Saeki Join (佐伯定胤)

Join SAEKI (July 26, 1867 - November 23, 1952) was a Japanese Buddhist monk of the Hosso sect (Japanese equivalent of the Chinese Faxiang sect) and Shotoku sect and scholar of Buddhist Studies.

He was born in Horyuji-mura (present Ikaruga-cho), Nara Prefecture. He was the chief abbot of Hosso sect. Later he founded the Shotoku sect. Join served as the 103rd kannushi (Shinto priest) (the chief priest) in Horyu-ji Temple for 40 years. He was daisojo (a Buddhist priest of the highest order). Join was a member of Gakushiin (the Japan Academy). Join was also a scholar monk who restored the teachings of Yuishiki (consciousness-only, the basic doctrine of the Japanese Hosso school) and Hosso, which were deteriorated by Haibutsu-kishaku (anti-Buddhist movement at the beginning of the Meiji era). For the lectures of Yuishiki held in Kangakuin (educational institutions) of the Horyu-ji Temple, many Buddhist monks attended regardless of the religious schools. Join also lectured in Tokyo University. His lectures for specialized Buddhist monks were extremely difficult, but a hundred-day lecture during summer for lay believers was performed in very understandable and plain talking.

Join kept the precepts of Buddhism, did not eat meat, and remained single.

Brief Personal History

In 1876, Join entered the priesthood and became a monk as a disciple of Teicho CHIHAYA, the kannushi of the Horyu-ji Temple, when he was 10 years old.

He learned Yuishiki and Kusha (sutra of the Kusha sect) at the Sennyu-ji Temple in Kyoto.

When Join was twenty-seven years old, he took charge of lectures in Kangakuin established by Jocho, his master, to revive the tradition of the Horyu-ji Temple as a temple of learning.

In 1903, he was appointed kannushi of the Horyu-ji Temple at the age of thirty-seven.

In 1921, Join organized Prince Shotoku Commemorative Association for the anniversary of 1,300 years after the death of Prince Shotoku.

In 1934, the Great Showa Repairs of the Horyu-ji Temple started.
It resulted in a great enterprise continued for 50 years

In January 26, 1949, a fire broke out in the Kon-do Hall (golden hall) of the Horyu-ji Temple and the wall painting was burnt down.

In 1950, Join took the responsibility for the loss of the wall painting in the Kon-do Hall and resigned the position of kannushi. Join became a patriarch and Ryoken SAEKI succeeded to his position.

In 1950, Join left the Hosso sect and newly founded the Shotoku sect with the Horyu-ji Temple as its head temple.

In November 23, 1952, Join died in Osaka University Hospital where he had been hospitalized. Died at the age of 85.

When a young monk came to tell that he would leave Join's lecture because it was extremely difficult, Join said to him, 'Half-listen for a thousand days even though you don't understand.'

When the wall painting of the Kon-do Hall was burnt down, Join tried to tear himself away from a disciple who held him in a full nelson and burst into the hall where it was still burning. A photo is left in which Join was standing in a stupor in the ruins of the Kon-do Hall.

Join's disciples

Ryoken SAEKI

[Original Japanese]