The Establishment Of The Rin Zai School Of Zen In Japan
[FN#67] The Lin Tsi school was started by Nan Yoh, a prominent
disciple of the Sixth Patriarch, and completed by Lin Tsi or Rin Zai.
The introduction of Zen into the island empire is dated as early as
the seventh century;[FN#68] but it was in 1191 that it was first
established by Ei-sai, a man of bold, energetic nature. He crossed
the sea for China at the age of twenty-eight in 1168, after his
profound study of the whole Tripitaka[FN#69] for eight years in the
Hi-yei Monastery[FN#70] the then centre of Japanese Buddhism.
[FN#68] Zen was first introduced into Japan by Do sha (629-700) as
early as 653-656, at the time when the Fifth Patriarch just entered
his patriarchal career. Do-sho went over to China in 653, and met
with Huen Tsang, the celebrated and great scholar, who taught him the
doctrine of the Dharma-laksana. It was Huen Tsang who advised Do-sho
to study Zen under Hwui Man (E-man). After returning home, he built
a Meditation Hall for the purpose of practising Zen in the Gan-go
monastery, Nara. Thus Zen was first transplanted into Japan by
Do-sho, but it took no root in the soil at that time.
Next a Chinese Zen teacher, I Kung (Gi-ku), came over to Japan in
about 810, and under his instruction the Empress Danrin, a most
enthusiastic Buddhist, was enlightened. She erected a monastery
named Dan-rin-ji, and appointed I Kung the abbot of it for the sake
of propagating the faith. It being of no purpose, however, I Kung
went back to China after some years.
Thirdly, Kaku-a in 1171 went over to China, where he studied Zen
under Fuh Hai (Buk-kai), who belonged to the Yang Ki (Yo-gi) school,
and came home after three years. Being questioned by the Emperor
Taka-kura (1169-1180) about the doctrine of Zen, he uttered no word,
but took up a flute and played on it. But his first note was too
high to be caught by the ordinary ear, and was gone without producing
any echo in the court nor in society at large.
[FN#69] The three divisions of the Buddhist canon, viz.:
(1) Sutra-pitaka, or a collection of doctrinal books.
(2) Vinaya-pitaka, or a collection of works on discipline.
(3) Abhidharma-pitaka, or a collection of philosophical and
[FN#70] The great monastery erected in 788 by Sai-cho (767-822), the
founder of the Japanese Ten Dai Sect, known as Den Gyo Dai Shi.
After visiting holy places and great monasteries, he came home,
bringing with him over thirty different books on the doctrine of the
Ten-Dai Sect.[FN#71] This, instead of quenching, added fuel to his
burning desire for adventurous travel abroad. So he crossed the sea
over again in 1187, this time intending to make pilgrimage to India;
and no one can tell what might have been the result if the Chinese
authorities did not forbid him to cross the border. Thereon he
turned his attention to the study of Zen, and after five years'
discipline succeeded in getting sanction for his spiritual attainment
by the Hu Ngan (Kio-an), a noted master of the Rin Zai school, the
then abbot of the monastery of Tien Tung Shan (Ten-do-san). His
active propaganda of Zen was commenced soon after his return in 1191
with splendid success at a newly built temple[FN#72] in the province
of Chiku-zen. In 1202 Yori-iye, the Shogun, or the real governor of
the State at that time, erected the monastery of Ken-nin-ji in the
city of Kyo-to, and invited him to proceed to the metropolis.
Accordingly he settled himself down in that temple, and taught Zen
with his characteristic activity.
[FN#71] The sect was named after its founder in China, Chi I
(538-597), who lived in the monastery of Tien Tai Shan (Ten-dai-san),
and was called the Great Teacher of Tien Tai. In 804 Den-gyo went
over to China by the Imperial order, and received the transmission of
the doctrine from Tao Sui (Do-sui), a patriarch of the sect. After
his return he erected a monastery on Mount Hi-yei, which became the
centre of Buddhistic learning.
[FN#72] He erected the monastery of Sho-fuku-ji in 1195, which is
This provoked the envy and wrath of the Ten Dai and the Shin
Gon[FN#73] teachers, who presented memorials to the Imperial court to
protest against his propagandism of the new faith. Taking advantage
of the protests, Ei-sai wrote a book entitled Ko-zen-go-koku-ron
('The Protection of the State by the Propagation of Zen'), and not
only explained his own position, but exposed the ignorance[FN#74] of
the protestants. Thus at last his merit was appreciated by the
Emperor Tsuchi-mikado (1199-1210), and he was promoted to So Jo, the
highest rank in the Buddhist priesthood, together with the gift of a
purple robe in 1206. Some time after this he went to the city of
Kama-kura, the political centre, being invited by Sane-tomo, the
Shogun, and laid the foundation of the so-called Kama-kura Zen, still
prospering at the present moment.
[FN#73] The Shin Gon or Mantra Sect is based on
Mahavairocanabhi-sambodhi-sutra, Vajracekhara-sutra, and other
Mantra-sutras. It was established in China by Vajrabodhi and his
disciple Amoahavajra, who came from India in 720. Ku kai (774-835),
well known as Ko Bo Dai Shi, went to China in 804, and received the
transmission of the doctrine from Hwui Kwo (Kei-ka), a, disciple of
Amoghavajra. In 806 he came back and propagated the faith almost all
over the country. For the detail see 'A Short History of the Twelve
Japanese Buddhist Sects' (chap. viii.), by Dr. Nanjo.
[FN#74] Sai-cho, the founder of the Japanese Ten Dai Sect, first
learned the doctrine of the Northern School of Zen under Gyo-hyo
(died in 797), and afterwards he pursued the study of the same faith
under Siao Jan in China. Therefore to oppose the propagation of Zen
is, for Ten Dai priests, as much as to oppose the founder of their
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