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By Ryûichi Abé

The nice Buddhist priest Kûkai (774-835) is credited with the advent and institution of tantric -or esoteric -Buddhism in early ninth-century Japan. In Ryûichi Abé examines this crucial non secular determine -neglected in smooth educational literature -and his profound impression on eastern tradition. providing a significantly new method of the research of early spiritual historical past -combining ancient study, discourse research, literary feedback, and semiology -Abé contends that the significance of Kûkai´s transmission of esoteric Buddhism to Japan lay now not within the starting place of a brand new sect yet in his construction of a common idea of language grounded within the ritual speech of mantra. embeds Kûkai in the textile of political and social existence in ninth-century Japan and explains how esoteric Buddhism performed a very important function in lots of societal alterations in Japan -from the expansion of monasteries into significant feudal powers to the formation of the local phonetic alphabet, kana. As Abé illustrates, Kûkai´s writings and the recent form of discourse they spawned additionally marked Japan´s transition from the traditional order to the medieval international, changing Confucianism because the ideology of the nation. Abé starts off by means of putting Kûkai´s lifestyles within the ancient context of medieval Japan and the Ritsuryo kingdom, then explores his interplay with the Nara Buddhist intelligentsia, which used to be seminal to the advent of esoteric Buddhism. the writer discusses Kûkai´s magnum opus, () and introduces a few jap and chinese language primary-source texts formerly unknown by means of Western-language students. rather than tracing Kûkai´s suggestion via literal readings, explores the rhetorical innovations Kûkai hired in his works, laying off helpful gentle on what his texts intended to his readers and what his ambitions have been in making a discourse that eventually remodeled eastern tradition.

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23 As a government agency, the Sogo's principal function was to oversee Buddhist temples and their clerics and to carry out the policy of the state toward the Sangha. However, the Sogo was unique among government offices in that it was run not by lay officials but by priests recommended by the Sangha. The Sogo officials were leaders of the Sangha who represented to the state the interests of the Buddhist community as a whole. Because it had this dual character, the Sogo seems to have been the locus for the tensions that emerged between the state and the Sangha.

The conventional view, which has made this work famous, holds that it is Kiikai's manifesto of "doctrinal judgment" ( kyoso hanjaku ) , in which he ranked his Shingon School in the tenth and highest stage and the other major Buddhist schools ofNara and Tendai in lower stages. However, as I shall make clear, Kukai had already announced this system of doctrinal judgment in earlier works and on such extremely public occasions as his granting of an abhiseka to an abdicated emperor. In light of the historical circumstances under which it was written and the fact that its primary audience was the emperor, Ten Abiding Stages is most striking in its lengthy exposition on the subject of ideal rulership, which is framed in the ten-stage structure of the text, a structure which Kiikai designed to replicate the cosmic Buddha Mahavairocana's royal palace.

Above all, they must be skilled in supervising matters relating to Dharma (homu). Those who recommend a candidate for the Sogo must present a letter of endorsement, complete with all the sponsors' signatures, to the Ministry [of Aristocracy]. Should any conspire to endorse unqualified candidates, they will be punished with 32 Kiikai and (Very) Early Heian Society one hundred days of forced labor. Once a candidate is appointed, he cannot be casually removed from duty. If a S6g6 officer is unable to perform his duty because of illness, advanced age, or because he is being punished for crimes he committed, his replacement must be chosen by the method prescribed above.

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