Thursday, October 20, 2011

It was a dark and stormy night: appreciating Nichiren

Despite the high winds and rain, six people came for Wednesday’s study class. Continuing our look at the “Protestant Reform” movements of Kamakura era (12-13th centuries) Japan, we read about the life of Nichiren and read a letter titled “Earthly Desires are Enlightenment.” I chose that reading (rather than the polemic pieces he’s more famous for) because it shows Nichiren’s Mahayana spirit of embracing the world as a whole, without the judgmental duality of sacred vs. profane. The Zen pioneers Eisai and Dogen (but not Nonin) were big into strict adherence to the precepts and the regulations of monastery life. But Nichiren was much in the same mode of Honen of accepting the common people who could not follow the lay or monastic precepts to the letter.
I thought the stormy weather fitted right in with the story of the Mongol invasion of Japan being thwarted by the “kami-kaze” (divine wind) which some say Nichiren had invoked.

Picture from Wikipedia:
Mongol Invasion (Japanese: Mooko shuurai), by Kikuchi Yoosai, 1847. Ink and water colors on paper. Tokyo National Museum. Shows the destruction of the Mongol fleet in a typhoon

No comments:

Post a Comment