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Original Enlightenment and the Transformation of Medieval Japanese Buddhism (Studies in East Asian Buddhism) Paperback – August 1, 2003
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From flyleaf: Original enlightenment thought (hongaku shiso) dominated Buddhist intellectual circles throughout Japan's medieval period. Enlightenment, this discourse claims, is neither a goal to be achieved nor a potential to be realized but the true status of all things. Every animate and inanimate object manifests the primordially enlightened Buddha just as it is. Seen in its true aspect, every activity of daily life?eating, sleeping, even one's deluded thinking?is the Buddha's conduct. Emerging from within the powerful Tendai school, ideas of original enlightenment were appropriated by a number of Buddhist traditions and influenced nascent theories about the kami (local deities) as well as medieval aesthetics and the literary and performing arts.
Scholars and commentators have long recognized the historical importance of original enlightenment thought but differ heatedly over how it is to be understood. Some tout it as the pinnacle of the Buddhist philosophy of absolute nondualism. Others claim to find in it the paradigmatic expression of a timeless Japanese spirituality. According to other readings, it represents a dangerous antinomianism that undermined observance of moral precepts, precipitated a decline in Buddhist scholarship, and denied the need for religious discipline.Read more ›