Death and the Afterlife in Japanese Buddhism
Publication Year: 2008
Published by: University of Hawai'i Press
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No collection of essays sees publication without the help of many people. We are grateful, first of all, for the unflagging cooperation of our contributors, who have worked with us through multiple rounds of revision and patiently supported this project despite unforeseen delays. ...
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Providing funeral and memorial services represents the major social role of Buddhist priests and temples in Japan today. For many people, death may be the only occasion when they turn to the family temple, or, indeed, learn much of anything about Buddhism. In his introductory study of contemporary ...
1 Mukaekō: Practice for the Deathbed
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Belief that at death one could be born in the Pure Land of the buddha Amida (Skt. Amitābha, Amitāyus) became common in eleventh-century Japan and has remained so to the present day. This is a source of great comfort both to the dying and to those surrounding them. ...
2 With the Help of ‘‘Good Friends’’: Deathbed Ritual Practices in Early Medieval Japan
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With such words as these, suggests the monk Genshin (942–1017), the dying should be exhorted to focus their minds on the Buddha Amida (Skt. Amitābha, Amitāyus), in order to escape the round of rebirth and instead achieve birth in the Pure Land (ōjō). ...
3 Beyond Death and the Afterlife: Considering Relic Veneration in Medieval Japan
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Although the cult of the saints in medieval Christianity is better known in the West, Buddhists likewise had their own saints.1 Early Buddhism featured arhats (Jpn. rakan), who trod the eightfold path in the footsteps of the historical Buddha, Sākyamuni. Arhats, like the saints of Christian traditions, left bodily relics. ...
4 Collective Suicide at the Funeral of Jitsunyo: Mimesis or Solidarity?
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Jitsunyo (1458–1525) was the fifth son of Rennyo (1415–1499), and his reluctant successor as monshu (also called hossu), or head priest of the Honganji branch of Jōdo Shinshū, the True Pure Land sect. Jitsunyo was not his father’s initial choice of successor; that fell to the first son, but he died young. ...
5 At the Crossroads of Birth and Death: The Blood Pool Hell and Postmortem Fetal Extraction
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In medieval Japanese Buddhism, the salvation of women increasingly came to be understood as the salvation of mothers.1 In the following pages, I will explore the conditions surrounding that salvation and the gendered meaning of the damnation that made the drama of redemption necessary. ...
6 Funerary Zen:Sōtō Zen Death Management in Tokugawa Japan
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‘‘Funerary Zen’’ emerged in the late medieval and early modern periods as a combination of Chinese Chan/Zen, esoteric, and Pure Land Buddhist elements, along with localized death ritual practices. These funerary practices found an institutional base in the government’s temple certification ...
7 The Structure of Japanese Buddhist Funerals
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It is often said, especially from a Western perspective, that modern Japanese hold ambivalent, even contradictory attitudes toward religion. Many Japanese go to a Shinto shrine to celebrate a birth and other rites of passage for their children, while young adults tend increasingly to have weddings in a Christian chapel, ...
8 The Price of Naming the Dead: Posthumous Precept Names and Critiques of Contemporary Japanese Buddhism
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Today, the sects of traditional Buddhism are facing perhaps the most serious threat to their existence since the government’s efforts during the Meiji period (1868–1912) to forcibly separate a ‘‘Buddhism’’ and a ‘‘Shinto’’ from the fabric of premodern Japanese religion. The contemporary threat is tied directly ...
9 The Orthodox Heresy of Buddhist Funerals
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The two legs on which Japanese Buddhism stands ritually and economically are funeral services and the practices of worldly benefits (genze riyaku), the one serving the dead, the other the living. Take away funerals, memorial rites, good luck charms, talismans, and prayers for good things, and Buddhism will topple over. ...
Glossary of Chinese and Japanese Characters
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Publication Year: 2008