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In: International Journal of Islam in Asia
Author: Claudia Seise

Abstract

In the following article, I aim to provide an insight into the Islamic understanding of death as perceived by a typical Indonesian Muslim family in South Sumatra. The discussion on what it means to die a good death is used as a central theme to introduce the Islamic rituals and practices surrounding death. I pay special attention to the signs observed by the members of the family while accompanying the dying person and examine how these are grounded in the particular religioscape of South Sumatra. The article is written at the crossroad of area studies and Islamic theology.

Open Access
In: International Journal of Islam in Asia

Abstract

This article contributes to the discussion on reactions and responses to the coronavirus pandemic in Japan, with specific reference to the field of “new spirituality” and, within this broad category, of shamanic spirituality. The case of the dance therapist, or “dance movement shaman,” Ms. Hiroda demonstrates how she managed to keep in contact with her practitioners and to design new ways to help them cope with the situation. The solution she offers, in line with the characteristics of shamanic spirituality, is to help each individual to acknowledge the importance of interconnectedness. In particular, Ms. Hiroda emphasizes body, community, and nature: to become aware of one’s own body again and of the necessity of connection with others and nature, especially in times of interpersonal distancing and crisis. Her response to the first wave of COVID-19 is thus to offer a strategy to live peacefully with—and despite—the virus.

Free access
In: Journal of Religion in Japan
Authors: Chengpang Lee and Ling Han

Abstract

Buddhism is often said to be an environment-friendly religion, but this thesis is rarely investigated. In this paper, we employ a mixed-method approach to examine this thesis in the case of Taiwan. We use data from the Taiwan Social Change Survey (tscs) and apply qualitative content analysis to examine practices among major Taiwanese Buddhist organizations. The findings suggest: (1) Buddhists in Taiwan engage significantly more in environment-friendly behavior than other religious members, and (2) members of different Buddhist organizations display similar levels of engagement in environment-related behavior. However, (3) Buddhist organizations engage very differently in environment-related activities. (4) Buddhist organizations engage more in nonpolitical environmental activities than they do in politically sensitive ones, and (5) among the four major Buddhist organizations, female-led Buddhist organizations show a higher level of environment-related practices than male-led organizations.

In: Review of Religion and Chinese Society
Author: Calida Chu

Abstract

Multiple religious belonging refers to the idea that individuals can belong to more than one religious tradition. This article aims to explore the concept of multiple religious belonging in modern China, focusing on its pattern as well as the social functionality that gives rise to such a pattern. The methodology is developed using structural functionalism as formulated by, in particular, Emile Durkheim, who investigated how different institutions, practices, and customs come to exist because of their contribution to the reproduction and integration of society. This article studies the social functions of multiple religious belonging in three social units, from small to large: family, community, and the state. It explains how multiple religious belonging functions in modern China and thus consolidates each member’s identity within the social units.

In: Review of Religion and Chinese Society
Author: Paride Stortini

Abstract

Recent research on the intellectual history of modern Japan has shown how Buddhism provides a variety of ideas that inspire both conservative and progressive views of society. The aim of this paper is to consider how similar ambiguities and multiplicities can be found in the appropriation of Japanese Buddhism in Italy. In particular, it focuses on two cases: Traditionalist philosopher Julius Evola’s (1898–1974) interest in Zen, and debates in Italian media related to Sōka Gakkai. Building on an anti-democratic reading of Buddhism as the religion of the Aryan Übermensch, Evola found in the modernist Zen of D.T. Suzuki and Nukariya Kaiten tools to resist modernity. Sōka Gakkai’s particular success in Italy, especially in left-wing and progressive contexts, has spurred a mix of praise and criticism in the media; indeed, the analysis of debates around this success has become a way to discuss socio-economic and political issues in the country.

In: Journal of Religion in Japan

Abstract

This paper examines the speeches that D.T. Suzuki presented at the World Congress of Faiths in London in 1936 and analyzes his interactions with Buddhists, sympathizers, and critics in the West during the interwar period. It will uncover how various reactions and historical contexts constructed Suzuki’s discourses, which prepared Suzuki for popularizing Zen in postwar Western countries. Compared to his early years and post-1949 lectures in the United States, as well as his English publications on Mahayana Buddhism, his half-year journey through Europe in 1936 is understudied. With limited access to primary sources in Japanese and English, previous studies tended to label him a “nationalist.” Instead, I analyze Suzuki’s discourses and other newly discovered primary sources from a historical perspective. Through this analysis, this paper will clarify Suzuki’s scheme to present Mahayana Buddhism, particularly Zen, to Westerners during the interwar period.

Open Access
In: Journal of Religion in Japan

Abstract

The EKŌ temple in Düsseldorf was built thanks to the initiative and financial support of the Japanese entrepreneur Numata Ehan as one part of a German-Japanese cultural center. Following the vision of its founder, the EKŌ temple is dedicated to all schools of Japanese Buddhism, even though its basic layout is that of a Shin Buddhist temple. This article explores Numata’s founding vision, which is based on a modern interpretation of Buddhism, and it also describes the different groups that are involved in the life of the temple today. Significantly, different conceptions of Buddhism and the meaning of a temple coexist at EKŌ. These differences are particularly noticeable between Western and Japanese visitors; furthermore, they hint at the different processes of modernization that Japanese Buddhism in the West and in Japan respectively underwent, both of which continue to influence Buddhism today.

In: Journal of Religion in Japan
Author: Esben Petersen

Abstract

The writings of German missionary Hans Haas (1868–1934) were seminal texts which greatly influenced how many Europeans came to understand Japanese Buddhism. Haas became a significant actor in this early reception of Japanese Buddhism after he began working as an editor for the journal Zeitschrift für Missionskunde und Religionswissenschaft while stationed in Japan from 1898–1909. Haas covered all areas and aspects of Japanese Buddhism, from editing and translating texts such as Sukhavati Buddhism (1910a) into German to cross-religious comparisons of Buddhist songs and legends. This paper seeks to identify various elements which contributed to the development of Japanese Buddhism in Europe, paying special attention to the role of Haas’s work. In particular, it seeks to reconstruct his understanding of Pure Land Buddhism by demonstrating how a Protestant interpretative scheme, particularly that of Lutheran Protestantism, dominated much of the early reception of Japanese Buddhism in Europe.

In: Journal of Religion in Japan

Abstract

This paper will shed light upon the history and current state of Japanese Zen Buddhism in Europe. Japanese Zen has mainly been transmitted in two ways among European countries: via the group founded by Deshimaru Taisen, and through Christian Zen. Deshimaru went to Europe and taught Zen. His teaching represented Zen as a wholistic, scientific, and peaceful Eastern religion. Though his group initially expanded greatly, it split into several subgroups following Deshimaru’s death. On the other hand, Sanbō Kyōdan promoted ecumenical integration between Christianity and Zen. The longstanding interest in Zen among Christians can be seen in the contemporary “spiritual exchange of the East-West.” Concerning the current state of Zen in Europe, data show that there are more than 270 Zen centers in Europe, located in 24 countries. An analysis of the contemporary situation thus demonstrates that European Zen is mobile, has various forms, and has influenced Japanese institutions.

In: Journal of Religion in Japan