During the turbulent times from the end of the Edo period to the early Meiji period in Japan, the influence of Buddhism had been declining due to the unceasing whirlwind of anti-Buddhist movements and the accelerating modernization by the Western Impact. Among this historic setting, Dr. Enryo Inoue, the founder of TOYO University, who was born and raised in the branch temple of Higashi-honganji-temple at 1858 was skeptical about Buddhism in childhood.
At the stage of youth, he studied philosophy from Prof. Ernest Francisco Fenollosa as well as Buddhism from Prof. Tanzan Hara or Prof. Kakujyu Yoshitani at University of Tokyo. Eventually he regarded the philosophy of Hegel as the better for maintaining every phenomenal thing as absolute being. From this viewpoint he reread Buddhist canons and found out that Buddhist philosophy explains the same philosophy as Hegel's philosophy. After this discovery he energetically wrote and published many articles which clarified that the Buddhist thoughts and values are as good as Western philosophy. Such articles and books were favorably accepted by the Buddhist schools of Japan and created an opportunity to recover the confidence of Buddhism all over Japan.
Furthermore Dr. Enryo Inoue brought the top of monks of many Buddhist schools together and set up the social movement which promoted the improvement of the status of Buddhist monks and official permission and proof for Buddhist schools by the government. As a result of these remarkable efforts by Dr. Enryo Inoue the Buddhist community in Japan gradually became more active.
Dr. Enryo Inoue also emphasized that the reform of Buddhist schools should not be pessimistic but mainly exist to show the eternal life of Sakya-muni Buddha to the real society and to play a role for salvation of the actual society and people. From this perspective Dr. Enryo Inoue highly appreciated the Nichiren's school which has similar thoughts.
Dr. Enryo Inoue proposed the concept of Buddhism engaged in the reform of real society by exploring the philosophy of Buddhism. Now we should incorporate his thoughts and activities and should pursue more of the detailed explorations of Buddhist thoughts and the positive social practices.