This was the period when Buddhism was built on the spirit of unifying humanity and the ideology of national destiny. It is a system of interdependence between politics and religion that has changed the face of the country as well as Buddhism.
Compared to other countries in the region, Japan embraced Buddhism quite late, but it developed strongly and became the mainstream religion in Japanese society, especially flourishing in the Nara period. This was the period when Buddhism was built on the spirit of unifying humanity and the ideology of national destiny. It is a system of interdependence between politics and religion that has changed the face of the country as well as Buddhism.
According to the Japanese Book of Records, Buddhism was introduced to Japan from the Baekje kingdom  (Korean peninsula) in 552 during the reign of Emperor Minh Minh. Due to the needs of society and in accordance with the psychology and culture of the Japanese people, especially thanks to the help of the government during the dynasties, Buddhism was officially recognized and developed rapidly. The policy of the court right from the beginning of its introduction made Buddhism develop, becoming an ideological factor contributing to gathering and gathering people, creating a unified nation. At the same time, Buddhism is considered as one of the factors contributing to the colorful and unique cultural appearance of Japan.
POLITICAL – SOCIAL CHANGE OF JAPANESE IN THE NARA Era
The Japanese court issued the Tai-ho administrative law and decree , from 701 to create an empire centralizing power to the Emperor. This was a written legal system, with the support of mandarins appointed by the Emperor himself. From then to 80 years later called the Nara period (701-794). , which was also the golden age of Buddhism in Japanese history. Nara Buddhism is the royal religion, protecting the country.
In order to stabilize the political situation and develop the country, Emperor Nguyen Minh Hoang (Genmei Tenno) (661-721) implemented the imperial system. This is a new strategy for the Japanese imperial dynasty because the previous dynasties implemented the imperial system after ascending the throne. The Nara area is quite spacious, capable of flaunting its national prestige, worthy of a major political reform. Emperor Nguyen Minh wanted to develop the capital Nara equivalent to the capital Chang’an of the Tang Dynasty at that time. Therefore, Nguyen Van Tan commented that “The culture of the Nara period was something that borrowed people’s clothes and put them on.” . The intention to capital was derived from demonstrating the power of the centralized political system in the hands of the Emperor, demonstrating the majesty of the imperial dynasty both internally and externally. Thanks to the capital, Nara became a major cultural center, the architecture of temples and shrines became valuable historical sites not only for Japan but also for mankind.
Emperor Shomu Tenno (724-749) said to the court: “Ordering all the people to follow is easy, how to convince hundreds of them to take refuge in one relationship is difficult. The only way for hundreds of them to take refuge in the Buddha’s ancestors is to win people’s hearts more firmly.” . Thus, Emperor Thanh Vu wished that the enthusiasm to support Buddhism must come from the desire to submit to hundreds of them. If you look closely, Nara court Buddhism respects to “Protect the nation”. For a country whose native religion is Shinto and Buddhism, if it wants to take root in order to survive, it is not possible to import only an abstract theoretical system, but must supplement the form of the power to protect the country and the gods. people, so the spirit of the Bodhisattva path was clearly applied in this period. Compared with the golden age of Vietnamese Buddhist history, there are similarities when Tran Thai Tong in his work Lock Hu Luc said: “As a means to entice this servant to fascinate, as a shortcut to express reason. life and death” . This shows the ingenuity of the Buddhist monks and supporters of the time. In Nara, the content of the Buddhist scriptures at this time became the template and management model to create the national governance system. All of those actions are focused on building a nation on the foundation of continuous orthodoxy. It is politics and religion that mutually support the development of the country as well as Buddhism.
THE TRANSFORMATION OF JAPANESE BUDDHISM IN THE NARA TIMES
Through the construction of the monastic system, the local power of the clans ceased, and the Emperor took full power. If in the past individuals and families of the imperial dynasty were allowed to build temples, then this period of construction followed the strategic policy of the Emperor. On the one hand, to develop Buddhism widely throughout the country, on the other hand, to affirm the role and power of the leadership system headed by the Emperor. He issued a decree: “If one hundred families are rich and well-fed, then I will automatically become rich in four oceans, and if a nation has prestige in all four directions, then I will automatically become powerful. In order to make the people rich and strong, the four peoples from me down must all devote themselves to worshiping the Buddha ancestors, building a Buddhist temple, so that hundreds of them have enough places to worship, pray for blessings, and pray for peace.” . This declaration affirmed the unity of power in one thing, the Holy Emperor. At the same time affirming that Buddhism is the State religion. Buddhism at this time became one of the bases for the unification of the people’s faith and facilitated the spirit of national unity. The emperor was not only a political leader but also a religious leader. Thus, Buddhism was received and developed to serve the pragmatic interests of the Emperor, the court and the Japanese people.
In a statement to the people, the Emperor said: “…I wanted to use all the resources of metal in the country to make this statue and also flattened a high hill to build a big temple…” . Therefore, the Dong Dai Temple (Todaji) and the giant Vairocana Buddha (Daibutsu) were constructed. Bodhi Tien Na (Bodhisenna) (704-760) is holding the position of Chief Sangha, opening the eyes of the great statue of Buddha Vairocana at Dong Dai Temple. Buddha Triet created eight dances called Linyi Bat Nhac, danced to make offerings to the great ceremony, creating the foundation for Japanese court music (Nagaku) to develop later. This event gathers 25,000 monks and nuns from all over the country and abroad. Thus, in this period, the construction of temples, monasteries, the maintenance of monks and nuns, the construction of great bronze statues… were all spent with the state treasury. part of the national development plan.
In addition to building physical foundations and national construction, human resource training is always essential. The emperor took the ideal world of Buddhism to build a country like China’s Tang Dynasty. Therefore, monks were sent along with emissaries to China to study religion, bringing the cultural quintessence of the people back to enrich the local culture. During the Japanese Middle Ages, all regimes such as bureaucracy, academic institutions, forms, academic calendars, rituals, music, architecture, industry, and fine arts all influenced and formed a Tang Dynasty culture. all over Japan .
Therefore, monks entered the world actively through being respected, participating in the governing apparatus and running the country. Many monks with their talents and virtues have had a great influence on the country’s leadership. In the early centuries of contacting and spreading Chinese culture, the Buddhist monk class played a very important role due to its superiority in education, so it was favored by the court. Many of them became advisors to the country’s leaders, greatly influencing the direction of the court.
If Chinese Buddhism advises monks not to participate in national affairs, as in Quy Son Canh Sach, it states “inability to maintain the state and govern the state”. . However, Vietnamese Buddhism has Zen masters who participate in the defense and construction of the country and are honored as National Masters. , leaving a golden history page for the Vietnamese Buddhist Sangha. Thus, it is important what attitude monks use towards the king and the political system so as not to lose their monk nature and still serve the country and the nation. That is a monastic who accompanies the country but does not hold any position, that is, does not hold power in his hands. They only advise, not represent a position of power, in the spirit of supporting the survival of the country. This is a good point of the incarnation spirit of Vietnamese Buddhism and Zen masters of the Ly-Tran dynasties have done this very well. That is, they were only in the position of advisors, then returned to the temple as monks and did not hold any authority in the court.
During the Nara period, Buddhism flourished so much that history books record: “The temple is more glorious than the palace, the folk are more concerned with worship than the orders of their superiors, the sound of the bells in the morning and afternoon is busier than the national talk. the” There are more temples than palaces of the royal family, the economic resources of the monastery are equivalent to that of the imperial court. Thus, we can see that Buddhism at this time flourished in all aspects, had a profound influence on the people and had relative strength compared to the imperial court. Therefore, in 734, in order to manage the Sangha, the Emperor ordered that 10 people be ordained each year and must memorize the Kim Quang Minh Sutra and the Lotus Sutra. . This is a strong measure to reorganize the Sangha, protect the Buddhist precepts, thereby developing the Church in a systematic way, with the monks having standards.
During this period, Japanese Buddhism did not have the indigenous precepts. From…