The most influential work on Buddhism to be published in the nineteenth century, Introduction à l’histoire du Buddhisme indien, by the great French scholar of Sanskrit Eugène Burnouf, set the course for the academic study of Buddhism—and Indian Buddhism in particular—for the next hundred years. First published in 1844, the masterwork was read by some of the most important thinkers of the time, including Schopenhauer and Nietzsche in Germany and Emerson and Thoreau in America. Katia Buffetrille and Donald S. Lopez Jr.’s expert English translation, Introduction to the History of Indian Buddhism, provides a clear view of how the religion was understood in the early decades of the nineteenth century. Burnouf was an impeccable scholar, and his vision, especially of the Buddha, continues to profoundly shape our modern understanding of Buddhism. In reintroducing Burnouf to a new generation of Buddhologists, Buffetrille and Lopez have revived a seminal text in the history of Orientalism.
Scholarly and popular consensus has painted a picture of Indian Buddhist monasticism in which monks and nuns severed all ties with their families when they left home for the religious life. In this view, monks and nuns remained celibate, and those who faltered in their “vows” of monastic celibacy were immediately and irrevocably expelled from the Buddhist Order. This romanticized image is based largely on the ascetic rhetoric of texts such as the Rhinoceros Horn Sutra. Through a study of Indian Buddhist law codes (vinaya), Shayne Clarke dehorns the rhinoceros, revealing that in their own legal narratives, far from renouncing familial ties, Indian Buddhist writers take for granted the fact that monks and nuns would remain in contact with their families. The vision of the monastic life that emerges from Clarke's close reading of monastic law codes challenges some of our most basic scholarly notions of what it meant to be a Buddhist monk or nun in India around the turn of the Common Era. Not only do we see thick narratives depicting monks and nuns continuing to interact and associate with their families, but some are described as leaving home for the religious life with their children, and some as married monastic couples. Clarke argues that renunciation with or as a family is tightly woven into the very fabric of Indian Buddhist renunciation and monasticisms. Surveying the still largely uncharted terrain of Indian Buddhist monastic law codes preserved in Sanskrit, Tibetan, and Chinese, Clarke provides a comprehensive, pan-Indian picture of Buddhist monastic attitudes toward family. Whereas scholars have often assumed that monastic Buddhism must be anti-familial, he demonstrates that these assumptions were clearly not shared by the authors/redactors of Indian Buddhist monastic law codes. In challenging us to reconsider some of our most cherished assumptions concerning Indian Buddhist monasticisms, he provides a basis to rethink later forms of Buddhist monasticism such as those found in Central Asia, Kaśmīr, Nepal, and Tibet not in terms of corruption and decline but of continuity and development of a monastic or renunciant ideal that we have yet to understand fully.
Historical Dictionary of Buddhism, Second Edition contains a chronology, an introduction, and an extensive bibliography. The dictionary section has more than 900 cross-referenced entries on important personalities as well as complex theological concepts, significant practices, and basic writings and texts.
At the origins of the major religious traditions one typically finds a seminal figure. Names such as Jesus, Muhammad, Confucius, and Moses are well known, yet their status as "founders" has not gone uncontested. Does Paul deserve the credit for founding Christianity? Is Laozi the father of Daoism, or should that title belong to Zhuangzi? What is at stake, if anything, in debates about the historical Buddha? What assumptions are implicit in the claim that Hinduism is a religion without a founder? The essays in Varieties of Religious Invention do not attempt to settle these perennial arguments. Rather, they consider the subtexts of such debates as an exercise in comparative religion: Who engages in them? To whom do they matter, and when? To what extent are origins thought to define the essence of a religion? When is development in a religious tradition perceived as deviation from its roots? In what ways do arguments about founders serve as proxies for broader cultural, theological, political, or ideological questions? What do they reveal about the ways in which the past is remembered and authority negotiated? Surveying the landscape shaped by these questions within each tradition, the authors provide insights and novel perspectives about the individual religions, and about the study of world religions more generally.
We have come to admire Buddhism for being profound but accessible, as much a lifestyle as a religion. The credit for creating Buddhism goes to the Buddha, a figure widely respected across the Western world for his philosophical insight, his teachings of nonviolence, and his practice of meditation. But who was this Buddha, and how did he become the Buddha we know and love today? Leading historian of Buddhism Donald S. Lopez Jr. tells the story of how various idols carved in stone—variously named Beddou, Codam, Xaca, and Fo—became the man of flesh and blood that we know simply as the Buddha. He reveals that the positive view of the Buddha in Europe and America is rather recent, originating a little more than a hundred and fifty years ago. For centuries, the Buddha was condemned by Western writers as the most dangerous idol of the Orient. He was a demon, the murderer of his mother, a purveyor of idolatry. Lopez provides an engaging history of depictions of the Buddha from classical accounts and medieval stories to the testimonies of European travelers, diplomats, soldiers, and missionaries. He shows that centuries of hostility toward the Buddha changed dramatically in the nineteenth century, when the teachings of the Buddha, having disappeared from India by the fourteenth century, were read by European scholars newly proficient in Asian languages. At the same time, the traditional view of the Buddha persisted in Asia, where he was revered as much for his supernatural powers as for his philosophical insights. From Stone to Flesh follows the twists and turns of these Eastern and Western notions of the Buddha, leading finally to his triumph as the founder of a world religion.
Why and how do women engage with Buddhism and philosophy? The present volume aims to answer these questions by examining the life and philosophy of a Korean Zen Buddhist nun, Kim Iryŏp (1896–1971). The daughter of a pastor, Iryŏp began questioning Christian doctrine as a teenager. In a few years, she became increasingly involved in women’s movements in Korea, speaking against society’s control of female sexuality and demanding sexual freedom and free divorce for women. While in her late twenties, an existential turn in her thinking led Iryŏp to Buddhism; she eventually joined a monastery and went on to become a leading figure in the female monastic community until her death. After taking the tonsure, Iryŏp followed the advice of her teacher and stopped publishing for more than two decades. She returned to the world of letters in her sixties, using her strong, distinctive voice to address fundamental questions on the scope of identity, the meaning of being human, and the value of existence. In her writing, she frequently adopted an autobiographical style that combined her experiences with Buddhist teachings. Through a close analysis of Iryŏp’s story, Buddhist philosophy and practice in connection with East Asian new women’s movements, and continental philosophy, this volume offers a creative interpretation of Buddhism as both a philosophy and a religion actively engaged with lives as they are lived. It presents a fascinating narrative on how women connect with the world—whether through social issues such as gender inequality, a Buddhist worldview, or existential debates on human existence and provides readers with a new way of philosophizing that is transformative and deeply connected with everyday life. Women and Buddhist Philosophy: Engaging Zen Master Kim Iryŏp will be of primary interest to scholars and students of Buddhism, Buddhist and comparative philosophy, and gender and Korean studies.
How did word of the Buddha first reach Western ears? Over the centuries, until the first reliable introduction to Buddhism was published in France in 1844, rumors and reports of this oriental idol and his teachings reached the West in haphazard but fascinating ways. A Jesuit missionary traveling with a Thai delegation to the court of Louis XIV spent months at sea with a Buddhist monk and asked him many questions. A Russian ship captain was held captive for three years in Japan and learned about the Buddha from his jailors. A Catholic priest in China dressed like a Confucian gentleman and learned in this way to disparage the Buddha. British army officers on surveys of India struggled to decipher monuments, inscriptions, and statues. Western references to Buddhism extend back to the first years of the third century CE, and during the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries, European contact with, and writing about, Buddhism was extensive. Because much of this writing is considered wrong today, it is often forgotten or dismissed, but in this anthology Donald S. Lopez Jr. shows their great importance for understanding how our view of the Buddha evolved, from an idol worshipped by heathens to the revered founder of a religion. This fascinating compendium begins with Clement of Alexandria around 200 and ends with the great French scholar Eugene Burnouf in 1844. It can be read as a companion to Lopez s 2013 book From Stone to Flesh: A Short History of the Buddha (forthcoming in paperback in the same season) or enjoyed on its own for its strange but instructive tales."
As an incredibly diverse religious system, Buddhism is constantly changing. The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Buddhism offers a comprehensive collection of work by leading scholars in the field that tracks these changes up to the present day. Taken together, the book provides a blueprint to understanding Buddhism's past and uses it to explore the ways in which Buddhism has transformed in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The volume contains 41 essays, divided into two sections. The essays in the first section examine the historical development of Buddhist traditions throughout the world. These chapters cover familiar settings like India, Japan, and Tibet as well as the less well-known countries of Vietnam, Bhutan, and the regions of Latin America, Africa, and Oceania. Focusing on changes within countries and transnationally, this section also contains chapters that focus explicitly on globalization, such as Buddhist international organizations and diasporic communities. The second section tracks the relationship between Buddhist traditions and particular themes. These chapters review Buddhist interactions with contemporary topics such as violence and peacebuilding, and ecology, as well as Buddhist influences in areas such as medicine and science. Offering coverage that is both expansive and detailed, The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Buddhism delves into some of the most debated and contested areas within Buddhist Studies today.
In Luminous Passage a well-known Buddhologist and longtime observer of Buddhism in the United States presents the first comprehensive scholarly study of American Buddhism in nearly two decades. Charles S. Prebish revisits the expanding frontier of the fastest growing religion in North America and describes its historical development, its diversity, and the significance of this ancient tradition at century's end. More than anything else, this is a book about American Buddhist communities (sanghas) and about life within those communities. Prebish considers various Buddhist practices, rituals, and liturgies, as well as the ways these communities have confronted the changing American spiritual landscape. In profiling several different sanghas Prebish reveals the ways that Buddhism is being both reinvented and Westernized. He includes the first exploration of the American Buddhist "cybersangha," a community that has emerged from recent developments in information-exchange technology, and discusses the growing community of "scholar-practitioners." The interactions of Buddhist identities that are related to ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, social engagement, and the healing professions are also examined. This book fully captures the vibrancy and importance of Buddhism in American religious life today. Finally, Prebish appraises the state of Buddhism at the millennium. Placing the development of American Buddhism squarely in the midst of the religion's general globalization, he argues for an ecumenical movement which will embrace Buddhist communities worldwide.