Course DescriptionThe philosophies and practices of Japanese Buddhism, propagated from China and Korea a thousand years after the Buddha lived in India, are decidedly not Classical/Mainstream Buddhism. This course includes original Shinto, which contrary to popular belief arises out of early Japanese Buddhism, not the other way around. It then explores Shingon/Esoteric Buddhism and Tendai/Lotus Sutra Buddhism which encompasses the dramatic rift between their respective patriarchs, including Kukai’s “theft” of the Saicho’s foremost disciple and refusal to share texts or teachings unless Saicho submitted to become Kukai’s disciple. Each school developed extreme ascetic Mountain Buddhism practices such as completing 1,000 marathons, a nine-day fire ritual without any food, drink or sleep, fire walking and blade-ladder climbing. We conclude by investigating nascent Zen and the seeding of Pure Land, Nichiren and New Buddhism.
Course OutlineFollowing a brief overview of classical Buddhism and traditional Japanese religions, this course focuses on doctrines, rituals, and personalities of Japanese Buddhism from inception through its early evolution.
Mary Ann Wilson