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What was the metaphysical mindset of the Edo jidai?

 
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HarryJJ
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2012 9:15 am    Post subject: What was the metaphysical mindset of the Edo jidai? Reply with quote
I want to expand my understanding of Buddhism, Confucianism and Shinto during this period but want to focus for the time being on the 17th century and early 18th century.

From what I understand Buddhism and shintoism were intwined somewhat but I have also read that Buddhism functioned in the sphere of religion; Confucianism in the moral; and Shinto in state politics. I doubt the last as wasn't Neo-Confucianism introduced as the primarily political secular ideology as a method of strengthening bushi rule and weakening religion in political affairs?

Did this separation occur during these two centuries or was this a later development? I ask because I don't know how the mindset of the time thought the internal self corresponded with for lack of a better word 'universe'. Was there a general circulated belief consciously or unconsciously implanted in the minds of the Japanese throughout the general populace and all tiers of society or was opinion greatly divided?

Secondly I need book suggestions on a variety of topics related to religion and philosophy/political philosophy during Tokugawa rule.

Regards,

Harry


Last edited by HarryJJ on Sat Jul 28, 2012 10:29 am; edited 2 times in total
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lordameth
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2012 9:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Intellectual history is not really my field of study, so there may be plenty of good books out there that I don't know about (or don't know how good they are). But, I found one section of Luke Roberts' new book "Performing the Great Peace" to be a very useful, enlightening summary.

While we can today identify some distinctions in how each philosophy/religion applied more strongly to different aspects of society, Roberts writes that at the time, these philosophies/religions would have been seen as very much blurred together, into a single set of "our values/attitudes/beliefs," or something to that effect.

Political values and ideals were, as you say, guided by a brand of Neo-Confucianism; meanwhile, even as the shogunate mandated everyone to be registered with a Buddhist temple, they at the same time coordinated the posthumous deification and worship of the first three shoguns as Shinto deities.

Roberts also discusses the Yoshida sect, which advocated a "pure" Shinto, less blended in with Buddhism or other belief systems, but which was surprisingly prominent and influential in some political matters.

Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, and their deities, were far more closely intertwined than in the Meiji Period, when efforts were made to create a State Shinto, and to extricate it from Buddhism, seen by some top figures in the Meiji government as foreign.

I'm sure there's a lot more to it, but take a look at Roberts' book if you get a chance.. beyond that, maybe some others have good suggestions for books Smile good luck!
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HarryJJ
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2012 11:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Yes I need to finish reading Luke Roberts book or re-read it in some places.

It does seem to be a mishmash of accumulated values/attitudes/beliefs into a culture identity as you say. I think that says something about the Japanese mindset of the medieval and early modern periods, to adopt and intwine rather than promote one singular belief to the exclusion of all others. I feel in some way this could of contributed to the Anti-Christian sentiments.

I don't know much about the Yoshida sect but didn't shintoism eventually lead to the destabilisation of the Tokugawa bakufu and give rise to the political philosophy Sonnō jōi?

I also wonder how this all ties into the spiritual side of Budō as I remember reading a article or interview on the internet about how Karl Friday described the perfection of ones self (or spiritual enlightenment) through the training and study of martial arts was a movement that came about during the early 17th century.
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lordameth
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 29, 2012 4:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Quote:
didn't shintoism eventually lead to the destabilisation of the Tokugawa bakufu and give rise to the political philosophy Sonnō jōi?


Did it? How so? I've never heard of such a thing, but then I also have never read much about the Bakumatsu.
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 29, 2012 1:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Not solely the reason but I thought the nationalistic side of Shinto brought about a renewed interest in restoring the imperial line to central rulership of the country.

I could be very very wrong however!
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 29, 2012 3:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
HarryJJ wrote:
Not solely the reason but I thought the nationalistic side of Shinto brought about a renewed interest in restoring the imperial line to central rulership of the country.

I could be very very wrong however!
You aren't very wrong at all. I wrote about this some time ago in Sonnô Jôi discussion-- in the origins of Sonnô Jôi threads. Google the site on the index pagefor "mitogaku" or "kokugaku" and you will find what you are looking for.
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 29, 2012 3:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Here's a few:

http://forums.samurai-archives.com/viewtopic.php?t=3800
http://forums.samurai-archives.com/viewtopic.php?t=3804
http://forums.samurai-archives.com/viewtopic.php?t=3824
http://forums.samurai-archives.com/viewtopic.php?t=3819
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 29, 2012 4:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Oh, yeah. Right. That makes sense. Insofar as Shinto connected into the Imperial-centric historical perspective of the Dai Nihon Shi, and other pro-Imperial ideologies/philosophies.
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 04, 2012 4:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I will read up on them when I get the chance Smile
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2012 7:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
With reference to the spiritual bases of budo/bujutsu, there has been much written, and not all of it is very good.

You can trust Karl Friday, but recently his thrust has been that there was always a spiritual base to martial arts, and that there was more going on than simply preparing warriors for the battlefield. His book on the Kashima Shin-ryu (I forget the title, and I don't have it to hand at the moment) focuses on a 'Shinto' tradition in quite some depth.

My own work (The Samurai Mind, published by Tuttle) includes translations of works from the late 18th/early 19th century which are heavily Neo-Confucian in tone. What I found interesting in translating these was that they dealt with the same material as more well-known 'Zen' works (in fact two of them were erroneously cited in Zen and Japanese Culture by Suzuki as being Zen works), but from a different spiritual viewpoint.

In particular, I was pleased to discover that Neo-Confucian teachings were not necessarily overly abstract or intellectual, but got down to the nitty gritty of sword practice.

What this suggests, is that bugei touched on areas that we normally see as 'spiritual' and that these were probably rather more fully explored by spiritual/religious/philosophical traditions, which could give bugeisha some help in verbalizing their experiences and teachings.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2012 3:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Thank you for the input Graculus.

A quick glance through your blog and the mention of your book leads me to believe you have more than a passing interest in this subject so I will have to read your articles some point soon!

When you say much has been written and not all of it good do you mean modern Historians and martial artists reflecting on this aspect or are speaking of period works as well?
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2012 5:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
When I recently reviewed "The Unfettered Mind" (while written by a Zen monk, it has a healthy dose of Neo-Confucianism) for the SA, that's one thing I noticed (and also something that Friday emphasizes): that they put the concepts of 'spiritual' sword training in the language of the day-concepts that would be familiar to the samurai, namely Buddhism, what we've come to call Shinto, and Neo-Confucianism. Many of the ideas discussed would be treated quite differently and more 'scientifically' if they were written today. While much of the language seems esoteric and exotic to today's reader (leading to a lot of the BS seen in many martial arts books), it would have been far more practical for its target audience.
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2012 4:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Hi Harry JJ,

Yes, you're right - this is something that I'm quite interested in.

My comment was chiefly referring to modern works - a whole generation seemed to have fallen under DT Suzuki's spell, greatly overemphasising the role of Zen in bugei, for example.

However, there are also problems with some of the original texts. The well-known Tengu Geijutsu-ron, for example, was quite influential inits time, but was already the object of some criticism by swordsmen who felt it didn't display a very deep knowledge of swordsmanship. For western readers, it has given quite a mistaken idea of the application of Neo-Confucianism to martial arts.

(Have to rush off or I would write more)

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