Monasticism in East Asia

Lori Meeks

in Buddhism

ISBN: 9780195393521
Published online September 2011 | | DOI:
Monasticism in East Asia

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Early Buddhologists, who tended to focus on the texts and doctrines of particular schools of Buddhism, showed little interest in the study of monasticism as a set of social and religious practices. Historians and scholars of art undertook most of the foundational work in the study of Buddhist monasticism. Social and institutional historians studied monasteries as political and economic entities, while art historians examined monasteries as sites that cultivated great art and architecture. Over the past twenty-five years or so, this division of labor has slowly dissolved. As the field of religious studies has come to emphasize the importance of both social history and interdisciplinarity, scholars of Buddhism have begun to take a closer look at the social and religious lives of monastic institutions. Their studies have considered monasteries not only as political, economic, and religious bodies, but also as sacred sites and as social sites. Recent research in the field has shown that Buddhist monasteries in East Asia, as places that attracted pilgrims, tourists, scholars, and devotees, allowed diverse social groups to interact in multiple and complex ways. Despite recent growth in this subfield, however, the field still lacks single-authored studies that address Buddhist monasticism in a holistic fashion.

Article.  6695 words. 

Subjects: Buddhism ; Tibetan Buddhism ; Zen Buddhism

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