The Buddhist Sects of Japan: Their History, Philosophical Doctrines and Sanctuaries

The Buddhist Sects of Japan: Their History, Philosophical Doctrines and Sanctuaries

The Buddhist Sects of Japan: Their History, Philosophical Doctrines and Sanctuaries

The Buddhist Sects of Japan: Their History, Philosophical Doctrines and Sanctuaries

Excerpt

This book is merely a philosophical inquiry.

My task has been limited to obtaining explanations, to group them methodically and reproduce them in the most faithful way possible. When a certain point seemed obscure to me I sought the necessary explanations. When the exposed system included a Mystery, I respected it. Different or opposed points of view were presented to me. I listened to imaged, poetical or charming propositions and to others which were austere, complex and technical. I have noted both the ones and the others. I always took care to persuade my interlocutor to sketch the essential part of his doctrine in relievo, whilst allowing him, if he judged proper, to reserve certain perspectives and shadowed zones. I myself have taken great care to respect, in the case of each doctrine, its special charm, and if I may express myself thus, its perfume, its colour and its light.

To the reader who sincerely wishes to understand the philosophical doctrines of modern Buddhism I deliver the result of this inquiry, which I might have entitled "Living Buddhism: Its smiling and deep philosophy."

The idea of making an inquiry on this subject came to me after having read the criticisms which Western writers have so often formulated against "philosophical Buddhism," or "Superior Buddhism." The amused traveller has never failed to note the picturesque aspects of popular Buddhism as well as its naïve practices. But if peradventure one began to speak of some highly philosophical aspect of Buddhism--such as the Tendai or the Zen sects--one was immediately confronted by the barrier erected by certain renowned authors.

Appropriating the terms of yet another critic, Basil Hall Chamberlain declared that "these doctrines were almost unintelligible and impossible to express in clear terms. . . ."

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