Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Japanese Religion:The Ebook - Robert Ellwood

Japanese Religion: The Ebook - Robert Ellwood
This volume is intended to present both information about the religion traditions of Japan and an experience of their world. For that reason it contains data, descriptions, quotations, anecdotes, and a few philosophical reflections. It is hoped also that working with this book will introduce students to some academic ways of looking at the religions of the world. Japanese Religions: The eBook should be accessible to all motivated college and university students, whether they have had previous courses in Japanese or Religious Studies topics or not. Nonetheless, a little background reading in Japanese history, and in Buddhism and Confucianism, would obviously be helpful. Some students may have had more background in European and American history than in Japanese. To my mind, at least, despite very minimal direct contact until modern times, interesting parallels between Japanese and western social, intellectual, and religious history, from the feudal Middle Ages on up, suggest themselves; a few speculations in this direction appear. Each chapter is followed by a list of study questions and a short representative bibliography. More specialized books and articles will be found cited in the notes; they are also generally recommended for further research. Much information can now be found online as well. Japanese names are given in the Japanese way, with surname first, except in the case of authors of English-language, or translated, books (e.g. Susumu Shimazono), in which case the name is given as it appears on the book’s title page and in library catalogs. It should be noted, however, that many premodern Japanese historical figures are normally referred to by their given name (e.g. Ieyasu rather than Tokugawa Ireyasu), and after first identification they are so named here. Also, Buddhist teachers and writers usually go by their name in religion rather than their birth-name, and to make matters more confusing, sometimes change that name to mark different ordinations or stages of life, including a posthumous (after-death) name (e.g. Saeki Mao? birth-name; Kukai, religious name; Kobo daishi, posthumous name). For the sake of clarity, the name most commonly recognized (e.g. Shinran, Nichiren, Basho) is used consistently, regardless of whether the individual actually was known by that name at the point in life under discussion.

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