Dharma Drum Mountain (DDM) is one of the largest and most influential Buddhist international organizations in Taiwan. Founded in 1989 by the late master Shengyan Huikong (Sheng Yen), DDM is a combination of monastic and academic institutions known for promoting Buddhist education and Chan (Zen) practice. To preserve and present Chan Buddhism as a form of moral and spiritual education, Sheng Yen established a new Chan lineage, the Dharma Drum Lineage (DDL), in 2006. This article focuses on the history of DDL in the contexts of the religious landscape in postwar Taiwan and Sheng Yen’s thought. It begins by considering the contexts of Sheng Yen’s emphasis on education and critique of his predecessors. It then examines the formation of Sheng Yen’s thought and the formation of DDL in the Taiwanese context. Finally, it highlights the unique features of DDL and compares them to popular and academic conceptions of Zen Buddhism.
Scholars have recently begun synthesizing data on the massive aid response by religious organizations after the March 11, 2011, compound earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disasters in northeast Japan. This article begins with a summary of recent statistical assessments that detail how much money religions raised, the kinds of material aid they provided, and the numbers of volunteers they mobilized. It then provides two contrasting ethnographic case studies of grassroots-level religious responses that reveal aspects that do not fit a statistical framework. The article highlights the importance of reading ethnographic accounts in combination with quantified data about Japanese religion to complicate reliance on assessments provided by institutional administrators in order to better understand how aid efforts take shape in local communities.
This essay introduces some of the key issues associated with virtual religious practices. With the development of the MODEM program and public access to the Internet and then the WWW, online religious activity has flourished. On a most basic level, virtual religion has affected religious community, authority, and identity. However, online religious activity has also changed ritual practices, religious information seeking behaviors, and even people’s religious experiences. Virtual religion is having significant impact and changing the way people “do” religion in our wired world. After introducing the topic and key issues, this essay presents an important case study of Virtual Tibet, highlighting the significant changes that can occur in religious beliefs and practices as they are “digitized” and experienced online.