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Purifying Zen Cover

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Purifying Zen

Watsuji Tetsurō's Shamon Dōgen

translated and with commentary by Steve Bein

Purifying Zen: Watsuji Tetsuro’s Shamon Dogen makes available in a clear and fluid translation an early classic in modern Japanese philosophy. Steve Bein’s annotations, footnotes, introduction, and commentary bridge the gap separating not only the languages but also the cultures of its original readers and its new Western audience.” —from the Foreword by Thomas P. Kasulis

In 1223 the monk Dogen Kigen (1200–1253) came to the audacious conclusion that Japanese Buddhism had become hopelessly corrupt. He undertook a dangerous pilgrimage to China to bring back a purer form of Buddhism and went on to become one of the founders of Soto Zen, still the largest Zen sect in Japan. Seven hundred years later, the philosopher Watsuji Tetsuro (1889–1960) also saw corruption in the Buddhism of his day. Watsuji’s efforts to purify the religion sent him not across the seas but searching Japan’s intellectual past, where he discovered writings by Dogen that had been hidden away by the monk’s own sect. Watsuji later penned Shamon Dogen (Dogen the monk), which single-handedly rescued Dogen from the brink of obscurity, reintroducing Japan to its first great philosophical mind.

Purifying Zen is the first English translation of Watsuji’s landmark book. A text intended to reacquaint Japan with one of its finest philosophers, the work delves into the complexities of individuals in social relationships, lamenting the stark egoism and loneliness of life in an increasingly Westernized Japan. In addition to an introduction that provides biographical details on Watsuji and Dogen, the translation is supplemented with a brief guide to the themes and ideas of Shamon Dogen, beginning with a consideration of the nature of faith and the role of responsibility in Watsuji’s vision of Dogen’s Zen. It goes on to examine the technical terms of Dogen’s philosophy and the role of written language in Dogen’s thought.

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Radical Egalitarianism

Local Realities, Global Relations

Felicity Aulino

In this volume, leading scholars in anthropology, religion, and area studies engage global and local perspectives dialectically to develop a historically grounded, ethnographically driven social science.The book's chapters, drawing on research in East and Southeast Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas, are also in conversation with the extensive work of editor and contributor Stanley J. Tambiah: They all investigate some aspect of what Tambiah has called "multiple orientations to the world." The implicit focus throughout is on human cultural differences and the historically constituted nature of the political potentialities (both positive and negative) that stem from these. As a whole, then, the volume promotes an approach to scholarship that actively avoids privileging any one conceptual framework or cultural form at the expense of recognizing another-a style of inquiry that the editors call "radical egalitarianism."Together, these scholars encourage a comparative examination of contemporary societies, provide insights into the historical development of social scientific and sociopolitical categories, and raise vital questions about the possibilities for achieving equality and justice in the presence of competing realities in the global world today. Michael M.J. Fischer's Afterword provides a brilliant exegesis of Tambiah's multifaceted oeuvre, outlining the primary themes that inform his scholarship and, by extension, all the chapters in this book.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Ryogen and Mount Hiei Cover

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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.

Sacred Biography in the Buddhist Traditions of South and Southeast Asia Cover

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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.

Saving Buddhism Cover

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Saving Buddhism

The Impermanence of Religion in Colonial Burma

Alicia Turner

Saving Buddhism explores the dissonance between the goals of the colonial state and the Buddhist worldview that animated Burmese Buddhism at the turn of the twentieth century. For many Burmese, the salient and ordering discourse was not nation or modernity but sāsana, the life of the Buddha’s teachings. Burmese Buddhists interpreted the political and social changes between 1890 and 1920 as signs that the Buddha’s sāsana was deteriorating. This fear of decline drove waves of activity and organizing to prevent the loss of the Buddha’s teachings. Burmese set out to save Buddhism, but achieved much more: they took advantage of the indeterminacy of the moment to challenge the colonial frameworks that were beginning to shape their world. Beginning from an understanding that defining and redefining the boundaries of religion operated as a key technique of colonial power—shaping subjects through European categories and authorizing projects of colonial governmentality—Alicia Turner explores how Burmese Buddhists became actively engaged in defining and inflecting religion to shape their colonial situation and forward their own local projects.

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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.

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