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The Specificity of Honen (1133-1212)
Author Machida, Soho
PublisherUniversity of Pennsylvania
Publisher Url
LocationPhiladelphia, PA, US [費城, 賓夕法尼亞州, 美國]
Content type博碩士論文=Thesis and Dissertation
InstitutionUniversity of Pennsylvania
DepartmentAsian and Middle Eastern Studies
AdvisorLaFleur, William R.
Publication year1992
KeywordJapanese Buddhism
AbstractDuring the transition from the Heian period to the Kamakura period of Japan, Honen advocated a Pure Land Buddhist practice termed senju-nembutsu (: the sole practice of the nembutsu). While western scholars have focused considerable attention on most of the major figures of Kamakura Buddhism including Shinran, Dogen, Nichiren and Ippen, as of yet, there has been little work done on Honen in the west. To begin to correct this deficit, this dissertation investigates the specificity of Honen. An historical study of Honen is handicapped both by the scarcity of his hand-written materials and by the prevailing hagiological intent of his biographers. Critical examination of authenticated materials and contemporaneous documents discloses numerous contradictions and inconsistencies in Honen's activity, which exhibits both conservative and radical elements. Although Honen placed doctrinal emphasis upon nonconditionality and all-inclusiveness in his teaching of the senju-nembutsu, these ideas were shared with various of his predecessors. After a detailed examination of his life and religious activity, it must be concluded that Honen's specificity lies not in doctrinal uniqueness, but instead, in his charismatic personality which enabled him to influence a wide variety of people in the particular historical context of early medieval Japan. Honen's charisma is characterized by three elements: mystique, piety and knowledge. Historically, Honen's rise can be attributed to several factors including the stagnation of conventional religion, emerging warriors, peasant's religio-economic demands, the increasing voice of women, and continuity with the preceding Pure Land Buddhist tradition. Although aspects of Honen's teaching were considered heretical resulting in continuous persecution during his lifetime, due to the force of his personality, his influence upon medieval Buddhist tradition is considerable. However, along with other Kamakura Buddhist leaders, his particularism in selecting a single practice and doctrine, later became one of the factors influencing the development of sectarianism in Japanese religion.
Created date2000.01.29
Modified date2016.04.11

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