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Buddhism: Mahayana: China, Mongolia, Taiwan

Last Updated: Sep 2, 2020 10:47 AM

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Mahāyāna Buddhism: China, Mongolia, Taiwan

Knot logo: Source: Wikimedia Commons | Author: Dontpanic | License: Public domain.
On this page you can find the best resources for exploring scholarly perspectives on Mahāyāna Buddhism in China, Mongolia, and Taiwan. Each book listed below is linked to WorldCat, where you can discover library holdings for that item in your region. Resources within the gallery box are arranged from the newest to the oldest publications, left to right. The area below the gallery highlights a few recent or especially notable works selected from the gallery above.

Thousand Hands Guanyin

Above: In Dazu District, Chongqing, China, a stone carving covered in gold leaf depicts Guanyin, a Bodhisattva important to many Central and East Asian Buddhist traditions and viewed as the embodiment of the Buddha's compassion for all human beings. The recently restored image has fully 1,000 carved hands, representing the limitlessness of Guanyin's compassion and her capacity to acknowledge and aid each individual person who calls upon her.
 
Image source: Unsplash. Image author: Aaron Greenwood. Image license: Unsplash license.
 

China: General Works

This is the first book in any Western language to provide a comprehensive overview of Chinese Pure Land Buddhism. Even though Pure Land Buddhism was born in China and currently constitutes the dominant form of Buddhist practice there, it has previously received very little attention from western scholars. In this book, Charles B. Jones examines the reasons for the lack of scholarly attention and why the few past treatments of the topic missed many of its distinctive features. He argues that the Chinese Pure Land tradition, with its characteristic promise of rebirth in the Pure Land to even non-elite or undeserving practitioners, should not be viewed from the perspective of the Japanese Pure Land tradition, which differs greatly from it. More accurately contextualizing Chinese Pure Land Buddhism within the landscape of Chinese Buddhism and the broader global Buddhist tradition, this work celebrates Chinese Pure Land, not as a school or sect, but as a unique and inherently valuable “tradition of practice.” The volume is organized thematically, clearly presenting topics such as the nature of the Pure Land, the relationship between “self-power” and “other-power,” the practice of nianfo (buddha-recollection), and the formation of the line of “patriarchs” that keep the tradition grounded. It guides us in understanding the vigorous debates that Chinese Pure Land Buddhism evoked and delves into the rich apologetic literature that it produced in its own defense. Drawing upon a wealth of previously unexamined primary source materials, as well as modern texts by contemporary Chinese Pure Land masters, the author provides lucid translations of resources previously unavailable in English. The straightforward and nontechnical prose makes this book a standby resource for researchers in this lively tradition.

Ritzinger Anarchy cover artAnarchy in the Pure Land: Reinventing the Cult of Maitreya in Modern Chinese Buddhism by Justin Ritzinger. New York: Oxford University Press, 2017.

This book investigates the twentieth-century reinvention of the cult of Maitreya, the future Buddha, conceived by the reformer Taixu and promoted by the Chinese Buddhist reform movement. The cult presents an apparent anomaly: It shows precisely the kind of concern for ritual, supernatural beings, and the afterlife that the reformers supposedly rejected in the name of "modernity." This book shows that, rather than a concession to tradition, the reimagining of ideas and practices associated with Maitreya was an important site for formulating a Buddhist vision of modernity. Ritzinger argues that the cult of Maitreya represents an attempt to articulate a new constellation of values, integrating novel understandings of the good, clustered around modern visions of utopia, with the central Buddhist goal of Buddhahood.

Wu Chia Spreading cover artSpreading Buddha's Word in East Asia: The Formation and Transformation of the Chinese Buddhist Canon, edited by Jiang Wu & Lucille Chia. New York: Columbia University Press, 2015.

A monumental work in the history of religion, the history of the book, the study of politics, and bibliographical research, this volume follows the making of the Chinese Buddhist canon from the fourth century to the digital era. Approaching the subject from a historical perspective, it ties the religious, social, and textual practices of canon formation to the development of East Asian Buddhist culture and enlivens Chinese Buddhist texts for readers interested in the evolution of Chinese writing and the Confucian and Daoist traditions. The collection undertakes extensive readings of major scriptural catalogs from the early manuscript era as well as major printed editions, including the Kaibao Canon, Qisha Canon, Goryeo Canon, and Taisho Canon. Contributors add fascinating depth to such understudied issues as the historical process of compilation, textual manipulation, physical production and management, sponsorship, the dissemination of various editions, cultic activities surrounding the canon, and the canon's reception in different East Asian societies. The Chinese Buddhist canon is one of the most enduring textual traditions in East Asian religion and culture, and through this exhaustive, multifaceted effort, an essential body of work becomes part of a new, versatile narrative of East Asian Buddhism that has far-reaching implications for world history.

Kapstein Between cover artBuddhism Between Tibet and China, edited by Matthew Kapstein. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2009.

Exploring the long history of cultural exchange between 'the Roof of the World' and 'the Middle Kingdom,' this work features a collection of noteworthy essays that probe the nature of their relationship, spanning from the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907 CE) to the present day. Annotated and contextualized by noted scholar Matthew Kapstein and others, the historical accounts that comprise this volume display the rich dialogue between Tibet and China in the areas of scholarship, the fine arts, politics, philosophy, and religion. This thoughtful book provides insight into the surprisingly complex history behind the relationship from a variety of geographical regions.

Early & Medieval China

Chinese Esoteric Buddhism is generally held to have been established as a distinct and institutionalized Buddhist school in eighth-century China by “the Three Great Masters of Kaiyuan”: Śubhākarasiṃha, Vajrabodhi, and Amoghavajra. Geoffrey C. Goble provides an innovative account of the tradition’s emergence that sheds new light on the structures and traditions that shaped its institutionalization. Goble focuses on Amoghavajra (704–774), contending that he was the central figure in Esoteric Buddhism’s rapid rise in Tang dynasty China, and the other two “patriarchs” are known primarily through Amoghavajra’s teachings and writings. He presents the scriptural, mythological, and practical aspects of Chinese Esoteric Buddhism in the eighth century and places them in the historical contexts within which Amoghavajra operated. By telling the story of Amoghavajra’s rise to prominence and of Esoteric Buddhism’s corresponding institutionalization in China, Goble makes the case that the evolution of this tradition was predicated on Indic scriptures and practical norms rather than being the product of conscious adaptation to a Chinese cultural environment. He demonstrates that Esoteric Buddhism was employed by Chinese rulers to defeat military and political rivals.

Makeham Roots cover artThe Buddhist Roots of Zhu Xi's Philosophical Thought, edited by John Makeham. New York: Oxford University Press, 2018.

Zhu Xi (1130-1200) is the most influential Neo-Confucian philosopher and arguably the most important Chinese philosopher of the past millennium, both in terms of his legacy and for the sophistication of his systematic philosophy. This book combines in a single study two major areas of Chinese philosophy that are rarely tackled together: Chinese Buddhist philosophy and Zhu Xi's Neo-Confucian philosophy. Despite Zhu Xi's importance as a philosopher, the role of Buddhist thought and philosophy in the construction of his systematic philosophy remains poorly understood. What aspects of Buddhism did he criticize and why? Was his engagement limited to criticism (informed or otherwise) or did Zhu also appropriate and repurpose Buddhist ideas to develop his own thought? If Zhu's philosophical repertoire incorporated conceptual structures and problematics that are marked by a distinct Buddhist pedigree, what implications does this have for our understanding of his philosophical project? The five chapters that make up the work present a rich and complex portrait of the Buddhist roots of Zhu Xi's philosophical thought. The scholarship is meticulous, the analysis is rigorous, and the philosophical insights are fresh. Collectively, the chapters illuminate a greatly expanded range of the intellectual resources Zhu incorporated into his philosophical thought, demonstrating the vital role that models derived from Buddhism played in his philosophical repertoire.

Yiqing and Zhang Hidden Visible cover artHidden and Visible Realms: Early Medieval Chinese Tales of the Supernatural and the Fantastic, edited by Liu Yiqing, translated by Zhenjun Zhang. New York: Columbia University Press, 2018.

Chinese culture of the Six Dynasties period (220–589) saw a blossoming of stories of the fantastic. Zhiguai, "records of the strange" or "accounts of anomalies," tell of encounters with otherness, in which inexplicable and uncanny phenomena interrupt mundane human affairs. They depict deities, ghosts, and monsters; heaven, the underworld, and the immortal lands; omens, metamorphoses, and trafficking between humans and supernatural beings; and legendary figures, strange creatures, and natural wonders in the human world. Hidden and Visible Realms, traditionally attributed to Liu Yiqing, is one of the most significant zhiguai collections, distinguished by its varied contents, elegant writing style, and fascinating stories. It is also among the earliest collections heavily influenced by Buddhist beliefs, values, and concerns. Beyond the traditional zhiguai narratives, it includes tales of karmic retribution, reincarnation, and Buddhist ghosts, hell, and magic. In this annotated first complete English translation, Zhenjun Zhang gives English-speaking readers a sense of the wealth and wonder of the zhiguai canon. This text opens a window into the lives, customs, and religious beliefs and practices of early medieval China and the cultural history of Chinese Buddhism.

Rothschild Emperor Wu Zhao cover artEmperor Wu Zhao and Her Pantheon of Devis, Divinities, and Dynastic Mothers by Norman H. Rothschild. New York: Columbia University Press, 2015.

Wu Zhao (624–705), better known as Wu Zetian or Empress Wu, is the only woman to have ruled China as emperor over the course of its 5,000-year history. How did she―in a predominantly patriarchal and androcentric society―ascend the dragon throne? Exploring a mystery that has confounded scholars for centuries, this multifaceted history suggests that China's rich pantheon of female divinities and eminent women played an integral part in the construction of Wu Zhao's sovereignty. Wu Zhao deftly deployed language, symbol, and ideology to harness the cultural resonance, maternal force, divine energy, and historical weight of Buddhist devis, Confucian exemplars, Daoist immortals, and mythic goddesses, establishing legitimacy within and beyond the confines of Confucian ideology. Tapping into powerful subterranean reservoirs of female power, Wu Zhao built a pantheon of female divinities carefully calibrated to meet her needs at court. Her pageant was promoted in scripted rhetoric, reinforced through poetry, celebrated in theatrical productions, and inscribed on steles. Rendered with deft political acumen and aesthetic flair, these affiliations significantly enhanced Wu Zhao's authority and cast her as the human vessel through which the pantheon's divine energy flowed. Her strategy is a model of political brilliance and proof that medieval Chinese women enjoyed a more complex social status than previously known.

Modern China

With well over 100 million adherents, Buddhism emerged from near-annihilation during the Cultural Revolution to become the largest religion in China today. Despite this, Buddhism’s rise has received relatively little scholarly attention. The present volume, with contributions by leading scholars in sociology, anthropology, political science, and religious studies, explores the evolution of Chinese Buddhism in the post-Mao period with a depth not seen before in a single study. Chapters critically analyze the effects of state policies on the evolution of Buddhist institutions; the challenge of rebuilding temples under the watchful eye of the state; efforts to rebuild monastic lineages and schools left broken in the aftermath of Mao’s rule; and the development of new lay Buddhist spaces, both at temple sites and online. Through its multidisciplinary perspectives, the book provides both an extensive overview of the social and political conditions under which Buddhism has grown as well as discussions of the individual projects of both monastic and lay entrepreneurs.

Borchert Educating cover artEducating Monks: Minority Buddhism on China's Southwest Border by Thomas A. Borchert. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2017.

Most studies of Buddhist communities tend to be limited to villages, individual temple communities, or a single national community. Buddhist monastics, however, cross a number of these different framings: they are part of local communities, are governed through national legal frameworks, and participate in both national and transnational Buddhist networks. This book makes visible the ways Buddhist communities are shaped by all of the above—collectively and often simultaneously. The work examines a minority Buddhist community in Sipsongpannā, a region located on China’s southwest border with Myanmar and Laos. Since the return of Buddhism to the area in the years following Mao’s death, the villagers have put many of their resources into providing monastic education for their sons. While the monks draw on these various resources for the development of the sangha, they must continually engage in a careful political dance between villagers who want to revive traditional forms of Buddhism, a Chinese state that is at best indifferent to the continuation of Buddhism, and transnational monks that want to import their own modern forms of Buddhism into the region.

Kiely and Jessup cover artRecovering Buddhism in Modern China, edited by Jan Kiely & J. Brooks Jessup. New York: Columbia University Press, 2016.

Modern Chinese history told from a Buddhist perspective restores the vibrant, creative role of religion in postimperial China. It shows how urban Buddhist elites jockeyed for cultural dominance in the early Republican era, how Buddhist intellectuals reckoned with science, and how Buddhist media contributed to modern print cultures. It recognizes the political importance of sacred Buddhist relics and the complex processes through which Buddhists both participated in and experienced religious suppression under Communist rule. Today, urban and rural communities alike engage with Buddhist practices to renegotiate class, gender, and kinship relations in post-Mao China. This volume vividly portrays these events and more, recasting Buddhism as a critical factor in China's twentieth-century development. Each chapter connects a moment in Buddhist history to a significant theme in Chinese history, creating new narratives of Buddhism's involvement in the emergence of urban modernity, the practice of international diplomacy, the mobilization for total war, and other transformations of state, society, and culture. Working across an extraordinary thematic range, this book reincorporates Buddhism into the formative processes and distinctive character of Chinese history.

Carter Heart of Buddha cover artHeart of Buddha, Heart of China: The Life of Tanxu, a Twentieth Century Monk by James Carter. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.

The Buddhist monk Tanxu surmounted extraordinary obstacles - poverty, wars, famine, and foreign occupation - to become one of the most prominent monks in China, founding numerous temples and schools and attracting crowds of students and disciples wherever he went. Heart of Buddha, Heart of China traces Tanxu's journey from his birth in 1875 to his death in 1963. Through Tanxu's life we come to know one of the most turbulent periods in Chinese history as it moved from empire to republic. James Carter draws on archives and interviews to provide a book that is part travelogue, part history, and part biography.

Calligraphy of Biographies of Lian Po and Lin Xiangru

Above: Chinese poet, calligrapher, and Chan (Zen) Buddhist adept, Huang Tingjian believed that calligraphy should be spontaneous and self-expressive—"a picture of the mind." Containing nearly twelve hundred characters, this handscroll is a master­piece of cursive-script writing. It transcribes an account of a rivalry between two officials: Lian Po, a distinguished general; and Lin Xiangru, a skilled strategist. Huang’s transcription ends abruptly with Lin’s words: “When two tigers fight, one must perish. I behave as I do because I put our country’s fate before private feuds.” Read in the context of Song political infighting, Huang’s transcription becomes a powerful indictment of the partisanship that led to his own banishment in 1094.
 
Text & image source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Image author: Huang Tingjian (Chinese, 1045–1105). Image license: Public domain.
 

Chinese Buddhist Thought

This second edition of the Lai's work presents a comprehensive introduction to key ideas and arguments in early Chinese philosophy. Written in clear, accessible language, it explores philosophical traditions including Confucianism, Daoism, Mohism, Legalism and Chinese Buddhism, and how they have shaped Chinese thought. Drawing on the key classical texts as well as up-to-date scholarship, the discussions range across ethics, metaphysics and epistemology, while also bringing out distinctive elements in Chinese philosophy that fall between the gaps in these disciplinary divisions, hence challenging some prevailing assumptions of Western philosophy. Topics include human nature, selfhood and agency; emotions and behaviour; the place of language in the world; knowledge and action; and social and political responsibility. This second edition incorporates new ideas and approaches from some recently excavated texts that change the landscape of Chinese intellectual history.

Ziporyn Emptiness cover artEmptiness and Omnipresence: An Essential Introduction to Tiantai Buddhism by Brook Ziporyn. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2016.

Tiantai Buddhism emerged from an idiosyncratic and innovative interpretation of the Lotus Sutra to become one of the most complete, systematic, and influential schools of philosophical thought developed in East Asia. Brook A. Ziporyn puts Tiantai into dialogue with modern philosophical concerns to draw out its implications for ethics, epistemology, and metaphysics. Ziporyn explains Tiantai’s unlikely roots, its positions of extreme affirmation and rejection, its religious skepticism and embrace of religious myth, and its view of human consciousness. Ziporyn reveals the insights of Tiantai Buddhism while stimulating reflection on its unexpected effects.

Sharf Coming to Terms cover artComing to Terms with Chinese Buddhism: A Reading of the Treasure Store Treatise by Robert H. Sharf. 2005.

Through an analysis of a somewhat obscure, nominally Buddhist, T'ang dynasty text, the Treasure Store Treatise, Sharf hopes to challenge the notion that the evolution of Buddhism in China was the story of two discrete and fully formed systems in "dialogue" with each other. Arguing that attempts in other disciplines to conceptualize complexity should inform scholars of the "sinologization" of Buddhism, he argues that the Treatise at first seems to be a muddled and syncretic work, but in fact, in teasing out its underlying worldview, it is revealed to be a coherent essay revealing some of the essential "Chineseness" of certain fundamental doctrines of T'ang Buddhist thought. Fully half of the material consists of a translation of the Treatise accompanied by commentary by Sharf.

Ching Mysticism and Kingship cover artMysticism and Kingship in China: The Heart of Chinese Wisdom by Julia Ching. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

In this book, Julia Ching offers a survey of over 4,000 years of Chinese civilization through an examination of the relationship between kingship and mysticism. She investigates the sage-king myth and ideal, arguing that institutions of kingship were bound up with cultivation of trance states and communication with spirits. Over time, the sage-king myth became a model for the actual ruler. As a paradigm, it was also appropriated by private individuals who strove for wisdom without becoming kings. As the Confucian tradition interacted with the Taoist and the Buddhist, the religious character of spiritual and mystical cultivation became more pronounced. But the sage-king idea continued, promoting expectations of benevolent despotism rather than democratization in Chinese civilization.

Guanyin: The Bodhisattva of Compassion

The "Lama Temple" in Beijing

Above: The Yonghe Temple, also known as the Yonghe Lamasery, or popularly as the Lama Temple, is a temple and monastery of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism located in Dongcheng District, Beijing, China. The building and artwork of the temple is a combination of Han Chinese and Tibetan styles.
 
Text source: Wikipedia (edited). This version of Wikipedia content is published here under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Image source: Flickr. Image author: Dmitry P. Image license: Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.
 

Mongolia

With air pollution now intimately affecting every resident of Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, Saskia Abrahms-Kavunenko seeks to understand how, as a physical constant throughout the winter months, the murky and obscuring nature of air pollution has become an active part of Mongolian religious and ritual life. This book identifies air pollution as a boundary between the physical and the immaterial, showing how air pollution impresses itself on the urban environment as stagnation and blur. She explores how air pollution and related phenomena exist in dynamic tension with Buddhist ideas and practices concerning purification, revitalisation and enlightenment. By focusing on light, its intersections and its oppositions, she illuminates Buddhist practices and beliefs as they interact with the pressing urban issues of air pollution, post-socialist economic vacillations, urban development, nationalism, and climate change.

Wallace Sources of Mongolian Buddhism cover artSources of Mongolian Buddhism, edited by Vesna A. Wallace. New York: Oxford University Press, 2019.

Despite Mongolia's centrality to East Asian history and culture, Mongols themselves have often been seen as passive subjects on the edge of the Qing formation or as obedient followers of so-called "Tibetan Buddhism," peripheral to major literary, religious, and political developments. But in fact Mongolian Buddhists produced multi-lingual and genre-bending scholastic and ritual works that profoundly shaped historical consciousness, community identification, religious knowledge, and practices in Mongolian lands and beyond. In this work, a team of leading Mongolian scholars and authors have compiled a collection of original Mongolian Buddhist works--including ritual texts, poetic prayers and eulogies, legends, inscriptions, and poems--for the first time in any European language.

 

Bernstein Bodies cover artReligious Bodies Politic: Rituals of Sovereignty in Buryat Buddhism by Anya Bernstein. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2013.

This book examines the complex relationship between transnational religion and politics through the lens of one cosmopolitan community in Siberia: Buryats, who live in a semiautonomous republic within Russia with a large Buddhist population. Looking at religious transformation among Buryats across changing political economies, Anya Bernstein argues that under conditions of rapid social change—such as those that accompanied the Russian Revolution, the Cold War, and the fall of the Soviet Union—Buryats have used Buddhist "body politics" to articulate their relationship not only with the Russian state, but also with the larger Buddhist world. During these periods, Bernstein shows, certain people and their bodies became key sites through which Buryats conformed to and challenged Russian political rule. She presents particular cases of these emblematic bodies—dead bodies of famous monks, temporary bodies of reincarnated lamas, ascetic and celibate bodies of Buddhist monastics, and dismembered bodies of lay disciples given as imaginary gifts to spirits—to investigate the specific ways in which religion and politics have intersected. Contributing to the growing literature on postsocialism and studies of sovereignty that focus on the body, this work is a fascinating illustration of how this community employed Buddhism to adapt to key moments of political change.

Humphrey and Hurelbataar cover artA Monastery in Time: The Making of Mongolian Buddhism by Caroline Humphrey & Ujeed Hurelbaatar. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2013.

This is the first book to describe the life of a Mongolian Buddhist monastery—the Mergen Monastery in Inner Mongolia—from inside its walls. From the Qing occupation of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries through the Cultural Revolution, Caroline Humphrey and Hürelbaatar Ujeed tell a story of religious formation, suppression, and survival over a history that spans three centuries. Often overlooked in Buddhist studies, Mongolian Buddhism is an impressively self-sustaining tradition whose founding lama, the Third Mergen Gegen, transformed Tibetan Buddhism into an authentic counterpart using the Mongolian language. Drawing on fifteen years of fieldwork, Humphrey and Ujeed show how lamas have struggled to keep Mergen Gegen’s vision alive through tremendous political upheaval, and how such upheaval has inextricably fastened politics to religion for many of today’s practicing monks. Exploring the various ways Mongolian Buddhists have attempted to link the past, present, and future, Humphrey and Ujeed offer a compelling study of the interplay between individual and state, tradition and history.

Asia: General Works

Over its long history, Buddhism has never been a simple monolithic phenomenon, but rather a complex living tradition--or better, a family of traditions--continually shaped by and shaping a vast array of social, economic, political, literary, and aesthetic contexts across East Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. Written by undergraduate educators, this book offers a guide to Buddhism's rich variety of traditions and cultural expressions for educators who would like to include Buddhism in their undergraduate courses. It introduces fundamental yet often underrepresented Buddhist texts, concepts, and material in their historical contexts; presents the major "ecologies" of Buddhist belief, practice, and cultural expression; and provides methodological insights regarding how best to infuse Buddhist content into undergraduate courses in the humanities and social sciences. The text aims to represent "Buddhisms" by approaching the subject from a broad range of disciplinary perspectives, including art history, anthropology, history, literature, philosophy, religious studies, and pedagogy.

Sujung Kim Mediterranean cover artShinra Myojin and Buddhist Networks of the East Asian "Mediterranean" by Sujung Kim. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2019.

This ambitious work offers a transnational account of the deity Shinra Myōjin, the "god of Silla" worshipped in medieval Japanese Buddhism from the eleventh to sixteenth centuries. Sujung Kim challenges the long-held understanding of Shinra Myōjin as a protective deity of the Tendai Jimon school, showing how its worship emerged and developed in the complex networks of the East Asian "Mediterranean"―a "quality" rather than a physical space defined by Kim as the primary conduit for cross-cultural influence in a region that includes the Yellow Sea, the Sea of Japan (East Sea), the East China Sea, and neighboring coastal areas. While focusing on the transcultural worship of the deity, Kim engages the different maritime arrangements in which Shinra Myōjin circulated: first, the network of Korean immigrants, Chinese merchants, and Japanese Buddhist monks in China’s Shandong peninsula and Japan’s Ōmi Province; and second, that of gods found in the East Asian Mediterranean. Both of these networks became nodal points of exchange of both goods and gods. Kim’s examination of temple chronicles, literary writings, and iconography reveals Shinra Myōjin’s evolution from a seafaring god to a multifaceted one whose roles included the god of pestilence and of poetry, the insurer of painless childbirth, and the protector of performing arts.

Cassaniti Remembering cover artRemembering the Present: Mindfulness in Buddhist Asia by Julia L. Cassaniti. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2018.

What is mindfulness, and how does it vary as a concept across different cultures? How does mindfulness find expression in practice in the Buddhist cultures of Southeast Asia? What role does mindfulness play in everyday life? J.L. Cassaniti answers these fundamental questions and more through an engaged ethnographic investigation of what it means to "remember the present" in a region strongly influenced by Buddhist thought. Focusing on Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar, this work examines the meanings, practices, and purposes of mindfulness. Using the experiences of people in Buddhist monasteries, hospitals, markets, and homes in the region, Cassaniti shows how an attention to memory informs how people live today and how mindfulness is intimately tied to local constructions of time, affect, power, emotion, and selfhood. By looking at how these people incorporate Theravada Buddhism into their daily lives, Cassaniti provides a signal contribution to the psychological anthropology of religious experience. Cassaniti's book heeds the call made by researchers in the psychological sciences and the Buddhist side of mindfulness studies for better understandings of what mindfulness is and can be. Cassaniti addresses fundamental questions about selfhood, identity, and how a deeper appreciation of the many contexts and complexities intrinsic in sati (mindfulness in the Pali language) can help people lead richer, fuller, and healthier lives. This work shows how mindfulness needs to be understood within the cultural and historical influences from which it has emerged.

Lackner Coping cover artCoping with the Future: Theories and Practices of Divination in East Asia, edited by Michael Lackner. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2018.

This work offers insights into various techniques of divination, their evolution, and their assessment. The contributions cover the period from the earliest documents on East Asian mantic arts to their appearance in the present time. The volume reflects the pervasive manifestations of divination in literature, religious and political life, and their relevance for society and individuals. Special emphasis is placed on cross-cultural influences and attempts to find theoretical foundations for divinatory practices. This edited volume is an initiative to study the phenomena of divination across East Asian cultures and beyond. It is also one of the first attempts to theorize divinatory practices in East Asia.

The Four Sacred Mountains of Chinese Buddhism

Qing-era map of Mount Wutai

Above: Mount Wutai, also known by its Chinese name Wutaishan and as Mount Qingliang, is a sacred Buddhist site at the headwaters of the Qingshui in Shanxi Province, China. Its central area is surrounded by a cluster of flat-topped peaks roughly corresponding to the cardinal directions. The north peak (Beitai Ding or Yedou Feng) is the highest (3,061 m or 10,043 ft) and is also the highest point in northern China. This map, dating from the Qing era (1846) and printed with wooden blocks, shows the monasteries and infrastructure of Mount Wutai at that period. To examine a super high-resolution version of this map, click here.
 
Text source: Wikipedia (edited). This version of Wikipedia content is published here under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Image source: Wikimedia Commons. Image author: Gelonglongzhu. Image license: Public domain.