Tibetan Renaissance: Tantric Buddhism in the Rebirth of Tibetan Culture – By Ronald M. Davidson

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    Religious Studies Review VOLUME 33 NUMBER 1 JANUARY 2007

    Buddhism related to funerals, families, ritual, salvation,money, married clergy, and community involvement thatCovell explores through his nuanced study of the Tendaisect. He offers a remarkably detailed analysis of all aspectsof the institution and activities of contemporary Tendai tem-ple Buddhism with chapters about lay membership, thepriesthood, priests wives, and the fiscal realities behindmaintaining temples today. What makes the book especiallyprovocative is its exploration of the key tensions facing Ten-dai temple Buddhism today as the great tradition modern-izes. For example, chapter six offers a fascinating study ofthe conflict between temple Buddhisms rhetoric ofpriestly renunciation, so central to legitimating priestlysacral power and clerical marriage. Chapter seven onMoney and the Temple looks at the issue of commodifica-tion of religion as temple Buddhism faces increasingly theforces of secularization, commercialization, and privatiza-tion. Covells excellent study is essential reading not onlyin the field of contemporary Japanese religions, but also forcomparativists interested in the changing role of institu-tionalized religion in the modern world.

    Mark MacWilliamsSt. Lawrence University

    CONFUCIANISM AND WOMEN: A PHILOSOPHI-CAL INTERPRETATION. By Li-Hsiang Lisa Rosenlee.Albany: State University of New York Press, 2006. $65.00,ISBN 0-7914-6749-x.

    Most explorations of Confucian issues overweigh eitherthe disembodied ideas embalmed in pre-imperial texts or theall-too-embodied social data of late-imperial times. Theformer data, unreliable for the study of realities, reveal onlyideals, which are then critiqued vis--vis our own ideals;the latter inevitably demonstrate that Confucian society(an indefensible but ubiquitous construct) fails to upholdany positive ideals at all. This work encompasses both setsof data, working Toward a Confucian Feminism within thecontext of Feminist Ethics in the Making. Rosenlees proseis often obfuscatorily jargonistic. Moreover, any honest his-torian of ideas or social realities would prefer that she hadseparated her insightful analyses from her possibly quixoticpursuit of a new understanding of Confucianism as a pos-sible theoretical ground for womens liberation. Althoughfeminist orthodoxy demands such conflation of what Isee and what I want to see, such untenable methodsthreaten to falsify the data. Rosenlee does not preclude thepossibility of constructing Daoist feminist ethics, or Bud-dhist feminist ethics. So we can, in theory, find whateverwe want to find, wherever we wish others to believe it to be.Such interpretive cant is inherently colonialist, for Confu-cians actually said and did what they said and did, not whatyou or I wish them to have said and done. Although strainedin pursuit of irreconcilable agendas, this work is otherwisesound and thoughtful.

    Russell KirklandUniversity of Georgia

    THE WAY THAT LIVES IN THE HEART: CHINESEPOPULAR RELIGION AND SPIRIT MEDIUMS INPENANG, MALAYSIA. By Jean DeBernardi. Stanford, CA:Stanford University Press, 2006. Pp. xviii + 372.illustrations, maps. $65.00, ISBN 0-8047-5292-3.

    The Way That Lives in the Heart is a companion volumeto anthropologist Jean DeBernardis 2004 book by the samepublisher, Rites of Belonging: Memory, Modernity, and Iden-tity in a Malaysian Chinese Community. While the earlierpublication set up the overall social, political, and historicalframework of Chinese religious culture on the Malaysianisland of Penang, her new book focuses in more depth on thecomplex of beliefs and practices surrounding MalaysianChinese spirit-mediumship. DeBernardi presents her sub-ject matter in two parts. Part one consists of three chapters,each of which introduces an aspect of the habitus (Bour-dieu) of popular religious practice within which spirit-mediumship is situated. This includes notions of destiny andluck (chapter one), of spiritual collision (chongde, chaptertwo), and of sances as performances of chronotypes(Bakhtin) of invisible spiritual worlds (chapter three). Parttwo contains four case studies of individual mediums.Together, they demonstrate the diversity of Chinese spirit-mediumship in terms of possessing deities, performancestyles, gender, divine agency, and social background.Backed up by forty-one illustrations (mostly photos taken inthe field by the author), this well-written and very readablebook provides its readers with a dialogic exploration ofspirit-mediumship in a major overseas Chinese community,clarifying continuities and discontinuities with related cul-tural forms in Taiwan and on the Chinese mainland. It shouldbe of great interest to scholars in both cultural anthropologyand religious studies, especially those engaged in studies ofChinese religions and in the comparative study of shaman-ism and mediumism.

    Philip ClartUniversity of Missouri-Columbia

    BuddhismBUDDHISM, KNOWLEDGE AND LIBERATION: APHILOSOPHICAL STUDY. By David Burton. Burlington,VT: Ashgate Publishing Co., 2006. Pp. vii + 122. $29.95,ISBN 0-7546-0436-5.

    Burtons work is a philosophical exploration of founda-tional concepts of Buddhism, one that places Buddhistthought in conversation with Western philosophy. It focuseson the doctrine of the three characteristics of existence,which state that all conditioned entities are impermanent,characterized by suffering, and selfless. He explains thisdoctrine clearly and notes its philosophical, soteriological,and moral implications. He highlights areas in which Bud-dhist traditions hold differing views on these issues; whilehis presentation is not exhaustive, it sufficiently illustratesthe diversity of Buddhist perspectives. He poses a numberof objections, both profound and trivial, to Buddhist claims

  • Religious Studies Review VOLUME 33 NUMBER 1 JANUARY 2007


    about reality. In particular, he problematizes the tendencyin Buddhism to confuse ontology and axiology. He demon-strates that the Buddhist conception of awakening requiresthe cultivation of liberating knowledge, which entails thecultivation of both cognitive and noncognitive factors,including correct behavioral and emotional patterns. Thisresults from a comprehensive system of training, which isethical as well as cognitive. His assessment of Buddhist the-ories of the self is somewhat controversial; some wouldobject, for example, to his identification of the Yog5c5raposition as ontological idealism. Overall, the work pro-vides a clear assessment of a key group of Buddhistdoctrines.

    David B. GraySanta Clara University

    THE ORNAMENT OF THE MIDDLE WAY: A STUDYOF THE MADHYAMAKA THOUGHT OFRRRR::::NTARAK ITA. By James Blumenthal. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion Publications, 2004. Pp. 406. $34.95, ISBN 1-55939-205-3.

    In this work Blumenthal translates R5ntarak itasMadhyamak5la k5ra, considerable portions of his autocom-mentary, and, to a lesser extent, excerpts from Kamalar7lasand Gyel-tsabs commentaries on this work. He also providesan uncritical and annotated reproduction of the Sarnath edi-tions of the Tibetan texts of R5ntarak itas root text andGyel-tsabs commentary. Overall, the translations seemsound. In his introduction, Blumenthal highlights theR5ntarak itas role in assimilation of Yog5c5ra and Madhya-maka thought, and the traditions of logic and epistemology,which became the characteristic feature of late Indian Bud-dhist philosophy. He also explores the Tibetan reception andtransformation of R5ntarak itas thought. He examines thediscrepancies between R5ntarak itas own presentation ofhis work and the later Geluk presentation, arguing that thelatter incorrectly applies to R5ntarak hita a critique ofautonomous inference, which would be more correctly appli-cable to philosophers such as Bh5vaviveka. Unfortunately,this otherwise fine study is marred by numerous editorialmistakes, including glaring misspellings and transliterationerrors, and misplaced footnotes. Despite these problems,this work should still be of considerable interest to studentsof IndoTibetan Buddhist thought.

    David B. GraySanta Clara University

    BUDDHIST INCLUSIVISM: ATTITUDES TOWARDSRELIGIOUS OTHERS. By Kristin Beise Kiblinger.Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Co., 2005. Pp. 152. $89.95,ISBN 0-7546-5133-9.

    Kiblingers short work is a study of inclusivism in theBuddhist context. While many contemporary Buddhists havebeen engaged in interreligious dialogue, Buddhists have notyet done systematic work on the topic of inclusivism, there-fore, this dialogue has lacked a firm intellectual basis. Kib-









    lingers goal is to provide such a basis, and she thus beginswith a concise summary of the different approaches to inclu-sivism developed by Christian theologians. She then evalu-ates well-known inclusivistic passages from classicalBuddhist texts. She also explores the writing of two contem-porary Buddhist inclusivists, Thic Nhat Hanh and MasaoAbe, whom she contrasts to the exclusivist GunapalaDharmasiri. Kiblinger rightly criticizes polemical uses of thedoctrine of emptiness and the theory of one vehicle, bothof which advance a narrow inclusivism that privilegesBuddhism. Instead, she advocates an inclusivism whichrecognizes that religions advance alternate ends, andshe highlights the three vehicle theory of theMah5y5nas9tr5la k5ra as a Buddhist teaching thatacknowledges this. Her work is anomalous as a work ofconstructive Buddhist theology written by a person whodoes not identify herself as a Buddhist. Nonetheless, Bud-dhists interested in interreligious dialogue and scholars ofcomparative theology should read this work.

    David B. GraySanta Clara University

    DAITOKUJI: THE VISUAL CULTURES OF A ZENMONASTERY. By Gregory P. A. Levine. Seattle: Universityof Washington Press, 2006. Pp. 448. 140 illustration