• Competing With AmidaA Study and Translation of Jōkei's Miroku Kōshiki

Competition between various factions of devotional allegiance within Buddhism takes place not only in the sutras, commentaries, and doctrinal debates that promote one or the other of the prominent divinities, but also in ritual ceremonies featuring them. An example can be seen in the liturgical literary genre known as kōshikiinline graphic popular during the late Heian and early Kamakura period. Kōshiki, translated by one scholar as "Buddhist ceremonials,"1 are liturgical texts that, by promoting devotion to a particular buddha, bodhisattva, or patriarch, seek to generate a karmic link (kechieninline graphic between the ritual participants and the object of devotion. Jōkei inline graphic (1155-1213), a prominent Hossō monk best known for his critique of Hōen's inline graphic movement and for his precept-revival efforts, authored as many as thirty such texts. Among them is the piece considered here, Miroku kōshikiinline graphic. Written and performed in the context of the more popular aspiration for Amida's Pure Land that typifies the latter Heian and Kamakura period, this work aimed to foster devotion to the future buddha, Miroku (Sk. Maitreya). A translation of the text follows this introduction and analysis.2

The Literary Genre of Kōshiki

Like other medieval forms of liturgical worship, kōshiki fused a number of Buddhist and Japanese forms of ritual devotion.3 Yamada Shōzen inline graphic perhaps the leading Japanese scholar of this genre, contends that the development [End Page 43] of kōshiki is characteristic of what has come to be labeled sōgō bukkyōinline graphic, or "synthesized Buddhism."4 Historians generally identify Genshin's inline graphic (942-1017) Nijūgo zanmai shikiinline graphic (Reading on the Twenty-five Samādhi) as the first example of the genre, but the vast majority of extant kōshiki texts date to the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, after which the form's popularity, at least in terms of newly written texts, appears to have declined rapidly.

Form and Function. In the ritual based on a kōshiki text, perhaps ten to twelve monks and even more lay practitioners would gather to recite the text before an image of the featured deity. The ritual functioned socially to form a bond among a group of devotees seeking to further their understanding and faith. It did not consist simply of an expert or ritual specialist lecturing to the assembly.5 Because kōshiki involved audience participation and sometimes included a performative dimension as well, they have been characterized as a popular form of hō-einline graphic, a more elaborate ritual performed before a largely monastic and aristocratic audience.6 Although transcribed in kanbun, kōshiki were recited in vernacular Japanese or the Sino-Japanese hybrid known as wakan konkōbuninline graphic, making them intelligible to all present. With the exception of musicologists, scholars have not given the genre much attention until recently, but from 1991 to 1995, Taishō University (in Tokyo) sponsored a research group, Kōshiki Kenkyūkai inline graphic, devoted specifically to the study of kōshiki. The published findings of the group, including analyses and annotated translations of a number of texts, have contributed significantly to scholarly understanding of various aspects of the genre.7 In light of the substantial number of texts and the prominence of the most prolific authors, further study of kōshiki promises insights into the forms of propagation and teaching that took shape between the tenth to thirteenth centuries as well as the worship practices of the laity during the same period.

Kōshiki incorporate a variety of Buddhist devotional forms and aims, including hymns of praise (kadainline graphic; Sk. gāthā; one of twelve types of scripture in metrical verse), ritual offerings (denguinline graphic), communal obeisance (sōreiinline graphic), transfer of merit (ekōinline graphic), and pronouncements of intent (hyōbyakuinline graphic).8 The kō of kōshiki might best be rendered as reading, since it involves a fixed liturgy, in contrast to a more normal, unconstrained sermon (sekkyōinline graphic). The text, which generally praises the virtues of a particular buddha, bodhisattva, patriarch, or sutra, provides the framework for a performance that takes place before an [End Page 44] image of the featured object of devotion (honzoninline graphic). As with Jōkei;s Dōshinki kōshikiinline graphic and his Hosshin kōshikiinline graphic, which explain the importance of arousing the aspiration for enlightenement, the focus may even be an important Buddhist concept. In any case, the kōshiki usually serves in some fashion to clarify for the average listener a text or texts closely connected to the object of devotion.

Structurally, kōshiki are commonly divided into three of five sections. The ceremonial master (shikishiinline graphic reads a section, whereafter a group of monks recites a brief chorus. At the conclusion of each chorus, all in attendance often recite a brief phrase, like a dhāra ṇī, three times. The text itself is ordinarily a mixture of scriptural citations and explanations or commentary. The rituals, performed on a monthly or yearly basis, usually took place in the main temple hall, but Myōe inline graphic (1173-1232) was known to perform in the open air, or, if the weather was severe, at the house of followers.9 Since the intent was to convey the message of the text in a way that was memorable and understandable, the performances occasionally included even theatrical aspects, with monks wearing bodhisattva masks or dramatically acting out portions of the narrative. In short, these rituals were meant to appeal to a broad spectrum of lay followers. Niels Guelberg, certainly the preeminent Western scholar of the genre, notes that kōshiki were considerably less ostentatious and expensive to perform than more prominent ritual forms, such as hō-e. He concludes that they were "more modest, personally religious acts."10

Although the overt purpose of the ritual was to induce a karmic link between the participants and the particular object of devotion, it also served other, perhaps more pragmatic functions—propagational, pedagogical, and even economic. A number of kōshiki, for example, were connected to kanjininline graphic contribution campaigns for specific temples.11 Indeed, the popularity of the genre may be related to the need for temples to find new sources of funding in the face of the decline in state support for Buddhism in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries and the destruction of numerous temple complexes by Taira no Shigehira inline graphic in 1180. [End Page 45]

Historical Development.

As noted above, Genshin's Nijūgo zanmai shiki is generally cited as the first example of the kōshiki genre. According to the version of this work transmitted within the Tendai school, the text was completed on 986.5.23.12 The text, which praises the merit of devotion to Amida and aspiration for birth in his Western Pure Land, was associated with the Nijūgo Zanmaie inline graphic, an exclusive assembly of twenty-five Mt. Hiei monks who met monthly and vowed mutual support in their quest of birth in Amida's Pure Land. Though curiously absent from the earliest list of "founding members" of this assembly, Genshin has traditionally been seen as a crucial figure within it, both because of his fame as author of the popular Ōjōyōshū inline graphic (Essentials of Salvation), written in 985, and because he was the head monk at Ryōgon'in inline graphicinline graphic where the assembly met on Mt. Hiei.13 Another significant figure in this assembly, and perhaps also in the popular development of the kōshiki genre, was Yoshishige no Yasutane inline graphic (c. 931-1002), a prominent courtier who took the tonsure in 986 and adopted the Buddhist name Jakushin inline graphic.

Two decades earlier, in 964, Yasutane had helped to establish a mixed assembly of twenty courtiers and twenty monks called the Kangaku-e inline graphic and dedicated to the study of Buddhism and Chinese poetry. The group met twice a year (on the fifteenth of the third and ninth months) at a temple at the eastern foot of Mt. Hiei to hear lectures on the Lotus Sutra, chant the nenbutsu, and compose poetry. Despite the somewhat dilettantish impression some have had of the Kangaku-e assembly, Edward Kamens contends that it was historically significant because it represented the "beginnings of very personal involvement by sincere lay Buddhists in Amidist piety and worship outside the confines of formal monastic ritual, and so marks an important development in the early history of the Pure Land movement."14 Yamada holds that this collaborative meeting between like-minded clerics and lay practitioners seeking to strengthen their spiritual efforts may also have played an influential role in the popularizing of "mixed" kōshiki assemblies.15 The Kangaku-e assembly disbanded in 986, when Yasutane took the tonsure. As this was also the first year of the Nijūgo Zanmai assembly, there is some ground to hypothesize that Yasutane may have played an important role in the formation of the latter as well. Yamada speculates that, upon taking the tonsure, Yasutane sought a more resolute, strictly monastic assembly than the mixed Kangaku-e.16

Nijūgo zanmai shiki is linked to two other early kōshiki: Seigan kōshikiinline graphic and Rokudō kōshikiinline graphic, with the names sometimes used interchangeably. According to Seiganji engiinline graphic, Seigan kōshiki, authored by Myōken [End Page 46] inline graphic (1026-1098), was performed monthly at Seiganji inline graphic in Kyoto.17 The engi account indicates that these monthly assemblies at Seiganji began to attract many lay practitioners. They thus furthered what might be called the popularization of this new medium of propagation. Numerous manuscripts of Rokudō kōshiki (in effect, an abbreviated version of Nijūgo zanmai shiki) have been found in the archives of various Tendai temples, leading scholars to surmise that this text was also quite popular and likely performed before mixed audiences. While Nijūgo zanmai shiki, performed for an exclusively monastic assembly, may have been the first of this liturgical genre, kōshiki thus quickly evolved into a medium of propagation to lay audiences and were an important element in the growing popularity of Tendai Pure Land teachings.18 It appears that monks were generally invited to write and perform kōshiki, and, given the prestige of the most prolific authors, we may surmise that the author's status was an important factor lending authority to the ritual performance.19

A number of kōshiki have traditionally been attributed to Genshin, although it is questionable whether he authored any of them. These include Jie daishi kōshikiinline graphic (which pays homage to the Tendai monk Ryōgen inline graphic, 912-985), Jizō kōshikiinline graphic, Shari kōshiki, and Nehan kōshikiinline graphic. Another important kōshiki is Yōkan's inline graphicŌjō kōshikiinline graphic. Yōkan (1033-1111), a Sanron monk affiliated with Tōdaiji inline graphic, was an important early Pure Land devotee and proponent of the oral nenbutsu. Performed on the fifteenth of every month, Ōjō kōshiki became even more widely distributed and performed than Rokudō kōshiki. As many as one hundred kana script versions, accessible to devotees who could not read kanji, are extant.20

Ironically, despite the important role of these kōshiki in the cultivation of Pure Land devotion from the mid-Heian forward, the overwhelming majority of identifiable extant texts that appeared after this early period of development were written by established monks promoting devotion to buddhas, bodhisattvas, and patriarchs other than Amida. Of the 306 extant kōshiki texts, only thirteen (less than 5 percent) feature Amida as the primary object of devotion.21 Figure 1 lists some of the most notable authors of the genre.22 The kōshiki attributed to Kūkai inline graphic and Saichō inline graphic are widely agreed to be apocryphal, and, as noted above, most of those traditionally credited to Genshin are of questionable attribution as well. Of the authors active in the late twelfth and early thirteenth century, Jien [End Page 47] inline graphic, Jōkei, Myōe, and Gyōen inline graphic were four of the leading figures of "established Buddhism" who opposed the teachings of the "new" Buddhist founders like Hōen and Shinran. It would appear that by the late Heian period, the kōshiki genre was an important tool for competing with the growing popularity of Amida devotion. Jōkei, the most prolific author, with at least thirty attributed texts, may be said to represent the "peak" of the genre.23

Figure 1. Major authors of kōshiki and the numbers attributed to them.
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Figure 1.

Major authors of kōshiki and the numbers attributed to them.

Although from the mid-thirteenth century on the appearance of new texts declined rather dramatically, the rituals based on existing kōshiki texts continued to be held, and a number of texts, among them Genshin's, are still performed today. Examples include Myōe's Shiza kōshikiinline graphic (Reading on the Four Sessions) performed within the Shingon school and Yōkan's Ōjō kōshiki.24

Jōkei and Miroku Devotion in Japan

Jōkei, also known as Gedatsu-shōin inline graphic, was born into the Fujiwara lineage in the turbulent last decades of the Heian era.25 At the early age of seven, he was sent to Kōfukuji inline graphic in Nara due to the exile of his father, Sadanori inline graphicinline graphic, after the Heiji disturbance of 1159. Four years later, Jōkei took the tonsure and trained under his uncle Kakuken inline graphic (1131-1212), who would later become superintendent of KŌfukuji, and Zōshun inline graphic (1104-1180), a prominent Hossō scholar-monk. By 1182, at the age of twenty-seven, he acted as a candidate (kengaku ryūgiinline graphic) at the Yuima-e inline graphic, the annual lecture on the Vimalakīrti Sutra given at Kōfukuji in the tenth month, and in 1186 he was appointed to the [End Page 48] prestigious position of lecturer (kōshiinline graphic) for the same assembly. This was followed by at least six appearances at the major assemblies in Nara over the next five years.

Widely recognized as one of the most revered monks of his time, Jōkei played a key role in several important aspects of early Kamakura Buddhism. He is perhaps best known for authoring the Kōfukuji Petition (Kōfukuji sōjōinline graphic), a request to the court on behalf of the eight established schools to censure Hōen for teaching that to be saved it was sufficient to rely solely on devotion to Amida and recitation of the nenbutsu (senju nenbutsuinline graphic). Jōkei also contributed to a precept-revival effort that blossomed fully in the Shingon-Ritsu movement of Eison inline graphic and NinshŌo inline graphic, and he worked to revive and reform Hossō doctrine. To this end, he authored a number of tracts that systematized Hossō teachings and introduced several important adaptations aimed at reconciling longstanding divisions between Hossō and the other Mahayana schools, particularly Tendai. He also is remembered as an ardent promoter of an eclectic collection of divinities, including Kannon inline graphic, the Kasuga inline graphic deity, Jizō inline graphic, Yakushi inline graphic, Shōtoku Taishi inline graphic, and—above all—Shākyamuni and Miroku.

Although Jōkei appeared to be headed toward a highly successful career in the Kōfukuji hierarchy, in 1192 he resolved to move to Kasagidera inline graphic, a somewhat remote mountain temple about twelve kilometers northeast of Nara and Kōfukuji. Kasagidera was well known as a propitious site for Miroku devotion because of a massive image of Miroku carved into the cliff overlooking the temple.26 Despite appeals from the regent Kujō Kanezane inline graphic (and even the Kasuga deity, if we are to believe Kasuga gongen genki-einline graphic), in the fall of the following year, Jōkei acted on this resolve and left Nara for Kasagi.27 The reasons for his departure are not altogether clear, but some evidence suggests that he wanted to separate himself from the highly politicized environment in Nara. While the move did not lead to a complete disengagement from worldly affairs, it marked a clear determination to adopt a life of reclusion (tonseiinline graphic).

During his fifteen years at Kasagidera, Jōkei led or participated in various kanjin (solicitation) campaigns and temple reconstructions and appeared fairly often in the capital to give lectures or oversee ritual ceremonies. He also promoted a wide variety of Buddhist devotions and practices among lay believers. It was during these years at Kasagidera, in 1205, that Jōkei wrote the Kōfukuji Petition. Three years later, in 1208, after expanding Kasagidera considerably, Jōkei moved to Kaijūsenji inline graphic, another remote temple, which was dedicated to Kannon. [End Page 49]

Two overriding soteriological themes appear to inform Jōkei's devotional tracts—an emphasis on the importance of aspiring for birth in the realms of Miroku and Kannon and an emphatic recognition of the need to rely on otherpowers in the universe in order to achieve this intermediate goal.28 In both regards, Jōkei was very much a product of his time and not wholly unlike his contemporary, Hōen. Where Jōkei differed from the new "paradigm of liberation," reflected in the teachings of Hōen, Shinran, Nichiren, and the Tendai school more generally, was in his attempt to balance recognition of the necessity to rely on other-powers with an equal emphasis on the importance of moral behavior and diligent effort (i.e., karmic causality).29

Miroku Devotion in Japan.

The history of devotion to Miroku in Japan dates back to the introduction of Buddhism.30 According to tradition, Shōtoku Taishi (574-622) was an early devotee. He was said to have placed images of Miroku in all newly constructed monasteries and to have aspired for birth in Miroku's heavenly realm (Tosotsuten inline graphic; Sk. Tusita).31 Kūkai, the transmitter of the Shingon tradition to Japan, also came to be depicted, hagiographically, as a prominent devotee.32 While the historical veracity of such accounts is questionable, the existence of Miroku devotion is not. Prominent Nara temples such as Yakushiji inline graphic, Kōfukuji, Horyūji inline graphic, Toshōdaiji inline graphic, Saidaiji inline graphicinline graphic, and Tōdaiji all featured images of Miroku and hosted devotional assemblies. Miroku was of particular importance at Kōfukuji, associated with the Hossō school, because he was held to have taught Asaṇnga, the founder of the Indian Yogācaāra school from which the Hossō school was derived.33 Miroku thus held [End Page 50] place of importance within Japanese Buddhism from its earliest transmission through the Heian period.34

As numerous scholars have noted, there are two contrasting motifs within the Miroku devotional tradition. One is that of Miroku ascending as a bodhisattva to, and residing in, Tosotsu heaven. There, like Shōkyamuni before him, he prepares for his descent into the world as the next buddha. The second motif is that of Miroku, the future buddha, descending, some 5,670,000,000 years in the future, to renew the Dharma in the world by giving three lectures beneath a Dragon Flower tree. All those who attend Miroku's Dragon Flower Assembly will realize full enlightenment. The distinction between these motifs developed in China and is related to corresponding sutras that highlight these contrasting images of Miroku. The first emphasizes Miroku's ascent (jōshōinline graphic) to Tosotsu and the glorious features of that realm, while the second accentuates Miroku's future "messianic" descent (geshōinline graphic) into the world as a buddha. The ascending and descending nomenclature derives from the sutra titles: Mi-le shangsheng chinginline graphic (Jp. Miroku jōshō kyō) and Mi-le hsia-sheng chinginline graphicinline graphic (Jp. Miroku geshō kyō).35 The former not only details Shākyamuni's prediction of Miroku's ascent to Tosotsu, but emphasizes that those who recite the sutras, practice virtue, and actively worship Miroku will be welcomed at death into that heavenly realm. It thus explicitly links Miroku's ascent and the practitioner's birth in Miroku's realm.36

The specific aspiration of devotees to Miroku depends to some degree on the particular image being conveyed. That is, those focusing on Miroku residing in Tosotsu heaven aspire for birth in that realm, where, in the presence of the bodhisattva on the cusp of buddhahood, they can expect to advance quickly along the path. Those focusing on Miroku's future descent aspire to be present for the Dragon Flower Assembly, where it is virtually assured that they will become fully enlightened. While these two dimensions of Miroku are often conflated, at different times one or the other received greater emphasis. [End Page 51]

In the Nara period, concurrent with the elevation of the Hossō school centered at Kōfukuji to a position of prominence, one finds frequent reference to "Miroku's pure land" (Miroku jōdoinline graphic) and "Tosotsu heaven pure land" (Tosotsuten jōdoinline graphic).37 Likewise, as noted above, hagiographies of Shōtoku Taishi emphasized his aspiration for rebirth in Miroku's realm. Absent a strong distinction between the relative merit or difference between Amida's Pure Land and Miroku's Tosotsu heaven, both appear to have coexisted and interacted porously.38 During the Heian era, however, aspiration for Miroku's realm gradually diminished, and greater emphasis came to be placed on the hope of being present at the time of his future descent. This shift mirrored the rising popularity of Amida's Pure Land in both China and Japan. Devotees of Amida argued that birth in his Pure Land (Gokuraku inline graphic, or the "land of bliss") was superior to birth in Tosotsu for two reasons. First, Amida's Pure Land lies beyond the realm of desire, so that birth there is virtually equivalent to the realization of nirvana. Since Tosotsu, on the other hand, lies within the six realms, rebirth in it neither is permanent nor guarantees an escape from samsara. Second, the growing belief that faith in Amida was the primary prerequisite for rebirth in Gokuraku made rebirth there seem easier to attain than rebirth in Tosotsu, which required good works as well.

In addition to the increasing popularity of aspiration for Amida's Pure Land, preoccupation with mappōinline graphic (Final Age of the Dharma) may also have contributed to the shift in beliefs regarding Miroku to a focus on his future descent and the hope it implied.39 By Jōkei's time, Amida's Pure Land was clearly more popular as a destination for rebirth, but Jōkei would argue forcefully for the efficacy of aspiring for birth in Miroku's realm.

Jōkei's Miroku Devotion.

The importance of Miroku to Jōkei is evident as early as 1183. At the time he was twenty-nine years old and resided at the Hokuendō inline graphic within Kōfukuji, where Miroku was, and remains, the primary image (honzon). Jōkei's reclusive move to Kasagidera in 1193 is often cited as the most striking evidence of his devotion to Miroku. Long a center of Miroku worship, Kasagidera was also believed to be a manifestation of Tosotsu heaven in this world. Many scholars therefore conclude that it was Jōkei's commitment to Miroku and his specific aspiration for birth in Tosotsu that led him to move to Kasagidera.40 Upon arriving at Kasagi, Jōkei quite naturally promoted the temple's affiliation with Miroku in his efforts to procure patronage. A solicitation letter from 1196 appeals for support for a thousand-day relic (shariinline graphic) lecture at Kasagi and promises contributors a karmic connection to both Shōkyamuni and Miroku: [End Page 52]

We appeal for support to conduct a ceremony honoring the shari of the supreme teacher Shākyamuni before the image of his successor Jison inline graphic [Miroku]. If you contribute but a little, you will surely attain the superior cause to see the Buddha, hear the Dharma, and arouse the aspiration for enlightenment (hosshininline graphic).41

The letter makes a clear link between Shākyamuni and Miroku, a feature evident as well in the Miroku kōshiki that is the focus of this analysis. In another kanjin appeal written in 1204, Jōkei proclaimed that, because Kasagidera is identified with Tosotsu, "All who set one foot on this ground will, ever still, [see] the moon of [Miroku's] inner realm. And among the monks residing on this mountain, who shall be kept from the spring of [Miroku's] descent?"42 Here, we see the conflation of the ascent and descent motifs noted above—birth in Miroku's realm necessarily carried the guarantee that the devotee would descend with Miroku and join the Dragon Flower Assembly.

Numerous works further attest to Jōkei's devotion to Miroku, among them Shin'yō shōinline graphic (Essentials of the Mind [Intent Upon Seeking Enlightenment]), which is generally thought to have been written around 1196, a few years after his move to Kasagi,43 and four kōshiki texts also thought to date to his time at Kasagidera. The four kōshiki comprise three different texts entitled Miroku kōshiki and a fourth entitled Tosotsu ryakuyōinline graphic.44 In addition to these Miroku-specific texts, various other writings also reflect Jōkei's allegiance to Miroku and aspiration for Tosotsu heaven. An entry from Kasagi-shōin daihannya rishu bun'ō nikkiinline graphic (1196), for example, records Jōkei's desire to take refuge in Miroku and his aspiration for birth in the inner realm of Tosotsu heaven.45 Similar praise for Miroku's realm can be found in works such as Betsugan kōshikiinline graphic (also known as Kasuga kōshiki), Hokekyō kōshikiinline graphic, Hosshin kōshiki (c. 1192), and Kasuga daimyōjin hotsuganmoninline graphic.46 It is probable that many of these texts figured [End Page 53] in Jōkei's broader fund-raising campaigns, but it is often difficult to discern from the texts themselves or other sources (diaries, temple records, and so forth) precisely when and where the rituals associated with these texts were performed.

While Miroku's saving grace, alluring realm, and messianic role as a symbol of hope for the future were undeniably important elements in Jōkei's piety, perhaps the most critical factor was the bodhisattva's centrality within the Yogācāra/Hossō school. As Jōkei reminds his audience repeatedly in Miroku kōshiki, Miroku was the fountainhead of the Hossō tradition by means of the teachings revealed to Asaṇga. Devotion to Miroku was one means of carrying that institutional and doctrinal transmission forward. In short, there is a close relationship between Jōkei's veneration of Miroku and promotion of Miroku as an object of devotion and his efforts to revive the status of the Hossō school and its doctrine.

Jōkei's Miroku Kōshiki: Summary and Analysis

The five-part Miroku kōshiki translated below was written in 1196, during Jōkei's early years at Kasagidera.47 I have chosen to translate this version in part because it is the longest of the three texts of the same name. The colophon indicates that it was written at Kasagidera on the tenth day of the second month of the seventh year of the Kenkyū era at the request of Bodaisan inline graphic. This is presumably a reference to Bodaisanji inline graphic (also known as Shōryakuji inline graphic), a Nara temple built in 992 by the high priest (sōjōinline graphic) Kanetoshi inline graphic] (?-?), a son of Fujiwara no Kaneie inline graphic (929-999). The temple was virtually destroyed, along with many others, during Taira no Shigehira's vengeful pillage of 1180. Later revived by Shin'en inline graphic (1153-1224), a Hossō monk of Fujiwara stock who was the brother of Kujō Kanezane and the Tendai cleric Jien, Bodaisanji became a branch temple (betsuininline graphic) of Kōfukuji. Other sources indicate that the requester for this kōshiki was a Senshin-shōin inline graphic of Bodaisan. Niels Guelberg notes that Senshin-shōin was a disciple of Shin'en, but other than this little is known of him. Records indicate that he was involved in kanjin campaigns at both Bodaisanji and Hokuendō at Kōfukuji, probably through his relationship with Shin'en.48 Jōkei seems to have taken part in a kanjin campaign to build a pagoda at Bodaisanji two years earlier, in 1194.49 Given that Shin'en, only two years Jōkei's senior, was administrative head (bettōinline graphic) of Kōfukuji (1181) during Jōkei's tenure there and was also of Fujiwara origin, it is almost certain that they would have known each other well.

All of this leads us to conjecture that the five-part Miroku kōshiki was written to be performed originally before the Miroku image at Hokuendō, possibly for the purpose of raising funds to rebuild Bodaisanji. Since the honzon of Bodaisanji [End Page 54] was Yakushi Nyorai, it is not likely that the ritual was held there. Performing the kōshiki at Hokuendō on behalf of Bodaisanji may have been a means to establish a link between the latter temple and the Kōfukuji/Hossō complex.

Although many of Jōkei's other kōshiki appear to be aimed more directly at mixed or nonmonastic groups, this text seems to have been written for a specifically Hossō monastic audience, which is another reason to hypothesize a connection with Hokuendō at Kōfukuji. It makes reference to a number of sophisticated Hossō ideas (such as the doctrine of consciousness-only, or yuishikiinline graphic) that would appear to be beyond the understanding of general listeners. There are also some references to the participants as "disciples of the Buddha" and inheritors of the Yogācāra/Hossō lineage, reinforcing the conclusion that the kōshiki was intended for monks.50

The text begins with an itemization of standard ritual procedures, including offerings, obeisance, petitions, and declarations of intent. This is followed by a series of homages to the Triple Body, Shākyamuni, and so forth, all the way down to the "minute realms illuminated by the buddha-eye." The text goes on to lament the conditions of the present world and the tragic plight of the beings therein. Given our deluded and sorrowful state, "there is nothing," Jōkei states, "like heeding directly the teachings of Shākyamuni or profoundly entrusting ourselves to the compassionate guidance of [Miroku]." He then praises the merit of devotion to Miroku:

The merit of one offering or one verse of praise is not simply a matter of awaiting the morning breeze of [Miroku's] Dragon Flower Assembly. Given [Miroku's] vow of unbounded mercy and compassion, how can we not desire [to see] the autumn clouds of Tosotsu? Thus, we engage in a noble deed whenever we direct our intention [toward Miroku]. Today's homage truly constitutes one such deed. Prostrating, we entreat the Three Treasures to receive mercifully [this offering of praise to Miroku].51

In addition to underscoring the merit of participating in such a liturgical ceremony, Jōkei is subtly telling his audience that its benefits lay not only in the hope of being present for the Dragon Flower Assembly in the distant future, but also in the more immediate reward of birth in Miroku's heavenly realm.

Jōkei then outlines the structure and content of the liturgical lecture:

Now, this lecture does not resemble that of ordinary times. I hope to express my mind by means of the [metaphor of passing through] five gates. The first [step] is to repent one's sins (zangeinline graphic); second is to turn to and rely upon Miroku; third is joyfully to seek the inner realm [of Tosotsu heaven]; fourth is truly [End Page 55] achieving superior birth; and fifth is the fulfillment of cause and completion of effect [of buddhahood].52

Here, we see the logical structure of Jōkei's presentation and the gradualist understanding of the path to enlightenment that underlies it. Other ritual texts describe a similar sequence. First, we must repent our sins (zange) and fully acknowledge the futility of our deluded way of perceiving and being in the world. Then, we must begin to recognize the virtues of Miroku, thereby grasping the merit of venerating this sacred figure. Once we have appreciated the virtue of Miroku's vows and long-pursued bodhisattva path, we can begin to see the benefits of aspiring for birth in his heavenly realm and the means of achieving birth there. Upon realizing birth in Tosotsu heaven, we can work to achieve full enlightenment as a result of being in the presence of that illustrious Dharma teacher.

Popular texts such as the Sutra of the Meditation on the Buddha of Immeasurable Life (Kuan wu-liang-shu chinginline graphic) and Vasubandhu's Treatise on the Sutra of Limitless Life (Wu-liang-shu ching yu-p'o-t'i-she yüan-sheng chiehinline graphic Sk. Sukhāvatīvyūhopadeśa) served as meditative guides for visualizing (nenbutsu sanmaiinline graphic, Sk. buddhānsmrti-samādhi) the virtuous features of Amida's body and pure land for various soteriological ends.53 Vasubandu's treatise includes a series of "five contemplative gates" (go nen moninline graphic) featuring Amida's body, praise, aspiration for birth in Amida's Pure Land, visualization of the Pure Land, and transfer of merit.54 It explains that the first four are preparation for the final goal of benefiting others (the perfection of virtue in oneself for the benefit of others). Richard Payne has argued convincingly that the entire sequence constitutes "a single, ritualized visualization practice."55 The Buddhist tradition is, of course, replete with such visualization guides. Miroku kōshiki is not a visualization text in the same sense, but the structure of Jōkei's presentation, evident from his reference to "five gates," through which participants sequentially pass, mirrors that in treatises such as Vasubandu's. While Miroku kōshiki clearly was not meant to serve as guide for contemplative practice, it may be appropriately interpreted as a ritual means that, like visualization, sought to lead the listener systematically to the attainment of the religious goal of enlightenment.

In the main body of the kōshiki, Jōkei sets forth the specifics of the five gates that will lead to birth in Miroku's heavenly realm and, ultimately, full enlightenment. Throughout he emphasizes the importance of diligent effort as well as reliance on the other-power of Miroku. He further weaves through the ritual text [End Page 56] repeated references to Miroku's place as the founder of the Hossō doctrinal and patriarchal tradition.

The first section begins with a conventional emphasis on the importance of repenting one's sins.

First, regarding the repentance of sins, we should know that the power of false deeds is great and can obstruct the two benefits [of a bodhisattva].56 If one seeks liberation (gedatsuinline graphic), then one must by all means practice repentance (zange).57

But Jōkei immediately moves to an emphasis on the impermanent nature of all things, including one's own body, self, and indeed all dharmas. This leads to a brief exposition on the Hossō concept of consciousness-only:

The three worlds are but one mind, and there are no distinct dharmas outside the mind. By means of delusion and perfuming (komō kunjūinline graphic), nonexistence appears as existence.58 The sphere of cognition is originally neither good nor evil, but merely the site of the mind's [deluded] discriminations.59

Jōkei thus proceeds from a perspective that appears to affirm the existence of one's negative karma and the necessity of repentance, conventionally understood, to a perspective that stresses the empty nature of all dharmas. It is possible, he asserts, to obliterate kalpas of negative karma just by realizing their unproduced nature.

Examining the issue closely in this way is called the repentance of the unproduced, [whereby] the [karmic results of ] serious offenses committed through the lives of a million incalculably long aeons are completely destroyed in an instant. Truly the wondrous power of the Great Vehicle is difficult to conceive!60

This reversal of perspective is grounded in the Hossō doctrine of consciousnessonly. All distinctions—self and other, good and evil, birth and death—originate within the mind and do not reflect discrete ontological essences within the world. Such a profound realization is difficult, Jōkei acknowledges, so he ends the section with a gāthā that calls on the protection and power of the buddhas:

We beseech the various buddhas to grant their holy protection and skillfully extinguish all deluded views of the mind. And we pray that we may quickly realize the origin of the mind's true nature and swiftly witness the unexcelled [End Page 57] teaching of the Tathāgata. Since karma have no fixed nature, they are unproduced and also not subject to annihilation.

We pay homage to the future guide, Miroku Nyorai, and repent with shame raising the hindrances to enlightenment by the sins we have committed through the six senses (repeat three times).61

This final stanza, repeated three times by all in attendance, functions much like a dhāraṇī or mantra. Though not indicated in the summary that follows, each section concludes with the chanting of a gāthā that expresses the essence of the section and ends with a dharaṇī repeated three times. In the passage just cited, the message seems to be that while it is difficult to realize the "unproduced nature" of sinful karma, one may fruitfully rely on the Tathāgata's power to achieve this realization. In other words, what is being requested is not the destruction of kalpas of accumulated negative karma, but the destruction of the mental obstructions that are the consequence of our sinful actions. The distinction is subtle, but it resonates clearly with the Hossō teaching of "consciousness-only."

The second gate praises the virtues of Miroku, whose emancipatory power, because he is the next buddha of our sahā world, exceeds that of all other buddhas, even Shākyamuni.62 The text proclaims, "by steadfastly cultivating [insight into the teaching of] consciousness-only (yuishiki), he will realize the true essence of the mind."63 Emphasizing Miroku's unique link to the Hossō school, Jōkei encourages his audience to apply themselves to its teachings. He further reminds his listeners that even though each of them has different aspirations and different spiritual capacities, all should be comforted by Miroku's resolute vow of long ago: "I [Miroku] have obtained the transmission of the teaching entrusted by the Great Teacher Shākyamuni. I shall not abandon even those who do not call me to mind. How much more so [shall I assist] those who do!"64 This is the universal and unshakable vow of Miroku that, as Jōkei stresses, one must call to mind and believe in faithfully.

The third gate praises the merit of the inner palace of Tosotsu heaven, where Miroku resides until the time of his descent as the next buddha. Because of his spiritual accomplishments, Miroku has been able to purify that abode, so that "it is rightly called a pure land within the defiled realm (edo no naka no jōdoinline graphicinline graphic)."65 Jōkei proceeds to describe Tosotsu heaven, with its tiered gardens of countless jeweled trees and flowers and its forty-nine-storied inner palace where Miroku sits upon the great lion throne, and to recount the many features, major and minor, of Miroku himself. Miroku, he reports, ceaselessly preaches the Dharma on the Stage of Nonretrogression to all classes of gods, who comprehend [End Page 58] and practice effortlessly due to the power of Miroku's vow. Jōkei further praises the patriarchs of the Hossō tradition—Asaṇga, Vasubandhu, Hsüan-tsang inline graphic (600-664), etc.—who inherited Miroku's Dharma teaching.

The fourth gate is to achieve a superior birth in the inner realm of Miroku's palace, "according to the precedents established in the three countries [India, China, and Japan]."66 As with those aspiring for birth in Amida's Western Paradise, one's state of mind at the moment of death is crucial in this endeavor. Jōkei encourages his audience to pray for a death without suffering and under the protection of the celestial deities. The idea, of course, is to avoid all potential distractions at the moment of death, including the diversionary tactics of Māra himself. "By knowing of the moment in advance," Jōkei advises, "you should wait upon death [as though it were a] guest, a friend, or helper and single-mindedly contemplate the Buddha."67 The text describes Miroku's extraordinary arrival at the bedside of the dying devotee in what amounts to a guided visualization, as though it were happening in the present. Once the devotee is born into the inner realm of Tosotsu, Miroku will reveal the Hossō teaching of the Middle Way through the principle of consciousness-only. Jōkei concludes by praising the good fortune of "our country" at having received this illustrious transmission of Hossō teachings.

The final gate depicts an individual before Miroku, recalling the causes and conditions—including birth, renunciation, journey through six destinies, and gradual progress along the bodhisattva path—that led to Miroku's vow being successfully fulfilled. In doing so, the individual envisions his or her own path to enlightenment alongside Miroku. The section concludes:

During the constellation of the present age (gengōinline graphic),68 you shall serve under all the buddhas [beginning from] the Stage of Accumulation and advance step by step [along the bodhisattva path]. At length, you shall ascend to the jeweled lotus throne and receive the name of one who has become perfectly enlightened. As you have the buddha nature, nothing here will be difficult [to attain]. Truly, one ought to know that all of this results from the magnificent merciful benevolence (ontokuinline graphic) of Shākyamuni and Miroku.69

Even as Jōkei reminds his audience of the importance of diligent effort and virtuous behavior, the emphasis here is clearly on the saving power of Miroku, on whose accumulated wealth of merit and on the power of whose vow we should rely.

Hiraoka Jōkai inline graphic, who has authored several detailed studies of Miroku worship in Japan, identifies Jōkei as perhaps the critical figure in the revival of [End Page 59] Miroku devotion during the medieval era. Devoting over seventy pages to his analysis of Jōkei, Hiraoka notes in particular Jōkei's emphasis on the ascent motif and on the relative advantages of seeking and realizing birth in Miroku's realm.70 Hiraoka also traces Jōkei's influence through the Tōdaiji monk Sōshōshōin inline graphic (1202-1278), who followed Jōkei at Kasagidera and compiled an influential collection of Miroku devotional texts, many of them composed by Jōkei, entitled Miroku nyorai kan'ō shōinline graphic (Collection of Faithful Responses to Miroku Nyorai).71 Judging from Hiraoka's analysis, Jōkei was relatively successful in reviving, throughout all levels of medieval society, devotion to Miroku and, more specifically, aspirations for birth in Miroku's realm. Nevertheless, the efforts of Jōkei and his followers did not seem to stem the rising popularity of Amida Buddha.

Miroku and Amida

The backdrop to Jōkei's emphasis on aspiring for birth in Miroku's realm is always and ever the growing dominance of Amida devotion. At one point in the text, he actually contends that one who realizes birth in Tosotsu heaven is virtually assured birth in Amida's realm in the next life:

All classes of gods [residing in Tosotsu heaven], in accordance with their vows, overcome their afflictions in one thought, cultivate the highest causes of enlightenment (jōbon no shuininline graphic), and by means of a single invocation, achieve the assurance of rebirth (ōjō) [in Amida's Pure Land] in their next life. [Although] these practices are truly easy, their merit is extraordinarily great. Without the power of Miroku's vow, this would not be possible. Who among even the great sages and the most ignorant would not hope for this?72

Birth in Miroku's realm is thus an important and, indeed for many, necessary stepping stone for realizing birth in Amida's realm. In the passage that follows, Jōkei further asserts that many of those currently residing in Amida's Pure Land had previously passed through Tosotsu. He goes on to remind his audience that there is an important tradition of thinkers within the Hossō school, including Asaṇga, Vasubandhu, Sīlabhadra (529-645), Hsüan-tsang, and K'uei-chi inline graphic­ (632-682), who attest to the primacy of Miroku's realm. In a rather admonishing tone, he asks his listeners rhetorically, "And of what lineage are we also? Or do we rather forget the precedent established [by these patriarchs]?"73 No doubt many in his audience, as there would have been in any assembly of monks of the established schools from the mid-Heian period forward, practiced nenbutsu recitation and aspired for birth in Amida's realm. Jōkei was evidently trying to bring this Hossō flock back into the fold, but he was not above borrowing from the popular capital of Amida devotion to accomplish the task. [End Page 60]

Such passages appear to reflect sectarian rhetoric more than substantive belief, but there is an important principle underlying Jōkei's advocacy of Miroku's realm—as opposed to Amida's Pure Land—that is grounded in a quite well-established conceptualization of the bodhisattva path. Space prevents venturing too far into an analysis of variations on the bodhisattva path and the necessary qualifications for birth in different Buddha realms, but at least some brief mention seems in order.

In line with the three-body theory of the Buddha (sanshininline graphic, Sk. trikāya), Amida Buddha is widely classified as a Reward Body (hōjininline graphic, Sk. sambhogakāya), so titled because it is the reward for the fulfillment of a buddha's vows and practice.74 The realm of such a buddha is called a reward land (hōdoinline graphic), and, according to the Hossō school, birth there requires the practitioner to have reached the first of the ten stages (jūjiinline graphic, Sk. bhūmi) on the bodhisattva path. In reality, this first stage is more advanced than it appears, since these ten bhūmi actually constitute stages forty-one to fifty in the fifty-two stages to buddhahood and are cultivated in the third and fourth stages of Hossō's five-stage system. Before reaching the third stage, one must have aroused the aspiration for enlightenment (bodaishininline graphic) and realized the wisdom free of delusion, which encompasses forty stages of development.75 It is at this point that a bodhisattva has reached the well-known Stage of Nonretrogression (futaitenjiinline graphic) where he is no longer susceptible to backsliding. To attain this rather advanced stage on the bodhisattva path, according to the Hossō tradition, can take anywhere from one to two kalpas. Figure 2 outlines the five basic stages of a bodhisattva.

This elaborate system, or ones very similar to it, were common to virtually all the established schools of Buddhism. The stages of development measure the bodhisattva's progress along the path to buddhahood and reflect the process of perfecting the virtues necessary for liberating the mind from delusion. As the bodhisattva advances, he acquires increasing powers of perception that enable him to perceive more subtle aspects of buddhahood represented by the different bodies of the Buddha. Deluded beings are not born into Amida's Pure Land because they lack the insight and wisdom to perceive the subtle facets of that realm or the buddha within. The fundamental principles that underlie the bodhisattva's progress are causality and concerted effort. The stages of a bodhisattva, [End Page 61] particularly from a Hossō perspective, reflect, moreover, the practitioner's visualization, or samādhi, capacity.

Figure 2. The Hossō five bodhisattva stages.
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Figure 2.

The Hossō five bodhisattva stages.

There were, of course, competing interpretations of the requirements for birth in Amida's realm. Devotees to Amida developed different strategies for overcoming these intimidating specifications. For example, Chih-i inline graphic(538-597), the third patriarch of T'ien-t'ai in China, argued that Amida should properly be classified as a Transformation Body (ōjininline graphic or keshininline graphic, Sk. Nirmāakāya) rather than as a Reward Body.76 Even Hīayāa sages and ordinary beings (those still harboring defilements), he asserted, can thus perceive Amida and attain birth in his realm. Saichō and the Tendai school in Japan adopted the same position. Shan-tao inline graphic (613-681), an early and influential devotee of Amida in China, by contrast, accepted the more conventional classification of Amida as a Reward Body. Shan-tao's contribution to Pure Land devotion was his argument that ordinary beings can nevertheless attain birth in Amida's realm by virtue of Amida's Original Vow. He addresses this issue in Hsüan-i feninline graphic (Essential Meanings):

Question: You have already said that the land [of Amida] is a reward land. If the nature of a reward land is too lofty and subtle for lesser sages, how can you say that ordinary beings with impure hindrances can enter there? [End Page 62]

Answer: Although it is said that due to the impure hindrances of sentient beings, it is truly difficult for them to aspire for that land, the correct view is that by entrusting oneself to the power of [Amida's] vow, anyone can enter.77

Hōen followed the same line of argument, and Shinran went even further in asserting that Amida possesses aspects of all three buddha-bodies, so that any sentient being can perceive his Pure Land.78 In addition to these strategies for overcoming the traditionally recognized difficulties in realizing birth in Amida's realm, there were also theories that distinguished hierarchical levels within Gokuraku suited to practitioners of different levels of attainment.79

In contrast to Amida, both Miroku and Kannon are classified as advanced or "celestial" bodhisattvas, which means they are not even at the level of a Transformation Body buddha. Their realms fall within the sahā world, and entry to them requires only that one have aroused the aspiration for enlightenment, if indeed even that. Jōkei argues in numerous texts that, precisely because of these less demanding requirements, it is far more prudent to aspire for the realms of these two bodhisattvas. To focus on these realms is even more judicious when we take into consideration the limitations of the age of mappō. In response to the inevitable criticism that the devotee remains vulnerable to backsliding even if he attains birth in either of these realms, Jōkei stresses that each has a special location for advanced practitioners who have reached the Stage of Nonretro-gression. Moreover, abiding in the presence of such advanced bodhisattvas and hearing the Dharma they teach all but assures one of realizing that stage. In line with this argument, Jōkei emphasizes at several points in Miroku kōshiki that Miroku specifically preaches the Dharma of the Stage of Nonretrogression within Tosotsu, and that those who hear this teaching are certain to achieve that status.

This may seem to be no more than a trivial debate over differing views of the bodhisattva path, but I would argue that, by resisting the increasingly accepted assertion that Amida's vow overcomes all obstacles, Jōkei tried to qualify the rhetoric of Pure Land advocates like Hōen who promoted absolute reliance on the other-power of Amida. In his critique in the Kōfukuji Petition of Hōen's senju nenbutsu movement, Jōkei expressed emphatic concern about its negative impact on social morality. He argued, in brief, that absolute reliance on the [End Page 63] nenbutsu and Amida might lead to the assumption that moral behavior is soteriologically irrelevant. Throughout the petition, he also emphasized the importance of discipline within the monastic tradition and Buddhist teachings more broadly. In other words, despite his clear recognition of the necessity of reliance on other-powers mediated by the compassionate buddhas and bodhisattvas, Jōkei recognized that immoral actions are not without consequences. Miroku kōshiki similarly gives voice to this doctrine of the middle way.

Final Reflections

We have touched upon a number of different functions served by this kōshiki. Pedagogically, it stressed important doctrinal concepts, the necessity for repentance, and the virtues of devoting oneself to Miroku Bodhisattva. It also served sectarian purposes in that it continually highlights the distinctive merit of the Hossō school—its heritage, patriarchs, and teachings. Finally, given that this ritual may have been performed as part of a kanjin campaign or at least have been intended to garner needed patronage, it had an important economic dimension as well. It was clearly intended to promote devotion to the featured deity and to highlight the deity's relationship to the temple, school, and teachings associated with him. In this respect, to put it crudely, their creators must have seen such kōshiki as effective promotional or advertising devices.

In addition to these functions, this kōshiki or, more precisely, the ritual performance based on it, also had an important soteriological dimension. Apart from its intellectual content, Jōkei's Miroku kōshiki, was first and foremost a ritual text. It was probably not studied often as a text, and some of the novice monks within the audience possibly did not understand all the allusions to Hossō doctrine or to the requirements for birth in competing realms. The summary gāthās and dhāraṇī recited at the end of each section were the esoteric tools by which each participant and the group as a whole might establish karmic bonds to Miroku. In short, the text was probably revered more for its ritual power than for any doctrinal content.

Precisely because of its multidimensional character, the kōshiki genre represents an important scholarly resource for understanding the dynamics of late Heian and early Kamakura religious developments at both the institutional and popular level. The popularity of the genre among rather prominent monks of the established schools suggests that they found such rituals effective tools for reaching a wide range of adherents. [End Page 64]

Jōkei's Five-Part Miroku Kōshiki (c. 1196) A Translation

[The ritual is conducted in the following order:] ritual offerings (dengu), communal obeisance to the Buddha (sōrei), the four ceremonies (hōyōinline graphic),80 petitions to the gods (jinbun ­ inline graphic),81 and an opening pronouncement of intent (hyōbyaku). Reverently we address [the following:] the Triple Body of the Tathāgata; the noble teaching of the Middle Way between being and emptiness and the three-periods teaching;82 the bodhisattvas treading the early and higher stages [of the bodhisattva path]; those who are still learning, those who have nothing more to learn, and all wise and noble members of the Sangha; Shākyamuni Tathāgata, sovereign of the great compassionate teaching (daion kyōshuinline graphic);83 the future teacher Miroku Jison; the minute realms (mijin setsudoinline graphic) illuminated by the buddha-eye; all the three jewels, whether manifested or unmanifested; and we say:

Long choked by the smoke of a burning house, the triple world [of samsara] is not at rest.84 Like bubbles floating on the surface of water, [one life] does not last even one hundred years. The deluded are not even aware of their delusion. And though they endure suffering, they return again and again as though they enjoy it. The covetous multiply their greed and, facing death, crave life all the more. How difficult it is to renounce the age-old habits of this world! How fortunate we are to have encountered the True Dharma of the Mahāyāna! Yet even though we are so near the means of escape [from samsara], we nevertheless rush towards the gateway of worldly fame and profit and vainly become slaves to the [End Page 65] affections (on'aiinline graphic).85 Even if we should happen to practice some good action, still we lack sincerity, and compared to our evil deeds, [this little good] is hardly worth speaking of. The endless cycle of transmigration (rinneinline graphic) is long, and it is invariably sorrowful. Given our minimal capacity, how many lifetimes, how many kalpas in obscurity, will it take to realize buddhahood if we depend on our own efforts and thoughts? There is nothing like heeding directly the teachings of Shākyamuni or profoundly entrusting ourselves to the compassionate guidance of Jishi inline graphic [Miroku].86 The merit of one offering or one verse of praise is not simply a matter of awaiting the morning breeze of [Miroku's] Dragon Flower Assembly. Given [Miroku's] vow of unbounded mercy and compassion, how can we not desire [to see] the autumn clouds of Tosotsu? Thus, we engage in a noble deed whenever we direct our intention [toward Miroku]. Today's homage truly constitutes one such deed. Prostrating, we entreat the Three Treasures to receive mercifully [this offering of praise to Miroku].

Now, this lecture does not resemble that of ordinary times. I hope to express my mind by means of the [metaphor of passing through] five gates. The first [step] is to repent one's sins (zange); second is to turn to and rely upon Miroku; third is joyfully to seek the inner realm [of Tosotsu heaven]; fourth is truly achieving superior birth; and fifth is the fulfillment of cause and completion of effect [of buddhahood].

Part 1

First, regarding the repentance of sins, we should know that the power of false deeds is great and can obstruct the two benefits [of a bodhisattva].87 If one seeks liberation (gedatsu), then one must by all means practice repentance (zange). Even though delusion, the root of sin for all beings, is profound, the true production of afflictions (bonnōinline graphic) depends solely on the mistaken conception of self (ganininline graphic).88 We should thus quiet the mind and constantly observe our bodies. The body is like a decaying house barely supported by the pillar of life (inochi no hashirainline graphic). And the mind seeks to pass on with the breath like a traveling guest lodging [during a journey]. A woman's beauty is no more than the effect of penciling her eyebrows and painting her pale white skin; men and women engaged in carnal pleasures in fact embrace reeking corpses. When the body grows cold after the soul passes away, it will be discarded in the wilderness. The rains will drench it, the sun will beat down upon it, and in the twinkling of an eye it will have decomposed. When burned, it will reduce to ashes. [End Page 66] How shall we regard its form in bygone days when it is buried and returns once again to the earth? Someone who thinks of an old friend, wistfully recalls a name. But while that name seems more refreshing than the sounds in a valley, this is merely hoping for some advantage [over death]. In truth, that advantage is emptier than a dream of springtime.

If you obey the self, you will receive affection (on'ai). But if you turn against the self, you will immediately make it your adversary. These two gates of obedience and disobedience represent the futility of the human condition. In the end, all of this is based on attachment to the self of no-self and calculation of the permanence of impermanence. The four types of wrong views distort and confuse what appears before our eyes.89 People in the world should be ashamed. How much more should disciples of Shâkyamuni! Should you return to the old dwellings of the three woeful destinies, you will pass by some one thousand buddhas who have appeared to save [those who inhabit these sad destinies].90 Despite hearing admonitions against returning empty-handed from a mountain of jewels, you still show no surprise.

Nonetheless, the three worlds are but one mind, and there are no distinct dharmas outside the mind. By means of delusion and perfuming (komō kunjū), nonexistence appears as existence.91 The sphere of cognition is originally neither good nor evil, but merely the site of the mind's [deluded] discriminations.92 Body and speech do not of themselves arise, but are the constructed tendency of the onemind. This one-mind is also where the myriad causes and conditions (shueninline graphic) come to fruition. Causes (eninline graphic) produce other causes, [yet] one after another they are unknowable [i.e., they are empty of underlying essence]. Moment by moment, these causes and conditions cease and then [new ones] arise. Within the Three Worlds [of past, present, and future], cause and effect are both empty. The past is empty on account of its already having passed away. The future, difficult to approach like the trail of a bird in flight, does not exist because it is as yet unproduced. Who can predict the time of sky blossom fruits?93 And one thought in the present, [like] a flash of lightening, is over in an instant. Birth is not true birth. And since [dharmas] are not produced, neither are they extinguished. The myriad characteristics become tranquil (jakumetsuinline graphic), and the body becomes true suchness (shinnyoinline graphic). There is no darkness in light. How can suchness admit into it falsity? [End Page 67]

Examining the issue closely in this way is called the repentance of the unproduced [whereby] the [karmic results of] serious offenses committed through the lives of a million incalculably long aeons are completely destroyed in an instant. Truly the wondrous power of the Great Vehicle is difficult to conceive! Yet stilling one's mind time after time is not likely to wipe away all sinful hindrances (zaishōinline graphic). Therefore, we intone this gāthā, chanting:

We beseech the various buddhas to grant their holy protection and skillfully extinguish all deluded views of the mind. And we pray that we may quickly realize the origin of the mind's true nature and swiftly witness the unexcelled teaching of the Tathāgata. Since karma have no fixed nature, they are unproduced and also not subject to annihilation.

inline graphic

Namu tōrai dōshi Miroku nyorai zanki zange rokkon zaishō

We pay homage to the future guide, Miroku Nyorai, and repent with shame raising the hindrances to enlightenment by the sins we have committed through the six senses (repeat three times).

Part 2

Having repented and being of pure body and mind, [one approaches] the second [gate, which] is to have absolute trust (kieinline graphic) in Miroku. It is essential that we turn to Miroku in order to be received (injōinline graphic) [at death]. The reason is that, although the benefits and benevolence of the great sages are equal, sentient beings receive the teachings differently according to their capacity (kikaninline graphic). This is undoubtedly the result of relations spanning numerous lives from time immemorial. Now, the benevolent virtue of Shākyamuni, teacher of the present age, surpasses all buddhas. Ajita94 [Miroku] is the successor to the world-honored one; his karmic connections through many lifetimes (shukueninline graphic) are bound to this world. Who more than these two buddhas should people of this world look up to? Among the countless sentient beings who will attend Miroku's three [Dragon Flower] Assembly lectures will be those who have even one causal connection to the Dharma taught long ago by Shākyamuni. Although we are lacking in skill, why should we be left out of that assembly? Moreover, Jison [Miroku], who, from the time of the Buddha with the Brilliance of the Sun, Moon, and Lamp95 until the time of Shākyamuni's appearance in this world, was known as the Fame-seeking Bodhisattva, will attain buddhahood in his next lifetime. By steadfastly cultivating [insight into the teaching of] consciousness-only (yuishiki), he will realize the true essence of the mind. [End Page 68]

In due course, nine hundred years after the parinirvāna of the Tathāgata Shākyamuni, [Miroku] descended to the lecture hall at Ayodhā96 and expounded the five-part [Yogācāra-bhūmi].97 This represents the origin of the Hossō school of Māhāyana. As we apply ourselves to this teaching every morning and every evening, enlightenment unfolds with each word and phrase, leading mysteriously to our establishing a karmic connection (kien ­inline graphic) [to Miroku]. How could we doubt that [Miroku] will receive us? Although we are practitioners of the School of the Middle Way, we each have different aspirations. It is not that we are duplicitous, but perhaps our buddha-eye is obscured. It is for this reason that Miroku himself, according to the sermon of Shākyamuni, declared: "I have obtained the transmission of the teaching entrusted by the Great Teacher Shākyamuni. I shall not abandon even those who do not call me to mind. How much more so [shall I assist] those who do!" Ah! This is the basis for trust (fuzokuinline graphic) in the Tathāgata! Although we look up to these words of truth (jōtaiinline graphic), they also preserve the promise of Miroku's becoming the future buddha (fushoinline graphic). All the more does this make known his gallant (ingininline graphic) intention. Even if Mt. Sumeru should be shaken and moved or the sun and moon fall to the earth, the golden words of the two sages will surely not dare to change. Whenever we recall this matter, we feel sadness and joy. Thus, we intone this gāthā, chanting:

In accordance with the Buddha with the Brilliance of the Sun, Moon, and Lamp, Miroku realized the samādhi of consciousness-only by means of which he expounded on the seventeen stages of practice in the [Yugashiji roninline graphic] that is now part of the True Dharma of Shākyamuni. He will later become the buddha named Miroku, broadly leading sentient beings to the other shore.

inline graphic

Namu tōrai dōshi Miroku nyorai shōjō seze chigu chōdai

We pay homage to the future guide, Miroku Nyorai; may we encounter him in lifetime after lifetime and age after age (repeat three times).

Part 3

Having established absolute trust in Miroku, [one approaches] the third [gate, which] is to seek joyfully the inner palace of Tosotsu heaven according to various primary and secondary causes. It is essential that we joyously seek Tosotsu heaven if we hope to meet (chiguinline graphic) [Miroku]. He is the bodhisattva who will surely attain supreme enlightenment and become the next buddha of the ten directions and the three worlds. Until then, he dwells in Tosotsu heaven. Having diligently cultivated good moral activities, he majestically purified that abode, [End Page 69] and so it is rightly called a pure land within the defiled realm.98 This is especially serious, so do not take it lightly. The bodhisattva's realm has both an outer and an inner palace. In the Jōshō kyō, [Miroku] states: "If I were to broadly describe [the majesty of] my realm for but one intermediate kalpa, I would not exhaust the topic."99 How then could our clumsy efforts possibly suffice to expound its praises?

Let us simply note that what is known as the outer palace is comprised of fifty billion jeweled edifices, each one of which has a seven-tiered garden, all constructed of the seven jewels.100 Each and every jewel emits ten billion rays of light, and each ray of light transforms itself into fifty billion lotus flowers. These flowers in turn give rise to fifty billion rows of trees whose crystalline fruits reflect a myriad of colors and forms. Their [reflected] brilliance revolves in a clockwise manner, emitting a sound of great mercy and compassion. Residing beneath the trees are gods and goddesses who,101 amid exquisite music, expound on the Dharma of the Stage of Nonretrogression.102 A wall sixty-two yojana high surrounds [the outer palace on] all sides.103 A dragon-king guards it and brings rain upon the fifty billion jeweled trees, and even the trees preach the profound Dharma when a breeze rustles them.

Thus is the appearance of the outer palace. How much more [glorious is the appearance of] the forty-nine-storied inner palace of he who will become the Buddha in one more lifetime! Each and every aspect of its majesty fully express the realization of [his] virtues. Indeed, seeing, hearing, cognition, and knowing constitute the superior conditions for enlightenment.104 One who faces this palace has necessarily reached the Stage of Nonretrogression. The water of the [palace's] lapis-lazuli-jeweled canal wells up playfully between the [palace] ridgepoles, while disciples of ornate virtue and fragrant sounds (getoku kōon no tomogarainline graphic) manifest various phenomena from their very bodies. We should consider the flawless connection between cause and effect (hōōinline graphic) [that has led to] the undefiled omniscience [of these bodhisattvas].105 Truly, can such be transcended? Within the maṇi (Jp. maniinline graphic) jeweled palace,106 a sheer curtain, [End Page 70] adorned with fifty billion flowers comprised of all manner of jewels, hangs above the Great Lion Throne. One hundred thousand brahma kings draw near from the ten directions, suspend from this curtain bells from the brahma heaven, and then cover it with a net made from strings of jewels (ramōinline graphic; Sk. jālavātāyana).

The body of the Great Sage Miroku, seated in the lotus position upon the throne, is of majestic dimensions and extends sixteen yojana high. The tuft on the top of his head is the color of dark blue lapis lazuli. He wears a deva-crown adorned with maṇi jewels107 within which dwell the transformation buddhabodhisattvas.108 The original teacher Shākyamuni also comes to aid in this transformation [from a bodhisattva to a buddha]. Each and every one of [Miroku's] thirty-two marks contains the color of fifty billion jewels, and each of his eighty minor marks emits eighty-four thousand luminous clouds. Arrayed in this infinite glory before a golden peak resplendent in the morning sun, [Miroku] preaches to the great omniscient brahmas with [a voice like] thunder reverberating through the empty autumn skies. Throughout the day and night he expounds on the Dharma Wheel practice of the Stage of Nonretrogression.

The assembly of gods hearing this sermon attain, in one moment, the Way and gather together on palanquin clouds with the bodhisattvas from fifty billion buddha realms. All classes of gods, in accordance with their vows, overcome their afflictions in one thought, cultivate the highest causes of enlightenment (jōbon no shuin), and by means of a single invocation, achieve the assurance of birth (ōjō) [in Amida's Pure Land] in their next life. [Although] these practices are truly easy, their merit is extraordinarily great. Without the power of Miroku's vow, this would not be possible. Who among even the great sages and the most ignorant would not hope for this? In this way, monks and laymen (dōzokuinline graphic) of the Western Direction [Gokuraku] all bear the [fruits] of Miroku's deeds, and many of them, in the morning dawn of previous ages, had received the reward of [Tosotsu] heaven.109

The accomplished founder of one lineage excelled in this regard, and for this reason the three sages Mujaku inline graphic [Asaṇga], Tenjin inline graphic [Vasubandhu], and Shishikaku inline graphic [Buddhasimha] established a covenant as brothers [to aspire for Tosotsu].110 [Their precedent] was transmitted one after another through four generations by Kaigen inline graphic [Śīlabhadra 529-645], Hsüan-tsang, and Tz'u-en inline graphicinline graphic [K'uei-chi]. And of what lineage are we also? Or do we rather forget the precedent established [by these patriarchs]? Tao-an inline graphic aspired for Tosotsu heaven, [End Page 71] and his disciples also were without obstructions.111 And what of Nan-yang T'anchieh inline graphic, who contemplated Miroku to the delight of both master and disciples?112 Whether wise or foolish, whether in ancient times or the present, [all] should do likewise. Now, we prostrate ourselves and pray that the Great Teacher of the Dharma Lamp (dentō daishiinline graphic) [Shākyamuni] and Jison [Miroku], together, will greet us [when we pass from this world]. Accordingly, we intone this gāthā, chanting:

Miroku was born into Tosotsu heaven and [enthroned] in the forty-nine-storied maṇi palace where he ceaselessly expounds the practice of nonretrogression and liberates sentient beings through skillful means. Those who share a [karmic] connection are one and all reborn into the wondrous lotus pond whose waters manifest the eight virtues.113 Now we, with all disciples, dedicate ourselves to Miroku that we may achieve realization at the Dragon Flower Assembly.

inline graphic

Namu Miroku nyorai ōshō tōgaku 114 gan'yo ganjiki sokubu jigan

We pay homage to Miroku Nyorai, who is worthy of offerings and possesses perfect enlightenment; may we and [all other] sentient beings quickly be guided by his compassionate vow.

Part 4

Now having established our aspiration for the inner realm according to the precedents established in the three countries [India, China, and Japan], we turn to the fourth [gate] of truly achieving that superior birth. Exercising correct thoughts at the moment of death, one must establish the fundamental intent.115 When you come to the end of life, pray that there will be minimal illness or suffering, that your body and mind will be free of pain, and that the celestial deities will be close by for protection to quickly remove any harmful obstructions (mashōinline graphicinline graphic) [that may arise]. By knowing of the moment in advance, you should wait upon death [as though it were a] guest, a friend, or helper and single-mindedly contemplate the Buddha. At that time, a thin wisp of incense smoke will drift [End Page 72] through the peaceful window, and, from the blue sky beyond, you will hear the faint song of a flute. Miroku Bodhisattva will appear with light pouring forth from the curl of white hairs between his brow as countless heavenly beings shower large white lotus flowers (mahā-mandārava). Towering, serene, and comfortably self-possessed, [Miroku] draws near before your very eyes. Shākyamuni of Vulture Peak and all the buddhas of the ten directions manifest themselves from out of the void, expounding on the Great Vehicle. With your own eyes, you will, for the first time, see these things and truly hear their voices. Without restraint, tears of gratitude will flow from your eyes like rain. The sacred multitude will gradually lead you upward to the clouded thoroughfares above, until, suddenly, you find yourself arriving before a fountain within a pleasure garden, and there you will be born anew upon a jeweled lotus dais.

At this time, the various celestial deities, strewing flowers and rejoicing, will praise you, saying: "How wonderful! How wonderful! Son of a good family! Throughout [your incarnations in] Jambu-dvīpa,116 your extensive meritorious deeds, practices, and vows have not been in vain. Thus, you have been born in this place called Tosotsu heaven. The lord of this heaven is Miroku. You should entrust yourself [to him] forthwith!" Upon hearing these words, you should respond by making obeisance to [Miroku]. In this act of worship you will clearly perceive the light emitted from the curl between his brow, whereupon the evils committed in ninety billion kalpas of incarnations are immediately extinguished. At this time the bodhisattva will expound the wondrous Dharma in accordance with your karmic status based on previous existences. And you should know that this wondrous Dharma is none other than the doctrine of the Middle Way of Consciousness-Only (yuishiki)! Because in former times, our country of Japan (Fusō inline graphic) gratefully received the transmission of Ayodhyā [scholar Asaṇga's] Five-part [Yogācāra-bhūmi], we can today, kneeling before the maṇi dais, personally hear the wheel of Dharma at any time, day or night. At such times as this, it is only fitting that we contemplate upon joy.117 Accordingly, we intone this gāthā, chanting:

Again, those sentient beings who arouse the mind of faith, practice the ten good acts for a short time, pay obeisance [to Buddha images] and recite [sutras], or even contemplate making one flower offering to a celestial deity will thereby achieve birth in [Miroku's] palace (nyoi deninline graphic).118

inline graphic

Namu Miroku nyorai shokyonaishū gan shamyō ki hisshō kichū [End Page 73]

We pay homage to the assembly wherein Miroku Nyorai abides and pray that, at life's end, we will certainly be born among its members (repeat three times).

Part 5

Now, having accomplished superior birth [in the inner realm] based on our karmic opportunities (kien) in prior lives, we turn to the fifth [gate] of fulfilling the causes and completing the effects that lead to enlightenment. Seeing the Buddha and hearing the Dharma means that one has already advanced to the superior stage (shōiinline graphic).119 While you are constantly in the presence of Jison, he will readily open the marvelous gate of ambrosia, and you will visit the palaces of the assembly of holy ones and inquire of each and every one their path to enlightenment. With supernatural powers of mind and the essence of great compassion (kimo ni meijiteinline graphic, lit., engraved in your liver), you will at times wander through the realms of various buddhas and gratefully take part in great gatherings of venerable saints. At other times, you will travel the six destinies [of samsara] and, with aching heart, seek the love and kindness of the distant past. And when Jison descends [for the Dragon Flower Assembly], you also will descend together with him. From Keizu castle inline graphic where he renounced secular life to beneath the Dragon Flower Tree where he will overcome Māra and realize full enlightenment, you shall be like a trailing shadow, observing [the events of Miroku's life] one by one. Accomplishing the samādhi of a buddha's enlightenment (bukkaku zanmaiinline graphic) and hearing the True Dharma for one age, you shall abide within a universally manifest material body (fugen shikishininline graphic) and emancipate countless beings of all kinds. During the constellation of the present age (gengō),120 you shall serve under all the buddhas [beginning from] the Stage of Accumulation and advance step by step [along the bodhisattva path].121 At length, you shall ascend to the jeweled lotus throne and receive the name of one who has become perfectly enlightened. As you have the buddha nature, nothing here will be difficult [to attain]. Truly, one ought to know that all of this results from the magnificent merciful benevolence of Shākyamuni and Miroku. Abiding in the mind of joyful gratitude, we shall surely have the chance to meet [them]. Accordingly, we intone this gāthā, chanting:

For long kalpas we have cultivated our vows and practices, and we can now hear the great and merciful name of Miroku; we will directly receive the path tomorrow morning, though even now we are fainthearted and in despair. For three great [End Page 74] incalculable kalpas [Miroku] practiced hundreds of thousands of austerities. His virtues are perfected and pervade the Dharma realm—as he has thoroughly accomplished (kukyōinline graphic) the ten stages [to perfect enlightenment] and witnessed all three bodies [of the Buddha]. [We] pray that these virtues universally extend everywhere so that we and all sentient beings may together realize the Buddha way.

inline graphic

Namu Miroku nyorai ōshō tōgaku jita hokkai byōdō riyaku

We pay homage to Miroku Nyorai who is worthy of offerings and possesses perfect enlightenment, and who renders benefits equally to self and others throughout the Dharma realm (repeat three times).

Written at the wisdom table on Mt. Kasagi on the tenth day of the second month of the seventh year of the Kenkyū era [1196] in obedience to the request emanating from Bodhi Mountain. I humbly dedicate whatever merit is generated [by this writing] to Miroku. The Buddhist monk Jōkei. [End Page 75]

James L. Ford

The author is associate professor of religion at Wake Forest University. For invaluable feedback and suggestions relating to this essay and translation, he is indebted to Julie Edelson, James Heisig, Brian Ruppert, Jacqueline Stone, Paul Swanson, and Stan Ziobro. Of course, any errors are the author's alone.


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1. Guelberg 1993.

2. Niels Guelberg has translated some kōshiki into German, but to my knowledge, this is first translation of any into English. See Guelberg 1999.

3. For the best overview of kōshiki in Japanese, see Yamada 1995. Although it is a bit dated, see also Tsukudo 1966, pp. 324-41. In English, see Guelberg 1993.

4. Yamada 1995, p. 12.

5. Yamada 1995, p. 13.

6. Tsukudo 1966, pp. 324-25.

7. The findings were published in periodical form in Taishō Daigaku Sōgō Bukkyō Kenkyūjo nenpōinline graphic.

8. Bukkyō daijiten, vol. 1, p. 372. Hyōbyaku (also pronounced hyōhyaku) derive from the tradition that the Buddha, at the outset of a sermon or practice session, states his intent for the audience at hand.

9. Guelberg 1993, p. 70.

10. Guelberg 1993, p. 72.

11. Arai Kōjun inline graphic, for example, links Jōkei's Seigan shari kōshikiinline graphic to a kanjin campaign dating to 1196.4.14 that raised funds for a thousand-day "Shari kō" inline graphic at Kasagidera inline graphic (Arai 1977, p. 79); for a textual reference, see also Hiraoka Jōkai's inline graphic, Tōdaiji Sōshō-shōnin no kenkyū narabi ni shiryō (hereafter, TSS), vol. 3, p. 238. Hiraoka links Jōkei's five-part Shari kōshikiinline graphic with the Shaka Nenbutsu-e inline graphic performance at Tōshōdaiji inline graphic, where it is still used today (TSS, vol. 3, p. 615). Jōkei's Chūshū hōon kōshikiinline graphic (1200) is based on a lecture he gave before Cloistered Emperor Go-Toba inline graphicinline graphic on the history and doctrine of the Hossō school. There is record of a donation from Go-Toba, which Guelberg connects to a performance of the kōshiki by Jōkei and dates to the end of the third month of the same year (Guelberg 2000a, pp. 427-29). Finally, Miroku kōshiki, the subject of this essay, was likely linked to a kanjin campaign to reconstruct the Hokuendō inline graphic of Kōfukuji inline graphicinline graphic. See the analysis that follows. I am very grateful to Niels Guelberg for these references.

12. Yamada 1995, p. 23.

13. Bowring 1998, p. 223. The Ryōgon'in was a sutra repository in the Yokawa inline graphic sector of Mt. Hiei that was rebuilt and developed as an intensive training center by Ennin inline graphic (794-864) after his return from China.

14. Kamens 1988, p. 16.

15. Yamada 1995, p. 26.

16. Yamada 1995, pp. 24-25.

17. For a detailed analysis of this issue, see Yamada 1995, pp. 28-29. Because of the interchangeability of titles, there is considerable confusion as to the precise text performed.

18. For a more detailed discussion of this evolving popularity of kōshiki as a propagational tool, see Yamada 1995, pp. 27-30.

19. In some ways, this is comparable to being the lecturer for a hō-e, for which one had to be invited. See Nishiyama 1988, p. 232.

20. Yamada 1995, p. 33.

21. Niels Guelberg maintains an online database detailing extant kōshiki texts by author and subject, along with many actual texts, manuscript locations, and modern editions. See Kōshiki Database.

22. The list is based on Kōshiki Database as of February 2005.

23. A collection of thirteen of Jōkei's kōshiki, along with accompanying articles and commentaries, has recently been published. See Jōkei kōshiki shū.

24. Guelberg 1993, p. 74. I had the fortune of attending the Jōraku-e inline graphic held at Kongōbuji ­inline graphic on Kōyasan in February 2003. The all-night ritual, which celebrates the Buddha's entry into nirvana, incorporates Myōe's Shiza kōshiki. Involving at least one hundred monks and ten nuns, it takes place every year around February 14, and in 2003 was attended by over one hundred laypersons as well.

25. There are several useful biographical overviews of Jōkei. In particular, see Hiraoka 1960, pp. 576-648; Tanaka 1971, pp. 461-69; and Ueda 1977, pp. 27-46. In English, see Morrell 1987, pp. 66-75; and Ford 1999, pp. 12-23.

26. For useful overviews of Miroku devotion at Kasagidera, see Goodwin 1994 and Brock 1988.

27. According to Kasuga gongen genki (Miracles of the Kasuga Deity), the Kasuga deity appeared in the form of a woman before Myōe. Professing her devotion for Jōkei as well as Myōe, she asked the latter to pass along an appeal to Jōkei: "'As for Gedatsu-bō,' she then went on, 'consider that both of you are the same age. It is extraordinary how deeply one feels for him!' She repeated this four or five times. 'However,' she continued, 'I cannot accept his living in seclusion. Do tell him so'" (Tyler 1990, p. 274). The Kasuga shrine, the tutelary shrine of the Fujiwara lineage, was closely associated with Kōfukuji.

28. See Ford 2002, pp. 76-94.

29. Jacqueline Stone has proposed that a "paradigm of liberation" characterizes both the newly emerging schools of the early Kamakura period (i.e., Jōdo-shū, Jōdo-shinshū, and Nichiren-shū) and much Tendai discourse of the latter Heian period. She identifies four assumptions inherent in these teachings about enlightenment and the path to liberation, including nonlinearity, a single condition, the all-inclusive nature of one practice, and the nonobstruction of evil karma; Stone 1999, pp. 228-36. For a detailed analysis of Jōkei's struggle to balance reliance on other powers with the principle of karmic causality, see Ford 2002, pp. 94-96.

30. For an overview in English of Miroku worship in Japan, see Miyata 1988. In Japanese, see Hiraoka 1977; and Miyata 1984.

31. Ōyama Seiichi inline graphic, who highlights the legendary roots of the prince's story, points out that many historians hold that the image of Shōtoku as heroic figure may have been created by the compilers of Nihon shokiinline graphic. Recent scholarship has revealed that no contemporaneous sources corroborate Shōtoku Taishi's Miroku worship. But since Shōtoku came to be regarded as the founder of Buddhism in Japan, it was quite natural for later hagiographies to equate him with Miroku, as they both could be held to be successors to Shākyamuni. See Ōyama 1999. I am indebted to an anonymous reader for this reference.

32. We must acknowledge the tension between hagiographical accounts of Kūkai's devotion to Miroku and historical reality according to recent scholarship. Few, if any, works judged to have been authentically written by Kūkai reflect a particular devotion to Miroku. The root text that describes Kūkai's desire for birth in Miroku's realm, Goyuigō nijūgokajō inline graphic, is widely considered apocryphal.

33. Maitreya is credited with being the author of numerous important Yogācāra texts, such as the Yogācārabhūmi-śsāstra (Jp. Yugaroninline graphic), Madhyānta-vibhāga (Jp. Chūben funbetsu roninline graphicinline graphic), and Mahāyānasūtrā-lamkāra (Jp. Daijō shōgonkyō roninline graphic). Among other things, the three-body theory of the Buddha (dharma-kāya, etc.) was attributed to him. Some scholars consider the Maitreya who was held to have taught Asaṇga to be an actual historical figure whose story was later merged with the bodhisattva tradition. Subsequent accounts, prevalent in Japan during Jōkei's time, elaborated on the relationship between Asaṇga and Miroku, declaring that Asaṇga had ascended to Tosotsu heaven to receive the teachings directly from the future Buddha.

34. See Hiraoka's summary of Miroku devotion from the Asuka to Heian eras in TSS, vol. 3, pp. 478-520.

35. The full title of the former is Bussetsu kan Miroku bosatsu jōshō tosotsuten kyōinline graphicinline graphic (T 14:452). The full title of the latter is Bussetsu Miroku geshō kyōinline graphicinline graphic (T 14:453).

36. For a discussion of the origin and development of these texts, see Hiraoka 1977, pp. 17-19. See also Hayami 1971 for an overview of these dimensions. As Jan Nattier has noted (1988, p. 34), designating Miroku as a "messiah" is not without problems. Although Miroku is in a sense "anointed," given that he is the designated heir to Shākyamuni, he is not expected to restore the world to some Golden Age as is the messiah in the Jewish and Christian traditions. Indeed, Miroku will appear in the world as it is gradually coming into being.

37. TSS, vol. 3, pp. 488-96.

38. TSS, vol. 3, p. 500.

39. TSS, vol. 3, p. 525.

40. See, for example, TSS, vol. 3, pp. 598-99; Tomimura 1976; Yasui 1981, pp. 36-37; and Kusunoki 1985.

41. TSS, vol. 3, p. 238.

42. TSS, vol. 3, p. 232.

43. See Fukihara 1969, p. 115; and Kusunoki 1989, p. 232, for support of this date. Note that Kurosaki 1995, p. 41, disputes this dating and places it earlier based on the content. Yamazaki 1961, p. 134, notes that because the text was originally part of a collection entitled Kasagi shamon Jōkei sōinline graphic, it has always been associated with his Kasagi years, but he does not attribute it to a specific year.

44. All four of these texts are included in TSS. There are two three-part versions of Miroku kōshiki, one of which is clearly dated 1201 and authored by Jōkei. The second is considered to have been authored by Jōkei, but the manuscript does not identify him specifically. See Guelberg, 1996, p. 61; and Kōshiki Kenkyūkai 1991, p. 178. The five-part version that is the focus of this study dates to 1196. Tosotsu ryakuyō is undated, but because of Jōkei's noticeable shift in devotion to Kannon's Mt. Fudaraku inline graphic after his move to Kaijūsenji, it is reasonable to assume that this was written during his time at Kasagi. For the actual texts, see TSS, vol. 3, pp. 201-14.

45. This text, a journal of Jōkei's activities at Kasagidera, is no longer extant, but Sōshō-shōnin inline graphic (1202-1278) of Tōdaiji included an excerpt in his collection of Miroku devotional texts. See TSS, vol. 3, p. 415. For a discussion of this excerpt, see Kusunoki 1985, p. 23.

46. See Betsugan kōshiki, TSS, vol. 3., pp. 216-17; Hokekyō kōshiki, Jōkei kōshiki shū, p. 187; Hosshin kōshiki, Jōkei kōshiki shū, pp. 48-50; Kasuga daimyōjin hotsuganmon, p. 31a:16.

47. At least three published versions of this text are available: the Taishō version (T 84:2729); Jōkei kōshiki shū, pp. 77-91; and an online version on the Kōshiki Database. There are virtually no differences between these.

48. See Niels Guelberg's analysis of this kōshiki; Guelberg 2000b, pp. 287-88.

49. Guelberg 2000b, p. 288.

50. This does not preclude the possibility, of course, that laypersons may also have been in attendance. Even if they did not understand every Hossō-specific reference, they would certainly have been duly impressed. Comparatively speaking, it is no doubt true that for centuries many Catholic laypersons did not understand much of church liturgy recited in Latin, and yet one would never say that, for this reason, it was intended for only a literate or monastic audience.

51. All textual references are to the published version of this text in Jōkei kōshiki shū, pp. 77-91.

52. Jōkei kōshiki shū, p. 78.

53. In Japanese, the latter text is known as Muryōjukyō ubadaisha ganshō ge (T 26:1524) or by a variety of other abbreviated titles (e.g., Jōdo roninline graphic, Ch. Ching-t'u lun; Ōjō roninline graphic, Ch. Wang-sheng lun, and so forth).

54. Muryōjukyō ubadaisha ganshō ge, p. 231.

55. Payne 1996, p. 243.

56. A bodhisattva seeks to mutually benefit self and others (jiri ritainline graphic).

57. Jōkei kōshiki shū, p. 78.

58. In Yogācāra theory, unmanifest karma is sown as a "seed" in the storehouse consciousness (ālaya-vijñāna; Jp. arayashikiinline graphic). Due to our state of delusion, these seeds are in time "perfumed" by our habit energies, grow, and in turn produce new karmic seeds. The cycle is endless until we overcome our state of delusion.

59. Jōkei kōshiki shū, p. 79. According to Yogācāra, the seventh consciousness, or manas, perceives the storehouse consciousness as a distinct self and the six consciousnesses connected to the various senses as an objective "other" world. This false imposition of a duality of self and other is the root of suffering and ignorance.

60. Jōkei kōshiki shū, p. 79.

61. Jōkei kōshiki shū, p. 81.

62. In Sanskrit, sahā means "endurance," suggesting that in this world of samsaric existence, beings must endure delusion, defilement, suffering, and evil. In other words, it is an epithet for the six realms of samsara. In Japanese it is rendered shaba sekaiinline graphic.

63. Jōkei kōshiki shū, p. 82.

64. Jōkei kōshiki shū, p. 82.

65. Jōkei kōshiki shū, p. 83. The defiled realm is our world of the six destinies of rebirth.

66. Jōkei kōshiki shū, p. 87.

67. Jōkei kōshiki shū, p. 87.

68. Gengō (Sk. Bhadrakalpa) designates the present age of one thousand buddhas. For this reason, it is also known as the "good kalpa" (zenkōinline graphic). Shākyamuni is the fourth buddha of this kalpa.

69. Jōkei kōshiki shū, p. 90.

70. TSS, vol. 3, pp. 576-648. This material is also duplicated in Hiraoka 1977, pp. 166-238.

71. See TSS, vol. 3, pp. 201-416. For Hiraoka's analysis of Jōkei's impact on Sōshō's Miroku worship, see TSS, vol. 3, pp. 666.

72. Jōkei kōshiki shū, p. 85.

73. Jōkei kōshiki shū, p. 85.

74. The Reward Body is also referred to as the Enjoyment Body (juyūshininline graphic), or the body a buddha receives for his own enjoyment.

75. Realization of the wisdom free of delusion, or without outflows (murochiinline graphic, Sk. anāsrava-jñāna), and the principle of suchness (shinnyoinline graphic) marks one's entrance into the third stage (tsūdatsuiinline graphic, stage of proficiency) and the first of the ten stages (bhūmi) of bodhisattva practice. The wisdom without outflows stands in opposition to "having outflows" (uroinline graphic, Sk. āsrava), which means having conscious responses to the six sensory objects of desire. Prior to this realization, one's consciousness is essentially deceived by the illusion of the duality between subject and object, also known as "defilement," in that such "outflows" of consciousness invariably pervert the mind.

76. Inagaki 1995, p. 108.

77. The full title of this text is Kuan-ching hsüan-i feninline graphic (Essential Meanings of the Contemplation Sutra). The actual phrase in the text is that "anyone of the five vehicles can enter." This refers to the five vehicles (gojōinline graphic) that convey karmic rewards. There are different classifications, such as bodhisattva, pratyekabuddha, arhant, god, and human beings. But the point is that these are classifications of beings who can, in various ways, generate good karma. Beings in the lower realms (animals, hungry ghosts, and hell beings) are consigned to merely enduring their negative karma. T 31:1753, Kuan-ching hsüan-i fen, p. 251a.

78. Inagaki 1995, pp. 190-91.

79. For example, the Larger Pure Land Sutra distinguishes between the higher, middle, and lower grade of aspirants (Inagaki 1995, pp. 268-69). And chapters 22 to 30 of the Amitābha Contemplation Sutra distinguish three levels within each of the three broader categories, producing nine levels or grades of aspirants (Inagaki 1995, pp. 339-48).

80. Hōyō, also written as inline graphic, is an abbreviation of shika hōyōinline graphic, or the four essential dharma ceremonies. These generally include songs or verses of praise (bonbaiinline graphic), the scattering of flowers (sangeinline graphic), recitation of verses offered to the Three Jewels (bon'oninline graphic), and the ritual wielding of the priest's staff (shakujōinline graphic).

81. Jinbun can mean more specifically the chanting of a specific sutra (e.g., the Hannya shingyōinline graphic) as a petition to the gods and the earth spirits to exorcise evil hindrances.

82. "Three-periods teaching" (sanji kyōinline graphic) is a reference to the Hossō school's interpretation of the thee periods (and characteristics) of the Buddha's teaching (i.e., the periods of Hīnayāna, Mādhyamika, and Yogācāra).

83. Or "The Lord of great grace and teacher of men, Buddha," Soothill (Digital Dictionary of Buddhism).

84. The burning house is obviously a reference to the famous parable of the Lotus Sutra. The "triple world" (sangaiinline graphic) is a reference to the three realms of samsara: the desire realm (yokukaiinline graphic), the form realm (shikikaiinline graphic), and the formless realm (mushikikaiinline graphic).

85. On'ai is the affection one might have for a parent, child, or friend. In Buddhist terms, it is the eighth of twelve factors of interdependent origination and, thus, one of the causes of rebirth. It includes affection, attachment, covetous affection, and deluded attachment.

86. Jishi is an epithet for Miroku.

87. See note 56.

88. In the Yogācāra system, affliction (bonnō, Sk. kleśsa) comprises one of the groups of dharmas. In this case, the term refers specifically to the six "primary" afflictions of greed (toninline graphic), anger (shininline graphic), ignorance (chiinline graphic), pride (maninline graphic), doubt (gi ­inline graphic), and wrong views (akkeninline graphic).

89. Generally, there are seven wrong views or inversions (shichitentōinline graphic); these include confusing self/no self, permanence/impermanence, purity/impurity, and pleasure/suffering in addition to wrong views concerning thought, theory, and feeling. It appears that Jōkei refers here to the first four errors of apprehension.

90. The three woeful destinies are the hell of fire, the hell of blood (where animals devour each other), and the hell of swords.

91. See note 58.

92. See note 59.

93. This appears to be a reference to illusory flowers seen in the sky as the result of an optical disorder. This is often used as a metaphor in Yogācāra and other East Asian texts (e.g., Awakening of Faith and Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment) for a form of ignorance.

94. As one of the Buddha's disciples, Miroku was known as Ajita inline graphic, abbreviated here as Itta inline graphic, meaning the "unconquerable."

95. This is Nichigetsu Tōmyō Butsu inline graphic (Sk. Candra-sūrya-pradīpa-buddha) of incalculable aeons ago mentioned in the Lotus Sutra, who, the text notes, was followed by twenty thousand buddhas of the same name (Miao-fa lien-hua ching, p. 4a).

96. This was the center of Buddhism and the capital of Kosala in India. Yogācāra patriarchs Vasubandhu and Asaṇga are said to have stayed there.

97. This is a reference to the Yogācāra-bhūmi-sāstra, or Discourses on the Stages of Concentration Practice (Jp. Yugashiji roninline graphic), a one-hundred-fascicle text attributed to Miroku/Maitreya and translated by Hsüan-tsang. Divided into five sections, it expounds on the seventeen realms one may realize through yogic practice.

98. See note 65.

99. Mi-le shang-sheng ching, p. 419c. This quote is a condensed version of a passage found mid-way through the text. Regarding this text, see above, p. 51.

100. Various scriptures offer different lists of the seven jewels. One list includes, for example, gold, silver, lapis lazuli, crystal, agate, ruby, and cornelian.

101. Literally, the sons and daughters of heaven (tenshiinline graphic; tennyoinline graphic/devā), the lowest level of gods.

102. For the Stage of Nonretrogression (futaitenji), see above, p. 61.

103. A yojana (Jp. yujuninline graphic) is an Indian measure of distance. Described as the distance an emperor travels in a day, one yojana is equivalent to seven or nine miles, making this wall is either 434 or 558 miles high.

104. Seeing, hearing, cognition, and knowing (kenmon kakuchiinline graphic) are the functions of the first six consciousnesses.

105. The term here is tōgakuinline graphic, which can mean absolute universal enlightenment or omniscience. It also refers to the fifty-first stage in the enlightenment of a bodhisattva, so this could be a way of identifying the achievement level of the beings just mentioned.

106. Maṇi are wish-fulfilling jewels, gems, or precious stones that often symbolize the purity of the Buddha and his teachings.

107. According to Mi-le shang-sheng ching (p. 419c), these are Shaka-biryōga-maṇiinline graphicinline graphic jewels.

108. This appears to refer to Miroku at this point being in a liminal state between a bodhisattva of the highest rank and a Transformation Body buddha (i.e., nirmāna-kāya) according to the standard three-body theory. As suggested in the next line, Miroku, like Shākyamuni, will of course be classified as a Transformation Body when he becomes the next buddha.

109. The argument in these last several lines suggests that if one achieves birth in Miroku's realm, it is quite easy to make the next jump to Amida's Pure Land.

110. Buddhasimha was a disciple of Asaṇga known for his esoteric practice and lofty talents.

111. Tao-an (314-385) was an influential monk in the early Chin dynasty. He is often credited as being the founder of Maitreya worship and reportedly gathered his students before an image of the future Buddha to pray for rebirth in Tosotsu heaven.

112. According to Kao-seng chuaninline graphic (Jp. Kōsō den, Biographies of Eminent Monks), Nanyang T'an-chieh was a venerated monk known for his devotion to Miroku and successful birth in Tosotsu heaven. See Kao-seng chuan, p. 356b.

113. That is, sweetness, freshness, lightness, purity, scentlessness, cleansing, and nourishing.

114. This appears to be a common epithet for the Buddha that is generally rendered inline graphicinline graphic (nyorai ōgu tōshōgaku), "the Tathāgata who deserves offerings and possesses perfect enlightenment" (Digital Dictionary of Buddhism).

115. At this point, the text turns occasionally (three times in this section and the next) to the first-person (wareinline graphic), suggesting that the lecturer is speaking on behalf of the entire assembly in a kind of collective contemplation. It appears that each participant is to imagine him or herself going through the final ritual of dying, ascending to Tosotsu heaven, visiting various sages, and so forth. I have chosen to maintain the "you" or "we" voice for consistency.

116. Jp. enbudaiinline graphic; according to Indian cosmology, this is the great island south of Mt. Sumeru on which we are now living.

117. These last two sentences would seem to suggest that this ritual is being conducted before an image of Miroku seated upon a dais. It also alludes to the contemplative images of this section, which is, at least symbolically, a guided meditation toward birth in Miroku's inner realm.

118. This is an abbreviation for shijūkujū nyoi deninline graphic, the forty-nine-story jeweled palace of Miroku.

119. This may be an abbreviated reference to the "stage of overcoming the difficult" (nanshōjiinline graphicinline graphic), the fifth of ten stages on the bodhisattva path. In reality, this is a very advanced stage on the path to enlightenment as these ten represent the forty-first through the fiftieth of fifty-two stages that constitute the path to buddhahood. See above, p. 61 and figure 2.

120. See note 68.

121. The first of five stages of a bodhisattva, known as the Stage of Accumulation (shiryōi), actually involves thirty stages of the mind. These include the ten stages of security, the ten stages of profiting others, and the ten stages of dedicating merit to others (jūjūinline graphic, jūgyōinline graphic, jūekōinline graphic); see figure 2. Jōkei here appears to combine these terms (inline graphic) to designate this first stage on the path.

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