Japanese Rinzai Zen Buddhism: Myoshinji, a living religion

Overview

Zen Buddhist ideas and practices in many ways are unique within the study of religion, and artists, poets and Buddhists practitioners worldwide have found inspiration from this tradition. Until recent years, representations of Zen Buddhism have focussed almost entirely on philosophical, historical or “spiritual” aspects. This book investigates the contemporary living reality of the largest Japanese Rinzai Zen Buddhist group, Myōshinji. Drawing on textual studies and ethnographic fieldwork, Jørn Borup analyses how...

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Overview

Zen Buddhist ideas and practices in many ways are unique within the study of religion, and artists, poets and Buddhists practitioners worldwide have found inspiration from this tradition. Until recent years, representations of Zen Buddhism have focussed almost entirely on philosophical, historical or “spiritual” aspects. This book investigates the contemporary living reality of the largest Japanese Rinzai Zen Buddhist group, Myōshinji. Drawing on textual studies and ethnographic fieldwork, Jørn Borup analyses how its practitioners use and understand their religion, how they practice their religiosity and how different kinds of Zen Buddhists (monks, nuns, priest, lay people) interact and define themselves within the religious organization. Japanese Rinzai Zen Buddhism portrays a living Zen Buddhism being both uniquely interesting and interestingly typical for common Buddhist and Japanese religiosity.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Borup's engaged ethnographic study breathes life into ideals and critically draws the reader back to a living religion, raising questions that will fundamentally enrich one's quest for satori with a compendium of descriptions of socio-historical, practical and embodied actualities, all the while guiding the reader with conceptual notions and Japanese terminology that are certain to be useful to any further academic study - A. Sevilla, Electronic Journal of Contemporary Japanese Studies, 2008.

The strengths of Borup’s study is that it offers a clear and detailed presentation of the monastic system and practices—including education, rituals, festivals, and ordination—that constitute the center of Rinzai Zen religious life. - George A. Keyworth, Religious Studies Review, 2009

Jørn Borup's detailed study of the Rinzai denomination of Buddhism gives us the opportunity to see Temple Buddhism as a multidimensional phenomenon in contemporary Japan and should be read by anyone with an interest in modern or contemporary Japanese Buddhism. - Stephen G. Covell, The Journal of Japanese Studies, 2010.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9789004165571
  • Publisher: Brill Academic Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/25/2008
  • Series: Numen Book Series , #119
  • Pages: 314
  • Product dimensions: 6.62 (w) x 9.58 (h) x 0.89 (d)

Meet the Author

Jørn Borup (b. 1966) Ph.D. (2002) and M.A. in The Study of Religion and Japanese, is assistant professor at Aarhus University, Denmark. He has published on Buddhism in Japan and Denmark, mainly in Danish.
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Table of Contents


Acknowledgements     xi
Introduction     1
Myoshinji: Institution, history, and structure     7
Ideology, lineage, and premodern history     7
Legendary beginnings     7
Tradition, transmission, and sacred kinship     9
Myoshinji, gozan, and Muromachi     13
Tokugawa: Bakufu, honmatsu seido, and danka seido     17
Meiji Zen: Modernization and invented traditions     20
Buddhist responses     23
Zen and Myoshinji developments     24
Lay Zen     26
Postwar and contemporary Myoshinji Zen     28
Judicial and institutional and structure of religious organizations     29
Myoshinji institutional structure     31
Zen temples     33
Economy     39
Social, laicized, and international Zen     42
Summary     47
Zen Buddhists     49
Men with or without rank: shukke, zaike, and a discussion of terminology     49
The clergy     51
Shukke: "Leaving home" and returning as a ritual process     52
Shukke as returning soryo     54
Dharma rank and hierarchy; status and stratified clerical systems     56
Alternative careermobility: ango-e     59
Clerical offices     60
The priest     62
The priest wife and the Zen family     70
Temple sons     74
Nuns     76
The laity     79
Householder or believer: zaike, danka and danshinto     79
Sect-transcending laity; users, clients, and occasional Buddhists     84
Religious confraternities     86
Mixed categories     88
Intellectuals, critics, and enlightened laymen     88
Foreigners     96
Summary     99
Zen religious practice     101
Rituals and ritualization     101
Myoshinji categories and classifying as religious practice     103
Categories of religious practice     105
Zen ideas and practice     107
Objects of belief and religious practice     108
Superhuman agency, powers, and ideal states     108
Cultural ideal values     120
Subjective qualities and practices     123
Some theoretical remarks on "belief"     123
Belief, commitment, and "meaning to mean it" in the Myoshinji context     125
Ritual practice and how to do it right     129
Religious education     134
Education, training, cultivation, and mission     134
Cultivating the clergy     136
Cultivating the laity     144
The strategy and reality of training and cultivation     154
Monastic practice     159
Ritualized monastic life     159
Alms-begging and exchange     168
Ritualized events; clerical rites of passage     174
Ordaining the monk     175
Installing the master     177
Installing the priest     179
Initiating the dead     183
Structure and semantics of clerical rites of passage     184
Lay and clerical rituals     186
Daily service and rituals of worship     186
Reihai: Temple and domestic worship     186
Worship as ideal ethical and soteriological practice     191
Ritual texts and doing things with words     195
Rhetoric, semantics, and magic     195
Myoshinji texts     198
Ritualization of texts     201
Rituals of realization: zazen and zazenkai     205
Meanings, structures, and ideals of meditation     205
Meditation practice     209
Calendrical rituals      216
Seasonal rituals     217
Pilgrimage     222
Sectarian and Buddhist calendrical rituals     224
Memorial days of patriarchs and sect founders     226
Statistics and semantics of calendrical rituals     230
Local Zen folk rituals     234
Daruma-cults and festivals     234
Manninko kojusai: dining, healing, and circumambulating toilets     239
Local folk Zen, an interpretation     243
Rites of passage     246
Lay ordination; jukai-e and receiving the precepts     246
Rituals of sociocultural and biological order     253
Rituals of death and dying     254
Funeral rituals     255
Structure and meaning of the traditional Zen Buddhist funeral     262
Ideas and ideals of death     263
Modernization, institutionalization, and ritual context     266
Summary     273
Conclusion     277
Plural Zen     277
Umbrella Zen     278
Hierarchical Zen     280
Power play and exchange     283
Zen rituals and practical meaning     285
Zen and the study of religion     288
Appendix      289
Bibliography     299
Index     313
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