By Shuichi Kato
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Extra info for A History of Japanese Literature: Volume 2 The Years of Isolation
This view, that an evil emperor can be removed, is potentially revolutionary and is much at odds with the views of later Japanese Confucianists who made fidelity to the lord an absolute value. Razan's arguments were elose to those of his Chinese models, especially Zhu Xi. Whether these arguments were an expression of his inmost beliefs, however, is another matter. Three indications that Razan was not altogether a devoted and conventional folIower of Zhu Xi can be mentioned. Firstly, in his work Shintö denju he equated the Neo-Confucian Supreme Ultimate and Principle with the Shint ö deity Ame-no-minakanushi-no-mikoto, despite the fact that the Shintö deity is personified while the Confucian concepts lack any element of personification.
There is much detailed practical advice: it is better to have the sun behind you and if this is not possible keep the sun on your right side. ' 'When you cannot make out what is in your opponent's mind . . ' Once these precepts have been absorbed and rigorously practised the swordsman may reach a state where 'having learned the principles he leaves principles behind' and 'strikes spontaneously, lands the blow involuntarily'. This is the ideal. The Five Circles encapsulates the experience of combat gained 'in more than sixty fights, when I met with warriors of different schools, as I went here and there in various provinces'.
From the Han dynasty the Confucian school of thought became the dominant perspective in Chinese education. From the time of the Five Dynasties however it was increasingly challenged by Buddhism, which had a more sophisticated cosmology and metaphysics. Buddhism itself became influenced by the other major strand of Chinese philosophy, Taoism, in, for example, the doctrines of Chan (Zen) . This was followed in the Song dynasty (in the twelfth century) by the response of the Confucianist thinkers to the Buddhist challenge, a response that culminated in the thought of Zhu Xi, who provided Confucianism with a new metaphysics produced partly by assimilating Buddhist notions such as the ultimate unity of interior and exterior worlds and partly by using the concepts expounded by the Book of Changes and subsequent Taoist tradition such as yinyang.
A History of Japanese Literature: Volume 2 The Years of Isolation by Shuichi Kato