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Buddhists – Encyclopedia of Arkansas

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Buddhists in Arkansas are represented by ethnic immigrants who bring to the state the religious practices of their homelands as well as native Arkansans who have turned to Buddhism for their spiritual needs. Though less than one percent of the population of Arkansas, Buddhists in the state have established temples testifying to their presence, in addition to meeting in a variety of formal and informal groups.

Buddhism can be described as a religion, a philosophy, a psychology, a practice, or a way of life. Buddhisms essentially non-theistic framework, along with its emphasis on personal experience as the only true validation of its teachings, sets it apart from most other religious systems. Despite the varied schools of Buddhist thought and practice, the central focus of Buddhism is on the elimination of individual suffering through training the mind. The foundation of all Buddhist thought is summarized in the Four Seals of Buddhism: 1) all composite phenomena are impermanent; 2) all tainted emotions (emotions that arise out of ignorance, hatred, or craving) are painful and cause suffering; 3) all phenomena are empty of inherent existencethat is, phenomena arise only out of interdependence on other causes and conditions; and 4) Nirvana (escape from the cycle of death and rebirth) is true peace.

There are at least two Buddhist temples in Arkansas serving primarily Laotian immigrant communities: Wat Buddha Samakitham in Fort Smith (Sebastian County) and Wat Lao Thepnimith Xaimongkoon in Springdale (Washington County). Wat Buddha Samakitham, the largest in the state; was founded in 1989 and, by 2001, had ten permanent monks and occupied six acres of land. Fort Smith is also home to two Vietnamese Buddhist temples, the foremost of which is Cha Ph Minh.Fort Smith temple Wat LaoBuddharam was destroyed by fire on March 5, 2015. In 2005, the Cha Bat Nha temple in Bauxite (Saline County),which serves a predominately Vietnamese community, opened.

The oldest and largest Buddhist society in Arkansas not associated with a particular ethnic or immigrant group is the Ecumenical Buddhist Society of Little Rock, founded by Anna Cox, Jay McDaniel, and Charles Hicks; this group, which began meeting in the late 1980s and was formally established in 1993, accommodates a variety of Buddhist traditions. In Fayetteville (Washington County), Barbara Taylor founded the Morning Star Zen Center (associated with the Korean Kwan Um school) in 1986. Other small practice groups were founded in northwest Arkansas during the 1990s and 2000s, including the Buddhist Meditation and Spiritual Support Group, founded by Geoff Oelsner in 1996; the Fayetteville Soto Zen Center, founded by Jack McDowell in 2000; and the Unitarian Universalist Buddhist Fellowship, founded by James Ownbey and Jerry Walsh in 2004.

One of Arkansass most famous Buddhists was death row inmate William Frank Parker, a double murderer who converted to Buddhism while in prison and impressed many with the depth of his personal transformation. He was briefly a cause clbre among American Buddhists, with the Dalai Lama and actor Richard Gere among the hundreds calling for clemency, before he was executed by lethal injection on August 8, 1996.

In the fall of 2006, Geshe Thupten Dorjee, a Tibetan monk in the Gelug tradition, accepted a position at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), teaching courses in Buddhist philosophy, Tibetan culture, and non-violence. Outside of his university duties, Geshe Dorjee provides Buddhist teachings through several groups and organizations, including regular teachings at the Tibetan Buddhist Practice Group led by Pam Dramis. In 2007, Geshe Dorjee, Professor Sidney Burris, and others founded the Tibetan Cultural Institute of Arkansas, which is dedicated to helping the Tibetan people preserve their culture within the emerging global village. The Tibetan Buddhist presence in Arkansas is also manifest in the Katong Choling Mountain Retreat Center in Newton County, which was founded by abbot Khentrul Lodr Thay Rinpoche and includes a small cave temple; the land was consecrated in 2010.

Because of the diversity and lack of formal hierarchy within American Buddhism, statistics are difficult to gather. One source estimates the number of Buddhists in Arkansas in 1990 at 0.2 percent of the total population. Buddhism remains one of the very smallest religions in the United States and in Arkansas; at the same time, however, there is an indication that the religion is one of the fastest-growing in the Western world.

For additional information:Barbee, Eric. Pluralistic Society. Arkansas Democrat-Gazette,November 24, 2001, pp. 4B5B.

Buddhark. http://buddhark.com/ (accessed January 26, 2015).

EBS Revolves around Buddhist Meditation. Arkansas Democrat-Gazette,March 23, 2003, p. 4B.

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What is Buddhism? | The Buddhist Centre

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Buddhism is a path of practice and spiritual development leading to Insight into the true nature of reality. Buddhist practices likemeditation are means of changing yourself in order to develop the qualities of awareness, kindness, and wisdom. The experience developed within the Buddhist tradition over thousands of years has created an incomparable resource for all those who wish to follow a path a path which ultimately culminates in Enlightenment or Buddhahood.An enlightened being sees the nature of reality absolutely clearly, just as it is, and lives fully and naturally in accordance with that vision. This is the goal of the Buddhist spiritual life, representing the end of suffering for anyone who attainsit.

Because Buddhism does not include the idea of worshipping a creator god, some people do not see it as a religion in the normal, Western sense. The basic tenets of Buddhist teaching are straightforward and practical: nothing is fixed or permanent; actions have consequences; change is possible. So Buddhism addresses itself to all people irrespective of race, nationality, caste, sexuality, or gender. It teaches practical methods which enable people to realise and use its teachings in order to transform their experience, to be fully responsible for theirlives.

There are around 350 million Buddhists and a growing number of them are Westerners. They follow many differentforms of Buddhism, but all traditions are characterised by non-violence, lack of dogma, tolerance of differences, and, usually, by the practice ofmeditation.

FAQ on Buddhism:Ask A BuddhistfromClear Visionvideo.

Listen to free introductions to Buddhism.

Read Guide To The Buddhist Path bySangharakshita.

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Theravada – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Theravda (Pali, literally "school of the elder monks") is a branch of Buddhism that uses the teaching of the Pli Canon, a collection of the oldest recorded Buddhist texts, as its doctrinal core, but also includes a rich diversity of traditions and practices that have developed over its long history of interactions with various cultures and communities. It is the dominant form of religion in Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Burma, and is practiced by minority groups in Vietnam, Bangladesh, and China. In addition, the diaspora of all of these groups as well as converts around the world practice Theravda Buddhism.

Theravda Buddhism is followed by various countries and people around the globe, and are:

Today, Theravda Buddhists, otherwise known as Theravadins, number over 150 million worldwide, and during the past few decades Theravda Buddhism has begun to take root in the West[a] and in the Buddhist revival in India.[web 2]

The name Theravda comes from the ancestral Sthvirya, one of the early Buddhist schools, from which the Theravadins claim descent. After unsuccessfully trying to modify the Vinaya, a small group of "elderly members," i.e. sthaviras, broke away from the majority Mahsghika during the Second Buddhist council, giving rise to the Sthavira sect.[1] According to its own accounts, the Theravda school is fundamentally derived from the Vibhajjavda "doctrine of analysis" grouping,[2] which was a division of the Sthvirya.

Theravadin accounts of its own origins mention that it received the teachings that were agreed upon during the putative Third Buddhist council under the patronage of the Indian Emperor Ashoka around 250 BCE. These teachings were known as the Vibhajjavada.[3] Emperor Ashoka is supposed to have assisted in purifying the sangha by expelling monks who failed to agree to the terms of Third Council.[4] Later, the Vibhajjavdins in turn is said to have split into four groups: the Mahsaka, Kyapya, Dharmaguptaka, and the Tmraparya.

The Theravda is said to be descended from the Tmraparya sect, which means "the Sri Lankan lineage." Missionaries sent abroad from India are said to have included Ashoka's son Mahinda and his daughter Sanghamitta, and they were the mythical founders of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, a story which scholars suggest helps to legitimize Theravda's claims of being the oldest and most authentic school.[4] Sanghamitta is said to have founded the Mahavihara "Great Monastery" of Anuradhapura. In the 7th century CE, the Chinese pilgrim monks Xuanzang and Yijing refer to the Buddhist schools in Sri Lanka as Shngzub (Chinese: ), corresponding to the Sanskrit "Sthavira Nikya" and the Pali "Thera Nikya."[b][c] The school has been using the name Theravda for itself in a written form since at least the 4th century, about one thousand years after the Buddha's death, when the term appears in the Dpavasa.[d]

According to Buddhist scholar A. K. Warder, the Theravda

... spread rapidly south from Avanti into Maharastra and Andhra and down to the Chola country (Kanchi), as well as Sri Lanka. For some time they maintained themselves in Avanti as well as in their new territories, but gradually they tended to regroup themselves in the south, the Great Vihara (Mahavihara) in Anuradhapura, the ancient capital of Sri Lanka, becoming the main centre of their tradition, Kanchi a secondary center and the northern regions apparently relinquished to other schools.

Over much of the early history of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, three subdivisions of Theravda existed in Sri Lanka, consisting of the monks of the Mahvihra, Abhayagiri vihra and Jetavana.[8] The Mahvihra was the first tradition to be established, while Abhayagiri Vihra and Jetavana Vihra were established by monks who had broken away from the Mahvihra tradition.[8] According to A.K. Warder, the Indian Mahsaka sect also established itself in Sri Lanka alongside the Theravda, into which they were later absorbed.[8] Northern regions of Sri Lanka also seem to have been ceded to sects from India at certain times.[8]

When the Chinese monk Faxian visited the island in the early 5th century CE, he noted 5000 monks at Abhayagiri, 3000 monks at the Mahvihra, and 2000 monks at the Cetiyapabbatavihra.[10]

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Tibetan Buddhism in the West | Problems of Adoption …

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Human Rights in Tibet before 1959 Robert Barnett examines claims by China such as: 1) before 1959, all except 5 percent of the Tibetan population were slaves or serfs in a feudal system in which they were regarded as saleable private property, had no land or freedom, and were subject to punishment by mutilation or amputation; 2) serfs were liable to be tortured or killed; and 3) economy and culture were stagnant for centuries, life expectancy was 35.5 years, illiteracy was over 90 percent, 12 percent of Lhasas population were beggars, and the Dalai Lama was responsible for all of this

Tibet as Hell on Earth Elliot Sperling puts Chinas Serfs Emancipation Day and their strong ambition to dominate the Tibetan historical view into perspective. Theres no doubt that Tibets traditional society was hierarchical and backwards, replete with aristocratic estates and a bound peasantry. And theres no doubt that Tibetans, whether in exile or in Tibet voice no desire to restore such a society. Many Tibetans will readily admit that the social structure was highly inegalitarian. But it was hardly the cartoonish, cruel Hell-on-Earth that Chinese propaganda has portrayed it to be.

The Myth of Shangri-la Tsering Shakya wonders and investigates why the public support of the Tibetan cause has not materialised into political action. Why is it that no major political party has dared to pass a single resolution on Tibet? Shakya shows that the causes for this lack of political action are not only issues ofrealpolitik, but also how the West perceives Tibet and interprets the Tibetan political struggle. Western perceptions of Tibet and the images they have produced about Tibet have hampered the Tibetan political cause. The constant mythologisation of Tibet has obscured and confused the real nature of the Tibetan political struggle.

Shangri-la in Exile: Representations of Tibetan Identity and Transnational Culture In this paper Toni Huber is primarily concerned with the representational style and agenda of a new type of Tibetan exile self-image. He outlines the social and historical context of their appearance and he considers the manner of their deployment by the exile community. He discusses four main points, 1) the reinvention of a kind of modern, liberal Shangri-la image of Tibet; 2) how new identity images are largely the creation of a political and intellectual elite in exile; 3) that it is the experience of the diaspora that provides the initial stimulus for a modern Tibetan identity production; and 4) though the myth of Tibet was historically a Western enterprise, new Tibetan exile identity claims represent, at least in part, an appropriation of the Western discourse about Tibet

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Karma – View on Buddhism

Posted: May 30, 2015 at 11:44 pm


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BUDDHIST KARMA

"I am the owner of my karma . I inherit my karma. I am born of my karma. I am related to my karma. I live supported by my karma. Whatever karma I create, whether good or evil, that I shall inherit." The Buddha, Anguttara Nikaya V.57 - Upajjhatthana Sutta

The Sanskrit word Karma (or kamma in Pali) literally means action. In Buddhism however, karma mainly refers to one's intention or motivation while doing an action. The Buddha said:

It is volition that I call karma; for having willed, one acts by body, speech, and mind. AN 3:415, from In the Buddhas Words, p. 146.

(In the west, the word karma is often used for the results of karma; the Sanskrit words for the effects or results of karma are 'vipaka' or 'phala'. )

The shortest explanation of karma that I know is: 'you get what you give'. In other words; whatever you do intentionally to others, a similar thing will happen to yourself in the future. Causing suffering to others will cause suffering to ourselves, causing happiness to others will result in happiness for oneself.

Perhaps our biggest to understanding or even believing in karma may be time. The 're-actions' or results of our actions usually show up with a big time delay, and it becomes extremely hard to tell which action caused which result. Actions done in a previous life can create results in this life, but who can remember their past life, and who can tell exaclty which action caused which result? For ordinary humans, the mechanisms of karma can be intellectually understood to some extent, but never completely "seen".

The idea behind karma is not only found in Buddhism and Hinduism; it seems that the Bible certainly conveys the same essence. although here God is the medium that links actions to their results:

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A person reaps what he sows. (Gal. 6:7)

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Buddhism Basic Beliefs and Teachings – About

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Here is a basic introduction to Buddhism.

Buddhism is a religion based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, who lived about 25 centuries ago in what is now Nepal and northern India. He came to be called "the Buddha," which means "awakened one," after he experienced a profound realization of the nature of life, death and existence. In English, the Buddha was said to be enlightened, although in Sanskrit it is bodhi, "awakened."

In the remaining years of his life, the Buddha traveled and taught. However, he didn't teach people what he had realized when he became enlightened. Instead, he taught people how to realize enlightenment for themselves. He taught that awakening comes through one's own direct experience, not through beliefs and dogmas.

In the centuries following the Buddha's life, Buddhism spread throughout Asia to become one of the dominant religions of the continent. Estimates of the number of Buddhists in the world today vary widely, in part because many Asians observe more than one religion, and in part because it is hard to know how many people are practicing Buddhism in Communist nations like China. The most common estimate is 350 million, which makes Buddhism the fourth largest of the world's religions.

Read More: The Life of the Buddha Read More: What's a Buddha?

Buddhism is so different from other religions that some people question whether it is a religion at all.

For example, the central focus of most religions is God, or gods. But Buddhism is non-theistic. The Buddha taught that believing in gods was not useful for those seeking to realize enlightenment.

Read More: Buddhism: Philosophy or Religion? Read More: Atheism and Devotion in Buddhism Read More:Are There Gods in Buddhism?

Most religions are defined by their beliefs. But in Buddhism, merely believing in doctrines is beside the point. The Buddha said that we should not accept doctrines just because we read them in scripture or are taught them by priests.

Instead of teaching doctrines to be memorized and believed, the Buddha taught how we can realize truth for ourselves. The focus of Buddhism is on practice rather than belief. The major outline of Buddhist practice is the Eightfold Path.

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Buddhism – Religion

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Buddhism began in India 2,500 years ago and, although virtually extinct in India, it remains the dominant world religion in the East. There are over 360 million followers of Buddhism worldwide and over one million American Buddhists. There even a significant number of "Jewish Buddhists." Buddhist concepts have also been influential on western society in general, primarily in the areas of meditation and nonviolence.

The Buddha ("Enlightened One") was an Indian prince named Siddharta Gautama who lived around 500 BCE. According to Buddhist tradition, the young prince lived an affluent and sheltered life until a journey during which he saw an old man, a sick man, a poor man, and a corpse. Shocked and distressed at the suffering in the world, Gautama left his family to seek enlightenment through asceticism. But even the most extreme asceticism failed to bring enlightenment. Finally, Gautama sat beneath a tree and vowed not to move until he had attained enlightenment. Days later, he arose as the Buddha - the "enlightened one." He spent the remaining 45 years of his life teaching the path to liberation from suffering (the dharma) and establishing a community of monks (the sangha).

Over its long history, Buddhism has grown into a variety of forms ranging from an emphasis on religious rituals and the worship of deities, to a complete rejection of both rituals and deities in favor of pure meditation. Yet all forms of Buddhism share respect for the teachings of the Buddha and the goal of ending suffering and the cycle of rebirth. Theravada Buddhism, prominent in Southeast Asia, is atheistic and philosophical in nature and focuses on the monastic life and meditation as means to liberation.

Mahayana Buddhism, prominent in China and Japan, incorporates several deities, celestial beings, and other traditional religious elements. In Mahayana, the path to liberation may include religious ritual, devotion, meditation, or a combination of these elements. Zen, Nichiren, Tendai, and Pure Land are the major forms of Mahayana Buddhism..

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A Basic Buddhism Guide: 5 Minute Introduction

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What is Buddhism? Buddhism is a religion to about 300 million people around the world. The word comes from 'budhi', 'to awaken'. It has its origins about 2,500 years ago when Siddhartha Gotama, known as the Buddha, was himself awakened (enlightened) at the age of 35.

Is Buddhism a Religion?

To many, Buddhism goes beyond religion and is more of a philosophy or 'way of life'. It is a philosophy because philosophy 'means love of wisdom' and the Buddhist path can be summed up as:

(1) to lead a moral life, (2) to be mindful and aware of thoughts and actions, and (3) to develop wisdom and understanding.

How Can Buddhism Help Me?

Buddhism explains a purpose to life, it explains apparent injustice and inequality around the world, and it provides a code of practice or way of life that leads to true happiness.

Why is Buddhism Becoming Popular?

Buddhism is becoming popular in western countries for a number of reasons, The first good reason is Buddhism has answers to many of the problems in modern materialistic societies. It also includes (for those who are interested) a deep understanding of the human mind (and natural therapies) which prominent psychologists around the world are now discovering to be both very advanced and effective.

Who Was the Buddha?

Siddhartha Gotama was born into a royal family in Lumbini, now located in Nepal, in 563 BC. At 29, he realised that wealth and luxury did not guarantee happiness, so he explored the different teachings religions and philosophies of the day, to find the key to human happiness. After six years of study and meditation he finally found 'the middle path' and was enlightened. After enlightenment, the Buddha spent the rest of his life teaching the principles of Buddhism called the Dhamma, or Truth until his death at the age of 80.

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Basics of Buddhism – PBS

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Siddhartha Gautama: The Buddha

Historians estimate that the founder of Buddhism, Siddhartha Gautama, lived from 566(?) to 480(?) B.C. The son of an Indian warrior-king, Gautama led an extravagant life through early adulthood, reveling in the privileges of his social caste. But when he bored of the indulgences of royal life, Gautama wandered into the world in search of understanding. After encountering an old man, an ill man, a corpse and an ascetic, Gautama was convinced that suffering lay at the end of all existence. He renounced his princely title and became a monk, depriving himself of worldly possessions in the hope of comprehending the truth of the world around him. The culmination of his search came while meditating beneath a tree, where he finally understood how to be free from suffering, and ultimately, to achieve salvation. Following this epiphany, Gautama was known as the Buddha, meaning the "Enlightened One." The Buddha spent the remainder of his life journeying about India, teaching others what he had come to understand.

The Four Noble Truths comprise the essence of Buddha's teachings, though they leave much left unexplained. They are the truth of suffering, the truth of the cause of suffering, the truth of the end of suffering, and the truth of the path that leads to the end of suffering. More simply put, suffering exists; it has a cause; it has an end; and it has a cause to bring about its end. The notion of suffering is not intended to convey a negative world view, but rather, a pragmatic perspective that deals with the world as it is, and attempts to rectify it. The concept of pleasure is not denied, but acknowledged as fleeting. Pursuit of pleasure can only continue what is ultimately an unquenchable thirst. The same logic belies an understanding of happiness. In the end, only aging, sickness, and death are certain and unavoidable.

The Four Noble Truths are a contingency plan for dealing with the suffering humanity faces -- suffering of a physical kind, or of a mental nature. The First Truth identifies the presence of suffering. The Second Truth, on the other hand, seeks to determine the cause of suffering. In Buddhism, desire and ignorance lie at the root of suffering. By desire, Buddhists refer to craving pleasure, material goods, and immortality, all of which are wants that can never be satisfied. As a result, desiring them can only bring suffering. Ignorance, in comparison, relates to not seeing the world as it actually is. Without the capacity for mental concentration and insight, Buddhism explains, one's mind is left undeveloped, unable to grasp the true nature of things. Vices, such as greed, envy, hatred and anger, derive from this ignorance.

The Third Noble Truth, the truth of the end of suffering, has dual meaning, suggesting either the end of suffering in this life, on earth, or in the spiritual life, through achieving Nirvana. When one has achieved Nirvana, which is a transcendent state free from suffering and our worldly cycle of birth and rebirth, spiritual enlightenment has been reached. The Fourth Noble truth charts the method for attaining the end of suffering, known to Buddhists as the Noble Eightfold Path. The steps of the Noble Eightfold Path are Right Understanding, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration. Moreover, there are three themes into which the Path is divided: good moral conduct (Understanding, Thought, Speech); meditation and mental development (Action, Livelihood, Effort), and wisdom or insight (Mindfulness and Concentration).

Contrary to what is accepted in contemporary society, the Buddhist interpretation of karma does not refer to preordained fate. Karma refers to good or bad actions a person takes during her lifetime. Good actions, which involve either the absence of bad actions, or actual positive acts, such as generosity, righteousness, and meditation, bring about happiness in the long run. Bad actions, such as lying, stealing or killing, bring about unhappiness in the long run. The weight that actions carry is determined by five conditions: frequent, repetitive action; determined, intentional action; action performed without regret; action against extraordinary persons; and action toward those who have helped one in the past. Finally, there is also neutral karma, which derives from acts such as breathing, eating or sleeping. Neutral karma has no benefits or costs.

Karma plays out in the Buddhism cycle of rebirth. There are six separate planes into which any living being can be reborn -- three fortunate realms, and three unfortunate realms. Those with favorable, positive karma are reborn into one of the fortunate realms: the realm of demigods, the realm of gods, and the realm of men. While the demigods and gods enjoy gratification unknown to men, they also suffer unceasing jealousy and envy. The realm of man is considered the highest realm of rebirth. Humanity lacks some of the extravagances of the demigods and gods, but is also free from their relentless conflict. Similarly, while inhabitants of the three unfortunate realms -- of animals, ghosts and hell -- suffer untold suffering, the suffering of the realm of man is far less.

The realm of man also offers one other aspect lacking in the other five planes, an opportunity to achieve enlightenment, or Nirvana. Given the sheer number of living things, to be born human is to Buddhists a precious chance at spiritual bliss, a rarity that one should not forsake.

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JAPANESE BUDDHISM – Onmark Productions

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HOME Online Since 1995 BUDDHISM & SHINTISM IN JAPAN A-TO-Z PHOTO DICTIONARY OF JAPANESE RELIGIOUS SCULPTURE & ARTVIDEO of site author explaining Ni iconography (Oct. 2013) VIDEO of site author exploring Buddhist treasures (April 16, 2013) INTERVIEW with site author (Japan Times, August 7, 2010)

This photo library and dictionary is a labor of love. After moving to Kamakura in 1993, I became intrigued by the many deities and faces of Japanese Buddhism and Shintism. There are dozens of Buddhist temples and Shint shrines near my home, many dating from the 8th to 13th centuries, many open to the public. There are 400+ deities in this dictionary, and 4,000+ photos of statuary from Kamakura, Nara, Kyoto, and elsewhere in Japan. Use the search box to search in English, Japanese, Chinese, or Korean for deities not listed at left. Any mistakes or omissions at this site are my responsibility. Please contact me if you discover any. In July 2006, I launched the online store and gallery Buddhist-Artwork.com. It sells quality hand-carved wood Buddha statues and Bodhisattva statuary from Japan, China, and SE Asia. It is aimed at art lovers, Buddhist practitioners, and laity alike.

WHATS NEW (Sept. 2014) Mt. Tiantai Art (110 pix) Zodiac & 28 Moon Lodges Hina Dolls & Scapegoats Medicine Buddha (50 pix) Videos on Buddhism Seven Luckies Revisited Star Worship in Japan Korean Buddhism (280 pix) Modern Artists (35 pix) Benzaiten (260 pix) Medieval Art in Japan Tanuki (175 pix) Becoming a Shrine Priest Bishamonten (80 pix) Daruma & Zen (80+ pix) Kappa Revisited (31 pix) Baku - Nightmare Eater Shki - Demon Queller Kannon Guide (130+ pix) Jiz Handbook (90+ pix) CHINA RELATED Longmen | Ni | Shitenn

Fourth, this project was prompted by a dissatisfaction with existing literature on Japanese Buddhist statuary. I still visit book stores and libraries hunting for the perfect English handbook on Japanese Buddhist sculpture. But I must admit, I have yet to find anything that satisfies me. Mountains of publications are out there. Many are aimed at the scholarly community, devoted to hyper-specialized topics, and extremely academic (thus "indecipherable" to the lay community). Another wellspring of information comes from museums, curators, art historians, and collectors. While lavishly illustrated exhibition catalogs and glossy art magazines are much appreciated and easier to read, these publications tend to ignore the religious underpinnings of Asian art. Instead of providing a broad historical view of the statue and its significance as a living icon, they tend to emphasize a piecemeal "bite-size" approach involving aesthetics, dating and provenance, technique, material, genre, and style. A third copious source of information comes from temples, practitioners, spiritualists, and independent web bloggers. Their publications are written for the general public but suffer from too much preaching, promoting, fabrication, self-interest, inconsistency, inaccuracy, and just plain "unreadability."

Dont get me wrong. There are excellent resources (see bibliography) out there by scholars and art historians, but yet I'm unsatisfied. The best of the lot, in my mind, are the books entitled Sculpture of the Kamakura Period (by Hisashi Mori, 1974), Portraits of Chgen: The Transformation of Buddhist Art in Early Medieval Japan (by John M. Rosenfield, 2010), and Faith and Power in Japanese Buddhist Art from 1600 to 2005 (by Patricia Graham, 2007). As for online resources, the Japanese Architecture and Art Net Users System (JAANUS) is by far the best digital dictionary devoted to Japanese art. It contains English definitions for over eight thousand Japanese terms related to religious sculpture, architecture and gardens, painting, ceramics, textiles, metalwork, and art-historical iconography. Another monumental work is the Digital Dictionary of Buddhism or DDB (log in with user name = guest). This online dictionary contains English definitions for over sixty thousand Chinese terms (as of May 2013), along with pronunciations in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese. The DDB is also linked to the SAT Taish Shinsh Daizky (a digitized & searchable version of the Buddhist canon). Together they represent an invaluable reference work for Buddhist studies.

The study of Japanese religions and religious art has expanded greatly in the West over the past five decades. Until the 1960s, the field was populated mostly by college teachers and museum curators interested in collecting, but they had little or no training in Asian languages. Today the field is rooted firmly in Asian language sources and is highly specialized, with most universities emphasizing cult-specific, site-specific, ritual-specific, and deity-specific studies. These changes have deepened the discipline enormously, despite the tendency of hyper-specialization to narrow the outlook.

Thus I began in 1995 with my first digital camera, along with the help of my scanner. Ive been digging around ever since. This site is my tribute to Japanese Buddhist sculpture and, to a lesser degree, Shint art. It is written for scholars, art historians, practitioners, and laity alike, and attempts to remedy the dissatisfactions I mention above. Finally, let me express my gratitude and thanks to all the fine people, temples, shrines, museums, web sites, books, magazines, and other resources that have contributed to this ongoing project.

TIMELINE

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