical incidents. Where these incidents illustrate p. 27 ethical principles or the ideas of the school they have been retained. But Kyusō felt moved to rescue the memory of the righteous dead from oblivion, and relates incidents which add nothing to our understanding of his ethical and philosophical views. Many Chinese allusions and illustrations have been omitted. The book is famous for its learning, and abounds in phrases and incidents that are of significance only to one throughly versed in Chinese history and literature. Some liberty, therefore, in the way of condensation has been taken. As the work is not a classic, and as the purpose is to set forth the ruling ideas and spirit of the Chinese philosophy in Japan, it has been thought wise to sacrifice something of technical scholarship to intelligibility. And it may be added, the retention of the literary and historical allusions in their fulness would precisely defeat the author's purpose, his ornaments in Japanese becoming blemishes in English. All that sets forth the philosophy and religion, the ethics and politics both theoretical and applied, with copious historical illustrations, have been translated. Perhaps half of the text is represented here.
The sacred memories of the past, the treasures of philosophy and religion, the high aspirations after benevolence and righteousness, the ideals of the individual and or the state stand in the Shundai Zatsuwa, upon a literary background flowing, full, poetic. No attempt has been made to transfer this literary flavour, and at the end of his labours, comparing the result with the original, the barrenness and baldness of the one with the richness and smoothness of the other, the translator can only adopt as his own the author's lament;—"Though his philosophy is the famous music of the world, yet now is it like Eikaku's Song of Spring among a people of barbarous speech."
1 "The Kō-ji-ki," translated by B. H. Chamberlain, Vol. X. Appendix; "The Revival of Pure Shin-tau," by Ernest Satow, Vol. III. Appendix; "Ancient Japanese Rituals," by the same, Vols. VII, IX; also "The Classical Poetry of the Japanese" by B. H. Chamberlain.
2 "Things Japanese," by B. H. Chamberlain, p. 71, 2nd Ed.
3 James Troup's translations of the Shin teaching, Vols. XIV, XVII of these Transactions.
4 "The International Journal of Ethics," Vol. 1, No. 3, p. 307.
5 "Things Japanese," 2nd Edition, p. 92.
6 See "The Religions of China," Lecture I; and Faber's "A Systematical Digest of the Doctrines of Confucius," pp. 44-53.
7 "The Religions of China," p. 180.
8 "The China Review" Vol. VIII, No. 1, p. 59.
9 Dr. Edkins ("The Phœnix" Vol. III, pp. 47-49) divides the intellectual development of China into five stages;—1, Struggles for Confucianism against various speculations, with Taoist doctrine gaining yearly; 2, The "Han", when the tone of speculation was predominantly Taoist; 3, The six dynasties, when Buddhism was triumphant; 4, The "Tang," luxurious and poetical; 5, The " Sung," and on to our day. In none of these periods was "the purely human side of morals" the creed of educated Chinamen." Some addition was always needed to satisfy their intellectual and religious natures.
10 The Middle Kingdom, Vol. II, p. 165.
11 The Middle Kingdom, Vol. II, p. 166.
12 The Chinese philosophy is sometimes called "agnostic," so "a friendly German critic" in "Things Japanese," p. 94, and that too was once my opinion, "Ōsaka Conference," p. 115. It is not agnostic, but pantheistic, as will abundantly appear.
13 The Middle Kingdom, Vol. II, p.174.
14 Mayers's "Manual," p. 34.
15 Shushi's name is variously written by writers in China, Chu-hsi, Choo He, Chu He, Chu Hi and Ku Hsi. Dr. Legge has used much of Shushi's commentary in connection with his various translations. Accounts of his life are given by Mayer, p. 25; Meadows, The Chinese, Chap. XVIII; in the Chinese Repository, Vol. XVIII, p. 206 f. A section of his writings has been translated by Medhurst, Chinese Repository, Vol. XIII, pp. 552, 609 ff. Also by Canon McClatchie,—"Chinese Cosmogony," being "Section Forty-Nine of the Complete Works," with criticisms and defence in The China Review, Vol. III, p. 342 f., Vol. IV, pp. 84, 342 ff. "The Middle Kingdom" has various references to Shushi (Chu Hi), the most extended being Vol. I, pp. 682-685. An interesting account of some points in his philosophy is given by W. A. P. Martin, D.D.,—"The Cartesian Philosophy before Descartes, (Extract from the Journal of the Peking Oriental Society)." See also Faber's "Doctrines of Confucius," pp. 32-33. Rev. Griffith John, Journal of the North China Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, Vol. II, No. I, pp. 37-44., "The Ethics of the Chinese."
16 "Between heaven and earth there is nothing so important, so almighty and omnipresent as this breath of nature. . . Through it heaven and earth and every creature live and move and have their being. Nature's breath is, in fact, but the spiritual energy of the male and female principles." "Feng-shui," p. 45.
17 "Feng-shui," pp. 5-9., See "Ki, Ri and Ten" below. Also my "Comment" below for a further exposition, differing somewhat from Eitel's.
18 "The Revival of Pure Shin-tau," pp. 13-14, 21-34.
19 ### b. 1140 A.D. "In opposition to the critical philosophical erudition of Chu-hsi, Lu desires rectification of heart and life to be the main point, as the commencement and aim of study. There is no doubt that in this Confucius stands on his side." Faber's "Doctrines of Confucius," p. 33.
20 Mayers's "Manual," p. 246. This brief paragraph is all I have been able to find in English. A lecture recently given by Prof. Inoue of the Imperial University is the authority for my account of Ōyōmei and his philosophy. Printed in the Rikugo Zasshi—Feb. 1892.
21 Pneuma "is the totality of all existence; out of it the whole, visible universe proceeds, hereafter to be resolved into it again. . . . Out of it separated first the elemental fire, and this again condenses into air; a further step in the downward path derives water and earth from the solidification of air. . . . From the elements the one substance is transformed into the multitude of individual things." Enc. Brit., art. Stoics. Compare pp. 46-47 below.
22 For an example of the process of this "reification of the concept" see p. 47 below.
23 This method professes to rest upon a phrase of Confucius. "the distinction of things." See p. 43 note, below.
24 P. 72 below.
25 Ōyōmei's system may be studied in the ###, Den-shu-roku, the Zen-sho and Zen-shu, ###.
26 Pp. 28 f. below.
27 Okina mondō. Vol. II p. 3.
28 Okina Mondō, Vol. V. p. 35.
29 Okina Mondō, Vol. I. p. 3.
28a Okina Mondō, Vol. I. pp. 3-7. The Okina Mondō is a posthumous work of Nakai Tōju printed in 1650 A.D. I printed an abridged translation in "The Chrysanthemum," Vol. II., Nos 3, 4, 6, 8.
29a Prof. T. Inoue.
30 The Rev. M. Uemura.
31 Okina Mondō, Vol. II., p. 34.
32 Okina Mondō, Vol. III., pp. 10-12.
33 Okina Mondō, Vol. III., pp. 12-14. Compare pp. 61 below.
34 Okina Mondō, Vol. IV., pp. 1-13.
35 During a time of scarcity Ōshio's wrath was excited by the heartless conduct of an official in Ōsaka who refused to remit the taxes. So Ōshio, influenced by his philosophical views to a democratic disregard of official rank and right, led an assault upon the government warehouses, took out the grain and distributed it to the people. The rising was quickly put down and Ōshio suffered death as a criminal. Another account says that en route to Satsuma he was lost at sea—"Dai Ni Hon Jim-mei Ji-sho." Vol. I: ### It is possible that the teachings of the Ōyōmei school were more dangerous to the existing order than appears to a foreign student, and that Tokugawa knew its own interests best as it forbade their propagation.
36 Jinsu and Sōrai were not orthodox. See Mr. Haga's "Note" below.
37 The Ancient Learning School "Kogaku" also rested upon the modern Chinese School.—Faber's Doctrines of Confucius, p. 34; and Mr. Haga's "Note" below.
38 Similar instances are found, of course, in Chinese history.
39 Pp. 41, 42 below.
40 Numerous translations of the sermons of this school have been printed, among the earliest in A. B. Mitford's "Tales of Old Japan" pp. 288-326. The sermons called Kyuō Dōwa and Shingaku Michi no Hanashi are best known. Besides these there are among others;—Shō-ō Michi no Hanashi, Dōni-ō Dō-wa, Shingaku-kyoyu-roku, and Zoku-zoku Kyuō Dōwa.
41 P. 50 below.
42 The Okina Mondō, Vol. V. pp. 17-18.
43 P. 55 below.
44 P. 55 below.
45 The Okina Mondō, Vol. II., p. 31.
46 P. 60 below. Compare a certain phase of Christian mysticism:—"Oh to be nothing, nothing;" "A broken and empty vessel;" "Emptied, that He might fill me;" "Broken, that so unhindered, His life through me might flow."
47 The Okina Mondō, Vol. V p. 26.
48 P. 40 below.
49 The worship of ancestors remains an inconsistency difficult of explanation in Shushi's philosophy. He teaches (in the Gorui ###) that at death we are like the flame: it ascends and disappears yet we cannot say that it has ceased to be. It is the law that man's spirit (ki ###) dissolves at death, vanishes into thin air; but there are exceptions. When men naturally, and, so to speak, willingly die the spirit thus dissolves, but when they die violently, with strong protest, the spirit remains for a time collected and may return and show itself p. 24 and work harm. A man who was killed by his adulterous wife appeared to her undoing, for his hatred held his spirit together until vengeance was executed. But such exceptions are only for a time; finally all alike return to the primeval spirit. Shushi thus saves his philosophy and his orthodoxy.
50 The ### is the authority for these statements. His burial place is in the section of the city now called Koishikawa. He wrote many books; among them the most celebrated are the following: ###
51 Such collections are among the most valuable of the writings of the Chinese also, Confucius and Shushi, among others, using this method.