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Unformatted text preview: Emishi were in fact ethnically the same as the Japanese, but were not
incorporated into the Yamato state when it was established in the central
and western provinces during the fourth through the sixth centuries. In
any event, after several failures, armies dispatched by the Heian court
finally inflicted decisive defeat on the Emishi in the early years of the
ninth century and thus eliminated the threat posed by these ferocious
tribesmen on the eastern frontier.
After the move to Kyoto, the court attempted to encourage the activities of Buddhist prelates who would devote their attention to spiritual
rather than worldly matters. Among the first to receive court patronage
was Saichò (767–822), who journeyed to China in 804 and returned to
found the Tendai sect of Buddhism at the Enryakuji, a temple he had
earlier opened on Mount Hiei northeast of Kyoto. The Enryakuji was in
a particularly favorable spot, since it was believed that evil spirits invaded from the northeast and it could serve as guardian of the capital.
Tendai was broadly founded on the teachings of the Mahayana or
Greater Vehicle school of Buddhism. Its basic scripture, the Lotus Sutra,
purportedly contained Gautama’s last sermon, in which he revealed to his
disciples the universality of the buddha potential. The Buddha asserted
that until this time he had allowed individuals to practice Hinayana, the
Lesser Vehicle, and to seek their own enlightenments. Now mankind was
prepared for the final truth that everyone could attain buddhahood. In
the Buddha’s words as found in the sutra:
Those harassed by all the sufferings—
To them I at first preached Nirvana
Attainable by one’s own efforts.
Such were the expedient means I employed
To lead them to Buddha-wisdom.
Not then could I say to them,
“You all shall attain to Buddhahood.” The Court at Its Zenith 50
For the time had not yet arrived.
But now the very time has come
And I must preach the Great Vehicle.1 We noted that the universalistic concept of Mahayana was accompanied
both by a tendency to regard the B...
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at The University of British Columbia.
- Spring '13