|Fedyanina V.A. Jien’s poems on the Lotus Sutra|
Jien's poems on the Lotus Sutra
Vladlena A. Fedyanina, PhD, associate professor, The Department of Japanese Language Studies, The Institute of Foreign Languages The Moscow City University, Этот e-mail защищен от спам-ботов. Для его просмотра в вашем браузере должна быть включена поддержка Java-script
The article examines philosophical ideas of the Tendai monk Jien (1155-1225) reflected in his cycle of poems. This cycle was composed on essential themes of the Lotus Sutra and was an offering to the Iwashimizu Hachiman Shrine.
Key words: A Hundred Poems on the Lotus Sutra, Jien, Hachiman, waka.
This study concerns the poetic work of the Japanese monk Jien (1155- 1225), who is well-known as the author of the historical writing "Gukansho" ("Record of Foolish Random Thoughts" or "Jottings of a Fool"). Jien, the renowned Japanese poet, was inspired by the spirit of Saigyo's late works. Jien's poems were included in many poetry anthologies. The eighth imperial anthology "Shin kokin wakashu" ("New Collection of Poems Ancient and Modern Times") contains 92 of Jien's poems.
Jien four times held a post of a head-priest of the Tendai school (in 1192, 1201, 1202 and 1213). It was obviously political appointment. Jien belonged to the highest nobility: the Kujo branch in the Fujiwara family. He was the son of Fujiwara Tadamichi (1097-1164), who served as a regent of two emperors. Three of Jien's brothers - Motozane (Konoe), Motofusa (Matsu-dono) and Kanezane (Kujo) - also served as regents and chancellors. The three sisters of Jien were the wives of the crown prince Sutoku, Nijo and Konoe. Aristocratic origin, awareness of state affairs influenced and inspired Jien's writings and poetry. Jien believed that Japanese language and Japanese poetry were able to express the most complicated concepts. So he willingly expressed his views about the state, Buddhism, etc. through waka.
Japanese researchers divide Jien's poetry activity into four main periods:
1. The early period was influenced by Saigyo. Jien explored mostly the theme of loneliness.
2. The period of active creative search, when Jien skipped the theme of loneliness and had productive relationship with other poets. Waka of this period already reflected interests of Jien in Buddhism, philosophy and statehood.
3. The period of mature creativity, when the "waka of the new style" appeared. Jien's waka revealed the spirit of Fujiwara Teika.
4. The period of self-reflection, when waka mostly represented the author's original value system.
Let us take a close look on one of the cycles of waka, created in the last period and related to themes emerge from the Lotus Sutra ("The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma"). From 1213 to 1220 Jien wrote cycles of poems as offering to temples and shrines. This type of poems for offering is known as horaku hyakushu (法楽百首, "One hundred horaku verses"). Japanese researchers of Jien's poetry point out eight cycles of poems-horaku in the fourth period. The cycle of poems on the Lotus Sutra is one of them.
Poetry was a way of self-expression and self-knowledge for Jien, but aesthetics and the playful inventiveness were not shunned. Jien was well known as a master of composing waka in a short time on a certain topic. But in his later years, Jien's poetry became a vivid and conscious expression of his worldview. He described methods of governing the country, the legitimacy of Kujo's prosperity, the inevitably of declining in the Age of the Latter Day of the Law in his later poems. The cycle of poems on the Lotus sutra explains the major ideas of the Sutra in poetic form.
The cycle of poems on the Lotus Sutra was intended for offering the Iwashimizu Hachimangu (the Shrine of Hachiman in Iwashimizu). It was a one of the three main ritual centers of Hachiman worship. Jien considered this deity as a patron of the Imperial House and believed that Hachiman was playing a significant role in the divine destiny of Japan. This cycle of waka resonates with "Gukansho". Next passages illustrate the role of Hachiman in the history of Japan.
An instruction from the Sun Goddess and the Great Hachiman Bodhisattva created an arrangement - referred to as the ‘fish-and-water propriety" - by which it would be deemed improper for an Emperor to be at least bit estranged from his guardian.
The Sun Goddess and Hachiman have decided that for the sake of the sovereign the [next] Regent of the Fujiwara clan will be have absolutely no inclination to rebell. 
Jien was not the first poet who wrote poems on the Lotus Sutra. The Sutra was the core of the Tendai teachings, and the Sutra itself (its text) was used for protecting the country during the state ceremonies and rituals. Chapters from the Sutra were piously copied by courtiers, bureaucrats and monks. They composed so-called "Ippongyo waka" ("Poems on the Chapters of the Lotus sutra"): several people penned the poem on topics from each chapter of the Lotus Sutra.
The famous poets, represented in the "Shin kokin wakashu", Fujiwara Shunzei, Saigyo and Jien, composed cycles of poems on the Lotus Sutra. Jien composed hyakushu, literally "one hundred verses". It was a popular form of organizing poems, and a number of poems in the cycle were not always equal to one hundred.
Jien extracted lines from the Sutra (in the Chinese version of Kumarajiva) and transformed them into poems (or the themes for poems). Therefore, this cycle is sometimes referred to as "Hokkekyo yobun hyakushu" (法華経要文百首, "One hundred verses about the most important things in the Lotus Sutra").
It is worthwhile to dwell on the title of these poems. There was no the one official title, it varies version to version copied by medieval scribes. There are eight different copies known nowadays. They can be divided into four main types, depending on the number of verses (102, 117, 144 and 146). The oldest copy dated 1471 contains the maximum number of verses (146). Different copies have different titles for this cycle of poems: "One hundred verses about the most important things in the Lotus Sutra", "One hundred verses about Hachiman", "One hundred verses from the Sutra", "One hundred verses of Jitin" and others.
The cycle is included in all versions of "Shugokusu" ("Collection of precious pearls"), an anthology of Jien's poems compiled after his death. Besides, the cycle existed written as a separate text as well. If we refer to it as horaku and take into account the purpose of composing (offering to the deity of Hachiman), "One hundred verses about Hachiman" is more appropriate title. However, when we speak about the content of the poems, it is better to give a title "One hundred verses about the most important in the Lotus Sutra".
A small preface to the cycle explains why poems on the Lotus Sutra were designated as offering to the deity Hachiman, worshipped in Iwashimizu Hachimangu. According to the concept of the honji-suijaku ("traces descended from the original ground"), Hachiman was a trace descended from Shakyamuni and Amitabha, who are the same:
Our Great Bodhisattva Hachiman is the dimming radiance of Shakyamuni and Amida.
This passage indicates that Hachiman is the revealed trace of the buddha's original nature. The dimming radiance (wako, 和光) refers to buddhas and bodhisattvas altering their original nature to come the profane world for saving sentient beings. Jien's preface to his poems confirms the fact that at the beginning of the 13th c. Hachiman was perceived as a manifestation of Shakyamuni Buddha and a manifestation of Amida Buddha. 
The honji-suijaku thought rooted in many believes and teachings. One of them was the Tendai teaching, grounded on the Lotus Sutra. In the time of Jien honji-suijaku thought explained the distinction between the Buddha, the absolute and his "manifested bodies". So deity Hachiman became perceived as the Great Bodhisattva due to the teaching of the Lotus Sutra.
There are 146 verses in the available publication of the cycle of poems on the Lotus Sutra. Verses cover 102 topics (quotes) from the Lotus Sutra, from all 28 chapters. Chapter 2, "Expedient Means" (方便品) has the maximum number of poems (14); Chapter 9 "Prophecies Conferred on Learners and Adepts" ( 授學無學人記品) and Chapter 18 "The Benefits of Responding with Joy" (隨喜功德品) have only 1 poem.
"Waka expresses everything" is the major idea of Jien. According to this idea, poems on the Lotus Sutra retell it in Japanese language. Jien pointed it in the preface to this cycle: "I outline the Sutra using Japanese language". The French orientalist Jean-Noël Robert wrote about this cycle of poems: "The fascination these poems work on the reader stem from the way the poet roots the ethereal teachings of the Lotus Sutra in the reality of the language and landscape of Japan. The subtlety of the dialogue going on between the two languages, Chinese and Japanese, as the latter unfolds the hidden possibilities of the former by means of the rhetorical intricacies of classical Japanese poetry, is a source of endless wonder."
We will give several examples to demonstrate how poems express the teaching of the Lotus Sutra and how they adapt it to Japan.
Theme from the Chapter 1 (Introduction, 序品) "So I have heard" 如是我聞
If it was not for the man who said: ‘I have heard', how would we know the Law of Buddha?
"So I have heard" - the beginning clause of BuddhaShakyamuni's quotations as recorded by his disciple Ananda and the beginning of Jien's poems.
The same theme ("So I have heard")
I do become a Buddha so I listen to the Flower of the Law...
"The Flower of the Law" is the Lotus Sutra. This poem also refers to Ananda, shravaka, "hearer", who listens to the voice. But at the same time the poems refers to Chapter 2 "Expedient Means". It says that those, who are hearing the Law, shall reach supreme, perfect enlightenment. Thus, the poem concerns to the key idea of Mahayana Buddhism: every living being will have the possibility of becoming a buddha.
The same theme ("So I have heard")
The word which I heard on the Mount Eagle was spread after a crane grove!
Buddha Shakyamuni preached the Lotus Sutra on the Mount of the Sacred Eagle, also called Vulture Peak or Mount Gridhakuta. After a while he entered nirvana in a grove of shala trees, and, as described in "Nehangyo" (The Nirvana Sutra), everything turned white, like a flock of cranes had flown by. Therefore, the shala grove is called a crane grove. Jien purposely changes the order of events, saying that the Buddha at first entered nirvana and then preached on the Mount Eagle. Thus Jien points to another key assertion of the Mahayana tradition: the eternity of the Buddha.
These few examples illustrate "a skillful harmony between religious content and poetic tradition; and a resulting depth of religious feeling" of all Jien's poems on the Lotus Sutra.
In conclusion we summarize characteristics of Jien's philosophy, reflected in the cycle of poems on Lotus Sutra.
1. The honji-suijaku concept, according to which the deity of Hachiman is a provisional manifestation of true original nature.
2. The three main assertions of the Mahayana teaching (eventually everyone will achieve buddhahood; the eternity of the Buddha; the path of a bodhisattva).
3. The poetic language of waka emphasizes that the Lotus Sutra as the one unsurpassed vehicle for salvation.
Jien, Gukansho (Record of Foolish Random Thoughts). Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1967.
Jien, Shugyokushu (Collection of precious pearls) in 2 vols. / Ed. Kubota Jun, comment. Ishikawa Hajime, Yamamoto Hajime. Tokyo, Meiji Shoin. T.1, 2008.
Sutra o Beschislennykh Znacheniyakh. Sutra o Tsvetke Lotosa Chudesnoi Dkharmy. Sutra o Postizhenii Deyanii i Dkharmy Bodkhisattvy Vseob'emlyushchaya Mudrost' [Sutra of Innumerable Meanings. Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma Sutra on comprehension of Acts and Comprehensive Wisdom Bodhisattva's Dharma]. Tr., comment. A.N. Ignatovich. Moscow: Ladomir, 1998.
Brown, Delmer; Ishida, Ichiro, The future and the past: a translation and study of the Gukansho, an interpretative history of Japan written in 1219. Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: University of California Press, 1979.
Dulina A.M. Formation and evolution of the cult of the deity Hachiman in Japan in VIII-XIV centuries: the History PhD dissertation: 07.00.03. Moscow 2013.
Jean-Noël Robert. Reflections on Kokoro in Japanese Buddhist Poetry // Institute for Religion & Culture, Bulletin 31 (2007), pp. 31-39. [Electronic resource]. URL: http://nirc.nanzan-u.ac.jp/nfile/1976 (date of circulation: March 12, 2017).
Ishikawa Hajime, Jien to waka ronko (Study of Japanese poetry of Jien). Tokyo: Kasama sosho, 1998.
Robert E. Morrell, Early Kamakura Buddhism: A Minority Report. Berkley, California: Asian Humanities press, 1987.
Yamamoto Hajime, Jien-no waka to shiso (Japanese poetry of Jien and philosophy of Jien). Tokyo, Izumi Shoin, 1999.
 Ishikawa Hajime, Jien to waka ronko (Study of Japanese poetry of Jien). Tokyo: Kasama sosho, 1998. P. 604-609.
 Ishikawa Hajime, Jien to waka ronko. P. 587; Yamamoto Hajime. Jien-no waka to shiso (Japanese poetry of Jien and philosophy of Jien). Tokyo, Izumi Shoin, 1999. P. 348-350.
 Jien, Gukansho (Record of Foolish Random Thoughts). Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1967. P. 329. (tr. by Brown, Ishida, P. 210- 211).
 Jien, Gukansho, P. 344. (tr. by Brown, Ishida in Brown. P. 226).
 Ishikawa Hajime, Jien to waka ronko. P. 399.
 Jitin is the posthumous name of Jien.
Honji-suijaku, 本地垂迹 (could be translated also as "original nature and provisional manifestation") refers to the idea that buddhas and bodhisattvas provisionally appear as Shinto kami (or another deities from another continent religious traditions) in order to save sentient beings in Japan.
 Jien, Shugyokushu (Collection of precious pearls) in 2 vols. Ed. Kubota Jun, comment. Ishikawa Hajime, Yamamoto Hajime. Tokyo, Meiji Shoin, vol. 1, 2008. P. 327.
 About Hachiman as a "temporary incarnation" (gongen) of the three buddhas - Shakyamuni, Vairochana and Amitabha, see Dulina A.M. Formation and evolution of the cult of the deity Hachiman in Japan in VIII-XIV centuries: the History PhD dissertation: 07.00.03. Moscow 2013. P. 98-101.
 Jien, Shugyokushu, vol. 1. P. 327-347.
 Yamamoto Hajime, Jien-no waka to shiso. P. 363-364.
 Jien, Shugyokushu, vol. 1. P. 327.
 Jean-Noël Robert, Reflections on Kokoro in Japanese Buddhist Poetry // Institute for Religion & Culture, Bulletin 31 (2007), 35. [Electronic resource]. URL: http://nirc.nanzan-u.ac.jp/nfile/1976 (date of circulation: March 12, 2017).
 Numbers of verses are given in accordance with Jien, Shugyokushu, vol 1.
Jien, Shugyokushu, vol. 1. P. 327.
 Sutra o Tsvetke Lotosa Chudesnoi Dkharmy. Sutra o Postizhenii Deyanii i Dkharmy // Sutra o Beschislennykh Znacheniyakh. Sutra o Tsvetke Lotosa Chudesnoi Dkharmy. Sutra o Postizhenii Deyanii i Dkharmy. Bodkhisattvy Vseob'emlyushchaya Mudrost' [Sutra of Innumerable Meanings. Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma Sutra on comprehension of Acts and Comprehensive Wisdom Bodhisattva's Dharma]. Tr., comment. A.N. Ignatovich. Moscow: Ladomir, 1998. P. 105.
 See more details in Sutra o Beschislennykh Znacheniyakh. Sutra o Tsvetke Lotosa Chudesnoi Dkharmy. Sutra o Postizhenii Deyanii i Dkharmy. Bodkhisattvy Vseob'emlyushchaya Mudrost'. P. 332.
 Jien, Shugyokushu, vol. 1. P. 327.
 Robert E. Morrell, Early Kamakura Buddhism: A Minority Report. Berkley, California: Asian Humanities press, 1987. P. Brown, Delmer; Ishida, Ichiro, »The future and the past: a translation and study of the Gukansho, an interpretative history of Japan written in 1219« (Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: University of California Press, 1979). P. 113.