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By Corinna Nicolaou. 2016
The rising population known as "nones" for its members' lack of religious affiliation is changing American society, politics, and culture.… Many nones believe in God and even visit places of worship, but they do not identify with a specific faith or belong to a spiritual community. Corinna Nicolaou is a none, and in this layered narrative, she describes what it is like for her and thousands of others to live without religion or to be spiritual without committing to a specific faith.Nicolaou tours America's major traditional religions to see what, if anything, one might lack without God. She moves through Christianity's denominations, learning their tenets and worshiping alongside their followers. She travels to Los Angeles to immerse herself in Judaism, Berkeley to educate herself about Buddhism, and Dallas and Washington, D.C., to familiarize herself with Islam. She explores what light they can shed on the fears and failings of her past, and these encounters prove the significant role religion still plays in modern life. They also exemplify the vibrant relationship between religion and American culture and the enduring value it provides to immigrants and outsiders. Though she remains a devout none, Nicolaou's experiences reveal points of contact between the religious and the unaffiliated, suggesting that nones may be radically revising the practice of faith in contemporary times.
By Rebecca Alpert. 2015
Like religion, playing and watching sports is a deeply meaningful, celebratory ritual enjoyed by millions across the world. The first… scholarly work designed for use in both religion and sports courses, this collection develops and then applies a theoretically grounded approach to studying sports engagement globally and its relationship to modern-day issues of violence, difference, social protest, and belonging.Case studies explore the place of sports in mainstream faiths, such as Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Christianity, and lesser-known religious groups, particularly in Africa. It covers football, baseball, and basketball but also archery, soccer, bullfighting, judo, and track. Essays reflect all skill levels, from amateur to professional, and find surprising affinities among practices and cultures in locations as disparate as Germany and Japan, Spain and Saudi Arabia. Thoroughly examining a range of phenomena, this collection fully captures the unique overlap of two universal institutions and their interplay with human society, politics, and culture.
Multi-Religious Perspectives on a Global Ethic: In Search of a Common Morality (Routledge New Critical Thinking in Religion, Theology and Biblical Studies)
By William Schweiker, Myriam Renaud. 2021
Ratified by the Parliament of the World’s Religions in 1993 and expanded in 2018, "Towards a Global Ethic (An Initial… Declaration)," or the Global Ethic, expresses the minimal set of principles shared by people—religious or not. Though it is a secular document, the Global Ethic emerged after months of collaborative, interreligious dialogue dedicated to identifying a common ethical framework. This volume tests and contests the claim that the Global Ethic’s ethical directives can be found in the world’s religious, spiritual, and cultural traditions. The book features essays by scholars of religion who grapple with the practical implications of the Global Ethic’s directives when applied to issues like women’s rights, displaced peoples, income and wealth inequality, India’s caste system, and more. The scholars explore their respective religious traditions’ ethical response to one or more of these issues and compares them to the ethical response elaborated by the Global Ethic. The traditions included are Hinduism, Engaged Buddhism, Shi‘i Islam, Sunni Islam, Confucianism, Protestantism, Catholicism, Judaism, Indigenous African Religions, and Human Rights. To highlight the complexities within traditions, most essays are followed by a brief response by an expert in the same tradition. Multi-Religious Perspectives on a Global Ethic is of special interest to advanced students and scholars whose work focuses on the religious traditions listed above, on comparative religion, religious ethics, comparative ethics, and common morality.
By Mario I. Aguilar. 2021
This book outlines the life of spiritual diplomacy of the 14th Dalai Lama and his emergence as a global peace… icon. It traces his evolution as a Tibetan Buddhist monk rooted in the Geluk tradition, as a Nobel laureate, and as an internationally recognized peacemaker. The volume brings to the fore the Dalai Lama’s monastic life grounded in the compassion and ethical responsibility of a bodhisattva, somebody who is willing to renounce samsara for the benefit of others, as well as that of a political leader of Tibet. It examines the deep impact of his ideas of peacekeeping and universal responsibility on world politics, which draw on acceptance, inclusion, and respect as their central pillars. Further, this book highlights his departure from the practices of the earlier Dalai Lamas, and how the Chinese invasion and his exile in India transformed him into a universal figure of peace, rather than solely being the leader of Tibet. An introspective read, this book will be of much interest to readers interested in spiritual diplomacy and political philosophy. It will also be of interest to scholars and researchers of peace and conflict studies, international relations, politics, and religion, especially Buddhism.
By J. Brooks Jessup, Jan Kiely. 2016
Modern Chinese history told from a Buddhist perspective restores the vibrant, creative role of religion in postimperial China. It shows… how urban Buddhist elites jockeyed for cultural dominance in the early Republican era, how Buddhist intellectuals reckoned with science, and how Buddhist media contributed to modern print cultures. It recognizes the political importance of sacred Buddhist relics and the complex processes through which Buddhists both participated in and experienced religious suppression under Communist rule. Today, urban and rural communities alike engage with Buddhist practices to renegotiate class, gender, and kinship relations in post-Mao China. This volume vividly portrays these events and more, recasting Buddhism as a critical factor in China's twentieth-century development. Each chapter connects a moment in Buddhist history to a significant theme in Chinese history, creating new narratives of Buddhism's involvement in the emergence of urban modernity, the practice of international diplomacy, the mobilization for total war, and other transformations of state, society, and culture. Working across an extraordinary thematic range, this book reincorporates Buddhism into the formative processes and distinctive character of Chinese history.
The Nihon ryoiki, a collection of setsuwa, or "anecdotal" tales, compiled by a monk in late-eighth- or early-ninth-century Japan, records… the spread of Buddhist ideas in Japan and the ways in which Buddhism's principles were adapted to the conditions of Japanese society. Beginning in the time before Buddhism was introduced to Japan, the text captures the effects of the nation's initial contact with Buddhism—brought by emissaries from the king of the Korean state of Paekche—and the subsequent adoption and dissemination of these new teachings in Japanese towns and cities.The Nihon ryoiki provides a crucial window into the ways in which Japanese Buddhists began to make sense of the teachings and texts of their religion, incorporate religious observances and materials from Korea and China, and articulate a popularized form of Buddhist practice and belief that could extend beyond monastic centers. The setsuwa genre would become one of the major textual projects of classical and medieval Buddhism, with nearly two dozen collections appearing over the next five centuries. The Nihon ryoiki serves as a vital reference for these later works, with the tales it contains finding their way into folkloric traditions and becoming a major source for Japanese authors well into the modern period.
If, as Buddhism claims, the potential for awakening exists in all human beings, we should be able to map the… phenomenon with the same science we apply to other forms of consciousness. A student of cognitive social science and a Zen practitioner for more than forty years, Richard P. Boyle brings his sophisticated perspective to bear on the development of a theoretical model for both ordinary and awakened consciousness.Boyle conducts probing interviews with eleven prominent Western Buddhist teachers (Shinzen Young, John Tarrant, Ken McLeod, Ajahn Amaro, Martine Batchelor, Shaila Catherine, Gil Fronsdal, Stephen Batchelor, Pat Enkyo O'Hara, Bernie Glassman, and Joseph Goldstein) and one scientist (James Austin) who have experienced awakening. From the paths they traveled to enlightenment and their descriptions of the experience, he derives three fundamental properties of awakened consciousness. He then constructs an overarching model that explains how Buddhist practices help free the mind from attachments to reality and the self and make possible the three properties of awakening. Specifically, these teachers describe how they worked to control attention and quiet the mind, detach from ideas and habits, and open themselves to compassion. Boyle's account incorporates current theories of consciousness, sociological insights, and research in neuroscience to advance the study of awakened consciousness and help an even greater number of people to realize it.
By Steven Collins. 2016
The Vessantara Jataka tells the story of Prince Vessantara, who attained the Perfection of Generosity by giving away his fortune,… his children, and his wife. Vessantara was the penultimate rebirth as a human of the future Gotama Buddha, and his extreme charity has been represented and reinterpreted in texts, sermons, rituals, and art throughout South and Southeast Asia and beyond. This anthology features well-respected anthropologists, textual scholars in religious and Buddhist studies, and art historians, who engage in sophisticated readings of the text and its ethics of giving, understanding of attachment and nonattachment, depiction of the trickster, and unique performative qualities. They reveal the story to be as brilliantly layered as a Homeric epic or Shakespearean play, with aspects of tragedy, comedy, melodrama, and utopian fantasy intertwined to problematize and scrutinize Theravada Buddhism's cherished virtues.
By Stephen Teiser, Jacqueline Stone. 2009
The Lotus Sutra proclaims that a unitary intent underlies the diversity of Buddhist teachings and promises that all people without… exception can achieve supreme awakening. Establishing the definitive guide to this profound text, specialists in Buddhist philosophy, art, and history of religion address the major ideas and controversies surrounding the Lotus Sutra and its manifestations in ritual performance, ascetic practice, visual representations, and social action across history. Essays survey the Indian context in which the sutra was produced, its compilation and translation history, and its influence across China and Japan, among many other issues. The volume also includes a Chinese and Japanese character glossary, notes on Western translations of the text, and a synoptic bibliography.
Vamsa is a dynamic genre of Buddhist history filled with otherworldly characters and the exploits of real-life heroes. These narratives… collapse the temporal distance between Buddha and the reader, building an emotionally resonant connection with an outsized religious figure and a longed-for past. The fifth-century Pali text Mahavamsa is a particularly effective example, using metaphor and other rhetorical devices to ethically transform readers, to stimulate and then to calm them. Reading the Mahavamsa advocates a new, literary approach to this text by revealing its embedded reading advice (to experience samvega and pasada) and affective work of metaphors (the Buddha's dharma as light) and salient characters (nagas). Kristin Scheible argues that the Mahavamsa requires a particular kind of reading. In the text's proem, special instructions draw readers to the metaphor of light and the nagas, or salient snake-beings, of the first chapter. Nagas are both model worshippers and unworthy hoarders of Buddha's relics. As nonhuman agents, they challenge political and historicist readings of the text. Scheible sees these slippery characters and the narrative's potent and playful metaphors as techniques for refocusing the reader's attention on the text's emotional aims. Her work explains the Mahavamsa's central motivational role in contemporary Sri Lankan Buddhist and nationalist circles. It also speaks broadly to strategies of reading religious texts and to the internal and external cues that give such works lives beyond the page.
The vast majority of monasteries in Tibet and nearly all of the monasteries in Mongolia belong to the Geluk school… of Tibetan Buddhism, best known through its symbolic head, the Dalai Lama. Historically, these monasteries were some of the largest in the world, and even today some Geluk monasteries house thousands of monks, both in Tibet and in exile in India. In Building a Religious Empire, Brenton Sullivan examines the school's expansion and consolidation of power along the frontier with China and Mongolia from the mid-seventeenth through the mid-eighteenth centuries to chart how its rise to dominance took shape.In contrast to the practice in other schools of Tibetan Buddhism, Geluk lamas devoted an extraordinary amount of effort to establishing the institutional frameworks within which everyday aspects of monastic life, such as philosophizing, meditating, or conducting rituals, took place. In doing so, the lamas drew on administrative techniques usually associated with state-making—standardization, record-keeping, the conscription of young males, and the concentration of manpower in central cores, among others—thereby earning the moniker "lama official," or "Buddhist bureaucrat."The deployment of these bureaucratic techniques to extend the Geluk "liberating umbrella" over increasing numbers of lands and peoples leads Sullivan to describe the result of this Geluk project as a "religious empire." The Geluk lamas' privileging of the monastic institution, Sullivan argues, fostered a common religious identity that insulated it from factionalism and provided legitimacy to the Geluk project of conversion, conquest, and expansion. Ultimately, this system succeeded in establishing a relatively uniform and resilient network of thousands of monasteries stretching from Nepal to Lake Baikal, from Beijing to the Caspian Sea.
Kexue, or science, captured the Chinese imagination in the early twentieth century, promising new knowledge about the world and a… dynamic path to prosperity. Chinese Buddhists embraced scientific language and ideas to carve out a place for their religion within a rapidly modernizing society. Examining dozens of previously unstudied writings from the Chinese Buddhist press, this book maps Buddhists' efforts to rethink their traditions through science in the initial decades of the twentieth century. Buddhists believed science offered an exciting, alternative route to knowledge grounded in empirical thought, much like their own. They encouraged young scholars to study subatomic and relativistic physics while still maintaining Buddhism's vital illumination of human nature and its crucial support of an ethical system rooted in radical egalitarianism. Showcasing the rich and progressive steps Chinese religious scholars took in adapting to science's rising authority, this volume offers a key perspective on how a major Eastern power transitioned to modernity in the twentieth century and how its intellectuals anticipated many of the ideas debated by scholars of science and Buddhism today.
By Dilgo Khyentse, Jamgon Mipham. 2020
A traditional biography on the life of Mipham Rinpoche--one of the greatest 19th-century masters--from Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, one of the… greatest 20th-century masters.The first half of this volume comprises the first-ever English translation of the biography of Mipham Rinpoche written by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, a teacher to His Holiness the Dalai Lama as well as an entire generation of other teachers and students throughout the Himalayan region and the West. Composed in 1939, it was left behind in Tibet in 1959 when Khyentse Rinpoche went into exile and was lost for fifty-one years before its discovery in 2010 by an extraordinary stroke of good luck. Reverential in tone, it is informed by both oral accounts preserved in notes kept by Khyentse Rinpoche's elder brother and the recollections of Mipham's devoted personal attendant of thirty-seven years.In keeping with the identification of Mipham as an emanation of Manjushri, the lion of speech, the second half comprises a selection of Mipham's writings, designed to give the reader an experience of Mipham's eloquent speech and incisive thought. It includes both a new translation of The Lion's Roar: A Comprehensive Discourse on the Buddha-Nature and A Lamp to Dispel the Dark, a teaching of the Great Perfection, as well as excerpts from previously published translations of his works on Madhyamaka and tantra.
Science and Philosophy in the Indian Buddhist Classics, Vol. 2: The Mind (Science and Philosophy in the Indian Bud #2)
By His Holiness the Dalai Lama, John D. Dunne. 2020
The second volume in a prominent new series on Buddhism and science, directed by the Dalai Lama and previously covered… by the BBC.Science and Philosophy in the Indian Buddhist Classics compiles classical Buddhist explorations of the nature of our material world, the human mind, logic, and phenomenology and puts them into context for the modern reader. This ambitious four-volume series—a major resource for the history of ideas and especially the history of science and philosophy—has been conceived by and compiled under the visionary supervision of His Holiness the Dalai Lama himself. It is his view that the exploratory thinking of great Indian masters in the first millennium CE still has much that is of interest to us today, whether we are Buddhist or not. These volumes make those insights accessible. This, the second volume in the series, focuses on the science of the mind. Readers are first introduced to Buddhist conceptions of mind and consciousness and then led through traditional presentations of mental phenomena to reveal a Buddhist vision of the inner world with fascinating implications for the contemporary disciplines of cognitive science, psychology, emotion research, and philosophy of mind. Major topics include: -The distinction between sensory and conceptual processes and the pan-Indian notion of mental consciousness -Mental factors—specific mental states such as attention, mindfulness, and compassion—and how they relate to one another -The unique tantric theory of subtle levels of consciousness, their connection to the subtle energies, or &“winds,&” that flow through channels in the human body, and what happens to each when the body and mind dissolve at the time of death -The seven types of mental states and how they impact the process of perception -Styles of reasoning, which Buddhists understand as a valid avenue for acquiring sound knowledge In the final section, the volume offers what might be called Buddhist contemplative science, a presentation of the classical Buddhist understanding of the psychology behind meditation and other forms of mental training. To present these specific ideas and their rationale, the volume weaves together passages from the works of great Buddhist thinkers like Asanga, Vasubandhu, Nagarjuna, Dignaga, and Dharmakirti. His Holiness the Dalai Lama&’s introduction outlines scientific and philosophical thinking in the history of the Buddhist tradition. To provide additional context for Western readers, each of the six major topics is introduced with an essay by John D. Dunne, distinguished professor of Buddhist philosophy and contemplative practice at the University of Wisconsin. These essays connect the traditional material to contemporary debates and Western parallels, and provide helpful suggestions for further reading.
By Richard Cohen. 2012
Featuring the first-ever English translation of the "Splendid Vision Sutra," a sixth-century Indian Mahayana Buddhist scripture known for its rich… ritual magic and worship of bodhisattva-goddesses, this volume explicates the text's cultural significance as a source of extraordinary value, cosmic truth, and existential meaning. The ancient author of the "Splendid Vision Sutra" promises every imaginable reward to those who heed its words and rites, whether one's desire is to become king, enjoy heavenly pleasures for thousands of millennia, or attain the spiritual summit of advanced bodhisattvahood. Richard S. Cohen carefully analyzes this religious rhetoric, developing a heuristic model of "scripture" that extends beyond Buddhist literature. In his framework, a text becomes sacred scripture when a community accepts it as a receptacle of extraordinary value, an authoritative source of cosmic truth, and a guide for meaningful action. While clarifying these points, Cohen untangles the discursive skein through which the "Splendid Vision Sutra" expresses its authority, inspires readers to accept that authority, and promises superior power and accomplishments to those who implement its teachings. Exploring ways of living and reading a text, Cohen draws on Marcel Duchamp's theory of found art, Jerzy Grotowski's idealization of the holy actor, and other formulations, identifying contingencies, uncertainties, and incompleteness in the lived present and its determination of our reception of the past. More than a mere introduction to an important work, The Splendid Vision opens a window into religious experience and practice in contemporary environments as well as in the world of the sutra.
Koichi Shinohara traces the evolution of Esoteric Buddhist rituals from the simple recitation of spells in the fifth century to… complex systems involving image worship, mandala initiation, and visualization practices in the ninth century. He presents an important new reading of a seventh-century Chinese text called the Collected Dharani Sutras, which shows how earlier rituals for specific deities were synthesized into a general Esoteric initiation ceremony and how, for the first time, the notion of an Esoteric Buddhist pantheon emerged.In the Collected Dharani Sutras, rituals for specific deities were typically performed around images of the deities, yet Esoteric Buddhist rituals in earlier sources involved the recitation of spells rather than the use of images. The first part of this study explores how such simpler rituals came to be associated with the images of specific deities and ultimately gave rise to the general Esoteric initiation ceremony described in the crucial example of the All-Gathering mandala ritual in the Collected Dharani Sutras. The visualization practices so important to later Esoteric Buddhist rituals were absent from this ceremony, and their introduction would fundamentally change Esoteric Buddhist practice. This study examines the translations of dharani sutras made by Bodhiruci in the early eighth century and later Esoteric texts, such as Yixing's commentary on the Mahavairocana sutra and Amoghavajra's ritual manuals, to show how incorporation of visualization greatly enriched Esoteric rituals and helped develop elaborate iconographies for the deities. Over time, the ritual function of images became less certain, and the emphasis shifted toward visualization. This study clarifies the complex relationship between images and ritual, changing how we perceive Esoteric Buddhist art as well as ritual.
By John Whitmore, George Dutton, Jayne Werner. 2012
Sources of Vietnamese Tradition provides an essential guide to two thousand years of Vietnamese history and a comprehensive overview of… the society and state of Vietnam. Strategic selections illuminate key figures, issues, and events while building a thematic portrait of the country's developing territory, politics, culture, and relations with neighbors. The volume showcases Vietnam's remarkable independence in the face of Chinese and other external pressures and respects the complexity of the Vietnamese experience both past and present.The anthology begins with selections that cover more than a millennium of Chinese dominance over Vietnam (111 B.C.E.–939 C.E.) and follows with texts that illuminate four centuries of independence ensured by the Ly, Tran, and Ho dynasties (1009–1407). The earlier cultivation of Buddhism and Southeast Asian political practices by the monarchy gave way to two centuries of Confucian influence and bureaucratic governance (1407–1600), based on Chinese models, and three centuries of political competition between the north and the south, resolving in the latter's favor (1600–1885). Concluding with the colonial era and the modern age, the volume recounts the ravages of war and the creation of a united, independent Vietnam in 1975. Each chapter features readings that reveal the views, customs, outside influences on, and religious and philosophical beliefs of a rapidly changing people and culture. Descriptions of land, society, economy, and governance underscore the role of the past in the formation of contemporary Vietnam and its relationships with neighboring countries and the West.
By Matthew T. Kapstein, Gray Tuttle, Kurtis Schaeffer. 2013
The most comprehensive collection of Tibetan works in a Western language, this volume illuminates the complex historical, intellectual, and social… development of Tibetan civilization from its earliest beginnings to the modern period. Including more than 180 representative writings, Sources of Tibetan Tradition spans Tibet's vast geography and long history, presenting for the first time a diversity of works by religious and political leaders; scholastic philosophers and contemplative hermits; monks and nuns; poets and artists; and aristocrats and commoners. The selected readings reflect the profound role of Buddhist sources in shaping Tibetan culture while illustrating other major areas of knowledge. Thematically varied, they address history and historiography; political and social theory; law; medicine; divination; rhetoric; aesthetic theory; narrative; travel and geography; folksong; and philosophical and religious learning, all in relation to the unique trajectories of Tibetan civil and scholarly discourse. The editors begin each chapter with a survey of broader social and cultural contexts and introduce each translated text with a concise explanation. Concluding with writings that extend into the early twentieth century, this volume offers an expansive encounter with Tibet's exceptional intellectual heritage.
The Record of the Dharma-Jewel Through the Generations (Lidai fabao ji) is a little-known Chan/Zen Buddhist text of the eighth… century, rediscovered in 1900 at the Silk Road oasis of Dunhuang. The only remaining artifact of the Bao Tang Chan school of Sichuan, the text provides a fascinating sectarian history of Chinese Buddhism intended to showcase the iconoclastic teachings of Bao Tang founder Chan Master Wuzhu (714–774). Wendi Adamek not only brings Master Wuzhu's experimental community to life but also situates his paradigm-shifting teachings within the history of Buddhist thought. Having published the first translation of the Lidai fabao ji in a Western language, she revises and presents it here for wide readership.Written by disciples of Master Wuzhu, the Lidai fabao ji is one of the earliest attempts to implement a "religion of no-religion," doing away with ritual and devotionalism in favor of "formless practice." Master Wuzhu also challenged the distinctions between lay and ordained worshippers and male and female practitioners. The Lidai fabao ji captures his radical teachings through his reinterpretation of the Chinese practices of merit, repentance, precepts, and Dharma transmission. These aspects of traditional Buddhism continue to be topics of debate in contemporary practice groups, making the Lidai fabao ji a vital document of the struggles, compromises, and insights of an earlier era. Adamek's volume opens with a vivid introduction animating Master Wuzhu's cultural environment and comparing his teachings to other Buddhist and historical sources.
By Ronald Davidson. 2005
How did a society on the edge of collapse and dominated by wandering bands of armed men give way to… a vibrant Buddhist culture, led by yogins and scholars? Ronald M. Davidson explores how the translation and spread of esoteric Buddhist texts dramatically shaped Tibetan society and led to its rise as the center of Buddhist culture throughout Asia, replacing India as the perceived source of religious ideology and tradition. During the Tibetan Renaissance (950-1200 C.E.), monks and yogins translated an enormous number of Indian Buddhist texts. They employed the evolving literature and practices of esoteric Buddhism as the basis to reconstruct Tibetan religious, cultural, and political institutions. Many translators achieved the de facto status of feudal lords and while not always loyal to their Buddhist vows, these figures helped solidify political power in the hands of religious authorities and began a process that led to the Dalai Lama's theocracy. Davidson's vivid portraits of the monks, priests, popular preachers, yogins, and aristocratic clans who changed Tibetan society and culture further enhance his perspectives on the tensions and transformations that characterized medieval Tibet.