Buddhism Pure Land Buddhism
by
Galen Amstutz
  • LAST REVIEWED: 21 July 2016
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 October 2015
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195393521-0131

Introduction

Pure Land Buddhism is one of the complex dimensions of Buddhist traditions, not a coherent body of thought, but rather a flexible, polysemic, overdetermined, multidimensional network of texts, terms, ideas, floating signifiers, and images spread widely across Asia. Its resources formed an extremely important part of Mahayana Buddhism, but non-Asians have historically been less interested in them than in other aspects of Buddhism in part because of the strong role historically played by the expansive imaginative premise of other cosmic realms (though such an imaginary was entirely characteristic of premodern Mahayana Buddhism). In addition, much Pure Land emphasis has not been on control of mind via meditation but on the “soteriology” of some kind of reliance on the dynamic of “another,” which in various ways subordinates the role of the ordinary agentive self (but entails fundamental questions about the definition of enlightenment). Several significantly diverse interpretations have operated in the Pure Land framework. A “traditional” version, which dominated continental Asia, was based on a deferral of expectation of serious enlightenment to the future realm of the Buddha Amitābha (in Japanese, Amida; in Chinese, Amituo)—a future “space” alternate to our present world in which the Buddha would be present to assist the practitioner toward enlightenment—based on the assumption of an extended timeline in the process of enlightenment. Another interpretation, associated especially with Chan or Zen “mind-only” teachings, situated the perfection of the Pure Land in this present world. Both of these versions could be assimilated to tantrism or esotericism. A third type, which was relatively distinctive to Jōdoshinshū Buddhism in Japan, emphasized the possibility of first-stage (or higher) enlightenment in the present but ultimately only in accordance with “entrusting to or accepting the gift of the Buddha,” that is, a transformative process beyond any volitional control or intentional practices. All these ideas were related to neither Christianity nor ontological “dualism” but concerned deferral, meditation, or involuntariness within a purely Buddhist context. In terms of social history the Pure Land frequently offered a way of Buddhist practice that was relatively more open to householder nonmonastics. However, Pure Land–oriented traditions could still be as complex, buddhologically sophisticated, ritually engaged, contemplatively active, and even discipline-directed as others. The chief scholarly problems in the study of Pure Land have been an earlier tendency of Western scholars to underemphasize the importance of this side of Buddhism, as well as a tendency for the narrative of the powerful Jōdoshinshū school in Japan to overwhelm the historical perspective.

General Overviews

For early Western students of Buddhism, the question of Pure Land’s legitimacy within the Buddhist tradition actually posed a problem (as discussed in Steadman 1987), but such views have long been superseded from a variety of angles. As emphasized in Blum 1994, Pure Land was a form of path (mārga) that overlapped with other kinds of Buddhist practice and was rarely sharply distinguishable. Many scholars see Pure Land traditions as to some extent unified by existential themes of piety and trust (Corless 1993), light (Ingram 1974), or taking refuge (Carter 1993). Gómez 2000 focuses on the general theme of hope. Lai 1981 finds a narrative logic in the emergence of the Pure Land mythos from early Buddhism, and Lubac 1955 shows how modern Christian scholarship might interact with Pure Land. However, Kirkland 2000 and Yu 2014 emphasize the hybridity and diversity found under the Pure Land label.

  • Blum, Mark L. “Pure Land Buddhism as an Alternative Mārga.” Eastern Buddhist, n.s., 27.1 (Spring 1994): 30–77.

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    In detail, relates Pure Land traditions to the Chinese debates about practice in terms of subitist (sudden) versus gradual enlightenment theories and to Japanese polemics about self-power and other power. The argument illustrates how completely Pure Land overlapped with East Asian Buddhism in general, although there was to some extent a distinguishable Pure Land path.

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    • Carter, John Ross. “‘Relying upon’ or ‘Taking Refuge’ as a Genuinely Human Activity.” Annual Memoirs of the Ōtani University Shin Buddhist Comprehensive Research Institute (Shinshū Sōgō Kenkyūjo kenkyū kiyō) 11 (1993): 17–42.

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      Comparative discussion of the spiritual issue of trust in the transcendent from the standpoint of a scholar of South Asian religions.

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      • Corless, Roger. “Pure Land Piety.” In Buddhist Spirituality, Vol. 1. Edited by Takeuchi Yoshinori, 242–271. New York: Crossroad, 1993.

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        Describes how, at imaginative, existential, and aesthetic levels, the various Pure Land traditions were linked by their themes of light and trust, motifs that provide bridges to other world religions.

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        • Gómez, Luis O. “Buddhism as a Religion of Hope: Observations on the ‘Logic’ of a Doctrine and Its Foundational Myth.” Eastern Buddhist, n.s., 32.1 (2000): 1–21.

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          Any analysis of the Pure Land narrative inevitably brings in issues such as grace, assurance of salvation, and “outside” powers, but the handling of these depends on underlying “theological,” doctrinal, and mythic assumptions. Author finds that Pure Land is tied together by ideas of transferable merit (bodhisattva vows), which lead to practices of faith and hope, all thoroughly Buddhist.

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          • Ingram, Paul O. “The Symbolism of Light and Pure Land Buddhist Soteriology.” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 1.4 (December 1974): 331–345.

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            Explores the theme of light as a common form of religious imagery.

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            • Kirkland, Russell. “Pure Land’s Multilineal Ancestry: A New Metaphor for Understanding the Evolution of ‘Living Religions.’” Pacific World, 3d ser., 2 (Fall 2000): 177–189.

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              Argues that the seeming idiosyncrasies of the evolution of Buddhism in East Asia can be best understood as multiple adaptations to the various indigenous cultural traditions of the region, thus creating—following a genetics metaphor—individual traditions possessing compound heritages. As an example the author details the Chinese concept of Latter Dharma (mo-fa, or Japanese mappō).

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              • Lai, Whalen. “From Sakyamuni to Amitabha: The Logic behind the Pure Land Devotion.” Ching Feng 24.3 (1981): 156–174.

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                Using Kenneth Burke’s concept of logology, the author argues that the original Buddhist narrative contained within itself a karmic theodicy impelling Buddhist teaching in the Pure Land direction.

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                • Lubac, Henri de. Aspects du Bouddhisme. Vol. 2, Amida. Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 1955.

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                  One-volume treatment of Pure Land from India to Japan by a perceptive Jesuit religious studies scholar from an earlier generation of European scholarship. Dated but summarizes the principal philosophical and historical issues, which persist.

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                  • Steadman, James D. “Pure Land Buddhism and the Buddhist Historical Tradition.” Religious Studies 23.3 (September 1987): 407–421.

                    DOI: 10.1017/S0034412500018953Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                    Following an old tradition of doubt about Pure Land’s legitimate continuity with early Buddhism, offers an analysis of the difficulties of historical classification.

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                    • Yu, Jimmy. “Pure Land Devotion in East Asia.” In The Wiley Blackwell Companion to East and Inner Asian Buddhism. Edited by Mario Poceski, 201–220. Chichester, UK: Wiley Blackwell, 2014.

                      DOI: 10.1002/9781118610398Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                      Pure Land Buddhism was a messy and manifold body of practices that in China was transmitted pervasively without any distinct institutional or social structure; broad views of its long-term history in Asia have been distorted by biases derived from the sectarian Japanese organizations (Jōdōshū and Jōdōshinshū), especially in conjunction with modern state formation and Western religious studies and Buddhology. Author suggests broadening and correcting the field by relabeling it “Pure Land studies” and by paying attention to the sheer diversity entailed in local variations, visual representations, literary expansion, lay Pure Land societies, and especially ritual performance particularly at the deathbed.

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                      Collections

                      Pure Land traditions have not to date been the subject of any single standard comprehensive academic overview, perhaps reflecting the diversity of the subject. Collections of essays illustrating such diversity include Foard, et al. 1996; Payne and Tanaka 2004; and Payne 2007; each of these touches on the Indo-Tibetan sphere, China, and Japan.

                      • Foard, James, Michael Solomon, and Richard K. Payne, eds. The Pure Land Tradition: History and Development. Berkeley: Regents of the University of California, 1996.

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                        An essential set of twelve essays touching on Tibet, China, and Japan. Diverse themes by major scholars who have pioneered the field in English.

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                        • Payne, Richard K., ed. Shin Buddhism: Historical, Textual, and Interpretive Studies. Berkeley, CA: Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, 2007.

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                          Despite the title, this is a collection of essays on Pure Land themes ranging widely over India, China, modern and premodern Japan, and the United States.

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                          • Payne, Richard K., and Kenneth K. Tanaka, eds. Approaching the Land of Bliss: Religious Praxis in the Cult of Amitābha. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2004.

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                            An invaluable set of nine essays touching on Tibet, China, and Japan. The introduction by Payne raises methodological questions about certain biases toward essentialism and against praxis in Buddhist studies and emphasizes the geographical and contextual diversity in Pure Land practices.

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                            Bibliographies

                            Bibliographies of non-Japanese-language works on Pure Land Buddhism have occasionally been published in the journal Annual Memoirs of the Ōtani University Shin Buddhist Comprehensive Research Institute. Material from the first half of the 20th century is listed in Bandō, et al. 1958 and Hanayama 1961.

                            • Annual Memoirs of the Ōtani University Shin Buddhist Comprehensive Research Institute (Shinshū Sōgō Kenkyūjo kenkyū kiyō). Kyoto: Ōtani University, 1983–.

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                              Publishes academic research on Buddhism associated with Ōtani University, one of the two institutions of higher education associated with Shin Buddhism in Japan.

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                              • Bandō Shōjun, Hanayama Shoyu, Satō Ryojun, Sayeki Shinkō, and Shima Keiru, eds. A Bibliography on Japanese Buddhism. Tokyo: CIIB, 1958.

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                                Older work by researchers at Ōtani University.

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                                • Hanayama, Shinshō. Bibliography on Buddhism. Tokyo: Hokuseido, 1961.

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                                  Major bibliography of literature from the early 20th century, widely available in academic libraries.

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                                  Encyclopedias

                                  Certain encyclopedia articles remain among the best introductory sources. Getz 2004 takes up the broad picture; Gómez 2004 provides a sophisticated religious studies overview of the Pure Land idea. Tsukinowa, et al. 1964 offers an extensive look in English at earlier 20th-century Japanese scholarship, and Zürcher 1987 is from the perspective of a prominent 20th-century Chinese studies scholar. Tanabe 2004 points to the important relationship between Pure Land and Buddhist chant.

                                  • Getz, Daniel. “Pure Land Buddhism.” In Encyclopedia of Buddhism. Vol. 2. Edited by Robert E. Buswell Jr., 698–702. New York: Macmillan Reference, 2004.

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                                    Handy overview emphasizing the variety of Pure traditions and practices and their integration with monasticism, Tientai school teachings in China, and deathbed ritual.

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                                    • Gómez, Luis. “Pure Lands.” In Encyclopedia of Buddhism. Vol. 2. Edited by Robert E. Buswell Jr., 703–706. New York: Macmillan Reference, 2004.

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                                      Excellent summary of the major role the Pure Land idea—a space purified by the presence of a buddha or bodhisattva—as it played throughout Buddhist history in many variations.

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                                      • Tanabe, George J., Jr. “Chanting and Liturgy.” In Encyclopedia of Buddhism. Vol. 1. Edited by Robert E. Buswell Jr., 137–139. New York: Macmillan Reference, 2004.

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                                        Introduces the understudied realm of Buddhist ritual and sacred music, which has a connection to recitation of the name of Amitābha.

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                                        • Tsukinowa, Kenryū, Jūshin Ikemoto, and Ryōgaku Tsumoto. “Amita.” In Encyclopaedia of Buddhism. Vol. 3, fasc. 1. Edited by G. P. Malalasekera, 434–463. Colombo: Government of Sri Lanka, 1964.

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                                          Long, densely detailed survey article touching multiple aspects of the whole Pure Land tradition, although from the perspective mostly of earlier 20th-century Japanese scholarship, which is influenced in some points by Shin Buddhism.

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                                          • Zürcher, Eric. “Amitābha.” In The Encyclopedia of Religion. Vol. 1. Edited by Mircea Eliade, 235–237. New York: Macmillan, 1987.

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                                            A compact classic overview, though some of its judgments have been modified.

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                                            Journals

                                            Journals publishing in English are dominated by the Jōdoshinshū school and consist of three periodicals: Eastern Buddhist, Pure Land: Journal of Pure Buddhism, and Pacific World: Journal of the Institute of Buddhist Studies. Eastern Buddhist and Pure Land: Journal of Pure Buddhism are available online through the ATLA Religion Database Online, a subscription service. Important articles from these three sources can be found throughout this bibliography.

                                            Primary Sources

                                            Conceptions of buddha lands and celestial buddhas occurred in all kinds of Mahayana Buddhism. However, the Pure Land of Amitābha (Amituo, Amida) Buddha became the most influential and was associated with several distinct sutras. The two Sukhāvatīvyūha sutras (Gómez 1996) originated in India; an additional sutra, the Contemplation or Visualization Sutra (Ryukoku University Translation Center 1984, Ducor 2011), probably originated in China.

                                            • Ducor, Jérôme, and Helen Loveday. Le sutra des contemplations du Buddha Vie-Infinie: Essai d’interprétation textuelle et iconographique. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2011.

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                                              The first three-fifths of the book (by Ducor) are an analytical study and annotated translation into French of the Contemplation Sutra, with an extended bibliography in Japanese, Chinese, and European languages.

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                                              • Gómez, Luis O., trans. Land of Bliss: The Paradise of the Buddha of Measureless Light; Sanskrit and Chinese Versions of the Sukhāvatīvyūha Sutras. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 1996.

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                                                Contemporary English version of the primary Pure Land scripture, Sukhāvatīvyūha, which was known in East Asia in both long and short versions. Detailed reference matter, an extensive bibliography, and an introduction informed by a sophisticated academic religious studies perspective on myth.

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                                                • Ryukoku University Translation Center, trans. The Sūtra of Contemplation on the Buddha of Immeasurable Life as Expounded by Śākyamuni Buddha. Kyoto: Ryūkoku University, 1984.

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                                                  In Japanese, Bussetsu Kan Muryōjubutsu kyō; in Chinese, Kuan wu liang shou fo ching. The two Sukhāvatīvyūha sutras were joined with this Contemplation Sutra (also rendered as Visualization Sutra), which was composed in China but formed a trio of texts known in Japan as the Jōdo sanbukyō. This academically annotated English translation of the Contemplation Sutra was composed under Shin Buddhist auspices.

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                                                  Indian Cosmology

                                                  Pure Land is inseparable from the larger background of ancient Indian cosmology. Sadakata 1997 is a Japanese treatment. Kloetzli 1983 offers a broadly abstracted developmental typology.

                                                  • Kloetzli, Randy. Buddhist Cosmology: From Single World System to Pure Land: Science and Theology in the Images of Motion and Light. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1983.

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                                                    An analysis that sees Pure Land cosmologies as one (and probably the latest) among the four types into which ancient Indian Buddhist cosmologies overall can be categorized, as a shift took place from time-motion metaphors to space-light metaphors. Kloetzli stresses the enormous historical importance of the dramatic, miraculous, powerful, and spectacular in these cosmologies and their protoscientific analytical style, but he also emphasizes the difficulties modern scholars have had in appreciating them.

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                                                    • Sadakata, Akira. Buddhist Cosmology: Philosophy and Origins. Tokyo: Kōsei, 1997.

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                                                      Monograph by a modern Japanese specialist on Indian philosophy who usefully puts Pure Land ideas in the context of ancient Indian Mahayana Buddhist cosmology as a whole (pp. 113–124). Includes many schematic illustrations.

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                                                      Indian Roots

                                                      As discussed in Nattier 2000, Nattier 2003, and Payne 1997, Pure Land was a natural evolution of the imaginative world of Indian Mahayana Buddhism. As emphasized in Payne 2003, it was related to fundamental practices of meditative visualization. There was no distinctive Pure Land school or institution as such; scholarship is correcting the tendency of modern Japanese scholarship to exaggerate that idea (see Jōdoshinshū School). Schopen 1977, supported by Fussman 1999, shows that an idea of blissful realms was pervasive in Indian Mahayana. The origins of Pure Land have been exhaustively investigated in 20th-century Japanese historical research (Fujita 1996). Amstutz 1998 speculates that Pure Land’s relative social openness prevented it from flourishing in India.

                                                      • Amstutz, Galen. “The Politics of Pure Land Buddhism in India.” Numen 45.1 (1998): 69–96.

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                                                        Despite its eventual diversity, a recurrent general characteristic of Pure Land was the accessibility of its possible practices, which could be done both inside and also outside of the monastic environment. This article speculates, however, that Pure Land never expanded popularly in India because it never fit well with characteristic Indian social politics and notions of authority.

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                                                        • Fujita, Kōtatsu. “Pure Land Buddhism in India.” In The Pure Land Tradition: History and Development. Translated by Taitetsu Unno. Edited by James Foard, Michael Solomon, and Richard K. Payne, 1–42. Berkeley: Regents of the University of California, 1996.

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                                                          Presents the gist of Fujita’s conclusions about Indian origins based on his standard work in Japanese, Genshi Jōdo shisō no kenkyū (A study of early Pure Land Buddhism [Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1970]).

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                                                          • Fussman, Gerard. “La place des Sukhāvatī-Vyūha dans le bouddhisme indien.” Journal Asiatique 287.2 (1999): 523–586.

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                                                            Detailed scholarly review confirms the thesis of Schopen 1977 that a general Sukhāvatī idea was pervasive in Indian Mahayana but that historically the first interpretation was that it was the high-end stage of a bodhisattva career and was only sometime later conceived of as a paradise for devotees. Includes summary in English.

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                                                            • Nattier, Jan. “The Realm of Aksobhya: A Missing Piece in the History of Pure Land Buddhism.” Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 23.1 (2000): 71–102.

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                                                              Erudite review of the origins question from within the larger context of Indian Mahayana, working from research about an alternate stream of literature featuring the Buddha Aksobhya and concluding that Pure Land was clearly an extension of earlier ideas about celestial buddhas.

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                                                              • Nattier, Jan. “The Indian Roots of Pure Land Buddhism: Insights from the Oldest Chinese Versions of the Larger Sukhavativyuha.” Pacific World: Journal of the Institute of Buddhist Studies, 3d ser., 5 (Fall 2003): 179–201.

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                                                                Evaluates the Pure Land mythos as a natural product of processes of imagination in Indian Buddhism.

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                                                                • Payne, Richard K. “The Cult of Ārya Aparimitāyus: Proto–Pure Land Buddhism in the Context of Indian Mahāyāna.” Pure Land: Journal of Pure Buddhism 13–14 (December 1997): 19–36.

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                                                                  Argues that Pure Land must be seen as having wide and deep roots in the broad Indian Mahayana imagination.

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                                                                  • Payne, Richard K. “Seeking Sukhāvatī: Yogācāra and the Origins of Pure Land Visualization.” Pure Land: Journal of Pure Buddhism 20 (December 2003): 265–283.

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                                                                    Links Pure Land to fundamental practices of visualization and to concepts of buddha-nature in Mahayana.

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                                                                    • Schopen, Gregory. “Sukhāvati as Generalized Religious Goal in Sanskrit Mahāyāna Sutra Literature.” Indo-Iranian Journal 19.3–4 (August–September 1977): 177–210.

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                                                                      Argues that the idea of a blissful realm was widespread and not confined to any distinctive Pure Land school as such.

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                                                                      Tibet

                                                                      More than early perceptions of Tibetan Buddhism once suggested, Pure Land has been a prominent part of the mix of practices in Tibetan religious life. In style it was close to Indian Mahayana, with Amitābha’s realm available, among others, in an efflorescent deity culture both mythic (Kapstein 2004) and visual (Mullin 2007, Lamsam and Wangchuk 2013). Halkias 2013 surveys the whole field; Halkias 2006 explains a Pure Land sadhana and how the mythic fields of Lamaist lineages and Pure Land concepts overlapped. Odani 1994 describes an aspiration festival. Pure Land’s role in death ritual was central in Tibet (Bayer 2013). Corless 1989 and Corless 1995 explore similarities between Tibet and Japan despite the cultural and geographical distance. Lewis 2004 describes the Sukhāvatī faith in neighboring Nepal.

                                                                      • Bayer, Achim. “From Transference to Transformation: Levels of Understanding in Tibetan Ars Moriendi.” Eastern Buddhist 44.1 (2013): 77–96.

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                                                                        Pure Land–oriented phowa death ritual plays a central role in Tibetan Buddhism. The author argues that ambiguity about levels of meaning—especially the materially literal versus the “symbolic”—is intrinsic to the working of the Pure Land teaching.

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                                                                        • Corless, Roger. “Pure Land and Pure Perspective: A Tantric Hermeneutic of Sukhāvatī.” Pure Land, n.s. 6 (1989): 205–217.

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                                                                          Proposes certain similarities between Pure Land (especially Shin) and Vajrayāna in terms of practice, mandala conceputualization, and ideas of “sudden” enlightenment.

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                                                                          • Corless, Roger. “Beginning at the End: ‘No-Practice’ in Shin and Early rDzogs Chen.” Pure Land, n.s. 12 (December 1995): 253–265.

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                                                                            Compares Shinran’s understanding of the “no-practice” character of enlightenment with ideas in the rDzogs Chen strand of Tibetan teaching.

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                                                                            • Halkias, Georgios T. “Pure-Lands and Other Visions in Seventeenth-Century Tibet: A Gnam-chos Sādhana for the Pure-Land Sukhāvatī Revealed in 1658 by Gnam-chos Mi-’gyur-rdo-rje (1645–1667).” In Power, Politics, and the Reinvention of Tradition: Tibet in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries. Proceedings of the tenth seminar of the Association for Tibetan Studies, Oxford, 2003. Edited by Bryan Cuevas and Kurtis R. Schaeffer, 121–151. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2006.

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                                                                              The Panchen Lama, representing the second most important of the Tibetan monastic lineages, was regarded as an incarnation of Amitābha, indicating the political importance of Buddhist narratives in Tibet. This article mainly concerns a “sky-dharma” Pure Land sadhana revealed to an important 17th-century scholar-monk. Tibetan Sukhāvatī orientation was a Vajrayāna fusion of sutra, tantra, and terma (or “hidden treasure”—objects or texts associated with secret teachings), which also incorporated strands of life extension and funeral ritual.

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                                                                              • Halkias, Georgios. Luminous Bliss: A Religious History of Pure Land Literature in Tibet: With an Annotated English Translation and Critical Analysis of the Orgyan-gling Gold Manuscript of the Short Sukhāvatīvȳuha-sūtra. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2013.

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                                                                                Recognizing the lack of adequate attention in past scholarship to Pure Land teaching in the Tibetan context, this work aims at being a comprehensive overview superseding previous studies, touching on sūtra and commentarial literature, philology, representative teachers, cultic practices, political history, geography, thaumaturgy, phowa death ritual, art, and other themes. A great deal of Tibetan Pure Land tradition was yogically or tantrically contemplative and could be used as preparation for more advanced Vajrayāna methods. The complex, multifaceted treatment—with an up-to-date theoretical perspective and full awareness of the polysemy of the Pure Land concept—will be the standard reference on the topic in Tibet.

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                                                                                • Kapstein, Matthew T. “Pure Land Buddhism in Tibet? From Sukhāvati to the Field of Great Bliss.” In Approaching the Land of Bliss: Religious Praxis in the Cult of Amitābha. Edited by Richard K. Payne and Kenneth K. Tanaka, 16–51. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2004.

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                                                                                  In Tibet the cult of Amitābha was a religious orientation that was both pervasive and not sharply distinguished from other options in the system. Pure Land practices were set within the Tibetan tantric framework of contemplation and yoga—for example, transference, which involved projecting consciousness to another realm at the moment of death. Over time Amitābha was popularized by certain monastic orders, teachers, and texts, but an emphasis on discipline was never given up, and the situation remained synthetic and nonexclusive.

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                                                                                  • Lamsam, Supawan Pui, and Kesang Choden Tashi Wangchuk, eds. Zangdok Palri: the Lotus Light Palace of Guru Rinpoche. 2d ed. Bangkok, Thailand: Gatshel, 2013.

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                                                                                    A massive tome on Tibetan-style tantric Pure Land–themed Buddhism in Bhutan dedicated to the royal house of Bhutan. Guru Rinpoche of the title is Padmasambhava; Zangdok Palri (the Copper-Colored Mountain) is a perfected (but earth-accessible) pure land manifested by him. Volume features modern highly colorful mandalas, tanka and decorative art, illustrations of deities and famed Bhutanese monks in the lineage, and photographs of contemporary Bhutanese Buddhism. The long introductory section of the book was originally written in English; the author states explicitly that Pure Land varies in definition according to the experience of each observer (p. 33).

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                                                                                    • Lewis, Todd T. “From Generalized Goal to Tantric Subordination: Sukhāvatī in the Indic Buddhist Traditions of Nepal.” In Approaching the Land of Bliss: Religious Praxis in the Cult of Amitābha. Edited by Richard K. Payne and Kenneth K. Tanaka, 236–263. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2004.

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                                                                                      The hope for birth in Sukhāvatī, while relatively low-key and unsystematic, is widely represented in cultic practices in Nepal. The author offers observations about the prejudices (for example, against ritual) that have obscured scholarly recognition.

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                                                                                      • Mullin, Glenn H. Buddha in Paradise: A Celebration in Himalayan Art. New York: Rubin Museum of Art, 2007.

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                                                                                        Amitābha has been widely present in the iconography of Tibetan Buddhism. Based on a 2007 exhibition at Emory University, Atlanta, this richly illustrated work contains color plates relating to Amitābha and Amitābha Pure Lands, the Tusita Pure Land (source of the one thousand teacher Buddhas), tantric Pure Lands (e.g., Shambhala), Padmasambhava’s associations with pure lands, and Book of the Dead and powa death rituals involving Pure Lands. Doctrinally, the bodhisattvas, who retain awareness of the two levels of reality (conventional and enlightened) in perfect balance, know that Pure Lands (buddha-fields) are all around us.

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                                                                                        • Odani, Nobuchiyo. “The Pure Land Faith in Tibetan Buddhism.” Pure Land, new series, 10–11 (December 1994): 161–170.

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                                                                                          A brief survey of Pure Land in Tibet mentioning some of its chief texts, its Smon lam (“Aspiration”) festival, which is traced back to Tsongkhapa, and possible relationship to debates over interpretation in Japanese Jōdoshinshū Buddhism.

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                                                                                          China

                                                                                          Historically, Pure Land in China can be divided roughly into the premodern era (the first millennium), when it arrived as part of the active phase of Indian influence, and the period of blending of Pure Land and Chan (the second millennium), when it was part of a typical polyvocal program of matured Chinese Buddhism. Along with the traditions in monasteries, various popular practices evolved, and Pure Land exerted great influence on visual arts. Subsequently, in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, substantial efforts in reform and reconfiguration were undertaken in Chinese Buddhism, including its interpretations of Pure Land.

                                                                                          Premodern Era

                                                                                          Distinctive developments of Pure Land occurred in China. The history can be roughly divided into an early stage of implantation and ferment and a later stage of syncretism and settlement, which corresponds approximately to the evolution of imperial government in China. Pure Land entered China very early along with the rest of Mahayana Buddhism, as treated in Zürcher 2007. Ch’ên 1964 provides an extremely useful survey of the whole length of the history in China. As in the case of India, 20th-century Japanese scholars have taken a thorough look at the textual record, as exemplified in Mochizuki 1999. The Contemplation or Visualization Sutra became centrally important in China and attracted complex analytical interpretation, as illustrated in Tanaka 1990; in general, conceptualizations of the Pure Land posed a certain challenge for the Chinese (Chappell 1977). Over time, Western-realm interpretations were incorporated into mind-only interpretations (Callahan 2011). An important connection eventually formed between Pure Land and the idea of latter dharma (Chinese, mo-fa; Japanese, mappō). According to this notion, since the time of the founder Shakyamuni, Buddhist (monastic) practice had declined into ineffectiveness, so that deferral of liberation to another future realm was the more valid contemporary option. The centrality of the idea at certain moments in Buddhist history led to the clarification in Nattier 1991 that its background was not in India; but in any case, spurred by the idea of decline, some Chinese Buddhist thinkers developed simplified, ultra-accessible ideas of Pure Land practice (Chappell 1976). Pas 1995 describes how other practitioners instead continued to understand Pure Land in terms of the vision quest characteristic of Indian visualization practices. Such a visionary goal could be assimilated to sacred mountain worship (Stevenson 1996). In spite of the Chinese interest in syncretism of ideas, however, it was not always clear that the variety of religious strands could be wholly melded (Lo 2013).

                                                                                          • Callahan, Christopher. “Awakening Faith in the Pure Land Section of the Qixinlun.” Pacific World, 3d ser., 13 (Fall 2011): 25–44.

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                                                                                            The well-known but problematic text Awakening of Faith in the Mahāyāna is mostly devoted to a “mind-only” interpretation of the Pure Land, but also contains reference to meditation on Amitābha in the quasi-literal realm in the west. The author argues that while the reference to the latter practice may be a later addition to the original text, the interpolation may mark a historical shift in Pure Land thought in East Asia and be important on those grounds. In addition, in close reading it can be seen as reasonably integrated both with early Pure Land literature and with the Awakening of Faith text itself.

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                                                                                            • Chappell, David W. “Tao-ch’o (562–645): A Pioneer of Chinese Pure Land Buddhism.” PhD diss., Yale University, 1976.

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                                                                                              Daochuo became associated with a form of exclusivist Pure Land orientation that understood Pure Land practices, which could be very simple, as the only way to undertake Buddhism in the contemporary age. However, this was not the later mainstream Chinese attitude.

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                                                                                              • Chappell, David W. “Chinese Buddhist Interpretations of the Pure Lands.” In Buddhist and Taoist Studies. Edited by Michael Saso and David W. Chappell, 22–53. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 1977.

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                                                                                                Understandings of Pure Lands were by no means simple but rather were rationalized in terms of Chinese Buddhist doctrine and theory as a whole.

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                                                                                                • Ch’ên, Kenneth Kuan Shêng. Buddhism in China: A Historical Survey. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1964.

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                                                                                                  Although some of its interpretations have been revised (the author handles Pure Land as a coherent “school” along the same lines as Tiantai or Chan [pp. 338–350], a framework now considered misleading), this standard introductory history treats the significant issues and persons involved in Chinese Pure Land from the beginnings through the 19th century.

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                                                                                                  • Lo, Yuet Keung. “Indeterminacy in Meaning: Religious Syncretism and Dynastic Historiography in the Shannüren Zhuan.” Gender & History 25.3 (November 2013): 461–476.

                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1111/1468-0424.12037Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                    Examines the three competing voices—Pure Land Buddhist, Chan Buddhist, and Confucian—in the Shannüren zhuan (Biographies of good women), an anthology of 150 Buddhist women’s biographical accounts compiled by the Confucian-turned-Buddhist Peng Jiqing (b. 1740–d. 1796) for his daughters. Although the work was intended to emphasize Pure Land proselytization, the three different perspectives (and narrative forms) could not really be synthesized within the compiler’s Ming-period syncretic vision, producing a multilayered or heteroglossic discourse.

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                                                                                                    • Mochizuki, Shinkō. “Pure Land Buddhism in China: A Doctrinal History.” Translated by Leo M. Pruden. Pacific World: Journal of the Institute of Buddhist Studies, 3d ser., 1 (Fall 1999): 91–103.

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                                                                                                      This is the first of a series of English translations of chapters from a primary overview text of Chinese teachings written by one of the principal Japanese scholars; additional units of the translation were published in the same journal in 2000, 2001, and 2002.

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                                                                                                      • Nattier, Jan. Once upon a Future Time: Studies in a Buddhist Prophecy of Decline. Berkeley, CA: Asian Humanities Press, 1991.

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                                                                                                        Key, detailed textual study of sources of the famous three-stage decline concept, showing it was not an Indian but rather an East Asian idea.

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                                                                                                        • Pas, Julian F. Visions of Sukhāvatī: Shan-tao’s Commentary on the Kuan Wu-liang shou-fo ching. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995.

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                                                                                                          This is an extended study of the key Pure Land patriarch Shantao (b. 613–d. 681), who commented on the Pure Land Contemplation (Visualization) Sutra. Pas emphasizes the complex Mahayana vision quest aspect of Shantao’s experience and engages in a polemic against the narrower interpretations guided by the Japanese Jōdoshinshū school that focus on recitation of the oral nembutsu formula common in Japan.

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                                                                                                          • Stevenson, Daniel. “Visions of Mañjuśrī on Mount Wutai.” In Religions of China in Practice. Edited by Donald S. Lopez Jr., 203–222. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996.

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                                                                                                            Detailed study and translation of biographical texts concerning the 8th-century chanting-master Fazhao who experienced Pure Land–related meditative visions associated with the sacred mountain Wutai and its syncretic religiosity.

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                                                                                                            • Tanaka, Kenneth K. The Dawn of Chinese Pure Land Buddhist Doctrine: Ching-ying Hui-yuan’s Commentary on the Visualization Sutra. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1990.

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                                                                                                              A highly detailed academic study of one of the earliest Chinese commentaries (6th century) on a Pure Land text that illustrates the actual complexity of some Chinese Pure Land theory. The first chapter is a useful, concise summary of earlier Pure Land evolution in India and China.

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                                                                                                              • Zürcher, Erik. The Buddhist Conquest of China: The Spread and Adaptation of Buddhism in Early Medieval China. 3d ed. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2007.

                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1163/ej.9789004156043.i-472Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                This standard account describes the initial arrival of Pure Land as an intrinsic aspect of the importation of Buddhism.

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                                                                                                                Syncretism of Pure Land and Chan

                                                                                                                Chinese Buddhist thinkers have historically been fascinated and dominated by quasi-monistic (mind-only, tathāgatagarbha) theories of knowledge, and they strongly brought that perspective to their philosophical interpretations of Pure Land thought; however, the tension between the monistic and “dualistic” (i.e., oriented to birth in the Western Pure Land and later enlightenment) ways of handling the Pure Land mythos remained the source of one of the main kinds of polemics in Pure Land history. As described in Chappell 1986, such frictions broke into the open only when a degree of Chinese sectarian consciousness appeared during the Tang period. In much conventional scholarship, the later relations promoted by prominent Chinese monastics between Pure Land and Chan have been described as syncretism (Shih 1992, Hsu 1979, Yü 1981), but Welter 1994 questions this description by arguing that at least one of these monastics was not clearly concerned with any such thing. A similar view, taken up aggressively in Sharf 2002, is that Pure Land and Chan were so completely congruent or co-practiced in Chinese monasteries that no distinction—and thus no syncretism—can be intelligible. Cole 1996 argues that this was apparent in funeral practices. At the theoretical level, however, the question of how to handle the idea of the Pure Land in a fundamentally “monistic” (present-worldly) philosophical system continued, sometimes achieving a subtle resolution (Jones 2000), sometimes retaining residual tensions (Jones 2001), or perhaps hardly being recognized at all (Jones 2009).

                                                                                                                • Chappell, David W. “From Dispute to Dual Cultivation: Pure Land Responses to Ch’an Critics.” In Traditions of Meditation in Chinese Buddhism. Edited by Peter N. Gregory, 163–198. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 1986.

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                                                                                                                  Surveys polemical conflicts between Pure Land and Chan exponents that occurred at the beginning of the 8th century before they tended to be dissolved in the characteristic later Chinese mind-only discourse.

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                                                                                                                  • Cole, Alan. “Upside Down/Right Side Up: A Revisionist History of Buddhist Funerals in China.” History of Religions 35.4 (May 1996): 307–338.

                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1086/463435Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                    Without any contradiction seen, standard medieval Chinese Buddhist monastic funerals, Chan and otherwise, were routinely accompanied by ritual designed to send the deceased toward rebirth in Amitābha’s Pure Land, making it apparent that Pure Land aspirations influenced or were incorporated into every aspect of Chinese Buddhism.

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                                                                                                                    • Hsu, Sung-peng. A Buddhist Leader in Ming China: The Life and Thought of Han-Shan Te-Ch’ing. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1979.

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                                                                                                                      Han-shan was another prominent leader who is understood to have continued the tradition of combining Chan and Pure Land both in practice and in theory of knowledge.

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                                                                                                                      • Jones, Charles B. “Mentally Constructing What Already Exists: The Pure Land Thought of Chan Master Jixing Chewu 際醒 徹悟, 1741–1810.” Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 23.1 (2000): 43–69.

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                                                                                                                        Study of an early modern Chinese monastic writer exemplifying the convoluted ways a mind-only theory of knowledge and Pure Land conceptualizations could be combined.

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                                                                                                                        • Jones, Charles B. “Apologetic Strategies in Late Imperial Chinese Pure Land Buddhism.” Journal of Chinese Religions 29 (2001): 69–90.

                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1179/073776901804774677Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                          Argues that despite the strong conventional emphasis on harmony, an element of conflict between Chan and Pure Land teachings persisted from the Ming period to the early 21st century and stimulated a line of apologetics from Pure Land exponents. Sophisticated debates occurred between literalist and mind-only interpretations, with the discussions located within the frame of Tiantai and Huayan thought.

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                                                                                                                          • Jones, Charles B. “Foundations of Ethics and Practice in Chinese Pure Land Buddhism.” In Destroying Mara Forever: Buddhist Ethics Essays in Honor of Damien Keown. Edited by John Powers and Charles S. Prebish, 237–259. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion, 2009.

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                                                                                                                            Interrogating why Chinese and Japanese Pure Land thinkers adopted their typically different stances on the question of intentional (jiriki, i.e., “self-power”) human agency (the Chinese carefully preserving it, the Japanese de-emphasizing it by focusing instead on the Buddha’s action via tariki, i.e., “other-power”), the author finds that Chinese Pure Land thinkers never investigated this difference as a contradiction in the Japanese manner and instead saw the two stances as part of a continuum. Analysis is weakened, however, by the author’s misapprehension of the Jōdoshinshū version of tariki doctrine.

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                                                                                                                            • Sharf, Robert H. “On Pure Land Buddhism and Ch’an: Pure Land Syncretism in Medieval China.” T’oung Pao, 2d ser., 88.4–5 (2002): 282–331.

                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1163/156853202100368398Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                              Argues that although there were Pure Land–identified teachers and an idea of a patriarchate in China, there is little evidence of anything like an independent or self-conscious Pure Land tradition as Japanese scholars have often claimed. Pure Land cosmology, soteriology, and ritual were always seamlessly interwoven in Chinese Buddhism in general and Chan monasticism in particular, so strictly speaking there can be no meaning to a concept of “synthesis” of Pure Land and Chan.

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                                                                                                                              • Shih, Heng-ching. The Syncretism of Ch’an and Pure Land Buddhism. New York: Lang, 1992.

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                                                                                                                                A treatment of Yongming with a conventional emphasis on him as a blender of Chan and Pure Land orientations, approached via the idea of a syncretism enabled by mind-only monism.

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                                                                                                                                • Welter, Albert. The Meaning of Myriad Good Deeds: A Study of Yung-ming Yen-shou and the Wan-shan t’ung-kuei chi. New York: Lang, 1994.

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                                                                                                                                  Study of Yongming (b. 904–d. 975), a Chinese master conventionally associated with a harmonization of Chan and Pure Land practice, that argues that in his own time he was actually mainly concerned with a program of good deeds.

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                                                                                                                                  • Yü, Chüng-fang. The Renewal of Buddhism in China: Chu-hung and the Late Ming Synthesis. New York: Columbia University Press, 1981.

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                                                                                                                                    Syncretization of Chan and Pure Land is argued as intrinsic to the program of this famous late Ming teacher and organizer.

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                                                                                                                                    Aspects of Popular Practice

                                                                                                                                    For most participants in Chinese Pure Land the issues were mainly practical and liturgical. Nianfo (mindful recollection of the Buddha, often treated as vocal recitation) and deathbed rituals associated with Pure Land are presented in passages in Stevenson 1995a and Stevenson 1995b. Amstutz 1998 stresses that the relative openness of Pure Land practice, which allowed the formation of independent associations of nonmonastic believers, sometimes gave it a significant political quality, so much so in fact that Chinese monastic institutions sought to bring lay followers back closer to monasteries by offering them precept-taking opportunities (Getz 2005) or the image of a Pure Land patriarchate (Getz 1999), even though this idea of lineage may have been largely fictive (Getz 2004). Conway 2008 stresses the role of the thinker Daochuo in formulating this openness of participation. Zhiru 2001–2002 suggests that using a broader range of evidence will better illuminate Pure Land among the nonelite social sectors.

                                                                                                                                    • Amstutz, Galen. “The Politics of Independent Pure Land in China.” Journal of Chinese Religions 26 (1998): 21–50.

                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1179/073776998805306877Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                      Highlights the role of independent nonmonastic Pure Land groups, which sometimes created a field of interests different from the interests (magic, centralized power, or social hierarchy) rooted in the classical renunciant model. Some of these groups claimed to transcend monk and lay categories.

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                                                                                                                                      • Conway, Michael. “Throwing Open the Gates of the Pure Land: Daochuo’s Recognition of the Latter Days of the Dharma as the Foundation for ‘Neither Monastic nor Secular.’” Pure Land, new series, 24 (December 2008): 133–149.

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                                                                                                                                        Representing a characteristic Jōdoshinshū perspective, this article examines how the Chinese thinker Daochuo (b. 562–d. 645) pioneered a linkage between the idea of Latter Days of the Dharma (mofa) and the kind of institutionally post-monastic interpretation of Pure Land teaching that later became so important in Japan.

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                                                                                                                                        • Getz, Daniel A., Jr. “T’ien-t’ai Pure Land Societies and the Creation of the Pure Land Patriarchate.” In Buddhism in the Sung. Edited by Peter N. Gregory and Daniel A. Getz Jr., 477–523. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 1999.

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                                                                                                                                          The idea of a Pure Land patriarchate was not entirely a Japanese conception but was also created by the Chinese T’ien-t’ai school during the Southern Sung period as a way of recognizing and claiming authority and guidance over the lay Pure Land societies that began to flourish in the period.

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                                                                                                                                          • Getz, Daniel A., Jr. “Shengchang’s Pure Conduct Society and the Chinese Pure Land Patriarchate.” In Approaching the Land of Bliss: Religious Praxis in the Cult of Amitābha. Edited by Richard K. Payne and Kenneth K. Tanaka, 52–76. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                            Although there were claims and lists regarding the existence of a patriarchate of leading teachers who formed some kind of Pure Land lineage over time, this study of one of these medieval figures casts doubt on the existence of any truly autonomous Pure Land institution in China.

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                                                                                                                                            • Getz, Daniel A., Jr. “Popular Religion and Pure Land in Song Dynasty Tiantai Bodhisattva Precept Ordination Ceremonies.” In Going Forth: Visions of Buddhist Vinaya; Essays Presented in Honor of Professor Stanley Weinstein. Edited by William M. Bodiford, 161–184. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                              Study of how, under the influence of Pure Land, monastic Buddhist institutions found ways to connect with lay people by including them in precept-taking ceremonies, thus expanding popular consciousness of the bodhisattva vocation.

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                                                                                                                                              • Stevenson, Daniel B. “Death-Bed Testimonials of the Pure Land Faithful.” In Buddhism in Practice. Edited by Donald S. Lopez Jr., 592–602. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995a.

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                                                                                                                                                Translations of three short documents from Pure Land hagiographical collections that illustrate its relationships with death attitudes, rituals, and visions.

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                                                                                                                                                • Stevenson, Daniel B. “Pure Land Buddhist Worship and Meditation in China.” In Buddhism in Practice. Edited by Donald S. Lopez Jr., 359–379. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995b.

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                                                                                                                                                  Translations of three short passages about Pure Land practice together with an excellent prefatory overview about rituals of nianfo (mindful recollection of the Buddha, often understood as vocal recitation).

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                                                                                                                                                  • Zhiru, Wilt L. “The Ksitigarbha Connection: A Missing Piece in the Chinese History of Pure Land Buddhism.” Studies in Central & East Asian Religions 12.13 (2001–2002): 41–93.

                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1163/1570071776370216Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                    Starting with how the Buddhist deity Kṣitigarbha (Chinese Dizang) appears unconventionally as part of triadic sculptural arrays with Amitābha in an 18th-century Chinese cliff site, the author explores how Pure Land was not a discrete strand or entity in Chinese religious history but rather engaged with the larger syncretic field and how it absorbed Kṣitigarbha. Author’s methodological aim is to utilize interdisciplinary evidence beyond the standard textual material in order to address Pure Land practices, especially death rituals, among nonelite sectors of society.

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                                                                                                                                                    Arts

                                                                                                                                                    Because Pure Land included a conspicuous visual element via its concrete descriptions of the Pure Land, it had a pervasive impact on Buddhist art, beginning in the stela era studied in Wong 1999. The Contemplation or Visualization Sutra was a crucial source of inspiration (Ducor 2011). Ho 1995 discusses subsequent Pure Land painting at Dunhuang, and Pan 1994 describes an example of Pure Land deity painting. Wu and Ning 1998 treats paradise imagery as a Chinese genre. Wang 2004 surveys Pure Land art broadly, and Wang 2000 examines some Pure Land material in terms of perceptual theory. Ritual music also had a major role (Chen 2001).

                                                                                                                                                    • Chen, Pi-Yen. “Sound and Emptiness: Music, Philosophy, and the Monastic Practice of Buddhist Doctrine.” History of Religions 41.1 (August 2001): 24–48.

                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1086/463658Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                      Detailed analysis of how music works aesthetically and meditatively in Chinese Buddhist ritual services and especially those in which Pure Land imagination plays a central part.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Ducor, Jérôme, and Helen Loveday. Le sutra des contemplations du Buddha Vie-Infinie: Essai d’interprétation textuelle et iconographique. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2011.

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                                                                                                                                                        The latter two-fifths of the book (by Loveday) deal with historical development of relevant iconographical traditions, with wide-ranging reference to literature about visual design and imagery, narrative, painting, architecture, and caves pertaining to the sites at Dunhuang and a number of other premodern Chinese locations especially during the Tang dynasty. Illustrations and diagrams included.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Ho, Puay-Peng. “Paradise on Earth: Architectural Depiction in Pure Land Illustrations of High Tang Caves at Dunhuang.” Oriental Art 41 (Autumn 1995): 22–31.

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                                                                                                                                                          Discusses how the aesthetic power of the Pure Land illustrations on the wall paintings of the High Tang caves at the Dunhuang site in China enabled Buddhism to communicate to followers.

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                                                                                                                                                          • Pan, An-yi. “A Southern Song Dynasty Amitabha Triad Painting Reconsidered.” Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art 81 (November 1994): 350–365.

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                                                                                                                                                            Concerns an important and influential Southern Song–dynasty Amitābha triad painting that illustrates the Visualization or Contemplation Sutra.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Wang, Eugene Y. “Watching the Steps: Peripatetic Vision in Medieval China.” In Visuality before and beyond the Renaissance: Seeing as Others Saw. Edited by Robert S. Nelson, 116–142. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

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                                                                                                                                                              Utilizing art-historical perceptual theory, the author contrasts the visual experience of the overlooking, sitting eye with that of the ground-level, moving, walker’s eye. Both aspects can be identified in medieval Chinese religious life, including within Pure Land practice, imagery, and architecture. Shows the potential inner complexity of Pure Land religiosity.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Wang, Eugene Y. “Pure Land Art.” In Encyclopedia of Buddhism. Vol. 2. Edited by Robert E. Buswell Jr., New York: Macmillan Reference, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                                Convenient overview of the typology and history of Pure Land and Amitābha representations in China and Japan.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Wong, Dorothy C. Four Sichuan Buddhist Steles and the Beginnings of Pure Land Imagery in China. New York: Asia Society, 1999.

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                                                                                                                                                                  Detailed art-historical study of early evidence in stone about the expansion of Pure Land.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Wu Hung and Ning Qiang. “Paradise Images in Early Chinese Art.” In The Flowering of a Foreign Faith: New Studies in Chinese Buddhist Art. Edited by Janet Baker, 54–67. New Delhi: Marg, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                                                    Puts Pure Land imagery in the context of a wider history of paradise depiction in China; has illustrations, including of the Dunhuang site.

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                                                                                                                                                                    Contemporary Era of Chinese Pure Land

                                                                                                                                                                    In the early 20th century, Pure Land practice initially continued as it had in the 19th, as recorded in Welch 1967. Later, however, innovators produced more modern, socially active variations of the mythos, in terms, for example, of ethics (Jones 2003a) or apologetics (Jones 2003a and Pittman 2001), but all related to doctrinal redirections of Pure Land interpretation (Jones 2012 and Travagnin 2013). The most important of these variations has been the Foguang movement in Taiwan (Jones 2003b), but there are others as well (Laliberté 2004), in particular the Ciji organization devoted to social work (Huang 2009, Chiung 2007) Nevertheless, Chinese Buddhism has never lost its orientation to the importance of discipline and precepts, in this sense never going as far as the Japanese Shin school away from the monastic bent (Jones 2003a). New reporting is beginning to delineate the post-Maoist revival of Buddhism in the People’s Republic of China (Qin 2002).

                                                                                                                                                                    • Chandler, Stuart. Establishing a Pure Land on Earth: The Foguang Buddhist Perspective on Modernization and Globalization. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                                      Detailed study of the dynamic, innovative, modernization-friendly Taiwanese Foguang monastic Buddhist movement in the context of religious globalization. As in earlier Chinese Buddhism, claims of lineage authority derived from Chan coexist complexly with Pure Land orientations but in the Foguang version also with a distinctive sloganeering about building a Pure Land in the human realm.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Chiung Hwang Chen. “Building the Pure Land on Earth: Ciji’s Media Cultural Discourse.” Journal of Media & Religion 6.3 (2007): 181–199.

                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1080/15348420701529835Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                        Examines how the major modern Taiwanese organization Ciji (Buddhist Compassion Relief Foundation), which incorporates a version of Pure Land interpretation into its teaching of intensive social engagement, has constructed a unique cultural discourse, using extensive and savvy media investments, which competes against mainstream Taiwanese media culture. Argues that the topic of religion and the media is understudied outside of the Christian and especially American context, that is, neglected in Asian countries.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Huang, C. Julia. Charisma and Compassion: Cheng Yen and the Buddhist Tzu Chi Movement. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                                          A wide-ranging study of the movement, covering its charismatic founder, organizational style, ritual life, and globalization.

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                                                                                                                                                                          • Jones, Charles B. “Foundations of Ethics and Practice in Chinese Pure Land Buddhism.” Journal of Buddhist Ethics 10 (2003a): 2–20.

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                                                                                                                                                                            The Chinese have never focused on a radical “other power” position as in the Japanese Shin school but rather always retained a connection to intentive disciplinary practices, but the author does not provide a conclusive explanation of why this has been true.

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Jones, Charles B. “Transitions in the Practice and Defense of Chinese Pure Land Buddhism.” In Buddhism in the Modern World: Adaptations of an Ancient Tradition. Edited by Steven Heine and Charles S. Prebish, 125–142. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003b.

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                                                                                                                                                                              An analysis of how modernity has affected the attitudes of major thinkers in early-21st-century Chinese Pure Land Buddhism by encouraging their reorientation to the present world, to humanistic rationalism, and to political progressivism.

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                                                                                                                                                                              • Jones, Charles B. “Treatise Resolving Doubts about the Pure Land (Jingtu jueyi lun) by Master Yinguang, 1861–1947.” Pacific World, 3d ser., 14 (Fall 2012): 27–61.

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                                                                                                                                                                                Translation of a work by one of the most influential modern Chinese monks, which presents a debate on the theme—long-standing in Chinese Buddhism but weakening in favor of Chan in the 20th century—between the Chan notion of the Pure Land as a state within the mind of the practitioner versus the notion of the Pure Land as a quasi-literal realm apart from the present impure world.

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                                                                                                                                                                                • Laliberté, André. The Politics of Buddhist Organizations in Taiwan, 1989–2003: Safeguarding the Faith, Building a Pure Land, Helping the Poor. London: Routledge Curzon, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  Despite a common background in the traditional mixed Pure Land Chan Buddhism, modern Taiwanese Buddhist organizations adopted a variety of stances toward political and social participation, depending on their specific leadership.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  • Pittman, Don A. Toward a Modern Chinese Buddhism: Taixu’s Reforms. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2001.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    An extensive study of the pioneering modernist reformer Taixu (b. 1890–d. 1947), who reworked the Pure Land and Chan tradition he inherited in a manner emphasizing active ethical engagement with the world, which became known as “humanistic Buddhism for human life,” and even the construction of a utopian Pure Land on earth.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    • Qin, Wen-jie, dir. To the Land of Bliss. DVD. Watertown, MA: Documentary Educational Resources, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      Fascinating video that depicts the current revival of Buddhism in mainland China (People’s Republic of China) at the ancient Buddhist site of Emei-shan, based on the event of a Chinese Pure Land Buddhist master’s death and funeral.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      • Travagnin, Stefania. “Yinshun’s Recovery of Shizhu Piposha Lun: Madhyamaka-Based Pure Land in Twentieth-Century Taiwan.” Contemporary Buddhism 14.2 (November 2013): 320–343.

                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1080/14639947.2013.832497Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                        Discusses how the leading 20th-century monk Yinshun (b. 1906–d. 2005) controversially reworked the Chinese Buddhist heritage, particularly Pure Land thought, in terms of monastically oriented Madhyamaka philosophy, which reflects the continual reinterpretation of the “Pure Land” as a floating signifier.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        • Welch, Holmes. The Practice of Chinese Buddhism, 1900–1950. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1967.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          Welch interviewed Chinese monks who had been dispersed by the Communist revolution and produced a virtually anthropological description of what early-20th-century Chinese monastic life was like, including the coexistence of Chan and Pure Land orientations, the latter sometimes serving as a complementary or “backup” religious plan.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          Korea

                                                                                                                                                                                          In Korea, Pure Land stood out separately only in the early Silla period (McBride 2001) and was thereafter part of a general field of practice. Tanaka 2004 describes the 7th-century teachings of Wŏnhyo. Pure Land was commented on by the major thinker Chinul (Buswell 1983). Philosophically, Korean thought about Pure Land followed Chinese mind-only patterns (Park 1983). At least one Korean Buddhist priest attained distinct international importance due to his effect on the Japanese thinker Shinran (Keel 2005).

                                                                                                                                                                                          • Buswell, Robert E., Jr., trans. The Korean Approach to Zen: The Collected Works of Chinul. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 1983.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            Two texts by the medieval Sŏn master Chinul situated Pure Land in relation to the Korean monastic tradition. “Encouragement to Practice” (pp. 96–134) criticized the low spiritual ambitions of Chinul’s contemporaries who were Pure Land Buddhists and thus expected that enlightenment must be deferred. “The Essentials of Pure Land Practice” (pp. 191–197) offered Chinul’s idea for a Pure Land practice consisting of ten kinds of recollections of the Buddha in conjunction with recitations of the name of Amitābha.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            • Keel, Hee-Sung. “Kyŏnghŭng in Shinran’s Pure Land Thought.” In Currents and Countercurrents: Korean Influences on the East Asian Buddhist Traditions. Edited by Robert E. Buswell Jr., 78–124. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              A study of the influence of the Silla scholar Kyŏnghŭng on the Japanese Pure Land thinker Shinran, which constituted one of the important effects exerted by Korean Pure Land.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              • McBride, Richard D. “Buddhist Cults in Silla Korea in Their Northeast Asian Context.” PhD diss., University of California at Los Angeles, 2001.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                The eighth chapter deals with the generative period for a distinct Pure Land Buddhism in Korea, which occurred during the ancient Silla dynasty.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                • Park, Sung-bae. Buddhist Faith and Sudden Enlightenment. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1983.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  A discussion of interrelated issues of faith, practice, and enlightenment against a background of Korean Sŏn Buddhism, in which the mind-only philosophical treatment basically followed that in China.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Tanaka, Kenneth K. “Faith in Wŏnhyo’s Commentary on the Sutra of the Buddha of Immeasurable Life: The Elevated Role of Faith over Contemplation and Its Implication for the Contribution of Korean Buddhism to the Development of Japanese Pure Land Buddhism.” Pacific World: Journal of the Institute of Buddhist Studies, 3d ser., 6 (Fall 2004): 45–56.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    A study of ideas of Pure Land faith found in this 7th-century teacher.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    Japan

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Pure Land in Japan had its origins as part of the mixed repertoire of practices that characterized the Chinese and Korean monasteries from which Japanese Buddhism was imported. But afterward the late Heian and Kamakura periods were marked in part by innovations that eventually made Pure Land in Japan into a comparatively sectarian, free-standing independent variant of Mahayana Buddhism. In this environment Japan saw an elaboration of several subfeatures of Pure Land: death consciousness and ritual, latter dharma theory, Pure Land arts, and teachers and teaching lineages that were Pure Land–oriented, including the figures Genshin and Ippen and the Jōdoshū and Jōdoshinshū schools (both from Hōnen). In the Tokugawa period Ming-style Chinese Buddhism (which prominently incorporated Pure Land) was introduced in the form of the Obaku school.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Origins

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Early Pure Land in Japan was like Pure Land in China in that it was congruent with the other kinds of Buddhism practiced in monastic settings while being to some extent promoted to common people by popular proselytizers. Rhodes 2006 and Dobbins 1998 provide excellent surveys of the historical facts with somewhat different foci.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Dobbins, James C. “A Brief History of Pure Land Buddhism in Early Japan.” In Engaged Pure Land Buddhism: The Challenges Facing Jodo Shinshu in the Contemporary World. Edited by Kenneth K. Tanaka and Eisho Nasu, 113–165. Berkeley, CA: Wisdom Ocean, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      A straightforward survey of the history of Pure Land before the transformative Kamakura period covering a series of major themes: texts, arts, monastic figures, institutional settings, aristocratic sponsors, mappō (latter dharma) consciousness, and early popularizers.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Rhodes, Robert F. “The Beginning of Pure Land Buddhism in Japan: From Its Introduction through the Nara Period.” Japanese Religions 31.1 (January 2006): 1–22.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        A summary of historical information about the period of introduction from Korea, the role of Prince Shōtoku, the growth of the Amida cult, the development of textual study, and the interest in a blissful afterlife as the primary motive for interest in Pure Land.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        Late Heian and Kamakura Periods

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Japanese Buddhist history is marked by several reform thinkers and movements. Beginning in the late Heian and the Kamakura periods, Pure Land ideas and practices were popularized in a way that separated them from the previous monastic milieu and gradually created new Pure Land–focused monastic lineages (Jōdoshū) as well as the radically nonmonastic Jōdoshinshū. Conventional Japanese apologetics in the 20th century once tended to overemphasize the reformism during the Kamakura period itself; that older approach has been corrected subsequently by one emphasizing the long persistence of the earlier monastic forms. Dobbins 1998 discusses the historiographical problem this has posed. Matsunaga and Matsunaga 1974 provides an overview of the complex monastic world that had come into being by the Heian period; Matsunaga and Matsunaga 1976 gives an account of the Kamakura reformers but without forgetting the continuing role (and even reforms) of the older sects. Morrell 1987 presents four representatives of the earlier monastic lineages. Ōjōden narratives of exemplary biography constituted an important related genre (Allik 2012, Kikuchi 2014). Some scholars have seen similarities between Pure Land orientations and the Zen thought of Dōgen (Leighton 2005). Always in the background, Pure Land was commonly intermixed with the diversity of popular religious imagination as well, as depicted in Amstutz and Blum 2006 and Kimbrough 2008.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Allik, Alari. “Setsuwa and Self Writing: Witnessing Death in Hosshinshū.” Japanese Studies 32.1 (May 2012): 97–112.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1080/10371397.2012.669726Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Adopting a widely referenced literary and humanistic perspective, the author examines writings by the Japanese court poet Kamo no Chōmei in the genre of ojōden, which combine Pure Land imagination with the individualized yet socially interconnected narrative hagiography of exemplary death—sometimes via suicide. This recent study reflects the actual existential richness and complexity of Pure Land thought and even its contemporary overtones.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Amstutz, Galen, and Mark L. Blum, eds. Special Issue: Varieties of Pure Land Experience. Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 33.2 (2006).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            Seven articles in this journal volume deal with popular manifestations of Pure Land imagination, especially as expressed in the religion of mandalas, tantric practices, and kami (spirits and natural forces in Shintō traditions).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Dobbins, James C. “Envisioning Kamakura Buddhism.” In Re-visioning “Kamakura” Buddhism. Edited by Richard K. Payne, 24–42. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              Indispensable survey concerning the historiographical positions and shifts, ranging from emphases on reformism to emphases on economics, demonstrated in interpretations of the new kinds of Buddhism that emerged during the Kamakura period in Japan. Dobbins proposes his own model based on cultic centers and founders.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Kikuchi Hiroki. “Ōjōden, the Hokkegenki, and Mountain Practices of Devotees of the Sutra.” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 41.1 (2014): 65–82.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                Examines relationships among Pure Land-oriented biographies, the Lotus Sutra-related text Hokkegenki, and traditions of medieval mountain ascetics, in particular considering the material as possible historical evidence about concrete practices.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Kimbrough, R. Keller. Preachers, Poets, Women, and the Way: Izumi Shikibu and the Buddhist Literature of Medieval Japan. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 2008.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The fifth and sixth chapters of this book, a richly multiperspectival study bringing religion, history, and women’s studies together with the popular literary culture of Buddhist tales and preaching, focus on traditions of Pure Land proselytizing at the historic Seiganji temple in Kyoto.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Leighton, Taigen Daniel. “Dōgen’s Zazen as Other Power Practice.” Pacific World, 3d ser., 7 (Fall 2005): 23–32.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A rich version of the argument that the “Zen” teachings of the medieval Japanese master Dōgen frequently suggest that agentive power toward enlightenment comes from sources “other” than the self and thus offer certain parallels to the thinker Shinran.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Matsunaga, Daigan, and Alicia Matsunaga. The Foundation of Japanese Buddhism. Vol. 1, The Aristocratic Age. Los Angeles: Buddhist Books International, 1974.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Standard survey work representing mid-20th-century Japanese scholarship. The first volume lays out the origins, the multiple monastic schools of Nara, and the new Heian monastic schools of Shingon and Tendai.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Matsunaga, Alicia, and Daigan Matsunaga. The Foundation of Japanese Buddhism. Vol. 2, The Mass Movement. Los Angeles: Buddhist Books International, 1976.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The second Matsunaga volume describes the rise of the new Pure Land, Nichiren, and Zen sects as well as the continuing role of the older sects.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Morrell, Robert E. Early Kamakura Buddhism: A Minority Report. Berkeley, CA: Asian Humanities Press, 1987.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          In response to the distorting pressure on the image of Japanese Buddhism exerted by an excessive emphasis on alleged Kamakura Buddhist reform, the author studies the work of priests from four of the conservative, earlier schools that continued during the same time period, including Jōkei of the Hossō school, who was involved in a famous dispute about Hōnen’s teaching, and Kakukai of the Shingon school, whose mind-only understanding of Pure Land was rooted in his tantric philosophy.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Genshin

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The monk Genshin played a pivotal bridging role in opening up the resources of monastic Pure Land to a larger range of people, beginning with Kyoto aristocrats. Andrews 1973 surveys the contents of Genshin’s key book. Andrews 1989 evaluates how Genshin’s contribution fits into the flow of historical change, while Rhodes 2007 is a methodologically sophisticated study showing how different modes of communication about Pure Land ideas were operant in the period.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Andrews, Allan A. The Teachings Essential for Rebirth: A Study of Genshin’s Ōjōyōshū. Tokyo: Sophia University, 1973.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Genshin’s Heian-period book was highly influential in spreading Pure Land consciousness in Japan. The author addresses the antecedents in China and pre-Heian Japan and analyzes how Genshin promoted and systematized nembutsu theory and practice.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Andrews, Allan A. “Genshin’s Essentials of Pure Land Rebirth and the Transmission of Pure Land Buddhism to Japan. Part I: The First and Second Phases of Transmission of Pure Land Buddhism to Japan: The Nara Period and Early Heian Period.” Pacific World: Journal of the Institute of Buddhist Studies, n.s., 5 (Fall 1989): 20–32.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              First of a trio of articles that place Genshin’s thought in the complex Buddhist context of his time, in which multiple influences were at play, especially the interactions of the older monastic traditions and native Japanese populism. The second and third parts were published in the same journal in 1990 and 1991.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Rhodes, Robert F. “Ōjōyōshū, Nihon Ōjō Gokuraku-ki, and the Construction of Pure Land Discourse in Heian Japan.” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 34.2 (2007): 249–270.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Starts with the idea that there are two distinct, equally valuable modes of thought, the paradigmatic (or logico-scientific) and the narrative, and argues that texts written in both of these modes were crucial in the establishment of Pure Land Buddhism in Japan during the Heian period. The Ōjōyōshū is an example of a text in the paradigmatic mode, and the Nihon Ōjō Gokuraku-ki, a collection of Pure Land rebirth biographies of individuals, is an example of the narrative mode.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Death Consciousness and Ritual

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                In traditional Japanese Pure Land, as elsewhere in Asia, the role of the karmic transition at the deathbed was especially important. Blum 2007 describes hagiographies concerning individuals thought to have achieved birth in the Pure Land, a genre that built on a long earlier tradition. Bowring 1998 examines how a group of Heian aristocrats undertook such practices. Andrews 1977 discusses Pure Land from the category of world rejection, and how Genshin provided a concrete plan for deathbed ritual is delineated in Dobbins 1999.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Andrews, Allan A. “World Rejection and Pure Land Buddhism in Japan.” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 4.4 (December 1977): 251–266.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Discusses the reception of Pure Land from the standpoint of the Weberian category of world rejection, especially in its original appeal to aristocrats.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Blum, Mark L. “Biography as Scripture: Ōjōden in India, China, and Japan.” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 34.2 (2007): 328–350.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Records of individuals who achieved rebirth in the Pure Land of Amitābha Buddha started as a genre of hagiography in 8th-century China, began appearing in Japan in the late 10th century, and continued to appear afterward in substantial numbers, showing influences from monastic life and miracle texts.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Bowring, Richard. “Preparing for the Pure Land in Late Tenth-Century Japan.” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 25.3–4 (1998): 221–257.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A study of the group of Heian aristocrats who borrowed from monastic practices and pioneered a communal use of Pure Land devotion as a way to prepare for death, in close relationship with the monk Genshin.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Dobbins, James C. “Genshin’s Deathbed Nembutsu Ritual in Pure Land Buddhism.” In Religions of Japan in Practice. Edited by George J. Tanabe Jr., 166–175. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Translation of passages by the priest Genshin, who provided a specific description of an ideal deathbed ritual that would lead to birth in the Pure Land.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Latter Dharma Theory in Japan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The latter dharma (in Japanese, mappō) idea that possessed old roots in China became in medieval Japan, albeit briefly, the source of acute doctrinal disputes with institutional implications involving the questioning of monasticism. Marra 1988 and Stone 1985 offer essential overviews, Marra 1988 concentrating on the earlier historical facts and ending with Shinran, and Stone 1985 seeking to explain broadly how all of the Kamakura innovators were aware of the idea and responded to it in various ways.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Marra, Michele. “The Development of Mappō Thought in Japan.” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 15.1 (March 1988): 25–54.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Surveys mappō in India and China, the relevant texts that were present in Japan by the Heian period, the representative teachers who promoted mappō, the emergence of a popular mythos about it, Genshin’s ideas, the Mappō tōmyōki text, and how Shinran reacted and proposed a counter-solution. Marra follows up in the Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 15.4 (December 1988): 287–305.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Stone, Jacqueline I. “Seeking Enlightenment in the Last Age: Mappō Thought in Kamakura Buddhism; Part 1.” Eastern Buddhist, n.s., 18.1 (Spring 1985): 28–56.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            After summarizing the early presence of mappō ideas in Japan, the author systematically examines the diverse reactions to it of Hōnen; Shinran; the vinaya revivalists; Zen masters, including Myōan Eisai and Dōgen Zenjī; and finally Nichiren, concluding that mappō consciousness stimulated all of them to religious innovation. Part 2 appears in Eastern Buddhist, n.s. 18.2 (Autumn 1985): 35–64.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Jōdoshū Schools

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The most important figure in the sharp separation of Pure Land from the synthetic sphere of earlier Japanese Buddhism was Hōnen, who radically taught that only a simplified form of Pure Land practice could be valid under contemporary conditions. Senchakushū English Translation Project 1998 is a rendition that explains Hōnen’s key doctrines. As introduced in Andrews 1994, Hōnen’s way of thinking was a composite of tradition, innovation, and popular religion. Blum 2002 is an essential work about a scholar-priest in the wake of Hōnen who marked the emergence of a relatively distinct sense of a Pure Land tradition. However, although they were highly important afterward in Japan, research in English on later Jōdoshū traditions is sparse; Dobbins 2005 surveys how the practice of precept taking was sustained in one of them. Groner 2012 examines an ascetic who was formally affiliated with a Jōdōshū lineage.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Andrews, Allan A. “Hōnen and Popular Pure Land Piety: Assimilation and Transformation.” Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 17.1 (Summer 1994): 96–109.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hōnen’s thought was a combination of received and innovative ideas, achieved under the encouragement of popular Japanese devotional life by focusing selectively on the sole nembutsu as the only effective practice.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Blum, Mark L. The Origins and Development of Pure Land Buddhism: A Study and Translation of Gyōnen’s Jōdo Hōmon Genrushō. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1093/019512524X.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Gyōnen (b. 1240–d. 1321) was a famed scholar-monk who might be regarded as the first Buddhist historian. This is a highly detailed scholarly translation of a work composed soon after Hōnen’s time that attempted to systematize a conception of Pure Land history as a whole as well as identify the differing Pure Land doctrinal interpretations of Hōnen’s various disciples.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Dobbins, James C. “Precepts in Japanese Pure Land Buddhism: The Jōdoshū” In Going Forth: Visions of Buddhist Vinaya: Essays Presented in Honor of Professor Stanley Weinstein. Edited by William M. Bodiford, 236–254. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  One of the few academic pieces on the history of Chinzei, one of the major Jōdoshū schools or lineages (all of which are quite distinct from the Jōdoshinshū school). Following Hōnen and his idea of persisting symbolic significance in the precepts, Jōdoshū maintained up to the early 21st century its traditions of taking them.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Groner, Paul. “Extreme Asceticism, Medicine and Pure Land Faith in the Life of Shuichi Munō, 1683–1719.” Japanese Religions 37.1–2 (Spring–Fall 2012): 39–62.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Examines the detailed documentation on the unusual life of a Japanese Jōdoshū practitioner who was given to severe disciplinary practices, including dietary austerity, extreme numbers of nembutsu recitations, curing and proselytization among the impoverished and ill, and auto-castration to defeat sexuality. Such severity, which led to his early death, was untypical of a Pure Land orientation.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Senchakushū English Translation Project, trans. and ed. Hōnen’s Senchakushū: Passages on the Selection of the Nembutsu in the Original Vow (Senchaku hongan nembutsu shū). Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Together with the translation, this volume contains extensive prefatory matter detailing a modern (somewhat sectarian) interpretation of the contents of this key doctrinal statement by Hōnen.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Premodern Arts

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      As in China, because Pure Land included a large visual element via its concrete descriptions of the Pure Land, it had a pervasive impact on Buddhist art in Japan. Ten Grotenhuis 1999 analyzes Pure Land mandalas as part of the expansive field of cosmo-geographical religious imagination in medieval Japan. Okazaki 1977 concentrates on Pure Land illustration via paintings, and Fukuyama 1976 covers the related architectural representations at two famous Japanese temples. Nara Kokuritsu Hakubutsukan 2013 presents an exhibition about yet another famous temple. Kanda 2004 notes Hōnen’s concern for visual imagery. Rosenfield and ten Grotenhuis 1979 gives further examples of paintings. Inagaki 1995 is an analysis of a typical example of an Amida Sutra mandala. Wang 2004 provides an accessible overview of Pure Land art as a whole. Deal 2008 examines a famous Pure Land temple building via theories of spaciality as a hyperreality.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Deal, William E. “Simulating Pure Land Space: The Hyperreality of a Japanese Buddhist Paradise.” In Constructions of Space II: The Biblical City and Other Imagined Spaces. Edited by Jon L. Berquist and Claudia V. Camp, 171–188. New York: T & T Clark, 2008.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Regarding spaciality as an understudied dimension, this unusual treatment derives from a seminar project involving high-level theorizing and comparison of imaginative constructions of religious spaces/geographies in different traditions. Unlike religious buildings in other traditions, Pure Land temples in Japan (e.g., the Phoenix Hall at Byōdōin) were simulations of an immaterial, “nonreal” realm, thus generating a “hyperreality” of interfolded real and imaginary elements manifesting a postmodernist flavor.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Fukuyama, Toshio. Heian Temples: Byodo-in and Chuson-ji. New York: Weatherhill, 1976.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Essential English source along with Okazaki 1977. Profusely illustrated study of architecture built by Heian-period aristocratic families. Treatment includes an overview of the period, detailed studies of the two temples in the title, mandalas, and a variety of other regional temples.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Inagaki, Hisao. The Amida Sutra Mandala: An Iconography with the Text of the Amida Sutra. Kyoto: Pure Land Mandala Study Group, Nagata Bunshodo, 1995.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Pictorial study of a modern mandala that is patterned after the ancient Taima Pure Land mandala. Many illustrations and explications of details.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Kanda, Fusae C. “Hōnen’s Senchaku Doctrine and His Artistic Agenda.” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 31.1 (2004): 3–27.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hōnen had considerable interest in visual images. As part of his teachings, he reinterpreted one of the earlier types of Pure Land pictures called raigō (Amida’s descent to earth to welcome the dying person to the Pure Land), emphasizing the figure of the standing Amida.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Nara Kokuritsu Hakubutsukan. Taimadera: Gokuraku jōdo e no akogare: Tokubetsuten Taima mandara kansei 1250-nen kinen. Osaka, Japan: Yomiuri Shinbunsha, 2013.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Volume based on an exhibition at Nara National Museum that presented archaeological material, objects, and history associated with the ancient temple Taimadera in Japan, stressing especially the Pure Land–based Taima Mandara and its multidimensional context (i.e., sacred mountain worship). Some English explanatory matter.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Okazaki, Jōji. Pure Land Buddhist Painting. Translated and adapted by Elizabeth ten Grotenhuis. Tokyo and New York: Kodansha International, 1977.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This work still serves as the main specific monographic introduction in English, with substantial discussion and illustration.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Rosenfield, John M., and Elizabeth ten Grotenhuis. Journey of the Three Jewels: Japanese Buddhist Paintings from Western Collections. New York: Asia Society, 1979.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Includes eighteen illustrations related to Pure Land imagery (pp. 115–163), each with substantial commentary.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • ten Grotenhuis, Elizabeth. Japanese Mandalas: Representations of Sacred Geography. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 1999.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Chapter 6 (pp. 122–141) of this extensively illustrated general study covers Pure Land mandalas specifically, of which three types were recognized in Japan, including the famous Taima mandala design. Taima mandalas (pp. 13–32) were illustrations of Amida Buddha’s paradise with Amida at the center.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Wang, Eugene Y. “Pure Land Art.” In Encyclopedia of Buddhism. Vol. 2. Edited by Robert E. Buswell Jr., 693–698. New York: Macmillan Reference, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Convenient overview of the typology and history of Pure Land representations in China and Japan.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Modern Arts

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Because Pure Land remains a primary element of Buddhism in contemporary Japan, it is still common in modern Buddhist art. Szostak 2007 and ten Grotenhuis 1995 present the treatment of a classical Buddhist metaphor by a visual artist and a garden designer, respectively. Ryukoku Myujiamu, et al. 2013 collects material about the largely traditional but still ongoing practices in contemporary temples.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Ryukoku Myujiamu, Mainichi Shinbunsha, Kyoto Shinbunsha, and Okayama Kenritsu Bijutsukan. Gokuraku e no izanai: Nerikuyō o meguru bijutsu = Art and Ceremony of the Pure Land Buddhism. Kyoto: Ryūkoku Daigaku Ryūkoku Myūjiamu, 2013.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Based on an exhibit at the Ryūkoku University museum in Kyoto, this book presents contemporary images relating to Pure Land plus a wide selection of art-historical iconography along with cartoon illustration pages explaining details of ceremonies and iconography. The book includes sections on death and funeral rituals, Amida triads and mandalas, raigō and monk images, and hell and six paths illustrations, with emphasis on local and regional variations and furnishings.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Szostak, John D. “Two Paths to the Pure Land: The Niga-byakudō Theme and the Modernist Buddhist Art of Hada Teruo.” Archives of Asian Art 57 (2007): 121–150.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Examines how a modern Japanese artist used traditional Buddhist imagery, in this case the “white path” Pure Land metaphor, in his work. A rare study in English of the important genre of contemporary Japanese Buddhist painting.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • ten Grotenhuis, Elizabeth. “The White Path Crossing Two Rivers: A Contemporary Japanese Garden Represents the Past.” Journal of Garden History 15 (January–March 1995): 1–18.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Describes a recently built but traditionally styled Buddhist temple garden that depicts the Chinese Pure Land metaphor in which a pilgrim must cross a white path that is surrounded by fire and water.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Ippen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Ippen was a wandering teacher who offered an alternative version of Pure Land thought, blending ideas from Hōnen, Shingon tantrism, and the kami religion of spirits and natural forces in Shintō traditions. Useful introductions to the man and his organization are provided in Foard 1996 and Fujii 1994. Thornton 1999 focuses on how Ippen’s ideas turned into the institutionalized Jishū school. Ippen left verses and sayings that are translated in Hirota 1997. In visual arts Ippen is associated with a famous illustrated hand-scroll biography that has been repeatedly studied (Foard 1992, Kaufman 1992, Hirota 1995).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Foard, James H. “Prefiguration and Narrative in Medieval Hagiography: The Ippen Hijiri-e.” In Flowing Traces: Buddhism in the Literary and Visual Arts of Japan. Edited by James H. Sanford, William R. LaFleur, and Masatoshi Nagatomi, 76–92. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The Ippen scroll is part of the broad tradition of Buddhist hagiography. This article provides a literary and mythic analysis of some of its meanings.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Foard, James H. “Ippen and Pure Land Wayfarers in Medieval Japan.” In The Pure Land Tradition: History and Development. Edited by James H. Foard, Michael Solomon, and Richard K. Payne, 357–397. Berkeley: Regents of the University of California, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A scholarly study focusing on Ippen as part of the broad tradition of hijiri traveling (religious itinerancy).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Fujii, Manabu. “Ippen, 1239–1289.” In Shapers of Japanese Buddhism. Edited by Yūsen Kashiwahara and Kōyū Sonoda, 135–146. Translated by Gaynor Sekimori. Tokyo: Kōsei, 1994.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A basic presentation of the biography.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Hirota, Dennis. “The Illustrated Biography of Ippen.” In Buddhism in Practice. Edited by Donald S. Lopez Jr., 563–577. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Translation of passages of medieval Japanese text from the Ippen hand scroll that record a contemporary account of Ippen’s life and teaching.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Hirota, Dennis, trans. No Abode: The Record of Ippen. Rev. ed. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 1997.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A translation of the extant texts attributable to Ippen. The introduction emphasizes the Mahayana nondual thought in Ippen’s teaching and its relationship to other thinkers, such as Shinran.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Kaufman, Laura S. “Nature, Courtly Imagery, and Sacred Meaning in the Ippen Hijiri-e.” In Flowing Traces: Buddhism in the Literary and Visual Arts of Japan. Edited by James H. Sanford, William R. LaFleur, and Masatoshi Nagatomi, 47–75. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The scroll is full of interest and meaning for the history of Japanese arts generally due to its rich communal, landscape, and architectural scenes and literary content.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Thornton, Sybil Anne. Charisma and Community Formation in Medieval Japan: The Case of the Yugyō-ha, 1300–1700. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, 1999.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            As suggested in the title, treats the hijiri (religious itinerants), who were successors of Ippen, in terms of Weberian sociology as a community and eventually an institution that was formed by the routinization of charisma.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Obaku Zen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            One of the intriguing details of Tokugawa Buddhism was the direct introduction of a 17th-century Chinese Buddhist practice that in Chinese style embraced both Zen and Pure Land. Baroni 2000 summarizes the doctrine, and Baroni 2006 touches on how one of its leaders, known as Tetsugen, engaged in disagreements with sectarian Jōdoshinshū.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Baroni, Helen J. Obaku Zen: The Emergence of the Third Sect of Zen in Tokugawa Japan. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2000.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              One of the chapters (pp. 106–121) specifically discusses how Obaku combined Pure Land and Zen in Ming Chinese style.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Baroni, Helen J. Iron Eyes: The Life and Teachings of the Ōbaku Zen Master Tetsugen Dōkō. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2006.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Illustrating the factional conflicts that could arise in Japanese Buddhism, at one point Tetsugen came into sharp doctrinal conflict with Shin Buddhists (pp. 21–26, 175–181).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Vietnam

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Vietnamese Buddhism received key influences from southern China, and its mix of Chan and Pure Land was close to that of premodern and modern China. McHale 1995 provides information about the early-20th-century revival, Thiền Tâm 1991 introduces the life of contemporary Vietnamese followers, while Nhất Hạnh 2003 offers a popular presentation for Westernized international readers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • McHale, Shawn. “Imagining Human Liberation: Vietnamese Buddhists and the Marxist Critique of Religion, 1920–1939.” Social Compass 42.3 (September 1995): 329–344.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1177/003776895042003006Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Using documentary evidence rarely available in English, McHale discusses the dominant role of Pure Land Buddhism in the major Vietnamese Buddhist revival that took place in the 1920s and 1930s.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Nhất Hạnh, Thích. Finding Our True Home: Living in the Pure Land Here and Now. Berkeley, CA: Parallax, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The famous international teacher’s highly contemporary version of Vietnamese Chan and Pure Land, presented as a popular book in English. Rearticulates the Pure Land for a Western audience as a state of present-worldly consciousness achievable through mindfulness meditation.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Thiền Tâm, Thích. Buddhism of Wisdom and Faith: Pure Land Principles and Practice. Sepulveda, CA: International Buddhist Monastic Institute, 1991.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This work, a translation from Vietnamese, shows how Pure Land practice is recently understood and practiced in Vietnamese communities themselves.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Brazil

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Pure Land in Brazil resembles that in the United States: a rooted immigrant tradition that is currently in retreat at the same time that other, modernized, internationalized forms of Buddhism are growing. Usarski 2002 and Usarski 2008 examine the decline of Jōdoshinshū, while Albuquerque 2008 discusses several intellectuals who have, somewhat unusually, taken up Pure Land.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Albuquerque, Eduardo Basto de. “Intellectuals and Japanese Buddhism in Brazil.” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 35.1 (2008): 61–79.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Discusses two scholars, Ricardo Mário Gonçalves and Murillo Nunes de Azevedo, who have been uniquely oriented to Shin Buddhism (pp. 71–73).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Usarski, Frank. “Buddhism in Brazil and Its Impact on the Larger Brazilian Society.” In Westward Dharma: Buddhism beyond Asia. Edited by Charles S. Prebish and Martin Baumann, 163–176. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The traditional Japanese Shin groups created by 20th-century immigration are still large in size but are in decline or stagnation, remaining mostly locked into an ethnic community model despite significant efforts from a few reformers.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Usarski, Frank. “‘The Last Missionary to Leave the Temple Should Turn Off the Light’: Sociological Remarks on the Decline of Japanese ‘Immigrant’ Buddhism in Brazil.” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 35.1 (2008): 39–59.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Detailed sociological study of the decline of Shin Buddhism due to factors including leadership failure and assimilation into the larger Luso-Brazilian contemporary culture.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            United States

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Until the latter part of the 20th century, Pure Land (specifically Jōdoshinshū) Buddhism in the Japanese American community was the largest of any form of Buddhism represented in the United States. Though it remains important, it is in decline and has not made contributions to American Buddhist modernism. Fields 1992, Tuck 1987, Tweed and Prothero 1999, and Seager 1999 provide introductions to the historical record. Bloom 1998, Tanaka 1999, and Kashima 2008 offer evaluations concerning the dominance of ethnicity as a defining feature of the tradition. Amstutz 2014 argues that this ethnic quality has been intimately linked to 20th-century international conflict and certain negative aspects of globalization.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Amstutz, Galen. “Global Communication versus Ethno-chauvinism: Framing Nikkei Pure Land Buddhism in North America.” Journal of Religion in Japan 3 (2014):141–176.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1163/22118349-00302004Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Argues that it is due to the reactionary racial effects that globalization can produce that Pure Land’s potential interactions with 20th-century American society have been distinctly restricted.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Bloom, Alfred. “Shin Buddhism in America: A Social Perspective.” In The Faces of Buddhism in America. Edited by Charles S. Prebish and Kenneth K. Tanaka, 31–47. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Evaluates the cultural reasons why Shin Buddhism remains relatively unknown and misunderstood in America outside of its ethnic community.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Fields, Rick. How the Swans Came to the Lake: A Narrative History of Buddhism in America. 3d ed. Boston: Shambala, 1992.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Because of Japanese immigration to North America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Pure Land Buddhism became a substantial ethnic religion in the United States. Passages in this work provide a good introduction to the broader historical context of other movements in Buddhism.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Kashima, Tetsuden. “Japanese American Religiosity: A Contemporary Perspective.” In North American Buddhists in Social Context. Edited by Paul David Numrich, 107–143. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2008.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1163/ej.9789004168268.i-247Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Research by a sociologist arguing that Shin Buddhism in America has become a facet of a broader, distinctively hybrid Japanese American religious consciousness.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Seager, Richard Hughes. Buddhism in America. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A comprehensive survey work that makes an important contribution to the burgeoning research on American Buddhism. Chapter 5 (pp. 51–69), titled “Jodo Shinshu: America’s Old-Line Buddhists,” provides a succinct summary focusing on the adaptability of the tradition.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Tanaka, Kenneth K. “Issues of Ethnicity in the Buddhist Churches of America.” In American Buddhism: Methods and Findings in Recent Scholarship. Edited by Duncan Ryūken Williams and Christopher S. Queen, 3–19. Richmond, UK: Curzon, 1999.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Discusses the question of preservation or rejection of ethnicity in Shin from the standpoint of the widely used analytical distinction between ethnic American Buddhism and “white” American Buddhism.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Tuck, Donald R. Buddhist Churches of America: Jodo Shinshu. Lewiston, NY: Edward Mellen, 1987.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Though compiled using only English-language sources, this work provides a good introductory narrative about the history, organization, and especially sociology of the organization called Buddhist Churches of America.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Tweed, Thomas A., and Stephen Prothero, eds. Asian Religions in America: A Documentary History. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Contains five passages of original documentation pertaining to Shin Buddhism in the United States.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Jōdoshinshū School

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Jōdoshinshū was by far the most prominent form of independent Pure Land in Asia and by the 19th century had also become the largest single school of Japanese Buddhism. Because of Shin’s extensive development, the topic can be divided into the texts and doctrines of its scholastic tradition, its long premodern history (which passed through multiple phases in response to varying contexts in Japanese history, including free-market proselytization in the medieval period, feudal militarization in the 16th century, and subjection to the status system of the Tokugawa period), and finally its experience with 20th-century Japanese modernism and nationalism and the aftermath of World War II.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Basic Texts and Doctrines

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Shin Buddhism was a later product of Pure Land in Japan that maintained a singular idea of “true entrusting” (recognition of the limits of human agency) as the key goal of understanding in Buddhism. Its foundational ideas were generated by Shinran (b. 1173–d. 1262), and the ideas became so strong that the modern interpretive problem overall has been the tendency for the Shin Buddhist reading of the Pure Land tradition (a reading that is the product of a powerful, teleological intellectualism that has a substantial representation in the English language) to dominate other versions and promote historical misapprehension of the diversity of Pure Land experience as a whole. (As a unitary concept, Buddhism was a 19th-century European intellectual invention, and an overemphasized unitary idea of Pure Land is a Japanese invention.) Inagaki 1994 offers an approach to the Pure Land sutras reflecting Shin scholarship. Shinran’s own textual corpus has been rendered into English several times; the two major projects have been the Ryukoku Translation Center series (Fujiwara 1963) and the work leading to The Collected Works of Shinran (Hirota 1997). Unno 1996 is one of the many translations of the short oral classic Tannishō, which has persisted as one of the most popular Buddhist books in modern Japan. Inagaki 1995 provides insight into Shin’s sectarian scholarly apparatus. The most useful, although sectarian, contextualization of Shin within general Mahayana Buddhism is Ueda and Hirota 1989. Sectarian interpretation, as in Fujiwara 1974, sets up complex polemical relationships with other readings of source texts. Bloom 1965 has introduced Shin doctrine to generations of English readers. To complement the sometimes convoluted language of doctrine, Amstutz 2009 proposes a psychohistorical explanation for why Shin teaching may in fact be historically somewhat distinctive.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Amstutz, Galen. “Shinran’s ‘Evolved Interiority’ in Outline.” In Japanese Studies around the World 2008: Scholars of Buddhism in Japan: Buddhist Studies in the 21st Century. The Ninth Annual Symposium for Scholars Resident in Japan. Edited by James Baskind, 21–48. Kyoto: International Research Center for Japanese Studies, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Proposes that Shin is distinctively protomodern in Buddhist history in its implicit recognition of an inaccessible cognitive subconscious and that this may be due to evolutionary developmental factors, including literacy.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Bloom, Alfred. Shinran’s Gospel of Pure Grace. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1965.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Long-used, pioneering summary of Shinran’s teaching by one of the main American scholar-popularizers.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Fujiwara, Ryōsetsu. The Tanni shō: Notes Lamenting Differences. Kyoto: Ryukoku University, 1963.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The first of a series of publications from the Ryukoku Translation Center project, which completed a number of English volumes between 1962 and 1980 (including Shōshin ge, Jōdo wasan, Kyō gyō shin shō, Kōsō wasan, and Shōzōmatsu wasan). The versions are bilingual, with Japanese and English on facing pages, and include notes and glossaries that are also highly useful for language study.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Fujiwara, Ryōsetsu. The Way to Nirvana: The Concept of the Nembutsu in Shan-tao’s Pure Land Buddhism. Tokyo: Kyoiku Shincho Sha, 1974.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    English-language example of how Shin’s idiosyncratic interpretation has been applied to its historical Chinese source texts.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Hirota, Dennis, trans. The Collected Works of Shinran. 2 vols. Kyoto: Jōdo Shinshūu Hongwanji-ha, 1997.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      An up-to-date translation now regarded as standard, massively informative and comprehensive and with extensive reference matter, but also conveying a heavy sectarian perspective.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Inagaki, Hisao, ed. Shinshū yōgo Eiyaku gurossarī: A Glossary of Shin Buddhist Terms. Kyoto: Ryūkoku Daigaku Bukkyō Bunka Kenkyūjo, 1995.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The modern Shin educational establishment possesses a robust and sophisticated (if often conceptually narrow) academic establishment that has produced numerous in-depth textual and philological studies and reference books. This is an English-language window into such material.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Inagaki, Hisao, and Harold Stewart. The Three Pure Land Sutras: A Study and Translation from Chinese. Kyoto: Nagata Bunshodo, 1994.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The three primary Shin Buddhist sutra scriptures as rendered by a Shin scholar and translator.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Ueda, Yoshifumi, and Dennis Hirota. Shinran: An Introduction to His Thought: With Selections from the Shin Buddhism Translation Series. Kyoto: Hongwanji International Center, 1989.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            An introductory work that has been effective in English, especially in establishing the broad Mahayana philosophical basis for Shinran’s thought.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Unno, Taitetsu, trans. Tannisho: A Shin Buddhist Classic. Honolulu, HI: Buddhist Study Center Press, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              An example of a translation of the classic, this by a leading scholar-popularizer in the United States.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Premodern Era

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Shin Buddhism stood out greatly because of its strong institutional profile, as surveyed in Dobbins 1986. Dobbins 1989 remains the standard work on early Shin history. The institution was held together not only by doctrine per se, but also by the mythos of its founder Shinran (Dobbins 2001). Rogers 1991 treats Rennyo’s period of rapid proselytization in the 15th century, and Tsang 2007 covers the era of partial militarization and organized political resistance in the 16th century. Blum and Yasutomi 2006 is a wide-ranging collection of articles on the middle period of the institution.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Blum, Mark L., and Shin’ya Yasutomi, eds. Rennyo and the Roots of Modern Japanese Buddhism. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A collection of seventeen articles by leading scholars refocusing attention on the life of Rennyo and his contribution to Shin tradition and the religious life of Japan. More than half are translations representing the latest Japanese scholarship.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Dobbins, James C. “From Inspiration to Institution: The Rise of Sectarian Identity in Jōdo Shinshū.” Monumenta Nipponica 41.3 (Autumn 1986): 331–343.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Describes the development of the Honganji institution from its start in Shinran’s ideas.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Dobbins, James C. Jōdo Shinshū: Shin Buddhism in Medieval Japan. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The standard work on early Shin history covering the early background, Shinran and his teachings, the early organization and the establishment of its center at Honganji, and early Shin factions and their rivals in other schools of Buddhism.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Dobbins, James C. “Portraits of Shinran in Medieval Pure Land Buddhism.” In Living Images: Japanese Buddhist Icons in Context. Edited by Robert H. Sharf and Elizabeth Horton Sharf, 19–48. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Founders’ portraits reveal the importance of personal images of founders in structuring imagination on the Japanese Buddhist sects; Shin Buddhism was no exception.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Rogers, Minor L., and Anne T. Rogers. Rennyo: The Second Founder of Shin Buddhism. Berkeley, CA: Asian Humanities Press, 1991.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The standard work on the “middle founder” of Shin, who rode a wave of late-15th-century sociopolitical change that helped spread and consolidate the Shin tradition. The contents mainly include a detailed study of the biography, as well as a translation of Rennyo’s famous proselytizing letters to his followers.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Tsang, Carol Richmond. War and Faith: Ikkō Ikki in Late Muromachi Japan. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          A study of powerful social movements associated with Shin Buddhism and Honganji in the 16th century, when some of its membership resisted control by daimyo.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Modern Era

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Twentieth-century Shin has given rise to a fairly rich field of English-language literature, both academic and apologetic. Porcu 2008 is an overview of the many cultural influences Shin has exerted in modern Japan. Bloom 2004 provides an introduction to a swath of modern Shin writers and scholars, including D. T. Suzuki. Shin has been somewhat more socially progressive than other types of traditional Japanese Buddhism, an ethical tradition studied in Dessì 2007 and in Tanaka and Nasu 1998. On the other hand, Tanabe 2012 identifies modern ancestralism as almost the whole motive for support of any kind of modern Japanese Buddhism. Further, Shin’s role in early-20th-century imperial colonialism has been little presented in Western languages (Chen 2012), and Pure Land has also been complexly involved with the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Miyamoto 2012, Nelson 2002). Itsuki 2001 is an example suggesting in English modern Japanese popular literature about Shin; Unno 1998 is an example of popularizing literature directed at a general American audience. Amstutz 1997 tries, among other things, to analyze why Shin had been somewhat marginalized in awareness of Buddhism outside of Japan. Modern Shin is presented effectively in the first half of the film production Buddhism: The Land of the Disappearing Buddha in the BBC Long Search series (Montagnon 1987).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Amstutz, Galen. Interpreting Amida: History and Orientalism in the Study of Pure Land Buddhism. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1997.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Investigates why Shin Buddhism has been relatively marginalized in the non-Japanese appreciation of Buddhism.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Bloom, Alfred, ed. Living in Amida’s Universal Vow: Essays in Shin Buddhism. Bloomington, IN: World Wisdom, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              An exemplary collection of articles representing a gamut of modern Shin writings: doctrine by the Japanese thinkers Kiyozawa Manshi, Soga Ryōjin, Kaneko Daiei, D. T. Suzuki, and others and by leading English-language interpreters of Shin; discussions of modern political and ethical issues in Shin; and historical and comparative perspectives. An excellent starting place for a representation of the tradition.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Chen, Jidong. “The Other as Reflected in Sino-Japanese Buddhism: Through the Prism of Modernity.” Eastern Buddhist 43.1–2 (2012): 57–79.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Though so far little treated in English, active missionary activity in China by the Japanese Jōdoshinshū school was a significant aspect of the Japanese imperial project in East Asia in the first half of the 20th century. Article investigates the pioneering work of Ogurusu Kōchō (b. 1831–d. 1905), who pursued a unified (but Japan-centric) Asian Buddhism but whose extensive interaction with late-19th-century China revealed enormous differences between the two countries’ traditions.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Dessì, Ugo. Ethics and Society in Contemporary Shin Buddhism. Berlin: LIT, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Takes up how social ethical thought evolved in 20th-century Shin, starting with the doctrinal history, the challenge of issuing explicit ethical recommendations in terms of Shin’s doctrinal system, the success of Shin thinkers in nevertheless undertaking social action against war and social discrimination, and Shin’s uncertain relationship with globalization.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Itsuki, Hiroyuki. Tariki: Embracing Despair, Discovering Peace. Translated by Joseph Robert. Tokyo: Kodansha, 2001.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The discourse of Shin Buddhism retains significant energy in modern Japan despite the tendencies to dormancy in the established Buddhist institutions. This is an example of a popular work on Shin teaching by a celebrity author.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Miyamoto, Yuki. Beyond the Mushroom Cloud: Commemoration, Religion, and Responsibility after Hiroshima. New York: Fordham University Press, 2012.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Observing that religious interpretations of the Hiroshima bombing have been left underexamined, the author examines Buddhism (especially in chapter 3). The notion of agency beyond human control has distinctly shaped the moral response of Pure Land understanding to the atomic event, inasmuch as it focuses not on assignment of blame but on the diffused, co-dependent relations of fallible human beings.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Montagnon, Peter, prod. Buddhism: The Land of the Disappearing Buddha. Video recording. Long Search 9. New York: Ambrose Video, 1987.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Approximately the first half of this production provides a solid look at modern Shin Buddhism, featuring interviews with ordinary members as well as institutional leaders, some exposure to the typical doctrine, and a depiction of the contrast with Zen.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Nelson, John K. “From Battlefield to Atomic Bomb to the Pure Land of Paradise: Employing the Bodhisattva of Compassion to Calm Japan’s Spirits of the Dead.” Journal of Contemporary Religion 17.2 (May 2002): 149–164.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1080/13537900220125154Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          A critical examination of how Pure Land imagery, still pervasive in modern Japan, has ended up enshrined in Nagasaki’s atomic memorial Peace Park as part of state-sponsored “nonreligious” commemoration of the war dead.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Porcu, Elisabetta. Pure Land Buddhism in Modern Japanese Culture. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2008.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1163/ej.9789004164710.i-263Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Survey of the contemporary impact of Shin tradition examining how unbalanced existing images of Japanese Buddhism have been created by Orientalism. Explores expressions of Shin in creative literature, visual arts, and the tea ceremony.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Tanabe, George J., Jr. “Voices for the Dead: Priestly Incantations and Grave Discussions.” In Handbook of Contemporary Japanese Religions. Edited by Inken Prohl and John Nelson, 177–196. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2012.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Argues that amid many rapid contemporary changes in death practices, a deeply rooted popular understanding of the Buddhist funeral (in serious tension with the more sophisticated philosophical teachings of Buddhism) is that such a funeral supports the continuation of a deceased person in a manner that retains a fully personalized identity in the same body (i.e., immune to transmigration). This occurs in the social context of genetically based family lineages and functionally overlaps with notions of the dead as kami (animist spirits).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Tanaka, Kenneth K., and Eisho Nasu, eds. Engaged Pure Land Buddhism: The Challenges of Jōdo Shinshū in the Contemporary World: Studies in Honor of Professor Alfred Bloom. Berkeley, CA: Wisdom Ocean, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A set of fifteen essays, all but two relating specifically to Shin Buddhism. Four of the essays deal with social engagement, but the remainder are on miscellaneous facets. Also a good approach to contemporary writing on Shin.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Unno, Taitetsu. River of Fire, River of Water: An Introduction to the Pure Land Tradition of Shin Buddhism. New York: Doubleday, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A popularizing work combining anecdotes, Buddhist philosophy, and Shin doctrinal language for a general audience in America.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Women

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The topic of women is of special interest because Pure Land doctrinal theory and its accessible practices may, despite many ambiguities, have given women in many cases a somewhat stronger position than other approaches to Buddhism. Harrison 1998 argues that the source texts are inconclusive but may be read as relatively favorable to women. Kleine 1998 and Deal 1999 treat stories of women that appear in literature about Pure Land birth (ōjōden). Ten Grotenhuis 1992 and Glassman 2004 study a female folk heroine who helped bring certain Pure Land teachings to Japan. For the Jōdoshinshū tradition, Starling 2013 provides a multifaceted overview. Dobbins 2004 is a required work dealing with Shinran’s wife Eshinni and her historical and cultural context, Endō 2002 provides a study of husband and wife leadership in early Shin groups, and Amstutz 2010 deals with a spectrum of other premodern questions. Heidegger 2006 is an extensive study of the controversy over women’s rights in the modern Shin organization. Starling 2012 is an in-depth contemporary field study of clerical wives. Leath 2012 takes up Pure Land as part of a North American Womanist critique.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Amstutz, Galen. “Ambivalence Regarding Women and Gender in Premodern Shin Buddhism.” Japanese Religions 35.1–2 (2010): 1–32.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Study emphasizing the difficulty of reaching fixed conclusions about the position of women in the premodern tradition.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Deal, William E. “Women and Japanese Buddhism: Tales of Birth in the Pure Land.” In Religions of Japan in Practice. Edited by George J. Tanabe Jr., 176–184. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Stories about pious women who practiced nembutsu were included in ōjōden literature (biographies of individuals born into the Pure Land). Author provides translations of fourteen such stories.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Dobbins, James C. Letters of the Nun Eshinni: Images of Pure Land Buddhism in Medieval Japan. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The core of this volume is a translation of the letters, but the author extends his analysis to women and sexuality in Buddhism, the medieval character of actual Shin Buddhism, and the problem of Shin modernist interpretation.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Endō, Hajime. “The Original Bōmori: The Husband and Wife Congregations in Early Shin Buddhism.” Translated and edited by James C. Dobbins. In Engendering Faith: Women and Buddhism in Premodern Japan. Edited by Barbara Ruch, 501–535. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Because Shin doctrine neutralized monastic celibacy, it enabled the formation of communities of married members with married couples as leaders. This is a study of early textual evidence about priest’s wives (bōmori), who formed one of the distinctive institutions of Shin Buddhism.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Glassman, Hank. “‘Show Me the Place Where My Mother Is!’ Chūjōhime, Preaching, and Relics in Late Medieval and Early Modern Japan.” In Approaching the Land of Bliss: Religious Praxis in the Cult of Amitābha. Edited by Richard K. Payne and Kenneth K. Tanaka, 139–168. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Study of the Pure Land–related legend, preaching tradition, and cult maintained by nuns with a special focus on adapting Amida belief to women’s salvation.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Harrison, Paul. “Women in the Pure Land: Some Reflections on the Textual Sources.” Journal of Indian Philosophy 26.6 (December 1998): 553–572.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1023/A:1004399528598Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The Pure Land sutras have sometimes been stereotyped as hostile to women, but the actual textual evidence from the different language versions is arguably limited, ambiguous, and inconsistent. The sources can be read as suggesting a long-term trend to soften hard-line anti-female stances in Buddhism as historical movement developed away from the renunciant model for Buddhist practice.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Heidegger, Simone. Buddhismus, Geschlechterverhältnis und Diskriminierung: Die gegenwärtige Diskussion im Shin-Buddhismus Japans. Berlin: LIT, 2006.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Translated as: Buddhism, gender relationship, and discrimination: The contemporary discussion in Shin Buddhism of Japan.” Based on very extensive research, the author’s investigation was motivated by controversies over women’s rights in the modern Shin organizations, but it also delves deeply into the historical and doctrinal background of the position of women. In English, see Simone Heidegger, “Shin Buddhism and Gender: The Discourse on Gender Discrimination and Related Reforms,” in The Social Dimension of Shin Buddhism, edited by Ugo Dessi (Boston: Brill, 2010), pp. 165–208.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Kleine, Christoph. “Portraits of Pious Women in East Asian Buddhist Hagiography: A Study of Accounts of Women Who Attained Birth in Amida’s Pure Land.” Bulletin de l’École Francaise d’Extrême-Orient 85 (1998): 325–361.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.3406/befeo.1998.3836Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Emphasizing hagiographies as formally patterned but nonsectarian discourse, the author notes that, despite certain inherent assumptions about the social and bodily inferiority of women, there existed an exceptional emphasis on women’s participation in Buddhism in ōjōden (Pure Land birth) and (especially in Japan) a lack of distinction between women and men in terms of spiritual capacity.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Leath, Jennifer Susanne. “Canada and Pure Land, a New Field and Buddha-Land: Womanists and Buddhists Reading Together.” Buddhist-Christian Studies 32 (2012): 57–65.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1353/bcs.2012.0017Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Highly unusual article draws Pure Land teaching into the purview of Womanism (anti-oppressionist social and religious thought based especially on African-American female experience), especially in order to disrupt Christian hegemony in the discourse.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Starling, Jessica. “A Family of Clerics: Temple Wives, Tradition and Change in Contemporary Jōdō Shinshū Temples.” PhD diss., University of Virginia, 2012.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Weaving together extensive historical, doctrinal, and ethnographic sources, this study is based on more than two years of contemporary fieldwork among Shin temple wives and accents their complex centrality in local temple life.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Starling, Jessica. “Women’s Religious Affiliation in the Jōdoshinshū.” Religion Compass 7.8 (August 2013): 273–283.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1111/rec3.12053Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A brief but comprehensive overview of a complex topic with many ambiguities. In this Japanese tradition, clerical wives were religious professionals who were also mothers; meanwhile, regular female temple members were active in creating premodern all-female confraternities and modern women’s associations.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • ten Grotenhuis, Elizabeth. “Chūjōhime: The Weaving of Her Legend.” In Flowing Traces: Buddhism in the Literary and Visual Arts of Japan. Edited by James H. Sanford, William R. LaFleur, and Masatoshi Nagatomi, 180–200. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The Chūjōhime story involves an 8th-century nobleman’s daughter who legendarily inspired the weaving of the famous Taima mandala tapestry depicting the Pure Land. Afterward she herself became a folk heroine who reappeared as a character in Japanese artworks over many centuries. A major expression of the pervasiveness and linkage to women of Pure Land imagination in premodern Japan.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Pure Land in Broader Religious Studies or Philosophical Perspectives

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Because of the surface conceptual structure of the Pure Land mythos and certain intellectual leanings of Western and Western-influenced Japanese religious and philosophical studies, Pure Land (like Chan/Zen) has been frequently compared and recontextualized, both positively and negatively, in relation to other traditions of thought.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Miscellaneous Comparative and Religious Studies

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          On the side of positive encouragement for multiperspectival approaches, Carus 1906 gives an early English presentation of Amitābha, the Buddha of the Pure Land, as ultimate Buddhist principle. Corless 1998 wants to justify Pure Land by conflating both myth and fact in the perception of Amitābha. Written by the sympathetic Buddhologist Eckel 2003 suggests that modern Jōdōshinshū thought should return to ancient India for theological inspiration. Inada 1998 describes links between Pure Land Buddhism and process theology, while Inukai 2012 and Kaag 2012 put Pure Land into conversation with William James. Ishida 1990 relates Pure Land and the philosophical Taoism of Chuang-tzu. On the side of skepticism, however, Iwohara 2003 defends Pure Land imagination against the domination of scientism, and Tanaka 1992 deals with intellectual tensions over modern interpretations of the Amida figure. Tokunaga 1992 calls into question the analogies between Amitābha and the Christian God proposed by the innovative theologian Gordon Kaufman, and in a similar vein Payne 2009 critiques how Pure Land was handled in the writings of Huston Smith.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Carus, Paul. Amitabha: A Story of Buddhist Theology. Chicago: Open Court, 1906.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This early work of Buddhist fiction in English introduced the term Amitābha as standing for the most general conception of Buddhist truth.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Corless, Roger. “Amida as Fact: A Shin Dharmology of Space-Time.” Pure Land 15 (December 1998): 70–92.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Taking up the radical epistemological position that all knowledge is in effect “myth,” Corless argues that Amida can be construed as far more than a pious sci-fi psychological fiction in a Cartesian-Newtonian universe, but rather as a type of fact.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Eckel, Malcolm David. “Defining a Usable Past: Indian Sources for Shin Buddhist Theology.” Pacific World, 3d ser., 5 (Fall 2003): 55–83.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A scholar of India suggests that resources for a modern Shin Buddhist “theology” might be found by returning to the intellectual resources of ancient Indian Mahayana.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Inada, Kenneth K. “Amida Buddha, Whitehead’s God, and the Temporal Fact.” Pure Land 15 (December 1998): 146–162.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Amida has been the starting place, especially among Japanese scholars, for a line of thought that links Amitābha Buddhism and the tradition of process theology originating with Alfred Whitehead.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Inukai, Yumiko. “Hōnen and James on Religious Transformation: Psychological Conditions of Conversion and the Nembutsu.” Philosophy East & West 62.4 (October 2012): 439–462.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1353/pew.2012.0064Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Argues for significant parallels between William James’s psychological definition of “religion” (personal experiences of the divine happening to individual men in solitude) and Hōnen’s nembutsu practice, focusing on events of conversion of the self, especially via self-surrender of the conscious will of the “sick soul.”

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Ishida, Hoyu. “Pure/Religious Experiences in the Chuang-tzu and Buddhism: In Search of the Pure Land.” Pure Land, new series, 7 (December 1990): 26–41.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Argues for linkages between the “philosophical Taoism” of the Chuang-tzu text and certain forms of Buddhism, including Shinran’s interpretation of Pure Land, in terms of detachment, perspectivalism, spontaneity, and transcendence of language fixation.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Iwohara, John. “Reification of the Pure Land: Mythological Truth and Mythological Reality.” Pure Land, new series, 20 (December 2003): 93–107.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Observing that the tendency of scientific modern consciousness is to undercut mythic imagination, the author defends the persisting power of Pure Land imaginative language.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Kaag, John J. “Emptiness, Selflessness, and Transcendence: William James’s Reading of Chinese Buddhism.” Journal of Chinese Philosophy 39.2 (June 2012): 240–259.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-6253.2012.01716.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          James, who also lived in an era of pluralized philosophical perspectives, was aware of both Chan and Pure Land dimensions of Chinese Buddhism and understood their two different emphases. The author argues that James, reflecting his own nondualist ideas of Pure Experience and flux of consciousness, found the two compatible together in a way similar to that of some later “syncretic” Chinese thinkers (e.g., Yanshou), that is, the Pure Land could be reinterpreted along the lines of Chan’s version of Buddhist mind-only philosophical theory, with discipline and meditation prioritized over devotion while also recognizing that at some point self-surrender takes over.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Payne, Richard K. “How Not to Talk about Pure Land Buddhism: A Critique of Huston Smith’s (Mis)Representations.” In Path of No Path. Edited by Richard Payne, 147–172. Berkeley, CA: Institute for Buddhist Studies, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Sharp critique of the way Pure Land Buddhism was handled in the writings of the religious studies popularizer Smith. Smith used a selectively “protestantized” image of Buddhism as normative, appropriated misleading Christianized language, and appealed to 19th-century European meta-narratives about religion in general.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Tanaka, Kenneth K. “Symbolism of Amida and Pure Land in the American Context.” Pure Land 8–9 (December 1992): 64–87.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Discussion of multiple interpretations of Amida, especially in the American context, where tensions among literal, mythic, rational, and symbolic views are felt differently from those in the traditional Japanese setting.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Tokunaga, Michio. “Amida as an ‘Ultimate Point of Reference.’” Pure Land 8–9 (December 1992): 88–106.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Concerns theologian Gordon Kaufman’s Christological reworking of Christian theology and its relationship with Shin Buddhist theory; author questions whether Kaufman’s thought is nondual or “empty” in the way that Buddhism is.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Comparisons with Mainstream Christianity

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The notable problems with assuming any generalizable meaning of “religion” or “faith” in relation to Pure Land Buddhism have not deterred development of a whole genre of literature of specifically Christian comparison (and especially with Shin Buddhism). Nakamura 1970, Baker 2005, and Gross and Muck 2003 are good examples. Langer-Kaneko 1986 is a German entry in the discussion. A special issue of the journal Ching Feng assembles multiple perspectives (Lai and Xue 2006). A number of studies have explored relationships between Pure Land and specific persons in Christian tradition: Parratt 2011 and Waldrop 1987 examine Pure Land and Karl Barth; Jäger 2011 elaborates on Paul Tillich and Shin Buddhism; Eilert 2002 examines Karl Ludwig Reichelt; Grumett and Plant 2012 reflect on Henri de Lubac. Shin 2009 shows connections between Pure Land and 16th-century Jesuit visualization practices. Most of such work is positive in tone, but Sousa 2007 skeptically distinguishes the Shin Buddhist term shinjin from “faith” in the case of Kierkegaard.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Baker, Sharon. “The Three Minds and Faith, Hope, and Love in Pure Land Buddhism.” Buddhist-Christian Studies 25 (2005): 49–65.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1353/bcs.2005.0041Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  An illustrative example of comparisons of spiritual and existential concepts between Shin and Christianity.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Eilert, Håkan. “Buddha in Karl Ludwig Reichelt’s Theology.” Svensk missionstidskrift 90.1 (2002): 93–102.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Reichelt was an innovative early-20th-century Norwegian missionary to China who was strongly influenced by Pure Land, regarding it as the highest development of Mahāyāna and a distinctive point of interreligious contact with Christianity.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Gross, Rita M., and Terry C. Muck, eds. Christians Talk about Buddhist Meditation, Buddhists Talk about Christian Prayer. New York: Continuum, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A selection of essays from the journal Buddhist-Christian Studies, several particularly related to Shin Buddhism. For example, “Jesus Prayer and Nembutsu” (Unno) discusses resonances in practice between Shin Buddhism and Eastern Orthodox Christianity, and “On the Practice of Faith: A Lutheran’s Interior Dialogue with Buddhism” (Ingram) offers a Christian reflection on how “faith” is a state in which one finds oneself, not a state intentionally attained, a point that links parts of Christianity with parts of Buddhism.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Grumett, David, and Thomas Plant. “De Lubac, Pure Land Buddhism, and Roman Catholicism.” Journal of Religion 92.1 (January 2012): 58–83.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The French Jesuit thinker Henri de Lubac, who had a special interest in Pure Land Buddhism, recognized early that religious encounter could not be overgeneralized, but rather was a matter of encounters of individuals rooted in denominational peculiarities. In this and an earlier article the author reviews how Jesuit reactions to Pure Land, which began in the 16th century in Japan, shifted from critique to encounter; how de Lubac developed a sophisticated comparative perspective from within his Catholic context, which came to inform his own theology; and how this might form a special channel for Christian-Buddhist dialogue.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Jäger, Stefan S. Glaube und religiöse Rede bei Tillich und im Shin-Buddhismus: Eine religionshermeneutische Studie. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2011.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          A highly elaborated contrast and comparison of the language and thought of Paul Tillich in relation to Jōdoshinshū Buddhism.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Lai, Panchiu, and Yu Xue, eds. Special Issue on the Kingdom of God, the Pure Land and the Human World. Ching Feng: A Journal on Christianity and Chinese Religion and Culture, new series, 7.1–2 (2006).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Special volume of this Hong Kong–based periodical includes three articles on Buddhist interpretations of the Pure Land, two on Christian interpretations of the kingdom of God, and six on comparison and dialogue between the two traditions. Excellent example of the wide variety of perspectives and conversations possible under the heading of Pure Land discourse.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Langer-Kaneko, Christiane. Das Reine Land: Zur Begegnung von Amida-Buddhismus und Christentum. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1986.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A German study located in the genre of comparisons between Pure Land (especially Jōdoshinshū) and Christianity.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Nakamura, Hajime. “Pure Land Buddhism and Western Christianity Compared: A Quest for Common Roots of Their Universality.” International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 1.2 (Summer 1970): 77–96.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Example of the type of impressionistic comparativism popular in 20th-century Japan. The author finds commonalities in motifs of compassion/ love, the sense of the pervasiveness of human corruption, and the notion that the salvific comes from the action of some exterior agency (“Other Help”).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Parratt, John. “Barth and Buddhism in the Theology of Katsumi Takizawa.” Scottish Journal of Theology 64.2 (2011): 195–210.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1017/S0036930611000056Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Takizawa (b. 1909–d. 1984) was a Japanese theologian who worked from within Christian discourse but attempted, along the lines of Nishida Kitarō, to achieve a synthesis of Japanese ideas (from Jōdoshinshū and Zen Buddhisms) and Western theology (especially Barth).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Shin, Junhyoung Michael. “The Reception of Evangelicae historiae imagines in Late Ming China: Visualizing Holy Topography in Jesuit Spirituality and Pure Land Buddhism.” Sixteenth Century Journal 40.2 (Summer 2009): 303–333.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Jesuit missionaries in China brought with them a sophisticated tradition of visually oriented Christian contemplation, which (without any Jesuit intentions as such) the Chinese could easily understand and adopt because of similarities to practices of Pure Land visualization that already preexisted there. Richly detailed study with pictorial illustrations included.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Sousa, Domingos de. “Shinjin and Faith: A Comparison of Shinran and Kierkegaard.” Eastern Buddhist 38.1–2 (2007): 180–202.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      As part of a critique of the idea that there is one general phenomenon of religious faith, the author compares (but also fundamentally separates and distinguishes) the idea of “faith” in these two religious thinkers.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Waldrop, Charles T. “Karl Barth and Pure Land Buddhism.” Journal of Ecumenical Studies 24.4 (Fall 1987): 574–597.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Pure Land has been a major, perhaps the major, point of contact between Christian thought and Buddhism for the interests of interreligious dialogue. This article examines Barth’s engagement with Pure Land (particularly the traditions in Japan), argues that Barth’s approach was valuable but narrow, and concludes that a better form of engagement would be a more open and receptive posture that would actively stimulate Christian theologians toward reevaluation and reconstruction of their thought.

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