The article examines evidence for characteristic Buddhist positions regarding the nature and soteriological status of deities. It establishes that deities are but one of several classes of transient entities that need spiritual guidance and argues that by accepting the existence of such entities Buddhism is, according to the operating definition of the volume, a theistic tradition. It also shows that, whereas later Buddhist thinkers developed sophisticated critiques of concepts of a universal God developed within Indian Hindu tradition and are committed to a strongly atheist stance, texts representing early Buddhism tend to be epistemologically cautious rather than directly atheist. This is picture is explored through the exposition of verses from Śāntideva’s Bodhicaryāvatāra and supplemented by reference to suttas and jātakas from the Pali canon. Finally, it dismisses a quasi-theistic interpretation of some aspects of Buddhist traditions.
In addition to summarizing key concerns in Theravāda Buddhist Economics by scholars such as E. F. Schumacher and the Thai monk Payutto, this essay explores how descriptions of the West, Western development, and the “science” of economics serves in that literature to construct Occidentalist versions of Southeast Asian traditionalism and religious orthodoxy. It then introduces the previously unstudied work of Shérab Tendar, a prominent Tibetan Buddhist scholar in the contemporary People’s Republic of China who has written prodigiously on what he considers to be a scripturally based Mahāyāna and Tantric Buddhist Economics. Comparing these three influential iterations of Buddhist Economics, this essay argues that this movement has less to do with economics proper than with what I call trans-Buddhist “scales of value”: site-specific desires and measures of sought after outcomes that here privilege the economy and economic behavior as a technique for individual, social, and environmental well-being and emancipation.
This article examines Buddhist views about intrareligious and interreligious diversity. For a Buddhist, religious others can be Buddhists of other sects and schools, as well as those aligned to religions external to Buddhism. There is a common view of Buddhism as tolerant, non-dogmatic, and willing to embrace religious diversity. There are Buddhist examples of religious exclusivism and inclusivism. Largely in recent times, there have also been tendencies toward pluralism. Buddhist attitudes toward Christianity have often been affected by the experience of colonialism and Christian missionary zeal. Recently, however, there has been a particularly strong interreligious dialogue between Buddhists and Christians. Both Masao Abe and Thich Nhat Hanh focus on the relationship between Buddhism and Christianity, but the latter is a prominent example of a tendency among some recent Buddhists to assert the rhetoric of religious pluralism, in which religions are regarded as equal, while interpreting non-Buddhist religions in a manner that imposes Buddhist concepts on them.
This article introduces the Japanese millennial movements, which came into contact with its western counterparts in the nineteenth century. While periodization has been intrinsic to millennialism, the Japanese had no period-based idea of millennialism, marked by the return of a messiah. Pre-Buddhist Japan did not have much to do with temporal demarcations. The loosest attempt at periodization came from the observation of the harvest seasons. Omoto (1892–1935) and Aum Shirinkyo (1986–1995) are Japan's most notorious tryst with millennialism. While the former, launched by a peasant woman Deguchi Nao, preached the return of the mythical figure “Ushitora Konjin”, to salvage man, and the latter, the most notorious, founded by Asahara Shoko, was involved in various nefarious activities, including the infamous Sarin gas incident on the Tokyo subway (1995). Shoko and several members were arrested and sentenced to death. Post Aum, millennialism lost influence in Japan.
Robert Pearson Flaherty
This article examines some of the main contributors to millennialism in a Korean context. The Korean millennial legacy is a synthesis of diverse influences such as Buddhism, Christianity, and various new-age religions based on pre-Christian Korean myths. These, coupled with various movements of discontent emerging from confusion in the society, have found expression in millennialist movements. This article states that Korean Buddhism believes the Maitreya to have been born to a Brahmin in Varanasi and a disciple of the first Buddha, Shakyamuni. The Donghak revolution (1894) was based on certain millennial assumptions. This article discusses the words of its founder Choe Je-u about the arrival of the “SangJe”, the Jade ruler of the universe to salvage the world. The religion finally revolted against Japanese imperialists and the Korean royalty. Korean Christianity drew heavily from the concept of the pre-tribulation rapture of the chosen ones.
This chapter investigates the place of destructive acts against oneself—such as starvation and self-mutilation—in the spectrum of violent actions performed in the name of religion. Self-starvation and self-mutilation share some of the ideological and performative features of violence in the name of religion. The self-sacrifice of Quang Duc was demonstrative of a time-tested Buddhist form of bodily practice known in Buddhist studies in the West as self-immolation. It is revealed that self-directed violence can be both an act of devotion and an act of protest. Self-immolation and hunger-striking employ the body as a means of resistance. Like self-conflagration, the hunger strike has become a global phenomenon used on every continent of the world.