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Master Takuan and His Writings on Immovable Wisdom and the Sword Tale
Takuan Sōho’s (1573–1645) two works on Zen and swordsmanship are among the most straightforward and lively presentations of Zen ever written and have enjoyed great popularity in both premodern and modern Japan. Although dealing ostensibly with the art of the sword, Record of Immovable Wisdom and On the Sword Taie are basic guides to Zen—“user’s manuals” for Zen mind that show one how to manifest it not only in sword play but from moment to moment in everyday life.
Along with translations of Record of Immovable Wisdom and On the Sword Taie (the former, composed in all likelihood for the shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu and his fencing master, Yagyū Munenori), this book includes an introduction to Takuan’s distinctive approach to Zen, drawing on excerpts from the master’s other writings. It also offers an accessible overview of the actual role of the sword in Takuan’s day, a period that witnessed both a bloody age of civil warfare and Japan’s final unification under the Tokugawa shoguns. Takuan was arguably the most famous Zen priest of his time, and as a pivotal figure, bridging the Zen of the late medieval and early modern periods, his story (presented in the book’s biographical section) offers a rare picture of Japanese Zen in transition.
For modern readers, whether practitioners of Zen or the martial arts, Takuan’s emphasis on freedom of mind as the crux of his teaching resonates as powerfully as it did with the samurai and swordsmen of Tokugawa Japan. Scholars will welcome this new, annotated translation of Takuan’s sword-related works as well as the host of detail it provides, illuminating an obscure period in Zen’s history in Japan.
Explores the milieu of Taiwan’s Buddhist nuns, who have the greatest numbers in the Buddhist world and a prominent place in their own country. Taiwan’s Buddhist nuns are as unique as they are noteworthy. Boasting the greatest number of Buddhist nuns of any country, Taiwan has a much greater number of nuns than monks. These women are well known and well regarded as dharma teachers and for the social service work that has made them a central part of Taiwan’s civil society. In this, the first English-language book on Taiwanese women and Buddhism, author Elise Ann DeVido introduces readers to Taiwan’s Buddhist nuns, but also looks at the larger question of how Taiwan’s Buddhism shapes and is shaped by women--mainly nuns but also laywomen, who like their clerical sisters flourish in that country. Providing an historical overview of Buddhist women in China and Taiwan, DeVido discusses various reasons for the vibrancy of Taiwan’s nuns’ orders. She introduces us to the nuns of the best-known of order, the Buddhist Compassion-Relief Foundation (Ciji) as well as those of the Luminary Buddhist Institute. Discussing “Buddhism for the Human Realm,” DeVido asks whether this popular philosophy has encouraged and supported the singular strength of Taiwan’s Buddhism women.
The View of the Elders
This book brings to life the age-old religious tradition of Theravada (literally, “view of the elders”) Buddhism as it is found in ancient texts and understood and practiced today in South and Southeast Asia. Following a brief introduction to the life of the historical Buddha and the beginning of his mission, the book examines the Triple Gem (the Buddha, his teachings, and the community of monastic followers) and the basic teachings of the Buddha in the earliest available Pali sources. Basic Buddhist concepts such as dependent co-origination, the four noble truths, the three trainings, and karma and its result are discussed in non-technical language, along with the Buddha’s message on social wellbeing.
The author goes on to chronicle his own involvement as an observer-participant in “the Theravada world,” where he was born and raised. His is a rare first-hand account of living Theravada Buddhism not only in its traditional habitats, but also in the world at large at the dawn of the twenty-first century. He concludes with a discussion on what is happening to Theravada today across the globe, covering issues such as diaspora Buddhism, women’s Buddhism, and engaged Buddhism. The book’s accessible language and clear explication of Theravada doctrine and texts make this an ideal introduction for the student and general reader.
A Buddhist-Feminist Social Ethic for Peacemaking in the Global Community
A Buddhist feminist social ethics for contemporary times. Offering a feminist analysis of foundational Buddhist texts, along with a Buddhist approach to social issues in a globalized world, Hsiao-Lan Hu revitalizes Buddhist social ethics for contemporary times. Hu’s feminist exegesis references the Nikaµya-s from the “Discourse Basket” of the Paµli Canon. These texts, among the earliest in the Buddhist canon, are considered to contain the sayings of the Buddha and his disciples and are recognized by all Buddhist schools. At the heart of the ethics that emerges is the Buddhist notion of interdependent co-arising, which addresses the sexism, classism, and frequent overemphasis on individual liberation, as opposed to communal well-being, for which Buddhism has been criticized. Hu notes the Buddha’s challenge to social hierarchies during his life and compares the notion of “non-Self” to the poststructuralist feminist rejection of the autonomous subject, maintaining that neither dissolves moral responsibility or agency. Notions of kamma, nibbaµna, and dukkha (suffering) are discussed within the communal context offered by insights from interdependent co-arising and the Noble Eightfold Path. This work uniquely bridges the worlds of Buddhism, feminism, social ethics, and activism and will be of interest to scholars, students, and readers in all of these areas.
Transmission, Translation, and Transformation
The global spread of Buddhism is giving rise to new forms of religious complexity, both in the West and in Asia. This collection of essays examines the religious and cultural conversations that are occurring in this process from a diverse range of disciplinary, methodological, and literary perspectives, including philosophy, ethnography, history, and cultural studies. The chapters in the first section explore the transmission of Buddhism to the West, ranging from the writings of one of its earliest western interpreters, the Wesleyan missionary R. Spence Hardy, to the globalization of Tibetan Buddhist reincarnation, to the development and practice of Buddhism within the American prison system. The concluding chapter of this section presents a case study of a Japanese Buddhist temple in Oregon that ultimately died out—an example of a transmission that failed. The second section looks at the complex issues that arise in the translation of Buddhist terms, texts, and concepts from one language or cultural milieu to another. Two chapters examine the challenges confronted by those who translate Buddhist texts—one exploring the contemporary translation of Tibetan Buddhism, the second analyzing an exchange of poetry in medieval Japan. The other two chapters describe the translation of Buddhist ideas into new cultural domains in America, specifically film and sports. The final section presents case studies in the transformation of Buddhism which is resulting from its new global interconnections. Topics include the role of women in transforming Buddhist patriarchy, Buddhist-Freudian dialogue in relationship to mourning, and the interplay between Buddhism and the environmental movement. The book also includes images created by the noted artist Meridel Rubenstein which frame the individual chapters within a nonverbal exploration of the themes discussed. In addition to the editors, contributors include Mark Blum, Mario D’Amato, Sue Darlington, Elizabeth Eastman, Connie Kassor, Tom Rohlich, Judith Snodgrass, Jane Stangl, and Karma Lekshe Tsomo.
Jacobson presents Buddhism unencumbered by Western categories and concepts, free from the cognitive bias, from the concept-oriented, definition-minded preoccupations inherited from the ancient Greeks. It is an interpretation of the central ideas that have characterized all forms of Buddhism for 25 centuries.
The Golden Pandita Shakya Chokden's New Interpretation of Yogacara and Madhyamaka
Presents the thought of a controversial Tibetan Buddhist thinker on the Yogaµcaµra and Madhyamaka systems. This landmark book discusses the thought of Tibetan Buddhist thinker Shakya Chokden (1428–1507) on the two major systems of Mahaµyaµna Buddhism. Influential and controversial in his own day, Shakya Chokden’s thought fell out of favor over time and his writings were eventually repressed, becoming available again only in the 1970s. Yet, his startling interpretations of the core areas of Buddhist thought remain valuable and well worth consideration today. Yaroslav Komarovski has used the twenty-four volumes of Shakya Chokden’s collected work to provide a systematic presentation of a central aspect of his thought: a reconciliation of Yogaµcaµra and Madhyamaka. Providing a detailed analysis of the two systems’ mutual refutations of each other, Shakya Chokden argues for their fundamental compatibility and shared vision. In analyzing Shakya Chokden’s ideas, Komarovski explores some of the most important issues of both traditional and modern Buddhist scholarship, including contested approaches to the nature of reality, the relationship between philosophy and contemplative practice, inter- and intrasectarian Buddhist polemics, and the nature of consciousness and mental processes.
Leading East Asian Buddhist thinkers of the seventh century compared, analyzed, and finalized seminal epistemological and soteriological issues that had been under discussion in India and East Asia for centuries. Among the many doctrinal issues that came to the fore was the relationship between the Tathagatagarbha (or “Buddha-nature”) understanding of the human psyche and the view of basic karmic indeterminacy articulated by the new stream of Indian Yogacara introduced through the translations and writings of Xuanzang and his disciples. The great Silla scholiast Wonhyo (617–686), although geographically located on the periphery in the Korean peninsula, was very much at the center of the intense discussion and debate that occurred on these topics. Through the force of his writings, he became one of the most influential figures in resolving doctrinal discrepancies for East Asian Buddhism. Although many of Wonhyo’s writings are lost, through his extant work we are able to get a solid glimpse of his profound and learned insights on the nature and function of the human mind. We can also clearly see his hermeneutical approaches and methods of argumentation, which are derived from apophatic Madhyamika analysis, the newly introduced Buddhist logic, as well as various indigenous East Asian approaches. This volume includes four of Wonhyo’s works that are especially revelatory of his treatment of the complex flow of ideas in his generation: System of the Two Hindrances (Yijang ui), Treatise on the Ten Ways of Resolving Controversies (Simmun hwajaeng non), Commentary on the Discrimination between the Middle and the Extremes (Chungbyon punbyollon so), and the Critical Discussion on Inference (P’an piryang non). The International Association of Wonhyo Studies’ Collected Works of Wonhyo, Volume 2
Buddhist American Literature into the Twenty-first Century
Explores the prevalence of Buddhist ideas in American literature since the 1970s. This timely book explores how Buddhist-inflected thought has enriched contemporary American literature. Continuing the work begun in The Emergence of Buddhist American Literature, editors John Whalen-Bridge and Gary Storhoff and the volume’s contributors turn to the most recent developments, revealing how mid-1970s through early twenty-first-century literature has employed Buddhist texts, principles, and genres. Just as Buddhism underwent indigenization when it moved from India to Tibet, to China, and to Japan, it is now undergoing that process in the United States. While some will find literary creativity in this process, others lament a loss of authenticity. The book begins with a look at the American reception of Zen and at the approaches to Dharma developed by African Americans. The work of consciously Buddhist and Buddhist-influenced writers such as Don DeLillo, Gary Snyder, and Jackson Mac Low is analyzed, and a final section of the volume contains interviews and discussions with contemporary Buddhist writers. These include an interview with Gary Snyder; a discussion with Maxine Hong Kingston and Charles Johnson; and discussions of competing American and Asian values at the Beat- and Buddhist-inspired writing program at Naropa University with poets Joanne Kyger, Reed Bye, Keith Abbott, Andrew Schelling, and Elizabeth Robinson.
Japan's Tokeiji Convent Since 1285
Zen Sanctuary of Purple Robes examines the affairs of Rinzai Zen’s Toµkeiji Convent, founded in 1285 by nun Kakusan Shidoµ after the death of her husband, Hoµjoµ Tokimune. It traces the convent’s history through seven centuries, including the early nuns’ Zen practice; Abbess Yoµdoµ’s imperial lineage with nuns in purple robes; Hideyori’s seven-year-old daughter—later to become the convent’s twentieth abbess, Tenshuµ—spared by Tokugawa Ieyasu at the Battle for Osaka Castle; Toµkeiji as “divorce temple” during the mid-Edo period and a favorite topic of senryuµ satirical verse; the convent’s gradual decline as a functioning nunnery but its continued survival during the early Meiji persecution of Buddhism; and its current prosperity. The work includes translations, charts, illustrations, bibliographies, and indices. Beyond such historical details, the authors emphasize the convent’s “inclusivist” Rinzai Zen practice in tandem with the nearby Engakuji Temple. The rationale for this “inclusivism” is the continuing acceptance of the doctrine of “Skillful Means” (hoµben) as expressed in the Lotus Sutra—a notion repudiated or radically reinterpreted by most of the Kamakura reformers. In support of this contention, the authors include a complete translation of the Mirror for Women by Kakusan’s contemporary, Mujū Ichien.