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Representations of Zen: An Institutional and Social History of Sôtô Zen Buddhism in Edo Japan=Dissertation Abstracts International
Author Williams, Duncan Ryuken (著)
Volumev.61 n.5 Section A
PublisherHarvard University Press
Publisher Url
LocationCambridge, MA, US [劍橋, 麻薩諸塞州, 美國]
Content type博碩士論文=Thesis and Dissertation
InstitutionHarvard University
AdvisorHardacre, Helen
Publication year2000
KeywordSocial history; Zen Buddhism; Edo; Japan; Soto Zen Buddhism
AbstractThe Japanese Sôtô Zen tradition was founded during the Kamakura period by Dôgen Kigen (1200–1253) who emphasized the practice of Zen meditation and the observance of strict monastic codes as the path of enlightenment. The sect attracted enough support so that by the early sixteenth century, several thousand affiliated temples existed, concentrated in several regions. However, by 1745, a registry commissioned by the Edo government listed 17,548 Sôtô Zen temples found throughout every province in Japan, which made it the single largest school of Buddhism. This dissertation examines the factors involved in this exponential growth of the sect during the late medieval and Edo periods.

Drawing on new sources such as villagers' diaries, temple logbooks, funeral manuals, and roadside stone inscriptions, this dissertation argues that the success of Sôtô Zen was neither due to Zen meditation (which was practiced at fewer than one percent of all temples) nor the teachings of Dôgen (whose writings were rarely read by ordinary priests), but rather due to the social and institutional developments of the sect. The formation of Sôtô Zen as a unified institution was based on the combination of three factors: (1) tangible benefits offered by temples for this-world (such as healing, rain-making, or fire protection), (2) the “funerary Zen” rites that offered salvation in the next world through funerals and memorial services, and (3) the system of temple registration ordered by the Edo bakufu, which led to stable parish membership for the temples. Although Sôtô Zen priests managed to combine all three factors in a particularly effective way, such a pattern for growth existed on a transsectarian basis. Thus, the growth of Sôtô Zen is examined in this dissertation with attention to both the sect-specific dimensions of its appeal to the laity and to the sect's participation in the broader religious landscape of Edo-period Japan.
ISBN0599778148; 9780599778146
Created date2005.09.23
Modified date2023.02.10

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