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date: 15 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Funerary Buddhism emerges out of Buddhism’s encounter with modernization, both in Asia and the West from the nineteenth century. It refers to a broad spectrum of textual, material, ritual, sociocultural, and institutional forms connected to the immediate and ongoing care of the dead. It implicates everything from Buddhist institutions to local temples, local civil codes to international law, and sectarian intellectuals to popular culture. A crucial aspect of funerary Buddhism includes its use as a foil, particularly the ways in which Buddhist modernists have tried to explain away many aspects of Buddhist funerary practices as not real Buddhism. Forced to act as the “other” to various notions of true Buddhism, funerary Buddhism thus also represents, in countries such as Japan, a sort of existential crisis whereby local priests are told that their ongoing dependence on funerary ritual is at odds with the true teachings of their sects.

Keywords: Buddhism, funerary, Japan, ritual, Buddhist modernism

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