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A wide-ranging, readable account of the Theravada Buddhist thought and practice in the Southeast Asian societies of Thailand, Myanmar (Burma), Laos, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka. An unparalleled portrait, Donald K. Swearer’s Buddhist World of Southeast Asia has been a key source for all those interested in the Theravada homelands since the work’s publication in 1995. Expanded and updated, the second edition offers this wide ranging account for readers at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Swearer shows Theravada Buddhism in Southeast Asia to be a dynamic, complex system of thought and practice embedded in the cultures, societies, and histories of Thailand, Myanmar (Burma), Laos, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka. The work focuses on three distinct yet interrelated aspects of this milieu. The first is the popular tradition of life models personified in myths and legends, rites of passage, festival celebrations, and ritual occasions. The second deals with Buddhism and the state, illustrating how King Asoka serves as the paradigmatic Buddhist monarch, discussing the relationship of cosmology and kingship, and detailing the rise of charismatic Buddhist political leaders in the postcolonial period. The third is the modern transformation of Buddhism: the changing roles of monks and laity, modern reform movements, the role of women, and Buddhism in the West.
A Modern Shin Buddhist Anthology
Four Shin Buddhist thinkers reflect on their tradition’s encounter with modernity. Cultivating Spirituality is a seminal anthology of Shin Buddhist thought, one that reflects this tradition’s encounter with modernity. Shin (or Jodo Shinshu) is a popular form of Pure Land Buddhism, the most widely practiced form of Buddhism in Japan, but is only now becoming well known in the West. The lives of the four thinkers included in the book spanned the years 1863–1982, from the Meiji opening to the West to Japan’s establishment as an industrialized democracy and world economic power. Kiyozawa Manshi, Soga Ryojin, Kaneko Daiei, and Yasuda Rjin, all associated with Kyoto’s Otani University, dealt with the spiritual concerns of a society undergoing great change. Their philosophical orientation known as “Seishinshugi” (“cultivating spirituality”) provides a set of principles that prioritized personal, subjective experience as the basis for religious understanding. In addition to providing access to work generally unavailable in English, this volume also includes both a contextualizing introduction and introductions to each figure included.
Analects and Writings
The first English translations of the writings of Chŏngsan (1900–62), who codified the central doctrines of Won Buddhism. Won Buddhism emerged in early twentieth-century Korea after a long period of anti-Buddhist repression. It is a syncretic tradition, a form of Buddhism strongly influenced by the Chŏson dynasty’s Neo-Confucian ethical heritage and by Daoism. Seeking to deliver sentient beings from suffering and to create a just and ethical world, Won Buddhism stresses practical application of the dharma and service. It offers a vision of people as one family, morally perfected. This book provides the first English translations of the writings of Chŏngsan (1900–62), the second dharma master of Won Buddhism, who codified the new religion’s central doctrines. The translations here include Chŏngsan’s discussion of Buddha-nature, described as a mind-seal and symbolized by the Irwŏnsang (a unitary circle); his synthesis of Confucian moral and political programs with Buddhist notions of emancipation from birth and death; and his expositions on realizing the ideal of all people as one family.
A Narrative-Historical Introduction
For centuries, Buddhist teachers and laypeople have used stories, symbols, cultural metaphors, and anecdotes to teach and express their religious views. In this introductory textbook, Carl Olson draws on these narrative traditions to detail the development of Buddhism from the life of the historical Buddha to the present. By organizing the text according to the structure of Buddhist thought and teaching, Olson avoids imposing a Western perspective that traditional texts commonly bring to the subject.
The book offers a comprehensive introduction to the main branches of the Buddhist tradition in both the Mahayana and Theravada schools, including the Madhyamika school, the Yogacara school, Pure Land devotionalism, Tibetan Tantric Buddhism, Zen Buddhism, and village folk Buddhist traditions. Chapters explore the life and teachings of the Buddha in historical context, the early development and institutionalization of Buddhism, its geographic spread across Asia and eventually to the United States, philosophy and ethics, the relationship between monks and laity, political and ethical implications, the role of women in the Buddhist tradition, and contemporary reinterpretations of Buddhism.
Drawn from decades of classroom experience, this creative and ambitious textcombines expert scholarship and engaging stories that offer a much-needed perspective to the existing literature on the topic.
Illuminating Emptiness in a Twentieth-Century Tibetan Buddhist Classic
An annotated translation of an essential work of twentieth-century Tibetan Buddhist thought, one that explicates teachings on the Middle Way. his is an essential work of Tibetan Buddhist thought written by an influential scholar of the twentieth century. From the same Nyingma school as the great Tibetan philosopher Mipam, Botrul in this text provides a systematic overview of Mipam’s teachings on the Middle Way. Presenting the Nyingma tradition within a rich constellation of diverse perspectives, Botrul contrasts Nyingma views point-by-point with positions held by other Tibetan schools. Botrul’s work addresses a wide range of complex topics in Buddhist doctrine in a beautifully structured composition in verse and prose. Notably, Botrul sheds light on the elusive meaning of “emptiness” and presents an interpretation that is unique to his Nyingma school. Distinguishing the Views and Philosophies exemplifies the vigorous tradition of Tibetan Buddhist scholarship and is widely studied in the contemporary monastic colleges of Tibet, India, and Nepal. Douglas Samuel Duckworth’s translation will make this work widely available in English for the first time, and his thoughtful commentary will provide insight and context for readers.
Inside a Buddhist Temple in the American South
Buddhism in the United States is often viewed in connection with practitioners in the Northeast and on the West Coast, but in fact, it has been spreading and evolving throughout the United States since the mid-nineteenth century. In ###Dixie Dharma#, Jeff Wilson argues that region is crucial to understanding American Buddhism. Through the lens of a multidenominational Buddhist temple in Richmond, Virginia, Wilson explores how Buddhists are adapting to life in the conservative evangelical Christian culture of the South, and how traditional Southerners are adjusting to these newer members on the religious landscape.
Zen Buddhism is perhaps best known for its emphasis on meditation, and probably no figure in the history of Zen is more closely associated with meditation practice than the thirteenth-century Japanese master Dogen, founder of the Soto school. This study examines the historical and religious character of the practice as it is described in Dogen's own meditation texts, introducing new materials and original perspectives on one of the most influential spiritual traditions of East Asian civilization.
The Soto version of Zen meditation is known as "just sitting," a practice in which, through the cultivation of the subtle state of "nonthinking," the meditator is said to be brought into perfect accord with the higher consciousness of the "Buddha mind" inherent in all beings. This study examines the historical and religious character of the practice as it is described in Dogen's own meditation texts, introducing new materials and original perspectives on one of the most influential spiritual traditions of East Asian civilization.
Buddhist Relic Veneration in Asia
Embodying the Dharma explores the centrality of relic veneration in Asian Buddhist cultures. Long disregarded by Western scholars as a superstitious practice reflecting the popularization of “original” Buddhism, relic veneration has emerged as a topic of vital interest in the last two decades with the increased attention to Buddhist ritual practice and material culture. This volume includes studies of relic traditions in India, Japan, Tibet, Sri Lanka, and Thailand, as well as broader comparative analyses, including comparisons of Buddhist and Christian relic veneration.
Innovation and Activism in Contemporary Japan
Experimental Buddhism highlights the complex and often wrenching interactions between long-established religious traditions and rapid social, cultural, and economic change. Based on ethnographic fieldwork and archival research, it is one of the first studies to give readers a sense of what is happening on the front lines as a growing number of Buddhist priests try to reboot their roles and traditions to gain greater significance in Japanese society.
The book profiles innovative as well as controversial responses to the challenges facing Buddhist priests. From traditional activities (conducting memorial rituals; supporting residences for the elderly and infirm; providing relief for victims of natural disasters) to more creative ones (collaborating in suicide prevention efforts; holding symposia and concerts on temple precincts; speaking out against nuclear power following Japan’s 2011 earthquake; opening cafés, storefront temples, and pubs; even staging fashion shows with priests on the runway), more progressive members of Japan’s Buddhist clergy are trying to navigate a path leading towards renewed relevance in society. An additional challenge is to avoid alienating older patrons while trying to attract younger ones vital to the future of their temples.
The work’s central theme of “experimental Buddhism”provides a fresh perspective to understand how priests and other individuals employ Buddhist traditions in selective and pragmatic ways. Using these inventive approaches during a time of crisis and transition for Japanese temple Buddhism, priests and practitioners from all denominations seek solutions that not only can revitalize their religious traditions but also influence society and their fellow citizens in positive ways.