|Meshcheryakov A.N. The Confucianist Scholar Nishikawa Joken (1648-1724) on the Buddhist Ignoramuses|
The Confucianist Scholar Nishikawa Joken (1648-1724) on the Buddhist Ignoramuses
Alexander N. Meshcheryakov (DSc in History, Full Professor at the Institute for Oriental and Classical Studies (IOCS) by the Russian State University for Humanities (RSUH) and the School of Advanced Studies in Humanities (SASH) by the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA)
Annotation: A prominent Confucian thinker Nishikawa Joken (1648-1724) is the author of many works, the most widely read of which was "Chōnin Bukuro" ("The Townsman Bag"). Nishikawa believed that the Buddhist worldview was inconsistent with reality, and a truly educated person should not adhere to the teachings of Buddha. Yet, he was sure that the belief in heaven and hell hindered the antisocial behaviour of uneducated people, and therefore the Buddhist teaching could serve as a help in securing the public order.
Key words: history of Japan, the Tokugawa period, Nishikawa Joken (1648-1724), "Chōnin Bukuro", Buddhism, Confucianism.
Like any other historical era, the Tokugawa period (1603-1867) is a significant time in the history and culture of Japan. After the bloody strife, the country was united under the auspices of the Tokugawa Shogunate, and Japan witnessed a long period of peace that lasted until the middle of the 19th century. This era "deprived" the would-be historians of the chance to earn their rice and bread crust: the event-related history became disappointingly poor, for instead of participating in battles, the people engaged in the painstaking creation of tranquil life, which implied no "bright" and "dramatic" events. As for the Japanese per se, this meant the wished-for predictability of life and concern with their daily routine. Switching from settling murderous disputes to productive labour, the country gained more peace and food, began to see the influx of new Japanese, and revived. While in the early XVII century the Japanese numbered 12 million people, just a hundred years later they were more than thirty million. These people were concerned about "slight" problems: improving their daily life, getting their households and husbandry on the right track, getting educated, getting married, raising children, living a long life, and spending their leisure time to good purpose and with pleasure.
The word "diligence" definitely enters the lexicon of the period as a certificate of good conduct of a "commoner". Along with the mainstreaming status of peaceful values, this reduced the living space for the "heroes". Instead of living role models, the courageous samurai turned into the characters in coloured engravings and epic narratives, historical plays of the Kabuki theatre willingly attended by the civilians, but still the names of the desperate brave men tended to become a thing of the past, while the names of the contemporaneous actors, thinkers, and writers were gaining more and more admirers.
The time of peace resulted in the proliferation of numerous private schools, unprecedented literacy, and the development of intellectual activity. Book publishing saw a growth rate as never before, thousands of new publications appeared in the market every year. They were bought in bookshops or borrowed at libraries. These were poems, adventure novels, funny stories, mocking adaptations of classical literature, stories of "scary" ghosts, of which, in fact, very few people were afraid. The then Japanese enjoyed laughing, but the belles-lettres of the Tokugawa period was by no means limited to the entertaining literature alone. Along with it, the Japanese wrote and read books devoted to the most diverse aspects of practical life. These were the works on farming techniques, trade, handicrafts, household arts, cooking, gardens designing (suiseki) ... And whatnot.
The pride of place was taken by moralizing treatises on the "proper" arrangement of state and social life. Instructions on morality, upbringing, and etiquette became the mood of the times. Their goal was to educate such type of a person who would be deprived of any aggressive potential. Such kind of a person existed in the framework of the rigid caste division, being content with their status, of which they were proud. They deliberately limited their material needs, without aiming for the sky. The core of their behaviour was focused on the concept of "duty": the duty to the parents, children, relatives, and the seniors regarding both their position and age. In all their manifestations, a person of the kind adhered to moderation and avoided extremes in emotions, material prosperity, occupation, hobbies, food, clothing.
Previously, the moralizing niche used to be occupied primarily by Buddhist writings, now it was the turn of Confucianism. In the eyes of the ruling elite, Buddhism had been considerably discredited. Having been a long time under the patronage of the state, Buddhism had established its powerful institutions, huge Buddhist monasteries acted as an independent force, taking an active part in the political and military struggle.
The sceptical attitude towards Buddhism was not only due to the line of policy. The lifestyle of the Buddha teachings adherents was also out of the new trends character. Calling for the personal salvation and enlightenment, the Buddhist wonder-workers failed to provide for the calm of the social life, for which the Japanese had so very much yearned over the course of the wars. Their main requirement had become establishing order and maintaining social peace, that is, what the Confucian minds had been pondering over for two millennia on end. The Buddhists considered life a sin, a temptation and the appointment for the world to come, preaching the inevitable degradation of Buddha's teachings, the deterioration of morals, they fled from temptations of the world to mountain monasteries, and never started families. Productive labour was not among their main virtues, receiving alms was part of their lifestyle. Agreeing with the Europeans that the Earth had the shape of a globe, recognizing the existence of the continents, the Japanese asked the Buddhists: where their Sumeru mountain was, the one which nobody had ever set eyes on? With this approach, the entire Buddhist worldview lost its credibility.
The Confucians lived in the people's thick, they did not shy away from secular activities, they did not believe in heaven or hell, they considered Buddhist miracles to be fables, and their monks to be charlatans, they claimed that only "proper" education and "proper" upbringing could make life more joyful, responsible and better. In this regard, few of the Confucians, albeit in an offhand manner, failed to say something insulting to the Buddhists. This was especially true of the customs and morals of the Buddhist clergy, many of whom sinned by failing to keep the commandments. Charges of monks with debauchery, gluttony and drunkenness roamed from one literary work to another, although, of course, the Buddha followers had quite a number of totally different types among their ranks. In this respect, the criticism of the Buddhists at times resembles the invectives hurled at the clergy in the age of the European Enlightenment. The main reason for the criticism of the Buddhists was not so much their deviation from the Buddhist behavioural canon, as their worldview. Therefore, the works by the Confucians, void of anti-Buddhist polemical fervour though, were a real challenge for the Buddha worshipers, for they conflicted with the basic values of Buddhism.
Think, for instance, of the work entitled "Teaching on Joy" ("Rakkun"楽訓) in which the famous Confucian scholar Kaibara Ekiken (1630-1714) teaches how to find delight even in old age. He wrote this book when he was 81 years old. In all, his brush created 98 works (247 scrolls) of different length and tenor. Most of them are instructions on how to properly live and take care of one's body. These works were popular even during the author's lifetime and were repeatedly reprinted. The overwhelming majority thereof were written when the author had come of age of fifty winters. And this was despite the fact that until 71 he had been in the service of Prince Kuroda of Fukuoka (the Province of Chikuzen) on the island of Kyushu. That is, Kaibara Ekiken lived a long life full of official duties and intellectual work, which never tempered his buoyancy.
It is impossible even to think that a follower of Buddha's teachings would dare to teach, how to obtain pleasure and joy in this life. According to the Buddhist definition, life is suffering and the vale of misery - especially, when it comes to the old age with its inevitable ailments. Even if the Buddhists used the word "joy", it was done only with reference to Paradise, which was denoted with the lexical unit meaning the Land of Eternal (Ultimate) Joy - gokuraku 極楽. It is not only the joy of staying in an ideal habitat, it is also the joy of getting rid of earthly suffering. In this regard, the literary sources convey to us stories of life (or death?) of the righteous, who were so alien to this woeful world that they preferred to commit suicide. When such a righteous person, after several unsuccessful attempts, finally overcame his fear and drowned himself in the sea, "there immediately came music in the sky, and purpureal clouds stretched over the sea. Lo and behold! What a miracle! - the comrades of the venerable person wept, and grateful tears fell fast into the water, like water from the oars".
As for Kaibara Ekiken, even the old age does not bother him. For if you have known the Tao, then you have found your ultimate joy. The joy of doing good, helping people, reading wise books, admiring nature is available to everyone and at any age. In his work Kaibara Ekiken does not pay even scant attention to Buddhism, yet, his entire mindset serves as a challenge to the teachings of Buddha.
Kaibara Ekiken was a samurai, and the educated samurai environment demonstrated the greatest and most obvious disregard for Buddhism. The administrative and intellectual elite represented by the samurai caste (as in those days, unlike the current ones, the "official" and the "intellectual" were still in the same semantic field) often considered Buddha worshipers to be uneducated, selfish, and good-for-nothing people.
Nishikawa Joken was the son of a merchant and belonged, therefore, to the lowest of the four classes (samurai, peasants, artisans, merchants) recognized by the official ideology. The social thought defined craftsmen and traders as "townspeople". Their representatives did not possess personal qualities like the samurai arrogance, their ways and habits were not so ceremonial, and their opinions were not so rigid.
The Nishikawa Joken life is known less than his writings. He was born in Kyushu to a family of merchants, and got down to getting a rigorous education only in his 20-somethings, when a private school was opened in Nagasaki, where he studied neo-Confucianism (usually, then it used to be called "the science of the Song Dynasty period"). Then he studied astrology. When he reached the age of 50, in accordance with the customs of that time, he delegated the control of the house to his eldest son and devoted his whole self to the sciences by writing more than 20 works.
Nishikawa Joken's writings came to fame during his lifetime, the publishers readily reprinted them. Most of them were devoted to astrology; in 1718, being enthusiastic about the science of the sky, Shogun Tokugawa Yoshimune called the scientist to his General Headquarters in Edo for enquiries. Joken was not sufficiently noble to contemplate the Shogun, so they communicated through an intermediary. After the Shogun's curiosity being satisfied, Joken returned to Nagasaki, but later one of his sons became a staff astrologer at the Shogun Court.
Besides astrological books, Joken created several works that were not only scientific but also enjoyed a public response. It is these works ordinary Japanese people read the most. Among them there are also works on geography, which can be defined as a kind of geographical determinism - they substantiated a strong link between the admirable geographical conditions of Japan (the author called them "waters and lands"), perfect management system, and incomparable moralities of the Japanese.  But the most and best read work of Nishikawa Joken was the writing called "Chōnin Bukuro" - "The Townsman Bag" (the manuscript was completed in 1692, it was first published in 1720, and was reprinted more than once). In the foreword, the author, in the spirit of that time, self-deprecatingly describes his idea as follows: he had heard a lot from people, their speeches had stuck in his memory, but sorting out the opinions and thoughts of others was above his bend, for that reason he would shake them out on the reader in no particular order, like a beggar out of his bag where he had thrown whatever had turned up. In the afterword, the publisher says that the title name is explained by the modesty of the author, in fact, though, the work is a real "bag of jewels" (p.173). Thus, it is possible to give a broad interpretation of the title - "A Bag of Precious Wisdoms for a Townsman to Help."
The deliberately unsystematic presentation is characteristic of many works in the Japanese literature and is raised to the rank of a genre called "Zuihitsu", which stands for "following the brush." The place of Zuihitsu in the genres variety was quite remarkable, "unsystematic" was perceived not as a drawback but as a testimony to the talent versatility and liveliness of perception. Such works as "The Pillow Book ("Makura no Sōshi") by Sei Shōnagon and "Essays at Leisure" ("Tsurezuregusa") by Yoshida Kaneyoshi were often quoted by medieval (and modern) authors. References to these works are also available in the text "The Townsman Bag".
The subject of the author's reasoning is a variety of topics. The geographical location and climate of Japan, cultural borrowings from China, peculiar features of the Japanese language, dieting, etc. But the main topic for reflection was still the need to maintain a proper moral climate in the society. In this case, the most important role was assigned to the observance of the Confucian rules of the human community: the cult of the family and the state, respect for the elders, contentment with one's lot and wealth. Despite the fact that Confucianism formed the core of the shogun ideology, there were still many adherents of Buddhism in the country. Therefore, Nishikawa could not do without formulating his attitude towards Buddhism and its adherents. In general, Buddhist values were not near to his worldview, and Nishikawa Joken never missed an opportunity to somehow annoy the Buddhists and blame them of being prejudiced and unable to understand the way the world worked.
Here is, for example, quite a mocking story, ridiculing such a fundamental Buddhist category as karma. "It so happened that one of the townspeople had gone bankrupt. He was terribly distressed and angry. A certain monk began to admonish him: "All that happens to us is the retribution for the deeds in the previous life, this is the reason you are that angry. Once you must have ruined someone, now this man has ruined you. So, why get angry now and fall into sin? " At that moment a strong wind arose, a pine tree on a nearby mountain was broken, and then the townsman, without a moment's hesitation, shaped a poem: "The wind broke the pine. No wonder: as in the previous incarnation, the pine had broken the wind." This poem left the monk wrong-footed" (p.118).
Nishikawa believed that the historical destiny of India, conquered by the Mughals, undoubtedly testified to the worthlessness of the Buddha teaching. With some sarcasm, he asked, "And what is to be done now with 9700 scrolls in 2058 volumes of the "Basket of Suttas (Sutta-piṭaka)", which say that you can become a Buddha in this body?  Is it possible to become a Buddha in this body when you have been deprived of your country? "(p. 168).
On the other hand, Nishikawa Joken believed that for an uneducated person, that is, for a person who is unaware of the Confucian Path (Tao), Buddhism might be useful. Rather a long paragraph (in terms of this writing) is devoted to describing such kind of use (pp.113-115).
In its beginning, "a certain person" asks a "learned scholar " (i.e., a Confucian, who can be recognized as the alter ego of Nishikawa himself) about whether there is heaven and hell. And although the latter is sure of the opposite, he replies that it is not worth debunking this prejudice: "Townspeople and pettier townsfolk might do something mean and sneaky at every trifle. The world is inhabited by people and the wise, yet, they cannot steer everybody onto the right path. The commonalty can be encouraged to act, but cannot be taught. What's the point of talking about the time of the end, when people show so much avarice and false pride! Therefore, you should teach them that after death they will get either to hell or heaven without fail."
Further, the "learned scholar" develops his idea by resorting to the authority of Prince Shōtoku, born Shotoku Taishi, whose name was closely associated with the cradle of the Buddhist law in Japan: "Speaking of the future, he terrified and exhorted the people, thereby helping the administration of the Celestial Empire and the Path of [Shinto] Gods. In his five covenants, he taught that the Buddha Law had been given to help the ruler's laws. The law of the ruler is the path of the gods. For a low-browed townsperson and a peasant, this will be a frightening warning - to know that after death their helpless soul will go to the existing or nonexistent hell and paradise. If the people stand in such awe, things in the Celestial Empire will go smoothly. Therefore, people, who believe that after death they will go to hell or paradise, had better have this conviction supported."
Thus, the "learned scholar" says that the Buddhism of the Amidaist type is useful for the state. For the author "Buddhism" is not a concept undifferentiated into separate schools. Speaking about the benefits of Amidism, Nishikawa disagrees with the followers of Zen Buddhism, which for a long time formed an integral part of the state ideology under the Minamoto and Ashikaga Shogunates, which were perceived as a decline in statehood (there was virtually no single center of power). As you know, Zen does not recognize the existence of heaven and hell. The Confucian philosophy was in agreement with this belief, but in this case, the Zen doctrine evokes the resentment of the "learned scholar", because he does not see any good for the state in personal enlightenment (Satori). "As for today's monks, they are vying to preach to the townspeople and commoners some highest truths, blabbering about some Satori enlightenment, claiming that there is no paradise for the dead, and therefore the present-day uneducated women and children believe that there is no hell, and it is rather difficult to find a believer in heaven. Does this correlate to the covenants of Shotoku Taishi, who destined the Buddha teaching to help the rulers?"
So, the belief in heaven and hell can be useful for the state. But this belief appears attractive only for the "unenlightened" people who are unaware of the fundamentals of the Confucian Path. "If a city-dweller or a peasant has studied the basics of the Path at least a little bit, no matter, if they are told about hell or not, - they are not afraid of it anyway, they do not need hell, - they will not act badly even if it is nonexistent. These people are told about heaven, yet, they do not want to go to this land of plenty. It is no use telling such people about both hell and the heavenly palace." 
Having dealt with the theory, the "learned scholar" mentions as an instance two cases, when people of good faith, who correctly understand the way life works, do not yield to the deceitful speeches of the monks, since "paradise supports" are not needed by a truly virtuous person.
In the first case, we are talking about a samurai, whose time to die has come. Since the samurai has served his suzerain faithfully and loyally, the monk promises him ascension to heaven. The samurai wonders what bliss lies ahead of him. "The monk replied: "Seven gems bestrew there the earth, drinks, food, and garments are provided there at your pleasure, it is neither cold, nor hot there. In fine, it is always calm and joyful there." However, the samurai is not lured by the comfortable conditions of paradise existence and he responds the monk in a way, which is discouraging for the latter: "This place turns out to be proper for my master's wife, for women and children. Or, maybe, for maimed people with disabilities. I was born in a family of brave warriors, the rain has washed me, the wind used to comb my hair, I have laid my head on the stone, and my bed used to be the moss. All my life I have wanted to smash enemies and to faithfully serve my master. And after death I do not want anything different. Why should I go to a place for the pampered, why do I need all these conveniences? I would have a paradise, where a spear will be given to me." With these words, the samurai indignantly shook his head."
In the second case, the monk promises a respectable and well-off townsman to be reborn after death as a rich man or a samurai. However, he suffers a full affront. The citizen has enough money to support his family, and he does not need excessive wealth, because only superfluous mental worries and anxieties result from it. As to the prospect to be reborn as a samurai, this lot does not attract the townsman either. "All my life I will have to stand in awe of my master, without having repose for the soul, spend most of my time thinking about fame, scare people, take enjoyment in dreadful things ... No way, I'd rather remain a mere townsman. How come? All my life I've serve goodness, and after death I might be reborn nobody knows who. No, it does not suit me at all."
This is the way the learned scholar comments on the monologue: "Such decent people do not have to be told about hell and heaven, - anyway, they will never do evil things. "
Thus, Nishikawa Joken, in the person of the "learned scholar", took a rather flexible and pragmatic approach. The Confucian doctrine was for him the most correct and authoritative, but still Nishikawa treated it without bigotry and acknowledged that the Buddhist creed could be useful for the stability of society and the state, which he called "the laws of sovereigns and the Path of the Gods." Like for all other Japanese "Confucians", the Imperial House and Shinto were the highest value for Nishikawa, the two concepts were inextricably linked and came to the same semantic field.
Nishikawa's opinion about the limited "usefulness" of Buddhism fitted into the general discourse of the period. However, representatives of the military class took a more rigid position. Thus, an unknown samurai, hiding under the pen name of Buyo Inshi, in 1816 wrote a treatise "Shōji kenbunroku" ("Notes of What Has Been Seen and Heard"), in which he asserted that Buddhism was good only for the lower classes as a means of controlling their behaviour. As for the samurai, such belief was unbecoming for them: since the behaviour of a believer in paradise resembled a woman having an affair with a secret lover. This planning with relation to the future prevented a person from today's performance of their duty to the suzerain and parents.
Like any "decent" Confucian, Nishikawa Joken rose to the fame of an "anti-prejudices campaigner". Was he really the one? Indeed, the "The Townsman Bag" is full of quips about the absurdities of numerology, the placement of buildings and graves in accordance with the rules of feng shui, treatment with spells (this fault was especially characteristic of the Buddhist preachers), complying with certain ridiculous restrictions. Nor does Nishikawa believe in the unhappiness that may result from the croaking of crows or the crowing of a hen. At the same time, Shinto ("the Path of the Gods") was not a target for criticism. This applies both to ritual practices and to the place of Shinto in the worldview, where the Shinto myth served as the major and uncontested narrative about the creation of Japan's deities. Nishikawa was sure that the land of Japan was the "offspring" resulting from the marriage union between Izanagi (Idzanaki) and Izanami, whom Nishikawa called "our ancestors" (p.153). The Ise Grand Shrine, the place of veneration of the Imperial Family ancestor Amaterasu, also served Nishikawa as a model of modesty, artlessness and purity, characteristic of the ancient times. The unconscionable belief in the Shinto creation myth suggests that Nishikawa's notions of "prejudice" were quite different from the meaning that we attribute to this word today.
Confucian thinkers readily criticized Buddhism, but the anti-Shinto discourse was totally alien to them. Ensuring the stability in the state and public order were Nishikawa's main objectives. And to achieve these objectives, any teachings were suitable, which ultimately served only as an operational tool.
The sceptical attitude towards Buddhism among a considerable part of the intellectual elite by no means meant that during the Tokugawa period it disappeared from the life of the Japanese. The Buddhist rituals were still officiated both under the Imperial and Shogun Courts. In contrast, the religious veneration of Confucius did not take root even in the Shogun Court, despite its "unconditional", as it is often believed, adherence to Confucianism - largely because the veneration of Confucius required the laying of the sacrificial meat on the altar, which contradicted the vegetarian attitudes of Buddhism. Confucianism in Japan was seen primarily as a general paroemiac narrative, which did not require being literally secured in the behavioural canon. That's why Nishikawa Joken does not insist on the observance of a three-year mourning for parents accepted in orthodox Confucianism and feels for the people who are not able to comply with it. In Japan, the traditional mourning lasted for 50 days, during which those who sorrowed had to stay at home without leaving the house, abstain from wine, spices, nourishing food, and had to eat dried rather than fresh fish. "However, it is permissible for the elderly and the sick to partake of a little wine and meat from time to time in order to maintain vivacity. It is forbidden to invite singers and dancers to your place, and to go before the deities ... However, the ban to leave the house and to engage in business or do your own work for 50 days leads to the starvation of many townspeople and peasants. As for the poor who live only for the day, from hand to mouth, even a three-day break in work for them is difficult, and they are not able to comply with all the injunctions. They observe mourning in their hearts, but they are compelled not to give up the temporal matters. Otherwise, even these poor people are well able to observe the above-mentioned injunctions, lodged in their hearts "(p.148).
Such a non-dogmatic perception was undoubtedly facilitated by the fact that none of the Japanese Confucians of the Tokugawa period had ever visited China, and therefore had no natural bearers of the local tradition as living teachers. Book-learning unsupported with bodily imitation created additional opportunities for derogating from authorities and introducing interpretations different from the original.
The invectives of Confucian learned scholars addressed to Buddhism had a limited influence on the powers that be, - much less than in China. The Tokugawa Ieyasu will emphasized that both Confucianism, Shinto, and Buddhism taught the good and punished the evil, though equally Ieyasu strictly prohibited dogmatic debate, which in the past had brought so many tribulations to the Celestial Empire. Speaking specifically about Buddhism, the Tokugawa Shogunate allocated significant funds for the construction and maintenance of Buddhist temples, which began to perform administrative duties of the population registration. The Shogunate persecuted the Christians, however, they did not persecute the Buddhists (except for the isolationist part of Nichiren's followers), although they imposed severe restrictions on the activities of such temples and monasteries to prevent their becoming an independent political force, as it had been the case with the Shogunates of Minamoto and Ashikaga. At the same time, the Tokugawa Shogunate alienated the accentuated support for the Zen temples that used to be the magical pillar of the power in the foretime. As to the temples of the Jōdō Amidaist school ("The Pure Land" is one of the names for Paradise), they acquired immense popularity in the Tokugawa period. At the turn of the XVIII-XIX centuries about two-thirds of Buddhist temples in Japan belonged to the Amidaist branch.  The Tokugawa clan belonged namely to this branch of Buddhism, and Ieyasu himself was sure that his military victories were due to his belief in the Buddha Amida
(Amitābha), and bequeathed to his descendants to adhere to the faith of his ancestors. Some of the shoguns were buried in the Amidaist temple of Zojoji (others - in the Kaneiji Kiyomizudo temple of the Tendai school, which had a particularly close relationship with the Imperial House). Along with the personal historical circumstances, the government support for Amidism may have been conditioned by the same practical reasons, which Nishikawa Joken used to point out as well.
Summary. Alexander Meshcheryakov. The Confucianist Scholar Nishikawa Joken (1648-1724) on the Buddhist Ignoramuses.
Outstanding Confucian thinker Nishikawa Joken (1648-1724) wrote many treaties. The most popular of them was "Chonin bukuro". He thought that Buddhist teaching was wrong and truly educated man had to reject it. At the same time he argued that faith in paradise and hell was instrumental for commoners to follow true social behavior and in that sense it was helpful in implementing social order in Japan.
 As to the demographic situation in the Tokugawa period, see, in particular: Hayami, Akira.Population and Family in Early-Modern Central Japan. Kyoto, International Research Center for Japanese Studies, 2010.
 L. B. Karelova. At the Origins of the Japanese Work Ethics. Moscow, the "Vostochnaya Literatura" (stands for "Oriental Literature") Publishing House, 2007.
An excellent overview of the Buddhism critics in the Tokugawa period, see Kashiwara Yu:sen. Kinsei no Haibutsu Shiso:. - Kinsei no Bukkyo no Shiso:. The "Nihon Shiso: Taikei" series, Tokyo, "Iwanami", vol. 57, pp. 517-532.
 The translation of this work - see Kaibara Ekiken. Teaching on Joy. Translated by Alexander N. Meshcheryakov. - "Problems of Philosophy" (Russ."Voprosy Filosofii"), 2015, Issue №3, pp. 246-266.
 On the Characteristics of the Buddhist Paradise in Relation to Japan, see Alexander N. Meshcheryakov. Medieval Japan: the Garden of Paradise and a Paradise for Gardens. - "Problems of Philosophy", 2014, Issue №2, pp.74-82.
 The Shasekishū (沙石集), translated into English as "Sand and Pebbles", a collection of Buddhist parables written by the Japanese monk Mujū (1226 - 1312) in 1283 during the Kamakura period, parable IV-8, unpublished translation by N.N. Troubnikova.
 See Nishikawa Joken. Nihon suido ko :. Suido kaiben. Kai tsu: sho: ko :. Tokyo, "Iwanami", 1988. Characteristics of "Nihon suido ko:" see Novikova A.A. A Synthesis of Eastern and Western Geographical Representations in the Treatise "Nihon suido ko" by Nishikawa Joken (1648-1720). // MSU Vestnik (stands for the Bulletin of Moscow State University). Series 13: Orientalism. 2014. Issue № 3. Pp. 30-43. A.N. Mescheryakov. Terra Nipponica: Natural Environment and Environment of Imagination). M., the "Delo" (stands for "Business") Publishing House, 2014, pp.226-255.
 Nishikawa Joken. Chōnin Bukuro. - Kinsei cho:nin siso :. The "Nihon Shiso: Taikei" series, Tokyo, "Iwanami", 1996, p.86. Further references to this publication are given in parentheses in the main text of the article.
 Regarding Russian translations of these works, see Sei Shōnagon. The Pillow Book. Translated by V. N. Markova. M., the "Khoudozhestvennaya Literatura" (stands for "Fiction Literaure") Publishing House, 1975. Kenkō-Hoshi. Essays in Idleness. Translated by V. N. Goreglyad. M., the "Nauka" (stands for "Science") Publishing House, 1970. Yoshida Kaneyoshi. Essays at Leisure. Translated by A. N. Meshcheryakov. M., the "Natalis" Publishing House, 2009.
 The idea that anyone can become a Buddha in this life (sokushin jo: butsu 即身成仏) was shared by many Buddhist schools in Japan.
 In the Japanese Buddhism, the concept of heaven and hell is most fully developed in Amidism. See N. N. Troubnikova, A. S. Bachourin. The History of Religions in Japan. M., the "Natalis" Publishing House, 2009. Nadezhda Troubnikova, Maya Bobkova. The Renewal of Traditions in the Japanese Religious and Philosophical Thought of the 12th-14th centuries. M., the "Rosspen" Publishing House, 2014, pp.107-161.
 See "Lun yu", Tai Bo, VIII-9. Both the translation and interpretation of this phrase cause great difficulties. Regarding its various interpretations, see L.S. Perelomov. Confucius. Lun yu. M., the "Vostochnaya Literatura" (stands for "Eastern Literature") Publishing House, 1998, pp.356-360. In the text of "Chōnin Bukuro" this phrase is used several times. Depending on the context, the meaning of this saying can be understood somewhat differently. There is no doubt, however, that the Confucian learned scholar refuses enlightenment, which looks quite logical in the discourse, which insists primarily on self-improvement.
 Shotoku Taishi (574-622) was traditionally considered the key person, who contributed to the spread of Buddhism in Japan. His name has become legendary.
 The term "five covenants" stands for: "The Seventeen-Article Constitution" (see Nihon Shoki. The Chronicles of Japan. Translated by L.M. Ermakova and A.N. Mescheryakov. St. Petersburg, the "Hyperion" Publishing House, 1997, Volume 2, pp. 94-98), a guidance for caretakers, a guidance for Confucians, a guidance for the Shinto priests, a guidance for the Buddhist kin. These guidances are contained in the monument of literature "Sendai Kuji Hongi" (the beginning of the Heian period). Regarding the "Sendai Kuji Hongi", see. E.K. Simonova-Gudzenko. Sendai Kuji Hongi. - Shinto. The Path of the Japanese Gods. SPb., the "Hyperion" Publishing House, vol. 2, pp. 101-127.
 One of the names for Paradise.
 Mark Teewen. Early Modern Secularism? Views on Religion in Seji kenbunroku (1816). - Japan Review, 2013, number 25, p.11.
 This belief is widespread among Japanese and Western scholars, who often characterize the Japanese Confucian thinkers as "rationalists" . It penetrated the domestic historiography, where, within the framework of the Soviet ideology, the "rationalists" transformed into "materialists". See, for example, Ya.B. Radoul' - Zatoulovsky. Excerpts on the History of Materialist Ideas in Japan in the XVII - first half of the XIX cc. Moscow, the "Nauka" (stands for "Science") Publishing House, 1972.
 Jemushu Makumaren. Buke-no shakuson-o megutte. Tokugawa jidai-no kunshi sairei. Kuge-to buke. Ooken-to girei-no hikaku bummeyshi-teki kosatsu. Kyoto, "Shibunkaku shuppan", 2006, pp.166-192.
 A. V. Filippov. "The Tokugawa One-Hundred Articles Statutes" ("Tokugawa seiken hyakka jo", a.k.a. "The Tokugawa Will") and "The Code of One Hundred Articles." SPb., the Publishing House of SPbGU (stands for Saint-Petersburg State University), 1998, Issue № 47, pp. 23-24.
 The most interesting general review of the Buddhism history in the Tokugawa period in the Russian language was made by A.M. Kabanov. See Buddhism in Japan. Editor-in-Chief - T.P. Grigorieva. M., the "Nauka" (stands for "Science") Publishing House, 1993, pp.278-301.
 Buddhism in Japan. Editor-in-Chief - T.P. Grigorieva. M., the "Nauka" (stands for "Science") Publishing House, 1993, p. 294.
 A. V. Filippov. "The Tokugawa One-Hundred Articles Statutes" ("Tokugawa seiken hyakka jo", a.k.a. "The Tokugawa Will") and "The Code of One Hundred Articles." SPb., the Publishing House of SPbGU (stands for Saint-Petersburg State University), 1998, Issue № 48, p.24.
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