Buddhism in the Modern World: Adaptations of an Ancient Tradition

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  • Buddhism in the Modern World:

    Adaptations of anAncient Tradition




  • Buddhism in theModern World

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  • Buddhism in the

    Modern World

    Adaptations of an Ancient Tradition

    edited bysteven heine and charles s. prebish


  • 3Oxford New YorkAuckland Bangkok Buenos Aires Cape Town ChennaiDar es Salaam Delhi Hong Kong Istanbul Karachi KolkataKuala Lumpur Madrid Melbourne Mexico City Mumbai NairobiSo Paulo Shanghai Taipei Tokyo Toronto

    Copyright 2003 by Oxford University Press, Inc.

    Published by Oxford University Press, Inc.198 Madison Avenue, New York, New York, 10016


    Oxford is a registered trademark of Oxford University Press

    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced,stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means,electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise,without the prior permission of Oxford University Press.

    Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication DataBuddhism in the modern world : adaptations of an ancient tradition/edited by Steven Heine and Charles S. Prebish.p. cm.Includes bibliographical references and index.ISBN 0-19-514697-2; ISBN 0-19-514698-0 (pbk.)1. BuddhismHistory20th century. I. Heine, Steven, 1950 II.Prebish, Charles S.BQ316 .B83 2003294.3'09'04dc21 2002015649

    9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

    Printed in the United States of Americaon acid-free paper


  • Acknowledgments

    The editors thank their respective institutions, Florida InternationalUniversity and Pennsylvania State University, for research supportto complete this book, as well as Cynthia Read, the editor at OxfordUniversity Press, for her help in shaping the direction of the project.In addition, we thank Wendy Lo for her diligent work in editing themanuscript.

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  • Contributors, ix

    Introduction: Traditions and Transformations in ModernBuddhism, 3

    1. Aniconism Versus Iconism in Thai Buddhism, 9Donald K. Swearer

    2. The Modernization of Sinhalese Buddhism as Reflectedin the Dambulla Cave Temples, 27Nathan Katz

    3. Varying the Vinaya: Creative Responses to Modernity, 45Charles S. Prebish

    4. Master Hongyi Looks Back: A Modern Man Becomes aMonk in Twentieth-Century China, 75Raoul Birnbaum

    5. Transitions in the Practice and Defense of ChinesePure Land Buddhism, 125Charles B. Jones

    6. Won Buddhism: The Historical Context of SotaesansReformation of Buddhism for the Modern World, 143Bongkil Chung

    7. Abbreviation or Aberration: The Role of the Shushgi in ModernSt Zen Buddhism, 169Steven Heine


  • viii contents

    8. By Imperial Edict and Shogunal Decree: Politics and the Issueof the Ordination Platform in Modern Lay Nichiren Buddhism, 193Jacqueline I. Stone

    9. The Making of the Western Lama, 221Daniel Cozort

    10. Liberate the Mahabodhi Temple! Socially Engaged Buddhism,Dalit-Style, 249Tara N. Doyle

    Index, 281

  • Contributors

    RAOUL BIRNBAUM is a professor of Buddhist studies at theUniversity of California, Santa Cruz, where he teaches in the Anthro-pology and Art History departments. He is the author of The HealingBuddha (1989), Studies on the Mysteries of Maju2ri, and Body ofPractice in Buddhist China, and numerous articles on Buddhistworlds of practice in China.

    BONGKIL CHUNG is professor of philosophy at Florida Interna-tional University. His major area of research is East Asian MahayanaBuddhist philosophy and Won Buddhist philosophy. Chungspublications include An Introduction to Won Buddhism (1993), TheDharma Words of Master Chongsan (2000), The Scriptures of WonBuddhism with an Introduction (2002), and numerous articles onWon Buddhism in international scholarly journals.

    DAN COZORT is an associate professor of religion at DickinsonCollege in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where he teaches about thereligions of India and Native America. He is the author of severalpublications, including Highest Yoga Tantra (1994), Sand Mandala ofVajrabhairava (1996), and Unique Tenets of the Middle Way Conse-quence School (1998), as well as numerous articles and contributionsto other books.

    TARA DOYLE is a lecturer in religious studies at Emory Universityand the director of Emorys Tibetan Studies Program in Dharamshala,India. Her research has focused on contested South Asian religious

  • x contributors

    sites, ex-untouchable Buddhist converts, and Asian contemplative traditions.Doyle was the founding co-director of the Antioch Buddhist Studies Programin Bodh Gaya. She is also the author of Journeys to the Diamond Throne.

    STEVEN HEINE is professor of religious studies and history and director of theInstitute for Asian Studies at Florida International University. His specialty isthe history of Chan and Zen Buddhism in China and Japan. Heines publica-tions include Dgen and the Kan Tradition (1994), Japan in Traditional andPostmodern Perspectives (1995), The Zen Poetry of Dgen (1997), Shifting Shape,Shaping Text (1999), The Kan (2001), and Opening a Mountain (2002). He isalso editor of the Japan Studies Review.

    CHARLES B. JONES is associate professor in the Department of Religion andReligious Education at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.He has published Buddhism in Taiwan: Religion and the State, 16601990 (1999),as well as numerous articles and reviews.

    NATHAN KATZ is professor and chair of religious studies at Florida Interna-tional University. Among Katzs twelve books are Buddhist Images of HumanPerfection (1989), Conflict in Buddhist Societies: Thailand, Burma, and Sri Lanka(1988), and The Last Jews of Cochin: Jewish Identity in Hindu India (1993).

    CHARLES S. PREBISH is professor of religious studies at Pennsylvania StateUniversity. He is the author or editor of eleven books and more than fifty articlesand chapters, including American Buddhism (1979), A Survey of Vinaya Literature(1996), The Faces of Buddhism in America (1998), Luminous Passage: The Practiceand Study of Buddhism in America (1999), The A to Z of Buddhism (2001), andWestward Dharma: Buddhism Beyond Asia (2002). He is also a founding co-editorof the online Journal of Buddhist Ethics and the Journal of Global Buddhism.

    JACQUELINE I. STONE is professor of religion at Princeton University. Herfield of specialization is in Japanese Buddhism. She is the author of the award-winning Original Enlightenment and the Transformation of Medieval Japanese Bud-dhism (1999), as well as numerous articles on the Tendai, Nichiren, and PureLand Buddhist traditions.

    DONALD K. SWEARER is the Charles and Harriet Cox McDowell Professor ofReligion at Swarthmore College, where he teaches courses in Asian and com-parative religions. His research has focused on Theravada Buddhism, especiallyin Thailand. His published monographs include Me and Mine: Selected Essays ofBhikkhu Buddhadasa (1989), For the Sake of the World: The Spirit of Buddhist andChristian Monasticism (1989), Ethics, Wealth, and Salvation: A Study in BuddhistSocial Ethics (1990), The Buddhist World of Southeast Asia (1995), and The Leg-end of Queen Cama (1998).

  • Buddhism in theModern World

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  • 1


    Traditions and Transformations inModern Buddhism

    Aims of the Volume

    Several movies that have gained worldwide popularity in recent yearshave highlighted a sense of diYculty and dismay in accepting theinevitable and sometimes radical challenges and changes thatBuddhist institutions and practitioners have undergone in moderntimes. The 1980s Wlm The Funeral, by the late Itami Juzo, portrays aJapanese Buddhist priest performing traditional mortuary rites, suchas the bestowing of a posthumous Buddhist name, as an activity thatseems hypocritical and corrupt in a modern world characterized byavarice, jealousy, greed, and the breakdown of long-standing familystructures. Similarly, The Cup (1999), by Khyentse Norbu, a Tibetanlama who studied Wlmmaking with famed director BernardoBertolucci, shows a group of young monks who, despite theirmonastic robes and shaved heads, are more eager to watch animportant soccer match on television than to adhere to their stricttraining program that does not allow for secular distraction. Suchimages of Buddhism caught between worldsone seemingly archaicand pure and the other fragmented and contaminated by impurityare frequently reinforced by other ironic media constructions ofBuddhists. These include a variety of postmodern drawings ofBodhidharma shown as a kind of corporate samurai that graced thecovers of Mangajin, a magazine on Japanese culture that was popularin the 1990s, as well as television ads for IBM that show monkssecluded in remote mountains mastering the art of high-techsoftware.

  • 4 buddhism in the modern world

    As with other major world religions, the history of Buddhism has long beencharacterized by an ongoing tension between attempts to preserve traditionalideals and modes of practice and the need to adapt to changing social and cul-tural conditions. In other words, there is a conXict between the seemingly time-less, unchanging values of a pure tradition and the continuing imperative toadjust to and accommodate the forces of change. Many developments in Bud-dhist history, such as the infusion of esoteric rituals, the arising of forms ofdevotionalism and lay movements, and the assimilation of warrior practices,reXect the impact of widespread yet fundamental social and cultural changeson traditional religious structures. However, for better or worse, Buddhismor so it seems in the popular consciousness as people imagine what the reli-gion must be likehas enjoyed the ability to maintain its traditional purity to aremarkable degree. In most Buddhist cultures there has endured some form ofthrowback to the pristine tradition of monks practicing the Vinaya disciplines;studying sutras and other primary texts according to sectarian hermeneuticmethods; performing rites of contemplation, supplication, repentance, or pil-grimage; or engaging in social welfare programs that reXect the ideals of com-passion or right action.

    At the same time, these monastic, textual, ritual, or social traditions havebeen inalterably aVected by continuing encounters with modernization. Theprocess of modernization, generally considered to have begun in the nineteenthcentury as a response to the industrial revolution, encompasses a variety of fac-tors. These include intellectual trends such as scientism and rationalism; changesin lifestyle such as secularization and an increasing dependence on technology;the rise of ideologies that present alternative or rival standpoints to traditionalreligion ranging from Marxism to psychotherapy, as well as the inXux of syn-cretic and new religious movements; and the eVect of ethical crises raised bymedical and environmental concerns.

    In addition to these worldwide factors, there is another set of elements thatseems to be distinctive to the Buddhist experience in Asian society. This set offactors encompasses cultural forces, intellectual trends, societal developments,and political factors. The cultural forces include the inseparability and intertwin-ing of industrialization with Westernization, that is, the identity on many levelsof becoming modernized with the importing of values and modes of behaviorfrom the West. The intellectual trends include Orientalism or a cultural stereo-typing of the East by the West varying between romanticization/idealization andstigmatization/demonization again by the dominant Western forces. Societaldevelopments such as repressive as well as increasingly democratic responsesto age-old problems of gender, racial, and social discrimination continue to alterthe relation of Buddhism and society. An array of often conXicting political fac-tors that aVect Buddhist societies in Asia includes nationalist movements inIndia, as well as the rise of both Japanese imperialism and communism in China,in the aftermath of colonialism in South and Southeast Asia. Furthermore, the

  • introduction 5

    Tibetan exile and the geopolitical splintering of Korea and Vietnam have greatlyaVected the practice of traditional Buddhism. In terms of religion, some of themajor factors of modernization aVecting Buddhist practice include the intro-duction of monotheism and competition from Christianity as the dominantglobal religious structure. Also, the incorporation of Western models for his-torical, scientiWc, literary critical, and related methodological approaches hascompelled a rethinking and revising of the study of traditional sacred texts andrites, including the reediting and reissue of versions of the Buddhist canon.

    This volume explores how a variety of traditional Buddhist schools andmovements have been aVected by encountering the myriad forces of modern-ization, especially those factors unique to the Asian experience. The ten chap-ters contributed by leading scholars deal with whether the encounters engendereither a return to the sources of the tradition or reform tendencies. The returnto sources is evidenced by the cases of iconoclastic, antimaterialistic trends inThai Buddhist debates about iconography or modern adaptations of the Vinaya.Reform tendencies include modiWcations in Tibetan monasticism or St Zentextual studies; or a merging of religion and society as in nationalistic appro-priations of Sri Lankan cave temples, political developments in recent NichirenBuddhist lay movements, or new trends in Korean Buddhist thought. The chap-ters discuss how the respective schools come to deWne themselves on the worldstage in terms of the ways they have been transformed by social forces aVectingthe Asian religious experience. All of the contributors consider how traditionalpractices such as precepts, images, meditation, or scriptures respond to the forcesof modernization including nationalist or postcolonial movements, the impactof Westernization, rival religions and ideologies, and the inXuence of diversecultural trends.

    The term schools is understood here in a Xexible sense that encompassesa stricter meaning of formal sects or denominations, as in the case of St Zenand Nichiren in Japan, which have long been regulated by the government andthreatened by proscription, and Tibetan or Thai Buddhism. The term also cov-ers a more generic sense of schools of thought or practice, including ritual ortextual traditions involving meditative, monastic, devotional, or iconographictraditions that may revolve around an individual leader or a smaller band offollowers. These include the nianfo movement in Taiwan, the role of the mod-ern monk Hongyi in China, or the revitalization of Bodh Gaya. The volume oVersa pan-Buddhist approach by covering all major Buddhist regions of South Asia(India, Sri Lanka), Southeast Asia (Thailand), Central Asia (Tibet), and East Asia(China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea). The contributors cover topics that are designedto be representative case studies of a traditional Buddhist school in the contextof its cultural background; however, the chapters do not attempt to be compre-hensive...


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