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The Other Side of Zen
Author: Duncan Ryuken Williams

ISBN: 9780691144290
Format: Paperback
Number Of Pages: 256
Published: 27 September 2009
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 22.9 x 15.2 x 1.5
Description:


Popular understanding of Zen Buddhism typically involves a stereotyped image of isolated individuals in meditation, contemplating nothingness. This book presents the "other side of Zen," by examining the movement's explosive growth during the Tokugawa period (1600-1867) in Japan and by shedding light on the broader Japanese religious landscape during the era. Using newly-discovered manuscripts, Duncan Ryuken Williams argues that the success of Soto Zen was due neither to what is most often associated with the sect, Zen meditation, nor to the teachings of its medieval founder Dogen, but rather to the social benefits it conveyed.

Zen Buddhism promised followers many tangible and attractive rewards, including the bestowal of such perquisites as healing, rain-making, and fire protection, as well as "funerary Zen" rites that assured salvation in the next world. Zen temples also provided for the orderly registration of the entire Japanese populace, as ordered by the Tokugawa government, which led to stable parish membership.

Williams investigates both the sect's distinctive religious and ritual practices and its nonsectari...

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