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date: 03 December 2022

Domestic Dharma in Japanlocked

Domestic Dharma in Japanlocked

  • Paula AraiPaula AraiDepartment of Religious Studies, Louisiana State University


The domestic dimensions of Buddhist practice are a robust and ubiquitous stream, though they have not received much scholarly attention. The category of “domestic Dharma” is a conceptual lens that focuses on everyday lived phenomenon in order for scholars to see Buddhist activity occurring in the privacy of people’s homes. Accessing and understanding the contours of such activities largely depends on ethnographic research. The core dynamics of domestic Dharma engage a field of practices, including ritualization of daily life, mothering as locus of transmission of teachings and practices, rites and objects for protection, healing activities, and interplay with ancestors. Domestic Dharma practices fall under five broad overlapping modes of religious activity: ritualized, scriptural, communicative, materially interactive, and aesthetic. Domestic Dharma practices support people in facing infertility, crippling chronic pain, death through disease, untimely loss of family members, experiencing equanimity, cultivating harmonious relationships, and creating beauty in daily life. Such activities do not fit neatly into abstract categories and institutional frames, for they are complex, concrete, and ever-changing. Women propel domestic Dharma by tending to the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of themselves and their families. A family’s homemade ritualized activities are efficacious, because they emerge out of immediate situations, idiosyncratic habits, and preferred aesthetics. Domestic Dharma is a vital sphere of harmonious, resilient responses to the vicissitudes of life in which respect, responsibility, and gratitude are cultivated.


  • Buddhism

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