61-80 of 651 Results

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Buddhist Art and Architecture in Tibet  

Erberto Lo Bue

Tibetan Buddhists view images primarily as religious supports and secondarily as works of art. Buddhist images are aimed at improving one’s karma by earning merit in view of future existences, at removing obstacles, and at creating wellbeing. Their commissioning may be occasioned by various circumstances, including illness and death, besides the need for a specific religious practice. Since they are primarily expressions of faith, their age has a limited importance and their originality hardly any: a religious image is valued less for its rarity and aesthetic value than for its apotropaic virtues and for its particular connection with a holy place or master. Hence the application of Western post-Medieval aesthetic criteria to the appreciation of Tibetan art ought to be complemented by an appreciation of the specific religious meaning of an image, the interpretation of its particular symbolism, and the aim of its client within the specific cultural and historical context in which it was produced. This article is preceded by a historical introduction sketching the development of Buddhist art and architecture in Tibet from the 7th to the present century, mentioning the role played by foreign artists, mostly Newars from the Nepal Valley, and dwelling on particularly significant monuments, such as the monastery of Sàmye (8th century) and the Great Stupa of Gyantsé (15th century), representing the two highest moments in the history of Tibetan religious art and architecture, the Pòtala being basically a fortified palace. The first section, on Tibetan Buddhist art, deals with iconography and iconometry as well as materials and techniques, contrasting the prevalent approach to the subject by collectors, and even art historians, with that of Buddhist masters and devotees, pointing out the importance of the consecration of images, without which the latter remain worthless from a religious point of view. The second section, on Tibetan Buddhist architecture, deals with the construction of religious buildings, their materials, their religious functions and their symbolism. Although stupas are referred to throughout the article, they are dealt especially in this section. Sanskrit terms, whether in phonetic transcription or in transliteration, prevail in the first section because the relevant terminology is largely the Tibetan translation of Indian Buddhist terms, Tibetan terms in phonetic transcription and transliteration prevail in the second section, except in the part dealing with the stupa.

Article

Buddhist Chaplaincy  

Monica Sanford and Nathan Jishin Michon

Buddhist chaplaincy is a profession in which Buddhists with specialized training care for the spiritual needs of suffering individuals (careseekers), typically within non-religious settings such as hospitals, hospices, military, workplaces, or universities. Although the roots of spiritual care date back to the beginning of the Buddhist traditions, professionalized Buddhist chaplaincy is a very recent phenomenon. Despite some beginnings in the mid-20th century, most developments have occurred rapidly only within the 21st century. This contemporary movement is occurring in numerous places around the world, including North America, Europe, and Asia, covering a wide range of countries, cultures, and Buddhist traditions. The profession of chaplaincy was originally a Christian vocation but began expanding to serve the needs of multireligious careseekers and train caregivers of various religious backgrounds in the 20th century. Thus, while chaplaincy is now a profession open to all comers, including Buddhists, humanists, and atheists, many of the educational, training, and professional standards for certification or licensing are still normed against Christian expectations and legacy organizational structures, particularly in North America, Europe, and the British Commonwealth. In the countries where Buddhist chaplaincy is flourishing in the early 21st century, different groups are developing degree programs, training opportunities, and professional expectations that accord with their local regulatory bodies and other forms of existing chaplaincy certification. In Asian nations, Buddhists are stepping forward to build standards for providing spiritual care in the context of cultural institutions that are not typically religious (e.g., hospitals and schools). Diverse settings and differing requirements lead to distinctions between Buddhist chaplaincy in different countries. However, some of the core competencies for spiritual care are very consistent: compassion, listening, ritual proficiency, cultural understanding, and reflection. Buddhist and non-Buddhist chaplains alike agree to a fundamental skill set to care for people who are suffering in the various institutions where they work and volunteer. Distinctions between Buddhist and other forms of spiritual care are based on the care model employed, whether strictly co-religionist (i.e., Buddhists caring for Buddhists) or interfaith (i.e., Buddhists caring for all). In the latter case, professional chaplains (of any religion) are trained to provide spiritual care from the spiritual or religious worldview of the careseeker. As such, most Buddhist chaplains must possess basic knowledge and competency in many world religions. Nevertheless, Buddhist spiritual care may be distinct in its theory (Dharma based) and place more emphasis on mindfulness, meditation, and other contemplative techniques to benefit both careseekers and chaplains. Spiritual care that is “Dharma-based” means based on the teachings of the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, and/or the Buddhist traditions and teacher who followed after him. This includes a broad range of texts and teachings across the Buddhist world. As an emerging field, there is little literature on Buddhist chaplaincy, so it is currently somewhat difficult to say what theories and practices will come to dominate the profession.

Article

Buddhist Cosmology  

Eric Huntington

Buddhist cosmology addresses the contents, structures, and processes of the world, especially with a view toward how these relate to the experiences of living beings. Some ideas occur broadly across various traditions, including that the world is disk-shaped, centers on the enormous mountain Sumeru, contains a human-inhabited continent called Jambudvīpa, and carries numerous layers of heavens above and hells below. At the same time, differing cosmological interpretations have been key to the development of many of the diverse philosophies and practices seen across Buddhist history. Over time, scholars, artists, and practitioners have reinterpreted cosmological features and frameworks to express new ideas about the personhood of the buddha, the nature of enlightenment, the techniques by which followers progress along the Buddhist path, and more. Some major innovations of Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna Buddhism were cast in explicitly cosmological terms. Such important cosmological statements appear not only in scriptures and treatises but also in other aspects of Buddhist culture, such as ritual performances, visual artworks, and material objects. The cosmology of Buddhism is deeply intertwined with everything from its most profound intellectual developments to the lives and activities of everyday individuals.

Article

Buddhist Geography and Regionalism  

Megan Bryson

Since its birth in India about 2,500 years ago, Buddhism has spread throughout the globe. As Buddhism reached new areas, its followers developed their own regional identities and understandings of Buddhist geography. South Asia, and specifically the sites associated with the historical Buddha’s life, remained a conceptual center for many Buddhists, but the near disappearance of Buddhism from the subcontinent in the 13th century allowed Buddhists in other regions to overcome their “borderland complexes” and identify sacred Buddhist sites in their own lands. This involved both the metaphorical transfer of sacred sites from South Asia to new places and the creation of new sacred sites, such as reliquaries for the remains of local saints and mountains seen as the abodes of buddhas or bodhisattvas. By the 19th and 20th centuries, colonial encounters introduced Buddhism to the West and created categories of national Buddhisms, which led to new visions of Buddhist geography and regionalism. In addition to national Buddhisms, regional distinctions commonly applied to the Buddhist world include the mapping of Theravāda in Southeast Asia, Mahāyāna in East Asia, and Vajrayāna in the Himalayas, or the mapping of Northern Buddhism as Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna in East Asia and the Himalayas, and Southern Buddhism as Theravāda in Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka. These models have some salience, but the history of Buddhist geography and regionalism reveals that the locations and interactions of different Buddhist traditions are more complex. New models for Buddhist regionalism have moved away from static, bounded spaces to foreground processes of interaction, such as network analyses of trade and transmission routes or areas such as “Maritime Asia” or the “East Asian Mediterranean.”

Article

Buddhist Meditation and Contemplation  

Sarah Shaw

Perhaps the most significant contribution of Buddhism to the international stage in recent years has been the promotion and cultural acceptance of meditation. Historically central to many Buddhist traditions and once considered an activity for a dedicated few, meditation has become mainstream. Within Buddhism itself, it has now become more widely acknowledged as a lay as well as a monastic practice. Meditation has been reinstated in religious orthopraxy in many spiritual traditions, Buddhist and non-Buddhist, where its practice had previously fallen into abeyance. Meditation is now also normalized and often recommended in secular and clinical contexts: the modern mindfulness movements and various psychologically related disciplines, by adopting various forms of meditative practice as highly effective therapeutic techniques, have made meditations, often derived from Buddhist practice, internationally acceptable. It would be fair to say that the figure of the Buddha seated in deep calm has become an internationally recognized image for the tranquility and alertness thought possible for the human mind. But what exactly is meditation? The term applies to a range of activities that go beyond, but include, the simple seated activity suggested by images of the Buddha. Walking, sitting, and eating may include exercises regarded as central elements in meditative practice. Buddhist traditions throughout all regions have often been richly varied in their attitude to the praxis and the theory of the eightfold path; all path factors are considered interrelated. The isolation of any one activity from others that may support and enhance it does not present an authentic, or what would be regarded as an effective, picture of what is known as bhāvanā, literally “making to become,” the cultivation of the eightfold path and, specifically, meditation itself. The term bhāvanā is certainly applied to seated meditation. But it also includes exercises in other postures, devotional practices, offerings, prostrations, listening to teaching, debate about the teaching, and chanting. Some of these, in some traditions, assume a central role whereby they become the core meditation practice. Meditations and other activities are often considered interdependent: from early times, the absorption and investigation of theory, sitting meditation, walking practice, chanting, and rituals aimed at stilling and clearing the mind were designed to support and complement one another. Meditation and its associated exercises are often selected and taught with careful consideration of individual needs. Many require continued guidance by more experienced practitioners: mixes of practices are often suggested to individuals according to their temperament and stage of practice. Forms of Buddhism are quite distinct; but practices are usually seen as graduated, requiring patient training before the next stage of teaching is reached, and mutually supportive. Historically, Buddhism has also often tended to adapt in a creative and flexible manner according to local customs, variations, and belief systems. These features can be seen in the great diversity of Buddhist meditative practice.

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Buddhist Missionaries  

Brooke Schedneck

Buddhists missionize in distinct ways by building on historical models, such as a concern with bringing knowledge and spreading teachings, as opposed to formal conversion and renunciation of previous religious beliefs. Academic scholarship tends to treat Buddhist missionization as a historical phenomenon. Yet it continues to be an important component of the tradition for Buddhists in the 21st century, motivating them to travel to spread the Buddha’s teachings to those who demonstrate curiosity. Because of Buddhists’ interest in conveying the dharma, they have often aligned the teachings with modern discourses, resulting in what scholars have called modern Buddhism. Buddhist missionaries have also argued that the dharma fits within contexts of social justice, which has been labeled engaged Buddhism. Examples of missionaries from East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, and the West, and world-famous monks such as the Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh, demonstrate spreading the teachings is a major motivation. These figures formulate their message in modern or socially engaged frameworks, but the root of their activity is missionizing. The main message of contemporary Buddhist missionaries is that Buddhism is open and welcoming to everyone, one does not have to convert to practice within Buddhism, and the Buddhist teachings apply to everyone.

Article

Buddhist Philosophy as Philosophy  

Mark Siderits

Is Buddhist philosophy properly thought of as philosophy? The work of Buddhist thinkers such as Vasubandhu, Nāgārjuna, and Dharmakīrti is widely recognized as deploying the same sorts of tools to investigate the same sorts of topics as what one finds in the practices of academic philosophers in the early 21st century. Still there is resistance to incorporating Buddhist philosophical texts into the philosophy canon, and this both from “mainstream” academic philosophers and from Buddhologists (scholars of the Buddhist tradition). Current resistance can be traced to concerns over the soteriological context of Buddhist philosophizing. Those who wish to maintain the present Eurocentric focus of the philosophy canon suspect that the soteriological ends to which philosophical inquiry is put by Buddhists must compromise philosophy’s commitment to rationality and Buddhism’s commitment to its goal of salvation. Resistance from both sides thus presupposes that a spiritual practice necessarily involves commitments that are not rationally assessable. And this presupposition may be incompatible with the core Buddhist teaching of non-self. If this clears the way to including the Buddhist philosophical tradition in the canon, one must ask how this may affect the two parties to the project of fusion. A brief look at some recent missteps reveals that only if there is greater teamwork between philologically trained Buddhologists and scholars trained in (what currently counts as) “mainstream” academic philosophy can there be real progress. But the potential benefits—for both sides—may well justify the effort.

Article

Buddhist Wall Paintings  

Sonya S. Lee

Wall paintings are integral to the built environment of the Buddhist world. Images of deities, celestial spheres, and biographical narratives of all sorts constitute an integral part of Buddhist architecture, serving as the material and conceptual interfaces between art, society, and the ecosystem that link their viewers to the world they live in and realms in their imagination. Buddhist wall paintings are meant to make abstract doctrines and concepts comprehensible through visual means while promoting key moral lessons to devotees in vivid and memorable ways. They provide donors with an opportunity to express piety and accumulate merit for creating a beautiful home for the Buddha that would enable his followers to follow his footsteps and at the same time impress nonbelievers. Though far from a vehicle of individualism, the medium of wall painting challenges artists to be innovative with age-old iconographic formulae and compositional schemes in order to make the tradition anew for their own time and place. This important artistic medium developed in tandem with the emergence of Buddhism as a world religion during the 1st millennium ce. To underscore the remarkable flexibility that Buddhist concepts and practices exhibited as they were adapted into disparate local cultures, the present study will focus on major sites in the Taklamakan and Gobi Deserts in China to explore the inter- and intraregional connections in the dissemination of Buddhist wall painting across Eurasia.

Article

Buddhist Wizards (Vidyādhara/Weizzā/Weikza): Origins and History  

Niklas Foxeus

The notion of the vidyādhara, “bearer of wisdom/practical knowledge/ritual lore,” was a common figure in various Indian traditions and appeared in Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain texts, as well as in Indian narrative literature. Originally, these beings were depicted as semi-divine, youthful figures flying about in the atmosphere between heaven and earth, endowed with supernormal powers. Later, this figure came to be viewed as a soteriological state that a human being could attain in his/her present life through religious practice, thereby becoming a kind of superhuman, god-like being. This interpretation was mainly encountered in Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain tantric traditions. In Indian Buddhism, the ideal of becoming a vidyādhara came to be linked to a variety of practices, including alchemy, meditation, and the recitation of mantras, by which supernormal powers could be acquired. Such practices were also performed to achieve spiritual success by a bodhisattva on the long path to buddhahood. The concept of a vidyādhara as a soteriological ideal for humans to realize in their present lives has been emphasized not merely in Indian but also in Tibetan and Burmese traditions, where it became localized and adapted to the local culture and society. Although the nature and origin of the premodern notions of vidyādhara (Pāli vijjādhara) and related practices in Burma/Myanmar have yet to be investigated, these notions and practices came to be rather widespread there during the colonial period from about the end of 19th century, and their popularity culminated during the postindependence period starting in 1948. Since these periods, a weizzā or a weizzādhour (Pāli vijjādhara) has been understood to be a human being who achieves a superhuman state. This is a two-stage process. First, as a human being, he (it is always a man) achieves a lower-state of weizzāhood by engaging in a variety of practices such as Buddhist meditation and morality in combination with alchemy, magical squares (yantras), or indigenous medicine, or reciting mantras through which he acquires supernormal powers (Pāli iddhi, abhiññā; Burmese dago; Sanskrit siddhi), such as being able to predict the future, to materialize objects, to be able to levitate, to be present at two places at the same time, etc. Second, he achieves an ontological transformation (htwek-yap-pauk) through which he acquires a semi-immortal life that enables him to transcend saṃsāra and to attain nirvana and awakening (Pāli bodhi) in a remote future as a Buddhist saint (Pāli arahant) or as a buddha in one extended life. In the meantime, the accomplished weizzā leaves the human realm and enters a hidden world, and from there he seeks to promote and defend the Buddha’s dispensation (Pāli sāsana) and to save the suffering sentient beings. From his hidden abode, a weizzā can communicate with and give instructions to his human devotees through telepathic messages or omens, by apparitions, or by possessing them. In this way, a weizzā is perceived as an intrinsically Buddhist figure that is linked to Buddhist meditation, morality, soteriology, cosmology, and eschatology.

Article

Buddhist Wizards (Vidyādhara/Weizzā/Weikza): Contemporary Burma/Myanmar  

Thomas Patton

Supernatural wizards with magical powers to heal the sick and who inhabit the minds and bodies of men, women, and children, as well as defend religion from the forces of evil: this is not the popular vision of Buddhism. But this is exactly what one finds in the Buddhist country of Myanmar, where the majority of people abide by Theravāda Buddhism—a form of Buddhism generally perceived as staid, lacking religious devotion and elements of the supernatural. Known as “weizzā,” the beliefs and practices associated with this religion have received little scholarly attention, especially when compared with research done on other aspects of Buddhism in Myanmar. Reasons for this are varied, but two stand out. Firstly, because such phenomena have been labeled by scholars and Buddhists alike as “popular” and “syncretic” forms of religion, scholars of Buddhism in Myanmar have tended to focus their research on aspects of Buddhism considered orthodox and normative, such as vipassana and abhidhamma. Secondly, the academic study of religion has been slow to develop new interpretive strategies for studying religious phenomena that do not readily fit existing categories of what constitutes “religion.” These two dilemmas will be confronted by introducing and employing the framework of “lived religion” to examine the religious lives of those who engage the world of Buddhist wizards, as well as the experiences these individuals consider central to their lives—along with the varied rituals that make up their personal religious expressions. The reader is invited to think of religion dynamically, reconsidering the landscape of Myanmar religion in terms of practices linked to specific social contexts. After delineating a genealogy of scholarly approaches to the study of Buddhism-as-lived and the ways in which scholars have constituted the subject of their studies, the article will examine aspects of Myanmar religious life from the perspectives of those whose experiences are often misrepresented or ignored entirely, not only in Western academic works on religion but also in Myanmar historical monographs and other written, oral, and pictorial sources. In addition to increasing our understanding of the lived religious experiences and practices of the weizzā and their devotees, this approach to religious studies also enriches our investigation of the complex interrelationship between these experiences and practices and the wider social world they are enacted in. Acknowledging that any lens we study religion through offers only a partial truth, an improved religious studies approach to the weizzā and similar phenomena can get closer to the truths that people make in their own lives: thus, moving further from the contested boundaries that scholars and practitioners of religion place on religious worlds.

Article

Byzantine and Slavic Orthodoxy  

Alexander Rentel

The Byzantine-Slav liturgical tradition emerged as an aggregate rite from the diverse liturgical practices of the Eastern Mediterranean from the early 4th century. This tradition developed around the city of Constantinople but was also influenced by the liturgical traditions of Jerusalem and the monasteries surrounding Jerusalem. While Constantinople remained the center of this tradition, it also found its home and developed in unique ways throughout the Mediterranean and the Balkan Peninsula, into Ukraine and Russia, and eventually throughout the world. The liturgical tradition itself weaves together the diverse practices of monastic and urban worship, creating very much a hybrid rite. The daily office, primarily drawn from monastic practices, utilizes a mix of invariable texts, prayers, psalmody, and composed hymns of ancient provenance as well as a wide array of variable hymns of different origins and genre. Throughout these services, the monastic elements stand side by side with remnants of the urban cathedral worship. The Divine Liturgy, the Eucharist service, has at its core prayers that go back to the classic patristic age of the church, the 4th and 5th centuries. The entire service, however, betrays multiple layers of influence on its development, ranging from practices of the imperial cult of late antiquity to popular piety. All these elements have come together through organic development and, at times, directed reform to form a vast liturgical tradition with rich textures and complex nuances of meaning.

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Byzantine Christian Worship  

Peter Galadza

Eastern Orthodox and Catholics of the Byzantine Rite practice a liturgical tradition historically synthesized and disseminated via the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Various traditions of Jerusalem, and Palestine more generally, became a significant part of the synthesis. After Constantinople’s fall in 1453, the Greek liturgical books printed in Venice came to codify the textual and structural bases for the various families of this Rite. These families nonetheless employ different languages and music. They are also distinguished by ritual particularities. The Byzantine tradition stresses the sacramentality of the entire worship space and retains a transcendent ethos. The latter derives from the belief that earthly liturgy is a copy of the heavenly. While the full, codified Rite reveals an obvious regard for Scripture, approximately 85 percent of the Old Testament is not part of the lectionary—even if allusions to those unused passages are occasionally found in the hymnography. Historically, various genres have evolved in Byzantine hymnography, but—with some exceptions—the evolution of new forms ceased after Constantinople’s fall. As in all classical Rites, the Eucharist consists of a Liturgy of the Word and Liturgy of the Eucharist, though an elaborate preparation of the gifts precedes the Liturgy of the Word. A distinctive Liturgy of the Pre-sanctified Gifts is a prominent part of Lenten observance. As for the Hours, Vespers and Matins (Orthros) are the “hinges” of the office. Especially in the ancestral territories of the Rite, these have remained prominent—even in parochial churches. The Orthodox Church does not grant the same status to the Septinarium as does the Catholic, but all seven sacraments are celebrated with significant rites. Baptism, Chrismation (Confirmation), and the Eucharist are always administered together as initiation into the Church. The immovable cycle of feasts begins on September 1, imitating the old Byzantine civil calendar, while Easter, the actual start of the Church year, inaugurates the cycle of movable commemorations. The latter includes a cycle of eight melodic tones, with one tone used per week. For the reckoning of the date of Easter, the Julian calendar continues to predominate, even though the Gregorian has been used by many Orthodox Churches for the immovable cycle since the post-World War I period. The theological academies of the Russian Empire spawned a flowering of liturgical scholarship at the end of the 19th century. The Bolshevik Revolution curtailed this, and the baton passed to Rome’s Oriental Institute and to Orthodox institutions in Paris, Athens, and Thessaloniki, not to mention individual scholars throughout Europe. Among the greatest challenges for the Byzantine Church today is the development and appropriation of solid research—both historical and theological—with a view to revitalizing worship in cultural environments significantly different from those in which it was born. Sociological factors, however, impede liturgical reform.

Article

The Caliphate  

Carool Kersten

The caliphate as an institution for governing the Muslim community can be traced back to the time immediately after the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632 ce. With its humble origins in the parochial settings of an Arabian desert oasis, the caliphate provided the structure for the shepherding of a community of believers organized around prophetic teachings calling for return to the true religion of Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and other prophets, a religion that came to be known as Islam. Despite internal dissent and even civil war, the caliphate not only survived but even expanded far beyond the Arabian Peninsula. Between the 8th and 10th centuries the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates ruled an empire stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indus River. After that, the challenges of sustained political control proved too formidable to be exercised from a single center, leading to political fragmentation. Although it functioned only for a few centuries as an effective form of Islamic governance, for many Sunni Muslims the caliphate’s political and symbolic significance has outlasted its administrative and institutional fragmentation. Its appeal even continued after its formal abolition in 1924 by the founding president of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (1881–1938). Since then the caliphate has not just remained a nostalgic memory. Throughout the 20th century and into the new millennium, some proponents of political Islam continue to advocate the restoration of a caliphate as a rallying point for Muslims worldwide, in some instances making concrete efforts toward re-establishing the institution or even proclaiming a new caliph.

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Candrakīrti’s Middle Way Philosophy  

Kevin Vose

The Indian Buddhist philosopher Candrakīrti (c. 570–640) created a systematic and far-reaching interpretation of the central Madhyamaka (“Middle Way”) doctrine of emptiness (śūnyatā) that many in Tibet regard as the highest philosophical view and as essential to the attainment of awakening. His unique reading of the “two truths,” all in the self-portrayal of a faithful interpreter of Nāgārjuna, offered an austere interpretation of emptiness that redefined the awakened state and took effort to align with the Mahāyāna Buddhist path. His bivalent portrayal of “the world” portended a conservative approach to a Buddhist’s relationship to authoritative scripture and its trustworthy interpreter, Nāgārjuna, as well as reconceiving the role of philosophical argument within ordinary practices. As is the case with many Indian Buddhists, little is known about his life; he is placed historically on the basis of his references to somewhat better-known figures. His thoroughgoing critique of the emergent “valid cognition” (pramāṇa) tradition and rejection of the role of inference (anumāna), favoring instead argument by logical consequence (prasaṅga), for demonstrating emptiness put his views out of step with his time; his influence would be muted for several centuries. His eventual rise to the attention of Indian Buddhists set the stage for the transmission of his texts to Tibet, where his philosophy touched off widespread debates on the relationships between the ultimate truth of emptiness, valid ways of knowing it, the bodhisattva’s path in which it is embedded, and buddhahood. Candrakīrti’s views would eventually win the day, placing his so-called Prāsaṅgika school at the pinnacle of most Tibetan Buddhist doxographies.

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Canon and Commentary in the Earliest Buddhist Manuscripts  

Stefan Baums

The earliest Buddhist manuscripts were written in the Kharoṣṭhī script and Gāndhārī language, initially on birchbark scrolls and later on palm-leaf pothi-format manuscripts (i.e., bound or wrapped palm-leaf folios). The core area of this manuscript culture was the region of Gandhāra in northern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan, but its influence extended to neighboring areas and, along the Silk Roads, into Central Asia and China. After sporadic finds throughout the 19th and 20th centuries (including one substantial Dharmapada manuscript in 1892), approximately 150 such early Buddhist manuscripts have come to light in the past thirty years. They provide a direct view into a transitional period, ranging from the 1st century bce to the 4th century ce, in which Buddhist literature switched from a primarily oral to a primarily written mode of transmission and underwent a process of canonization. Scholastic texts employing new exegetical procedures were composed and Mahāyāna texts began to appear. The change of manuscript format from scroll to pothi eventually enabled new textualities, in particular the production of very extensive written texts including complete sections of a Buddhist canon that approached the content and form known from other Buddhist traditions. All major genres and divisions of Buddhist literature are attested among these manuscript finds, which are gradually being edited, providing a new basis for scholarly understanding of the early history of Buddhism and the way that texts were used in early Buddhist monasteries.

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Certainty and Security in Martin Luther’s Theology  

Susan E. Schreiner

Crucial for Luther’s theology and his own experience was the question of whether one’s salvation was certain. And the security of the truth which underlay doctrine was complexly related to that question. Luther thus received and developed notions of certitude and security. The concepts as Luther inherited them have a long and somewhat complicated history that can be traced back to ancient Greece. These terms were often distinct throughout antiquity and up to contemporary times. The term “security” has referred to the realm of the political; namely, the security or tranquility of the city state or “nation” both in terms of physical security in times of conflict and also in the history of law. Certitude has a more complex history. For example, Aristotle often understood certainty or akribeia to mean precision, especially in mathematical terms. Those sciences that had the most properties removed (aphaeresis) were the most precise and consequently the most certain. Most prominent in the history of certitudo was the issue of epistemic certainty. Thus we find in Augustine’s doctrine of illumination that uncreated, immutable exemplars were the guarantors of certainty. It was in the later Middle Ages that the issue of epistemic certainty, in the form of mental representation, became a controversial topic. Scotus criticized Henry of Ghent’s views of human cognition and contended that certainty could be had only of self-evident propositions, knowledge of contingent acts, repeated occurrences ordained by God, and sense knowledge of the external world. Ockham argued for epistemic certainty on the basis of self-evident propositions and, most importantly, the reliability of intuitive cognition of individual external objects. Certainty also had a long history in Christian theology and most often referred to the certainty of faith. Certitude was the conviction of the truth regarding the contents of the faith. Frequently the issue referred to the relationship between faith and reason. Certainty referred primarily to definition of the Christian faith. Not surprisingly, throughout the Christian tradition, certainty was related to the problem of heresy. The early church Fathers tried to establish orthodox doctrine over and against various heretical groups. Everyone agreed that the foundation for Christian truth was Scripture. However, different people interpreted the Bible in ways that were judged to be contrary to Christian faith. Around the year 434, Vincent of Lérins provided a rule that distinguished Catholic truth from heresy. This “Vincentian Canon” required that Christian truth be that which was believed everywhere, always, and by all (Quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus). These criteria guaranteed the certainty and stability of doctrine. One target of Vincent’s was probably Augustine, because he could be quoted against himself. Due to the many conversions in his life, Augustine made many pronouncements he later retracted, and such retractions were not meant to contribute to uncertainty about the faith. Medieval Scholastic inheritors of Augustine continued to define faith as a cognitive certitude. Their training in dialectic was crucial because it provided the certainty of doctrine against heretics. Luther was trained in dialectic, but in his Disputation against Scholastic Philosophy he opposed the use of Aristotle and logic in theology. Nonetheless, dialectic remained a subject in the university at Wittenberg. Dialectic could not answer the questions of certainty for which Luther sought answers. His questions were about the certainty of salvation and, for Luther, this certainty could only be found in Scripture and the experience of the Holy Spirit. Such certainty also required a redefinition of faith. As the various reformations continued to divide Western Christendom, controversies about the exegesis of Scripture multiplied both among various reformers and between reformers and Catholics. Throughout the course of the turbulent 16th century, the real source of certainty for all parties became the Holy Spirit. Throughout the late Middle Ages, certainty and security referred to the relationship between the individual and God. For Martin Luther and the other Protestant reformers, these terms took on a meaning beyond the faithful knowledge of the contents of the faith. Any examination of Luther’s writings show that he used “security” and “certainty” synonymously to refer to the certitude of salvation whereby one experienced the security, assurance, and certitude of God’s benevolent will. Moreover, despite his lack of a firm terminology, Luther meant the same thing by “the certainty of forgiveness,” “the certainty of justification,” and “the certainty of God’s good will,” as well as the phrase, “the certainty of being in a state of grace.” All of these phrases referred to the certainty of salvation or the security of knowing that God’s benevolence was directed to one’s own individual salvation.

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Chan Literature  

Jeffrey L. Broughton

An extensive printed Chan literature came into wide circulation during the Song dynasty (960–1279). This Song corpus included more-or-less intact texts from the Tang (618–907) and Five Dynasties (907–960), Tang and Five-Dynasties texts heavily reworked by Song editors, and a vast newly created set of Song Chan texts. This printed Chan literature spread among the educated elite during the Song period. In total, several hundred woodblock-printed texts from the Song and Yuan (1271–1368) periods, the classic age of Chan textual production, still exist, but many editions from the Ming (1368–1644) and later have also been preserved. In addition, Chan texts can be found within the Dunhuang-manuscript corpus. There are eight major Chan genres (omitting “rules of purity” or qinggui as too technical): yulu (collections of sayings of individual masters); flame-of-the-lamp records (biographical material and sayings of masters arranged as a series of inheritors of the flame of the lamp); poetry (both prosaic religious verse and highly allusive classical shi poetry); “standards” with attached poetry/prose comments (often called by Western scholars “gong’an/kōan collections”); compendia; collections of letters by Chan masters to scholar-officials, students, and peers; pretend dialogues; and glossary material. The language of the Chan records is a hybrid, a mixture of the written elegant language (wenyan) and a type of written Chinese based on spoken language. In time, the language of the Chan records became a sacerdotal language for Chan insiders, not only in China but in Korea and Japan as well. The language patterns of Chan literature—for instance, its proclivity for using everyday words and phrases as stand-ins for more imposing Buddhist-sounding equivalents—account for a great deal of its power and beauty. However, those language patterns also constitute serious obstacles for the modern reader. In short, the texts are very difficult to read because they are not simply “classical Chinese” nor are they modern vernacular. A stylistic convergence of the Chan records and classical Chinese poetry can be seen, particularly in the context of jueju quatrains of seven or five syllables. The sayings of the records often embody aesthetic ideals of Chinese poetry: lexical economy, emphasis on the imagistic, and minimal use of nonimagistic or abstract words.

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Chöd: A Tibetan Buddhist Practice  

Sarah Harding

Chöd (gcod), “severance” or “cutting,” is a Tibetan term referring to a cycle of Tibetan Buddhist practice and to the lineage initiated by the Tibetan woman Machik Lapdrön sometime in the 11th or 12th century. It is primarily based on the teachings of the perfection of wisdom (prajñāpāramitā) that represent the second phase of Buddhist texts that developed in India. In Tibet itself, Chöd was one of the many new sects that flourished in the second dissemination of Buddhism from India from 950 to 1350ce. Chöd has been classified as a branch of Zhijé (zhi byed) or “Pacification,” one of the eight great practice lineages that trace back to India, though no actual text on Chöd has been discovered in the early texts of Zhijé. Despite this quandary, its classification has afforded a kind of validation in being connected with the sources of Buddhism through the Indian master Dampa Sangyé. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that Machik Lapdrön herself is the sole progenitor for the teachings and the lineage. This woman from the area of Lap in central Tibet was known as Lapkyi Drönma, “the Light of Lap.” The respectful title of Machik, “One Mother,” was added later and is shared with several other important women of the time, often leading to confusion. Lapdrön showed remarkable abilities from an early age, and later gained mastery of speed reading. This led to a job as a chaplain in a patron’s house, where she met her future partner, providing her biographers with a fascinating narrative revealing the problematic status of female masters in Tibet. The recitation of prajñāpāramitā sūtras also led to her epiphany around the parts on māra, “devil,” “demon,” or (spiritual) “death.” This, along with her visions of the bodhisattva Tārā and the important connection with the Indian master Dampa Sangyé, were the inspiration for what became one of the most widespread practices in Tibet. The early Chöd teachings represent aspects derived from both sūtra and tantra sources. The focus is on the understanding of emptiness that severs fixation on the reification of the self and the resultant conduct based on compassion for others. The impediments that prevent such realization, called māras in Sanskrit, were a point of departure. As time went on, specific techniques and methods of practice (sādhana) accrued to this philosophy. While the main practice has remained the cultivation of insight and the enactment of separating the consciousness from the body, the post-meditation practice known as lü jin (lus byin) “giving the body” developed elaborate visualizations and ritual accouterments that came to dominate popular practice. Renowned as a charnel ground practice due to the visualized offering of one’s corpse as food for demons and other beings in situations that are intended to provoke fear, it is this that has become known far and wide as Chöd. The sources for this aspect are obscure and may well come from the surrounding culture of the Tibetan plateau, harking back to Bön and other pre-Buddhist practices. Some elements associated with shamanic practices are enacted in the Chöd rituals, despite its Buddhist soteriological assertions. With its beautiful melodies and lurid visualizations, Chöd quickly became popular in Tibet for exorcism, healing, and other practical usages. Its followers did not establish monasteries, as the lifestyle of roaming mendicants was emphasized, but Chöd was incorporated into most other schools in Tibet. Their liturgies are drawn from the works of Lapdrön’s descendants, or from visionary experiences, or found as treasure texts (terma). As of the early 21st century, Chöd has gained popularity worldwide, with many iterations in 21st-century practice.

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Christian Dominionism and Violence  

James Aho

There are several forms of Christian Dominionism. However, all of them advocate “taking America back for God,” which is to say, from “non-Christians” (however understood), undocumented aliens, “sexual deviants,” “femi-Nazis,” liberal progressives, and the like. To be sure, most individual Dominionists and most Dominionist congregations are not violent. Nevertheless, some are. This is not because these few are ignorant, isolated, or insane, but rather because they reside in a particular kind of social/cultural milieu, one that normatively encourages them to harm others (in the name of their god) and offers them opportunities to do so, and where they are not subject to external restraints that might otherwise deter them from acting out their supremacist proclivities. One implication of this is that in order to avert Dominionist-motivated violence, policymakers must do more than merely criticize Dominionist theology—as important as this may be. Additionally, they must deal with local normative expectations that embolden potential terrorists and provide them easy access to high-powered weaponry. They must also protect vulnerable, marginalized populations from being targeted and step up law-enforcement vigilance and preparedness.

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Christian Feminist Theology and the Arts  

Elizabeth Ursic

Christian theology is the study of God and religious belief based on the Christian Bible and tradition. For over 2,000 years, Christian theologians have been primarily men writing from men’s perspectives and experiences. In the 1960s, women began to study to become theologians when the women’s rights movement opened doors to higher education for women. Beginning in the 1970s and 1980s, female theologians developed Christian feminist theology with a focus on women’s perspectives and experiences. Christian feminist theology seeks to empower women through their Christian faith and supports the equality of women and men based on Christian scripture. “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). The arts have an important role in Christian feminist theology because a significant way Christians learn about their faith is through the arts, and Christians engage the arts in the practice of their faith. Christian feminist theology in the visual arts can be found in paintings, sculptures, icons, and liturgical items such as processional crosses. Themes in visual expression include female and feminine imagery of God from the Bible as well as female leaders in the scriptures. Christian feminist theology in performing arts can be found in hymns, prayers, music, liturgies, and rituals. Performative expressions include inclusive language for humanity and God as well as expressions that celebrate Christian women and address women’s life experiences. The field of Christian feminist theology and the arts is vast in terms of types of arts represented and the variety of ways Christianity is practiced around the world. Representing Christian feminist theology with art serves to communicate both visually and performatively that all are one in Christ.