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					           Hum 5c 2006
        World Religions III
        Gender and Religion
           Prof. Susan B. Klein
“The Afterlife in Premodern Japan (2)”
              Week 4b
      Buddhism in Medieval Japan
The Afterlife in Hinduism and
 Shared Premises of Hinduism &
• 1) Perception of this world as SAMSARA
  (constant flow, movement, change)
• 2) Belief in reincarnation
• 3) Belief in karma (the law of causality, that
  our actions, good and bad, cause effects)
        Comparison to Western
•   Cyclical view of time versus linear
•   Both eschatological in the end
•   Solves problem of unjust world?
•   Both karma and reincarnation necessary
  Shared Goal of Hinduism and
• To break cycle of death and rebirth
• Why isn’t reincarnation seen as good?
       The Buddhist Solution
• Historical Founder:
• Siddhartha Gautama, lived around 500
• Sat under Bodhi (Wisdom) tree and
• Called the Buddha (awakened one)
          Four Noble Truths
• First Noble Truth: Nothing is permanent
  and therefore life is filled with suffering.
         Second Noble Truth
• The cause of suffering is human desire --
  the craving for satisfaction and permanence
  that can never be satisfied.
          Third Noble Truth
• The cessation of suffering is possible. If you
  can stop the endless cycle of reincarnation,
  you will be released from suffering.

• The cessation of reincarnation is called
  NIRVANA in Buddhism.
         Fourth Noble Truth
• You can attain this Nirvana by following
  the Buddha’s Eight-Fold Path. This path
  gradually disciplines your mind and body
• Wisdom
• Morality
• Mental Discipline/Concentration
            Eight-Fold Path
• An eight-step path -- it is progressive (reach
  level of ARHAT)
• Point: when you experience the bliss of
  detachment from human suffering and
  existence, you will more easily achieve
• Popular Understanding: discipline gives you
          Goal in Buddhism
• To stop suffering at the root cause
• Negate desires by intense mental and
  spiritual effort
• Achieve enlightenment and in turn Nirvana,
  which is a release from the cycle of
    Historical Buddha's attitude
    toward the afterlife and the
• “I teach only suffering and the way out of

• On his deathbed: "You must be lamps unto
    The concept of reincarnation in
    early Hinduism and Buddhism
•   No interval between one life and the next
•   Karma is impersonal, mechanical process
•   No heavens or hells, only material world
•   Analogies: candle flame, caterpillar
    Buddhism After the Buddha's
•   King Asoka (3rd c. BCE)
•   Supported Buddhism in India and abroad
•   Buddhism eventually died out in India
•   Spread throughout East Asia
  Theravada Buddhism, or "The
    Teaching of the Elders."
• Focused primarily on eighth step
• Focused on monastic life
• Problem:
    Mahayana (Great Vehicle)
• Developed in 1st c. BCE
• Why?
• ANALOGY: the Buddhist teaching is like a
• Called Theravada "Hinayana" (The Lesser
    Why did Mahayana develop
• Criticism of goal of individual salvation in
  Theravada Buddhism
• Balance within Buddhism
• Popularity
  Mahayana as Great Vehicle of
       the Bodhisattva
• What a bodhisattva is
• Buddha as model
• What we can do:
  – Make a vow to be compassionate towards
    others, becoming bodhisattvas ourselves
  – Rely on the compassion of a deity
How was the Mahayana message
• Lotus Sutra or Lotus of the Good Law
• Sutra means “Buddhist scripture”
• Developed specifically to explain the
  development of pantheon of Buddhist
  deities and multiple forms of Buddhism
   Doctrine of Expedient Means
• Buddhist deities use whatever means
  necessary to get people to understand the
  truth of Buddhism.
• When people advance to a higher level of
  understanding, they will be able to grasp the
  real truth
  Parable of the Burning House
• A wealthy man realizes that his house is on
• His three children are playing inside,
  entranced with their toys
• He offers them three carts: sheep, goat, ox
• When they come out, there is one great cart
Burning House images
     What does the Doctrine of
     Expedient Means explain?
• Proliferation of sects: people need a variety
  of means (different forms of Buddhism) to
  reach enlightenment
• Proliferation of deities: Ultimate Reality
  manifests as a wide variety of deities who
  have appeared in a variety of forms to help
Development of Heaven and Hell
• Same time as proliferation of deities
• Influence from Hinduism?
• Influence from West?
     Structure of the Cosmos: Six
           Worlds or Paths
      (Rokudô) of Reincarnation
• Heaven (several levels)
• Mayhem (warriors)
    – Sometimes above humans, sometimes below
•   Human beings
•   Animals, insects, and plants
•   Hungry ghosts
•   Hell (several levels)
Hell and Hungry Ghost Scrolls (late 12th
   What hungry ghosts look like
Physical attributes = their karmic retribution
  How are hungry ghosts saved?

• Who can see them? Why?
• Confesses story to priest
• Ritual water and food
• Amida Buddha or Bodhisattva Jizô
   Further developments in Hell
• Judgment scene
  – Yama or Ema as king and judge
• Karma becomes personalized
• Intermediate state develops
  – 33 or 49 days
• Rituals develop
 Comparison with Western Hell
• Universal Salvation vs. Massa Damnata
  doctrine (most people, as unbelievers are
• Hell as purgative
• Origen (4th c. Christian theologian) declared
• Compassion is #1 virtue in Mahayana
    Why might ideas of Heaven and
           Hell develop?
•   A.
•   B.
•   C.
•   D.
    Are Heaven and Hell necessary
           in Buddhism?
•   Are they necessary for justice?
•   Rebirth not bad enough punishment?
•   Revenge fantasy?
•   Legislate morality?
    – Role of disbelief
    – Orthopraxic rather than orthodoxic
• Rituals and deities
Two views of Hell
      Common people’s view
• Literal, real place
• Are the scrolls proof that common people
  really believe this?
• Comic plays (Kyogen) and stories
• Patronage/goals of scrolls
       Elite/Enlightened view
• No hierarchies or dualisms
• Our own private hell
• E.g. Sword Forest Hell for sexual passion
         Comparison to West
• "In Christianity people are punished for
  their sins; in Buddhism people are punished
  by their sins."
    Attenuation/Allegorization of
          Heaven and Hell
•   Idea of Heaven and Hell as expedient means
•   Treated as allegory
•   No worse hell:
•   No greater heaven:
•   Logical within Buddhism
    How can you get out of hell
   (whether real or allegorical)?
• Rely on self (JIRIKI)
• Rely on compassionate deity (TARIKI)
  such as Amida Buddha or the bodhisattvas
  Kannon and Jizo
• Intercession of Buddhist priest with saving
       Heavenly Bodhisattvas

• Bodhisattva Kannon (the bodhisattva who
  hears our cries even from a great distance;
  the personification of divine compassion)

• Bodhisattva Jizo (descends into hell and
  saves your relatives; especially known for
  his kindness to children
         Heavenly Buddhas
• Amida Buddha (presides over the Western
  Pure Land; if you call on his name, NAMU
  AMIDA BUTSU, in the hour of your death,
  he will take you to the Pure Land)

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