Buddhas and Kami in Japan: Honji Suijaku as a Combinatory Paradigm

Buddhas and Kami in Japan: Honji Suijaku as a Combinatory Paradigm

Language: English

Pages: 384

ISBN: 0415297478

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


This volume offers a multidisciplinary approach to the combinatory tradition that dominated premodern and early modern Japanese religion, known as honji suijaku (originals and their traces). It questions received, simplified accounts of the interactions between Shinto and Japanese Buddhism, and presents a more dynamic and variegated religious world, one in which the deities' Buddhist originals and local traces did not constitute one-to-one associations, but complex combinations of multiple deities based on semiotic operations, doctrines, myths, and legends. The book's essays, all based on specific case studies, discuss the honji suijaku paradigm from a number of different perspectives, always integrating historical and doctrinal analysis with interpretive insights.

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Buddhism” (shinbutsu kakuri); the second is the co-existence of kami cults and Buddhism with other ritual traditions, notably Yin-Yang (onmyødø) and cults of numinous entities that were neither kami nor Buddhist divinities, such as “angry spirits” (goryø) and other kinds of deities of various origin. Isolation of kami from Buddhism At the same time that some kami were increasingly integrated in the Buddhist realm, other kami (or, in some cases, even the same kami) were also held separate from

esp. p. 361. 108 See also Kaizu Ichirø (1995). 109 Sugahara Shinkai (1992), pp. 172–5. 35 M A R K T E E U W E N A N D FA B I O R A M B E L L I are regarded as suijaku. Kami convert and teach by virtue of original enlightenment; thus they are called honji.”110 Received interpretations claim that inverted honji suijaku was a reaction of the “Shinto world” to Buddhist hegemony, and the beginning of the resurfacing of a “true” Japanese spirituality. However, it should be emphasised that this

13111 4 5 6 7 8 9 20111 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 30111 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 40111 1 2 3 44111 episteme. As such, they took on a character that transcended the mere conditioned, historical, and phenomenal dimensions. Bruce Lincoln states in his analysis of the correlative mechanisms in ancient Indo-European cultures: The . . . items in any such correlation are thus placed in homologic relation, a fundamental consubstantiality and interchangeability being posited between them. Each item in such a homology

shall incur the punishment of Bonten, Taishaku and the four Great Deva Kings, all the Honoured Ones and eternal Buddhas of the Two Mandalas, as well as the Three Great Holy Ones and the two Gongen.19 Both the “Three Treasures” (Buddha, Dharma, and Sam˘gha) of the first example, and the divinities of the Two Mandalas in the second, at first sight appear to be abstract concepts; but in the first case, it is not the Three Treasures in 16 17 18 19 KI KI KI KI 21, 35, 16, 17, no. no. no. no. 1636.

assimilated closely to old thunder deities (raijin, karaijin).38 This is probably the reason why the shrine for the new deity was located in Kitano, since it was the place of an old cult dedicated to the god of thunder.39 And this is probably also the reason why the new deity was associated with the ox, because there used to be sacrifices of oxen in the rain-making rituals offered to the god of thunder.40 We can now finally return to the issue of Tenjin’s names, Tenman Daijizai Tenjin and Daijø

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