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DARK IS THE FOOT OF THE CANDLESTICK.
When the dog days were half gone, some friends came to the Old Man's cottage on Suruga Dai to enjoy its coolness. The daily rain had ceased and the setting sun still lingered in the western trees. Cool the drops hung on tree and bamboo, and sweet was the odor of the lotus in the pond. The guests could not leave the scene, but stood on the balcony, and taking hold of its rail recited poetry, until at last in the gathering darkness white had melted into black. Then they went within and began to say farewell. But the Old Man urged them to remain and, consenting to pass the evening with him in talk, all sat down. As the lights were brought the Old Man had a thought, and pointing to the candles said, "Expound the proverb, 'Dark is the Foot of the Candlestick'."
So one took up the theme and said:—"That which everywhere is spoken of is not known at home. We foolish men explain it thus and Mencius sets forth the reason, 'The Way that is near men seek afar off';1 they are forgetful of the beginning and seek the end, as the archer looks at the distant mark". Then another continued:—"The verse of the nun Godo in works of the Radaikyō2 is an interesting illustration of the theme;—'Seeking spring all day we see p. 114 it not. The haze rests on the sandal-prints along the ridges of the rice fields. Returning laughingly we pick a blossom of the plum and as we smell it, lo! behold! all the spring is present in the twig! This is equally true of other things besides the 'Way.' In the time of To-shin3 Kanon attacked Sanshin, and when Ōmō came forth to meet him cried, 'Why do not the heroes of Sanshin come forth?' So dark were his eyes since no hero of them all excelled Ōmō. Not to know the hero before one's eyes but to ask the hero for heroes, surely that excellently sets forth our proverb. So has it ever been in China and Japan! Great generals have sought distant enterprises and their renown has gone abroad even to the land of their enemies, yet have the enemies at home, within the hedge, remained unknown: so did Oda Nobunaga conquer east and west and yet, so dark was it close at hand, was slain by Akechi."4
Then the Old Man spoke:—You have completely taught the meaning of the proverb as to the attainment of righteousness, but you have used this darkness near at hand in a bad sense. I would use it also in illustration of the good. There is this further meaning in it. As the short poem of Kantaishi has it,—'Vain is the candlestick eight feet long. The short one two feet long is victor in giving light.' For it is dark below the long and light below the short candle stick, so as we wish to read and need a light close at hand we houour the short one, a foot or two in length. But it fails to illuminate the room and is useless in the great apartment filled with guests. So then, those which brighten the distance are dark close at hand. If from the darkness we see the light, it is all clear to our eyes; but if from the light we seek to penetrate the darkness, we can see it not. Thus to see the light from the darkness is to hide deeply and cherish profoundly one's own wisdom. Then if light shine p. 115 out from such darkness it is naturally strong and clear and reaches to a distance. This is true light. But when proud of intellect we labour with celerity and clearness to illuminate that which is close at hand, we look at the darkness from the light. Such light is weak, confined and superficial. It does not reach to the distance and merely illuminates our fingers ends. So we are like the unskilled go-player: we cannot see the end, and mistake at every move.
In China and Japan men of great and clear wisdom have been modest and unwilling to use their gifts. So says Laotz:5—"The wise merchant keeps his treasure out of sight and the wisdom of the wise seems folly." Not long ago Itakura Suwo no Kami was judge in Kyōto. His quick intelligence revealed itself in his face, and men were disconcerted as they saw his heart, so that neither prosecutor nor accused could fully state his case. So when Itakura heard a cause he shut himself behind screens, ground tea and was as if he heard not. Now he is famous. When reasons good and bad were stated, he was as a god in decisions and none failed to obey his words. Even yet there are countless stories of him, and among them all I like this one best: Once as he passed through a country district a child cried out, "There goes Suwo." As he heard the shout he said, "No one any where in the capital or provinces, child or adult, man or woman, does not know that I am the Shōgun's representative in Kyōto. No one calls me Suwo. But this child repeats what be has learned. The people of the house must hate me, and therefore call me Suwo." So he asked who lived within, and the following day summoned the master of the house and inquired, "Has any cause of yours been judged by me? Do not be alarmed. Tell me the facts?" After many excuses, as he could not get off, the man finally replied;—"In such a month and year a p. 116 relative and I quarrelled about the division of my father's property. He was in the wrong but hired many false witnesses and gained his suit," and the man stated the particulars. So Lord Suwo told his men to examine the records and it was as the man had said. So the case was again reviewed and finally Itakura said, "The decision was wrong. But it is long past and cannot now be reversed. I'll pay you for your loss and apologize for my error." So he gave the man his money.
As the candlestick is long its base is dark, but its light shines far. So is the "Way" of the superior man dark indeed but grows daily bright. If the candlestick is short the base is bright, but the light goes but a little way. So is the "way" of the little man destroyed day by day. But your explanation is the true one; this of mine is apart. I have dwelt too long on this subject thoughtlessly, said the Old Man with a laugh. But the guests replied, "It is wonderful what meaning you can find even in a theme like this."
LAWS ARE LIKE A RIVER.
When the moon is full it wanes and the flower in full bloom scatters. We dislike the putting forth of full strength by anything. Seven or eight tenths of our strength should be used and the rest reserved. Should all be used, regret follows fast. Not wholly should a superior man give himself to joy nor to friendship without reserve. To accept hospitality too freely becomes rudeness and to become too intimate is to give offence. And the same principle holds with the government, as the vulgar saying is, "The government of the land must be like the stick that stirs the rice in the box, it stops not at the corners"; and where it does not reach is the place of freedom. So the Book of Changes teaches us that when the king hunts the animals are surrounded on three sides, that one side may be left open for their escape. There has never been a time when there were p. 117 not concubines and favourites, nor any country without evil men. Yet do the good win. Let ruler and ruled, high and low, show mercy and loyalty, then shall the foundations of the state be strengthened.
And thus it is that the ancient rulers exalt intelligence but do not praise acuteness. The two are alike and yet differ. Intelligence is the candle that illuminates the room, and though the foot is dark the room is bright. Acuteness is like a lantern, excellent for finding things just at hand but useless at a distance. The virtue of the ruler is like the candle and not like the lantern.
The Imperial laws are lenient and broad, like the the river; they are not narrow and small like canals. And just because the river is so big and well known it is easily avoided; so deep and broad is it that it cannot be despised nor readily injured. But canals are many and small, narrow, difficult to avoid and easily injured. No one steps into the river by mistake, but constantly men slip into the canals. Still the government must not be mere leniency. Many details confuse the laws and make them cruel and hated, yet must they be severe according to times and circumstances. In times of perfect peace men float in lazy pleasure, and desiring luxury, security is thought most important of all, then with ease ancient evils cannot be escaped. Reform the government, increase the severity of the laws and make new the people's eyes and ears. The people rejoice at the accomplishment of the task: they cannot aid in its inception. They are foolish and look not to the good or evil of the state but only to their own. They are fault-finding and fertile in arguments.
When Shishan ruled Tei he strenuously reformed the evil customs, forbade extravagance in dress and equipage and made rules for the dwellings of the people. The rich in fear hid away thelr clothes and the landlords gave their possessions to the government, which redistributed them to their people. So the people sang,—"We hide our hats p. 118 and clothes. Our lands are taken and divided. We will not blame him who kills Shishan." But in a short three years extravagance had ceased and riot and crime had disappeared and then the people sang, "Let Shishan teach our brothers and children; Shishan increases our fields; should Shishan die who could take his place?" And Confucius said,—"Shishan is a superior man."6 So the government loves and cherishes the people with leniency and severity. When lenient, the people grow selfish, and with severity comes reform. When severe, the people are harmed and then leniency must be invoked. Severity repairs the harm wrought by leniency, and leniency heals the wound of severity. Thus is the government successful, As Confucius said, "Neither should be used by itself."
So the state reforms evils great and small and for the rest, ancient precedent should be followed unchanged. The carpenter may indeed forsake the traditions of his craft and form new methods for himself, but how narrow will be his rules and how poor his workmanship. With much pains and great thought he accomplishes nothing. In everything it is easy to follow precedent and difficult to invent new ways. There are ever men ready to show their ability in inventions; and though they may find something of value one time out of ten, yet will it even prove only of immediate use and not of value in the future. They see that which is easy only and not the many difficulties. Treasure and strength are wasted in the end. Especially should the good laws of our ancestors and the tried institutions of the past be untouched. They are familiar to eyes and ears, and to be changed only at the risk of losing the people's hearts.
But the rule is not absolute. Some laws were established p. 119 to meet peculiar needs. Such should not be continued but should be reformed. Otherwise society is harmed and government impeded in the name of the past. To reform such evils is really to fulfil the purpose of our ancestors. Not otherwise did they desire that government should be carried on and long for filial sons and grandsons.
As thus the Old Man set forth his argument with instances ancient and modern, the short summer night showed the coming dawn; the guests said farewell and took their leave.
On another occasion when guests came to see the Old Man a copy of the Tsure-dzure Gusa7 was seen by his side and he was asked, Do you like the Book? Kenko was witty and used language well in the description of emotions and scenery. "No," was the reply; "I only read it as a pastime to the children, while I am ill. I do not really like it." "Do you not agree to the general opinion," asked another guest, "that Kenko was a wise man?" And the Old Man replied,—Men who forsake the world fancy Kenko; men who like him care neither for fame nor gain. But I am not so sure of that. The Taiheiki says that he wrote a lustful letter for Ko no Moronawo; and the Entairiaku says that when he accepted the invitation of Iga no Kami, Tachibana no Naritada, and went to Iga he committed adultery with Naritada's daughter. Some of his poems were written at that time. So we see that he flattered the world and was lustful. He talked of deserting the world and despising fame and gain, but he lacked the firm purpose of the man who really deserts the world. He followed Buddhism; and so p. 120 there are poems of lust and sin mingled with his talk of forsaking the world. Manifestly he was not a wise man.
Besides a few works on history like the Sankyō Ega Monogatari which record facts there are no books worth reading in our literature. For the most part they are sweet stories of the Buddhas of which we soon weary. But the evil is traditional, long continued and beyond remedy. And other books are full of lust, not to be even mentioned, like the Genji Monogatari,8 which should never be shown to a woman or a young man. Such books lead to vice. Our nobles call the Genji Monogatari a national treasure, why I do not know, unless it is that they are intoxicated with its style. That is like plucking the spring blossom unmindful of autumn's fruit. The book is full of adulteries from beginning to end. Seeing the right ourselves become good, seeing the wrong, we should reprove ourselves. The Genji Monogatari, Chōkonka and Seishōki are of a class,—vile, mean, comparable to the books of the sages as charcoal to ice, as the stench of decay to the perfume of flowers.
Long has Buddhism made Japan think of nothing as important except the worship of the Buddha. So it is that evil customs prevail and there is no one who does not find pleasure in lust. And the story books are full of the same things. Other writings contain for the most part low wit and vile lies, without a virtue. They are altogether worse than the Tsure-dzure Gusa. Take out the lust and Buddhism from that book, and scenery and the emotions are well described. There is a good deal that is silly, yet there is also reason and principles. Had he been learned in the "Way" of the sages he had not fallen into Buddhism. And moreover p. 121 he sinned through lust, so that his filthy name remains. Alas! Thus should we learn how dangerous are man's lusts.
THE DAIBUTSU PENCE.
What I ever hate is the conduct of Shigehira. It was not a disgrace that he was captured by the enemy, but while imprisoned at Kamakura he went into the drinking hall and had all sorts of talk with the dancing girls. When he was sent to Nara he asked his guards to send him his beloved concubine. Surely these are things not to be done by a man! It was most miserable, but he felt no shame. But on the other hand he felt he had committed a great crime, and was in great fear because in obedience to his father he had burned the Dai Butsu at Nara! At Kamakura he confessed this and sought the forgiveness of Yoritomo; and again, when at Kyōto he met the priest Honen he mourned over it. Such repentance shows a heart dark beyond all help.9
Later on Matsunaga Danjo also burned the Nara Dai Butsu, and so strong a man as Nobunaga thought it a great crime. So when Danjo killed his lord Miyoshi Yoshinaga, and the Shōgun Nobunaga put these crimes together to his shame. How can Buddhism thus deceive the heart of man?9
But in the period Kambun (A.D. 1661-1673) Matsudaira Idzu no Kami Nobutsuna was in power and broke up the metal of the Nara images which had been honoured for a thousand years and turned Dai Butsu into pence, a great profit to the empire quite unparallelled. His strong wisdom was unique. With the advance of civilization since the establishment p. 122 of the Tokugawa rule such men frequently appear. Should men like Shigehira hear of such deeds they would die of astonishment. All of Idzu no Kami's Government was good, but three things are preëminent: his forbidding retainers to die with their lords, his stopping the custom of sending hostages to the Shōgun and his conversion of the Dai Butsu into pence. By the first, an evil to future generations was prevented; by the second, sorrow was averted in all the provinces; and by the third a great error was corrected, an inheritance for future ages.
There were many such men in power, and their blessing comes to us in this continued peace. But Idzu no Kami was first among them all. He was sent to fight at Amakusa,10 and after his victory he returned to Edo and went in to see the Shōgun just as he was in travelling array. As he entered, all congratulated him; and in the ante-room was Shinzaemon, to whom Idzu no Kami remarked as he passed through, "I have something to say to you when I return." So when he returned from his audience in the midst of a great crowd he said to Shinzaemon, "It was determined that the great bell at my headquarters should give the signal for the gathering of the daimyō for the attack. But I thought to myself, 'Suppose some fool or some rebel should strike the bell to-night!' so I had the beam taken away and brought to my side. But then I thought 'the bell can still be struck by something else,' so I had it wholly taken down and wrapped in a bags. As it turned out the rebels began the fight unexpectedly, and there was not time to get off the bags and hang the bell; so we were obliged to fight and whip them without its aid. Then I remembered your words, 'Be not over careful;' and thought this an excellent illustration." Though it was said in jest, yet he had not forgotten the word. An ordinary man would have had no thought at such a time for this. But Idzu no Kami showed the greatness of his heart by telling his mistake before them p. 123 all. That is true wisdom. But men who desire authority and outward ornament are indeed very low, like frogs in a well.
From the beginning of the Kamakura regime Hōjō Yasutoki was the best of all the men of these times.11 Few can be compared with him. He once said to Mioe of Togano, "I am unequal to this great task of Government. How shall I cause strife to cease among the people?" Mioe replied, "Be unselfish." "But," said Yasutoki, "will the people be unselfish too if I am so?" And the priest replied, "No matter about the people! Try it and see!" So Yasutoki believed him, and when his father Yoshitoki died, gave the inheritance to his younger brother and kept just enough for his needs. His mother remonstrated with him, saying. "You have not kept enough;" he replied, "I inherit the government. I have enough. I wish my brothers to be rich." She greatly admired him, and as time passed all of his relatives came to be on the best of terms and all Kamakura admiringly followed their example. Mioe was a priest, but his words agree with the reply that Confucius made to Kikoshi,—"If you covet not they will steal though theft be praised."12 And the government of Yasutoki shows that the words of the Sage are true.
While Yasutoki was in power he went every day to the office and laboured hard all day. He had a patient regard for the chief officials and was wise and impartial in his judgments, as is related in the Adzuma Kagami. Long ago p. 124 an old scholar told me this story of him: One day when hearing a case, while accuser and accused were face to face, the accuser suddenly said, "I had thought my cause good and so entered complaint. Now I see my error and will not add a word." There he stopped and Yasutoki in great admiration said, "You are beaten in your case but you are victorious in reason. I have heard many cases, but never before have I seen a man thus yield to reason. If I do not reward you whom shall I reward?" So he gave him a very special reward.
So it was that quarrels gradually ceased and the judges had leisure, I have forgotten in what monogatari this is, but it illustrates Yasutoki's justice, benevolence and truth. His work benefited his son and extended to future generations as they imitated his virtue and accepted what he had accomplished, Thus it was that Kamakura won the affections of the people.
Men think Tokiyori wiser, but I do not agree, He soon gave up his high rank, became a priest, liked quiet walks and thus saw the condition of the people, That seems admirable to those who do not know reason. He should not have deserted his post for the sake of the quiet of a temple. A born ruler should not thus injure virtue and lose the Government. His plan was petty, and "dark at a distance." Neither he nor any other at Kamakura at all equalled Yasutoki. When the Hōjō rule began, many men of parts gathered at Kamakura, but they were men of mere strength and bravery, without knowledge or wisdom, Shigetada is preëminent among them, for when falsely accused he refused to take an oath, saying, "I have never lied, and why should I take an oath?" so Yoritomo forgave him, but he was killed by the Hōjō and died most purely. The crimes of Tokimasa and Yoshitoki were against both men and Heaven and death were an insufficient punishment. Were it not for Yasutoki the Hōjō had been destroyed before the time of Takatoki.
1 Book IV, Part I, Chapter XI.
2 A Buddhist priest said to be of India (?).
3 The Eastern Tsin, A.D. 317-419.
4 Rein's Japan, pp. 269-270.
5 In his reputed conversation with Confucius. Chinese Classics Vol. I: Prolegomena, p. 65.
6 Shishan (Kung-sun K'iao) was chief minister of Cheng when lawlessness and disorder prevailed. When he had reigned three years the doors were not locked at night and lost articles were not picked up on the highway. Mayers, p. 221, Analects, Book V, Chap. XV.
7 Kenko was an official who became a priest on the death of his Imperial master. Kenko died A.D. 1350. A translation of the Tsure-dzure Gusa may be found in The Chrysanthemum, Vol. III, by the Rev. C. S. Eby.
8 The Genji Monogatari was written in the year A.D. 1004, "Things Japanese," p. 269. It quite deserves the sharp judgment here given. The first part has been translated into English by Suyematsu Kenchio. The Chōkonka and Seishōki are Chinese books.
9 Shigehira was a Taira Kuge. Honen was the instructor of the founder of the Hon-gwan-ji sect Shinran Shonin. Danjo became Nobunaga's follower, after he had committed these crimes.
10 Amakusa,—the war againt the Christians. Rein. p. 308.
11 The Hōjō family succeeded Yoritomo as the real rulers of Japan. They were the Regents of Kamakura, ruling in the name of the "Puppet Shōgun" for 120 years. "Takatoki, the last of the line, became Regent at the age of nine." The Hōjō family was overthrown by Ashikaga Taka-uji and Nitta Yoshisada, A.D. 1334. Satow and Hawes's "Handbook," pp. 54-55.
12 Kikoshi was troubled by the many thieves in his dominions. Analects XII: XVIII.