Questions and Answers on the Object of Devotion Chapter7-1

Questions and Answers on the Object of Devotion Chapter7-1

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Question: The Great Teacher Kōbō was a native of the province of Sanuki and a disciple of the Administrator of Priests Gonzō. He mastered the doctrines of the Three Treatises, Dharma Characteristics, and the others of the six schools. In the fifth month of the twenty-third year of Enryaku [804] he embarked for China on the command of Emperor Kammu. In China he was ordered by Emperor Shun-tsung to take up residence in Ch’ing-lung-ssu temple, where he received the transmission of the great True Word teachings from the Reverend Hui-kuo.

The Reverend Hui-kuo was the seventh in line of those who had received the transmission from the Thus Come One Mahāvairochana. But though the persons may differ, the doctrine that is transmitted is always the same, like water that is poured from one vessel to another. The Thus Come One MahāvairochanaVajrasattvaNāgārjunaNāgabodhiChin-kang-chihPu-k’ungHui-kuo, and Kōbō were different vessels, but the water of wisdom that was transmitted from one to the other was the same True Word.

This great teacherKōbō, having received instruction in True Word, crossed the three thousand stormy leagues of the sea and returned to the country of Japan, where he offered the doctrine to three sovereigns, Emperors Heizei, Saga, and Junna. On the nineteenth day of the first month in the fourteenth year of Kōnin [823] he received an imperial order to found Tō-ji temple, where he propagated the secret teachings of True Word. Thus, throughout the five areas and seven marches, the sixty-six provinces, and the two outer islands,9 there is no one who rings the True Word diamond-bell and grasps the True Word diamond-pounder10 who is not an heir of his teachings.

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9. The five areas and seven marches indicate the whole of ancient Japan (see Glossary under five provinces and seven marches). The sixty-six provinces also refer to the entire country of Japan. This division of the country was in force from 813 until the Meiji Restoration in the third quarter of the nineteenth century. The two outer islands are Iki and Tsushima off the coast of Kyushu in southern Japan.

10. A diamond-pounder refers to what in Sanskrit is called a vajra, originally a kind of weapon used in ancient India. It is so called because of its legendary hardness. In the rituals of Esoteric Buddhism, the diamond-pounder is used to symbolize the resolve to attain enlightenment that is firm enough to destroy all illusions.

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