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HAKAMAYA Noriaki - Thoughts on the Ideological Background of Social Discrimination - p. 339

HAKAMAYA Noriaki - Thoughts on the Ideological Background of Social Discrimination - p. 339

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Published by Ɓuddhisterie
Thoughts on the Ideological Background of Social Discrimination
Thoughts on the Ideological Background of Social Discrimination

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Published by: Ɓuddhisterie on Jul 12, 2012
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Thoughts on the IdeologicalBackground of Social Discrimination
in a series of essays I have published this yearcriticizing the idea of “original enlightenment.”
One factor thatmakes the criticism of original enlightenment so dif³cult is thatso many inµuential intellectuals routinely and with such utter con³dencerepeat the idea that this doctrine represents the mainstream and quintes-sence of the Buddhist tradition. From there they go on to claim thatbecause the idea permeates the whole of Japanese culture, the ideals of peace and harmony were able to take ³rm hold in Japan. Rejecting thedoctrine of original enlightenment then becomes tantamount to rejectingthe best of—if not even the whole of—Japanese culture. I am not resort-ing here to hyperbole. One ³nds examples of such thinking everywhere,as for example in the following newspaper column by Umehara Takeshi:
[In contrast to my earlier ideas I now think that] Japanese Buddhism, while having the appearance of Buddhism, was greatly inµuenced by pre-Buddhist indigenous religion and thus became something quite distinct.Or perhaps it is better to say that Japanese Buddhism is the truly genuinedevelopment of the Mahayana Buddhist tradition—that Japan wasalready, in a latent form, a Mahayana country, so that with the introduc-tion of Buddhism the latent became manifest as Japan developed into an
Buddhist nation, unique in the world.…[Prince Shõtoku, who deserves the utmost credit for establishingBuddhism in Japan, tried to employ people of talent in governmentof³ces and to break the shackles of the clan system.] To accomplish thishe needed a philosophy of equality and unity, which Prince Shõtoku dis-covered in the
Šr‡m„l„dev‡ Sutra 
and the
Lotus Sutra 
, considered to bethe only sutras that teach Ekayana Buddhism. Prince Shõtoku later calledthis Eka-Mahayana.… He demonstrated that the doctrine of 
 was the other side of the coin of Ekayana thought.… After this,Japanese Buddhism developed along the lines of the
and Ekayana Buddhism advocated by Prince Shõtoku.…I especially wish to emphasize the uniquely Japanese development of this Ekayana Buddhism—where, unlike Indian or Chinese Buddhism,the doctrine of the Buddhahood of mountains, rivers, grasses, andstreams evolved. In other words, the Buddhist—especially MahayanaBuddhist—doctrine of equality went beyond humanity, to encompassthe whole of the natural world, beginning with animals and plants.… Inthis sense, though we often focus on the Buddhist assertion of humanequality alive in the national polity of Japan today, it is the extension of this equality to mountains, rivers, grasses, and trees—unique to JapaneseBuddhism—that is truly important, for it can stave off the destruction of nature resulting from the anthropocentric ideas so strong in Europeanthought. Ours is a doctrine essential to the future of humanity.
I hardly need mention that what Umehara calls “Ekayana Buddhism”or “
Buddhism” is what I mean by the doctrine of orig-inal enlightenment. If we follow his line of argument, we may well end upin the deluded notion that the Japanese alone, thanks to the doctrine of original enlightenment, have enjoyed a history of peace and equality, freeof war and slaughter. This kind of blithely authoritative attitude, com-pletely indifferent to the facts of the matter, combined with a loose logicthat mixes indigenous religiosity with Ekayana Buddhism (the problemlying not in the claim that Japanese Buddhism was strongly inµuenced by pre-Buddhist indigenous religiosity, but that prior to the introduction of Buddhism Japan was already a latently Mahayana country), are all typicalof the abuse perpetrated by a group of inµuential intellectuals who con-ceive of everything in terms of the doctrine of original enlightenment.It is not the purpose of this essay to go after Umehara’s ideas. I leavethat for another time. My aim is to show how the doctrine of originalenlightenment is representative of the very sort of establishment ideology that has been instilled in us unremittingly up to the present day, where itis typi³ed in thinkers like Umehara. The primary focus of my critique is,therefore, the institutionalized and authoritarian character of the doctrineof original enlightenment. In so doing, the critique runs the risk of beingitself politicized and removed from its academic moorings. There arealready some who claim that my criticisms are too hasty and lacking inscholarly rigor. They say that I have strayed from my own ³eld of exper-tise and trespassed into the territory of others in an attempt to cause
havoc; or that I split hairs over trivial details, throw out the baby with thebath, miss the whole picture, and so on. Nothing would please me morethan if the publication of this essay would provoke direct criticism of my ideas without getting tangled up in tangential issues. I say this because Iam convinced that Prince Shõtoku’s constitutional mandate to “valueharmony”—usually lauded as a Buddhist sentiment—is, in fact, political. Actually, I do not see any reason to make a big fuss over the critiqueof the doctrine of original enlightenment. Quite the contrary, I believethat a simply unbiased look will disclose its authoritarian and institutionalnature. I cannot resist repeating the words of Motoori Norinaga, whohad the following to say when asked why he was more critical of Confucianism than Buddhism:
Buddhism is a disorderly and composite tradition, and of course differsfrom the Way. Its harm is obvious and easily seen, and has already beenargued by the Confucian scholars in China and in contemporary times by the Shintoists of our own country. There is thus no need to burden our-selves with repeating these arguments all over again. Confucian thought,in contrast, is not as obviously harmful or as obviously loathsome.Lacking this sort of reputation, and with explanations and doctrines that,on the surface, seemed entirely in keeping with the Principle (
),these teachings have long been commonly believed. Even among thelearned, there were none who did not base themselves in this thought. Inmodern times one occasionally ³nds Shintoists who criticize this way of thinking, but by failing to plumb the depths of what they are criticizing,they eventually slip back into the selfsame Confucian beliefs. Of old few have truly understood this mistake, and hence, because the Way seems at³rst glance to be without harm, the depth and measure of its harm sur-passes that of Buddhism.
It is the “obvious harm” of the doctrine of original enlightenment,then, that I shall endeavor to point out in this essay. As to the question of the “depth and measure” of the harm of the Confucian Way, I will leavethat for another day.
In his discussion of 
in Sõtõ Zen,
Ishikawa Rikizan provided aconcrete and exhaustive investigation of how, in a Japanese cultural climatethat placed great value on secret transmissions,
played asigni³cant role in the development of the Sõtõ community from medieval

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