The individual who was thus motivated to recite the

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Unformatted text preview: , love, and beauty that the Genji exemplified in the tradition of courtly culture. While certain courtiers like Teika attempted to evade the realities of the new age by devoting themselves single-mindedly to the traditional arts, other individuals were drawn into the great movements of religious conversion that occurred in the late twelfth and thirteenth centuries. There had been a scattering of evangelists from at least the eighth century in Japan who had traveled into the provinces bearing the gospel and helping with the building of bridges, the digging of wells, and other public works. In the Heian period the priest Kûya (903–72) became especially famous as a popularizer of Amidism. He danced through the streets and sang songs such as this: He never fails To reach the Lotus Land of Bliss Who calls, If only once, The name of Amida.8 But not until the Kamakura period was Buddhism finally carried to all corners of the country. Amidism had appealed to the Heian courtiers in part because of the opportunity it gave them to reproduce in literature and art the blisses of the pure land and the joy of Amida’s descent to greet those about to enter it. Yet the nembutsu, or invocation of Amida’s name, had simply been one of a number of practices followed by the doctrinally catholic adherents of Tendai Buddhism; and Amidism was not established as a separate sect until the time of the evangelist Hònen (1133–1212). Like all the great religious leaders of the Kamakura period, Hònen received his early priestly training at the Tendai center on Mount Hiei. He found himself, however, increasingly dissatisfied with the older Buddhist methods of seeking enlightenment or salvation through individual, merit-producing acts, and came to stress utter reliance upon and faith in Amida as the only one able to save men in the corrupt age of mappò. Yet, in actual practice, Hònen did not insist upon absolute faith in Amida’s saving grace. One of the most fundamental doctrinal problems in Pure Land Buddhism was whether the nembutsu—the calling upon Amida to be s...
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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.

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