restricted access Kodo Taii
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462 KODŌ TAII Hirata Atsutane | 1811 [This somewhat lengthy work written in colloquial Japanese is a record of lectures Atsutane gave his students. He discusses the characteristics of the ancient Way, and expounds upon how students may come to their own knowledge, mainly by studying Kojiki and other ancient texts. In this lecture he gives his version of the ancient mythology, from the creation down through Ninigi descending to Japan to the establishment of Jinmu as the first emperor, demonstrating a trend where he exhibits a lack of concern about blending together the stories in Kojiki and Nihon shoki.] PART ONE1 The subject that I would like to address presently is that of the significance of the ancient Way.2 First, the subjects I would like to discuss are (1) the reason that our study is labeled kogaku “ancient learning,” (2) the origin of our field, (3) give a general summary of the pioneers of this field and a biography of those people who spread the teachings of our field, (4) discuss what [texts] kogaku is based on, (5) provide an outline of the “divine age,” (6) explain why we should be grateful for the virtue of the kami, (7) why our country is the divine land, and (8) the reason why you and I—down to the lowliest man—are undisputedly the progeny of the kami. Also, I will give a general breakdown about the beginning of heaven and earth starting with the so-­ called opening of creation, the prosperity of the unbroken imperial line, why our country is unparalleled among all the nations of the world, why everything we do is superior to the other nations, and why our people naturally possess hearts of integrity (真の心) because they belong to the divine country; it is this heart of integrity that anciently was called yamatogokoro or yamatodamashii. I will address these topics briefly. Now, the legends in the divine age and the deeds of these kami are very strange and hard to believe for the common mind of people. I will disabuse you of any errors, and within my discussion concerning the things men1 . I have had reference to Odronic’s translation (1967). 2. This is where the title of the work comes from: the ancient way (古道) and general outline (大意). ATSUTANE | Kodō taii463 tioned above, the overall meaning of the true Way naturally will come to light. However, when it comes to an outline of the divine age or the reason for our gratitude to the kami, though I should talk for twenty or even thirty days on end without pausing to take a breath, I could not expound upon one ten-­thousandth of the boundless, noble, exceptional virtue of the kami. Thus, it might sound as if what I will summarize here in this brief period of two or three days is shallow and superficial, but though these things are roughly abbreviated, if I do not address the divine age there will be much that you will not be able to comprehend. Therefore, I will address the “divine age,” being obliged to summarize it, addressing the issue as if I were running through the story, as it were. Thus, I will not touch upon the well-­ known story of [the sun goddess] hiding in the Ama no Iwato cave, nor will I deal with the slaying of the [eight-­ headed] monster by Susanoo. As regards the minute details of these legends, I will address certain points at a later time by taking the story in its pure form from the legends in the ancient records. Perhaps there are some who think, “Why does he not give us a detailed exposition now?” There is a reason for this. And that reason is this: the central point of the ancient Way, the so-­called great Way under heaven that I will discuss is the Way of man, and since we are all citizens of the imperial country, you all should be able to comprehend the overall gist of these things without studying about it. Therefore, though we expound upon these things, there should not be one person who finds the ideas difficult to accept, regardless that in present society there are a variety of Ways, starting with Confucianism and Buddhism, which are spreading. Various people put their hearts into these various Ways, some into Buddhism, some into Confucianism, others into what is commonly called Shintō, or the Zhu Xi school of thought, or the school of Ishida.3 And even...