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The northern Chinese mountain range of Mount Wutai has been a preeminent site of international pilgrimage for over a millennium. Home to more than one hundred temples, the entire range is considered a Buddhist paradise on earth, and has received visitors ranging from emperors to monastic and lay devotees. Mount Wutai explores how Qing Buddhist rulers and clerics from Inner Asia, including Manchus, Tibetans, and Mongols, reimagined the mountain as their own during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Wen-Shing Chou examines a wealth of original source materials in multiple languages and media--many never before published or translated-such as temple replicas, pilgrimage guides, hagiographic representations, and panoramic maps. She shows how literary, artistic, and architectural depictions of the mountain permanently transformed the site's religious landscape and redefined Inner Asia's relations with China. Chou addresses the pivotal but previously unacknowledged history of artistic and intellectual exchange between the varying religious, linguistic, and cultural traditions of the region. The reimagining of Mount Wutai was a fluid endeavor that proved central to the cosmopolitanism of the Qing Empire, and the mountain range became a unique site of shared diplomacy, trade, and religious devotion between different constituents, as well as a spiritual bridge between China and Tibet. A compelling exploration of the changing meaning and significance of one of the world's great religious sites, Mount Wutai offers an important new framework for understanding Buddhist sacred geography.
In massmarket for the first time, Start Where You Are is an indispensable handbook for cultivating fearlessness and awakening a compassionate heart, from bestselling author Pema Chodron. With insight and humour, she presents down-to-earth guidance on how to make friends with ourselves and develop genuine compassion towards others. This book shows how we can 'start where we are' by embracing rather than denying the painful aspects of our lives. Pema Chodron frames her teachings on compassion around fifty-nine traditional Tibetan Buddhist maxims, or slogans, such as: 'Always apply a joyful state of mind', 'Always meditate on whatever provokes resentment' and 'Be grateful to everyone'. Working with these slogans and through the practice of meditation, Start Where You Are shows how we can all develop the courage to work with our own inner pain and discover joy, well-being and confidence.
The 547 Buddhist jatakas, or verse parables, recount the Buddha's lives in previous incarnations. In his penultimate and most famous incarnation, he appears as the Prince Vessantara, perfecting the virtue of generosity by giving away all his possessions, his wife, and his children to the beggar Jujaka. Taking an anthropological approach to this two-thousand-year-old morality tale, Katherine A. Bowie highlights significant local variations in its interpretations and public performances across three regions of Thailand over 150 years. The Vessantara Jataka has served both monastic and royal interests, encouraging parents to give their sons to religious orders and intimating that kings are future Buddhas. But, as Bowie shows, characterizations of the beggar Jujaka in various regions and eras have also brought ribald humor and sly antiroyalist themes to the story. Historically, these subversive performances appealed to popular audiences even as they worried the conservative Bangkok court. The monarchy sporadically sought to suppress the comedic recitations. As Thailand has changed from a feudal to a capitalist society, this famous story about giving away possessions is paradoxically being employed to promote tourism and wealth.
This wide-ranging and powerful book argues that Theravada Buddhism provides ways of thinking about the self that can reinvigorate the humanities and offer broader insights into how to learn and how to act. Steven Collins argues that Buddhist philosophy should be approached in the spirit of its historical teachers and visionaries, who saw themselves not as preservers of an archaic body of rules but as part of a timeless effort to understand what it means to lead a worthy life. He contends that Buddhism should be studied philosophically, literarily, and ethically using its own vocabulary and rhetorical tools. Approached in this manner, Buddhist notions of the self help us rethink contemporary ideas of self-care and the promotion of human flourishing. Collins details the insights of Buddhist texts and practices that promote the ideal of active and engaged learning, offering an expansive and lyrical reflection on Theravada approaches to meditation, asceticism, and physical training. He explores views of monastic life and contemplative practices as complementing and reinforcing textual learning, and argues that the Buddhist tenet that the study of philosophy and ethics involves both rigorous reading and an ascetic lifestyle has striking resonance with modern and postmodern ideas. A bold reappraisal of the history of Buddhist literature and practice, Wisdom as a Way of Life offers students and scholars across the disciplines a nuanced understanding of the significance of Buddhist ways of knowing for the world today.
This groundbreaking history tells the little-known story of how, in one of our country's darkest hours, Japanese Americans fought to defend their faith and preserve religious freedom. The mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II is not only a tale of injustice; it is a moving story of faith. In this pathbreaking account, Duncan Ryuken Williams reveals how, even as they were stripped of their homes and imprisoned in camps, Japanese American Buddhists launched one of the most inspiring defenses of religious freedom in our nation's history, insisting that they could be both Buddhist and American. Nearly all Americans of Japanese descent were subject to bigotry and accusations of disloyalty, but Buddhists aroused particular suspicion. Government officials, from the White House to small-town mayors, believed that Buddhism was incompatible with American values. Intelligence agencies targeted the Buddhist community for surveillance, and Buddhist priests were deemed a threat to national security. On December 7, 1941, as the bombs fell on Pearl Harbor, Attorney General Francis Biddle issued a warrant to "take into custody all Japanese" classified as potential national security threats. The first person detained was Bishop Gikyo Kuchiba, leader of the Nishi Hongwanji Buddhist sect in Hawai'i. In the face of discrimination, dislocation, dispossession, and confinement, Japanese Americans turned to their faith to sustain them, whether they were behind barbed wire in camps or serving in one of the most decorated combat units in the European theater. Using newly translated sources and extensive interviews with survivors of the camps and veterans of the war, American Sutra reveals how the Japanese American community broadened our country's conception of religious freedom and forged a new American Buddhism.
Rigorously researched and deeply illuminating, world-leading neurologist Dr Steven Laureys works with celebrated meditators to scientifically prove the positive impact meditation has on our brains.
Dr Steven Laureys has conducted ground-breaking research into human consciousness for more than 20 years.
For this bestselling book, Steven to explores the effect of meditation on the brain. He uses hard science to explain the benefits of a practice that was once thought of as purely spiritual. The result is a highly accessible, scientifically questioning guide to meditation, designed to open the practice to a broader audience.
A mix of fascinating science, inspiring anecdote and practical exercises, this accessible book offers scientific evidence that meditation can have a positive impact on all our lives.
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