Series Four Volume 2

Śrāvaka Ordination in a Mahāyāna Embrace: Triple Platform Ordination in Chinese Buddhism

The use of Chinese tradition bhikṣuṇī ordinations to revitalize female monastic lineages in other traditions has led to disputes as to their Mahāyāna status. Here we examine the Chinese Buddhist triple plat- form ordination in terms of its Mahāyānic features using a polythetic rather than monothetic definition of what constitutes Mahāyāna Buddhism. Our examination of these ordinations’ organizational structures, preceptors and preceptees, and daily lifestyle, as well as the rites themselves for each of the three ordinations and the instructive lectures that accompany the rites, reveals that the Mahāyāna spirit pervades and embraces the entirety of these ordinations.

Series Four Volume 2

Review: Be the Refuge

“Where are all the young adult Asian American Buddhists, and what can we learn from them?” In answering these questions, Chenxing Han’s Be the Refuge: Raising the Voices of Asian American Buddhists combats the erasure of Asian American Buddhists in representations of American Buddhism. Despite making up two thirds of the American Buddhist population, Asian Americans are frequently left out of histories of American Buddhism. In “raising the voices of young adult Asian American Buddhists,” Han has created a new American sutra that is at once memoire, ethnography, history, and cultural critique.

Series Four Volume 2

Review: The Buddha’s Footprint

Johan Elverskog’s The Buddha’s Footprint is a scathing rebuttal to the popular reception of Buddhism as an eco-friendly, inherently green religious tradition. Through a close interpretive reading of particular points of the Buddhist textual canon and a detailed analysis of historical documents from Buddhist Asia, Elverskog refutes the Eco-Buddhist claim that the Buddhist tradition has historically been a positive force for environmental wellbeing. He summarizes his book’s argument quite well in the conclusion, stating: “Inspired by the Dharma’s prosperity theology, Buddhists were protocapitalists who exploited the natural world relentlessly as they pushed into the frontier” (p. 115). In arguing this position, Elverskog finds himself working against a long-established belief stemming from Max Weber that Buddhism (and Buddhist Asia) lacks “economic rationalism and rational life methodology,” which makes it “apolitical” and “otherworldly” (p. 39), a belief that underpins the contemporary Eco-Buddhist worldview. Nonetheless, he crafts a solid argument against this tradition of thought and highlights the main religious roots, socio-cultural developments, and ecological consequences of Buddhism’s protocapitalist prosperity theology.

Series Four Volume 2

Review: Tibetan Buddhism among Han Chinese

Despite the rapid growth of Tibetan Buddhism in the last thirty years among Chinese peoples in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and throughout the international Chinese diaspora, Han practitioners and their Tibetan Buddhist teachers have remained a relatively understudied part of Chinese religious life. As the first monograph devoted to this subject in nearly a decade, Joshua Esler’s Tibetan Buddhism among Han Chinese marks an important step toward filling this gap in our understanding of the contemporary Chinese religious landscape. Rooted in extensive fieldwork, including more than eighty interviews con- ducted in Beijing, Dechen/Diqing, Lijiang, Hong Kong, and Taiwan in 2011, Esler provides an intimate and richly detailed account of some of the ways in which Tibetan Buddhist teachers and Han practitioners are adapting Tibetan Buddhism to contemporary Chinese societies.

Series Four Volume 2

Review: American JewBu

American JewBu: Jews, Buddhists, and Religious Change. By Emily Sigalow. Princeton University Press, 2019. 256 pages. $29.95 (hardcover). ISBN-13: 978- 0691174594. In her book American JewBu: Jews, Buddhists, and Religious Change, Emily Sigalow brings an ethnographic study of self-definition into the scholarly conversation about Jews in the United States, Buddhists in the United States, and how nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first…

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Series Four Volume 2

Review: Secrecy: Silence, Power, and Religion

Secrecy: Silence, Power, and Religion. By Hugh Urban. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2021. 264 pages. $30.00 (paperback). ISBN: 978-0-226-74664-7. Hugh Urban’s book Secrecy: Silence, Power, and Religion examines the meanings of “secrecy” in six “esoteric movements” in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Engaging esoteric movements in the US and Europe, Urban analyzes the ways secrecy can be used to…

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Series Four Volume 2

Review: Mind Cure

Mind Cure: How Meditation Became Medicine. By Wakoh Shannon Hickey. New York: Oxford University Press, 2019. 324 pages. $29.95 (hardcover). ISBN 978-0190864248. The primary concern of Mind Cure is the broad, diffuse Mindfulness movement that includes Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) developed by the microbiologist Jon Kabat-Zinn and “all the therapeutic derivatives of MBSR, collectively called MBIs [Mindfulness-Based Interventions]” (p. 8).…

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Series Four Volume 2

Review: Women and Buddhist Philosophy

Women and Buddhist Philosophy: Engaging Zen Master Kim Iryop. By Jin Y. Park. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2017. 292 pages. $28.00 (paperback). ISBN 978-0-8248-7936-5. In Women and Buddhist Philosophy, Jin Y. Park focuses on Zen Master Kim Iryop (1896–1971), who grew up in a Christian family and eventually became a Buddhist nun. In light of the experiences of Iryop,…

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