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Zen Ritual: Studies of Zen Buddhist Theory in Practice Paperback – November 14, 2007
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"These essays are valuable because they reflect a crucial sea change in the contemporary study of religion: a shift away from the study of what religion says it is about (as explained in sacred texts) to what religion is actually about (as discovered in historical records and sociological observation)."--Buddhadharma
"This impressive collection of essays by prominent Zen scholars should dispel the popular notion of Zen as a religious experience independent of ritual and institutional structures. The writers explore a range of ritual activities in the tradition, including rituals to protect the emperor and the country, formulaic sermons, seated and walking meditation, empowerment and healing rituals conducted by nuns, and a dharma-transmission ceremony recently formulated for North American Zen. This volume fills an important lacuna in Zen Studies, and it merits a close reading by anyone interested in ritual, Buddhism, or East Asian cultures." --Christopher Ives, author of Zen Awakening and Society
"Zen Ritual is an excellent volume and should be of great interest to scholars of East Asian Buddhism, be useful in upper-level undergraduate courses, and may also challenge Western Zen practictioners to further refine and define their own traditions vis-a-vis Japanese Zen. Each essay has something interesting to contribute, and together they deomnstrate unequivocally that Zen, like all Buddhism, is inextricably associated with many kinds of ritual and that we cannot hope to understand Zen without understanding its rituals." --Journal of Japanese Studies
"Ten excellent scholars contribute nine chapters (plus an introduction) that cover such aspects as women's rituals of 'actualizing empowerment,' meditation as a rite of enactment of original enlightenment (in Dogen's enigmatic formation), and dharma transmission...Highly recommended." --Choice
About the Author
Steven Heine is Professor of Religious Studies and History and Director of the Institute for Asian Studies at Florida International University. Dale S. Wright is David B. and Mary H. Gamble Professor of Religious Studies and Asian Studies at Occidental College. They are the coeditors of The Koan, Zen Canon, and Zen Classics.
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Zen Ritual: Studies of Zen Buddhist Theory in Practice
This book is a welcome addition to the growing collection of literature revealing the huge gap between the actual practices of the various Zen schools and the common Western ideals of what Zen Buddhism represents.
It presents in-depth analysis on the actual practices (from Zen's early history through the present) of many Zen rituals. These studies focus on Zen rituals as diverse as "Dharma Transmission" and "Zazen", to the rituals to "Glorify the Emperor" and "Protect the Country." For those readers familiar with Zen only through "romantic" treatments of it by charismatic popularizers, this book may be an eye-opening read. For instance, the actual incorporation of Zen into Japan seems to have had little to do with "spiritual realization." As Albert Welter writes:
"While it is commonly supposed that early Kamakura bakufu leaders were attracted to Zen for spiritual reasons and for its discipline and rough and ready call to action that was part and parcel of samurai life, nothing could be further from the truth. Early Zen patrons looked to Zen ... to honor the dead, ensure victory in warfare, and alleviate sufferings associated with drought and natural disaster."
While many of the truths revealed and outlined in this wonderful and readable collection of essays have already been revealed (or at least implicated) in previous works, this book brings them together in one place offering an overview of the actual activities and functions of Zen institutions.Read more ›