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Encyclopedia of Japan
Buddhism
仏教/J: Bukkyō

According to tradition, the founder of Buddhism, Gautama Siddhārtha, was born about 446 BC as the first son of King Śuddhodana of the Śākya clan at the castle Kapilavastu, located in the center of the clan's domain in what is now Nepal. Some scholars, however, place the birthdate as much as a century earlier. Although raised in luxury, at age 29 he left home to seek an answer, through renunciation, to the problem of human existence. After completing six years of asceticism, he experienced enlightenment at Buddhagayā beneath the bo tree, becoming the Buddha (“one who has awakened to the truth”). Thereafter, until his death at Kuśinagara at the age of 80, he traveled throughout central India sharing his wisdom. He became known by the honorary name Śākyamuni (the sage or holy one from the Śākya [J: Shaka] clan).

Early Buddhism

In the central Ganges River Basin and eastern India at the time Gautama lived, affluence had led to a decay in the traditional caste system, less reliance on the priestly Brahmin class and the authority of the Vedas, and a decline in public morality. Philosophers became involved in endless metaphysical discussions of problems that had no solutions, but Gautama asserted that such metaphysical questions were meaningless. Buddhism attempted to point to and teach dharma, the “true eternal law” or “perennial norm” that would be valid for humanity for all ages. Buddhist doctrine is not specific, established dogma, but a practical wisdom or ethic that promises us the ideal state of humanity.

In Gautama's view, life is suffering (Skt: du〓kha), in the face of which man is helpless. We experience suffering because everything is the result of ever-changing, interrelated conditions and causes; human existence is always in flux and in transience (Skt: anitya; J: mujō). Therefore, it is impossible to claim anything as belonging to oneself, or to assert that there is a self (Skt: ātman). By denying the existence of ātman, Buddhists also rejected the dichotomy between the subjective and objective worlds. Our perplexing and painful existence stems from various causes, and if those causes are extinguished, the confusion and suffering will also dissolve. In Japanese this chain of causality is called engi (dependent origination; Skt: pratītyasamutpāda).

Those who wish to be free from suffering must come to a clear understanding (enlightenment) concerning suffering, impermanence, nonself (Skt: anātman), and reality. To attain true knowledge (Skt: prajñā), all lust and attachment−the root of illusion−must be extinguished. In order to achieve this, one must undergo spiritual discipline, abide by the precepts, and practice meditation. Only then will one be able to free oneself from myriad restrictions and attain that freedom called nirvā〓a (J: nehan). The two extremes of hedonism and self-mortification are rejected; the Middle Way of no suffering and no pleasure is to be taken. Buddhism also emphasized compassion, teaching that it should be extended to all sentient beings.

Upon attaining enlightenment, the Buddha gathered around him a group of disciples; this community adopted the organizational principles of the sa〓gha, which generally referred to a confederate form of government or a guild. The religious sa〓gha was composed of both mendicant monks and lay believers, male and female. The mendicants were expected to be celibate and to refrain from secular occupations and economic transactions.

Later, rules for the religious life were stipulated: 250 precepts for males (bhik〓u; J: biku) and 500 for females (bhik〓u〓ī; J: bikuni). Lay believers were instructed to maintain a good household, engage in proper work, strive to help others, and secure honor and fortune through diligent effort so that, upon death, they would be reborn in heaven. Five precepts were particularly emphasized: (1) do not kill; (2) do not steal; (3) do not act immorally; (4) do not lie; (5) do not drink liquor. Sorcery, magic, and divination were strictly forbidden, and believers were told to reject the authority of the Vedas and to eschew ceremonies involving sacrifice. While monks and nuns sought the ultimate goal of nirvā〓a, the laity aimed at a better rebirth.

The mendicant was enjoined to advocate the equality of all people and to reject the socially discriminatory caste system. Within the religious community (sa〓gha), which included outcastes as well as members of the educated castes, the monk's rank was determined according to the length of time of spiritual discipline since entering the order. The sa〓gha received financial support from wealthy merchants, who also believed in abolishing the Brahmanical caste system.

The literature of early Buddhism exists in Pāli texts and in Chinese translations, as well as fragmentarily in Sanskrit. Pāli is thought to have been originally a branch of the ancient Magadha tongue, in which Gautama spoke, and to have evolved into a language of the scripture. Pāli scripture has survived in what is now Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos, among other places. It is composed of three main sections (the Tripi〓aka; see Daizōkyō): vinaya, the rules and their explanations regarding discipline for monks and practitioners; sūtra, records of sermons by Gautama as well as his dialogues with his disciples; and abhidharma, commentaries and treatises regarding the sutra section.

Spread of Buddhism

In the 3rd century BC, under King Aśoka, India was united as one country. Aśoka supported the Buddhists, and Buddhism spread throughout the country. Around that time Buddhists split into two groups: the conservative elders (Theravādin), whose purpose was to maintain traditional rules; and others, who called for various changes within the religious order. By the 1st century BC there were as many as 20 factions. These groups tended to be self-righteous and aloof from the needs of the common people and in time came to be called the “lesser vehicle” (Hīnayāna; J: Shōjō) by their opponents.

Mahāyāna (“greater vehicle”; J: Daijō) Buddhism developed among the common people. Mahāyānists believed in a series of Buddhas (apart from the historical Buddha)−Buddhas from the cosmic past and also Buddhas-to-be, or bodhisattvas (J: bosatsu)−who had deferred their own salvation until the salvation of all mankind. Mahāyāna stressed that the path of the bodhisattva was open to both monks and laity.

Several Mahāyāna texts were compiled. First to appear were the Prajñāpāramitā sutras (J: Hannyakyō), which taught that all things are empty (Skt: śūnya; J: ). These were followed by the Vimalakīrti-nirdeśa-sūtra (J: Yuimakyō) and the Śrīmālādevī-si〓hanāda-sūtra (J: Shōmankyō), which propagated lay Buddhism; the Avata〓saka-sūtra (J: Kegonkyō), which taught the altruistic way of the bodhisattva and idealism; the Pure Land sutras, which advocated belief in the Buddha Amitābha (J: Amida); and the Lotus Sutra (Saddharma-pu〓〓arīka-sūtra; J: Hokkekyō or Hokekyō). The latter taught that various Buddhist practices would lead practitioners to perfection and that ultimately there is one eternal Buddha.

Two major philosophical schools also arose in the Mahāyāna branch during this period. The Mādhyamika school (J: Chūganha), founded by Nāgārjuna (J: Ryūju; ca 150−ca 250), emphasized śūnyatā (emptiness). The second school, Yogācāra (J: Yugagyōha), brought to doctrinal completion by Vasubandhu (J: Seshin; 4th century), taught that the basis of our existence is a spiritual principle, ālayavijñāna, from which all things become manifest.

In 320 the Gupta dynasty was established. Buddhists developed the esoteric teachings of tantrism, known as Vajrayāna or Mantrayāna (J: Mikkyō), which incorporated elements of Brahmanism and folk religion. Esoteric Buddhism, however, tended to be absorbed by Hinduism. At the beginning of the 12th century, when India was conquered by Muslims, many Buddhist monasteries were destroyed, and Buddhism all but disappeared from India.

The Diffusion of Buddhism in Asia

King Aśoka had sent out numerous Buddhist missionaries. A branch of Theravādin Buddhism was transferred to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and then to Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, and other Southeast Asian lands. The Buddhist tradition in these areas is generally called “Southern Buddhism.”

In the Kashmir and Gandhara regions in northwest India, the Theravādin lineage, especially the Sarvāstivādin teachings (J: Setsu Issai Ubu), was popular. Later, Mahāyāna Buddhism became prevalent and from here spread throughout the western region. In Nepal as well, Mahāyāna Buddhism, especially the esoteric branch, was disseminated.

From the 8th century, Mahāyāna Buddhism, predominantly esoteric Buddhism, was transmitted to Tibet and, upon fusion with indigenous folk beliefs, developed into what is popularly known as Lamaism. In Lamaism, or Tibetan Buddhism, some lamas (“superior ones”) were worshiped as incarnations (tulkus) of their predecessors. Lamaism eventually spread even throughout Mongolia and the Rehe (Jehol) region of northeastern China.

Buddhism was introduced to China in the 1st and 2nd centuries. Buddhist literature was subsequently translated into Chinese from Sanskrit (or its vernacular) originals. The Buddhism that came to flourish in China was chiefly Mahāyāna and reflected the influence of Taoism and Confucianism. Among the more important Chinese schools are the Pure Land (Ch: Jingtu or Ching-t'u; J: Jōdo), Chan (Ch'an; J: Zen), Tiantai (T'ien-t'ai; J: Tendai), and Zhenyan (Chen-yen; J: Shingon), all of which were transmitted to Japan.

Chinese Buddhism had been, at the beginning, a religion mostly of immigrants from India and Central Asia. But from the late 3rd century it spread among the native Chinese population. Buddhism was gradually modified to conform to the Chinese way of thinking: it became less speculative and more concrete; direct and intuitive expression came to be favored over abstract doctrine; and, in keeping with Confucian ethics and the tendency to focus on man and life in the everyday world, stress was placed on one's relation to others, in the family and in hierarchical society.

Buddhism in Japan

According to one of Japan's earliest chronicles, the Nihon shoki (720), Buddhism was officially introduced into Japan from Korea in 552, when the king of Paekche sent a mission to the emperor of Japan bearing presents including “an image of Śākyamuni in gold and copper” and “a number of sutras.” However, current scholarship favors another traditional date for this event, 538.

The Soga family argued that Japan should accept Buddhism. Others, particularly the Mononobe family and the Nakatomi family, claimed that the native gods would be offended by the respect shown to a foreign deity. Buddhism was publicly accepted after the Soga family's political and military defeat of the Mononobe and became prominent in the 7th-century reign of the empress Suiko. Her regent, the devout Prince Shōtoku, is considered the real founder and first great patron of Buddhism in Japan. He established a number of important monasteries, among them Hōryūji and Shitennōji.

Studies of Buddhist teachings began in earnest as six prominent schools were introduced from China during the 7th and the early 8th centuries. These were the Ritsu sect, the Kusha school, the Jōjitsu school, the Sanron school, the Hossō sect, and the Kegon sect. In the Nara period (710−794), especially under the aegis of Emperor Shōmu, Buddhism was promoted as the state religion. Official provincial monasteries (kokubunji) were established in each province. At Tōdaiji, the head monastery, an enormous image of the Buddha (see daibutsu) was erected.

Early in the Heian period (794−1185), the Tendai sect and Shingon sect were introduced to Japan. They received support principally from the ruling aristocratic class. At the beginning of the Kamakura period (1185−1333), Zen Buddhism was introduced from China and was especially favored by the dominant military class. The popular sects of Nichiren and Pure Land Buddhism emerged around the same time.

Under the Tokugawa shogunate (1603−1867), Buddhism and its network of temples were used to eradicate Christianity (see shūmon aratame), but Buddhism also came under the strict regulatory power of the shogunate. While sectarian divisions that had been established in previous times continued, there were also modernizing tendencies, such as Suzuki Shōsan's (1579−1655) occupational ethics and the popularization of Zen by Shidō Bunan (1603−76), Bankei Yōtaku (1622−93), and Hakuin (1685−1769). Another sign was the movement to return to the true meaning of Buddhism as revealed in the original Sanskrit texts, led by Fujaku (1707−81), Kaijō (1750−1805), and Jiun Onkō (1718−1804). After the Meiji Restoration (1868), the government sought to establish Shintō as the national religion, and many Buddhist temples were disestablished (see haibutsu kishaku). Since then, Buddhist organizations have survived by adjusting to the developments of the modern age.

After World War II, many religious groups among the so-called shinkō shūkyō (new religions) were organized as lay Buddhist movements. Several of the largest of these groups (Sōka Gakkai, Risshō Kōseikai, Reiyūkai, Myōchikai, etc) draw upon Nichiren's teachings and the Lotus Sutra.

Several characteristic tendencies can be seen in the history of Japanese Buddhism: (1) an emphasis on the importance of human institutions; (2) a nonrational, symbolic orientation; (3) an acceptance of the phenomenal world; (4) an openness to accommodation with ancient shamanistic practices and Shintō; and (5) the development of lay leadership.

Statistically, Japan is a country of Buddhists. More than 85 percent of the population professes the Buddhist faith. Buddhism in Japan maintains some 75,000 temples with nearly 200,000 priests.

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Buddhism 【仏教】(Encyclopedia of Japan)
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1. Bud・dhism音声
ランダムハウス英和
n. 仏教,仏法,仏道. cf. EIGHTFOLD PATH,FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS,HINAYANA,MAHAYANA[1801]Bud・dhí ...
2. Bud・dhism
プログレッシブ英和
[名詞][U]仏教[法]. ...
3. Buddhism 【仏教】
Encyclopedia of Japan
destroyed, and Buddhism all but disappeared from India. The Diffusion of Buddh ...
4. 仏教[宗教]画像
イミダス 2016
紀元前6世紀頃、釈迦によって創唱された宗教。主に中国、チベット、モンゴル、朝鮮、日本、スリランカやタイなどの東南アジアに伝播し、近代以降は欧米諸国にも広まった ...
5. 仏教[宗教]
現代用語の基礎知識 2016
開祖シャカ(釈迦)すなわちブッダ(仏陀)の教えという意味で、さらにこれに基づき、後世新しく展開された教説をも含めて、広く仏教と総称する。約2500年前のインドに ...
6. Buddhismus
ポケプロ独和
[男性名詞] 《—/》 仏教.  ...
7. Níchiren Bùddhism
ランダムハウス英和
日蓮宗.出典:The Random House Dictionary of the English Language(2nd ed.)(1987) ...
8. Zén Búddhism
ランダムハウス英和
=Zen.Zén Búddhist ...
9. esoteric Buddhism 【密教】
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himitsu Bukkyo, or “secret Buddhism.” A special tradition within Buddhism stemmi ...
10. Nara Buddhism 【南都六宗】
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A term referring to the six Buddhist sects officially recognized during the Nara ...
11. Pure Land Buddhism 【浄土教】
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disciples Pure Land Buddhism established its independence from the Tendai sect o ...
12. Shintō and Buddhism, separation of 【神仏分離】
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(1868−1912) policy of separating Shinto and Buddhism in order to reinforce the S ...
13. チベット仏教画像
日本大百科全書
チベット系統の仏教のこと。チベット系仏教は、チベット本土のみならず中国、ロシア、モンゴリア、ブータン、シッキム、ラダック、ネパールなど広範囲な地域に宗教文化圏を ...
14. aesthetics 【美学】
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stressing spiritual discipline and relating them to Buddhism, Confucianism, or S ...
15. afterlife 【あの世】
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god (onryo or goryo) who needs to be placated. Buddhism modified this traditiona ...
16. Akishinodera 【秋篠寺】
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In 834, after the introduction of esoteric Buddhism, it was transformed into a  ...
17. Amida 【阿弥陀】
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central to the evolution of Pure Land Buddhism in East Asia. The term Amida, or ...
18. Anrakuan Sakuden 【安楽庵策伝】
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Prelate of the Jodo sect (Pure Land sect) of Buddhism, devotee of the tea cult,  ...
19. asceticism 【修行・苦行】
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commonly understood as asceticism in the West. In Buddhism, however, man is cons ...
20. Asuka period 【飛鳥時代】
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the beginning of the Nara period (710−794). Buddhism and the Ascendancy of the  ...
21. avatar 【化身・権化】
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order to manifest itself in the human world. In Buddhism the bodhisattva Kannon  ...
22. Aya family 【漢氏】
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military affairs, as well as the support of Buddhism. They tended to gravitate t ...
23. beads, ancient 【玉】
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ritual objects. Following the introduction of Buddhism in the 6th century, the p ...
24. be・liev・er音声
ランダムハウス英和
)信仰する人,(…の)信者((in ...))a believer in Christianity [Buddhism]キリスト教[仏教]信者He was a  ...
25. Bigelow, William Sturgis 【ビゲロー, W. S.】
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traveling widely, collecting art, and studying Buddhism. While in Japan Bigelow  ...
26. biwa 【琵琶】
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Kyoto and was associated with the Tendai sect of Buddhism. In court music the bi ...
27. biwa hōshi 【琵琶法師】
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tradition possibly entered Japan with the spread of Buddhism. A 10th-century poe ...
28. bonsai 【盆栽】画像
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wave of cultural borrowings that included Zen Buddhism. In Japan the art was ref ...
29. bracelets, ancient 【釧】
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protohistoric periods. After the adoption of Buddhism in the 6th century, body o ...
30. Buddha 【仏陀】
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In Buddhism an epithet applied to one who has attained enlightenment, i.e., perf ...
31. Buddha tiles 【〓仏】
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influence of Chinese Tang (T'ang) dynasty (618−907) Buddhism. They were embedded ...
32. Buddhist architecture 【寺院建築】画像
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of building them was not observed by sects of Buddhism that flourished in the me ...
33. Buddhist art 【仏教美術】
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state-sanctioned Buddhism. Esoteric Buddhism In part as a reaction to the stat ...
34. Buddhist iconography 【仏教図像】
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In Japanese Buddhism, Buddhist deities are divided into four principal groups: n ...
35. Buddhist rites 【仏教儀式】
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Skt: Homa), a ceremony practiced in esoteric Buddhism; and Kanjo (Skt: Abhiseka) ...
36. Buddhist ritual implements 【仏具】
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Nara Buddhism and exoteric Tendai, esoteric Buddhism, Pure Land, and Zen. Exote ...
37. Buddhist sculpture 【仏教彫刻】
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the esoteric Buddhist tradition (see esoteric Buddhism). One of the most influen ...
38. Bud・dhís・tic
ランダムハウス英和
adj. ...
39. Bud・dhís・ti・cal
ランダムハウス英和
adj. ...
40. Bud・dhís・ti・cal・ly
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adv. ...
41. burakumin 【部落民】
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of Japanese society. When the coexistence of Buddhism and indigenous Shinto came ...
42. butsudan 【仏壇】画像
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temple of a Buddhist sect (see shumon aratame). Buddhism by then had a firm plac ...
43. Byōdōin 【平等院】
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heavenly palace in the Pure Land (see Pure Land Buddhism) and was affiliated wit ...
44. calligraphy 【書道】画像
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Saitama Prefecture. With the introduction of Buddhism and Confucianism to Japan  ...
45. cattle 【牛】画像
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since eating animal flesh was prohibited by Buddhism. Most of the cattle now bei ...
46. censorship 【検閲】
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s: all new interpretations of Confucianism, Buddhism, Shinto, medicine, and poet ...
47. China and Japan 【中国と日本】
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political administration, Confucianism, and Buddhism. In the 6th century, the Ya ...
48. Chion'in 【知恩院】
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Head temple of the Jodo sect of Buddhism, located in Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto. Th ...
49. Chishakuin 【智積院】
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of the Chizan branch of the Shingon sect of Buddhism, located in Higashiyama War ...
50. Christianity 【キリスト教】画像
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itself to traditional thought in Japan as much as Buddhism (also an “imported”re ...
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