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Japanese Tendai in the Tenth Century
Ryôgen and Mount Hiei focuses on the transformation of the Tendai School from a small and impoverished group of monks in the early ninth century to its emergence as the most powerful and influential school in Japanese Buddhism in the last half of the tenth century—a position it would maintain throughout the medieval period. This is the first study in a Western language of the institutional factors that lay behind the school’s success. At its core is a biography of a major figure behind this transformation, Ryôgen (912–985). The discussion, however, extends well beyond a simple biography as Ryôgen’s activities are placed in their historical and institutional context.
The study concludes with a discussion of the ordinations and roles of nuns during the early Heian period. An examination of Ryôgen’s close relation with his mother helps define the ambiguities of a school that prohibited women from the precincts of its temple yet performed rituals to insure safe childbirth and frequently attracted their patronage. A number of primary sources are translated in the appendices.
This collection of previously unpublished essays presents a broad range of explorations into the biographical genre of the Buddhist traditions of South and Southeast Asia. Each contribution examines sacred biography in one or more representational modalities in the texts, art history, literature, myths, rituals and cultures of the Buddhist tradition.
Scholars in the history of religions, anthropology, literature and art history present a broad range of explorations into sacred biography as an interpretive genre. The essays investigate both universal and local articulations of Buddhist sacred biography, illustrating the construction of interpretive frames of reference that map salient themes onto diverse contexts.
The combination of thematic depth and theoretical sophistication in Sacred Biography makes this volume innovative reading for all scholars with comparative interests.
Won Buddhism, one of the major religions of modern Korea, was established in 1916 by Pak Chung-bin (1891–1943), later known as Sot’aesan. In 1943 Sot’aesan published a collection of Buddhist writings, the Correct Canon of Buddhism (Pulgyo chongjon), which included the doctrine of his new order. Four years later, the second patriarch, Chongsan (1900–1962), had the order compile a new canon, which was published in 1962. This work, translated here as The Scriptures of Won Buddhism (Wonbulgyo kyojon), consists of the Canon (a redaction of the first part of the Pulgyo chongjon) and the analects and chronicle of the founder known as the Scripture of Sot’aesan. The present translation incorporates critical tenets from the 1943 Canon that were altered in the redaction process and offers persuasive arguments for their re-inclusion.
Covert Shin Buddhists in Japan and Contradictions of Concealment
Shin has long been one of the most popular forms of Buddhism in Japan. As a devotional tradition that emphasizes gratitude and trust in Amida Buddha, it is thought to have little to do with secrecy. Yet for centuries, Shin Buddhists met on secluded mountains, in homes, and in the backrooms of stores to teach their hidden doctrines and hold clandestine rites. Among their adherents was D. T. Suzuki’s mother, who took her son to covert Shin meetings when he was a boy. Even among Shin experts, covert followers were relatively unknown; historians who studied them claimed they had disappeared more than a century ago. A serendipitous encounter, however, led to author Clark Chilson’s introduction to the leader of a covert Shin Buddhist group—one of several that to this day conceal the very existence of their beliefs and practices. In Secrecy’s Power Chilson explains how and why they have remained hidden. Drawing on historical and ethnographic sources, as well as fieldwork among covert Shin Buddhists in central Japan, Secrecy’s Power introduces the histories, doctrines, and practices of different covert Shin Buddhists. It shows how, despite assumptions to the contrary, secrecy has been a significant part of Shin’s history since the thirteenth century, when Shinran disowned his eldest son for claiming secret knowledge. The work also demonstrates how secrecy in Shin has long been both a source of conflict and a response to it. Some covert Shin Buddhists were persecuted because of their secrecy, while others used it to protect themselves from persecution under rulers hostile to Shin. Secrecy’s Power is a groundbreaking work that makes an important contribution to our knowledge on secrecy and Shin Buddhism. Organized around the various consequences concealment has had for covert Shin Buddhists, it provides new insights into the power of secrecy to produce multiple effects—even polar opposite ones. It also sheds light on ignored corners of Shin Buddhism to reveal a much richer, more diverse, and more contested tradition than commonly is understood.
Philosophy and Folklore in the Fox Koan
According to the fox koan, the second case in the Wu-men kuan koan collection, Zen master Pai-chang encounters a fox who claims to be a former abbot punished through endless reincarnations for denying the efficacy of karmic causality. In the end he is liberated by Pai-chang's turning word, which asserts the inexorability of cause-and-effect. Most traditional interpretations of the koan focus on the philosophical issue of causality in relation to earlier Buddhist doctrines, such as dependent origination and emptiness. Dogen, the founder of the Japanese Soto school, devoted two fascicles of the Shobogenzo exclusively to the fox koan. One fascicle supports a paradoxical view of causality and non-causality, the two being "two sides of the same coin"; the second strongly attacks this interpretation and defends a literal reading that asserts causality and denies non-causality. Dogen's apparent change of heart on this topic has inspired scholars of the recent Critical Buddhist methodology to evaluate the merits and weaknesses in Zen's attitude toward ethical issues and social affairs. Shifting Shape, Shaping Text examines the fox koan in relation to philosophical and institutional issues facing the Ch'an/Zen tradition in both Sung China and medieval and contemporary Japan. Steven Heine integrates his own philological analysis of the koan, textual analysis of koan collections and related literary genres in T'ang and Sung China, folklore studies, recent discourse theory, Dogen studies, and research on monastic codes and institutional history to craft an original and compelling work. More specifically, he illuminates a fascinating dimension of the entire Ch'an/Zen tradition as he carefully lays out the philosophical issues in the koan concerning causality/karma and enlightenment, the ethical issues contained therein, the bearing that certain interpretations of causality had on the creation of monastic codes and institutional security in China, the relation between Zen and folk religion as revealed by the koan, and the issue of possible antinomianism in Zen, especially as grappled with by later thinkers such as Dogen and contemporary representatives of Critical Buddhism. Finally he applies theories of "high" and "low" religion and contemporary discourse and in the process rethinks the theories and their applicability across cultures. Far-reaching yet rigorous, Shifting Shape, Shaping Text will not only attract the interest of Ch'an/Zen specialists, but also those studying folklore, popular religion, and issues concerning the nature of discourse and the relation between "high" and "low" religions.
A Guide to the Sacred Sites of Japan's Ancient Religion
Of Japan’s two great religious traditions, Shinto is far less known and understood in the West. Although there are a number of books that explain the religion and its philosophy, this work is the first in English to focus on sites where Shinto has been practiced since the dawn of Japanese history. In an extensive introductory section, authors Joseph Cali and John Dougill delve into the fascinating aspects of Shinto, clarifying its relationship with Buddhism as well as its customs, symbolism, and pilgrimage routes. This is followed by a fully illustrated guide to 57 major Shinto shrines throughout Japan, many of which have been designated World Heritage Sites or National Treasures. In each comprehensive entry, the authors highlight important spiritual and physical features of the individual shrines (architecture, design, and art), associated festivals, and enshrined gods. They note the prayers offered and, for travelers, the best times to visit. With over 125 color photographs and 50 detailed illustrations of archetypical Shinto objects and shrines, this volume will enthrall not only those interested in religion but also armchair travelers and visitors to Japan alike.
Whether you are planning to visit the actual sites or take a virtual journey, this guide is the perfect companion.
Buddhist Miracle Tales from Early Medieval China
In early medieval China hundreds of Buddhist miracle texts were circulated, inaugurating a trend that would continue for centuries. Each tale recounted extraordinary events involving Chinese persons and places—events seen as verifying claims made in Buddhist scriptures, demonstrating the reality of karmic retribution, or confirming the efficacy of Buddhist devotional practices. Robert Ford Campany, one of North America’s preeminent scholars of Chinese religion, presents in this volume the first complete, annotated translation, with in-depth commentary, of the largest extant collection of miracle tales from the early medieval period, Wang Yan’s Records of Signs from the Unseen Realm, compiled around 490 C.E. In addition to the translation, Campany provides a substantial study of the text and its author in their historical and religious settings. He shows how these lively tales helped integrate Buddhism into Chinese society at the same time that they served as platforms for religious contestation and persuasion. Campany offers a nuanced, clear methodological discussion of how such narratives, being products of social memory, may be read as valuable evidence for the history of religion and culture. Readers interested in Buddhism; historians of Chinese religions, culture, society, and literature; scholars of comparative religion: All will find Signs from the Unseen Realm a stimulating and rich contribution to scholarship.
The result of a dialogue between poets and scholars on the meaning and making of the sacred, this book endeavours to determine how the sacred emerges in sacred script as well as in poetic discourse. It ranges through scholarship in areas as apparently disparate as postmodernism and Buddhism. The perspectives developed are various and without closure, locating the sacred in modes as diverse as patristic traditions, feminist retranslations of biblical texts, and oral and written versions of documents from the world’s religions. The essays cohere in their preoccupation with the crucial role language plays in the creation of the sacred, particularly in the relation that language bears to silence. In their interplay, language does not silence silence by, rather, calls the other as sacred into articulate existence.
Socially Engaged Buddhism is an introduction to the contemporary movement of Buddhists, East and West, who actively engage with the problems of the world—social, political, economic, and environmental—on the basis of Buddhist ideas, values, and spirituality. Sallie B. King, one of North America’s foremost experts on the subject, identifies in accessible language the philosophical and ethical thinking behind the movement and examines how key principles such as karma, the Four Noble Truths, interdependence, nonharmfulness, and nonjudgmentalism relate to social engagement. Many people believe that Buddhists focus exclusively on spiritual attainment. Professor King examines why Engaged Buddhists involve themselves with the problems of the world and how they reconcile this involvement with the Buddhist teaching of nonattachment from worldly things. Engaged Buddhists, she answers, point out that because the root of human suffering is in the mind, not the world, the pursuit of enlightenment does not require a turning away from the world. Working to reduce suffering in humans, living things, and the planet is integral to spiritual practice and leads to selflessness and compassion. Socially Engaged Buddhism is a sustained reflection on social action as a form of spirituality expressed in acts of compassion, grassroots empowerment, nonjudgmentalism, and nonviolence. It offers an inspiring example of how one might work for solutions to the troubles that threaten the peace and well being of our planet and its people.
Buddhism and Lao Religious Culture
Holt advances the provocative argument that common Lao knowledge of important aspects of Theravada Buddhist thought and practice has been heavily conditioned by an indigenous religious culture dominated by the veneration of phi, spirits whose powers are thought to prevail over and within specific social and geographical domains. The enduring influence of traditional spirit cults in Lao culture and society has brought about major changes in how the figure of the Buddha and the powers associated with Buddhist temples and reliquaries—indeed how all ritual spaces and times—have been understood by the Lao. Despite vigorous attempts by Buddhist royalty, French rationalists, and most recently by communist ideologues to eliminate the worship of phi, spirit cults have not been displaced; they continue to persist and show no signs of abating. Not only have the spirits resisted eradication, but they have withstood synthesis, subordination, and transformation by Buddhist political and ecclesiastical powers.
Rather than reduce Buddhist religious culture to a set of simple commonalities, Holt takes a comparative approach, using his nearly thirty years’ experience with Sri Lanka to elucidate what is unique about Lao Buddhism. This stimulating book invites students in the fields of the history of religion and Buddhist and Southeast Asian studies to take a fresh look at prevailing assumptions and perhaps reconsider the place of Buddhism in Laos and Southeast Asia.
27 illus., 6 in color