This book introduces the rich realities of the Buddhist tradition and the academic approaches through which they are studied. Based on personal experiences of Buddhism on the ground, it provides a reflective context within which religious practices can be understood and appreciated. The engaging narratives cover a broad range of Buddhist countries and traditions, drawing on fieldwork to explore topics such as ordination, pilgrimage, funerals, gender roles, and film-making. All the entries provide valuable contextual discussion and are accompanied by photographs and suggestions for further reading.
Table of Contents
Introduction 1. Coronation at Kōyasan: How One Woman Became King and Learned About Homeland Security and National Health Care in Ancient Japan Pamela D. Winfield 2. Buddhism through the Lens: A Study of the Study of Buddhism through Film Lina Verchery 3. Voice and Gender in Vietnamese Buddhist Practice Alexander Soucy 4. Feasting for the Dead: Theravāda Buddhist Funerals Rita Langer 5. Buddha for Our Time: Images of a Sri Lankan Culture Hero John Clifford Holt 6. Shifting Signposts in Shikoku Pilgrimage John S. Harding 7. From Texts to People: Developing New Skills Mavis L. Fenn 8. Merit, Gender, and Theravāda Buddhist Practices in Times of Crisis Monica Lindberg Falk 9. Encounters with Jizō-san in an Aging Japan Jason A. Danely 10. Amitābha’s Birthday and Liberation of Life Paul Crowe 11. Preaching as Performance: Notes on a Secretive Shin Buddhist Sermon Clark Chilson 12. The Insides and Outsides of a Tibetan Buddhist Ritual on the Outskirts of Sujātā Village James B. Apple 13. Practicing the Study of Buddhism: Cross-Cultural Journeys and Renewed Humanism in the History of Religions William R. LaFleur
John S. Harding received his PhD in Religious Studies from the University of Pennsylvania, USA. He is Associate Professor and Chair of the Religious Studies Department at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada. His books include Introduction to the Study of Religion with Hillary P. Rodrigues (2008) and Wild Geese: Buddhism in Canada with Victor Sogen Hori and Alexander Soucy (2010).
"This volume assembles interesting and colorful pictures of Buddhism as actually practiced by ordinary and ordained people alike. The first-person narratives by long-term specialists draw the reader into sites such as towns and villages, temples and pagodas, funeral grounds and pilgrimage treks. The informative accounts underscore the cultural diversity of Buddhist practices and the importance they hold for the practitioners." - Martin Baumann, University of Lucerne, Switzerland
"This text stands out with its unique dual focus on Buddhist practices and on the practices of those who study Buddhism. Readers will learn much from the contributors’ descriptions of an array of Buddhist rituals and frank reflections on the scholarly methods they have deployed in their fieldwork around the world." - Christopher Ives, Stonehill College, USA and author of Imperial-Way Zen
"In less than 200 pages, this book succeeds in achieving its aims, providing a pioneering and rich account of contemporary Buddhism around the world. Its pedagogical value is clear, but the book’s worth is more than that of a teaching tool. This publication will certainly attract the attention and interest of specialists of Buddhism and, more broadly, sociologists of religion who will also be interested both in the diversity and complexity of Buddhism across different contexts and in the interdisciplinary dimension of the study of religious phenomena that this book illustrates and promotes." – Florence Galmiche, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), France