youtube

English Page

" M a t s u n o M i d o r i "

L i f e S t o r y o f G r e a t B u d d h i s t S a i n t K y o u s h i n f r o m B a n s h u u K a k o ( H y o g o )

B y K e i m e i H a s e g a w a

translation :Japanese into English

by Akiko & Toshio Nakazono

 

 

 

" A o n i y o s h i N a r a n o M i y a k o w a S a k u h a n a n o

N i o u g a G o t o k u I m a s a k a r i na r i "

 

C a p i t a l t o w n N a r a i s b e a u t i f u l w i t h b l o s s o ms in full bloom,

and the air is laden with sweet fragrance of the flowers.

 

The town of Nara was chosen to be the capital of Japan in 710. Along with this selection, governmental administration was not the only thing which moved to Nara, but Nara gradually became the center of all other things like industries, economy, education, philosophy learning, art/handcraft etc. One who visited Nara thought with dismay that Nara must be as great as the famous Chinese capital Choan. It has already passed 80 years since the transfer of the capital and who in Japan could have dreamt of such prosperity in Nara a century ago, beautiful hills that surround Yamato Valley (where Nara is located), cherry trees at the edge of water, Japanese maple trees at river sides, roofs of big temples which stand high against blue sky, young noble men and women with pretty closes walking in the wide and busy streets, music from tea houses, big houses with red pillars and colored roof tiles, all these things! (There was one attempt to transfer the capital to Nagaoka to refresh people's feeling in this 80 years but it was transferred back to Nara soon after.)

 

There was a guardian temple of Fujiwara family, Koufuku-ji Temple, in the east of Nara at the foot of Wakakusa-yama (hill), next to the great temples like Todai-ji and Genkou-ji. Koufuku-ji temple had many beautiful cathedrals in its big territory extending to several blocks.

 

Fujiwara family had great power in the central government ever since its Kamatari days who then became relatives of Imperial family. Buddhist monks in the Kofuku-ji were faithful followers of Buddha's teachings, but they could not deny that they were protected by the great worldly power of the Fujiwara family. Even when they were in the ceremonies in the Kondo cathedral, or listening to the lectures of old respected monk in Kodo (lecturing cathedral), they always felt they belong to the privileged classes. In fact, there were young monks who just returned after completing the study in China (Tong Dynasty) and some monks who are actually related to the Fujiwara family. What made these monks so proud was the fact that they are the ones who are bearing the new civilization which obtained so much attention and amazement of common people.

 

Young learning monk Kyoushin was among them. He had already finished studying principles of 6 different sects of Nara Buddhism. He was noted as No. 1 monk in the study of Seshin teaching which preaches of emancipation (liberation) from worldly worries through correct perception and analyses of the universe. He was also an outstanding scholar in the Buddhism logic called Inmei teaching. Kyoushin was expected by the people in this town who know him to be a great monk someday. But he could not get rid of empty feeling in his own mind. He argued with his colleague in the shade of old big pine trees in the temple, he raised many questions to his seniors in the lecture rooms, but he could not be satisfied with the given answers which seemed so conventional and superficial. It seemed to Kyoushin that they were merely playing with words. What he was really after was not a mere idea or logic of Buddhism, nor earthly advancement of his own benefits and prosperity. He wanted live a true life, he wanted to practice true teaching of Buddha.

 

How those infamous Genbo and Doukyo lived, how those upper class monks who surround the Imperial family were living, and how everyone was diligently seeking high position in society. How ugly was the human society. Kyoushin saw how people betrayed their old friends to protect their own interests, how people tried to prolong in this world at the expense of others, and how good, poor, ordinary people were oppressed by those few high class people. He also noted how people were indifferent to these things, it seemed that they didn't have even vitality to think over. The old Chinese quote, "One great general is the result of death of countless soldiers." might even be applicable

here, he thought, and it might not be the feeling shared only by the Chinese in Tong's Dynasty at the war to defend from the Hun invasion.

 

All the things he saw and heard depressed him very much. Buddhism taught the practice of humanism, in its highest form, correction of and liberation from the contradicting problems in society. It preached to seek "Bodai or Satori" (ultimate enlightenment, or understanding of the universe) and enlighten the ordinary, uneducated people. What good were those great monks who lived in the big temples of Nara? They talked about Buddhism but did not practice it and lived in the worldly greed. They were actually violating the teaching of Buddha. Buddhism should not be the means for living but sincere, true life itself. Kyoushiwas a wise and very sincere young man. These ugly facts of life annoyed him very much.

 

Big temples those days (Asuka/Nara period) had functions of training halls, art galleries, museums, music halls, medical centers, public halls; and they were like today's big universities. Kyoushin visited well known monks not only of Koufuku-ji temple, but also of big temples like Toudai-ji, Genkou-ji, Yakushi-ji, Toushoudai-ji, Houryu-ji and received their teaching. But that was in vain, nobody could give him answers that would relieve his annoyance. He read many books of Buddhism which came from China, but only found that those books teaches means and method to find truth of life, but not the truth itself. He finally concluded that he had to find the truth of life himself. He could not waste any more time just studying the means and method to find the truth, he had to find the truth itself.

 

He had read many sutras and Chinese books in the last three years. He once red these sutras and received lectures on them as a knowledge, but now he found another significance and meanings in them when he read them as leading principles of life. They were more than mere significance or meanings, they were the only way out to the future which goes beyond individual's life or death. He was specially impressed by the way Zenzai Doushi in the sutra "Kegon-kyo" lived. The humorous way Yuima-Koji in the sutra "Yuima-kyo" preached to break formalism, the petition of Hozzou-Bosatsu in the sutra "Dai-muryou-jyu-kyo" that all who are living be saved with Buddha's unlimited love, strongly shook Kyoushin's heart who sought principles to live tomorrow.

 

He had heard about the unprecedented gorgeous proceedings of the "Rakkei Houyou" (Grand opening ceremony) for the "Daibutsu" (Great Buddha Statue) at the Toudaiji-temple which the emperor Shoumu built. Bodai-Sena, a famous Chinese monk, played the role of a master of ceremonies so well, and the music was played in the front garden of the great shiny new cathedral which housed the Daibutsu. He was told about the emperor Shoumu's petition which drove him to build this great temple. It had been planned that the central civilization would be conveyed to the every corner of this country through the Kokubunji temples build in local cities. It was good that a highly centralized country was achieved in accordance with the philosophy manifested in the "Great Kegonkyo World". However, it was only a few people of the privileged classes who could enjoy and benefit from the new civilization. The great majority of people had nothing to do with such civilization, and it did not change their daily lives at all. They were suffering from the heavy labor and taxes.

 

Kyoushin thought that the true mission of the Buddhism is to teach the real meaning of life to this great majority of people who do not have much hope in their lives and to make them happy in their daily living. The Buddhist monks should not ingratiate themselves with the ruling classes. They may have to revolt against the ruling classes sometimes. If the true mission of Buddhism as it was showed by Zenzai-douji, Hozzou-bosatsu, and Yuima-koji is forgotton, prosperity of Big-Temples -Buddhism, great ceremonies to praise Buddha, and production of many high ranking monks do not assure that the Buddha's teachings are being properly followed. Happiness is not something to be given, but to be created.

 

He was aware of great predecessors who lived not so long time ago, like Gyoki, for example, who walked all around Japan spreading Buddhism. He made ponds for irrigation in Konyou (Konyou-ike) and Sensyu (Kumeda-ike) which helped to raise small industries in the area. He built a big bridge at Yamasaki to improve the local traffic situation. Doushou and Douto also built a bridge at Uji (Uji-bashi), and there were Chikou and Reikou who never gave up seeking Paradise.

 

Kyoushin no longer could remain in the big temple in idleness and just seek his own worldly promotion. He left Koufuku-ji temple quietly but with firm determination. In spite of persuasion to stay from his master and friends, he set out on the road to visit every corner of the country. He put an end to the training of himself and put his first step to enlightening others which he long wished to do. To him enlightening others was training himself and training himself was also enlightening others. To differentiate the two was only notional and meaningless. He felt both training himself and enlightening others are just two sides of the same sheet of paper and it could not be separated.

 

We do not know today to which corner of the country he went after leaving old capital city of Nara. According to the old legend, he is said that he visited Zenkou-ji temple in Sinsyu Nagano (middle part of Japan in the mountains). With the establishment of new system (Ritsuryou Seido), Sanyoudou (a route along the inland sea) was well built and maintained those days with many travelers, but other routes were not so well built nor maintained. He did not have many belongings at all, just a walking stick and a straw made traveling hat. He was not in haste in his travel, he stayed here and there and he did not mind sleeping outdoor in the field if he had to. He talked to every people he met at the every corner he visited. He talked how people should live in plain easy words. He talked of the idealistic human society, and generated hopes for the future among the common ordinary people. He helped them in the daily labor sometimes. Teachings of Buddha were not difficult logic or play of notional words after all, they were the leading principles to govern daily living. He turned and took the way to west (Nagano is located in the north-east of Nara.) By that time a few years had passed since the old capital was moved from Nara to Nagaoka-kyo and then Heian-kyo (Kyoto). When he passed the new capital, he remembered all the scandals associated with moving capital. These scandals reminded him how greedy the people are, how delusion, karma, sufferings are related. He felt strongly of the need to seek the truth and spread the right teaching of Buddha among people.

 

This capital-transfer business was initiated while Kyoushin was still at Koufukuji-Temple with the purpose of restoring the corrupted officials and recovering the social orders; once again uniting the people who have lost centripetal force, and liberating the people. The capital-transfer caused serious conflict of interests among noble temples. It was obvious to everyone that the emperor Kanmu who initiated this project would have many difficulties before him. People in the old capital Nara felt strong pressure from the conventionalities established by the nobles. The course Kyoushin chose was not to ingratiate himself with these established, traditional conventionalities, but to protest and resist against them.

 

Only a few years had passed from the capital-transfer when he passed this Heian-kyo. The new capital was full of life with many people, but much part of the city was still left intact. The sound of new constructions echoed from mountains in the east (Higashi-Yama), and a sense of reform filled everywhere in the city. It was natural therefore, that Kyoushin, as a reformist, found this new capital a good place to stay and work. He were everywhere talking to people of Buddhism. Enlarging particular sect or teachings unique to particular sect were not his purpose. He only hoped that people would not become slaves to power or wealth but live with high humanitarian principles and eternal ideals. That is the living according to wisdom of Buddha. If he is a monk or not, rich or poor, young or old, that did not make any difference.

 

New leading idea and philosophy were required for the construction of new capital. Emperor Kanmu wanted to find capable men who could manage routine exchanges of diplomatic missions with China under Tong Dynasty, busy negotiations with the country of Bokkai, who could subdue Ezo (the northern most island of Japan), and who could withstand the pressure and compete against the force from the established Nara Buddhism. Already two great temples had been built at east and west sides of city gate (Rasho-mon) under the management of Fujiwara Iseto and Sakagami Tamuramaro at the expense of state. But building great temples will not promote Buddhism, laws require people to practice.

 

It was Saicho from Omi (east of Kyoto) who came first to take upon this quest. Saicho went to China to study at Tendaizan Temple in 804, returned to Japan in the following year and declared the establishment of Tendai-shu (Tendai sect) based on the principles of Hokke-Ichijyo philosophy. Saicho immediately started active practices. In 806, new emperor Heijyo took succession and named the Imperial era as Daido. In the first year of Daido (806), Kuukai who went to China at the same time as Saicho and studied in Choan, then capital of China, returned and declared the establishment of Shingon-shu (Shingon-sect).

 

Shingon-shu emphasized that ordinary people can become like Buddha by believing and practicing the principles of Shingon-shu. Both of them were reputed nobles in the high society. Specially Kuukai had a good command of foreign language (Sanskrit, etc) and immediately became an idol in the high society just like the ones who returned from foreign study in Meiji era were spotlighted.

 

Essentially the Buddhism in the Nara and early Heian period concentrated in building temples and pagodas, creating Buddhist images, and copying sutras. Building pagodas and copying sutras have some significance of course and contribute the culture of the period, but it left the room for people to value the pagodas and copied sutras and thus to fall to be an idol worshipper. That was the surrounding where Tendai-shu and Shingon-shu were established. Those new Buddhist sects* principles were new, progressive, and in a way radical and were gradually accepted by the people of the period.

 

Saicho was an gentle, peaceful man of character, but he was forced to spend much of his life debating against Nara Buddhism and later against Kuukai. Kuukai痴 successors were very talented and politically capable people, and at least on the surface it looks Tendai-shu became compromising and subordinate to Shingon-shu at this period. Shingon-Mikkyou did well to meet the trend of thoughts and became fashionable as a religion to perform incantations among the nobles. We can still see traces of this among many sects of Japanese Buddhism. We should not miss the true message Saicho and Kuukai tried to deliver to the people.

 

While great Buddhist priests of Tendai and Shingon tried to win the Imperial family痴 favor , tried to have stronger ties with the nobles, and tried to increase their influences, Kyoushin stayed with ordinary people and preached eternal ideals to them. It must have been effective to get the favor of the Imperial family and nobles in the old society, but Kyoushin did not dare do that. Kyosin preached to throw away formalities and vanities and live in truth. Increasing worldly influence was not what he had in mind. If he quietly reflect himself, and if he faces society痴 reality, he could not think of any other way to live. When he thought of eternity, how small his world seemed! How stupid it was to compete riches, honors, and powers. Every people are the same, can only live 50 years or so. Don* t waste any time fighting for self interests and profits, envying and flattering others, and being offended with others. Life is too short for that. Walk in the middle of wide road of truth, think of everyone痴 prosperity and happiness, that was the great Buddha痴 concern.

 

But society was not matured enough to appreciate his preaching. New capital was active and colorful, and people were interested in things fashionable. After all, new capital had its own affectation. Kyoushin could not think that the new capital was a good place to stay and keep preaching. He aimlessly left the new capital and started his pilgrimage again. For the next 10 years he spent on pilgrimage visiting many places and preached his belief.

In the fall of 836 (3rd year of Jyowa under Jinnmei Emperor) , he was walking west on Sanyo road. Sanyo road was one of the biggest road in the country and well facilitated with many people traveling. Suma and Akashi were along Sanyo road and had beautiful scenery, and Harima was famous for beautiful green pine trees. Kako was a stage town on the road and located in the middle of Inami field. It is now belongs to Kakogawa city and in the vicinity of Noguchi-cho Noguchi. The area where current downtown of Kakogawa lay was then the bed of Kakogawa river and not a proper place for people to live. The river in this area was wide and people had to go toward upstream to cross. Accordingly people walked up north in the west side of present Noguchi and crossed the river in the vicinity of Ohno, and went to west to towards present Masuda and Nakanishi.

 

Kako was one of the biggest stage towns then, and played an important role for traffic, industries, society, and culture. There are evidences to show that Kako was probably biggest stage town only next to Kyoto, Nara, Nanba, and Hakata. At the east edge of the town there was a temple which local rich family built. At the south side of the town there was another temple which was built in the Nara period. To the people who traveled along Sanyo road, it must have been a great pleasure to see two pagodas in the green field of Inami. Kyoushin felt the same way.

 

The sun which set beyond the edge of Nishiyama was exceptionally beautiful. Kyoushin wanted to talk to the ordinary people. The place where he could meet as many ordinary people as possible was his stage. People were simple minded here without much influence of the established authorities of Kyoto and Nara. This was a place for him, the town had all he wanted. He got a small cell to live in the north edge of the town, and initiated his activities. His belief was unchanged, he did not carry any scripture, he did not even have an image of Buddha in his little cell. On top of it he even got married with a woman who showed fondness toward him and had a few children . It does not take a saint to practice Buddhism. It was his belief to live in truth throwing all vanities and facing realities straight.

 

As it is known widely, Buddhism originated to Buddha痴 self-reflection and extended. It caused changes to the people then living and revolutions in philosophy and society. But as Buddhism spread and organization expanded, it was natural that conflicts developed between people who took conservative position and who took progressive position. Generally speaking, the Buddhism which were spread to countries west of China (Seiiki), China, Korea, and Japan was of progressive in nature, and Buddhism which was spread to Ceylon, Thailand, Burma and Vietnam was of conservative in nature.

 

Today, there is a big difference between these two sects of Buddhism. It is not easy to judge which sects are closer to the original teaching. The people of northern countries who took the progressive and liberal Buddhism called the sect of more conservative Buddhism which spread in southern countries as 鉄houjyou Buddhism* (meaning small Buddhism). They called their own sect of Buddhism as 泥aijyou Buddhism* (meaning big Buddhism). The Shoujyo Buddhism emphasized formalities and traditions while the Daijyou Buddhism emphasized spiritual aspects. It is understandable that the people of northern countries gave such name to call the Buddhism of southern countries. However even northern Buddhism could not avoid tendency to stress formalities and traditions all together. That is why reforms were repeated in India, China, and Japan seeking young and fresh ideas.

 

Let痴 put the differences aside, Buddhism, whether it is Daijyou or Shoujyou, seeks spiritual enlightenment. It preaches to avoid the world of spiritual sufferings and attain spiritual enlightenment. It preaches to establish strong self character which can put things in correct and balanced perspective based on the true understanding of the world. That is, establishment of a strong character which can look truth as truth, goodness as goodness, and beauty as beauty. To look things as they really are. It is not something just optimistic or nostalgic, it requires strong will to correct things unreasonable. To attain that strong character, people perform hard spiritual training, add knowledge and wisdom, even build pagodas, and put himself in the social works.

 

However only a few chosen people could attain such a strong character and spiritual enlightenment, only those people who were gifted with capabilities health, riches and power. What should the ordinary people who do not have any of those do? This became an important issue as years progressed. Thus Buddhism which provide salvation to ordinary people became to be wanted so much.

There are a few factions for this Buddhism, but essentially it is a belief that people will receive salvation by submitting the whole to Buddha痴 vow that he would think of salvation of others before his own salvation. A sprout for this belief was in the early Indian Buddhism, but it expanded in China during 4th and 5th century, especially under Doushaku and Zendou in the 7th century.

 

This belief was introduced to Japan soon and blossomed as Jodokyo during the end of Heian and through out Kamakura period. Kyoushin holds a very special position as a notable pioneer to spread this belief. He did not choose to save appearance of great monk belonging to a big temple. He completely throw out the worldly way of living and started activities as Shami, who is not a monk in a true sense, but he is not a worldly common person either, someone who is between the two. He was influenced by the time he was living of course, but probably his genuine innocence drove him to be that way. Kyoushin did not reject human nature and he overcame the limitations of orthodox Buddhism, this was the great leap in his thinking.

 

Kyoumo Mata Asa Toku Okite Hagemanan

Mado Ni Akaruki Ariakeno Tsuki

 

Let痴 get up and start a new day of work.

The moon is still shining bright in the window.

 

Kyoushin thought of heaven which was believed to be in the west (Seiho-Jyodo). He gave hands to the farmers. He carried heavy luggage helping travelers. He preached his thinking in his daily living routines. People called him 鄭midamaru* or 哲iokuri-Shonin* The Inami field, specially around the stage of Kako did not have good irrigation. His humanitarian wish to raise industries to benefit people made him to start building banks for irrigation. Probably Konyo-Ike and Kumeda-Ike which Gyouki built, and Mannou-Ike which Kuukai built were on his mind. Ekiga-Ike is the one Kyoushin built and it is still being used for irrigation.

 

One day people gave Kyoushin river fish. He thanked the people and ate the fish. Hearing about this, there were people who criticized Kyoushin that he broke the law of Buddhist monk (Buddhist monks are prohibited to kill living creatures.) Kyoushin took some of these critical people to Ekiga-Ike and spat out the remaining of the fish to the pond saying 的t is OK for the monk to eat fish, it is OK for the monk not to eat fish also. What matters most is if the monk is living in truth.* It is said that the pieces of fish which was spit out by Kyoushin started swim as a fish again. But the fish did not have one eye. It is a local practice even today if a fish with one eye is caught, people release him. The fish is called 適atame no Funa* (A bluegill with one eye) or 鉄hounin Sakana* (Kyoushin痴 fish). It is only a legend but it is a good legend for us to know how Kyoushin was like.

 

On August 15, 866 when moon was full, Kyoushin died without a slightest suffering. It is said that kyoushin痴 spirit visited Syounyo at Katsuo Temple in Minou Osaka, who was trying to obtain spiritual enlightenment through keeping silence. Syounin was surprised and responded the visit by coughing. Kyoushin痴 spirit told Syounyo 的 am Kyoushin of Banshuu Kako. I have hoped to die in Buddhist prayer, and tonight my wish was granted. I came tonight to tell you that Buddha will come to take you also a year from now.* After telling that to Syounyo, the spirit disappeared.

 

Syounyo felt strange and sent Syougan, one of his disciple, to Banshuu to confirm about Kyoushin. Syougan visited the place he was told and there he found an old lady and a child. They told him that they were Kyoushin痴 wife and child and told every story about Kyoushin. They told him that Kyoushin left a will and instructed them to leave his dead body in the field for animals. Syougan visited the place where Kyoushin痴 corpse was left. Animals and birds had eaten Kyoushin痴 remains and pieces were scattered around, but strangely animals did not touch his head, and his head seemed to be smiling. Syougan returned and reported this to Syounyo, and added that even animals had felt Kyoushin痴 benevolence. He also reported that local people surrounded Kyoushin痴 head, sang songs, and did not stop praising him. Upon hearing this Syounyo immediately got spiritual enlightenment, and threw away formalities of orthodox Buddhism and followed Kyoushin痴 teachings. It is said that Syounyo died on the same day in the following year as Kyoushin痴 spirit told him.

 

During the period of Enreki, Kyoushin spent his young sensitive days among old pine trees of Koufuku-ji temple seeking truth of life. He realized his ideals in his late years at the stage town of Kako in Banshuu located next to Takasago which is also famous with beautiful pine trees. Kyoushin had to be satisfied with his life in this Inami field. His activities were not anything showy and did not get much attention of many people, but it was Kyoushin痴 way. There are many people who appreciate the beauty of cherry blossoms in spring and Japanese maple leaves in autumn, but not many people note the enduring strength in the sound of old pine trees which go through cold winter days with its evergreen leaves. But any sensitive person who do not want to waste his life just seeking pleasures of drinking under blossoms in spring and maple leaves of autumn without seeking truth of life will be moved to find never changing nature in the greens of old pine trees. Kyoushin sought truth of life, he stopped judging good or bad, and accepted naked human natures as they were. Kyoushin was like the beautiful moon shining in the clear sky of autumn, he lighted every corner with bright wisdom.

Kyoushin-Temple
*
*
*
*
*
*
a representative director priest = Keigo Hasegawa
Address = 465-Noguchi,Noguchi-town,Kakogawa-city,Hyougo- Prefecture JAPAN675-0012
TEL = 079-422-7189
FAX = 079-422-0902
E-Mail= Religious Corporation HOUSENIN
to home page= Kyoushin Temple
to home page=kyousin Temple HOUSENIN