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The Record of Linji Cover

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The Record of Linji

Ruth Fuller Sasaki (trans.)

The Linji lu (Record of Linji) has been an essential text of Chinese and Japanese Zen Buddhism for nearly a thousand years. A compilation of sermons, statements, and acts attributed to the great Chinese Zen master Linji Yixuan (d. 866), it serves as both an authoritative statement of Zen’s basic standpoint and a central source of material for Zen koan practice. Scholars study the text for its importance in understanding both Zen thought and East Asian Mahayana doctrine, while Zen practitioners cherish it for its unusual simplicity, directness, and ability to inspire. One of the earliest attempts to translate this important work into English was by Sasaki Shigetsu (1882–1945), a pioneer Zen master in the U.S. and the founder of the First Zen Institute of America. At the time of his death, he entrusted the project to his wife, Ruth Fuller Sasaki, who in 1949 moved to Japan and there founded a branch of the First Zen Institute at Daitoku-ji. Mrs. Sasaki, determined to produce a definitive translation, assembled a team of talented young scholars, both Japanese and Western, who in the following years retranslated the text in accordance with modern research on Tang-dynasty colloquial Chinese. As they worked on the translation, they compiled hundreds of detailed notes explaining every technical term, vernacular expression, and literary reference. One of the team, Yanagida Seizan (later Japan’s preeminent Zen historian), produced a lengthy introduction that outlined the emergence of Chinese Zen, presented a biography of Linji, and traced the textual development of the Linji lu. The sudden death of Mrs. Sasaki in 1967 brought the nearly completed project to a halt. An abbreviated version of the book was published in 1975, but neither this nor any other English translations that subsequently appeared contain the type of detailed historical, linguistic, and doctrinal annotation that was central to Mrs. Sasaki’s plan. The materials assembled by Mrs. Sasaki and her team are finally available in the present edition of the Record of Linji. Chinese readings have been changed to Pinyin and the translation itself has been revised in line with subsequent research by Iriya Yoshitaka and Yanagida Seizan, the scholars who advised Mrs. Sasaki. The notes, nearly six hundred in all, are almost entirely based on primary sources and thus retain their value despite the nearly forty years since their preparation. They provide a rich context for Linji’s teachings, supplying a wealth of information on Tang colloquial expressions, Buddhist thought, and Zen history, much of which is unavailable anywhere else in English. This revised edition of the Record of Linji is certain to be of great value to Buddhist scholars, Zen practitioners, and readers interested in Asian Buddhism.

The Red Thread Cover

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The Red Thread

Buddhist Approaches to Sexuality

Bernard Faure

Is there a Buddhist discourse on sex? In this innovative study, Bernard Faure reveals Buddhism's paradoxical attitudes toward sexuality. His remarkably broad range covers the entire geography of this religion, and its long evolution from the time of its founder, Xvkyamuni, to the premodern age. The author's anthropological approach uncovers the inherent discrepancies between the normative teachings of Buddhism and what its followers practice.

Framing his discussion on some of the most prominent Western thinkers of sexuality--Georges Bataille and Michel Foucault--Faure draws from different reservoirs of writings, such as the orthodox and heterodox "doctrines" of Buddhism, and its monastic codes. Virtually untapped mythological as well as legal sources are also used. The dialectics inherent in Mahvyvna Buddhism, in particular in the Tantric and Chan/Zen traditions, seemed to allow for greater laxity and even encouraged breaking of taboos.

Faure also offers a history of Buddhist monastic life, which has been buffeted by anticlerical attitudes, and by attempts to regulate sexual behavior from both within and beyond the monastery. In two chapters devoted to Buddhist homosexuality, he examines the way in which this sexual behavior was simultaneously condemned and idealized in medieval Japan.

This book will appeal especially to those interested in the cultural history of Buddhism and in premodern Japanese culture. But the story of how one of the world's oldest religions has faced one of life's greatest problems makes fascinating reading for all.

Reflections of a Zen Buddhist Nun Cover

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Reflections of a Zen Buddhist Nun

Essays by Zen Master Kim Iryop

Kim Iryop, translated and with an introduction by Jin Young Park

The life and work of Kim Iryŏp (1896–1971) bear witness to Korea’s encounter with modernity. A prolific writer, Iryŏp reflected on identity and existential loneliness in her poems, short stories, and autobiographical essays. As a pioneering feminist intellectual, she dedicated herself to gender issues and understanding the changing role of women in Korean society. As an influential Buddhist nun, she examined religious teachings and strove to interpret modern human existence through a religious world view. Originally published in Korea when Iryŏp was in her sixties, Reflections of a Zen Buddhist Nun (Ŏnŭ sudoin ŭi hoesang) makes available for the first time in English a rich, intimate, and unfailingly candid source of material with which to understand modern Korea, Korean women, and Korean Buddhism.

Throughout her writing, Iryŏp poses such questions as: How does one come to terms with one’s identity? What is the meaning of revolt and what are its limitations? How do we understand the different dimensions of love in the context of Buddhist teachings? What is Buddhist awakening? How do we attain it? How do we understand God and the relationship between good and evil? What is the meaning of religious practice in our time? We see through her thought and life experiences the co-existence of seemingly conflicting ideas and ideals—Christianity and Buddhism, sexual liberalism and religious celibacy, among others.

In Reflections of a Zen Buddhist Nun, Iryŏp challenges readers with her creative interpretations of Buddhist doctrine and her reflections on the meaning of Buddhist practice. In the process she offers insight into a time when the ideas and contributions of women to twentieth-century Korean society and intellectual life were just beginning to emerge from the shadows, where they had been obscured in the name of modernization and nation-building.

Riven by Lust Cover

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Riven by Lust

Incest and Schism in Indian Buddhist Legend and Historiography

Jonathan A. Silk

Riven by Lust explores the tale of a man accused of causing the fundamental schism in early Indian Buddhism, but not before he has sex with his mother and kills his father. In tracing this Indian Buddhist Oedipal tale, Jonathan Silk follows it through texts in all of the major canonical languages of Buddhism, Sanskrit, Pali, Tibetan, Chinese, and Japanese, along the way noting parallels and contrasts with classical and medieval European stories such as the legend of the Oedipal Judas. Simultaneously, he investigates the psychological and anthropological understandings of the tale of mother-son incest in light of contemporary psychological and anthropological understandings of incest, with special attention to the question of why we consider it among the worst of crimes. In seeking to understand how the story worked in Indian texts and for Indian audiences—as well as how it might work for modern readers—this book has both horizontal and vertical dimensions, probing the place of the Oedipal in Indian culture, Buddhist and non-Buddhist, and simultaneously framing the Indian Oedipal within broader human concerns, thereby contributing to the study of the history of Buddhism, the transmission of narratives in the ancient world, and the fundamental nature of one aspect of human sexuality. Starting from a brief reference in a polemical treatise, Riven by Lust demonstrates that its authors borrowed and intentionally adapted a preexisting story of an Oedipal antihero. This recasting allowed them to calumniate their opponents in the strongest possible terms through the rhetoric of murder and incest. Silk draws on a wide variety of sources to demonstrate the range of thinking about incest in Indian Buddhist culture, thereby uncovering the strategies and working methods of the ancient polemicists. He argues that Indian Buddhists and Hindus, while occupying the same world for the most part, thought differently about fundamental issues such as incest, and hints at the consequent necessity of a reappraisal of our notions of the shape of the ancient cultural sphere they shared. Provocative and innovative, Riven by Lust is a paradigmatic analysis of a major theme of world mythology and a signal contribution to the study of the history of incest and comparative sexualities. It will attract readers interested in Buddhism, Indian studies, Asian studies, comparative culture, mythology, psychology, and the history of sexuality.

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Ryogen and Mount Hiei

Japanese Tendai in the Tenth Century

Paul Groner

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.

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Sacred Biography in the Buddhist Traditions of South and Southeast Asia

Juliane Schober

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.

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The Scriptures of Won Buddhism

Bongkil Chung

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.

Secrecy's Power Cover

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Secrecy's Power

Covert Shin Buddhists in Japan and Contradictions of Concealment

Clark Chilson

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.

Shifting Shape, Shaping Text Cover

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Shifting Shape, Shaping Text

Philosophy and Folklore in the Fox Koan

Steven Heine

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.

Shinto Shrines Cover

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Shinto Shrines

A Guide to the Sacred Sites of Japan's Ancient Religion

Joseph Cali and John Dougill

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.

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