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THE RELIGIONS OF JAPAN

FROM THE DAWN OF HISTORY
TO THE ERA OF MEIJI

BY

WILLIAM ELLIOT GRIFFIS, D.D.

FORMERLY OF THE IMPERIAL UNIVERSITY OF TOKIO; AUTHOR OF "THE MIKADO'S
EMPIRE" AND "COREA, THE HERMIT NATION;" LATE LECTURER ON THE MORSE
FOUNDATION IN UNION THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY IN NEW YORK

"I came not to destroy, but to fulfil." - THE SON OF MAN

NEW YORK

CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS

1895

COPYRIGHT, 1895, BY
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS

TROW DIRECTORY
PRINTING AND BOOKBINDING COMPANY
NEW YORK


IN GLAD RECOGNITION OF THEIR SERVICES TO THE WORLD
AND
IN GRATEFUL ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF MY OWN GREAT DEBT TO BOTH
I DEDICATE THIS BOOK
SO UNWORTHY OF ITS GREAT SUBJECT
TO
THOSE TWO NOBLE BANDS OF SEEKERS AFTER TRUTH
THE FACULTY OF UNION THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY
OF WHOM
CHARLES A. BRIGGS AND GEORGE L. PRENTISS
ARE THE HONORED SURVIVORS
AND TO
THAT TRIO OF ENGLISH STUDENTS
ERNEST M. SATOW, WILLIAM G. ASTON AND BASIL H. CHAMBERLAIN
WHO LAID THE FOUNDATIONS OF CRITICAL SCHOLARSHIP IN JAPAN

"IN UNCONSCIOUS BROTHERHOOD, BINDING THE SELF-SAME SHEAF"




PREFACE


This book makes no pretence of furnishing a mirror of contemporary
Japanese religion. Since 1868, Japan has been breaking the chains of her
intellectual bondage to China and India, and the end is not yet. My
purpose has been, not to take a snap-shot photograph, but to paint a
picture of the past. Seen in a lightning-flash, even a tempest-shaken
tree appears motionless. A study of the same organism from acorn to
seed-bearing oak, reveals not a phase but a life. It is something like
this - "_to_ the era of Meiji" (A.D. 1868-1894+) which I have essayed.
Hence I am perfectly willing to accept, in advance, the verdict of smart
inventors who are all ready to patent a brand-new religion for Japan,
that my presentation is "antiquated."

The subject has always been fascinating, despite its inherent
difficulties and the author's personal limitations. When in 1807, the
polite lads from Satsuma and Ki[=o]to came to New Brunswick, N.J., they
found at least one eager questioner, a sophomore, who, while valuing
books, enjoyed at first hand contemporaneous human testimony.

When in 1869, to Rutgers College, came an application through Rev. Dr.
Guido F. Verbeck, of T[=o]ki[=o], from Fukui for a young man to organize
schools upon the American principle in the province of Echizen
(ultra-Buddhistic, yet already so liberally leavened by the ethical
teachings of Yokoi Héishiro), the Faculty made choice of the author.
Accepting the honor and privilege of being one of the "beginners of a
better time," I caught sight of peerless Fuji and set foot on Japanese
soil December 29, 1870. Amid a cannonade of new sensations and fresh
surprises, my first walk was taken in company with the American
missionary (once a marine in Perry's squadron, who later invented the
jin-riki-sha), to see a hill-temple and to study the wayside shrines
around Yokohama. Seven weeks' stay in the city of Yedo - then rising out
of the débris of feudalism to become the Imperial capital, T[=o]ki[=o],
enabled me to see some things now so utterly vanished, that by some
persons their previous existence is questioned. One of the most
interesting characters I met personally was Fukuzawa, the reformer, and
now "the intellectual father of half of the young men of ... Japan." On
the day of the battle of Uyéno, July 11, 1868, this far-seeing patriot
and inquiring spirit deliberately decided to keep out of the strife, and
with four companions of like mind, began the study of Wayland's Moral
Science. Thus were laid the foundations of his great school, now a
university.

Journeying through the interior, I saw many interesting phenomena of
popular religions which are no longer visible. At Fukui in Echizen, one
of the strongholds of Buddhism, I lived nearly a year, engaged in
educational work, having many opportunities of learning both the
scholastic and the popular forms of Shint[=o] and of Buddhism. I was
surrounded by monasteries, temples, shrines, and a landscape richly
embroidered with myth and legend. During my four years' residence and
travel in the Empire, I perceived that in all things the people of Japan
were _too_ religious.

In seeking light upon the meaning of what I saw before me and in
penetrating to the reasons behind the phenomena, I fear I often made
myself troublesome to both priests and lay folk. While at work in
T[=o]ki[=o], though under obligation to teach only physical science, I
voluntarily gave instruction in ethics to classes in the University. I
richly enjoyed this work, which, by questioning and discussion, gave me
much insight into the minds of young men whose homes were in every
province of the Empire. In my own house I felt free to teach to all
comers the religion of Jesus, his revelation of the fatherhood of God
and the ethics based on his life and words. While, therefore, in
studying the subject, I have great indebtedness to acknowledge to
foreigners, I feel that first of all I must thank the natives who taught
me so much both by precept and practice. Among the influences that have
helped to shape my own creed and inspire my own life, have been the
beautiful lives and noble characters of Japanese officers, students and
common people who were around and before me. Though freely confessing
obligation to books, writings, and artistic and scholastic influences, I
hasten first to thank the people of Japan, whether servants, superior
officers, neighbors or friends. He who seeks to learn what religion is
from books only, will learn but half.

Gladly thanking those, who, directly or indirectly, have helped me with
light from the written or printed page, I must first of all gratefully
express my especial obligations to those native scholars who have read
to me, read for me, or read with me their native literature.

The first foreign students of Japanese religions were the Dutch, and the
German physicians who lived with them, at Déshima. Kaempfer makes
frequent references, with test and picture, in his Beschryving van
Japan. Von Siebold, who was an indefatigable collector rather than a
critical student, in Vol. V. of his invaluable _Archiv_ (Pantheon von
Nippon), devoted over forty pages to the religions of Japan. Dr. J.J.
Hoffman translated into Dutch, with notes and explanations, the
Butsu-z[=o]-dzu-i, which, besides its 163 figures of Buddhist holy men,
gives a bibliography of the works mentioned by the native author. In
visiting the Japanese museum on the Rapenburg, Leyden, one of the
oldest, best and most intelligently arranged in Europe, I have been
interested with the great work done by the Dutchmen, during two
centuries, in leavening the old lump for that transformation which in
our day as New Japan, surprises the world. It requires the shock of
battle to awaken the western nations to that appreciation of the racial
and other differences between the Japanese and Chinese, which the
student has already learned.

The first praises, however, are to be awarded to the English scholars,
Messrs. Satow, Aston, Chamberlain, and others, whose profound researches
in Japanese history, language and literature have cleared the path for
others to tread in. I have tried to acknowledge my debt to them in both
text and appendix.

To several American missionaries, who despite their trying labors have
had the time and the taste to study critically the religions of Japan, I
owe thanks and appreciation. With rare acuteness and learning, Rev. Dr.
George Wm. Knox has opened on its philosophical, and Rev. Dr. J.H.
DeForest on its practical side, the subject of Japanese Confucianism. By
his lexicographical work, Dr. J.C. Hepburn has made debtors to him both
the native and the alien. To our knowledge of Buddhism in Japan, Dr.
J.C. Berry and Rev. J.L. Atkinson have made noteworthy contributions. I
have been content to quote as authorities and illustrations, the names
of those who have thus wrought on the soil, rather than of those, who,
even though world-famous, have been but slightly familiar with the
ethnic and the imported faith of Japan. The profound misunderstandings
of Buddhism, which some very eminent men of Europe have shown in their
writings, form one of the literary curiosities of the world.

In setting forth these Morse lectures, I have purposely robbed my pages
of all appearance of erudition, by using as few uncouth words as
possible, by breaking up the matter into paragraphs of moderate length,
by liberally introducing subject-headings in italics, and by relegating
all notes to the appendix. Since writing the lectures, and even while
reading the final proofs, I have ransacked my library to find as many
references, notes, illustrations and authorities as possible, for the
benefit of the general student. I have purposely avoided recondite and
inaccessible books and have named those easily obtainable from American
or European publishers, or from Messrs. Kelly & Walsh, of Yokohama,
Japan. In using oriental words I have followed, in the main, the
spelling of the Century Dictionary. The Japanese names are expressed
according to that uniform system of transliteration used by Hepburn,
Satow and other standard writers, wherein consonants have the same
general value as in English (except that initial g is always hard),
while the vowels are pronounced as in Italian. Double vowels must be
pronounced double, as in Méiji (m[=a]-[=e]-j[=e]); those which are long
are marked, as in [=o] or [=u]; i before o or u is short. Most of the
important Japanese, as well as Sanskrit and Chinese, terms used, are
duly expressed and defined in the Century Dictionary.

I wish also to thank especially my friends, Riu Watanabe, Ph.D., of
Cornell University, and William Nelson Noble, Esq., of Ithaca. The
former kindly assisted me with criticisms and suggestions, while to the
latter, who has taken time to read all the proofs, I am grateful for
considerable improvement in the English form of the sentences.

In closing, I trust that whatever charges may be brought against me by
competent critics, lack of sympathy will not be one. I write in sight of
beautiful Lake Cayuga, on the fertile and sloping shores of which in old
time the Iroquois Indian confessed the mysteries of life. Having planted
his corn, he made his pregnant squaw walk round the seed-bed in hope of
receiving from the Source of life increased blessing and sustenance for
body and mind. Between such a truly religious act of the savage, and
that of the Christian sage, Joseph Henry, who uncovered his head while
investigating electro-magnetism to "ask God a question," or that of
Samuel F.B. Morse, who sent as his first telegraphic message "What hath
God wrought," I see no essential difference. All three were acts of
faith and acknowledgment of a power greater than man. Religion is one,
though religions are many. As Principal Fairbairn, my honored
predecessor in the Morse lectureship, says: "What we call superstition
of the savage is not superstition _in him_. Superstition is the
perpetuation of a low form of belief along with a higher knowledge....
Between fetichism and Christian faith there is a great distance, but a
great affinity - the recognition of a supra-sensible life."

"For the earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the revealing
of the sons of God.... The creation itself shall be delivered from the
bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of
God."

W.E.G.

ITHACA, N.Y., October 27, 1894.




TABLE OF CONTENTS


CHAPTER I

PRIMITIVE FAITH: RELIGION BEFORE BOOKS, PAGE 1

Salutatory. - The Morse Lectureship and its provisions. - The Science of
Comparative Religion is Christianity's own child. - The Parliament of
Religions. - The Study of Religion most appropriate in a Theological
Seminary. - Shortening weapons and lengthening boundaries. - The right
missionary spirit that of the Master, who "came not to destroy but to
fulfil." - Characteristics of Japan. - Bird's-eye view of Japanese history
and religion. - Popularly, not three religions but one
religion. - Superstitions which are not organically parts of the
"book-religions." - The boundary line between the Creator and his
creation not visible to the pagan. - Shamanism: Fetichism. - Mythical
monsters, Kirin, Phoenix, Tortoise, Dragon. - Japanese mythical
zoölogy. - The erection of the stone fetich. - Insurance by amulets upon
house and person. - Phallicism. - Tree-worship. - Serpent-worship. - These
unwritten superstitions condition the "book-religions." - Removable by
science and a higher religion.


CHAPTER II

SHINTO: MYTHS AND RITUAL, PAGE 35

Japan is young beside China and Korea. - Japanese history is
comparatively modern. - The oldest documents date from A.D. 712. - The
Japanese archipelago inhabited before the Christian era. - Faith, worship
and ritual are previous to written espression. - The Kojiki, Many[=o]shu
and Norito. - Tendency of the pupil nations surrounding China to antedate
their civilization. - Origin of the Japanese people and their
religion. - Three distinct lines of tradition from Tsukushi, Idzumo and
Yamato. - War of the invaders against the aborigines - Mikadoism is the
heart of Shint[=o]. - Illustrations from the liturgies. - Phallicism among
the aborigines and common people. - The mind or mental climate of the
primæval man. - Representation of male gods by emblems. - Objects of
worship and _ex-voto_. - Ideas of creation. - The fire-myth,
Prometheus. - Comparison of Greek and Japanese mythology. - Ritual for the
quieting of the fire-god. - The fire-drill.


CHAPTER III

THE KOJIKI AND ITS TEACHINGS, PAGE 59

Origin of the Kojiki. Analysis of its opening lines - Norito. - Indecency
of the myths of the Kojiki. - Modern rationalistic interpretations - Life
in prehistoric Japan. - Character and temperament of the people then and
now. - Character of the kami or gods. - Hades. - Ethics. - The Land of the
Gods. - The barbarism of the Yamato conquerors an improvement upon the
savagery of the aborigines. - Cannibalism and human sacrifices. - The
makers of the God-way captured and absorbed the religion of the
aborigines. - A case of syncretism. - Origin of evil in bad
gods. - Pollution was sin. - Class of offences enumerated in the
norito. - Professor Kumi's contention that Mikadoism usurped a simple
worship of Heaven. - Difference between the ancient Chinese and ancient
Japanese cultus. - Development of Shint[=o] arrested by
Buddhism. - Temples and offerings. - The tori-i. - Pollution and
purification. - Prayer. - Hirata's ordinal and specimen prayers. - To the
common people the sun is a god. - Prayers to myriads of gods. - Summary of
Shint[=o]. - Swallowed up in the Riy[=o]bu system. - Its modern
revival. - Kéichin. - Kada Adzumar[=o]. - Mabuchi, Motoöri. - Hirata. - In
1870, Shint[=o] is again made the state religion. - Purification of
Riy[=o]bu temples. - Politico-religious lectures. - Imperial
rescript. - Reverence to the Emperor's photograph. - Judgment upon
Shint[=o]. - The Christian's ideal of Yamato-damashii.


CHAPTER IV

THE CHINESE ETHICAL SYSTEM IN JAPAN, PAGE 99

In what respects Confucius was unique as a teacher. - Outline of his
life. - The canon. - Primitive Chinese faith a sort of monotheism. - How
the sage modified it. - History of Confucianism until its entrance into
Japan. - Outline of the intellectual and political history of the
Japanese. - Rise of the Samurai class. - Shifting of emphasis from filial
piety to loyalty. - Prevalence of suicide in Japan. - Confucianism has
deeply tinged the ideas of the Japanese. - Great care necessary in
seeking equivalents in English for the terms used in the Chino-Japanese
ethics; e.g., the emperor, "the father of the people." - Impersonality of
Japanese speech. - Christ and Confucius. - "Love" and
"reverence." - Exemplars of loyalty. - The Forty-seven R[=o]nins. - The
second relation. - The family in Chinese Asia and in Christendom. - The
law of filial piety and the daughter. - The third relation. - Theory of
courtship and marriage. - Chastity. - Jealousy. - Divorce. - Instability of
the marriage bond. - The fourth relation. - The elder and the younger
brother. - The house or family everything, the individual nothing. - The
fifth relation. - The ideas of Christ and those of Confucius. - The Golden
and the Gilded rule. - Lao Tsze and Kung. - Old Japan and the
alien. - Commodore Perry and Professor Hayashi.


CHAPTER V

CONFUCIANISM IN ITS PHILOSOPHICAL FORM, PAGE 131

Harmony of the systems of Confucius and Buddha in Japan during a
thousand years. - Revival of learning in the seventeenth century. - Exodus
of the Chinese scholars on the fall of the Ming dynasty. - Their
dispersion and work in Japan. - Founding of schools of the new Chinese
learning. - For two and a half centuries the Japanese mind has been
moulded by the new Confucianism. - Survey of its rise and
developments. - Four stages in the intellectual history of China. - The
populist movement in the eleventh century. - The literary
controversy. - The philosophy of the Cheng brothers and of Chu Hi, called
in Japan Tei-Shu system. - In Buddhism the Japanese were startling
innovators, in philosophy they were docile pupils. - Paucity of Confucian
or speculative literature in Japan. - A Chinese wall built around the
Japanese intellect. - Yelo orthodoxy. - Features of the Téi-Shu
system. - Not agnostic but pantheistic. - Its influence upon
historiography. - Ki (spirit) Ri (way) and Ten (heaven). - The writings of
Ohashi Junzo. - Confucianism obsolescent in New Japan. - A study of
Confucianism in the interest of comparative religion. - Man's place in
the universe. - The Samurai's ideal, obedience. - His fearlessness in the
face of death. - Critique of the system. - The ruler and the ruled. - What
has Confucianism done for woman? - Improvement and revision of the fourth
and fifth relations. - The new view of the universe and the new mind in
New Japan. The ideal of Yamato-damashii revised and improved.


CHAPTER VI

THE BUDDHISM OF NORTHERN ASIA, PAGE 153

Buddha - sun myth or historic personage? - Buddhism one of the
protestantisms of the world. - Characteristics of new religions. - Survey
of the history of Indian thought. - The age of the Vedas. - The epic
age. - The rationalistic age. - Our fellow-Aryans and the story of their
conquests. - Their intellectual energy and inventions. - Systems of
philosophy. - Condition of religion at the birth of Gautama. - Outline of
his life. - He attains enlightenment or buddhahood. - In what respects
Buddhism was an old, and in what a new religion. - Did Gautama intend to
found a new religion, or return to simpler and older
faith? - Monasticism, Kharma and Nirvana, - Enthusiasm of the disciples of
the new faith. - The great schism. - The Northern Buddhists. - The
canon. - The two Yana or vehicles. - Simplicity of Southern and luxuriance
of Northern Buddhism. - Summary of the process of thought in Nepal. - The
old gods of India come back again. - Maitreya, Manjusri and
Avalokitesvara. - The Legend of Manjusri. - Separation of attributes and
creation of new Buddhas or gods. - The Dhyani
Buddhas. - Amida. - Adi-Buddhas. - Abstractions become gods. - The Tantra
system. - Outbursts of doctrine and art. - Prayer-mills. - The noble
eight-fold path of self-denial and benevolence forgotten. - Entrance of
Buddhism from Korea into Japan. - Condition of the country at that
time. - Dates and first experiences. - Soga no
Inamé. - Sh[=o]toku. - Japanese pilgrims to China. - Changes wrought by the
new creed and cult. - Temples, monasteries and images. - Influence upon
the Mikado's name, rank and person, and upon Shint[=o]. - Relative
influence of Buddhism in Asia and of Christianity in Europe. - The three
great characteristics of Buddhism. - How the clouds returned after the
rain. - Buddhism and Christianity confronting the problem of life.


CHAPTER VII

RIYOBU, OR MIXED BUDDHISM, PAGE 189

The experience of two centuries and a half of Buddhism in
Japan. - Necessity of using more powerful means for the conversion of the
Japanese. - Popular customs nearly ineradicable. - Analogy from European
history. - Syncretism in Christian history. - In the Arabian Nights. - How
far is the process of Syncretism honest? - Examples not to be recommended
for imitation. - The problem of reconciling the Kami and the
Buddhas. - Northern Buddhism ready for the task. - The Tantra or
Yoga-chara system. - Art and its influence on the imagination. - The
sketch replaced by the illumination and monochrome by colors. - Japanese
art. - Mixed Buddhism rather than mixed Shint[=o]. - K[=o]b[=o] the
wonder-worker who made all Japanese history a transfiguration of
Buddhism. - Legends about his extraordinary abilities and industry. - His
life, and studies in China. - The kata-kana syllabary. - K[=o]b[=o]o's
revelation from the Shint[=o] goddess Toyo-Uké-Bimé. - The gods of Japan
were avatars of Buddha. - K[=o]b[=o]'s plan of propaganda. - Details of
the scheme. - A clearing-house of gods and Buddhas. - Relative rise and
fall of the native and the foreign deities. - Legend of Daruma.
"Riy[=o]bu Shint[=o]." - Impulse to art and art industry. - The Kami no
Michi falls into shadow. - Which religion suffered most? - Phenomenally
the victory belonged to Buddhism. - The leavening power was that of
Shint[=o]. - Buddhism's fresh chapter of decay. - Influence of Riy[=o]bu
upon the Chinese ethical system in Japan. - Influence on the
Mikado. - Abdication all along the lines of Japanese life. - Ultimate
paralysis of the national intellect. - Comparison with Chinese
Buddhism. - Miracle-mongering. - No self-reforming power in Buddhism. - The
Seven Happy Gods of Fortune. - Pantheism's destruction of
boundaries. - The author's study of the popular processions in
Japan. - Masaka Do. - Swamping of history in legend. - The jewel in the
lotus.


CHAPTER VIII

NORTHERN BUDDHISM IN ITS DOCTRINAL EVOLUTIONS, PAGE 225

Four stages of the doctrinal development of Buddhism in Japan. - Reasons
for the formation of sects. - The Saddharma Pundarika. - Shastras and
Sutras. - The Ku-sha sect. - Book of the Treasury of Metaphysics. - The
J[=o]-jitsu sect, its founder and its doctrines. - The Ris-shu or Viyana
sect. - Japanese pilgrims to China. - The Hos-s[=o] sect and its
doctrines. - The three grades of disciples. - The San-ron or Three-shastra
sect and its tenets. - The Middle Path. - The Kégon sect. - The
Unconditioned, or realistic pantheism. - The Chinese or Tendai sect. - Its
scriptures and dogmas. - Buddhahood attainable in the present
body. - Vagradrodhi. - The Yoga-chara system. - The "old sects." - Reaction
against excessive idol-making. - The Zen sect. - Labor-saving devices in
Buddhism. - Making truth apparent by one's own thought. - Transmission of
the Zen doctrine. - History of Zen Shu.


CHAPTER IX

THE BUDDHISM OF THE JAPANESE, PAGE 257

The J[=o]-d[=o] or Pure Land sect. - Substitution of faith in Amida for
the eight-fold Path. - Succession of the propagators of true
doctrine. - Zend[=o] and H[=o]-nen. - The Japanese path-finder to the Pure
Land. - Doctrine of J[=o]-d[=o]. - Buddhistic influence on the Japanese
language. - Incessant repetition of prayers. - The Pure Land in the
West. - The Buddhist doctrine of justification by faith. - H[=o]-nen's
universalism. - Tendency of doctrinal development after
H[=o]-nen. - "Reformed" Buddhism. - Synergism _versus_ salvation by faith
only. - Life of Shinran. - Posthumous honors. - Policy and aim of the Shin
sect, methods and scriptures.


CHAPTER X

JAPANESE BUDDHISM IN ITS MISSIONARY DEVELOPMENT, PAGE 287

The missionary history of Japanese Buddhism is the history of
Japan. - The first organized religion of the Japanese. - Professor Basil
Hall Chamberlain's testimony - A picture of primeval life in the
archipelago. - What came in the train of the new religion from "the
West". Missionary civilizers, teachers, road-makers, improvers of diet.
Language of flowers and gardens. - The house and home. - Architecture - The
imperial capital - Hiyéizan. - Love of natural scenery. - Pilgrimages and
their fruits. - The Japanese aesthetic. - Art and decoration in the
temples. - Exterior resemblances between the Roman form of Christianity
and of Buddhism. - Quotation from "The Mikado's Empire." - Internal vital
differences. - Enlightenment and grace. - Ingwa and love. - Luxuriance of
the art of Northern Buddhism. - Variety in individual treatment. - Place
of the temple in the life of Old Japan. - The protecting trees. - The bell
and its note. - The graveyard and the priests' hold upon it. - Japanese
Buddhism as a political power. - Its influence upon military
history. - Abbots on horseback and monks in armor. - Battles between the



Online LibraryWilliam Elliot GriffisThe Religions of Japan From the Dawn of History to the Era of Méiji → online text (page 1 of 31)