Pure Land Buddhism in Modern Japanese Culture – By Elisabetta Porcu

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<ul><li><p>Scholars of Chinese religion will nd this book highly usefulfor its conceptual foundations and detailed information, butthe essays are readily accessible to those who are not spe-cialists. Scholars in other elds of modern Chinese studiesand in comparative religious studies have much to gain fromthis book.</p><p>Peter DitmansonOriental Institute, Oxford University</p><p>BuddhismDIVINE KNOWLEDGE: BUDDHIST MATHEMATICSACCORDING TO THE ANONYMOUS MANUAL OFMONGOLIAN ASTROLOGY AND DIVINATION. ByBrian G. Baumann. Brills Inner Asia Library, 20. Leiden:Brill, 2008. Pp. xviii + 894; tables, indices. $295.00.</p><p>Baumanns book is a transcription, translation, andstudy of an anonymous Mongolian text known as the Manualof Mongolian Astrology and Divination. The text deals withdivination of various kinds, such as auspicious times fordifferent undertakings. Ancient cultures used a commonname for a certain collection of sciences (some now consid-ered pseudoscience), including not only astrology and divi-nation, but also calendrics, astronomy, and mathematics.Baumann uses mathematics for this conglomerate, a usagethat is somewhat confusing to the modern reader; the Mon-golian text does not contain any computational material (nordoes Baumanns study). This aside, the book is a valuablecontribution to the study of divination. Baumanns compre-hensive study discusses time, metaphysics, divination, andother subjects, contextualizing the Mongolian text andexplaining its dependence on other traditions. Especiallyvaluable for a comparative study of omen material are someof Baumanns appendices, such as a list of omen protasesfrom the Mongolian text. Overall, the book is a good startingpoint for a study of Mongolian divination and also a usefulresource for those studying omens in the ancient world.</p><p>Toke L. KnudsenSUNY College at Oneonta</p><p>THE STANZA OF THE BELL IN THE WIND: ZENAND NENBUTSU IN THE EARLY KAMAKURAPERIOD. By Frdric Girard. Studia Philologica Buddhica,Occasional Papers Series, XIV. Tokyo: The InternationalInstitute for Buddhist Studies, 2007. Pp. iii + 83 pages.500.00.</p><p>Anyone who has read at least as far as the secondchapter of Dogens Shbgenz has encountered thefollowing:</p><p>[78] My late master, the eternal buddha, says:Whole body like a mouth, hanging in space;Not asking if the wind is east, west, south, or north,For all others equally, it speaks praja .Chin ten ton ryan chin ten ton.</p><p>(Gudo Wafu Nishijima and Chodo Cross, trs. Shobogenzo:The True Dharma-Eye Treasury, 4 vols. Berkeley, CA:Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research,2007. I, 33.) This bemusing stanza turns out to have a muchwider use than simply Dogens. Attributed to DogensChinese teacher, Rujing, it is striking that this same stanzashould come to play a role in Japanese Pure Land(Amidist in Girards usage), as found in the Myogishingyoshu . By focusing on this specic item, Girard devel-ops a new hypothesis regarding the history of both PureLand and Zen in Japan. Rather than a development ofpopular religious sensibilities on the one hand, and a trans-mission solely dependent on its Chinese sourcesas thestandard history would have itGirard suggests that the twostrains are both to be found among the low-ranking monas-tics from a very early period. Despite the supposed contra-dictions of Zen and Pure Land, Girard points out that thedifferences between the Nenbutsu new sects and the Zennew sects may only concern the conceptual and habit cloth-ings, and behind these differences, the similarities andafnities may be stronger than we expect.</p><p>Richard PayneInstitute of Buddhist Studies at the Graduate Theological</p><p>Union</p><p>A GARLAND OF FEMINIST REFLECTIONS: FORTYYEARS OF RELIGIOUS EXPLORATION. By Rita M.Gross. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009.Pp. 340. Cloth, $60.00; paper, $24.95.</p><p>Grosss new book contains already published andnewly penned essays selected by the author to highlightimportant moments in her forty-year career as a prominentBuddhist theologian and feminist thinker. Major themesinclude the methodological contribution of the feministparadigm shift to the study of religion, religion as aresource for feminists, and the fruitful but fraught mar-riage of feminism and Buddhism in Grosss own intellec-tual journey. This bold and unapologetically opinionatedwork mixes autobiography, political reection, and aca-demic theory, making it of interest to Buddhist construc-tive thinkers and potentially useful (if properlycontextualized) in undergraduate classes on gender andreligion. Grosss constricted conceptualization of gender,which she describes repeatedly as a prison-like set ofnorms (rather than a complex and potentially creative cat-egory), will quell any interest this book might have held forfeminist scholars in other humanistic elds and will repre-sent a source of frustration for younger feminist scholars ofreligion. Her historically ungrounded and monolithic refer-ences to Buddhism, Hinduism, and Vajrayana, andher excessive reliance on secondary literature mean thatthis book will hold little interest for serious historians ofBuddhism or South Asian religion.</p><p>Amy Paris LangenbergBrown University</p><p>Religious Studies Review VOLUME 35 NUMBER 4 DECEMBER 2009</p><p>309</p></li><li><p>ZEN SKIN, ZEN MARROW: WILL THE REAL ZENBUDDHISM PLEASE STAND UP? By Steven Heine.Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. Pp. x + 218. $24.95.</p><p>A recent work by Alan Cole (Fathering Your Father, Uni-versity of California Press, 2009) employs postmodernistrhetoric to enliven our understanding of the realities ofChan/Zen. Here, Heine (author of several ne studies previ-ously reviewed here) employs postmodernist wordplayhumorlessly, indeed sanctimoniously, in a diatribe thatcensures, and demands repentence from, everyone whostudies or thinks about Zen from any perspective other thanhis own. The book was admittedly sparked by a panel atwhich Heine saw two people talking past each other; so heclaims to offer a Tiantai Middle Way of understanding Zen,while chastising all othersZen followers, Zen critics (heredemonized in the most virulent terms), and even Pope Bene-dict! Heine posits an irreconcilable hostility between follow-ers of TZN and HCCabbreviations for methodologicalstances coined by Heine: the Traditional Zen Narrative andHistorical Cultural Criticism. To Heine, the latter refersnot to honest, insightful studies by living scholars (e.g., inYanagidas tradition), but to some Critical Buddhist project(apparently another reied attitude) with its. . . excessiverhetoric and hyperbole, which is unforgiving of the mis-deeds of others, such as anyone sympathetic to Zen. Yet,Zen itself must be also castigated: Zen must correct thewrongs it has perpetrated, for which it must be held account-able, so that it can vigorously pursue a regimen of socialright, that is, by having Zen abbots propagate healthy socialvalues, instead of unhealthy values as they have purportedlydone in the past. For those who care deeply about Zen andits place in Japan and the worldwhich here appears toinclude no one except Heine himselfthe challenge is tohelp dene Zens role creatively lest the tradition be buriedunder the avalanche of criticism. One cannot imagine anystudent of Zen nding any insight here into the actual eldof study or to the actual methods of todays scholars.</p><p>Russell KirklandUniversity of Georgia</p><p>THE HONGZHOU SCHOOL OF CHAN BUDDHISMIN EIGHTH THROUGH TENTH CENTURY CHINA.By Jinhua Jia. Albany: State University of New York Press,2006. Pp. xv + 220. Cloth, $65.00; paper, $22.95.</p><p>A classic example of the iconoclastic Chan monk, MazuDaoyi (709-788 CE), one of the fathers of Chan in the TangPeriod, is usually depicted in encounter dialogues withmonks using witty paradoxical remarks and illogical actionsto awaken the monk on the spot. Yet the author argues thatthis image of Mazu was largely manufactured by latermembers of the Hongzhou lineage, the school that claimeddescent from Mazu. Using reliably datable texts, includingextant stele inscriptions, he separates out authentic Mazutexts from those fabricated by later generations of disciples;these reveal a Mazu who gave sermons, frequently quotedBuddhist scriptures, and was in general rather conservative.</p><p>The Hongzhou-School re-writing of the received historicalrecord tracks the great evolutionary change that took placebetween early Chan (based on the Lankavatara Su tra,tathagata-garbha thought, and prajaparamita theory) andmature Chan that was not based on words and letters, butwas conceived as a separate transmission beyond scrip-ture. Mazus ideasordinary mind is the way, originalenlightenment, no cultivationmotivated the eventual devel-opment of encounter dialogue in which the Chan masterused verbal paradox and illogical action to awaken his dis-ciples on the spot. Mazus house style was not only carriedon by later generations; his many disciples established mon-asteries through north and south China, nally establishingthe Hongzhou School as orthodox Chan.</p><p>Victor HoriMcGill University</p><p>HEAD, EYES, FLESH, AND BLOOD: GIVING AWAYTHE BODY IN INDIAN BUDDHIST LITERATURE. ByReiko Ohnuma. New York: Columbia University Press, 2007.Pp. xx + 372; illustrations. $48.50.</p><p>The body parts for which Ohnumas revised doctoraldissertation is named belong to the bodhisattvas who popu-late ja taka and avadana tales that date from the thirdcentury BCE to the late second millennium CE. The storieson which Ohnuma focuses are those in which bodhisattvasgive away their bodies and lives for the sake of otherbeingspitiful ones in mortal danger, evil ones who aremerely cruel, and the deity Sakra testing for generosity. Thisgift-of-the-body subgenre, as Ohnuma astutely observes,bears Hindu inuence yet reects Buddhist innovation:bodhisattvas not only give their bodies downward. . . out ofpure. . . compassion in the manner of generous ksatriya</p><p>kings and give their bodies upward [out of] a desire forkarmic rewards reminiscent of those to which patrons ofbrahmana</p><p> priests aspired, but also give up their bodies to</p><p>complete the ultimate renunciatory gesture that calls theBuddha to mind. These idealized bodies, Ohnuma compel-lingly contends, contrast starkly with the corrupted humancorpora persistently scorned elsewhere in the Indian Bud-dhist tradition. Although her argument could be made evenmore cogent by integrating the contents of its nal chapterinto preceding chapters (so as to illuminate the material onkingship and sacrice by the aforementioned ksatriya</p><p>and</p><p>brahmana</p><p> models of giving and receiving and so as to con-sider the material on offering and death in light of the ide-alized nature of the bodhisattvas bodies), her study itself isa generous gift to scholars of Buddhism and/or the body.</p><p>Shubha PathakAmerican University</p><p>PURE LAND BUDDHISM IN MODERN JAPANESECULTURE. By Elisabetta Porcu. Numen Studies in theHistory of Religions. Leiden: Brill, 2008. Pp. 263; illustra-tions. $177.00.</p><p>Religious Studies Review VOLUME 35 NUMBER 4 DECEMBER 2009</p><p>310</p></li><li><p>The Jodoshinshu (True Pure Land) Buddhist tradition(referred to in short as Shin Buddhism or Shin) is one ofJapans largest traditional religious institutions, but it hasnever received attention from non-Japanese scholars whichis actually proportionate to its conspicuous weight on theJapanese scene. Porcus densely detailed book is an eye-opening survey of the roles played by Shin in contemporarylife. The rst chapter (along with parts of the introduction)examines how the images of Japanese Buddhism andculture, which are currently dominant, have been created.The author refers in a sophisticated manner to conceptionsof Orientalism and Occidentalism to explain how somestreams, Zen in particular, have been privileged. Her argu-ment reinforces a now substantial body of critique concern-ing the misrepresentation of Japanese Buddhism in theWest. Three other chapters deal with specic expressions ofShin tradition. In the case of literature, the author describesthe voluminous number of Shin publications in Japan andShins representation in numerous works of modern creativewriting, including important novelists such as NatsumeSoseki. Some of these works have been adapted as lms,such as the recent Academy Award winner Departures (dir.Yojiro Takita, 2008). In visual arts, Shin has been linked tothe mingei arts movement led by Yanagi Muneyoshi andMunekata Shiko . Finally, in tea ceremony, besides sustain-ing tea practice inside the tradition of Shin temple institu-tions, Shin has been tied to a special school known as theYabunouchi. Porcus ground-breaking study is an indispens-able resource for rebalancing Western perceptions of con-temporary Japanese religion.</p><p>Galen AmstutzIndependent Scholar, Acton, Massachusetts, USA</p><p>VIOLENCE AND SERENITY: LATE BUDDHISTSCULPTURE FROM INDONESIA. By Natasha Reichle.Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2007. Pp. viii + 289;illustrations, maps. $57.00.</p><p>Reichles book offers both striking imagery and insightinto late Buddhist statuary in Java and Sumatra. Readers willno doubt be familiar with Borobudur, the great ninth-centuryBuddhist monument of Central Java. As the author amplydemonstrates, however, extraordinary Buddhist imageswere still being sculpted as late as the fourteenth century.Violence and Serenity is a beautiful volume, with outstandingillustrations printed on high-quality paper. The book is orga-nized around a series of ve studies, each focusing on aspecic statue or collection, assessing the pertinent debatesas to purpose, provenance, and broader historical signi-cance. These central chapters are prefaced by a generalintroduction to the development of Buddhism in Java andSumatra, focusing on the Singasari (1222-1293 CE) andMajapahit dynasties (1293-ca.1520 CE), but also offering abrief survey of the preceding period. Reichles grasp of therelevant historical events and circumstances appears to relyheavily on secondary sources, and it is unclear whether shecontrols the primary materials (in Old and Middle Javanese,</p><p>Sanskrit, etc.) required for an independent evaluation of themore contentious issues at stake. Her casual use of conceptssuch as Tantrism, art, and even religion itself mayseem at times incautious to readers of this journal. However,the book makes both careful and intelligent use of the extantscholarship, drawing on a wide range of materials in Indo-nesian, Dutch, French, and German. One hopes this attrac-tive publication may stimulate further interest in thisfascinating and woefully understudied eld.</p><p>Richard FoxUniversity of Chicago</p><p>THUS HAVE I SEEN: VISUALIZING FAITH INEARLY INDIAN BUDDHISM. By Andy Rotman. Oxford:Oxford University Press, 2009. Pp. 323. $74.00.</p><p>This book ts within two signicant trends in Buddhiststudies in recent years: an increasing attention paid to visu-ality rather than just texts; and a fruitful investigation ofBuddhist values within the framework of the evolving eld ofcomparative ethics. The bulk of Rotmans book is a detailedphilological investigation of the early Buddhist SanskritDivyvavadana (Divine Stories), which th...</p></li></ul>


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