Selected Poems of Du Fu / Edition 1

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The great Buddhist priest Kûkai (774-835) is credited with the introduction and establishment of tantric -or esoteric -Buddhism in early ninth-century Japan. In Ryûichi Abé examines this important religious figure -neglected in modern academic literature -and his profound influence on Japanese culture. Offering a radically new approach to the study of early religious history -combining historical research, discourse analysis, literary criticism, and semiology -Abé contends that the importance of Kûka's transmission of esoteric Buddhism to Japan lay not in the foundation of a new sect but in his creation of a general theory of language grounded in the ritual speech of mantra. embeds Kûkai within the fabric of political and social life in ninth-century Japan and explains how esoteric Buddhism played a crucial role in many societal changes in Japan -from the growth of monasteries into major feudal powers to the formation of the native phonetic alphabet, kana. As Abé illustrates, Kûka's writings and the new type of discourse they spawned also marked Japan's transition from the ancient order to the medieval world, replacing Confucianism as the ideology of the state. Abé begins by placing Kûka's life in the historical context of medieval Japan and the Ritsuryo state, then explores his interaction with the Nara Buddhist intelligentsia, which was seminal to the introduction of esoteric Buddhism. The author discusses Kûka's magnum opus, () and introduces a number of Japanese and Chinese primary-source texts previously unknown by Western-language scholars. Instead of tracing Kûka's thought through literal readings, explores the rhetorical strategies Kûkai employed in his works, shedding valuable light on what his texts meant to his readers and what his goals were in creating a discourse that ultimately transformed Japanese culture.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231128292
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 3/10/2003
  • Series: Translations from the Asian Classics Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 128
  • Lexile: 1210L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Burton Watson is one of the most respected translators of Chinese and Japanese literature. He has translated Chinese and Japanese classics such as Chuang Tzu: Basic Writings, Ryōkan: Zen Monk-Poet of Japan, and The Lotus Sutra.

Columbia University Press

Ryûichi Abé is Kao Associate Professor of Japanese Religious Studies in the Departments of Religion and East Asian Languages and Cultures at Columbia University. He is the coauthor of Great Fool: Zen Master Ryôkan -Poems, Letters, and Other Writings, and has been a recipient of the Philip and Ruth Hettleman Award for distinguished teaching.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements...xiChronology of Kukai's Interraction With the Nara Clergy...xvIllustrations...xixIntroduction...11. Kukay and (Very) Early Heian Society: A Progelomenon...19Buddhism and the Ritsuryo State...24Kukai and His Alliance with the Nara Clergy...41Part One: Origins, Traces, Nonorigin...672. Kukai's Dissent: Of Mendicancy and Fiction...69Kukai's Youth: Confucian Learning Vis-a-Vis Buddhist Practice...71The State, Ubasoku and Popular Buddhism...76Lacuna Esotericism: The Sangho Shiikhi as a Self-Portrait...83Apologetics or Apologia: The Fictivity of Roko Shiikhi...96The Dilemma of Kukai's Fiction and Mikkyo...1053. Journey to China: Outside Ritsuyo Discourse...113Foreign Language Studies and Esoteric Buddhism...114Master Hui-Kuo and the Study of Esoteric Rituals...120Mantra and the Abhiseka, the Genealogical Studies...127Abhiseka as a General Theory of Enlightenment...1414. (No) Traces of Esoteric Buddhism: Dharani and the Nara Buddhist Literature...151The Zomitsu/Junmitsu Scheme and Its Limitations...152(In)visibility of Esotericism in the Nara Buddhist Culture...154Dharani: Exoteric and Esoteric Functions...159Esoteric Dharani in the Nara Ritual Space...168Discourse, Taxonomy and Kukai's Bibliography...176Part II: Cartography5. Category and History: Constructing the Esoteric...187"Shinghon School" as an Ambivalence in Kukai's Writings...189Tokuitsu and Kukai: The Delineation of Mikhyo, the Esoteric...204Proof of Dharmakaya's Preaching of the Dharma...213Troping the Lineage: The Construction of the Esoteric Nagarjuna...2206. Discourse of Complementarity: Constituting the Esoteric II...237On the Ritual of the Golden Light Sutra...238The Exoteric and the Esoteric Reading of Prajna Paramita...247From Dharani to Mantra: A Paradigm Shift...260Part III Writing and Polity...2757. Semiology of the Dharma; or the Somaticity of the Text...275Of Voice, Letter, and Reality...278Syntax of the World-Text...281On the Science of Writing...288Mantra as Textile Production...293Letters, Life Breath and the Cosmic Palace...3008. Of Mantra and Palace: Textualizing the Emperor, Calamity, and the Cosmos...305Rectification of Names and the Ritsuryo State...310Ritsuryo Buddhism and the Dscourse of Calamaties...315Refiguration of the Emperor: A Reinterpretation of Kukai's Ten Abiding Stages...323Mantra and the New Science of Calamaties...334The Mishuho and the Ritual Reconstruction of the Imperial Palace...3449. Genealogy of Mantra: Kukai's Legacy...359The Emperor's Coronation Abhiseka (sokui kanjo)...367Growth of Extra-ritsuryo Esoteric Monastaries...371Landscape of the Medieval Shinghon School...376Institution of the Dharma Emperor...379Conclusion: Kukai and Writing Toward the Kukai of Extra-Sectarian History...385Post-script...399Problems of the Category of Heian Buddhism...399Kukai and the Limitation of Kuroda's Kenmitsu Theory...416Glossary...429Abbreviations...449Notes...451Selected Bibliography...541Index...579

Columbia University Press

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