Prince Shotoku and Article seventeen of the Constitution /聖徳太子と十七条の憲法 No.4

This article can be read in about 12 minutes.

Shitenno temple/四天王寺

It’s said that Japanese people are unique because they believe in both Shintoism and Buddhism.
Have they been like that from the beginning?
Actually, they have not.
There were some religious wars.
And then, Prince Shotoku was the one who stopped it since Buddhism came to Japan in 538 or 552(there are two opinions.)

Paekche’s King, Seong Wang, gave Buddhist sutras and a statue of Buddha to the 29th Emperor Kinmei.
According to the Chronicles of Japan, the Emperor, the ritual leader of Shinto, asked to his officials that he had never heard of such precious teachings and seen such a beautiful statue.
And he asked them what Japanese people should do?

Mononobe Clan, who was against Buddhism, said “we must not worship foreign gods. We should flourish our country with the emperor at its center by worshiping nature as the past Emperors did.
It’s because the emperor is the descendant of the couple deities Izanaki and Izanami who made the land of Japan.”
On the other hand, Soga Clan supported Buddhism.
The battles over Buddhism started between mainly these two clans. 

When the 30th Emperor Bitasu permitted Soga Umako to worship the statue of Buddha and he built a Buddhist temple for it, an epidemic spread.
In the end, the Emperor Bitastu and following Emperor Yomei passed away due to the epidemic.
Mononobe Moriya appealed that worshipping Buddhism caused the epidemic.
As a result, they destroyed the temple and threw the statue into a river.

Soga Umako was Prince Shotoku’s great uncle, so Prince Shotoku grew up believing in Buddhism.

Finally, they started the battles in 587 when Prince Shotoku was 13 years old.
Mononobe Moriya was so strong because he was in charge of the police and military.
They won the first battle easily.

Prince Shotoku dropped by at a mountain to pray for his victory of the revenge.
It was said that Bishamon Buddha disguised himself as an elderly man with white hair and gave Prince Shotoku special method to win the battle.
Thanks to its protection, Prince Shotoku won decisively.
He carved the statues of Bishamon Buddha and made temples,  Shitenno temple in Osaka and Chogosonshi temple in Mt. Shigi, to worship them.

Although it’s a natural thing for Japanese people, Prince Shotoku built the temples to console all the souls of the war dead including Mononobe Moriya(see the photo below).


It was declared that Japan officially worshiped Buddhism by enacting a law to treasure Buddha, Dharma and Buddhist monks. 
In addition, another law to respect Shinto deities enacted in 607.
Japanese principle was clearly declared that Japan would flourish by considering Shinto deities as a trunk, while Buddhas as branches.  

Like this, Japan found a way to coexist both new foreign culture and Japanese traditional culture.

In fact, Shinto could not conduct the matters related to the afterworld, so Buddhism could address it and take that role.
In short, Shinto is in charge of happy occasions like weddings, while Buddhism is for funerals and Buddhist memorial services.
That is to say, Shinto is nature worship, while Buddhism is ancestor worship.

Here are the articles 9 to 11 from Article seventeen of the Constitution (translated from Nihon-Shoki, Chronicles of Japan).

Article 9
Integrity is a fundamental part of love with justice.
Integrity should exist in all the tasks.
Integrity decides what is good, bad, success, and failure. 
There is no way things can’t be done when the officials have integrity with each other.
Ten thousands of things would fail when the officials don’t have integrity.  

The original one from Nihon-Shoki, Chronicles of Japan; 

Article 10
Stop getting mad and give up showing your anger through your face.
Don’t lose your temper just because others are different from you.
Everyone has different minds. And every mind has different beliefs.
Others think something is right, however, I think this is wrong.
On the other hand, what I think is right,  but may be wrong for others.
I can not consider myself as the enlightened and others as foolish.
Both are only people who don’t understand the teachings of Buddha. 
No one is able to decide the principles of what is right or wrong.
We are both the enlightened and the foolish like a ring without an end.
So, when others get angry at me, I should reflect on myself and be afraid of making mistakes.
Even when I understand the teachings of Buddha, I should respect others and act in the same way that others do. 

The original one from Nihon-Shoki, Chronicles of Japan; 

Article 11
Accomplishments and delinquencies should be clearly distinguished. And rewards and punishments should be given correctly.
Most of the time, rewards are not given to those who accomplish something, and punishments are not given to those who commit crimes.
The officials who give rewards and punishments must judge them fairly

The original one from Nihon-Shoki, Chronicles of Japan; 

To be continued…
Go to Article seventeen of the Constitution

Go back to no.3.

【Translation for language learners of either English or Japanese】/英語・日本語学習者向け翻訳 えいご ・  にほんごがくしゅうしゃむ  ほんやく











それでは最後に、憲法十七条から第 9 条から第 11 条までをみておきましょう。










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