The Man Behind the Meiji Restoration
The Reincarnation of Confucius

Humans are eternal beings that undergo reincarnation to polish their souls and improve themselves. This process of reincarnation becomes a unique story for each individual personality. The spiritual investigations into the reincarnations of well known people bring to light the secrets of this long process of soul polishing.



(552-479 BCE)

Confucius was born to a commandant of the garrison at Lu (currently Shangdong) and was named Qiu at birth. He was later known as Zhongni when he reached adulthood. He lost both of his parents at a young age, but studied hard to eventually become a government minister.

He tried to correct the corrupt government of Lu, but after failing to do so, chose to travel instead to neighboring states – including Wey, Song, Zheng, Cao, Chu, Qi and Chen to expound his political philosophy. He returned to Lu aged 69 and attained a following of around 3000 disciples. The Analects reveal the ideal leadership he had in mind: “The man of wisdom is never of two minds; the man of benevolence never worries; the man of courage is never afraid.”


Issai Sato


Issai was the greatest Confucian scholar of the later Edo period in Japan. He held a government-appointed position to teach Confucianism at the Shouheikou School, and his students numbered several thousand. Official Confucian scholars like Issai were so venerated that there was a custom for students visiting Edo to come and greet them.

While the government curriculum enforced the teachings of the Cheng-Zhu (Neo-Confucian) school of thought, he incorporated Wang Yangming’s ideas into his lectures, and created a new kind of Confucianism. His magnum opus, the analects “Genshi-shiroku” were hugely influential to many samurai of the time.


“AI Will Surpasses Humans”

–or so many people think. It is true that AI can ‘learn’ vast amounts of information and process it at superhuman speeds. Some scientists think that many people will lose their jobs because of it. Not only is the notion of hard work and study being threatened: the meaning of our very existence is being threatened.

So in our past life story we will be looking at the incarnations of a man who realised the power of the mind: a power that far surpasses brainpower.

We are talking about Confucius, the father of Confucianism. Confucianism spread all over East Asia throughout the centuries, but our investigation will uncover Confucius’ especially strong ties with Japan.


Changing the World Through The Power of Virtue

Confucius lived during a fierce warring period in Chinese history known as the Spring and Autumn period (c.771-476 BCE). Blood flowed continuously in endless wars between various feudal states. Within the states, vassals would disobey their lords and assume sovereignty. The young Confucius would have been devastated at the sight, and it motivated him to advocate for a virtuous ruler. A virtuous ruler would stop the wars, he thought.

“He who exercises government by means of his virtue may be compared to the north polar star, which keeps its place and all the stars turn towards it.” (Book II, chapter 1)

Thus, Confucius became a minister in Lu, and attempted to return to the ruler his authority, which the vassals had rebelled against. Confucius requested the vassals to reduce the size of their castle, which had grown much bigger than the ruler’s. His pleas were rejected, and he left the state in self-imposed exile.

Confucius, however, did not give up his dream. He travelled to many states teaching his ‘way’ to the rulers, but all of them were dismissive.

“I have not seen one who loves virtue like h love beautiful women.” (Book IX, chapter 17)

In the end, all he could do was teach all of his teachings to his disciples. This became the Analects. He ended his life in the hope that future generations would come to realize his dream.

Trials still awaited the Confucians after their master’s death. During Qin Shi Huang’s rulership 460 of the persecuted Confucians were buried alive. It seemed as though Confucius’ dream had lost all hope of realization.

Soon enough, however, Qin Shi Huang was defeated and Liu Bang established the Han dynasty. From the time of Emperor Wu of Han (141-87 BCE), Confucianism was officially acknowledged as an academic study and a state position called the Doctor of the Five Books (of Confucianism) was established. The Han dynasty’s prosperity was said to equal that of the Roman Empire.

Confucian teachings also spread across the ocean to Japan. Ieyasu Tokugawa’s insistence on the importance of Confucianism brought over 260 years of peace to Japan after ending the warring period. Confucian thought became the framework supporting the fabric of Eastern civilization.


Confucius Reborn In Japan

Then disaster struck the East: the West began to expand their colonization activities. In the 19th century the Qing dynasty lost to Britain in the Opium Wars, and the people suffered under exploitative colonial rule. This was followed by the colonization of many other countries in Asia.

Next, the West tried to take Japan, the last country standing.

Spiritual research at Happy Science has uncovered that Confucius was born in Japan right at this time. His name was Issai Sato: a Confucian scholar who taught at a prestigious school called the Shouheikou.

Unfortunately, he is now virtually unknown in Japan. Many of his students, however, eventually became first-class leaders: Shonan Yokoi, a political reformer who stressed the importance of a strong navy very early on; Shozan Sakuma, the teacher of famous revolutionaries such as Shoin Yoshida and Kaishu Katsu; and others.

Issai Sato’s writings also had a huge impact on Takamori Saigo, one of the initiators of the Meiji Restoration.

In other words, all of the main players from the principle domains that contributed to the Restoration (the government, Choshu domain and Satsuma domain) were inheritors of Issai’s philosophy. Those players effectively became the ‘virtuous leaders’ of the young samurai who achieved modernization in Japan.

Modernized Japan then went on to engage in the Russo-Japanese Wars and the Greater East Asia War to liberate Asia from Western colonization.

The goal of Confucius’ philosophy was to produce a ruler who would rule the country with the power of virtue. Issai’s philosophy was more spiritual, and had the goal of producing a leader who serves Heaven. Both philosophies became the driving force of the age by encouraging people to awaken to the power of virtue.

What, then, was the essence of their teachings?


Scholarship Will Open Paths

Both of their lives illustrate the possibilities of scholarship.

Confucius was born into a commandant’s family in Lu, but he lost his father when he was still a child. His low status forced him to work as a child managing warehouses as well as cattle and horse rearing.

He began studying when he was 15, reading books day and night. As a result, he became well known for his thorough knowledge of ritual practice, and was given the opportunity to enter a house of worship that worshipped the ancestors of Lu. He later rose to the position of Lu’s Minister of Crime.

When he was 53 he assumed a diplomatic role of presiding over meetings with the representatives from the Qi state. There, Confucius rebuked Qi for threatening Lu by arming savages and making them run around. This changed the flow of diplomacy and Lu was able to regain its territory.

Despite his lowly beginnings Confucius was able to intellectually and spiritually attain the virtue of “propriety” upon which he built his life.

Issai’s view of life was strikingly similar.

Issai was born to a Confucian family in the Iwamura domain (now Gifu prefecture) during the Edo period. There he studied Confucianism. There is an anecdote that he was an active young man who would get drunk with his friends at night and fight strangers on the streets with jujutsu.

When he was 19, an incident occurred that changed his life. One day when he and his friends were having fun at Sumida River, one of his friends accidentally fell in and drowned. Issai was held responsible, and lost his position as a samurai of the domain.

This was a major setback for Issai; and this was when he decided to pursue scholarship. He went to Osaka and engaged in manual labor to earn a living while he studied.

He later returned to Edo and joined a school run by Jussai Hayashi. He studied hard and was eventually given the position of headmaster at Shouheikou School. Thus, he rose to an influential position through the power of learning.


Scholarship Is About Kneading the Soul

Confucius and Issai both embodied the power of scholarship and learning, but just stuffing the brain with knowledge was not what they were after. They both aimed to polish their minds through learning. As the Analects say:

“Each day I examine myself in three ways.” (Book I, chapter 4)

In Confucianism, “propriety” is the mirror through which one reflects upon his or her words and deeds.

“Look not at what is contrary to propriety; listen not to what is contrary to propriety; speak not what is contrary to propriety; make no movement which is contrary to propriety.” (Book XII, chapter 1)

The Chinese word “Li” for “propriety” can also be translated to mean “politeness” or “good manners”, and does not refer to empty flattery. It is itself the materialization of “benevolence”.

Confucius carefully observed his disciples and their state of mind, and required them to match their inner attitude to the outward actions. Knowing about benevolence is not enough, he says. Truly attaining it, however, is no easy task.

“Such as Hui that for three months there would be nothing in his mind contrary to perfect virtue. The others may attain this on some days or in some months, but nothing more” (Book VI, chapter 5)

This teaching, however, gradually lost its true spirit. Country-states in China, Japan and the Korean Peninsula would establish high bureaucratic positions for those who passed a paper test on Confucian knowledge, and many of these officials would exploit these high positions for their personal interests.

Issai must have learned from this history of Confucianism, and chose to especially emphasize the importance of polishing the mind.

Issai was someone who truly practiced the teachings of “propriety” and “benevolence”. There is another anecdote from Issai’s youth. When he was working as a baggage carrier at an inn on the state border, he met a magistrate from Nagasaki who invited Issai to accompany him to Edo. For Issai this was an unwished-for opportunity that gave him a chance to be freed from manual labor and focus on his studies. Issai, however, refused the offer saying, “Sorry, I have an obligation towards my innkeeper.” The magistrate was touched by his sincerity. We can see how Issai placed great importance on propriety and benevolence


The Heavenly Mission

Kneading the soul is more than a simple dream. It has an element of a spiritual worldview about it.

Issai didn’t just study Confucianism on paper; he spent a lot of time in calm meditation, reflecting on his own mind as against the teachings.

“The dawn breaks as I sit alone in a dark room . . . reflecting over myself, I find something sparkling within my breast.”

“The mind is like the Sun, but it loses its brightness when competitiveness, acquisitiveness, grudges and greed collect over it like storm clouds.”

These are indeed spiritual words. Issai taught that each person has within them a spiritual light. For him Confucian virtues were not just a form of scholarship. He saw that by practicing these virtues the soul shines and crystalizes like a gem. That is why his philosophy gave birth to heroes like Shoin Yoshida and Takamori Saigo who were ready to sacrifice their lives out of love for their country and its people.

This love bubbling up from inside essentially comes from what Confucius called the “Heavenly mission”. Confucius spoke about his heavenly mission on a number of occasions when he was facing a crisis.

When he was in the state of Song, the minister of war deployed soldiers to have him killed, but Confucius stood his ground and said:

“Heaven produced the virtue that is in me . . . what can he [the minister] do to me?” (Book VII, chapter 22)

Many people do not regard Confucianism as a religion, but those words could just as well have been attributed to Jesus or the Jewish prophets.

Reborn in Edo as Issai, he once again taught that the meaning of life was to serve Heaven and achieve great things. Furthermore, Issai added a mystical element to Confucius’ philosophy. He spoke about his meditative experiences in this way:

“Freeing my mind from Heaven and Earth, I looked down upon the world as a whole. The world I saw was like a small ball. Inside that small ball there are rivers and oceans; mountains; birds and animals; greenery; and humankind.”

“When the pity inside me washes away I see the pity that pervades the world.”

Takamori Saigo, who had vigorously studied Issai’s texts, lived by the motto “Respect the Divine and Love the People”. His many followers fell in love with his virtue, and risked their lives to help him in his mission.

Confucius and Issai Sato both taught about the potential inherent in all people: that people can polish their minds through scholarship and awaken to their heavenly mission to become virtuous leaders. So even if AI developments exceed humans in terms of learning capabilities and information processing speed, it will never replace them.

No matter how much science advances, what is truly important to humans will remain the same for all eternity.

The Man Behind the Meiji Restoration
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