Moss-covered Monk

Moss-covered Monk


Saturday, November 3, 2012

History of Samurai / Zen Buddhism


The introduction of Zen into the island empire is dated as early as the
seventh century; but it was in 1191 that it was first established by Eisai, a
man of bold, energetic nature. He crossed the sea for China at the age of
twenty-eight in 1168, after his profound study of whole Tripitaka for eight
years in the Hiyei Monastery the center of Japanese Buddhism.
After visiting holy places and great monasteries, he came home, bringing
with over thirty different books on the doctrine of the Tendai Sect. This,
instead of quenching, added fuel to his burning desire for adventurous
travel abroad. So he crossed the sea over again in 1187, this time intending
to make pilgrimage to India; and no one can tell what might have been the
result if the Chinese authorities did not forbid him to cross the border.
There on he turned his attention to the study of Zen, and after five years
discipline succeeded in getting sanction for his spiritual attainment by the
Hü Ngan (Kioan), a noted master of the Rin Zai school, the abbot of the
monastery of Tien Tung Shan (Tendosan).

His active propaganda of Zen was commenced soon after his return in 1191
with splendid success at a newly built temple in the province of Chikuzen.
In 1202 Yori-iye, the Shogun, or the real governor of the State at that time,
erected the monastery of Kenninji in the city of Kyoto, and invited him to
proceed to the metropolis. Accordingly he settled himself down in that
temple, and taught Zen with his characteristic activity.
This provoked the envy and wrath of the Ten Dai and the Shin Gon
teachers, who presented memorials to the Imperial court to protest against
his propagandism of the new faith. Taking advantage of the protests, Eisai
wrote a book entitled Kozen go koku ron (The Protection of the State by the
Propagation of Zen), and not only explained his own position, but exposed
the ignorance of the protestants.

Thus at last his merit was appreciated by the Emperor Tsuchi-mikado
(1199-1210), and he was promoted to So Jo, (the highest rank in the
Buddhist priesthood), together with the gift of a purple robe in 1206.
After this he went to the city of Kamakura, the political centre, being
invited by Sanetomo, the Shogun, and laid the foundation of the so called
Kamakura Zen, still prospering at the present moment.

~Kaiten Nukariya