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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

THE JODO SECTIt has been shown


was the "world of golden effulgence"--a world permeated by the light of truth. The sect was called the Shingon (True Word); and the central body was Dainichi (Great Sun), the Spirit of Truth, anterior to Shaka and greater than him. "To reach the realization of the Truth that Dainichi is omnipresent and that everything exists only in him, a disciple must ascend by a double ladder, each half of which has ten steps, namely, the intellectual ladder and the moral ladder." These ladders constitute, in fact, a series of precepts, warnings, and exhortations; some easily comprehensible, others demanding profound thought, and the whole calculated to educate an absorbing aspiration for the "transcendental virtues," to possess which is to attain to perfect Buddhahood. Unquestionably the offspring of a great mind, this Shingon system, with its mysterious possibilities and its lofty morality, appealed strongly to the educated and leisured classes in Kyoto during the peaceful Heian epoch, while for the illiterate and the lower orders the simpler canons of the Tendai had to suffice.


It has been shown, however, that the preachers of these sects, one and all, were readily prone to resort to violence and bloodshed in pursuit of worldly interests, not even the exponents of the exalted "True Word" creed being exempt from the reproach. Teachers of a doctrine having for cardinal tenet the sacredness of life, the inmates

of the great monasteries nevertheless did not hesitate to appeal to arms, at any time, in defence of their temporal privileges or in pursuit of their ambitious designs. Yet the discredit attaching to such a flagrant discrepancy between precept and practice might not have produced very signal result had not the twelfth century brought the Gen-Hei struggle, which plunged the empire into a state of turbulence and reduced the lower orders to a condition of pitiable misery.

For this distress neither the Tendai doctrines nor the Shingon conceptions were sufficiently simple to supply a remedy. Something more tangible and less recondite was needed, and it came (1196), in the sequel of twenty-five years' meditation and study, to Genku--posthumously called Honen Shonin--a priest of the Tendai sect. The leading characteristics of the Jodo (pure land) system introduced by him are easily stated. "Salvation is by faith, but it is a faith ritually expressed. The virtue that saves comes, not from imitation of, and conformity to, the person and character of the saviour, Amida, but from blind trust in his efforts and from ceaseless repetition of pious formulae. It does not necessitate any conversion or change of heart. It is really a religion of despair rather than of hope. It says to the believer: 'The world is so very evil that you can not possibly reach to Buddha-ship here. Your best plan, therefore, is to give up all such hope and simply set your mind upon being born in Amida's paradise after death.'"*

*Lloyd's Development of Japanese Buddhism and Shinran and His Work.


An immediate offspring of the Jodo, though not directly following it in the chronological sequence of sects, was the Shin, established (1224) under the name of Jodo Shin-shu* (True Sect of Jodo), and owing its inception to Shinran, a pupil of Genku. It was even simpler and less exacting than its parent, the Jodo-shu, for it logically argued that if faith alone was necessary to salvation, the believer need not trouble himself about metaphysical subtleties and profound speculations; nor need he perform acts of religion and devotion; nor need he keep a multitude of commandments; nor need he leave his home, renounce matrimony, or live by rule. Only he must not worship any save Amida, or pray for anything that does not concern his salvation. As for the time of attaining salvation, the Jodo sect taught that if the mercy of Amida be called to remembrance, he would meet the believer at the hour of death and conduct him to paradise; whereas Shin-shu preaches that the coming of Amida was present and immediate; in other words, that "Buddha dwelt in the heart now by faith."

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