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2020年10月 1日 (木)

Historical significance of funeral Buddhism / 葬式仏教の歴史的意義

This article is translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version). It is our blog post ("葬式仏教の歴史的意義/ Historical significance of funeral Buddhism" ) that introduced Masahide Bito's theory. Please refer to the original article for details.

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 It is commonly believed that both the danka system and the honmatsu system were created by the Edo shogunate to control religion after the country was closed to the outside world, but according to the aforementioned research by Mr. Takeda, 80% of private temples were established by 1643, just after the country was closed to the outside world.

 In light of this fact, it is reasonable to assume that the danka system and the honmatsu system were not artificially established by authority, but rather were spontaneous in their own right, and that the Edo shogunate merely used them for political purposes.

 The fact that temples came to be primarily responsible for funerals and memorial services for the dead is seen as an aberration from the original spirit of Buddhism, and for this reason it is often criticized as funeral Buddhism. However, while Japanese Buddhism, established in the fifteenth and sixth centuries, may have been different in character from that of India and China, the fact that all people were able to have funeral ceremonies performed after their deaths was an epochal change in comparison with the earlier period, and must have had significant implications for the spiritual life of the people. ka. Even though the Buddha we rely on may not be the same for each sect, whether it is Amitabha or Shakyamuni Buddha, if we die, we will receive a Buddhist funeral and will be able to go to the world of Buddha, there is nothing more reassuring to me as an individual. Supported by this sense of security, our actual social life will be enriched. This is the original meaning of Japanese funeral Buddhism, and it can be said that in this way the theory of Tendai Hongaku has become a reality.

 Giving the dead a precept name is a common custom in Japan, and the precept name is a name given to the monks who received the precepts. The fact that the precepts were given to anyone who died, perhaps in order to lead the dead to Buddhism, is a characteristic of Japanese Buddhism. The term "Hotoke" for the dead is not clear, but it seems to be a custom that began around this time.
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The above is a quote from the following book.
Bito Masahide "History of Japanese Culture" (2000) Iwanami Shinsho, pp.129-130

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