When considering questions of Buddhism, business and the economy, the production and transfer of karmic merit is an often-overlooked resource, perhaps due to the unexamined assumption that merit is not, after all, ‘real.’ This essay aims to show that taking merit production seriously reveals a well-established economic model that operates alongside, and at times contrary to, systems of monetary exchange. Precisely because of the tendency to interface with money economies, networks of merit transfer can intervene in common economic practices underlying (...) existing social conditions. For example, Xinxing (540–594), founder of the Sanjie movement, teaches that we can discharge our otherwise insurmountable karmic burden by making a single donation to the ‘Inexhaustible Storehouse.’ Donations to the Storehouse were thought to generate merit for the donors, a system already relied upon by Buddhist monasteries to raise money. However, unique to Xinxing’s Storehouse, anyone could borrow as needed, and repayment was optional. The Storehouse was so successful that it began to rival the government as a resource for social welfare, leading to its eventual disbandment. Moving from Xinxing to the present, this essay surveys other examples of merit-making rituals as drivers for charitable giving and socio-political change. (shrink)
This is a review of a collection of six essays. These essays, with the exception of one, are written by the followers of Shin Buddhism. The last essay in this collection is written from the perspective of Theravada Buddhism rather than Mahayana Buddhism. This collection is a result of the initiative by Rev. Yoshiharu Tomatsu who, as a Buddhist priest, has acquired hands-on experience in dealing with grieving Temple members and became acutely aware of the discrepancy between a medical system (...) and a ritualistic Buddhist system. While a medical system overlooks the spiritual needs of the dying, a Buddhist temple system neglects the spiritual needs of the living. This book ensued from a project that was initiated in 2006 and focused on the above-mentioned missing links, aiming to bring into conversation medical and religious practitioners. (shrink)
Membership in the Kyoto School of philosophy is defined by both formal and conceptual criteria. Keta Masako 氣多雅子 is a member in good standing in both senses. Formally speaking, she currently occupies the Chair in Religious Studies at Kyoto University.1 This chair, together with the Chair in Philosophy, constitutes the formal nexus of the Kyoto School.2 Keta is the first woman to hold the chair, constellating her in a network that radiates “from the rather substantial circle of students and professors (...) that had formed around Nishida [Kitarō] during his final years at Kyoto and that had continued with Tanabe [Hajime].”3 Conceptually speaking, the Kyoto School is defined by a critical reflection on Asian and European... (shrink)
Why do human beings believe in divinities? Why do some seek eternal life, while others seek escape from recurring lives? Why do the beliefs and behaviors we typically call "religious" so deeply affect the human personality and so subtly weave their way through human society? Revised and updated in this second edition, Eight Theories of Religion considers how these fundamental questions have engaged the most important thinkers of the modern era. Accessible, systematic, and succinct, the text examines the classic interpretations (...) of religion advanced by theorists who have left a major imprint on the intellectual culture of the twentieth century. The second edition features a new chapter on Max Weber, a revised introduction, and a revised, expanded conclusion that traces the paths of further inquiry and interpretation traveled by theorists in the most recent decades.Eight Theories of Religion, Second Edition, begins with Edward Burnett Tylor and James Frazer--two Victorian pioneers in anthropology and the comparative study of religion. It then considers the great "reductionist" approaches of Sigmund Freud, Emile Durkheim, and Karl Marx, all of whom have exercised wide influence up to the present day. The discussion goes on to examine the leading challenges to reductionism as articulated by sociologist Max Weber and Romanian-American comparativist Mircea Eliade. Finally, it explores the newer methods and ideas arising from the African field studies of ethnographer E. E. Evans-Pritchard and the interpretive anthropology of Clifford Geertz. Each chapter offers biographical background, theoretical exposition, conceptual analysis, and critical assessment. This common format allows for close comparison and careful evaluation throughout. Ideal for use as a supplementary text in introductory religion courses or as the central text in sociology of religion and courses centered on the explanation and interpretation of religion, Eight Theories of Religion, Second Edition, offers an illuminating treatment of this controversial and fascinating subject. (shrink)
In Search of the Way deals with intellectual and religious developments in early-modern Japan. It touches on the fate of Christianity but mainly covers Buddhism, Shinto, and Neo-Confucianism, particularly the latter. Of central concern is the constant debate over how society should be organized and how the individual can achieve self-fulfilment as just one element of a larger whole. It touches on such matters as ritual, pilgrimage, and religion in practice, but the emphasis is on ideological debate, disagreement, and consensus.
This study traces the development of orthodoxy in the Jodo Shinshu during its formative period between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries, and examines what impact questions of heresy, both within and outside the Shinshu, had on its early history. The Shinshu has long been one of the largest and most influential schools of Buddhism in Japan. It derived its strength from the great number of common people drawn to its simple doctrine of salvation through faith. The emergence of the Shinshu (...) as a major school of Japanese Buddhism was largely the work of Shinran , the originator of its religious tenets, and Rennyo , his tenth generation descendant who oversaw its rise to prominence. Shinran's teachings diverged profoundly from Japan's Buddhist tradition. Specifically, he denied that people in the present age can achieve salvation through personal religious exertions. Instead, he advocated faith or total reliance on the Buddha Amida. Moved by these convictions, Shinran abandoned the longstanding Buddhist custom of clerical celibacy, and thus paved the way for married clergy in the Shinshu. These divergences made his teachings susceptible to misinterpretation and to accusations of heresy. ;After Shinran's death his followers strove to defend themselves against criticism and to preserve his ideas from distortion. As the Shinshu expanded, deviations inevitably arose, some diluting Shinran's provocative message and others exaggerating it. Hence, the Shinshu found itself assailed from the outside as heretical and divided within by disparate interpretations. The Honganji, a temple built at Shinran's grave site, gradually emerged as the foremost defender of his teachings, with Shinran's descendants serving as its head priest. Though Honganji leaders were not immediately successful in unifying Shinshu adherents, they finally managed to do so during the tenure of Rennyo. He recast Shinran's ideas into a popular religious idiom, he disputed interpretations which he con- sidered inimical to Shinran's thought, and he fashioned the Shinshu into a socially viable religious movement replete with creed, ritual, and sectarian organization. For all intents and purposes, Rennyo was the one who instituted Shinshu orthodoxy. In his wake the Shinshu burgeoned into the largest school of Buddhism in Japan. (shrink)
The Reverend Hozen Seki, President of the American Buddhist Academy, says in his two-page preface that this book is the result of the transcription of five lectures given by Suzuki in the New York Buddhist Church in 1958. It is a detailing of Suzuki's own personal view of what Shin Buddhism is. This is the system that stems from the Japanese saint Shinran of the thirteenth century who was a follower of Honen, the founder of the Pure Land doctrine in (...) Japan. The aim of the book is not to trace down the background of the Pure Land teaching in India, nor is it to present Shinran's teaching as is. Rather, it is an expression of Suzuki's own insights into the Pure Land teaching.--P. J. H. (shrink)
The Japanese philosopher, Tanabe Hajime is taken up as an example of a thinker who, like the conference question, straddles intellectual histories East and West. Of all the Kyoto School philosophers, it was he who took history most seriously. He not only criticized Kantian, Hegelian, and Marxist notions of teleology and the modern scientific myth of "progress" on their own ground, but went on to counter these views of history with a logic of emptiness grounded in Buddhist philosophy. The essay (...) concludes with an attempt to uncover the tacit assumption that allows Tanabe to make his arguments. (shrink)