Neo-Confucian traditions are believed to have had a pervasive influence on early modern Japanese religion, particularly in the area of mind-cultivation and its ethical implications. In this essay I would like to test this hypothesis by investigating views of the mind or heart (shin, kokoro) in two religious groups that originated during the late Tokugawa and early Meiji periods. Misogi-kyo and Maruyama-kyo are both relatively obscure and retain only small numbers of members today, but in their formative phases they shared important characteristics with other "new religions" that later became better known. Before discussing the history of these movements and their teachings in detail, however, a few remarks about popular religious thought in Tokugawa Japan are in order.
During the Tokugawa period, many Confucian scholars were intensely interested in the workings of the mind and in the relationship between these processes and moral life. Whether scholars identified themselves with the teachings of the Sung scholars, especially the Cheng brothers and Chu Hsi, or with the reinterpretations developed in the Ming period by Wang Yang-ming and his followers, all affirmed the important role of the mind in moral development. These ideas about the mind and its cultivation, particularly those associated with the Cheng-Chu tradition, gradually made themselves felt outside the halls of domain schools and private academies run by Confucian scholars. The vernacular writings of Kaibara Ekken (1630-1714), for example, as well as many lesser-known Confucian scholars, eventually led to significant popularization of the notion that mind-discipline leads to social well-being. Neo-Confucian ideas about the mind also circulated in Tokugawa society under the auspices of non-Confucian systems of knowledge. One could include in this category Shinto theories, according to which the mind in its pure, moral state is the dwelling place of the gods (kami)--a mode of thought found especially in early Tokugawa Shinto formulations that were influenced by Sung Neo-Confucian ideas.
Zen Buddhists, for their part, had been spreading ideas about the mind in certain sectors of Japanese society long before the Tokugawa; upper-class lay people had become familiar with the idea of cultivating the mind through such Zen-associated practices as the tea ceremony, garden-viewing, and swordsmanship. But from the seventeenth century, Suzuki Shosan (1579-1655), Munan Shido (1603-1676), Bankei Yotaku (1622-1693), and other Zen popularizers preached about the Buddha-mind, no-mind, or original mind directly to common people. The stage
was now set for popular syntheses of Buddhist and Neo-Confucian ideas of mind-cultivation, such as we find in Sekimon Shingaku, founded by the merchant Ishida Baigan (1685-1744). Later, several new religious movements of the nineteenth century drew directly on Neo-Confucian mind-learning to advocate the rectification, purification, or calming of the mind as a foundation for good social relations. Helen Hardacre believes, for example, that Kurozumi-kyo's founder, Kurozumi Munetada (1780-1850), was influenced by Neo-Confucian ideas of the mind, probably as mediated by Shingaku.
Yasumaru Yoshio argued over twenty years ago that early modern popular thinkers were centrally concerned with conceptions of the mind and human nature. He cited, among others, Ishida Baigan, who claimed that "all things derive from the mind" and (in vintage Neo-Confucian fashion) praised the state in which "one takes heaven-and-earth and all things to be one's self." Yasumaru duly pointed out that despite the idealistic tone of this way of thinking, it did not foster a passive, other-worldly attitude; on the contrary, it strengthened the role of the individual self in religious experience. Baigan, as well as the later agrarian thinkers Ninomiya Sontoku (1787-1856) and Ohara Yugaku (1797-1858), spoke out against "magical-type" folk beliefs (ideas about fox-spirits, goblins, apparitions, inauspicious days, and so forth). These and other popular morality teachers, argued Yasumaru, firmly believed in the limitless potential of the human mind and therefore downplayed the existence of spiritual forces beyond human control. Moreover, these teachers` theoretical formulations about the mind ("philosophies of the mind-and-heart," kokoro no tetsugaku) ultimately justified and reinforced the "common moral values" (tsuzoku dotoku) of the time--honesty, frugality, filial piety, loyalty, diligence, and harmony--values that buttressed the Tokugawa social hierarchy.
Yasumaru thus concluded that while these ideas about the mind stimulated the development of a sense of individuality among commoners, they also encouraged an attitude of modest submissiveness. He detected this paradoxical combination of a developed sense of self and conventional moral piety not only in late Tokugawa moral teachers, but also in the founders of new religions, such as Kurozumi Munetada, Kawate Bunjiro (1814-1883), Nakayama Miki (1798-1887), and Ito Rokurobei (1829-1894).
Despite her significant differences with Yasumaru, Helen Hardacre agrees with his premise that moral cultivation centered on the mind or heart was a dominant influence in the formation of the new religions of the nineteenth century. In fact, extrapolating from her study of Kurozumi-kyo, and other groups, she suggests that the worldview of Japanese new religions in general may be related to the Neo-Confucian premise that self-cultivation is the foundation of social well-being.
After citing one of Tu Wei-ming's succinct characterizations of this mode of thought, she concludes:
This complex of ideas about the self is found in the world view of the new religions stated in other idioms, using different terminology but identical in structure. This is not to say that the world view is historically derived whole in any direct way from Neo-Confucian thought, but the similarity in orientation is striking.
The idea of cultivating the self, more specifically the mind/heart, is indeed a common emphasis in many of today's new religions. But the tentative tone of Hardacre's last remark above is well advised; correlations between self-cultivation and social perfection in nineteenth-century Japanese religion are best understood as complex, shifting syntheses of Buddhist, Shinto, Confucian, and other traditions. In some cases, the synthesis is indeed dominated by Neo-Confucian mind-learning; in others, however, the emphasis on mind and moral values is unrelated to any identifiably "Neo-Confucian" body of ideas. In the following pages, l shall discuss examples of both configurations in late Tokugawa and early Meiji religion.
The Origins of Misogi-kyo
Misogi-kyo was one of the thirteen religious groups designated "Sect Shinto" (shuha shinto) by the Meiji government. It has never been a large movement (in 1995 it reportedly had a membership of 99,180), but, like the better-known Kurozumi-kyo, with which it shares several features, its early history and teachings vividly illustrate the religious world of late Tokugawa Japan. The group has its origins in the activities and teachings of Inoue Masakane (1790-1849), son of a samurai employed in the domain of Tatebayashi (in today's Gunma Prefecture). When Inoue was eighteen, he practiced Zen under the guidance of Tetsuyu Zenni, an Obaku nun in the lineage of Shoto Mokuan (1611-1648). A year later, he set off on a journey to seek the guidance of various Shinto, Confucian, and Buddhist teachers, and eventually completed a stint in the Chinese medicine school of Nagata Tokuhon (1513-1630). By the age of twenty-five, Inoue began training under the Kyoto physiognomist Mizuno Nanboku. He underwent a strict regimen, carrying out menial work for his teacher and restricting himself to simple food and dress. It was reportedly during this time that Inoue learned to regulate his breath by concentrating it below his navel. After mastering the disciplines of the Nanboku school, the young man (now twenty-eight) moved to Edo and began practicing divination (under the name Shueki). The following year he added finger-pressure therapy (shiatsu ryoho) to his growing repertoire of physical and spiritual skills.
From about this time Inoue started to formulate his own system of
therapeutic arts. He began to attract a small following, supporting himself in the meantime by practicing medicine (under the name Toen). But his search was not yet over. At the age of forty-four he happened to hear some Shinto teachings from an old woman in the Tatebayashi domainal residence in Edo; he is said to have been profoundly moved and subsequently had a "divine dream" (shinmu) that inspired him to take up the "way of the gods." The next year (1834) he returned to Kyoto and enrolled in the Shirakawa (Hakke) school of Shinto, where he was initiated into ritual ablution (misogi) and, reportedly, breath-control practices. When he was forty-seven, Inoue received approval from the Jingikan to carry out Shinto worship rituals, and, two years later, he was permitted to supervise miko ceremonial duties. In 1840, he became shrine priest of the Umeda Shinmei Shrine in Musashi (under the name Shikibu).
Once he obtained this official status, Inoue began to propagate in earnest the purification rituals that were to become the central practices of Misogi-kyo. But by 1841, his teaching activities had aroused the suspicions of the Superintendent of Temples and Shrines (Jisha bugyo), and he was imprisoned along with his wife, Onari. The Shirakawa house appealed to the Superintendent to remove the charges, but with little success--though Inoue was transferred to the custody of the Umeda community. The following year, he wrote a summary of his teachings and presented it to the authorities, presumably in order to exonerate himself. But the office of the Superintendent continued to view Inoue and his teachings as a potential threat to the public order, and exiled him to Miyakejima. He is said to have occupied himself there by healing the ill, praying for rain, building shrines, supervising silkworm cultivation, and building reservoirs. He died in exile at the age of sixty.
Inoue's followers persevered in their efforts to spread his teachings, provoking the shogunate to suppress the group further in 1862. After the Restoration, however,Inoue's wife, his senior disciple, Uneme, and Inoue himself (posthumously) were pardoned by the new Meiji state. In 1872 the movement was officially recognized under the name Tohokami-ko, and allowed to propagate its teachings publicly. The group changed its name to Misogi-kyo in 1876, and in 1894 the government designated it an independent religious sect.
Inoue Masakane's Teachings
The Shirakawa school of Shinto, into which Inoue had been initiated, placed priority on ritual activities--its theoretical teachings were not as elaborate as those of the Yoshida and Suika houses. In fact, Edo-period Shirakawa thinkers drew directly on Suika Shinto for inspiration, and were evidently influenced by Yoshida Shinto as well. Given the title of his chief work, "Questions and Answers about Yuiitsu Shinto" (Shinto
yuiitsu mondo) we may assume that Inoue was referring, at least obliquely, to the Yuiitsu tradition formulated by Yoshida Kanetomo (1435-1515) and developed further by Yoshikawa Koretaru (1616-1694). We noted above that Koretaru's theories contained a heavy dose of Neo-Confucian thought. As Peter Nosco has pointed out, Koretaru's ideas resembled the Shinto speculations of such Neo-Confucian scholars as Hayashi Razan (1583-1657):
[B]oth...shared the belief that human nature, the mind or heart, and the godhead within man were differing aspects of essentially the same metaphysical phenomenon; and both theorized that the inner godhead became obscured by desires and wants, and that in order for man to return to the pristine goodness he enjoyed at birth, he must align himself with this godhead within and the gods of heaven without.
Koretaru placed particular emphasis on the idea of makoto, sincerity, and taught both inner and outer forms of ritual purification (harai). The external form of purification was ritual cleansing (misogi) while internal purification meant the cultivation of a pure, moral mind. All of these themes are found in Inoue's teachings, as we shall see.
The Misogi-kyo founder gained considerable inspiration from Neo-Confucian traditions--not only as mediated by the Yoshida and Suika schools of Shinto, but also through his own exposure to Neo-Confucian learning. As the son of a samurai, he had been educated in the basic Confucian texts and their Neo-Confucian commentaries. In "Questions and Answers about Yuiitsu Shinto," he freely quotes from the Four Books, and refers to the teachings of the Cheng brothers, Chu Hsi, and Wang Yang-ming, as well as to Ancient Learning (Kogaku). But Inoue, writing in the nativist climate of late Tokugawa, also emphasized that "the source [of these Confucian teachings] is the tradition of the gods; everything [in them] is based on the Nihon shoki (Chronicles of Japan) and the Kojiki (Record of ancient matters)." Despite its commonalities with Shinto teachings, for Inoue, Confucian learning was clearly a secondary expression of the truth. He felt that the way of the Five Confucian Virtues was a foreign teaching "based on writings and books"--not the pristine truth of Japan. The ethical and social principles needed for governing the nation and maintaining civil harmony had been transmitted to the Japanese people by the gods. They had not been created by human beings--whether by Confucius in China or by Shinto teachers like himself in Japan.
Inoue took a similar approach to Buddhist teachings. In his "Questions and Answers about Yuiitsu Shinto," Inoue rarely uses Buddhist terms and does not cite Buddhist sources. But unlike Hirata Atsutane (who himself had been active in the Shirakawa school), Inoue did not stridently criticize Buddhist or Confucian teachings; he simply
suggested that both traditions were auxiliary to the teaching of the gods. Not surprisingly, given the intertwining of Buddhist and Shinto rituals and institutions in pre-Meiji Japan, the founder of Misogi-kyo was quite open to Buddhist practices and ideas. We know that he had dabbled in Obaku Zen in his youth, and even in his late years he affirmed the value of such practices as the nenbutsu, or invocation of Amida. And, although Inoue takes pains to justify his emphasis on breath control by citing passages from the "Age of the Gods" chapter of the Nihon shoki and the Kujiki (Record of old things), he surely drew (even if unawares) on a long tradition of Buddhist-Shinto synthesis in his detailed program of breath regulation and chanting (discussed below).
In general, however, like the founders of other new religions, Inoue presented his teaching as an alternative to all established traditions--Confucian, Buddhist and even Shinto. He criticized the "Shinto priests of the world" (seken shinshoku); although they were instructed in the niceties of Shinto ceremonies, they lacked the correct internal attitude (kokoro), which Inoue viewed as the foundation of authentic ritual life.
Inoue's innovation vis-a-vis established Shinto was precisely his attempt to revive this Yoshida-type emphasis on the mind through a concrete program of lay praxis. To begin with, he was unusually attentive to the bodily dimension of self-cultivation, undoubtedly because of his early grounding in medical and other physically oriented forms of knowledge. Misogi-kyo followers today believe that the practices Inoue advocated not only deepen one's faith, dissolve one's sins, and lead to a pure inner state (makoto), but also eliminate illness. Food and exercise are considered important areas of religious concern. In accordance with the austere example of the founder, Misogi-kyo members are encouraged to eat simple food in limited quantities and to dress in plain clothing, so as to inhibit the development of such personal defects as greed, irritability, insensitivity to other people's suffering, and poor health.
The central theme of all Misogi practice, however, is purification. The main ritual is centered on a well-known Shinto formula called the "threetype" or "triple" purification (sanju no harai): Tohokami emitame, haraitamai kiyometamai (roughly, "Distant gods, please bless us; exorcise [evil from us], purify us"). Traditionally, the Triple Purification has been carried out during a retreat of three days' duration. On the first day, followers intone the formula intensively (several hundred times) and verse themselves in the path of "utmost sincerity" (shisei) by expounding the group's scriptures. On the second day, they strive to cultivate a profound sense of shame for the offenses and errors they have committed, and on the third day, they acknowledge the power of the gods of heaven and earth (tenjin chigi) by prostrating themselves before the sanctuary of the kami.
The Triple Purification ritual is closely related to the breathing dis-
ciplines developed by Inoue. Members are taught to exhale in a rhythmic fashion as they chant the invocation; they are thereby blowing away their accumulated sins, faults, and curses (tatari). It is believed that when practitioners reach a point of extreme intensity in their breathing/chanting--when they can barely draw another breath or pronounce another chant--they will suddenly feel a tremendous sense of joy. At that point, they will attain the true mind (makoto no kokoro) and will no longer be troubled by the "mind of delusion"--personal desires for clothing, food, or shelter. They will simply be overwhelmed with gratitude toward the kami for the blessings they have received.
Inoue advocated a regular breathing exercise (called Nagayo no den) to supplement and ensure the successful completion of the Triple Purification. He advised his followers to carry out the Nagayo exercise daily for the amount of time it takes to burn one incense stick. The discipline involves drawing breath through the nose down to the area below the navel and exhaling it in a narrow stream from the mouth. One must draw the breath gently into the abdominal area, without allowing any bloating, and then softly push it out again. Inoue taught that the breathing exercise would produce significant benefits: one would be imbued with divine virtue, freed from one's errors, and blessed with good fortune. One's moral behavior would improve and one's mental anxieties diminish. In fact, in Misogi-kyo, practicing the breathing exercise is considered a more effective means of removing personal defects and troubles in life than attempting to address these problems directly. Whenever "delusion," "carelessness," or "fearfulness" arises, Inoue suggested, one may best dispel it by chanting the Triple Purification formula and controlling one's breath. The chanting and the breathing, in his view, were not episodic rituals; they constituted a daily program of self-cultivation.
Breath regulation clearly functions in Misogi-kyo as a means for calming the mind. In this respect the practice is comparable to Neo-Confucian quiet-sitting or to certain phases of Buddhist meditation. But the Misogi interpretation of breathing includes cosmological elaborations that draw on a peculiar strain of vitalistic thought. Inoue taught that the breath of heaven-and-earth gives life to all beings: breath is the generative force of the universe. By disciplining one's own breathing, one can return to the source of the universe--that is, to a state of "unity between kami and human beings" (shinjin goichi). Indeed, it is because people are fundamentally one with heaven ("share the same principle," tenjin ichiri) that they cannot live without breathing. Further, as the vital essence of human beings, breath is also intimately related to the workings of the mind--and, by extension, to one's moral life. According to Inoue, "if one's breathing is correct, one's mind will be correct, and [therefore] one's actions will be correct. If one's breathing is
not correct and is defiled, one's mind will be evil and [thus] one's actions will be incorrect."
The ritual chanting and regulation of breath, then, were specifically designed to foster an upright, selfless state of mind. In the Misogi framework, the workings of the mind are the key to religious fulfillment. Inoue taught that people enmeshed in their own thinking and planning (hakarai) alienate themselves from their divinely endowed power and virtue. In comments reminiscent of Shinyaku sermons on eliminating self-centered calculation in order to uncover one's original mind, lone advised his followers to attend carefully to their thought processes:
People whose thinking is based on their own planning separate [themselves] from the light of the gods by means of their own thought. All one's thinking and planning [come from] the proud mind that believes "I am wise." When the thinking of this proud mind emerges, it distances [one from] the light of the gods, and [the gods'] protection becomes weak. If one simply eliminates, over and over, the mind that believes "I am wise," and [instead] thinks "I am foolish," and if one preserves the [gods'] teaching, then through the light of the gods, one will understand the principles of things, and one will become serene in both mind and body.
Inoue linked this purified state of mind with the fulfillment of common moral values and the corollary attainment of social harmony. The ultimate purpose of Misogi-kyo was to enable followers to become free of their self-centered thinking and to live a life of consideration for others. The founder emphasizes repeatedly in his writings that the enactment of his teaching will have beneficial social effects. "If you carry this system out properly, there is no doubt that you will personally become serene and your family well ordered; your descendants will be long-lived, harmonious, and prosperous."
Inoue elaborates on this way of thinking by suggesting that the minds of other people are mirrors that reflect the good and bad features of one's own mind. "When my mind is evil, the minds of the people who encounter me are evil. When my mind is good, the minds of the people who encounter me are good...." In short, everything depends on one's own state of mind--"knowing oneself" is therefore a matter of the "utmost importance." Hardacre has identified this way of thinking ("other people are mirrors") as a common feature of the worldview of the new religions. Her further implication, that the worldview behind the "mirror" mentality is rooted in Neo-Confucian thought, is certainly borne out in the case of Misogi-kyo. Inoue concludes his gloss on the mirror-like quality of people's minds in familiar Neo-Confucian cadences: "Consequently, when the mind of head of the household is correct, then everyone in the household will be correct; when the head of the nation is correct, then the entire nation will be correct." For good
measure, he backs up his remarks by quoting from their locus classicus, the Great Learning. "If one family is humane, then the whole nation will develop humaneness; if one family is modest, then the whole nation will develop modesty.... This is called ...'one person determines the nation.' "
This emphasis on the correct state of the mind was related, as in Shingaku, to an affirmation and even sanctification of accepted moral standards. Inoue advised a female disciple, for example, to improve relations with her husband simply by abandoning her self-centered thinking and entrusting herself to her husband's judgment. By deferring to her husband and "harmonizing with his mind," she would be harmonizing with the mind of the gods. This in turn would invite the gods' protection and endow her with divine virtue and power. Ultimately, Inoue predicted, the gods would unify her mind with her husband's: "they will make your thinking and your husband's thinking the same." In Inoue's view, unity with the mind of the kami implied unity with others, though mostly in accordance with the mores of his time, such as wifely submissiveness.
Hardacre notes that the "other people are mirrors" idea contains "a tacit message that the self can control any situation." In other words, the focus on internal attitude ultimately empowers the individual to some extent, even when that individual is caught in a nexus of restrictive, hierarchical social relations. Some social statuses are more restrictive than others, however; it is notable in this regard that neither Inoue Masakane nor Kurozumi Munetada was at the lowest level of the Tokugawa social order. Both founders held samurai rank, and their most committed followers, like those of the late Shingaku movement, were landed farmers, village headmen, merchants, and, not infrequently, local samurai. Focusing on their inner selves may well have empowered such constituents, who already possessed a modicum of religious and social autonomy. But the teachings of Inoue and Kurozumi apparently did not appeal in this way to impoverished peasants, at least not on a large scale. We must then consider the type of religious system that did attract many followers from the less-privileged sectors of nineteenth-century Japanese society, and ask what role, if any, the Neo-Confucian paradigm of self-cultivation played in this kind of system.
The Early History of Maruyama-kyo
In his seminal discussion of the "philosophy of the mind," Yasumaru Yoshio gave detailed attention to the origins of an early Meiji religion called Maruyama-kyo. The group was founded by Ito Rokurobei (1829-1894), a farm laborer of Noborito village, in today's Kawasaki (in north-eastern Kanagawa Prefecture). Rokurobei was born into a poor peasant family, the Kiyomiya. At the age of fourteen, he went into service as
farmhand with another local family. After a period of ten years, during which he was reportedly imbued with the value of hard work and thrift by his employer, Rokurobei married Sane, the eldest daughter of the Ito family, and was adopted as that family's eldest son. The Itos engaged in small-scale agriculture and trade in Noborito.
The members of the main branch of Ito Rokurobei's birth family, the Kiyomiya, were hereditary Fuji-ko guides (sendatsu) who were responsible for the local Fuji mound (Fuji-zuka) in Noborito. They were apparently involved in a Fuji association called Maruyama-ko, which had been active in the Noborito area from late Tokugawa times. As a member of the Kiyomiya family, Ito was immersed in Fuji beliefs and practices from early childhood; he is said to have experienced the power of Fuji several times as he grew up, particularly when he recovered from grave illnesses with the assistance of Fuji devotees' prayers and faith. He became an avid believer especially after the last such recovery, at the age of twenty-five. After this experience Ito began to contemplate the word "mind" in the phrase kokushin.
It was not until later, however, that Ito initiated his own form of religious practice and belief. In 1870, his wife Sane became critically ill. An ascetic devoted to the worship of Fudo Myo, was brought in to pray for Sano's recovery, and in the course of his rituals, the ascetic was possessed by Sengen Daibosatsu, the deity of Mt. Fuji. Subsequently, Sane recovered, but as Ito was carrying out rituals to thank the god, he himself was possessed by Sengen. The deity complained about having been constrained to use the body of the "inauspicious" Fudo ascetic, and ordered Ito to act as his "intermediary" (toritsugi) from then on.
Ito, soon began to carry out arduous austerities, beginning with a twenty-one-day fast that culminated in the realization of his oneness with "the gods of heaven and earth" and his adoption of the title "the earth god's single-minded ascetic" (chi no kami isshin gyoja). After that he performed the shikimi discipline in order to reestablish the "original condition of the world and humankind." The practice involved circumambulating Mt. Fuji on tiptoe (tsumadate [sic]) for a period of fourteen days while holding a banner that displayed the saying "Great Peace in the World" (tenka taihei). This act was, in effect, a ritual re-creation of the world originally intended by the god of Fuji; it signaled the commencement of the new Maruyama teaching.
Ito, continued to carry out various ascetic practices, especially fasting, water disciplines, and smoke austerities. He also became known for his healing skills, which attracted numerous visitors to his house. Before long, his unusual activities attracted the attention of the local authorities. In 1873 and again in 1874, he was arrested on charges of attracting followers through illegal religious activities, and was frequently investigated by the police thereafter. In the meantime, because of his
increasing involvement in ritual austerities, Ito had been neglecting the family business, and his relatives now began strongly and actively opposing his religious activities. Faced with these challenges to his faith, in 1874 Ito ascended Mt. Fuji once again, this time determined to fast to death (danjiki nyujo)--no doubt inspired by the example of the Tokugawa Fuji leader, Jikigyo Miroku (1671-1733). Just at this point, Shishino Nakaba (1844-84), a Fuji believer who had recently resigned his post at the Ministry of Religious Education (Kyobusho) in order to concentrate on developing his own organization, Fuji Issan Kosha, became interested in Maruyama and sent a messenger to persuade the fasting Ito to meet him.
The encounter reportedly took place on the slopes of Fuji, and the two leaders decided to join forces. Ito, formally affiliated himself with Fuji Issan Kosha, and when Shishino subsequently created a Fuji group called Fuso-kyo in 1876, Ito became one of its senior guides. The Maruyama leader was now associated with an officially approved religious organization; in 1879, he was provisionally appointed a kyodoshoku (Doctrinal Instructor) by the Ministry of Religious Education and permitted to spread his faith, though always within the ideological limits specified by the authorities. The group's membership increased greatly; in 1880 one of its ceremonies reportedly attracted 100,000. Its success was probably due, at least in part, to the perceived efficacy of Maruyama healing practices during a time when epidemics were rampant in the Kanto area.
In 1885, a year after Shishino died, Ito broke with Fuso-kyo and placed his group under the jurisdiction of the Shinto Jimukyoku (Bureau of Shinto Affairs). During this period the movement spread significantly to the west and north, though most followers lived in the Tokyo and Yokohama areas. It became especially popular in rural areas of Shizuoka, where members reportedly joined the campaign for the establishment of a national assembly and, under the auspices of debtors' political organizations (Shakkinto and Fusaito), instigated a revolt against bankers and wealthy farmers. It is mostly because of these political involvements in Shizuoka that Maruyama has been considered an early Meiji example of the "world renewal" (yonaoshi) movements, often associated with peasant rebellions, that began to appear during the late Tokugawa.
Maruyama allegedly boasted over ten million members by 1892. But the movement had already begun to suffer from a lack of internal organization, and by Ito's death in 1894, the group was in serious decline. According to Yasumaru, Maruyama-kyo assimilated elements from the Hotoku movement, concentrated on teaching the "common moral values" of diligence and thrift, and soon lost its earlier critical stance toward the Meiji state. Today's group, still headquartered in Kawasaki, has a membership of about 11,000.
Maruyama-kyo in Its Religious and Political Context
Maruyama-kyo inherited the Fuji beliefs and practices developed in the Edo period by Kakugyo Tobutsu, Jikigyo Miroku, and their followers. Like the earlier believers, Maruyama-kyo members deeply revered Mt. Fuji (referred to as Sanmyo tokai san) and identified it with the deity Sengen Daibosatsu. They also believed that Mt. Fuji was intimately related to the sun, which they considered the source of all things in the universe. Maruyama thus strongly affirmed the value of life in this world and associated the power of Mt. Fuji and the sun with agricultural productivity. The founder emphasized the agrarian dimension of Fuji devotion even more than the earlier Fuji teachers.
Maruyama also inherited the ritual and ascetic traditions established by Kakugyo and Jikigyo. Religious disciplines had been carried out in the mountains since the early stages of Japanese history, and over the centuries these practices, systematized under the rubric of Shugendo, were heavily influenced by Buddhist rituals and ideas. Both Kakugyo and Jikigyo had bypassed Fuji Shugendo, and use few Buddhist terms in their writings, but their occasional references to the Buddha are not strongly critical in tone. Ito, on the other hand, lived a good portion of his life in the anti-Buddhist climate of the early Meiji, and his writings vividly record his ongoing polemic against Buddhist institutions and ideas. The founder had undoubtedly become quite familiar with nativist critiques of Buddhism, perhaps through his association with Shishino (the founder of Fuso-kyo)--a Hirata follower employed by the Kyobusho during its early, most anti-Buddhist phase.
True to the conventional wisdom of the time, Ito implies in his Oshirabe that Buddhist beliefs are mistakenly focused on life in the next world and deny the value of present reality. He gives a peculiar agrarian twist to this critique, arguing that Buddhist teachings deny the principle of growth of natural phenomena, especially grains, and that Buddhism therefore works against the happiness of human beings, who derive their sustenance from the products of this growth. Along this line, for example, Ito condemns the Buddhist use of roasted beans (irimame) on Setsubun (the day marking the beginning of spring):
Scattering roasted beans on Setsubun--that is a Buddhist practice.... Shinto is a wide path: [one] takes the true seed of all things, and year after year enjoys sowing it and harvesting [its fruits]. Flowers do not blossom from roasted beans. If you sow fresh beans, they will undoubtedly sprout, blossom, and produce [new beans]. In Maruyama, it is forbidden to scatter roasted beans [on Setsubun].
Ito's wish to purge Fuji devotion of its lingering Buddhist flavor is perhaps best illustrated by his complete rewriting of the nenbutsu, the invocation of Amida Buddha traditionally chanted by Fuji devotees.
Instead of Namu Amida Butsu, Ito wrote Namu amita usu, giving each character in the phrase a new interpretation that, in his view, more closely reflected Fuji beliefs and peasant concerns. The net effect of Ito's reformulation of the nenbutsu is a renewed affirmation of the value of farm labor and its products, which are interpreted as blessings received from the sun/Mt. Fuji.
Devotion to mountain kami is an aspect of early Japanese religion that came to be designated "Shinto," and Fuji associations are sometimes categorized under this rubric. In the Meiji period, the government classified new Fuji groups as "Sect Shinto," shuha Shinto. However, like the Tokugawa Fuji leaders, Ito maintained an independent stance with regard to all established religion; his alienation from Buddhism is paralleled by an explicit critique and reinterpretation of long-held Shinto traditions. Ito claimed, for example, that Amaterasu's grandson, Ninigi no Mikoto, traditionally regarded as the direct ancestor of the Imperial line, had failed in his original mission of ruling the world, and that the Imperial lineage (including the Meiji Emperor) therefore had deviated from the true way of the gods.
This idea helped fuel the founder's attitude toward the ruling authorities of his time. The millenarian tendencies of earlier Fuji believers had remained relatively subdued and inarticulate, no doubt partly because of shogunal repression; but in his writings, Ito openly censures the policies of the early Meiji state, especially the bunmei kaika or "civilization and enlightenment" campaign. As far as Ito was concerned, "civilization is the fall of humankind." Unlike most opposition activists of the time (whether so-called liberals or conservatives), the Maruyama leader looked back to Tokugawa times with not a little nostalgia. He was against not only Western clothes, hairstyles, medicine, the solar calendar, and Christianity, but also the activities of the Liberal Party (Jiyuto) and the establishment of a national Diet. He made the dire prediction that "the Western civilization countries, the Japanese National Assembly, the Treaty Revisions, the Liberal Party, and the Buddhist priests will perish." Ito had been a Doctrinal Instructor from the late 1870s, and presumably expounded regularly on the Three Standards of Instruction (sanjo no kyosoku), an ideological formula that emphasized reverence for the Emperor. Nevertheless, in his writings Ito insisted that the Emperor was responsible for the sociocultural chaos of the times. "The Emperor...is to worship the sun and moon above, and to preserve the country below. He has forgotten this." The Maruyama founder directly attributed the disorder of the early Meiji to the wrongful thinking of the Emperor.
To Ito almost all the Japanese people of his day seemed to be abandoning their true minds-and-hearts and falling into evil ways of thinking, thereby dooming themselves to ultimate destruction. It was
only by returning to long-cherished moral and religious ideals that people would be able to save themselves from that fate. Such predictions were quite persuasive to people in some quarters of Meiji society, given the visible effects in the 1880s of the state's deflationary monetary policies. During these years, especially in the Kanto area, less-privileged rural dwellers suffered bankruptcy, famine, disease, and death in great numbers. The desperation of peasants led to several rebellions; we noted above that Maruyama-kyo, constituents were allegedly involved in uprisings in Shizuoka.
In general, the Maruyama program focused on ascetic and ritual praxis, rather than on a concrete program of social change. Nevertheless, the founder maintained a critical and at times apocalyptic stance vis-a-vis the existing social order, apparently well into his last years.
The Role of the Mind in Maruyama Religious Life
Having reviewed the history and general context of Maruyama-kyo's early development, we turn now to the founder's view of the mind, its function in religious practice, and its relation to moral life. Ito believed the mind or heart was the same as the soul (tamashii) and that it dwelled in the physical body. His concept of the mind is illustrated by his rewriting of the word mu in the phrase Namu Amida Butsu. He separates the different elements of the character mu into three components (from the top down), and pronounces this hitoshigokoro. The notion of hitoshigokoro, "equal mind" or "identical mind," signifies that the mind of human beings is fundamentally the same as the mind of Fuji, or the original Parent God. The premise here is that human beings originally derived from the Parent God, and are therefore composed of the same divine substance. Once one understands the true meaning of the character mu/hitoshigokoro, one realizes that one's own mind is integrally related to God's mind, and that it is therefore "a limitless thing, a precious thing." In short, Inoue avers that the human mind is part of Fuji's mind: "[Fuji's] ground-mind (chishin [sic]) is accumulated from our part-minds (ichibushin). When we conceal this part-mind, it becomes dark. The mind is an extremely important thing.,.." For although the human mind is ultimately identified with Fuji, with kami in general, and with the heaven they inhabit, human beings themselves are creatures of the earth. "Human beings, of the earth, should follow heaven, [which is] of the mind."
There is a need, then, for some sort of mind-discipline, The importance of the condition of the mind becomes clear in another of Ito's glosses on the meaning of the nenbutsu:
Namu is not a Buddhist thing. In the Way of the Gods [it is] transformed into juhachihan and hitoshigokoro. If you do not understand this juhachihan and
hitoshigokoro, even if you [practice] Shinto you will not understand [its] principles. These characters govern the Shinto ceremonies.... As a human being, careless and cunning, you will not understand [their true meaning] at all. You should sense [their meaning] by keeping the depths of your mind still; there is no disorderliness in God.
That is, God dwells in the depths of one's mind; when one stills those depths, one can intuit the true meaning of namu. Ito says little about the actual workings of the mind, or how it is best "stilled," though control of desires is evidently required. The deity of Mt. Fuji, he warns, does not dwell in a mind that thinks: "I want to drink, 1 want to eat, I want to dress up, I won't work, I want that thing, I want money." Only a mind that is free of self-centered desires can know the mind of God.
Such statements about the need to cultivate a pure, selfless mind bear some resemblance to Misogi, Shingaku, and other late-Tokugawa popular teachings. It is because of this apparent focus on the mind or heart that Yasumaru Yoshio regards Maruyama-kyo as one more manifestation of the "philosophy of the mind" that circulated in the late Tokugawa and early Meiji. He argues that Ito transformed the Fuji-ko faith in the advent of a new world (the "Age of Maitreya," Miroku no yo) from a magico-religious belief into a humanistic program for changing the human mind. This program, according to Yasumaru, consisted primarily in the cultivation of common moral values. The ideal world that Ito envisioned for his peasant following was one in which people would perfectly embody diligence, harmony, and frugality--the ideals that the founder himself had striven to fulfill from childhood. Yasumaru cites numerous examples of Ito's tendency to humanize the Maruyama religious program by identifying the god of Fuji with the human mind. Ito makes several statements to this effect ("self is mind, kami is mind, person is mind"), implying to Yasumaru a nontheistic if not atheistic view. The founder speaks in the same vein of Miroku, the harbinger deity of the new world: "Miroku is not a Buddha; self (mi) is mind, mind is kami, kami means person (hito)." Ito similarly points out that paradise and hell are located inside people's selves, that the joys of the Pure Land exist in this world, and that our own selves are Amida.
Yasumaru infers that for Ito, the source of divinity and truth is located within one's own self; discourse about an "Other" (Fuji, Sengen, the Parent God) is mostly symbolic. He allows that the traditional theistic view of the Fuji god is not completely absent from Ito's teachings; however, the deity is now "internalized" in the human mind, and therefore within the realm (or under the control) of individual efforts of cultivation. Yasumaru concludes that Maruyama-kyo, along with other movements that advocated the philosophy of the mind, represents a transition in early modern popular thought from a concern with the devotional and theistic (which he refers to as "magical," "irrational," and "passive") to
a concern with the humanistic and nontheistic ("rational," "active," and "positive").
What exactly was the nature of Ito's religious experience, however? What was the personal process that led him to affirm the value of the human mind and heart? Despite the founder's strong emphasis on the role of the human mind in religious practice, Maruyama-kyo was not simply an introspective form of self-improvement with a theistic overlay. The main form of religious cultivation in Maruyama was ascetic practice--shigyo [sic]. This practice clearly involved both mental and physical self-discipline ("calming the mind" and "lowering the body"), but always within a strongly Other-centered framework. For Ito, the mind was important not primarily as an arena for self-examination in the light of Confucian values, but rather as a realm in which one might encounter the Parent God-if one could meet the challenge of the ascetic acts demanded by God. The performance of austerities was a critical condition, both mental and physical, for communication with the Parent God. We recall that Ito originally received his teachings from the Fuji deity while in a state of divine possession (kamigakari). He believed that a successful kamigakari was predicated on the state of mind of the practitioner: "It. is the heart of the Parent (oyagokoro) to want to instruct the child, [but] if the child's mind is evil, even if the Parent speaks, nothing is communicated." The founder criticized those teachers and mediums who purported to speak for the gods without having the correct spirit (tamashii naki).
The notion that ascetic discipline, because of its purifying effects, qualifies an individual to serve as a medium for spiritual communication is an age-old tradition in Japanese folk religion. But Ito was not a traditional shaman. The task, as he envisioned it, was not only to communicate with a particular spirit or deity, but to have one's mind and heart become one with the Original Father and Mother of the universe (Moto no chichi haha sama). And who initiates and enables this mystical union? From Ito's perspective, one does not simply carry out ascetic acts; the Parent God gives one the power to perform them. In fact, the Maruyama founder considered the path of austerities itself to derive from or depend on the Parent God: the practices were a means for God's mind to be externalized through the practitioner's body.
Ito makes a number of remarks in his writings that affirm this Other-centered structure of Maruyama religious practice.
If you engage in ascetic practice, devote yourself to shidai, change [mu] to shi, strive for people's well-being, and summon a good mind, your mind will be called up by God and transformed into a good mind. The transformation of mu [identical mind] is the joy of the Father; the transformation of sho [life] is the joy of the Mother. If this mind (shomushin) [of the Parent God] does not transform [your mind], your body will not be right.
though difficult to interpret, this comment seems to imply that one's physical condition depends on a mental or spiritual transformation. The individual may "invite" that transformation ("summon a good mind") but the change itself is effected by God. In other passages, Ito, explicitly identifies religious or ascetic practice (shigyo with the attitude (kokoro) of not relying on one's own power. Occasionally he uses metaphors from peasant life to highlight the active role that the god of Fuji plays in the discipline of the mind or soul (tamashii): "You should realize that [Fuji] uses people's souls as raw material. When you crush rice, it becomes a dumpling (dago [sic]). When [Fuji] tempers the human mine well, it becomes a good dumpling, a good soul."
The shikimi discipline, unique to Maruyama-kyo, was first carried out by Ito, in 1870. As indicated above, its successful completion signified the initiation of a new teaching and the ritual renewal of the pristine condition of the world and humankind. The practice required circumambulating a certain area of Mt. Fuji on tiptoe while intoning the words of the Ominuki and Fuji-ko devotional verses (doka). According to Ito "the tsumadate method is a way of testing the body (mi). If one hat troubles in one's mind, it cannot be carried out. If one drives away those troubles, it can be carried out quickly." These and other ascetic practices were activations of the divine power (jinriki) of the practitioner--a power that God endows in the human mind: "the shiki[mi] [discipline] is the utmost penetration of the depths of the mind." The austerities were not to be understood as exhibitions of human power (jinriki). In Ito's view, ascetic discipline was not the individual's effort to prepare for divine inspiration; it was divine activity itself.
Ito's constant focus on the true meaning of the characters of the nenbutsu reflects the ongoing influence of Pure Land devotionalism in the religious world of his contemporaries. His own concern with relying on the power of an "Other" illustrates a parallel form of devotional faith. Given the vitality of this "Other-power" type of mentality in early Maruyama-kyo, it is difficult to agree with Yasumaru's suggestion that the movement represents the culmination of a humanistic "rationalization" of Fuji beliefs that commenced with Jikigyo Miroku. The continuing power of the devotional outlook in Maruyama is palpable in Ito's Oshirabe. In one passage, he cites the following poem:
I try climbing Mt. Fuji, but nothing is
Good and evil are [in] my mind.
Ito criticizes these lines; he suggests that they were composed by a "nonbeliever," by someone who lacks "knowledge of the mind of "Fuji." In other words, although Ito may say (as we saw earlier) that "Fuji" or "God" is mind, he would never allow that God is in any way dependent on one's mind. The belief that the human mind derives from
God's mind may imply some empowerment of the self, as Yasumaru suggests, but it does not overwhelm the fundamentally theistic frame-work of Maruyama beliefs. The devotee's mind is only a tiny "partmind"-it is not completely identical with the mind of the all-powerful Parent God.
The Moral Implications of Ito Rokurobei's Teachings
The first aim of religious practice in early Maruyama-kyo was to enable a profound devotional state in which one's own mind and body would become a dwelling-place for God. But what were the effects of that experience in the social world? What was the relationship between Maruyama shigyo and moral behavior? Yasumaru highlights Ito's concern with the cultivation of common moral values. The founder believed firmly in "the path of humaneness, rightness, decorum, wisdom, and trust"; he understood these standards to be implied in the Ominuki, the text that initially inspired his ascetic practice. Indeed, Ito assumed that the values contained in this scripture (along with the rest of the text) were a perfect representation of truth--though not because of their classical Confucian origins. According to Ito, the ethical ideals of the Ominuki had been revealed by the god of Mt. Fuji. Maruyama religious practice included the daily enactment of these well-known virtues and others, such as filial piety and diligence, in addition to specific rituals and austerities.
Ito's ethics were thus dominated by Confucian moral notions, but he did not glean these ideas from the Neo-Confucian interpretations of the classics. Instead, he relied on the quintessential Tokugawa repository of morality, the Jitsugokyo (Teachings of words of truth). Ito's emphasis on filial piety, for example, reflects the Jitsugokyo's repeated injunctions to children to honor their parents. The founder repeatedly praises and quotes from the Jitsugokyo in his Oshirabe; he had probably memorized the text in its entirety as a young boy. He seems to have regarded this simple terakoya copybook as the authoritative manual of moral life--inspired, of course, by the god of Fuji. Reflecting on his early education, Ito says:
The person who took my hand and taught me the character "i" was the priest of a temple called Ryuanji. He also taught me to read Hyakunin ishu, Jitsugokyo, and Dojikyo. Moreover, I gained clear insight into the teaching of the Jitsugokyo, which is cherished by our original Father and Mother [the Parent Cod]. It is a venerable scripture, which contains the teaching that splits
kami and Buddhas right down the middle. You should value it highly.
Ito's claim that the work clarifies the distinction between the way of the gods and the way of the Buddhas is ironic, given the general Buddhist orientation of this medieval text (it has been dated to the Heian period).
The reader contains a heavy dose of early Confucian ethical thought, but it also refers to Buddhist ideals (such as wisdom) and cites various lists of Buddhist virtues. In fact, because of its simple presentation of Confucian standards and its lingering Buddhist tone, Tokugawa Confucian educators regarded the Jitsugokyo as a work of limited pedagogical value, suitable only for the most elementary level of terakoya-style instruction. Teshima Toan, the retired merchant who popularized Ishida Baigan's "learning of the mind" (Shingaku), purposefully rewrote the Jitsugokyo in order to reflect the Neo-Confucian outlook on self-cultivation that appealed to his contemporaries in the late eighteenth century.
Ito's "philosophy of the
mind" does not appear to have been inspired by any direct exposure to Neo-Confucian
thought, whether oral or written. The founder's general phrasing, in his sporadic
references to the mind in Oshirabe, does not resemble Shingaku-type discourse on the
mind--as do the foundational writings of other groups that arose in the mid-nineteenth
century (such as Kurozumi-kyo and Misogi-kyo). Rather, early Maruyama discourse reflects a
concern with the mind or heart as a
channel for actual communication with God. The condition for this communication was serious ascetic practice--a program of psychical and physical purification that would enable a revelatory experience of oneness with the Parent God. Conventional moral behavior was certainly an important feature of this devotional life, but it was not the ultimate aim.
Early Maruyama moral teachings are consistently cast in agricultural terms. The founder refers repeatedly to farming themes in his writings, demonstrating an intimate familiarity with the daily concerns of peasants. Like other popular movements of the nineteenth century, Maruyama-kyo sacralized farm Work. Ito's agrarian outlook had its roots, once again, in his Tokugawa education. After learning to read the Jitsugokyo and other terakoya texts, he studied with another instructor:
The first point in the book [he used] to teach me was that the peasants receive the sun, moon, and stars, and take great pains to produce the five grains. In old times, under the warrior-peasant-artisan-merchant [system], [the peasant] was the head of the commoners. Companions who invest themselves in the work of farming, devoting all their energy to agricultural cultivation, and who exert themselves, obey their seniors, and work at their family occupation without remiss, will undoubtedly have a wealthy household and prosperous descendants. [My teacher] emphatically enjoined me not to forget this. I started respecting this [teaching] from the time I was fourteen years old, and my effort [to carry it out] has not changed.
Ito's last comment would probably have been disputed by the early Meiji authorities and his relatives, who accused him precisely of neglecting his family and occupation (and, implicitly, of disobeying his superiors) after
he became involved in Fuji devotions. Ito, in fact, had reinterpreted the peasant ethic of hard work and obedience: it was no longer merely the basis of future prosperity, but a sacred activity, a way of worshipping the Parent God. The exaltation of peasant labor in Maruyama-kyo was more than simply an agrarian version of tsuzoku dotoku. Ito believed that peasants had enjoyed a special relationship with the Parent Cod from the earliest stages of Japanese history. "Peasants [in] the land of noshomusho were, in ancient times, right in the first rank....In fact, the peasants are the beginning of the world. It is as if Maruyama [Fuji] ascetic practice creates farm labor, hard work, and cultivation."
Maruyama praxis was, in this view, a reenactment of the generative process of the universe. This sanctification of agriculture undoubtedly reinforced the conventional ethic of diligence, obedience, and frugality--but it also pointed beyond it. We saw earlier that Ito determined to fast to death rather than cut back on his devotions in order to conform with social obligations. He also freely criticized his highest secular superior, the Emperor. Ito's ultimate concern was not simply the fulfillment of common moral values; where a conflict arose between such values and the demands of the Parent God, God came first.
Royall Tyler concludes in his discussion of Tokugawa Fuji figures that although they shared the concerns of Confucian thinkers with "social order and ethical living," they were not really under Confucian influence. Ito Rokurobei lived in the very different context of early Meiji, but one could say the same about him. In early Maruyama-kyo, religious life was centered on trust in the giving power of the god of Fuji, without which one could not even begin genuine religious practice. The devotional character of this faith had not yet given way to an emphasis on the autonomous capacity of the self to cultivate moral perfection. And the concern with "social order and ethical living" was just that--a concern, not the first aim of Maruyama faith.
The popular interest in the mind or heart that emerged in Tokugawa society was the result of numerous and complex syntheses of diverse systems of ideas. Cheng-Chu learning of the mind remained a dominant element in some of these syntheses, notably Sekimon Shingaku. We see another assimilation of Neo-Confucian ideas in Misogi-kyo, a late Tokugawa religion that revived the Yoshida Shinto identification of purified mind and kami, but that also drew on Buddhist praxes (chanting and breath control) for concrete methods to "rectify the mind" and "cultivate the person." The theistic elements in Misogi-kyo are significant and conspicuous; however, the exigencies of the gods rarely override the chief aims of Inoue Masakane's teaching: to achieve spiritual and physical well-being and live harmoniously in the existing social order.
Although, to borrow Hardacre's language, the "idiom" is Shinto, the overall framework of Misogi faith is not far from the paradigm of the Great Learning, according to which attentiveness to the moral quality of one's own mind is a requisite for the attainment of social harmony.
Neo-Confucianism was not a dominant influence in every corner of the late Tokugawa world, however; the learning of the mind, even in diffused, diluted form, may not have affected many less-privileged or uneducated members of early modern society--especially unlanded peasants in rural areas. Shingaku in particular appealed primarily to middle-level townsfolk, rural notables, and local samurai. I should probably qualify my former observation that "in the late [Tokugawa] period, even the lower levels of society were acquainted with the fundamental Neo-Confucian idea that individual self-cultivation is the foundation of social well-being." People like Ito Rokurobei, who grew up, was educated, and lived most of his life in one of the least-privileged sectors of late Tokugawa society, never took Neo-Confucian-style mind-learning to heart.
From this perspective, the hypothesis that the worldview of the new religions is rooted in the late Tokugawa Neo-Confucian concern with the self does not fully account for the vital role of devotional modes of thought, particularly in the peasant-based movements of the mid-nineteenth century. In addition to Maruyama-kyo, the original teachings of Tenri-kyo, Konko-kyo, and Omoto-kyo, all of which were founded in rural areas by less-educated, generally underprivileged individuals, have strong devotional, shamanistic, and/or ascetic emphases. These qualities in the early new religions are not simply local manifestations of a common premise that mind-cultivation is the basis of a perfect world. To be sure, the devotional elements in some nineteenth-century systems are subsidiary to a generally "humanistic" program of self-cultivation. Misogi-kyo, for example, has a full pantheon of deities, but its founder was not dramatically possessed by them, nor do his writings purportedly record revelations received from them. In the final analysis, the aim of Inoue's teaching is self-purification-implemented through breath control and ritual chanting, and manifested in conventional moral behavior. But other new religions, founded both before and after the Meiji Restoration, gave full sway to the idea that deities could influence or even control one's daily life. This reliance on the power of an Other is most conspicuous in the teachings of those founders who had distinct experiences of divine possession (kamigakari), or who propounded a messianic or apocalyptic eschatology.
Hardacre's analysis of the worldview and patterns of action of the new religions persuasively characterizes these groups as they exist today. And the worldview of many new religions does seem indebted, whether directly or indirectly, to the Neo-Confucian paradigm of self-cultivation,
But, as Hardacre herself allows, "even among the groups to which [the worldview] is meant to apply, there have been periods in their histories when the worldview I will describe was overshadowed by other perspectives.' I would go further and suggest that this worldview may not have characterized several of the older new religions at all, at least until after the early Meiji. If a shift in emphasis from esoteric ritual, intervention by deities, and ascetic abstinences to "self-cultivation" took place in these groups, perhaps it was the result of later developments. Neo-Confucian self-cultivation was one important source of the modern Japanese religious outlook, but it was not a universal religious paradigm at the end of the Tokugawa period.
Abbreviations are used in the Notes and Works Cited as follows:
NKB Nihon kyoiku bunko. 12 vols. Tokyo: Dobunkan,
NST Nihon shiso taikei. 67 vols. Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1970-1982.
The references in the Notes below are given in full in the Works Cited.
1. Representatives of the Cheng-Chu school understood the "learning of the mind" (Jpn: shingaku) to involve the serious examination and discipline of one's mental and emotional life, as well as consideration of the moral principles illustrated in classical Confucian texts, in history, and in one's everyday life. Thinkers influenced by Wang Yang-ming tended to view moral action as the spontaneous expression of the original, principled mind, and, at least in theory, did not require a specific program of book learning or other externally directed study.
2. At the scholarly level, these syntheses are exemplified by the theories of Neo-Confucian scholars Hayashi Razan (1583-1657) and Yamazaki Ansai (1630-1714), and of Shinto theorists Watarai Nobuyoshi (1615-1690) and Yoshikawa Koretaru (1616-1694). See Nosco, "Masuho Zanko," esp. pp. 170-178.
3. Hardacre, Kurozumikyo, pp. 42-43.
4. See Yasumaru, Nihon no kindaika, esp. pp. 29-43.
5. Cited in ibid., p. 31; Ishida, Ishida Baigan zenshu, 1 :5, 39.
6. In the same humanistic vein, some of these popularizers also suggested that "paradise" and "hell" were states of mind, the results of one's own efforts (or failures), rather than otherworldly realms (Yasumaru, Nihon no kindaika, p. 32).
7. This argument is developed throughout, but especially in the first chapter (pp. 4-55) of Nihon no kindaika; for an explicit statement, see, e.g., pp. 30-31, where the author analyzes Ishida Baigan's thought from this perspective.
8. Ibid., pp. 37-39.
9. The last three founded Konko-kyo, Tenri-kyo, and Maruyama-kyo respectively. Yasumaru implied that this mentality was common not just among these leaders, but that it was more or less universal at the mid- to upper levels of village and town society (Yasumaru, Nihon no kindaika, pp. 40-41).
10. Hardacre, in Kurozumikyo carefully reviews Yasumaru's notion of tsuzoku dotoku, noting that at the popular level, the doctrinal variety of the new religions is incomprehensible if we suppose that all derived from a single, unchanging source. Whatever the source of religious thought, it cannot be reduced to core values alone.... While core values provided building blocks, they assumed many different forms depending on such factors as the emphasis of particular founders, the character of preexisting religious practice in a specific locale, and the mystical element of religious experience expressed differently in each group. Furthermore, no religion can be understood simply as a body of thought. However central its doctrine may be, ritual, symbol, and organizational structure are equally essential to the whole. Nevertheless, reflections upon a shared set of values provided an important component of the world view of Tokugawa new religious movements. In this sense Yasumaru's work enables us to perceive a unity of religious orientation amidst a variety of doctrinal formulations. (Kurozumikyo, p. 43 n.)
12. In the passage quoted by Hardacre, Tu states that "there is an agreement among virtually all of the Neo-Confucianists: man is a moral being who through self-effort extends his human sensitivity to all the beings of the universe so as to realize himself in the midst of the world and as an integral part of it, in the sense that his self-perfection necessarily embodies the perfection of the universe as a whole" (Tu, Humanity and Self-Cultivation, p. 95, cited in Hardacre, Kurozumikyo p. 18).
13. Inoue's father, Ando Masakane, is said to have been a follower of the National Learning school of Kamo Mabuchi (1697-1769). When Masakane was eleven, he was adopted by a samurai of Imabari domain (in Shikoku) and took the name Inoue. He returned to his birth family two years later, but retained the name Inoue for the rest of his life. For the details of Inoue Masakane's
life and the historical development of Misogi-kyo, I have drawn on Matsuno, Shin shukyo jiten, pp. 408-413, and Inoue Nobutaka, Shin shukyo jiten, p.779. For a brief treatment in English, see Holtom, The National Faith of Japan, pp. 240-244.
14. Here and below, ages follow Japanese reckoning, which is usually about a year more than the Western count.
15. The Shirakawa house was one of the hereditary Shinto families associated with the Imperial court. It had controlled the Jingikan from about the twelfth century, though it lost general power (especially in rural areas) after the Yoshida house became influential in the early Tokugawa. Shirakawa Shinto teachings were influenced by National Learning in the early nineteenth century; Hirata Atsutane directly contributed to the revival of the school and the spread of its teachings. See "Hakke Shinto," in Kokugakuin Daigaku and Nihon Bunka Kenkyujo, Shinto jiten, pp. 441-442. 1 have not verified the practice of breath regulation in the Shirakawa school during this time.
16. This work, a dialogue called Shinto yuiitsu mondo sho (Questions and answers about Yuiitsu Shinto), in NKB, Shukyo hen, pp. 421-461, still functions as the group's main scripture today. However, if it was indeed written for apologetic or defensive purposes, it is probably not a complete or accurate source of Inoue's thought; my comments based on this work below are therefore tentative in nature.
17. The Superintendent was apparently alarmed by the growing popularity of the religious practices advocated by Inoue; see Ogihara, "Misogi kyoso Inoue Masakane to monjin Miura Chizen," p. 5. Holtom states that "[t]he Shogunate's fear of his influence on the young samurai who gathered about him in large numbers led to his exile in 1843 to the island of Miyake in Izu" (The National Faith of Japan, p. 241). But Murakami Shigeyoshi alleges that Inoue had been critical of the shogunal government in some way (Murakami, Japanese Religion in the Modern Century, p. 8).
18. For details about Uneme and her own trials of faith in the Bakumatsu period, see Ogihara, "Misogi kyoso Inoue Masakane to monjin Miura Chizen."
19. Even as the movement gradually gained acceptance, it began to experience internal disunity; in 1879 it divided into two branches, one of which survives as today's Misogi-kyo. Under the leadership of Sakata Kaneyasu (d. 1890), this branch built the Inoue Shrine in Shitaya (in Tokyo). Another split occurred more recently, in 1985,
when the current Misogi-kyo leader's son, Sakata Yasuhiro, founded a new group called Misogi-kyo Shinpa (Inoue Nobutaka et al., Shin shukyo jiten, pp. 779-780).
20. Kokugakuin Daigaku and Nihon Bunka Kenkyujo, Shinto jiten, p.441.
21. Nosco, "Masuho Zanko," p. 173.
22. Ibid., p. 174.
23. For example, Inoue Masakane, Shinto yuiitsu mondo shu pp. 422, 424, 434-435, 447, 458.
24. Ibid., p. 424.
25. Ibid., pp. 428-429.
26. Mayoi (illusion) and gedatsu (liberation) are exceptions. These terms were so widely used, however, that they were not necessarily narrowly Buddhist in their connotations. Moreover, Inoue characterizes the Four Obligations (shion) as owed to nation, lord, teacher, and parents rather than to ruler, parents, all sentient beings, and the Three Treasures (the Buddhist version) (ibid., p. 422).
27. Ibid., p. 440.
28. In his letters to Uneme, Inoue not only advises her to practice the nenbutsu, but strongly urges her to become a nun, though perhaps more for social than religious reasons (Ogihara, "Misogi kyoso Inoue Masakane to monjin Miura Chizen," pp. 6-7, 9). Inoue also wrote her that "the teachings of the gods and Buddhas do not differ at all" (ibid., p. 11).
29. Ibid., p. 432.
30. Sexual activity is not regulated, however. In fact, sexual intercourse is viewed as a sacral act, instituted by the gods: producing children is divine labor. Breastfeeding and other phases of bodily nurture and growth are also positively regarded (Matsuno, Shin shukyo jiten, p. 411). My limited access at this time to information about the group's practices during the late Tokugawa and early Meiji compels me to draw on Matsuno's secondary account, even though he does not clearly distinguish between past and contemporary Misogi practices. However, I have found references in the founder's writings to many of the practices Matsuno mentions. My conclusions below about the role of Neo-Confucian self-cultivation in Misogikyo are mostly based on the founder's own writings.
ritual formula was well known in Yoshida Shinto and said to be orally handed down in Suika
Shinto. An earlier version of the sanju no harai formula included an additional,
intermediary phrase: Tohokami emitame; kangonshinson, rikondaken; haraitamai
kiyomedetamau. The additional phrase was eliminated from Yoshida formulations on the
grounds that it was taken from the Book of Changes, and therefore not genuinely Japanese.
See Anzu and Umeda, Shinto jiten, "sanju no harai," p.348.
32. Misogi-kyo has its own particular pantheon of gods, collectively known as the "Great Gods of the Misogi Teaching" (Misogi oshie no o-kami). The group includes Ama-no-minaka-nushi, Takami-musubi, Kami-musubi, Tenchi, Tenshodaijin (Amaterasu), O-kuni-nushi-no-mikoto, and several other Shinto deities, as well as the spirits of Inoue Masakane and members' ancestors. But the kami are not understood in purely theistic terms. They are also called "principle of heaven-and-earth" (tenchi no dori), "sincerity" (makoto), "honesty" (shojiki) and "meekness" (sunao) (Matsuno, Shin shukyo jiten, p. 412). As in the Yoshikawa version of Yoshida Shinto, serving the gods means emulating the virtues they represent, which ultimately leads to oneness with the gods themselves.
Today's members reportedly perform the
Triple Purification from 5 A.M. to 8 P.M. over a confinement (okomori) period of
five days. The five-day confinement may also be carried out on several consecutive Sundays (ibid., pp. 409-410).
33. Ibid., p. 410.
34. Inoue Masakane, Shinto yuiitsu mondo shu, p. 422.
35. This notion is emphasized in Suika Shinto.
36. Inoue Masakane, Shinto yuiitsu mondo shu, p. 423.
37. Ibid., p. 455.
38. Ibid., pp. 428-429. Similarly, he advises that one's only desire should be "to cultivate one's self, purify one's mind, serve one's lord and one's parents, have harmony in the nine generations [of one's family], and attain personal serenity and health" (ibid., p. 425).
39. Ibid., p. 447.
40. Hardacre, Kurozumikyo pp. 22-23.
41. Great Learning, Commentary, 9:3. For an English translation of the complete passage, see Legge, Confucian Analects, The Great Learning, and the Doctrine of the Mean, pp. 370-371 .
42. Inoue Masakane, Shinto yuiitsu mondo shu, p. 457.
43. Hardacre, Kurozumikyo p. 23.
44. As Yasumaru's work implies, the empowering aspects of the philosophy of the mind were limited by the sociopolitical realities of nineteenth-century Japan. Hardacre, for her part, is well aware of the sociopolitical limitations of the self-cultivation paradigm; see Hardacre, Kurozumikyo pp. 42, 98. Re this issue with regard to Shingaku, see Sawada, Confucian Values and Popular Zen, pp. 168-171.
45. My sources for Ito's life are Yasumaru, Nihon no kindaika, esp. pp. 108-120; the same author's essay, "Maruyama-kyo," in NST 67 esp. pp. 651-653; Matsuno, Shin shukyo jiten, pp. 399-402; and Inoue Nobutaka et al., Shin shukyo jiten, pp. 778-779. l have also consulted the traditional biographical account by Yuri Jun'ichi, Maruyama kyoso den. For a brief discussion of Maruyama-kyo in English, see Miyake, "The Influence of Shugendo on the 'New Religions,' " esp. pp. 76-78.
mounds are representations of Mt. Fuji constructed and ritually climbed by Fuji-ko
members; considerable numbers of
these mounds were built in Edo and the surrounding areas during the early modern period.
47. Yasumaru speculates that it may date to the 1750s, but its precise origins are unknown ("Maruyama-kyo," NST 67 : 652).
48. Yuri, Maruyama kyoso den, p. 30. This term is part of a longer prayer formula used in Fuji-ko ritual; it appears in the Ominuki, a section of the Fuji-ko scripture, Fuji nankyo. Matsuno says that Ito allegedly practiced "zazen shugyo" for eight years from this time (Shin shukyo jiten, p. 400), but I have seen no mention of Zen practice in the traditional Maruyama biographies or the various treatments by Yasumaru, who is an acknowledged authority on Maruyama-kyo. The Ominuki is reproduced in NST 67 :482-483.
49. Yasumaru, "Maruyama-kyo," Oshirabe endnote, NST 67 : 558.
50. The founder of Fuji worship, Hasegawa Kakugyo (Tobutsu) (1541-1646), had earlier practiced toe-standing disciplines for the sake of world peace (Yasumaru, "Maruyama-kyo," NST 67:652; see also Tyler, "The Tokugawa Peace," p. 105).
51. The water austerity involved pouring cold water over oneself; the smoke discipline required inhaling smoke from a burning stick of incense.
52. Yuri, Maruyama kyoso den, p. 117.
53. See Tyler, "The Tokugawa Peace," pp. 112-113.
54. Participation in the Kyobusho's Great Promulgation Campaign (Taikyo senpu undo) was required of all who wished to teach religion in the early Meiji. By appointing individuals as Doctrinal Instructors, the government maintained control over religious activities and teachings, effectively excluding those it regarded as heterodox, unenlightened, or threatening to the public order. The Instructors were required to teach a "Shinto"-based state ideology.
55. Matsuno, Shin shukyo jiten, p. 401.
56. The revolt was suppressed by the government (ibid.; see also Yasumaru, Nihon no kindaika, pp. 121-122, and Minshu undo, pp. 362-371, for documentation of Maruyama involvement in this rebellion).
57. The deterioration of the movement after Ito's death has also been attributed to government suppression provoked by some members' opposition to taxation policies (Inoue Nobutaka et al., Shin shukyo jiten, p. 778).
58. Yasumaru, Nihon no kindaika, p. 122. Ito's criticisms of Meiji state policies are mentioned below.
59. During the last several years of his life (1887-1894), Ito, wrote a kind of running exposition of his ideas--a series of chronologically arranged entries. This work--commonly called Oshirabe but formally titled Kyoso shinseki goho (Teachings personally recorded by the founder)--is considered the most reliable and detailed source of Ito's ideas. My analysis of Ito's teachings is based on the portions of this source contained in NST 67, as well as on Yasumaru's summaries of Ito's ideas in his "Maruyama-kyo" and Nihon no kindaika. In 1977 the full text of Oshirabe was published in two volumes by the headquarters of the group, under the title Maruyama kyoso shinseki goho oshirabe.
60. Kakugyo and Jikigyo had sanctified rice, identifying it with cosmic and moral truth (Tyler, "The Tokugawa Peace," pp. 105, 114; re Ito's agrarian emphasis, see also Yasumaru, Nihon no kindaika, p. 127).
61. See Tyler, "The Tokugawa Peace," p. 104.
62. NST 67 : 508.
63. The practice of rewriting Chinese characters was common in Fujiko from its origins; as Tyler notes, Kakugyo's ideographs gave the movement's formulas "a most curiously barbaric air" (Tyler, "The Tokugawa Peace," p. 105).
64. NST 67 :658.
65. NST 67 : 520-521 . This comment was recorded in 1890.
66. Mina Tenshi-sama kangae ashiki yue da (cited in Yasumaru, Nihon no kindaika, p. 124). Yasumaru concludes that although Ito regarded Japan as the land of the gods and aligned himself with nativist perspectives, his teachings did not contribute to the Emperor-centered Shinto ideology that was taking shape in Japan during these years (ibid., p. 125).
67. Ibid., p. 136.
68. NST 67 :488.
69. Ito understood the universe to consist of three realms: heaven, earth, and sea. He correlated the last realm, and bodies of water generally, with human beings. He justifies the connection between the birth of humankind and the sea through an interpretation of the words umi and umu, which are the readings of the characters for "sea" and "to be born," respectively (NST 67 :489, 493).
70. NST 67:486. It is also timeless: "the human mind is no different from the mind born long ago of heaven, earth, and sea" (NST 67:500).
71. Ichibushin has the connotation of a spirit, mind, or even spark of consciousness that is apportioned to each being (not necessarily only human beings). A similar concept in Kurozumi-kyo, is bunshin, which Hardacre sometimes renders "small soul."
72. NST 67 :555.
73. NST 67:506.
74. Juhachihan is Ito's rewriting of the Chinese character na[n] in the compound namu, i.e., read vertically.
75. NST 67 : 501 .
76. NST 67 :498.
77. Nihon no kindaika, p. 133. Re the Fuji-ko idea of Miroku, cf. the Buddhist understanding of Maitreya; see Tyler, "The Tokugawa Peace," p. 110.
78. Yasumaru, Nihon no kindaika, p. 134. The pictures produced by Maruyama-kyo in the early Meiji further illustrate the identifications that make up the group's religious cosmology; the mind is depicted as integrally related to heaven, Mt. Fuji, and the world (ibid., p. 133).
79. Ibid., p. 135.
80. NST 67 :528-529.
81. Cf. Yasumaru, who places more emphasis on the idea that the god of Fuji was internalized in the mind of the Maruyama practitioner (NST 67 :498).
82. Ito divided the character mu into three sections: person, hito, at the top; a platform upon which the person sits, in the middle; and mind, kokoro, at the bottom. Removing the protruding lines from the second element produces four, shi, which is easier for the "person" to sit upon.
83. NST 67 .511.
84. NST 67 :518.
85. NST 67 : 541 .
86. Yasumaru, Oshirabe endnotes, NST 67 : 558b.
87. NST 67 :516.
89. NST 67:517. Ito's critique is especially striking, given that this verse has traditionally been attributed to the revered Jikigyo Miroku--who had, in fact, emphasized the ethical, humanistic/this-worldly dimensions of the Fuji-ko vision. For a discussion and translation of the complete poem, see Martin Collcutt, "Mount Fuji as the Realm of Miroku," p. 263; the Japanese verse is cited in Yasumaru, Nihon no kindaika, p. 103.
90. NST 67 : 557.
91. People who engage in [filial piety] are called shaban (shrine guards). Those who abandon it are called yaban (barbarians). In fulfilling the way of the Parent [God], if one doesn't differentiate [between] the two, one cannot understand the way" (NST 67:530). According to the Jitsugokyo one's parents should be regarded as "heaven and earth," and one who lacks filial piety is equivalent to an animal (NKB 9: 1).
92. Yasumaru's investigations indicate that the Jitsugokyo is the chief source of Ito's moral thought in his other writings as well.
93. "I" is the first character in the iroha syllabary.
94. NST 67 : 514.
95. See Sawada, Confucian Values and Popular Zen, pp. 117-123.
96. For example, National Learning (Kokugaku) thinkers exalted the
role of peasant labor in the late Tokugawa; see
Harootunian, "Late Tokugawa Culture and Thought," e.g., p. 205.
97. NST 67 : 514-515.
98. According to Yasumaru's note, this expression indicates the country (Japan) that is agriculturally productive through the beneficence of the original Parent God (NST 67 : 515).
99. Maruyama shigyo wa nogyo shussei kosaku tsukuru ga gotoshi (NST 67 : 514-515).
100. Yasumaru argues that Ito and others, notably Deguchi Nao, the founder of Omoto-kyo, developed the capacity to break free of the accepted values they had internalized since childhood partly because of the personal strength they developed through their heroic efforts to fulfill those values. He also acknowledges the critical role played by their religious experience in this "leap" or breakthrough. See Nihon no kindaika, esp. p. 118. See also Harootunian, "Late Tokugawa Culture and Thought," p. 217.
101. Tyler, "The Tokugawa Peace," p. 118.
102. Sawada, Confucian Values and Popular Zen, p. 170.
103. Even some popular ethical configurations of the nineteenth century, such as Ninomiya Sontoku's Hotoku group, seem minimally influenced by this structure of thought. Hotoku is often lumped together with Shingaku as a popular late-Tokugawa movement that stressed hard work, frugality, and other "core values." (This is the phrase Bellah uses in his Tokugawa Religion and which Hardacre employs throughout her Kurozumikyo; the corresponding Japanese expression in Yasumaru's work is tsuzoku dotoku.) But Sontoku, unlike Baigan and Toan, was not schooled in the Neo-Confucian commentaries, nor, apparently, was he extensively exposed to Shingaku or other "oral" versions of Cheng-Chu thought. In his sermons he does not dwell on the need to purify, examine, or cultivate one's mind; his stress is more on the values of diligence and frugality themselves.
104. Kawate Bunjiro, the founder of Konko-kyo, Nakayama Miki (Tenri-kyo), Deguchi Nao (Omoto-kyo), and It Rokurobei all had experiences of kamigakari. Nakayama Miki's teaching includes a messianic-type eschatology, while Omoto, like Maruyama, has millenarian if not apocalyptic qualities. For an engaging study of Deguchi Nao (which also draws on Yasumaru's work), see Ooms, Women and Millenarian Protest in Meiji Japan.
105. Hardacre, Kurozumikyo p. 32. She goes on to cite the apocalyptic character of Omoto-kyo.
106. Hardacre may have something like this in mind in the concluding comments of her beak, where she implies that in order for Kurozumi-kyo and other groups to succeed, "there must be a transition from an initial period when the group functions mainly as a healing cult...to the adoption of the world view of the new religions" (Kurozumikyo p. 195).
I should add that, like the other groups that originated in the nineteenth century, Maruyama-kyo has changed a great deal; it no longer emphasizes severe austerities, physical healing, or possession experiences. The current leader of the group, Ito Kokai, has assured me that a shift away from asceticism took place even during the founder's lifetime (personal conversation, 6 June 1996, Maruyama-kyo Honcho, Kawasaki, Japan); but I have not yet read enough of Ito's own writings and biographical materials to verify this.
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