A Storied Sage

A Storied Sage

Written by: Micah L. Auerback

  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publish Date: 2016-12-07
  • ISBN-10: 9780226286389
  • ebook-a-storied-sage.pdf

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Book Summary

This study traces the modern transformation of Japanese Buddhist concepts across the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, specifically the notion of the historical Buddhai.e., the prince of ancient Indian descent who abandoned his wealth and power to become an awakened being. Since Buddhism arrived in Japan in the sixth century, the historical figure of the Buddha has repeatedly disappeared from view and returned, always in different forms and to different ends. Micah Auerback offers the first account of the changing fortunes of the Japanese Buddha, following the course of early modern and modern producers and consumers of both high and low culture, who found novel uses for the Buddha s story outside the confines of the Buddhist establishment. Auerback challenges the still-prevalent concept that Buddhism had grown ossified and irrelevant during Japan s early modernity, and complicates the image of Japanese Buddhism as a sui generis tradition within the Asian Buddhist world. Auerback also links the later Buddhist tradition in Japan to its roots on the Continent, and argues for the relevance of attention to narrative and the historical imagination in the study of Buddhist Asia more broadly conceived. And, Auerback engages the question of secularization by examining the after life of the Buddha in the hagiographic literature, demonstrating that the late Japanese Buddha did not, as is widely thought, fade into a ghost of its former self, but rather underwent a complete transformation and reincarnation. The book thus joins the larger discussion of secularization in modernity beyond Buddhism, Japanese religions, and the Asian continent."

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