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The Rise and Fall of a Chinese Heresy
In spite of the common view of Buddhism as nondogmatic and tolerant, the historical record preserves many examples of Buddhist thinkers and movements that were banned as heretical or subversive. The San-chieh (Three Levels) was a popular and influential Chinese Buddhist movement during the Sui and T’ang periods, counting powerful statesmen, imperial princes, and even an empress, Empress Wu, among its patrons. In spite, or perhaps precisely because, of its proximity to power, the San-chieh movement ran afoul of the authorities and its teachings and texts were officially proscribed numerous times over a several-hundred-year history. Because of these suppressions San-chieh texts were lost and little information about its teachings or history is available. The present work, the first English study of the San-chieh movement, uses manuscripts discovered at Tun-huang to examine the doctrine and institutional practices of this movement in the larger context of Mahayana doctrine and practice. By viewing San-chieh in the context of Mahayana Buddhism, Hubbard reveals it to be far from heretical and thereby raises important questions about orthodoxy and canon in Buddhism. He shows that many of the hallmark ideas and practices of Chinese Buddhism find an early and unique expression in the San-chieh texts.
Explores a range of Buddhist perspectives in a distinctly American context. The US seems to be becoming a Buddhist country. Celebrity converts, the popularity of the Dalai Lama, motifs in popular movies, and mala beads at the mall indicate an increasing inculcation of Buddhism into the American consciousness, even if a relatively small percentage of the population actually describe themselves as Buddhists. This book looks beyond the trendier manifestations of Buddhism in America to look at distinctly American Buddhist ways of life—ways of perceiving and understanding. John Whalen-Bridge and Gary Storhoff have organized this unique collection in accordance with the Buddhist concept of the Three Jewels: the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. The Buddha section discusses the two key teachers who popularized Buddhism in America: Alan Watts and D. T. Suzuki and the particular kinds of spirituality they proclaimed. The Dharma section deals with how Buddhism can enlighten current public debates and a consideration of our national past with explorations of bioethics, abortion, end-of-life decisions, and consciousness in late capitalism. The final section on the Sangha, or community of believers, discusses how Buddhist communities both formal and informal have affected American society with chapters on family life, Nisei Buddhists, gay liberation, and Zen gardens.
Selected Poems of Matsuo Basho
Bashoµ’s Haiku offers the most comprehensive translation yet of the poetry of Japanese writer Matsuo Bashoµ (1644–1694), who is credited with perfecting and popularizing the haiku form of poetry. One of the most widely read Japanese writers, both within his own country and worldwide, Bashoµ is especially beloved by those who appreciate nature and those who practice Zen Buddhism. Born into the samurai class, Bashoµ rejected that world after the death of his master and became a wandering poet and teacher. During his travels across Japan, he became a lay Zen monk and studied history and classical poetry. His poems contained a mystical quality and expressed universal themes through simple images from the natural world. David Landis Barnhill’s brilliant book strives for literal translations of Bashoµ’s work, arranged chronologically in order to show Bashoµ’s development as a writer. Avoiding wordy and explanatory translations, Barnhill captures the brevity and vitality of the original Japanese, letting the images suggest the depth of meaning involved. Barnhill also presents an overview of haiku poetry and analyzes the significance of nature in this literary form, while suggesting the importance of Bashoµ to contemporary American literature and environmental thought.
The Literary Prose of Matsuo Basho
In Bashoµ’s Journey, David Landis Barnhill provides the definitive translation of Matsuo Bashoµ’s literary prose, as well as a companion piece to his previous translation, Bashoµ’s Haiku. One of the world’s greatest nature writers, Bashoµ (1644–1694) is well known for his subtle sensitivity to the natural world, and his writings have influenced contemporary American environmental writers such as Gretel Ehrlich, John Elder, and Gary Snyder. This volume concentrates on Bashoµ’s travel journal, literary diary (Saga Diary), and haibun. The premiere form of literary prose in medieval Japan, the travel journal described the uncertainty and occasional humor of traveling, appreciations of nature, and encounters with areas rich in cultural history. Haiku poetry often accompanied the prose. The literary diary also had a long history, with a format similar to the travel journal but with a focus on the place where the poet was living. Bashoµ was the first master of haibun, short poetic prose sketches that usually included haiku. As he did in Bashoµ’s Haiku, Barnhill arranges the work chronologically in order to show Bashoµ’s development as a writer. These accessible translations capture the spirit of the original Japanese prose, permitting the nature images to hint at the deeper meaning in the work. Barnhill’s introduction presents an overview of Bashoµ’s prose and discusses the significance of nature in this literary form, while also noting Bashoµ’s significance to contemporary American literature and environmental thought. Excellent notes clearly annotate the translations.
The Social Ethics of Engaged Buddhism
Engaged Buddhism is the contemporary movement of nonviolent social and political activism found throughout the Buddhist world. Its ethical theory sees the world in terms of cause and effect, a view that discourages its practitioners from becoming adversaries, blaming or condemning the other. Its leaders make some of the most important contributions in the Buddhist world to thinking about issues in political theory, human rights, nonviolence, and social justice. Being Benevolence provides for the first time a rich overview of the main ideas and arguments of prominent Engaged Buddhist thinkers and activists on a variety of questions: What kind of political system should modern Asian states have? What are the pros and cons of Western "liberalism"? Can Buddhism support the idea of human rights? Can there ever be a nonviolent nation-state? It identifies the roots of Engaged Buddhist social ethics in such traditional Buddhist concepts and practices as interdependence, compassion, and meditation, and shows how these are applied to particular social and political issues. It illuminates the movement’s metaphysical views on the individual and society and goes on to examine how Engaged Buddhists respond to fundamental questions in political theory concerning the proper balance between the individual and society. The second half of the volume focuses on applied social-political issues: human rights, nonviolence, and social justice.
A Study and Translation of the <i>Rāṣṭrapālaparipṛcchā-sūtra</i>
Bodhisattvas of the Forest delves into the socioreligious milieu of the authors, editors, and propagators of the Rastrapalapariprccha-sutra (Questions of Rastrapala), a Buddhist text circulating in India during the first half of the first millennium C.E. In this meticulously researched study, Daniel Boucher first reflects upon the problems that plague historians of Mahayana Buddhism, whose previous efforts to comprehend the tradition have often ignored the social dynamics that motivated some of the innovations of this new literature. Following that is a careful analysis of several motifs found in the Indian text and an examination of the value of the earliest Chinese translation for charting the sutra’s evolution. The first part of the study looks at the relationship between the bodily glorification of the Buddha and the ascetic career—spanning thousands of lifetimes—that produced it within the socioeconomic world of early medieval Buddhist monasticism. The authors of the Rastrapala sharply criticize their monastic contemporaries for rejecting the rigorous lifestyle of the first Buddhist communities, an ideal that, for the sutra’s authors, self-consciously imitates the disciplines and sacrifices of the Buddha’s own bodhisattva career, the very career that led to his acquisition of bodily perfection. Thus, Boucher reveals the ways in which the authors of the Rastrapala authors co-opted this topos concerning the bodily perfection of the Buddha from the Mainstream tradition to subvert their co-religionists whose behavior they regarded as representing a degenerate version of that tradition. In Part 2 Boucher focuses on the third-century Chinese translation of the sutra attributed to Dharmaraksa and traces the changes in the translation to the late tenth century. The significance of this translation, Boucher explains, is to be found in the ways it differs from all other witnesses. These differences, which are significant, almost certainly reveal an earlier shape of the sutra before later editors were inspired to alter dramatically the text’s tone and rhetoric. The early Chinese translations, though invaluable in revealing developments in the Indian milieu that led to changes in the text, present particular challenges to the interpreter. It takes an understanding of not only their abstruse idiom, but also the process by which they were rendered from an undetermined Indian language into a Chinese cultural uh_product. One of the signal contributions of this study is Boucher’s skill at identifying the traces left by the process and ability to uncover clues about the nature of the source text as well as the world of the principal recipients. Bodhisattvas of the Forest concludes with an annotated translation of the Rastrapalapariprccha-sutra based on a new reading of its earliest extant Sanskrit manuscript. The translation takes note of important variants in Chinese and Tibetan versions to correct the many corruptions of the Sanskrit manuscript.
Animals and Religion in Contemporary Japan
Since the 1990s the Japanese pet industry has grown to a trillion-yen business and estimates place the number of pets above the number of children under the age of fifteen. There are between 6,000 to 8,000 businesses in the Japanese pet funeral industry, including more than 900 pet cemeteries. Of these about 120 are operated by Buddhist temples, and Buddhist mortuary rites for pets have become an institutionalized practice. In Bones of Contention, Barbara Ambros investigates what religious and intellectual traditions constructed animals as subjects of religious rituals and how pets have been included or excluded in the necral landscapes of contemporary Japan.
Pet mortuary rites are emblems of the ongoing changes in contemporary Japanese religions. The increase in single and nuclear-family households, marriage delays for both males and females, the falling birthrate and graying of society, the occult boom of the 1980s, the pet boom of the 1990s, the anti-religious backlash in the wake of the 1995 Aum Shinrikyō incident—all of these and more have contributed to Japan’s contested history of pet mortuary rites. Ambros uses this history to shed light on important questions such as: Who (or what) counts as a family member? What kinds of practices should the state recognize as religious and thus protect financially and legally? Is it frivolous or selfish to keep, pamper, or love an animal? Should humans and pets be buried together? How do people reconcile the deeply personal grief that follows the loss of a pet and how do they imagine the afterlife of pets? And ultimately, what is the status of animals in Japan? Bones of Contention is a book about how Japanese people feel and think about pets and other kinds of animals and, in turn, what pets and their people have to tell us about life and death in Japan today.
The Healing Heart of Japanese Women’s Rituals
Healing lies at the heart of Zen in the home, as Paula Arai discovered in her pioneering research on the ritual lives of Zen Buddhist laywomen. She reveals a vital stream of religious practice that flourishes outside the bounds of formal institutions through sacred rites that women develop and transmit to one another. Everyday objects and common materials are used in inventive ways. For example, polishing cloths, vivified by prayer and mantra recitation, become potent tools. The creation of beauty through the arts of tea ceremony, calligraphy, poetry, and flower arrangement become rites of healing.
Bringing Zen Home brings a fresh perspective to Zen scholarship by uncovering a previously unrecognized but nonetheless vibrant strand of lay practice. The creativity of domestic Zen is evident in the ritual activities that women fashion, weaving tradition and innovation, to gain a sense of wholeness and balance in the midst of illness, loss, and anguish. Their rituals include chanting, ingesting elixirs and consecrated substances, and contemplative approaches that elevate cleaning, cooking, child-rearing, and caring for the sick and dying into spiritual disciplines. Creating beauty is central to domestic Zen and figures prominently in Arai’s analyses. She also discovers a novel application of the concept of Buddha nature as the women honor deceased loved ones as “personal Buddhas.”
One of the hallmarks of the study is its longitudinal nature, spanning fourteen years of fieldwork. Arai developed a “second-person,” or relational, approach to ethnographic research prompted by recent trends in psychobiology. This allowed her to cultivate relationships of trust and mutual vulnerability over many years to inquire into not only the practices but also their ongoing and changing roles. The women in her study entrusted her with their life stories, personal reflections, and religious insights, yielding an ethnography rich in descriptive and narrative detail as well as nuanced explorations of the experiential dimensions and effects of rituals.
In Bringing Zen Home, the first study of the ritual lives of Zen laywomen, Arai applies a cutting-edge ethnographic method to reveal a thriving domain of religious practice. Her work represents an important contribution on a number of fronts—to Zen studies, ritual studies, scholarship on women and religion, and the cross-cultural study of healing.
This book provides both an erudite and intimate look at how Buddhism is lived in Sri Lanka. While India is known as the birthplace of Buddhism, Sri Lanka is its other home; Buddhism extends back over twenty-five hundred years on the island and remains at the center of its spiritual traditions and culture. Throughout the book, author Swarna Wickremeratne incorporates a personal view, sharing stories of herself, her family, friends, and acquaintances as they “lived Buddhism” both during her Sri Lankan girlhood and during more recent times. This personal view makes the traditions come alive as Wickremeratne details Buddhist beliefs, customs, rituals and ceremonies, and folklore. She also provides a fascinating discussion of the Sangha, the institutional monkhood in Sri Lanka, including its history, codes of conduct, and evolution and resilience over time. Wickremeratne explores the recent attempts by many monks to reinvent themselves in a society characterized by secularization, globalization, and a tide of aggressive Christian evangelization.
Gender, Power, and Buddhist Practice in Vietnam
The most common description of the supernatural landscape in Vietnam makes a distinction between Buddhist and non-Buddhist “sides.” The “Buddha side” (ben phat) is the focus of this investigation into the intersection of gender, power, and religious praxis. Employing an anthropological approach to Buddhist practice that takes into account modes of action that are not only socially constructed and contextual, but also negotiated by the actors, The Buddha Side uniquely explores how gender and age affect understandings of what it means to be a Buddhist.
In seeking to map out the ways and meanings of Buddhist engagement, Alexander Soucy examines everything from the skeptical statements of young men and devotional performances of young women to the pilgrimages of older women and performances of orthodoxy used by older men to assert their position within the pagoda space.
Soucy draws on more than four years’ experience conducting ethnographic research in Hanoi to investigate how religious practice is grounded in the constitution and marking of social identity. From this in-depth view, he describes the critical role of religion in shaping social contexts and inserting selves into them. Religion can thus be described as a form of theatre—one in which social identities (youth, old age, masculinity, femininity, authority) are constructed and displayed via religious practice.
A compelling look at the performative aspect of Buddhism in contemporary Vietnam, The Buddha Side will be welcomed by anyone with an interest in Buddhism as it is practiced on the ground.