Pure Land was one of the main fields of mythopoesis and discourse among the Asian Buddhist traditions, and in Japan of central cultural importance from the Heian period right up to the present. However, its range, inconsistency, variability, and complexity have tended to be misevaluated. The pieces reproduced in this set, organized both chronologically and thematically, have been chosen as linchpin works accentuating the diversity of what evolved under this heading of Buddhism. Special attention is given to the traps into which Western observers may fall, the role of the large True Pure Land (
Jōdoshinshū) school, and the richness of Tokugawa and twentieth-century developments. These selections of previously published articles will serve as an essential starting-point for anyone interested in this perhaps underestimated area of Buddhist studies.
Galen D. Amstutz (Ph.D. Religion and East Asian Studies 1992, Princeton University) has served in a variety of roles including librarian, ESL teacher, Buddhist minister, college professor in the United States, Germany and Japan, translator, journal editor, and administrator at Harvard University’s Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies. He is currently an adjunct instructor at the Institute of Buddhist Studies (affiliate of Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California) and publishes on Pure Land Buddhism, starting with
Interpreting Amida (1997).
Students and scholars interested in the fields of Religious studies (general), Buddhist studies and Japanese studies.