Japanese Temple Buddhism: Worldliness in a Religion of Renunciation
Stephen Clovell’s book is an insightful guide to contemporary Japanese Buddhism in modern Japan and its origins in the Edo Period. Focusing his thesis on the claims of corruption and degradation Japanese and American scholars make towards Japanese Temple Buddhism, Clovell expresses a counter-view to Buddhism simply being a world-renouncing religion. Instead, he argues that the funerary rites, system of priestly succession, and focus on this-worldly benefits are not "un-Buddhist" in any way. He brings up the dilemmas Japanese Buddhism faces in the modern world, but argues that the Temple Buddhism that currently exists is still pious and devoted to Buddhism and adapting to a Japanese society that is still hungry for the wisdom and insights Buddhists world-renouncers have always provided, but in a new setting. Not only is Clovell’s work and informative and well thought-out scholarly addition to academia, but is also a helpful tool to teachers and students of Japanese history and culture to put a religious movement into a context that makes it easily understandable. While religion can be a difficult topic to cover in the classroom, Clovell has crafted a work that makes religious ideas and history readily accessible and part of a larger narrative on secular culture.
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University of Hawai’i Press