Japan Religions 1

The constitution guarantees freedom of faith to all citizens, as long as this does not prejudice the maintenance of peace and public order or prevent the faithful from observing the laws. In addition to the ancient national religion, Shintoism, there are Buddhism, Confucianism and Christianity in Japan.

The Shinto (v.) (From shin, god and t ō, street, doctrine) is, substantially, a mixed worship of nature and ancestors. It possesses divinity of the wind, of the ocean, of the woods, of the mountains and rivers, of particular mountains and rivers, etc. Among all the main is Amaterasu- ō -mikami, the goddess of the sun, ancestor of the present imperial house, born from the left eye of Izanagi, the creator of the islands of the archipelago. Shinto teaches that these islands and the people who inhabit them, the Japanese, are of divine origin and that the emperor is of divine prosapia because he is a direct descendant of the sun goddess.

The Confucianism was the first religious doctrine, if it can be called that, penetrated in the century. V d. C., in Japan from Korea, but it was only under the Emperor Tenchi (662-671) that the first official teaching was instituted. Later the Buddhists included the cornerstones of his morality, filial piety and the theory of the family, in their propaganda and Sugawara Michizane (845-903), extolling loyalty, one of the five Confucian virtues, understood as loyalty to the emperor, it eliminated the Shinto opposition, thus removing any obstacle to its spread in the country. However, none of the various elaborations that the doctrine of Confucius underwent in China through the times, through the work of the philosophers, seems to have acquired prevalence over the others in Japan. Only at the time of the Tokugawa (1603-1868) Confucianism, in rationalistic-formalist structure given to him by Chu Hsi (130-1200; v.),. it had its golden age, because it enjoyed the favor of the shōgun, who, seeing it as a powerful instrument of government, imposed it as official morality. Today, if not the creed, the preferred spiritual attitude of many of the intellectual classes is particularly Confucianism in the subjective-intuitive arrangement of Wang Shou-ien (Japanese Y ō – mei from the pronunciation of the nickname Wang Yang – ming ; 1472-1528).

According to insidewatch, the Buddhism, in its Chinese form, came to Japan through Korea in the century. VI, but it began to assert itself only in the seventh century, thanks to the zeal explained in its favor by Prince Shōtokutaishi (572-621), the Constantine of Japanese Buddhism. For nearly 70 years, teaching was limited to general principles; then some bonzes belonging to different philosophical schools founded the first sects. Between the middle of the century VII and the end of the Nara era, six appeared, almost all of hīnayānica derivation.

In order of time they were: 1. The Sanron – sh ū (sh ū, sect), brought by the bonze Ekwan, in 625; now extinct. It denied all the truths of the phenomenal and noumenal world, and coincides with the Mādhyamika school of Nāgarluna. 2. The J ō jitsu– sh ū (Satya – siddhisastra), also extinct and preached at the same time as the previous one, was inspired by a strong subjective idealism. 3. The Hoss ō – sh ū (Dharma – lakshana, i.e. the Yoga school), brought in 654 by Dōshō (died in 700), was preached above all by Chitsū and Chiyū (657), then by Chihō and Chinran (703). 4. The Kusha – sh ū (Abhidharma – kosa – sastra) preached, around 660, by Chitsū and Chitatsu. Now extinct, this sect was only a derivation of the previous one; while denying the reality of the ego, it sought, through an elaborate psychological analysis, to arrive at an interpretation of the phenomenal world as a whole. 5. The Kegon – sh ū (Avatamsaka – sittra), the first Mahāyanic sect, introduced by Dōsen, in 735. 6. The Ris – sh ū (Vinaya – pitaka), brought from Kanshin in 754, although the moral precepts of the Vinaya-pitaka were, as it seems, the first to enter the country. Indeed, it was their practicality, rather than the abstruse metaphysical speculation of the various schools, that quickly won the hearts of Buddhism.

The major sects were introduced during the Heian (794-1186) and Kamakura (1186-1332) periods. In 806, Saichō, known as Dengyō Daishi (767-822) transports to Japan, from China, the syncretic Buddhism of Chi’-kai (died in 597), which attempts to harmonize the divergences of the Hīnayānic and Mahāyanic theories, and establishes the Tendai – sh ū, whose practical morality hinges on the three points: to flee from evil, to practice good, to love all living beings. Over time it divided into three sub- sevenSammon (805), Jimon (858) and Shinj ō (1486). Another sect, very important today, the Shingon – sh ū, was introduced by Kūkai, called Kōbō Daishi, in 806. It affirms the possibility of attaining, in this life, ‘perfection through wisdom (kong ō) and reason (taiz ō), which alone can direct man and make him find the way of virtue. At the time of Kükai, Buddhism found many obstacles to its spread in Shintoism, which, by imposing national gods (Kami), prevented free adherence to foreign doctrine. With a clever expedient, Kūkai paved the way already indicated in the practice by Gyōki. He admitted that the Kami were nothing but personifications (gongen) of Indian Buddhist deities: with this the two religions were two different aspects of the same thing. Thus arose shortly after the Ry ō bu – shint ō, or “double Shintō”, which naturally introduced elements extraneous to it into Buddhism, but, eliminating national prejudice, made it popular until the rebirth of pure Shintō by the wagakushti (see below: Literature) at the end of the century. XVIII.

Japan Religions 1