Just this month a new book has been published by Dr D.T. Suzuki called Mysticism, Christian and Buddhist. I’m not intending to devote this program to in review of this book as such but I call attention to it. Incidentally, it’s published by Harper’s in New York for three dollars and fifty cents. But I rather want to call attention to a particular theme, with which the book deals with will seem of a peculiar type of Japanese mysticism I suppose you’d call it, associated primarily with the title put design which is caution Shinju. Should issue are to know it by another name God of our land but isn’t is one of the most popular forms of Buddhism in the Far East.
Spreading over China Japan found Tibet, originally had some following in India. But has undergone a very marked and special type of development in Japan. And what makes it so popular is that in contrast, or apparent contrast I should say with other forms of Buddhism, it stands as a kind of easy way, as distinct from a difficult way. In Japanese technical terms the two types of Buddhism are respectively called Jiriki and Tariki. Now Ji means one’s own are self and means other and Riki means power and so the schools of Buddhism which call themselves Gili. Are ways of Deliverance which one follows by one’s own will one’s own power one’s own strength. Whereas on the other hand the, type of Buddhism called tariki, is where you rely on the power of another and this other is usually speaking. If I may put it in somewhat mythological terms. A great supra-mundane Buddha. Known as M E Tara in Japanese as Amidha. And the story goes that in incalculable ages in the most distant past this great Buddha made a vow. That he would not enter into the state of complete Buddhahood. Until. Any human being upon the face of the earth who pronounced his name in phase would after his death be reborn in the Western paradise of which we target presides. And find Larry in. Far greater ease of spiritual development of awakening of the coming of border than is to be found on the face of this difficult earth.
And all this of course to rise from the ancient India Indian idea that the present the park of the world’s unfoldment is the darkest of dark ages, called the Kali Yuga. And in the Kali Yuga, or the Mapol is scholars it is peculiar only difficult. To advance towards any kind of spiritual development because it’s an age of decadence the end of which will witness the total destruction of the world prior to its remaining manifestation and some future time. And therefore, the story goes on to say that this great Buddha, did, in course of time, attain to complete put up with. Signifying fact that his vow is fulfilled and that any. One who simply repeats the formula Namita higher in Sanskrit or in Japanese now. Which is roughly translatable in English as the name of Amitabha Buddha. Or Namu who is used in the formula is used in Sanskrit or Japanese somewhat as the French say Nandan Nandan are they just same name. Meaning hail I suppose in English we have no real equivalent of it.
And the idea is that anybody who repeats the name of the Budda Amitabha in perfect faith. Will without any other effort, any other kind of spiritual endeavor on his own part. However evil however it prayed he may be. He will be reborn after death in this spiritual state in which the task of becoming a Buddha is rendered so easy as to be as we should say in perfect cinch. And of course all commentators on Buddhism say Well this of course is how religions degenerate. They become popular, pie-in-the-sky selling organizations. Where absolutely nothing is required of the faithful except an occasional contribution and the easier you make it in contrast to the other sects which make it more difficult for more people of luck to your following out of the contributions will be and it all ends up with the pressure we all well all you have to do is make the thing revalue don’t even have to think about it and incalculable supernatural merits all start up on your behalf.
But it’s very dangerous to jump to conclusions of the sky about this type of. Religious or spiritual manifestation, because in practice the Shin school of Buddhism has had some of the most remarkable adherents. And produces a type of personality which is known in Japan as a Miokonen. Literally translated Miokonen means a wonderful and fine man. That’s just a literal translation with doesn’t at all convey the sense of this kind of personality of them are common. But the Miokonen A man likes in run him self cool found in the shins school of brothers and in Japan is a man who has in a way, understood the profounder meaning of the doctrine of the school. And perhaps before I talk about the personal characteristics of the Miokonen. I should try and indicate. What may underlie what may be the deeper meaning, of this seemingly, decadent highly popular and easy form of Buddhism.
Perhaps the best way to do this is by means of the critique, which this particular school uses against those who follow the other way will follow the way of Jiriki or self power. The followers of the sions coom would say, that a person who attempts to make spiritual progress by his own efforts is betting against the worst possible obstacle to any progress at all. And that is that in thinking that he can do it himself he is like a person trying to lift himself up by his own bootstraps Or to put it in another way, he suffers from the pride of imagining that his own will, his own energy is sufficient to change himself. After all, if he needs changing at all, it is precisely the character in the motivation of his own will and his own energy that needs changing. And how is this change going to be achieved by that very will win so stands in need of change. To put it in the more usual language of the school of thought, they say that the average human being is so weighted down by karma. That is if we put it into more modern terminology we would say, he is so fundamentally conditioned by his upbringing, by his social environment, by the temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil, there’s really nothing he couldn’t do to make himself any better and everything that he does do is simply a manifestation of the same conditioning masquerading like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Therefore, if the human being cannot transform himself. If used to be transformed at all, he must rely on some power greater than his own.
Now of course, this other power may be represented, figuratively speaking, like we represent God in the Christian tradition as a spiritual entity off force or intelligence quite out of them and apart from man or it may be represented on the other hand as other than us in just the same way look at the functioning of our own bodies the beating of the heart of the operation of the lungs goes on quite independently of the conscious will and his other in that sense although in another sense those unconscious and automatic or spontaneous functioning of our organism could be understood as Ma fundamentally and truly ourselves than the things that go on in our other superficial consciousness and if you interpret it in that latter way, the idea of how to keep our reliance on the power of another is really a reliance on something deeper in yourself than yourself is consciousness, and that I think is the sense in which the profound the followers of the school of Buddhistic thought to understand doctrine. So the Miokone, As I said literally the wonderful fine fellow, is the kind of personality which this doctrine in Genesis Now what is he he’s the kind of person, who has realized through and through the fallibility of his own humanity is the kind of person who knows himself far away who has a rather wry and humorous view of his own own, shall we say his own high motivations and ideals. He knows himself thoroughly for the rascal that he is and doesn’t pretend to be anything.
And this. If that were all the word to it is a very likable former fellow from my point of view. I always feel uncomfortable with people who don’t have this realization of their own inherent rascality the people at pretensions to holiness and righteousness, who are so deceived as not to know that in their heart of hearts they are after all rapacious and selfish human beings. But the Miokonen makes no bones about this. He knows that’s what he is and he knows that by the exercise of his own will and his own intention and his own conscious effort, he can’t be anything else. And so there is in him a kind of fundamental honesty and sincerity from the start.
And, what he goes on to be beyond this is something a little different. Because a Miokonen is called a marvelous fine fellow, because somehow or other he does seem to transcend the ordinary kind of human rascality to become. A truly unselfish. A truly human being loving others, understanding others, sympathizing with others, a wonderful compassionate man. Because he has been unable to love himself, to accept himself in the profoundest possible way. For if you translate it into more modern and less symbolic language this idea. That by the mere repetition of a formula, by the mere act of faith in the power, a transcendent Divine Being, one is able to be saved or made a Buddha or perfected just as you are by an act of magic which lifts you up and transfers you to another realm.
If you were to translate that as I said, into a more contemporary way of talking. It would be to say something like this. That the intent of the symbology is to say that the condition of growing, psychologically and spiritually, is to let yourself and alone, and not to fight against what you are. The more you try to make yourself great. To make yourself unselfish, to make yourself loving, you are simply tying yourself psychically into a knot, a kind of paralyzed state, which makes it impossible for you to be anything except as we might say all balled up. But if on the other hand, you let go of yourself and do not try to change yourself, you relieve yourself from this inattention, you as it were, unblock the conduits of psychic energy within yourself by not straining on and are therefore enabled to grow naturally like a tree or a plant. And this is exactly the attitude of the Miokonen.
I think that one of the most fascinating of these characters as one who as a matter of fact did not actually belong to the Shin school of Buddhism. Although he as in many ways entire. The same spirit because of room there is not so much difference between this profound understanding of the Shin school and other types of Buddhism such as Zen. Zen is ordinarily understood to represent the extreme of the jiriki way, of fighting along by one’s own strength. But the intent of the jiriki emphasis of Zen, the self-powered , the willful, driving sense is something like this. To exert one’s will to the utmost in order to realize its futility to make the most desperate attempts to change one’s motivation and once conditioning in order to discover that in the last analysis it can’t be done and it is this and that it is merely the futile struggle to lift yourself up by your own bootstraps.
And so, as a result of this, the jiriki form but as I’m producing very often the same type of personality as the Tariki. And one of the most marvelous examples of the Spirit is a monk or I’d rather call him a hermit and poet by the name of Riokan, who lived between seventeen fifty eight and eight hundred thirty one. A man who is extraordinary in all the annals of sainthood and sanctity. For the reason that everybody loved him I don’t think he had any enemies at all, and this is really a very remarkable achievement. After all, it’s so easy to be so holy that you are a challenge to the world, and everybody feels uncomfortable in your presence feels an accused by your sanctity and given a bad conscience and result the result of that you get loathed, you make all sorts of enemies and finally you get crucified.
But it’s really a very remarkable achievement indeed to be all that and lovable and top. To be without enemies, the friend of everybody, and yet. Involving absolutely no compromise with one’s integrity and honesty. Such a man was Riokan, really marvelous. And many, many stories are told about him and I think these anecdotes about him describe his personality more delightful than anything I could say by way of a character analysis or comment in that fashion. First of all it was to be understood that the Miokonen, or the type of person like real can is one who has truly become again as a child. He’s not seen a whole he’s not in second childhood in that sense but a person who is really full of a genuine wonderful life. Who has some accepted himself some let go of him self is so you’re not pretending to be anything gives himself, no airs and graces that he can relax and be perfectly natural and so the story is told. That one day in Riokan was going along baking is food and he met friend invited him to spend the night at his home. Well, in the room where he stayed it was a picture of a tiger egging on the wall. And real can look for a long time in the picture and was so intrigued by it that after a while he came to feel that he himself was a tiger and he fell to the flaw and all running around on all fours he growled at the tiger in the picture he said and the Tiger seemed to look at him and answer him you know can again shout. And the Tiger seemed to answer and appeared to be going to approach him. And Riokan getting a great deal of fun out of this game repeated it many times. But just then a maid of the house. Appeared. And was quite astonished when she saw the priest on the spot. For a moment she didn’t understand what had happened and was very frightened and then she recognised him oh Rio comes up so it is you who frighten me so much what are you doing there. Startled by I have voice real can’t stop his game of imitation and shamefacedly spoke to her on his knees. Did you see what I was doing he asked you did oh that annoys me very much about good mate please keep it a secret otherwise I would not to do will know what to do for people will think I’m crazy.
And then there’s another story which tells of. A certain party who came to the little hermitage where he lived in the mountains. Bringing a letter from one of his friends. And just at that moment real count was absorbed. And trying to juggle his big bowl on the top of the poem. When the messenger called out and delivered his letter real can stop his juggling for a brief interval glanced over the letter and wrote his answer. The Baron made his departure. And Riokan resumed his play his bone time after time slipped down to the floor but again and again and set it up on top of the pole many hundred times that he struggled to accomplish this feat. And after some time the messenger returned Riokan was so engrossed in his play that he felt annoyed at this interruption and did not pay any attention to his visitor. While the boy waited for some time and finally called out in a large vise real grandson I look here what does this answer mean my master is angry with me and has ordered me to ask you to take back the letter you wrote before and give me your real answer please do. Riokan had pity on the intruder and opened the letter he had written only a short time before and what was his surprise when he read. The bone turns round round. He broke into laughter, Oh dear me excuse me I made a mistake exclaimed. He then wrote another letter. But as his mind was filled with thoughts of the bowl and into play the answer didn’t come easily. The great delight of real was playing with children in the village when he went down to make his food. And one fine autumn day when he was going quietly through the village he was suddenly disturbed by the sound of a voice. Apparently coming from a persistent tree. And turning his eyes to the place where the sound came from he’s discovered a boy clinging in great fright to the top most branches and crying for help. Oh wait a moment my boy he said I’ll help you down and then I’ll pick some of the fruit for him. Riokan brought the boy safely to the ground and then began to pick the coveted fruit. He plucked one percent when Mom was about to hand it to the child when he decided that it would do well to taste it first, in order to give away the very best the first persimmon was therefore thrust into his own mouth. How sweet he exclaimed he picked another and again stuffed it into his mouth. Good and again and again Simmons found their way into his mouth accompanied by the exclamation. Sweet our sweet. Meanwhile, the boy was waiting with open mouth at the foot of the tree, growing more desperate every moment. Riokan,last in rapture over the percent had entirely forgotten. Only when the boy shouted out in. Riokan to him selfe. Oh dear me he said Pardon me do forgive me I shall pick the best for you now the very best of all and as many as you like. Saying this Riokan dropped persimmons to the boy one by one all red am very sweet.
And then there was once someone told him that if you picked up money on the road it made you feel very happy. So, one day as he was traveling back to his home it if you thought he would try it and see what it was like. Accordingly, took some of the kindness which he had begged from the villagers and let them drop to the ground he didn’t pick them up one by one but though he did this many times, he didn’t experience any particular feeling of driveway I can’t understand it he said They tell me that it is pleasant. Surely they wouldn’t deceive me. He tried it again and again but always without and it was out. In the process of dropping and picking up his money he gradually lost all you had in the grass kind of a long time he had to search for the money, but he found it at last, and then when the crowd joy he exclaimed. Ah understand now to find money is certainly a delight. And once, when he was invited to stay in the home of some friends, they had to go out. And they asked him to watch the house and he got kind of sleepy. Cap was going to sleep on. Suddenly heard a funny noise, he thought it was a cat but there was the cannot sleep on his lap What was that Sam. You still need to the paper screen which separated the verandah from his run and peeped through it with childish curiosity. And there in his room, he saw a shabbily dressed man searching in a chest of drawers and taking clothes out of it. All he’s a sneak thief thought really count. Of course Riokan didn’t want a thief to take clothes from his friend’s house. So he made up his mind to frighten the robber and drive him away. And therefore crash into the room and stand behind the thief. And the robber, utterly ignorant of this, went out of the WRONG with a packet of clothes and hastened into another room to look for Mott and Riokan follow stealth any stepping always about ten feet behind him and when the robber turned to the left he also quickly went to the left and if the thief turned of the right real can do the same always just behind him another slight turn brought the robber almost in Riokan’s direction but the priest was so quick that the thief didn’t see him. It seemed a real count as if you were playing a game plan and, so absorbed had he become in the game, and before he knew it the thief had slipped away with a stolen package increased suddenly came to himself and realized what a serious mistake you made.
But his concern was not so much over the last thing his heart was full of pity for the feet. As he thought of his shabby clothes sad face. Late in the evening when the family returned them are full of dismay and they saw what happened but you can’t just. Sat in silence and smile as usual. And among his written effects was found as curious little document. It just said, favorite things, cotton cap, how paper than money ball and marbles. Necessities: bamboo hat, gloves, stick, well. Things for travel some clothes and oil cake a bowl in the back don’t forget to read this before stuff. Otherwise you will suffer from want.
He liked to smoke too. He was very fond of tobacco. And he always had a shabby old skin tobacco pouch which he kept his tobacco in very often it was empty and he would go out on the streets with his tobacco pouch tired at the end of a long stream down his back. People knew at once what he meant when they saw the power dangling behind him he would hasten to finish the tobacco. Among other things Riokan very famous as it can be great for years and writing was great it promised. And it was a bar to who used to go to be a. Very much wanted a specimen of his writing to hang on a crack in one of the hanging scroll as was not real congress wouldn’t get that. Well one day. In the middle of shaving his head in the bar stopped and left him and said Now I want to go on finish saving unless you give me the piece of writing I want so immediately real can write it for him. And then the barber finish shaving him the mother couldn’t read and some days later when somebody who could read came into his shop said Why this inscription is incomplete there’s a well missing so next time we’ll count came by. The Bible said but you didn’t write the full inscription or no I know he said I didn’t write the full inscription because you didn’t shave all of my hand the missing work you’ll find I’ve written the same inscription to put the missing word in twice at the home of an old widow who always gives me extra bean curd when I needed. Such, by anecdotes, is the temper of a man who is profoundly at home in the world. And difficult to think about, difficult to talk about. Because, to praise such a character is to tempt one, to imitate him. And one can only imitate him by not doing so at all, but by being just completely oneself.