Jeff Wilson

in Buddhism

ISBN: 9780195393521
Published online September 2010 | | DOI:

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Shinran (b. 1173–d. 1262) was an obscure figure in his own time, but his teachings became the basis of the largest Buddhist tradition in Japan, the Jōdo Shinshū (True Pure Land school). As befits his status as one of the most important thinkers in Japanese Buddhist history, articles and books on him in Japanese are legion. Yet studies of Shinran in English (indeed, in European languages in general) on the whole suffer from a curious paradox. On the one hand, there are many articles and books about Shinran in English, and on the other hand, there is not a widespread appreciation of Shinran’s importance or the subtlety of his religious thought among the larger Buddhist studies or religious studies academy. Furthermore, perhaps the majority of those resources that are available are of limited value to the general historian operating outside of a Shinshū context. The irony is that because Jōdo Shinshū arrived in the West more than one hundred years ago, and has a long and robust scholarly tradition of doctrinally oriented Shinshū studies (Shinshū Gaku) that has been promoted by generations of Japanese scholar-ministers operating in North America, many of the studies of Shinran available to the English-speaking public are by Shinshūu partisans. Much of this work is impressive, yet ultimately such scholarship is concerned with identifying normative concepts and practices for believers, and operates with assumptions and precommitments that would not be acceptable to all researchers. Although the contributions of many people working in Shinshū studies are admirable, this bibliography on the whole steers away from such insider research toward publications that will be of use to both sectarian scholars and the larger scholarly public.

Article.  4560 words. 

Subjects: Buddhism ; Tibetan Buddhism ; Zen Buddhism

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