41-60 of 651 Results

Article

Bodhisattva-bhūmi  

John Powers

The Bodhisattva-bhūmi (Resources for Bodhisattvas) is part of Resources for Yoga Practitioners (Yogācāra-bhūmi), an encyclopedic treatise that was one of the most important works of the Indian Buddhist School of Yoga Practitioners (Yogācāra). It contains material relating to the doctrines and practices of both Mainstream Buddhists and Mahāyānists, mostly in condensed form. The Bodhisattva-bhūmi brings together disparate sources, and there is considerable overlap between the various lists it presents and the explanations of their contents. Contemporary text-critical scholarship has led to a broad consensus that the text available in the early 21st century is most likely a product of centuries of development during which material was compiled and edited, internal cross-references were provided to direct readers to similar discussions in other parts of the Bodhisattva-bhūmi and the Yogācāra-bhūmi, and a loose structure was imposed. It presents itself as a sourcebook of lore that can help both aspiring bodhisattvas and those who have embarked on the bodhisattva path to awakening (bodhi) in order to free sentient beings from suffering and guide them either to the peace of nirvana or to the ultimate attainment of buddhahood. Keywords: Buddhism, Yogācāra, bodhisattva, Asaṅga, Mahāyāna

Article

Book of Daniel  

Tawny Holm

The Book of Daniel contains the only apocalypse in the Hebrew Bible. It is comprised of twelve chapters: 1–6, which are a series of six court tales describing the life of Daniel and his three friends, Judean exiles to the Babylonian court in the 6th century bce, and 7–12, which are a series of four apocalyptic visions, purportedly by this same Daniel. Despite the book’s 6th-century setting, it was probably only finalized during the Maccabean period, perhaps by 164 bce. The stories seem to be earlier than the visions, which reflect anguish under the persecution of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Seleucid king who oppressed Judea from 168–164 bce. Especially the last chapters employ the coded language of apocalyptic literature and thus interpret historical figures symbolically without giving their actual names. Combined, the court tales and the apocalyptic vision narratives seem to function as both encouragement and resistance literature. The book was written in both Hebrew and Aramaic. The Greek editions of Daniel include additional material: a prayer and a hymn inserted into Dan 3, and two extra stories, Susanna and Bel and the Serpent. Daniel was placed in the Writings section of the Hebrew Bible but is located among the Prophets in the Septuagint as well as Catholic and Orthodox Christian Bibles. Among the Qumran Dead Sea Scrolls, there are at least eight copies of the Book of Daniel, as well as parabiblical literature either focused on a character named “Daniel” or otherwise related to the biblical book. Daniel’s main themes center mostly on its apocalyptic and eschatological features, such as the periodization of history, chronological predictions of end times, the sovereignty of God over earthly empires, martyrdom, and resurrection. These themes have influenced both Jewish and Christian views of eschatology. Within Christianity, the book is frequently read together with the Revelation or Apocalypse of John, an apocalyptic book in the New Testament that was greatly influenced by Daniel. Current research on the Book of Daniel not only utilizes some new approaches and methodologies but also continues to advance our understanding in these main areas: the relationship between the main texts of Daniel (the Hebrew-Aramaic as well as the Greek editions), Daniel’s composition history, its social setting and political theology, and its Ancient Near Eastern influences.

Article

The Book of Ecclesiastes (Qohelet)  

Thomas M. Bolin

Multiple questions surrounding the book of Ecclesiastes (Qohelet or Qoheleth in Hebrew)—including the identity of the book’s author and how it fits with other biblical texts—have long fascinated and confounded readers. In regard to authorship, scholarship since the late 19th century has dispensed with the tradition that Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes, but exactly who is responsible for the present form of the text and why he chooses to call himself “Qohelet” remains unknown. Multiple voices in the book appear to compete over theological and religious questions concerning divine justice and the efficacy of ethical behavior. The voice that frames the words of Qohelet both cites Qohelet’s teaching with approval and appears to undermine them in the book’s epilogue. The linguistic and lexical features of the book are late biblical Hebrew but contain several repeating keywords, each with connotations whose meanings shade into others and which cannot be understood with facile one-to-one renderings. Ecclesiastes contains no undisputed allusions or citations of other biblical material, despite its being one of the latest compositions in the Hebrew Bible, but it does reference material found in the Old Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh, a work over a millennium older than Ecclesiastes. The book resists the attempt to reduce its message to coherent themes, and modern critical scholarship sees in Ecclesiastes a mirror that shows the field’s own methodological flaws. The book’s aphoristic quality, vivid description of life’s joys and sorrows, and unflinching engagement with the limits of religion have insured its influence as a cultural touchstone.

Article

The Book of Isaiah  

J. Blake Couey

The book of Isaiah is a compilation of prophetic poetry and narratives, named for an 8th-century bce Judahite prophet. As depicted in chapters 1–39, Isaiah declared that Yhwh intended to punish Judah for social and cultic infractions; at the same time, he expressed support for the Davidic monarchy and proclaimed that Jerusalem would not be conquered by the Assyrians. Chapters 40–55 are addressed to a later audience following the conquest of Jerusalem by Babylon in 587 bce. These texts offer reassurance that Jerusalem will be restored and its exiled citizens will return. The final chapters, 56–66, reflect growing disillusionment and conflict in Judah under Persian rule, and the book ends by describing Yhwh’s eschatological destruction of the wicked and vindication of a righteous remnant. The book grew and developed over a period of four to five centuries. Despite its sometimes conflicting perspectives, it is broadly unified by its focus on the fate of Jerusalem, and later editors worked to impose some coherence upon its varied content, as seen by the repeated thematic echoes in Isaiah 1 and 65–66. Isaiah is a sophisticated work of biblical Hebrew poetry, characterized by intricate combinations of imagery and wordplay. It features a high view of divine sovereignty, emphasizing Yhwh’s control over world nations and superiority over all human and divine powers; these ideas contributed to the emergence of monotheism in ancient Judah. The book also articulates diverse responses to imperial domination, even as it chronicles the ebb and flow of Judah’s own imperial aspirations. Striking portrayals of women and gender appear throughout Isaiah, including the extensive personification of Jerusalem as a woman and the comparison of Yhwh to a mother. Isaiah is also notable for its discourse about disability, which serves a variety of rhetorical functions in the book. The impact of Isaiah was felt immediately, as evidenced by the number of copies of the book among the Dead Sea scrolls and citations of it in the New Testament. It greatly impacted the development of important religious ideas, including apocalypticism and belief in resurrection. In Christianity, Isaiah played an important role in reflection upon the nature of Jesus and the inclusion of Gentiles, even as it informed Christian anti-Judaism. The book has had a more complicated reception in Judaism, where it significantly influenced the growth of Zionism. Scholarly study of Isaiah continues to clarify the shape of its final form and history of composition. Current research on the book is increasingly interdisciplinary, engaging metaphor theory, disability studies, and postcolonial thought. The history of the book’s interpretation and reception is another area of growing interest.

Article

Book of Job  

Brian Doak

The book of Job is the longest and most thematically and linguistically challenging of the “wisdom books” in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. In the book’s prologue (Job 1–2) the narrator introduces readers to a man named Job (Hebrew ‘iyyōb; etymology unclear). Job’s prosperity extends into all areas of his life, and seems at least potentially linked to his moral status as completely righteous and blameless before God. The earthly scene then gives way to a heavenly setting, where a figure called “the accuser” (literally “the satan”; haśśātān) appears before God. God boasts about Job’s righteousness, but the accuser counters, suggesting that Job’s moral achievement has been merely the byproduct of God’s protection. The accuser and God enter into a bet: Job’s children will be killed, Job’s possessions stripped, and Job’s body afflicted with a painful disease—all to see whether Job will curse God. Job initially responds to the distress with pious statements, affirming God’s authority over his life. In a state of intense suffering, Job is joined by three friends—Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, and then eventually a fourth, Elihu—who offer rounds of speeches debating the reasons for Job’s situation (Job 3–37). Job responds to the friends in turn, alternately lamenting his situation and pleading for a chance to address God directly and argue his case as an innocent man. The friends accuse Job of committing some great sin to deserve his fate; they urge repentance, and defend God as a just ruler. God enters the dispute in a forceful whirlwind (Job 38), and proceeds for several chapters (Job 38–41) to overwhelm Job with resounding statements on creation (38:1–38), animal life (38:39–40:14), and visions of two powerful creatures, Behemoth (40:15–24) and Leviathan (41:1–11). The book ends with Job acknowledging to God the fact that he is overmatched in the face of divine power. God condemns the friends for not speaking “what is right, as my servant Job has” (42:7), and then restores Job’s lost possessions and children (42:10–17). Job has enjoyed a rich reception history in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and, perhaps more than any other book in the Bible except Genesis, as a world literary classic in its own right. Within the Bible, it is the most bracing statement on the problem of suffering, as it presents a situation wherein a clearly righteous person suffers immensely—putting it at odds with more straightforward descriptions of why people suffer in Proverbs, Deuteronomy, and other texts. Scholarly research on Job has focused on the book’s place among other ancient Near Eastern wisdom materials, on questions of language (given the large amount of difficult Hebrew terms in the book), on historical-critical concerns about authorship and the way the book may have come together in its present form, and on the history of the translation of the text into Greek and other ancient languages. In the 21st century, interpreters have increasingly taken up readings of Job that situate it among concerns related to economics, disability, gender, and the history of its reception in many different eras and communities.

Article

Buddhaghosa  

Norihisa Baba

Buddhaghosa was a Buddhist scholar-monk of the 5th century ce who belonged to a branch of the Theravāda school in Sri Lanka known as the Mahāvihāra. He has long been celebrated in the Sri Lankan Theravāda-Mahāvihāra tradition as the paradigmatic saint-scholar. In the first half of the 5th century, Buddhaghosa compiled his most important treatise, the Visuddhimagga (The Path to Purification). Outlining how the practitioner might overcome mental afflictions and attain nibbāna (nirvāṇa in Sanskrit), the Visuddhimagga offers a systematic explanation of Buddhist thought and practice in terms of the triad of conduct, meditative concentration, and wisdom. Buddhaghosa then went on to compile commentaries on the first four Nikāyas, which are collections of the Buddha’s discourses contained in the Pāli canon, and possibly commentaries on other texts too. In these commentaries, he provided exegeses of words and concepts in Buddhist canonical literature. Just after the beginning of the cultural and linguistic hegemony of the “Sanskrit Cosmopolis” across South and Southeast Asia, Buddhaghosa wrote in Pāli, another Middle-Indo Aryan language. According to Buddhaghosa, Pāli was the only language suitable for the transmission of Buddhist scriptures. Buddhaghosa also established the definition of the Pāli canon on the basis of the argument that five hundred elders had fixed the divisions of buddhavacana (which literally means “the word of the Buddha”) at the First Buddhist Council. The oldest extant biography of Buddhaghosa confirms that the Mahāvihāra treated Buddhaghosa’s commentaries like canonical texts.

Article

Buddhism and Bioethics  

Jens Schlieter

In the wake of the globalization of modern Western biomedicine and bioethics, Buddhists felt the need for moral action-guides that provide orientation in ethical dilemmas posed by modern biomedicine. Thus, in the 1980s, Asian Buddhists began to develop distinct Buddhist moral action-guides on issues of selective abortion, stem cell research, genetic enhancement, brain death and organ transplantation from brain-dead donors, and physician-assisted suicide. From the 1990s onward, they were joined by a growing number of Western scholars. Buddhist ethicists emphasize the importance of starting from venture points considerably distinct from Western bioethics: Firstly, they are traditionally less concerned with human dignity and human rights. Instead, with a focus on salvific cultivation, karma, and nonviolence, they predominantly reflect the moral quality of the actor’s intentions, leading to additional suffering in this life or the next. Secondly, bioethics, in harmony with Buddhist ethics in general, is understood as moral cultivation, which puts less emphasis on justification of ethics than on the quality of actual actions. Thirdly, on the one hand Buddhist bioethical reasoning includes aspects such as the harmful “self-centeredness,” while on the other hand it declares compassion to be the core value, including an awareness of the universal interdependence of all forms of sentient existence. In the 1980s, pioneering scholars of Buddhist bioethics Shōyō Taniguchi and Pinit Ratanakul began to outline ethical foundations of Buddhist bioethics. While both suggested that Buddhist ethics are in principle capable of providing orientation in all forms of bioethical dilemmas, their approaches differed considerably, for example regarding the duty of doctors to disclose fatal diagnoses. Dissent on this duty, which is emphasized by Ratanakul but relativized by Taniguchi, reflects not only cultural differences but also the latter’s inclusion of Mahāyāna Buddhist ethics of the bodhisattva’s “skillful means.” Based on a famous Western approach, Ratanakul was the first to outline a system of four principles or duties of Buddhist bioethical reasoning: veracity, noninjury to life (ahiṃsā), justice, and compassion (karuṇā). However, it was a Western scholar, Damien Keown, who in 1995 presented the first book-length treatise to cover almost all major bioethical issues, from embryo research to euthanasia for the terminally ill. Keown argued for a neo-Aristotelian virtue-ethics approach and distilled three basic goods from Buddhist canonical texts. This helped to modernize and transform Buddhist ethics into an operational system of Buddhist bioethics. It is argued that there is an equivalent to human dignity in Buddhism, namely the infinite capacity to participate in goodness, or the potential to reach buddhahood. In this vein, the function of human rights lies in providing a suitable environment for individuals to gradually realize this potentiality. Well into the new millennium, more works on Buddhist ethics appeared in which Western scholars of Buddhism included Tibetan Mahāyāna ethical reasoning (Karma Lekshe Tsomo), reconstrued Buddhist ethics as consequentialism (Charles Goodman), or explored the global variety of Buddhist ethical reasoning (Peter Harvey). Probably the most important contemporary controversy in Buddhist bioethics pertains to the question whether killing out of compassion can in certain circumstances be justified. According to a traditional evaluation of cetanā (intention), it has been argued that the intention to kill cannot coexist with a compassionate intention, whereas others concluded that in regard to both embryonic life and the treatment of terminally ill patients there is room for ethically justifiable options. During the 2010s the global as well as Buddhist discourse on bioethics saw a certain consolidation, but will likely gain momentum again—for example, should genome-edited babies become common practice.

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Buddhism and Biography  

Ben Van Overmeire

The Buddhist religion has a long and rich tradition of biographical literature. This literature has functioned to unify distinct and often contradictory elements of Buddhist ritual, practice, and doctrine, adjusting these elements to specific historical situations. Scholarship on the function of literary characters in making narrative worlds coherent supports this argument: when readers engage characters, they draw together textual and non-textual data to construct beings that are similar to themselves. This connection of a specific situation with a larger whole, a connection that is at the same time an organization, can be observed in how Buddhist biographies are built. Biographies of Shakyamuni, for example, contain many traces of changes motivated by local conditions. The body of Shakyamuni is used to authorize these changes: the local is situated at the heart of Buddhism. Biographies of Chinese Buddhist saints attest to the same process, as can be seen in the shifting representation of Indian saints in China or the literary transformations of the Patriarchs of the Chan school. While these changing representations reflect changes in historical Buddhist communities, they can also produce attitudes and regulate behaviors. The debate on the portrayal and effects of women and animals in Indian Buddhist texts provides an illustration of this, as does scholarship on how saintly ideals regulate behavior. The case of Buddhist autobiography, a genre at times so closely connected to biography that it is nearly indistinguishable from it, provides a final example of how identity is structured in Buddhist biography.

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Buddhism and Globalization  

Jørn Borup

“Global Buddhism” can be broadly understood as the transnational and transcultural network of circulating Buddhists and dynamic flows of Buddhist ideas and practices. It is characterized by ideals of universally applicable values and individually accessible experiences transgressing historical and cultural particularities. Global Buddhism is one kind of globalized religion, being itself a specific domain within the general context of globalization. Globalization encompasses transnational processes of interchanging values, services, and products, typically related to the modern, capitalist world. However, globalization has also been understood as a framework constituting cultural and religious dynamics and centripetal forces involving circulating ideas, practices, and institutions in an open and interacting world. A broader spatial and temporal perspective on globalization situates it in broader historical contexts, but typically linking it to an affinity with postmodernity and with a historical focus on the time since the breakdown of the communist world. Proto-global elements of religion can likewise be found throughout history, especially in axial religions and in contexts of accelerated circulation and hybridization. Throughout Buddhist history, such elements have been characteristic of the religion’s evolution and dissemination. Mission and trade along the Silk Route and in southeast Asia created proto-global ramifications just like the advent of Western colonialism co-created reform movements and networks of people with international scope and impact on “Buddhist modernity.” Global aspects are thus inherently part of much of Buddhist history, but a more restricted use of the concept would place global Buddhism in the aftermath of modernity, typically pronounced in urban centres and de-territorialized (online) social networks. Resistance and relativization are potentially always part of global transfigurations has also been influential in Buddhist contexts. One specific kind of “glocal” Buddhism, (yet) mainly restricted to a North American context, concentrates on reactions towards the transfigurations of globalization. What constitutes this kind of “post-global Buddhism” is twofold: an unveiling of universalized, global Buddhism as basically particularized “white” Buddhism, and an ideological shift beyond such disguised hegemony envisioning itself with new practices, values, identities, and communities based on (gender and) ethnic/racial differentiation.

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Buddhism and Healing in China  

Natalie Köhle

The history of Buddhism in China is deeply connected with healing. Some of the scriptures that were translated into Chinese discuss Indic conceptions of the body as an amalgamation of elements, and causes of illness in the tridoṣa, that is pathogenic body fluids and internal winds. Others discuss materia medica, and monastic rules on healing and hygiene in the monastery. Yet others set forth the ritual worship of the Medicine Buddha (Skt. Bhaiṣajyaguru; Ch. Yaoshi fo 藥師佛), the Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara (Guanyin pusa 觀音菩薩), and other deities that promise healing. Apart from the translated scriptures, there is a huge body of indigenous works that synthesized the wealth of information on Indic healing which arrived in China between the 2nd and 10th centuries ce. Foremost among those are Yijing’s 義淨 (635–713) account of Indian monastic practices, Daoxuan’s 道宣 (596–667) vinaya commentary, and Daoshi’s 道世 (?–683) encyclopedia chapter on illness. Chinese compositions, such as Zhiyi’s 智顗 (538–597) treatises on meditation, and Huizhao’s 慧皎 (497–554) hagiographies bear witness to the hybridity to which the reception of Indic ideas in China gave rise. With the widening reach of Buddhism into every layer of Chinese society during the Sui and Tang dynasties, eminent Chinese physicians, such as Tao Hongjing 陶弘景 (452–536), Chao Yuanfang 巢元方 (550–630), Wang Tao 王焘 (670–755), and Sun Simiao 孫思邈 (581–682) also began to incorporate Buddhist ideas into their medical treatises. Chinese Buddhist monasteries introduced hospital services to China, and certain lineages of monks continued to provide medical care to the laity in late imperial China. Their healing was based on Chinese medical theories, however, and there is no evidence that they persisted in applying Indic medical ideas.

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Buddhism and Media  

Scott A. Mitchell

Many approaches to the study of Buddhism and media overlap with traditional Buddhist studies methods such as textual analysis, art theory, ethnography, and ritual studies, as well as studies of material culture. Media studies may concern itself with contemporary media messages and forms, but it need not be limited to the realms of mass media and popular culture. In foregrounding media and material cultural, scholars can trace the development and flow of Buddhism as a global religion and cultural phenomenon. Such studies also invariably draw attention to the lived aspects of the religion: How do Buddhists enact or perform Buddhism? How do Buddhists communicate ideas about Buddhism both to other Buddhists as well as to outsiders? And how do these communicative acts change one’s understanding of Buddhism? Such questions go beyond the merely textual, historical, or philosophical and call us to answer deeper questions about the nature of Buddhism in the contemporary, global age.

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Buddhism and Medicine in India  

Vesna A. Wallace

The Pāli Tripiṭaka demonstrates that Indian Buddhists were familiar not only with the classical Āyurveda of the late Vedic period but also with the Atharvaveda and with the oldest passages that precede the redaction of the Āyurvedic Saṃhitās. The Nikāyas, Pāli Vinaya, and certain noncanonical Pāli sources contain the earliest accounts of Buddhist knowledge of diseases, medicinal substances, dietary guidelines, herbal and surgical treatments, and illnesses specific to the life and practices of a bhikkhu, the most common of which were gastrointestinal ailments, digestive problems, piles, and skin-related diseases. These sources also offer the information on medical training, infirmaries, and caregivers. Knowledge of medicine in Pāli literature is a combination of popular and folk medicine and classical Āyurveda. In all of Indian Buddhist traditions, the knowledge of preventing illnesses, preserving good health, and securing longevity is closely related to the Buddhist conception of the preciousness and rarity of human life, and the importance of health for Buddhist practice is emphasized. The ultimate medicine is said to be the Buddha Dharma and the ultimate physician the Buddha. In the Pāli Vinaya Piṭaka, the Buddha himself acts as a physician, making a diagnosis and prescribing a treatment, although he himself at times succumbed to illness and physical pain. The Indian Mahāyana and Vajrayāna traditions also recognized the Medicine Buddha (Bhaiṣajyaguru), Amitābha, Āyurbuddha, and various Bodhisattvas as healers and designed the devotional, ritual, and meditational practices related to these celestial physicians. Another healer who is given attention in many Buddhist sources as early as the Pāli Vinaya is Jīvaka, “the king of physicians,” known for his superb diagnostic and surgical skills. Different classifications of diseases, ranging from 35 and 49 to 404, are given in various Pāli and Sanskrit sources. While certain Pāli noncanonical sources contain mutually differing lists of the eight causes of illness, including karma, some Sanskrit sources, like Garbhāvakrānti Sūtra, speak of 80,000 bodily worms as causes of human illnesses. All major Indian Buddhist traditions equally recognized various malicious entities as external causes of illness and offer diverse methods of healing the afflictions caused by these entities. In the Indian Buddhist tantric tradition, according to which only embodied human beings can practice tantra, the importance of maintaining health and ensuring a long life become of paramount importance. Since various yogic tantric practices are most intimately related to subtle physiological and prāṇic systems, the physiological aspects of illness are examined as well as, medicinal formulas, and medical treatments that accord with Āyurveda. But tantras and tantric-medical treatises also pay great attention to the preparations and usages of alchemical substances, knowledge of the drawings of yantras and maṇḍalas, ritual performances, astrological divinations, and applications of protective and healing mantras and dhāraṇīs as regular therapeutic methods. In this regard, the medical training of a tantric healer covered multifaceted aspects of tantric knowledge.

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Buddhism and Medicine in Japan  

Katja Triplett

Buddhist institutions were first established in the Japanese archipelago in the 6th century ce. In the same period, the ruling families incorporated Chinese-style medicine and Daoist ritual healing techniques into Japanese culture and society. By the 8th century, Buddhism had become a dominant cultural force in Japan. The Japanese Buddhist textual tradition was shaped by translations from Sanskrit into classical Chinese, and Chinese texts remained paramount for all branches of scholarship. In the ensuing centuries, a rich and hybrid ritual, material, and intellectual culture emerged from combining these various religious and scholarly traditions, as well as elements of the local tradition of kami神 (gods) worship. This also resulted in a distinct tradition of Buddhist medicine, which blossomed in the Kamakura period (1185–1333). The esoteric (or tantric) tradition of Mahāyāna Buddhism with its idea of mutual empowerment (kaji加持) and unification of the ritualist and a buddha, bodhisattva, or other Buddhist deity, directing their power to heal, protect, etc., was the prevailing paradigm. Other traditions developed over the course of the centuries, too, notably Pure Land, Nichiren, and Zen Buddhism, and the vinaya restoration movement (Shingon Ritsu). These also had an impact on the ideas and practices of healing and medical care. All shared the aim of providing the means for salvation and ultimate liberation from sickness and suffering. Lay patrons in early and medieval Japan funded the construction of hospitals and other care facilities as well as medicinal gardens. The Japanese monastics who studied the classical Chinese medical texts and treated their patients following the ideal of the compassionate bodhisattva were also familiar with basic ideas from Indian Āyurveda from translated sutras and commentaries. As such, etiology and diagnosis in the Japanese Buddhist context included epistemic and cosmological thought from both China and India. In the Buddhist context, rituals such as elaborate fire-offering ceremonies (goma護摩) were commonly used to take care of patients of all ages. Buddhist treatments also included empowered medicines, acupuncture, and moxibustion. Buddhist priests provided palliative care, and deathbed rituals were conducted to protect the dying from evil forces and prepare them spiritually for a good death and future birth. Buddhist medical practitioners not only included monastic doctors, usually called sōi僧医 in modern literature, but also various kinds of exorcists and healers. These groups produced talismans and amulets, and offered protective rituals within the paradigmatic framework of Japanese Buddhism. Pilgrimage to sacred sites at Buddhist temples provided a way for monastics and lay people to find healing and support. The external treatment of afflictions often went hand in hand with internal, mental, or cognitive methods such as various forms of meditation. These methods were primarily practiced by the monastically trained, but some, such as naikan内観, “internal observation,” were practiced by a wider circle of practitioners. Buddhistic methods were also used to treat animals.

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Buddhism and Medicine in Premodern Japan  

Andrew Macomber

Beliefs and practices surrounding the body, disease, and healing have defined Buddhist traditions around the world since the inception of the religion in northern India roughly two-and-a-half millennia ago. Buddhism’s therapeutic dimensions left a discernible impact on the history of premodern Japan, where Buddhism arrived in the 6th century of the common era. Because Buddhist healers practiced medicine on all levels of society on the archipelago, the Buddhist imagination of disease found wide and enduring acceptance throughout the ancient and medieval periods. This included the notion of “karmic illness,” which provided a compelling etiological explanation for disease, disability, and injury by reference to the “physiomoral” causality expressed in the Buddhist doctrine of karma. Another Buddhist etiology that saw pervasive acceptance in Japan, especially with the rise of esoteric Buddhism throughout the Heian period (794–1185), was the attribution of illness to demons, malicious instigators of pestilence who had much in common with the plague deities thought responsible for epidemics since the Nara period (710–794) and earlier. Buddhist healers in Japan engaged with disease through a staggering variety of ritual, devotional, and medical practices. In the Nara period, the state relied on large-scale sūtra recitation assemblies and repentance rituals, many of which were aimed at securing the safety of the realm at large by healing the body of the emperor. In the Heian period, political power became increasingly diffused over multiple political agents, a rising class of warriors, and powerful Buddhist monasteries; personal salvation became an urgent priority in what was considered the “age of the Final Dharma”; and private sponsorship of esoteric Buddhist rituals for therapeutic purposes became an everyday affair. These rituals, many of which were highly innovative, typically incorporated the use and ritual consumption of diverse medical substances. Some of these substances were acquired via trade with the continent, and others were found or cultivated locally on the archipelago. One consequence of the nearly ubiquitous use of physical therapeutic substances in rituals was that Buddhists in Japan came to possess extensive knowledge about materia medica. New research on Buddhism and medicine in premodern Japan elucidates the historical and social contexts of Buddhist medicine. This research highlights the dynamic interactions between Buddhist healers, therapists of non-Buddhist medical traditions, and their patients.

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Buddhism and Print Culture in China  

T. H. Barrett

In premodern China all written materials were to be treated with respect, but Buddhist materials containing the words of the Buddha in particular embodied his surviving presence in the world just as much as an image, and so any means of multiplying them increased that presence, thus casting printing in a role far more significant than the mere provision of reading matter. Unfortunately, the study of Buddhism and print culture in China has been hindered by cultural factors that have so far resulted in an uneven coverage by existing research. The contributions of Buddhism to the early history of printing have been acknowledged by modern scholarship, and the importance of Buddhist doctrines and practices to the emergence of the technology continue to be explored. More recently the immense achievement of Chinese Buddhists in printing the Buddhist Canon in its entirety from woodblock in a dozen successive editions has also been recognized. But the investigation of extracanonical printing has not blossomed in the same way. Only in the case of the Chan school, whose writings as a result of their incorporation of vernacular elements present a somewhat anomalous case, has modern research been carried out to the degree that one might have expected, largely as the result of the work of Japanese scholars such as Ishii Shūdō 石井修道 and Shiina Kōyū 椎名宏雄. This leaves much of the printed output of Chinese Buddhists over more than a millennium almost completely unaccounted for, which has very serious implications for any estimation of China as a book culture in past history. Simple counting of the number of editions published in China and Europe ignores the reluctance of our sources to record Buddhist works. Under the circumstances the picture given can only be described as provisional. China for its part was not a stable concept throughout history. Historically printing in languages other than Chinese occurred in the territorial area that forms the contemporary nation-state, and printing in Chinese also took place in locations that fall within other territories.

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Buddhism and Shinto  

Fabio Rambelli

Buddhism in Japan has long coexisted with native cults and beliefs, commonly known as Shinto. According to received understanding, Shinto (literally, in modern Japanese interpretation, “the way of the [Japanese] gods”) is the autochthonous religious tradition of Japan, whose origins date back to the beginning of the Japanese civilization. Its main features are an animistic belief in the sanctity of nature, shamanic practices, ancestor cults, respect for authority and communal value, and a strong capacity to integrate and homogenize foreign elements. This received understanding sees the history of Japanese Buddhism as a gradual process of “Japanization,” that is, of integration within Shinto beliefs and attitudes. This understanding, however, still broadly circulating in Japan and abroad in textbooks and popular media, has been questioned radically by scholarship in the past few decades. In fact, until approximately 150 years ago, Shinto (and local cults in general) was deeply connected to Japanese Buddhism: Buddhist authors were the first to write doctrines and tales about the Japanese local gods or Kami, and most shrines dedicated to the Kami used to belong to Buddhist temples or were in fact Buddhist temples themselves dedicated to the kami. Kami were normally understood as avatars (Japanese, gongen) of buddhas, bodhisattvas, and other Buddhist divinities; some very popular kami even today, include Hachiman, who was evoked or discovered (if not created) by Buddhist monks, and Daikokuten and Benzaiten, two Buddhist deities from India (their Sanskrit names are, respectively, Mahākāla, the male counterpart of the goddess Kālī, and Sarasvatī, a water goddess). This situation of symbiosis, in which the Buddhist component was always at the top of the religious institutions’ hierarchy, also generated a number of conflicts that erupted in 1868, when the government decided to “separate” Shinto from Buddhism (shinbutsu bunri), an operation that resulted in the destruction of thousands of Buddhist temples and countless texts, images, and other artifacts, and, ultimately, in the creation of two separate religions. Any historical study of Shinto must therefore attempt to reconstruct this premodern situation of symbiosis and conflict.

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Buddhism and the Environment  

William Edelglass

Buddhism is a vast and heterogeneous set of traditions embedded in many different environments over more than two millennia. Still, there have been some similar practices across Buddhist cultures that contributed to the construction of local Buddhist environments. These practices included innumerable stories placing prominent Buddhist figures, including the historical Buddha, in particular places. Many of these stories concerned the conversion of local serpent spirits, dragons, and other beings associated with a local place who then themselves became Buddhist and were said to protect Buddhism in their locales. Events in the stories as well as relics and landscape features were marked by pillars, reliquary shrines (stupas), caves, temples, or monasteries that often became the focus of pilgrimage or considered particularly auspicious places for Buddhist practice, where one could encounter buddhas and bodhisattvas. Through ritual practices such as pilgrimage, circumambulation, and offerings, Buddhists engaged environments and their local spirits. Landscapes were transformed into Buddhist sites that were mapped and made meaningful according to Buddhist stories and cosmology. Farmers, herders, traders, and others in Buddhist cultures whose livelihood depended on their environments engaged the spirits of the land, whose blessings they needed for their own good. Just as they transformed the meaning of local environments, Buddhists also transformed the material environment. In addition to building monasteries, stupas, and other religious structures, Buddhist monastics developed administrative and engineering expertise that enabled large-scale irrigation systems. As Buddhism spread through Asia, it brought agricultural technologies that created the watery landscapes enabling rice production and increasing the agricultural surplus that made possible large monasteries and urbanization. In the last decades of the 20th century and the first decades of the 21st, eco-Buddhist scholars and practitioners have found resources in Buddhist traditions to construct a Buddhist environmental ethic. Some have argued that concepts such as dependent origination, the ethics of loving-kindness and compassion, and other ideas from classical Buddhist traditions suggest that Buddhism has always been particularly attuned to the environment. Critics have charged that eco-Buddhists are distorting Buddhist traditions by claiming that premodern traditions were responding to contemporary environmental concerns. Moreover, they argue, Buddhist ideas such as dependent origination, or its more environmentally resonant interpretation as “interdependence,” do not in fact provide a satisfying grounding for an environmental ethic. Partly in response to such critics, much scholarly work on Buddhism and the environment became more focused on concrete phenomena, informed by a variety of disciplines, including anthropology, archaeology, place studies, art history, pilgrimage studies, and the study of activism. Instead of focusing primarily on universal concepts found in ancient texts, scholars are just as likely to look at how local communities have drawn on Buddhist ontology, ethics, cosmology, symbolism, and rituals to develop Buddhist responses to local environmental needs, developing contemporary Buddhist environmentalisms.

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Buddhism in Colonial Contexts  

Douglas Ober

Scholars have long recognized the transformative impact that colonialism had on Buddhist institutions, identities, thought, and practice. The period marked the rise of politicized identities linking Buddhism to anti-colonial nationalist movements alongside boisterous discussions about reforming Buddhism to its “innate” humanistic, scientific core. For many decades, histories of Buddhism under colonialism generally subscribed to a singular narrative in which colonial forces leveled such monumental changes that almost all forms of modern Buddhism were seen as derivative of ideologies introduced by Western colonial regimes. These narratives, however, only tell some of the story. Beginning in the last decades of the 20th century, scholarship has increasingly shown how Buddhists responded in a multitude of ways to colonial influence. There was resistance and collusion as well as instances where colonial systems had only minimal impact. Numerous ideas about Buddhism which for most of the 20th century were taken for granted—that the text is closer to “true” Buddhism than contemporary practice, that texts composed in “classical” languages are more authoritative than those in the vernacular, that Buddhism is not really a religion at all but more like a science of the mind or philosophy, that Buddhism is less ritualistic and more rational than other religious traditions, and so on—have their roots in the colonial encounter with Buddhism. Any student wishing to understand the place of Buddhism during the colonial period must consider the multiple trajectories and plural histories rather than singular, monolithic narratives.

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Buddhism in Film  

Sharon A. Suh

Film serves as one of the most recent contributions to the variety of Buddhist visual forms that can offer a perspectival shift in interpretation for its viewers akin to other meditative devices such as mandalas. As a relatively recent subject of study, Buddhist films present innovative opportunities to visualize the Buddha, Buddhism, and the self in nuanced ways. Buddhist film can be understood as a spiritual technology that reshapes vision, and the act of viewing becomes a ritual process and contemplative practice. Ranging from films with an explicitly Buddhist theme and content to more abstract films without obvious Buddhist references, Buddhist films have become the subject of scholarly studies of Buddhism as well as occasions to reimagine Buddhism on and off screen. Buddhist films found in Asia and the West have proliferated globally through the rise of international Buddhist film festivals over the past fifteen years that have increased both the interest in Buddhism and the field of Buddhism and film itself. Most studies of Buddhism in film indicate that what constitutes a Buddhist film continually evolves and, as such, can be seen as a contemporary instantiation of the skillful means of the Buddha.

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Buddhisms in Diaspora: The Canadian Context of Chinese Buddhism  

Paul Crowe

Any discussion of Chinese Buddhist diaspora communities in Canada must account for the broader context within which they have been subsumed. To a great extent the timing and nature of Chinese Buddhist activity in Canada was determined by a legacy of racism and harsh immigration laws that were not fully reformed until the late 1960s. The first significant flow of Chinese migration to Canada began in the mid-19th century, commencing with gold rushes in California and British Columbia during the 1850s. Following this, construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway (1881–1885), spanning a distance of approximately 4,700km between Montréal, Québec, and Port Moody, British Columbia, provided the impetus for a subsequent wave of Chinese migration for the purpose of providing rail construction labor on Canada’s west coast. Despite the presence of significant numbers of Chinese in Canada, there is very little evidence of Chinese Buddhist practice and certainly practice within institutional settings prior to the 20th century. Nineteenth-century Chinese religious activity, such as it was, took place in the context of centers serving as clan shrines with altars dedicated to local deities linked to clan home regions. Buddhist figures mixed with popular deities were associated with clan rituals informed by a cyclical calendar of rites. Development of the critical social mass needed for support of Buddhist temples and centers was severely curtailed by an absence of a basic supporting family structure, as the Chinese population was virtually all male through 1885. Subsequent modest population gains made in the first decades of the 20th century were reversed with passage of the Chinese Immigration Act of 1923. Historically, Chinese religious activity has had a strong public dimension that includes public, and often outdoor, festivals. This, combined with the distinct appearance associated with Buddhist architecture, would make Chinese Buddhist communities’ institutions and practices conspicuous during times when they were viewed with widespread hostility. Relegated to “Chinatowns,” there was little support for building Buddhist institutions and every reason not to make such conspicuous and dangerous cultural gestures. Following World War II, and coincident with the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, to which Canada was a signatory, things began to change for the better. In 1947 the Chinese were finally able to vote, though immigration legislation remained deeply racist. In 1967 Canada’s Liberal government under Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau (1919–2000) inaugurated the point system, permitting people to qualify for landed immigrant status without reference to their particular country of origin. In the same year this change was made the community roots of the first Chinese Buddhist institutions were established in Vancouver and Toronto. Major development of Buddhist institutions did not begin to gain any real momentum until the mid-1980s, with a significant increase in Chinese migration from Hong Kong. This accelerated as the 1997 handover of Hong Kong from Britain to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) drew closer. Significant social networks and an increase in economic resources finally made the purchase of land and the construction of Chinese Buddhist temples a reality. Canada’s demographics underwent a dramatic transformation as European migration that had peaked in the mid- to late 1970s was equaled and then eclipsed by migration from East Asia. In Canada, Pure Land Buddhist organizations such as Ling Yen Mountain Temple and Gold Buddha Monastery, with roots in Taiwan and the United States, and International Buddhist Temple, with roots principally in Hong Kong, led the way in the emergence of Chinese Buddhist diaspora communities. Through the 1990s Taiwan-based Dharma Drum Mountain, which provides both Pure Land ceremonies and Chan teaching, established itself in Vancouver, as did Tung in Kok Yuen, an organization originating in Hong Kong. A significant increase in PRC migration, concentrated in Montréal, Toronto, and Vancouver, did not bring with it any significant institutional ties, but the new immigrant population did provide a constituency from which temples could draw new members, though they competed in this regard with Christian churches. Through the early 21st century Chinese migration numbers have remained robust, and Chinese Buddhist communities in many cases continue to consolidate and grow with deepening and expanding local community roots and increasingly strong international ties and outreach.