Sino-Japanese Ties Must Be Deepened
An Interview with Master Jue Xing, Abbot of the Jade Buddha Temple, Shanghai, and Vice-Chairman of the Buddhist Association of China
Master Jue Xing was among the guests at a centennial celebration of Founder Nikkyo Niwano's birth in Tokyo last November. DHARMA WORLD met
with Master Jue Xing at his hotel, and he spoke to us about the
importance of friendly exchanges between Chinese and Japanese Buddhists
and of self-examination by people of faith.
Chinese and Japanese Buddhism are joined together by a long history and
strong bonds, the source of which is the fact that they share the same
teachings of the Buddha. Although an unfortunate history of war also
exists between our countries, our Buddhist ties are the ground on which
the friendship of our two peoples can grow, and the evil roots of past
war should not damage them. It is of the utmost importance that neither
side forgets this history as such, and that great importance be placed
on it as history. But we must look to the future as Buddhists without
distancing ourselves from each other, and we must each deepen our
friendship. I believe that we must continue to train ourselves
assiduously, in the spirit of the "benefiting both oneself and others"
which both of us share in the Mahayana tradition.
In the Interest of Chinese-Japanese Friendship
China and Japan are very close to each other geographically, and have a
long history of interchange. Moreover, China and Japan are the two most
influential nations in Asia, and friendship between our two countries
can have a very large influence on the realization of peace not only in
Asia but the entire world.
There was a strong bond of friendship between the late Rev. Nikkyo
Niwano, founder of Rissho Kosei-kai, and the late Rev. Zhao Puchu,
former president of the Buddhist Association of China. Both men also
always valued Chinese-Japanese friendship. Rev. Niwano devoted his
energies to fostering friendly exchange between Japan and China, and he
also worked tirelessly toward the participation of religious leaders
from China in the World Conference of Religions for Peace and in the
Asian Conference on Religion and Peace. Rev. Niwano made six visits to
China after 1974, during which he met with Zhou Jianren, Liao Chengzhi,
and many other Chinese leaders.
In May 1993, Rev. Zhao Puchu invited three religious leaders from Japan
to Shanghai to celebrate their long lives. The three were Ven. Etai
Yamada, head priest of the Tendai Buddhist denomination, who was
ninety-nine years old; Rev. Niwano, who was eighty-eight years old; and
Rev. Yasusaburo Tazawa, patriarch of Shoroku Shinto Yamatoyama, who was
eighty years old. Around that time, Rev. Zhao had been appealing for
deeper bonds between Chinese, Japanese, and Korean Buddhists, and when
he spoke to Ven. Yamada and Rev. Niwano about this they were both
delighted and offered to help. This led to the creation of the "Golden
Bond" of East Asian Buddhists, exchanges of Japanese, Chinese, and
Korean Buddhism and culture.
Although both Rev. Zhao and Rev. Niwano have regrettably passed away,
the new leaders of the Buddhist Association of China and Rev. Nichiko
Niwano, who succeeded to the presidency of Rissho Kosei-kai, are
working together to further strengthen the ties, and this gives me
great pleasure. Even more than previously, we of the Buddhist
Association of China are concentrating on promoting friendly relations
between Japan and China. China's national leaders have also been
interested in friendly exchange between Chinese and Japanese Buddhists.
When Rev. Nichiko Niwano visited China in 1995, he had an audience with
then-President Jiang Zemin.
The Importance of Self-Reflection for People of Faith
Hans Kung, the eminent Swiss theologian, has famously written, "There
will be no peace among religions without dialogue among religions." For
the faiths to respect each other, it is first essential that mutual
misunderstandings be removed, that they understand each other, and that
exchanges between them are deepened. There are five major religious
traditions in China--Buddhism, Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam, and
Taoism. By conducting meaningful discussions about the features they
have in common and matters of common concern and interest while
stressing the importance of advancing communication and cooperation
between them, we are currently promoting the realization of a
harmonious world through the joint efforts of the religions.
During my visit to the headquarters of Rissho Kosei-kai in April of
2005, I saw Rev. Nikkyo Niwano's calligraphy of a T'ien-t'ai teaching, "Ichinen sanzen"
(Three Thousand Realms in a Single Thought). The depth of his knowledge
of calligraphy struck me, and I gave some thought to the meaning of
what he wrote.
At the time, a phrase that came to my mind was "Yiri sansheng" (Three Self-Reflections a Day). The basis of this phrase is "Three Daily Self-Examinations," from a passage in the Analects
of Confucius: "I examine myself daily, many times, to determine if I
have been sincere in dealings with others, if I have spoken my words
while taking responsibility for them, and if I have understood a thing
well before imparting it to others." It is very important to observe
yourself intently every day and to reflect on whether there are any
mistakes in your actions or speech; in that way, one can be made aware
of unethical or immoral actions and correct them.
Before this, I had also seen calligraphy by Rev. Zhao Puchu in which he
had written the phrase meaning "Three Questions Each Day." In this
calligraphy Rev. Zhao is saying that you must ask yourself if your
morals are improving, if your knowledge is deepening, and if your
practice is progressing.
In Confucianism, self-examination and introspection have been highly valued, as was the admonition expressed in the aphorism Shendu,
meaning correcting one's mind and being careful in one's words and
deeds even when one is alone. This has had a large effect over a period
of several thousands of years as people have purified themselves and
undergone ascetic training in pursuit of a high morality. Even for
those of us who now work at acquiring morality and setting out to
perfect our characters, this remains one of the most important paths.
The religious leaders are charged with the role of saving people. In
order to do that they must be very strict with themselves, and must
have a sense of responsibility toward all living things. This requires
thorough reflection, which at the same time is a practice that raises
the self. I believe that we must lead the people so as to show them by
example the path to improvement, and that this is the solemn duty of
those who have entered the priesthood.
This article was originally published in the April-June 2007 issue of Dharma World.
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