SUZUKI Daisetsu was a well-known figure in the introduction of Buddhism, including
Zen, to the non-Asian world. I introduce to you the English selection from “Japanese
Spirituality” which he wrote to Japanese people. He gives us commentaries on the first
person who awakened to Japanese Spirituality which has made Japanese
individuality――more to come both in English and in Japanese.
Although one aspect of Japanese spirituality certainly manifested in Shinto, there is
another aspect not in evidence: the Absolute Compassion of the Absolute One
(Boundless Great Compassion), found only in the Shinran (e.g., Jodo Shin Buddhist)
tradition. The sin and retribution of each and every person can be completely absorbed
within the Great Compassion of the Absolute One――such is Shinran’s view of the
I believe it would thus be appropriate to state that the Person of Shinran that had
experienced the supraindividual spirituality is the incarnation of Japanese spirituality.
Neither Ise Shinto nor any of the other form of Shinto were awakened to the
supraindividual Great Compassionate One. But Japanese spirituality caused the Great
Compassionate One to be reflected in the individual spirit of Shinran.
Spirituality that does not know the Great Compassionate One has not yet awakened to
the true essence of spirituality. And there is in the manner of this awakening something
possible for the Japanese people alone. It is the possible worldwide application of this
that we must find Japanese spirituality’s meaning.
What works only in the Japanese pattern with no worldwide nature――and which is
incompatible with such a nature――cannot be said to have attained true Japaneseness.
This would be especially true with the question of spirituality.
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