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Galen Amstutz

Abstract

Pure Land Buddhism achieved its primary influence in East Asia because it supplied a nonmonastic, autonomous source of religious authority and practice to middle elites in those cultural regions. In contrast Pure Land failed to achieve any success in India. The explanation for the marginalization of Indian Pure Land is probably sociopolitical: Pure Land teachings tended to bypass not only the authority of the Hindu brahmins, but even the authority of Buddhist renunciate orders. Indian social history did not produce any significant middle elites concerned with such non-gurucentric religious authority. As a result, Buddhist India did not produce any innovations in the upâya of religious institutionalization in Buddhism.

Global Communication versus Ethno-Chauvinism

Framing Nikkei Pure Land Buddhism in North America

Galen Amstutz

Globalization intensifies the range, intensity, and diversity of interactions among world societies, but along with phenomena of hybridization, glocalization, or creolization it is just as likely to produce counter-reactive phenomena of resistance or conservative radicalization. In the case of the major Japanese Buddhist tradition of Shin Buddhism, the interactive possibilities that could have been theoretically imagined for its modern encounter with North American society were overwhelmed by the ethno-chauvinism which became embedded in the nikkei population particularly in the context of early twentieth-century competition between the Japanese and American empires. The chauvinism took form, in Shin Buddhism as in certain other domains of nikkei life, as a pervasive, persistent pressure for an “equal but separate” structuring of nikkei relations with White society. The analysis suggests that in at least some instances—although North America is a quite major instance—issues of race consciousness and racial formation need to be given more attention in globalization studies.

Galen Amstutz

Abstract

The recent emphasis on materiality in religion has encouraged a good deal of attention to materiality in Buddhism, but that attention has fallen entirely on Buddhist traditions with conventional monastic orientations. Yet the major Japanese Buddhist school known as True Pure Land Buddhism (Jōdo Shinshū) has also historically possessed a highly important, if different, material dimension, for which one touchpoint has been its merchant members called Ōmi shōnin who flourished in later premodern Japanese history. After alluding to the difficulty of isolating the ‘material’ in any religious culture, the article sketches the transition in Christian materialities in Europe which marked a cognitive shift from medieval modes of thinking (exteriorized, animistic-monistic, oriented to relics and ancestor religion) towards modern modes (interiorized, oriented to abstraction and the psychological individual). Against that paradigm, almost all premodern Buddhist materialities, including those in Japan, can be seen as medieval in nature. However, Jōdo Shinshū was a departure employing an innovatively interiorized doctrine. From that perspective, both Europe and Japan were highly complex civilizations displaying a long-term medieval-to-modern shift, which impacted the material manifestations of religions by gradually replacing older economies of ritual exchange with more modern-looking economies of preaching, religious publication and commercial life. Western scholarship has resisted appreciating these issues in an Asian setting.

Series:

Edited by Galen Amstutz

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.

Edited by Galen Amstutz

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.

Edited by Galen Amstutz

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.

Edited by Galen Amstutz

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.

Introduction

Approaching Japanese Religions under Globalization

Galen Amstutz and Ugo Dessì

Research on religion and globalization is revealing that religious responses to global dynamics have been highly varied, positioned across a broad spectrum that ranges from the defensive to the open and creative. However, attempts to engage this area of studies in the case of Japanese religions have been unexpectedly few and fragmentary; the use of full-scale globalization theory remains underdeveloped. Sometimes an underlying conceptual obstacle is that the dominating perspective is reduced to the dimension of worldwide institutional expansion, which prevents a full engagement with the much more complex dynamics. In other cases, there may simply be resistance to the application of contemporary globalization theories to concrete case studies in religion. Possibly also some features peculiar to Japanese history have delayed the application of globalization perspectives to its religious worlds. Based on these premises the articles by Inoue Nobutaka, Ugo Dessì, Galen Amstutz, Victoria Rose Montrose, Girardo Rodriguez Plasencia, Regina Yoshie Matsue, and Rafael Shoji and Frank Usarski collected in this special issue address several examples and themes in this diversified, complex world as part of the ongoing work of addressing our existing gaps in awareness.