Lazy_eye wrote:Mr. G wrote:.
This observation also raises some questions about the
term ‘‘voluntary death,’’ by which ascetic suicide is often described.
As Moerman notes, the presence of insistent crowds determined
to gain merit from witnessing the act may have rendered some instances
of religious suicide not quite so voluntary.
A pertinent question for me is whether Shinran would have endorsed such practices.
Shirnan and Ippen did not endorse suicide. Ippen was adamant against this as noted in the writings collected from his followers.
A teacher can't necessarily be held to account for misinterpretations by followers.
Yes, this is why I personally hold Shinran apart from the collective organization of Hongwanji - too much politics for me.
And regarding Hongwanji, they also have a history of suicide among some followers:
- Longings for postmortem reunion in the Pure Land were also
cited as a motive for religious suicide, as discussed in Mark Blum’s
chapter. Blum investigates the suicides of Jodo Shinshu adherents,
perhaps as many as thirty-three, following the death of the abbot Jitsunyo
(1458–1525), the monshu or head of the powerful Shinshu¯ Honganji
organization. The practice of ‘‘relinquishing the body’’ has
always held an ambivalent position in Buddhist traditions, being alter-
nately condemned and valorized, and recent scholarship has expanded
on its multiple significances in specific Buddhist cultures: as
both a selfless gift and an exchange of one’s corruptible body for the
adamantine body of an enlightened one; as an imitation of the Buddha;
as an act of protest when the ruler persecutes the dharma; or as
sacrifice on behalf of others. Drawing on both Buddhist canonical
sources and the history of this practice in East Asia, Blum analyzes the
complex ideological heritage underlying the suicides attending Jitsunyo’s
death. They drew, he argues, on both the Pure Land ideal of jigai
o¯jo¯, or ‘‘achieving the Pure Land through suicide’’—the most common
motive given for Buddhist ascetic suicide in Japan—as well as on Confucian
traditions, appropriated into the warrior ethos, of loyalty suicide
( junshi) to accompany one’s lord in death. Jitsunyo, who presided over
an immense organization that was at once political and religious,
united in his person the roles of Buddhist teacher and feudal daimyo¯
or warrior lord. The suicides accompanying his death, Blum concludes,
were acts both of mimesis, replicating Jitsunyo’s act of achieving the
Pure Land, and of solidarity, expressing loyalty to Jitsunyo and at the
same time conveying to outsiders that the unity of Honganji followers
transcended life and death.
- Death and the Afterlife in Japanese Buddhism
On a perhaps related note, my son was reading a book about mummies and it included an example of self-mummification by a Japanese monk!
Yes, sokushin-butsu! Also found in Tendai, Shingon and Shugendo.