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“ the Japanese Quietists” or “the Japanese Mystics.” This is now the largest Buddhist sect.
4. A third school, teaching that salvation was to be obtained only through the works of another, has been represented by two sects, the sõdo and the Shin. The former, which now ranks fourth, was founded upon a very simple doctrine, with an easy rule of life, that is, the frequent repetition of the invocation Namu Amida Butsu, “Hail to Amida the Buddha." These Buddhists use a double rosary.
5. The Shin sect, which sprung out of the Jõdo sect, is that of the Japanese Reformers or Protestants. In numerical strength it is second to the Zen sect, but in real power and influence it is facile princeps. Its priests are allowed to marry, and to eat flesh and fish. It teaches that morality is as important as faith; or, in quite familiar words, that "faith without works is dead." It is monotheistic, as it worships only one Buddha. It alone of all Buddhist sects provides a way of salvation for women. It upholds a high standard of education, carries on vigorous missions in China and Korea, and has priests even in America.
6. The sect founded by the priest Nichiren and named for him is not large, but very radical and influential. In their controversial and uncompromising attitude toward other religions or even other sects of Buddhism, the disciples of the “ fiery Nichiren" have been called “the Jesuits of Buddhism." Their invocation is Namu Myöhó Renge Kyo (Hail to the Doctrine of the Lotus of the Wonderful Law). Their doctrine is complete pantheism ; as Dr. Griffis expresses it, Nichiren “ was destined to bring religion, not only down to men, but even down to the beasts and the mud.”
1 See Transactions Asiatic Society of Japan, vols. xiv. and xvii., papers on “ Shinshiu” by Troup.
Of all these sects, the only one which has been appreciably influenced by contact with Western civilization and conflict with Christianity is the Shin sect. One type of New Buddhism tries to ally itself with the doctrines of scientific evolution. Another type has learned lessons from Christian activity in Japan, and is putting forth its energies in the direction of philanthropic and educational institutions; so that it has its hospitals, magazines, schools, and, to balance the Young Men's Christian Association, its Young Men's Buddhist Association, with summer schools, etc. The New Buddhism will die hard.
The influence of Buddhism upon the Japanese people must not be underestimated, especially because it is still manifest, to a high degree, even in New Japan. Chamberlain says:1 “All education was for centuries in Buddhist hands, as was the care of the poor and sick; Buddhism introduced art, introduced medicine, moulded the folk-lore of the country, created its dramatic poetry, deeply influenced politics and every sphere of social and intellectual activity. In a word, Buddhism was the
teacher under whose instruction the Japanese nation grew up.” Or, as Griffis outlines it, the Buddhist missionaries were purveyors of civilization, ministers of art, wielded a mighty influence in military and political affairs, transformed the manners and customs, inspired a tremendous development in education and literature ; but Buddhism was “ kind to the brute and cruel to man,” neglected charity and philanthropy, degraded woman, and left upon the Japanese character the blight of a merciless fatalism and an awful pessimism. It created “ habits of gentleness and courtesy" and a “spirit of hopeless resignation.” To sum up, “in a word, Buddhism is law, but not gospel.”
At present, Buddhism in Japan is exceedingly corrupt, is losing its hold upon the educated, but retains a tremendous influence over the great mass of the people. The majority of the priests are ignorant, illiterate, and immoral, “ blind leaders of the blind.” The newspapers of the day are unsparing in their denunciation of the immoralities of the priesthood. The following is only one of many such testimonies by ex-priests : “Something that did trouble me was the growing conviction that Buddhism was dead, that it had reached the extremity of corruption. Strife and scandal were rife everywhere. The chief priests were grasping after worldly place and prosperity. Of the immorality of the priests it makes me blush to speak. It is not a rare thing to see men with shaven heads and attired in black garments wandering about in prostitute quarters, or to find women living in temples, or to discover fish-bones thrown among the graves. . . The religion has no rallying power left, no inner life. . . . It has contributed much to our civilization in the past, but it is now exhausted."
1 “The Religions of Japan.”
Emotionally its tenets do not at bottom satisfy us Occidentals, flirt with them as we may. Passivity is not our passion, preach it as we are prone to do each to his neighbor. Scientifically, pessimism is foolishness, and impersonality a stage in development from which we are emerging, not one into which we shall ever relapse. As a dogma it is unfortunate, doing its devotee in the deeper sense no good, but it becomes positively faulty when it leads to practical ignoring of the mine and thine, and does other people harm.” – LOWELL.
One element of the strong hold which Buddhism had and has upon the people, even upon the educated classes, is the fact that so many cemeteries have been and are connected with Buddhist temples. It used to be a frequent saying that a Japanese was a Shintoist in life and a Buddhist in death; because, though he may never have espoused Buddhism, he might be laid away in his grave according to Buddhist ceremonies in a Buddhist temple and a Buddhist graveyard. But this control of the cemeteries seems to be passing out of Buddhist hands into the care of the local civil authorities. And this secularization, if it may be so called, of the graveyards not only abolishes the Buddhist monopoly, but also takes away from the priests the golden opportunity of extorting immense fees. The Buddhist control of cemeteries
has often been a source of great embarrassment to Christians, who were frequently compelled to bury their dead under Buddhist auspices. But there have lately been cases where no objection was made to the burial of Christians with Christian rites in a Buddhist graveyard.
This is, perhaps, the most suitable place to devote just a few words to those sects which are comparatively modern in their origin, and are so composite in their doctrine that they cannot be classed under either Shinto or Buddhism. Indeed, they even show traces, though perhaps slight, of Christian teaching; and they all agree in the one doctrine of faith healing. These are Remmon-kyó (Doctrine of the LotusGate), Kurozumi-kyő (Doctrine of Kurozumi, name of founder), and Tenrikyő (Doctrine of Heavenly Reason). The first and the last were founded by ignorant peasant women, and win adherents mostly among the lowest classes.
The first seems more Buddhist than Shinto; the second seems more Shinto than Buddhist; while the third is the one which shows most plainly traces of Christian influence. In Kurozumi-kyo, the Sun-goddess is the chief object of devotion, because the founder was healed by worshipping the rising sun. Tenrikyō is growing rapidly, and is exclusive and intolerant.
1 See papers in vol. xxix., Transactions Asiatic Society of Japan, by Lloyd and Greene.
2 See Cary's article in “ Andover Review,” June, 1889.
8 See Greene's paper in vol. xxiii., Transactions Asiatic Society of Japan.