Open Request to E. Asian Buddhist Scholars

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Queequeg
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Open Request to E. Asian Buddhist Scholars

Post by Queequeg »

If you're looking for material to study, I'd like to suggest E. Asian Vajrayana. There is a ton of material that has not been studied and presented in the West, especially Taimitsu. There is a generation of scholars studying Shingon thanks to Prof. Abe at Harvard, but not much on Taimitsu lately. Tendai studies seem to still skew to kengyo aspects, though even that is pretty much from high altitude. There have been studies of Saicho and Ryogen, but no one has gotten into Ennin, Enchin, and Annen. Plenty of material to make a career out of. Plenty of work in Japan that can be turned into a robust thesis without having to reinvent the wheel. I realize not as sexy as finding some obscure angle no one has ever thought of, but plenty of low hanging fruit. Careers can be made out of simply presenting scholarship on such pivotal personalities to the West and putting it through a Western academic filter to bring something novel to the field that is still dominated in Japan by sectarian biases. My impression is that a lot of people are working on medieval Japanese culture, but are missing the mikkyo basis of a lot of it. Mikkyo is still largely a black box but is critical for history, social and art history. I suggest, your panels at AAS, though not sexy and provocative, will be well attended by people wanting more exposure to influential figures like that. And there are a growing number of us outside the academy who would eagerly consume it.
Last edited by Queequeg on Fri Jun 14, 2024 3:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
There is no suffering to be severed. Ignorance and klesas are indivisible from bodhi. There is no cause of suffering to be abandoned. Since extremes and the false are the Middle and genuine, there is no path to be practiced. Samsara is nirvana. No severance achieved. No suffering nor its cause. No path, no end. There is no transcendent realm; there is only the one true aspect. There is nothing separate from the true aspect.
-Guanding, Perfect and Sudden Contemplation,
Kalavinka
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Re: Open Request to E. Asian Buddhist Scholars

Post by Kalavinka »

You might be interested in these upcoming talks by Shoshin Ichishima:

https://www.thebuddhistsociety.org/page ... e-buddhism

Also are you aware of Dr. Aaron Proffitt? He’s been doing a fair bit of work in the mikkyo space.
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Queequeg
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Re: Open Request to E. Asian Buddhist Scholars

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Thank you for that link to Ichishima-sensei's lectures.

I am familiar with Proffitt. His work emphasizes Pure Land aspects.

I'm hoping people take up mikkyo more directly. I realize its hard because a lot of it is still going to be difficult to penetrate because of the limited access to mikkyo granted to outsiders.
There is no suffering to be severed. Ignorance and klesas are indivisible from bodhi. There is no cause of suffering to be abandoned. Since extremes and the false are the Middle and genuine, there is no path to be practiced. Samsara is nirvana. No severance achieved. No suffering nor its cause. No path, no end. There is no transcendent realm; there is only the one true aspect. There is nothing separate from the true aspect.
-Guanding, Perfect and Sudden Contemplation,
Genjo Conan
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Re: Open Request to E. Asian Buddhist Scholars

Post by Genjo Conan »

On several occasions I've allowed myself to indulge in the fantasy that I'll go back to school, learn Japanese, and dive into the texts looking at the 800-year conversation between Shingon and Soto Zen. I know it's out there, I just can't read it.

Trying to study Shingon in America in 2024 feels like how my Zen dharma grandfathers describe trying to study Zen in the '60s: I feel grateful for what there is, but I also feel like there's a universe that's beyond my reach. (Which, for someone like me, who has a tendency to over-conceptualize, may not be a bad thing.)
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Re: Open Request to E. Asian Buddhist Scholars

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Genjo Conan wrote: Fri Jun 14, 2024 5:18 pm On several occasions I've allowed myself to indulge in the fantasy that I'll go back to school, learn Japanese, and dive into the texts looking at the 800-year conversation between Shingon and Soto Zen. I know it's out there, I just can't read it.

Trying to study Shingon in America in 2024 feels like how my Zen dharma grandfathers describe trying to study Zen in the '60s: I feel grateful for what there is, but I also feel like there's a universe that's beyond my reach. (Which, for someone like me, who has a tendency to over-conceptualize, may not be a bad thing.)
GC, next life. We can plan early next time and go that route instead of law school. See you on the faculty at Stanford.
There is no suffering to be severed. Ignorance and klesas are indivisible from bodhi. There is no cause of suffering to be abandoned. Since extremes and the false are the Middle and genuine, there is no path to be practiced. Samsara is nirvana. No severance achieved. No suffering nor its cause. No path, no end. There is no transcendent realm; there is only the one true aspect. There is nothing separate from the true aspect.
-Guanding, Perfect and Sudden Contemplation,
Miorita
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Re: Open Request to E. Asian Buddhist Scholars

Post by Miorita »

Thank you for resources on expanding my horizons!
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FromTheEarth
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Re: Open Request to E. Asian Buddhist Scholars

Post by FromTheEarth »

Regarding Mikkyo research, I wonder how much of the Taimitsu literature would be accessible to scholars who would not want to commit themselves to a priestly training program? Just curious and I suppose even having access to the literature alone seems far from enough—here I have in mind oral transmission, practices, etc.

Of course one might choose to focus on doctrinal and exegetical disputes, sectarian politics, etc., which may not be as daunting accessibility-wise. I do share your sentiment as compared to the quality and quantity of Zen studies, it is a shame that Tendai and Shingon studies remain what they are today.
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Zhen Li
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Re: Open Request to E. Asian Buddhist Scholars

Post by Zhen Li »

FromTheEarth wrote: Thu Jun 20, 2024 9:04 am Regarding Mikkyo research, I wonder how much of the Taimitsu literature would be accessible to scholars who would not want to commit themselves to a priestly training program? Just curious and I suppose even having access to the literature alone seems far from enough—here I have in mind oral transmission, practices, etc.

Of course one might choose to focus on doctrinal and exegetical disputes, sectarian politics, etc., which may not be as daunting accessibility-wise. I do share your sentiment as compared to the quality and quantity of Zen studies, it is a shame that Tendai and Shingon studies remain what they are today.
I think a lot of the materials QQ was referring to are pretty openly accessible in the Taishō.

Sometimes I translate stuff outside of my area of practice, but I always wonder if there are some nuances I can't get because I haven't practised in that tradition. I'm used to ritual Vajrayāna literature because I studied it in Sanskrit, so kind of know what to expect, but to add Tendai theory to the mix makes Taimitsu very daunting. Even the kengyo stuff is complicated, and they use a lot of terms that are only used within Tendai.
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Re: Open Request to E. Asian Buddhist Scholars

Post by Queequeg »

Yes, I believe most of the works are available in the Taisho canon, at least the writings of figures like Annen, Enchin, and Ennin. As I mentioned, there is a lot of work that has already been done in Japanese, so there are abundant secondary sources to work with. A Western scholar could provide a social science perspective on the body of work to make new contributions on well worn paths. A lot of the work done in the reflects old sectarian biases and outsiders can bring new perspectives to uncover different aspects.

Penetrating the terminology is daunting. You'd need a good command of Tiantai/Tendai kengyo terminology and concepts in addition to mikkyo. It would not be an easy path at all. But maybe small steps here and there building to a strong sub-field in the future.
There is no suffering to be severed. Ignorance and klesas are indivisible from bodhi. There is no cause of suffering to be abandoned. Since extremes and the false are the Middle and genuine, there is no path to be practiced. Samsara is nirvana. No severance achieved. No suffering nor its cause. No path, no end. There is no transcendent realm; there is only the one true aspect. There is nothing separate from the true aspect.
-Guanding, Perfect and Sudden Contemplation,
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FromTheEarth
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Re: Open Request to E. Asian Buddhist Scholars

Post by FromTheEarth »

Thank you for the input guys!
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Zhen Li
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Re: Open Request to E. Asian Buddhist Scholars

Post by Zhen Li »

Queequeg wrote: Thu Jun 20, 2024 3:11 pm Penetrating the terminology is daunting. You'd need a good command of Tiantai/Tendai kengyo terminology and concepts in addition to mikkyo. It would not be an easy path at all. But maybe small steps here and there building to a strong sub-field in the future.
I know this is being framed as something for "scholars" but most of the Tendai monks I know who speak English area pretty scholastic, and capable of translating (even if it is a skill that needs some work, over time, it can be learned). The main thing is time. They are either working day jobs or are in high demand with practice, teaching, managing institutions, etc.

However, someone who gets to some level of authority in the Tendai hierarchy should consider making the translation of their works into English a priority for their English-speaking monastics. Nishi Hongwanji did this with the Shin Buddhism Translation Series which is still ongoing. I think Higashi Honganji has something similar. As for Pure Land Tendai stuff, I am sure it will be a matter of time before Genshin's Ojoyoshu is also published by BDK. I began going through it, but realised it was on the BDK list.
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Queequeg
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Re: Open Request to E. Asian Buddhist Scholars

Post by Queequeg »

Zhen Li wrote: Sat Jun 22, 2024 4:33 am
Queequeg wrote: Thu Jun 20, 2024 3:11 pm Penetrating the terminology is daunting. You'd need a good command of Tiantai/Tendai kengyo terminology and concepts in addition to mikkyo. It would not be an easy path at all. But maybe small steps here and there building to a strong sub-field in the future.
I know this is being framed as something for "scholars" but most of the Tendai monks I know who speak English area pretty scholastic, and capable of translating (even if it is a skill that needs some work, over time, it can be learned). The main thing is time. They are either working day jobs or are in high demand with practice, teaching, managing institutions, etc.

However, someone who gets to some level of authority in the Tendai hierarchy should consider making the translation of their works into English a priority for their English-speaking monastics. Nishi Hongwanji did this with the Shin Buddhism Translation Series which is still ongoing. I think Higashi Honganji has something similar. As for Pure Land Tendai stuff, I am sure it will be a matter of time before Genshin's Ojoyoshu is also published by BDK. I began going through it, but realised it was on the BDK list.
I can think of only one English speaker who presently could competently translate with the necessary background and training. He is doing some translation work now and I am sure he will do more in the years to come. There are others who I think in the future may be able to do this - we will see.

I understand Paul Swanson was translating the full Profound Meaning of the Lotus Sutra, Fahua Hsuan-i, but have not heard much about the project lately.

As for institutional support, maybe at some point in the future. There are more and more Westerners undertaking ordination and Gyoin training at Enryakuji and hopefully Enryakuji will continue to develop accommodations for Westerners and others from outside Japan. I think they are coming to appreciate the interest from outside Japan and that foreigners are capable of completing the Gyoin. The obstacle there is one needs to have a level of conversational fluency to attend. There is an option outside of Japan to receive mikkyo training at the NY Betsuin. Translation will depend on those outside of Japan but perhaps Enryakuji will support publication.

With regard to the Kengyo material, I think the Nichiren associated groups are more likely to support the translation efforts. Rissho Kosei Kai supported Swanson's translation of the Mohezhikuan. Soka Gakkai sponsored Watson's translation of the Lotus Sutra, and Rissho Koseikai supported another.

But these translations were mostly done by scholars working in the academy. They're the one whose full time job is this sort of work. They're the ones who are in the best position to do this work. Perhaps some of the fellows coming up who have received ordination and have or plan to attend Gyoin and who have inclinations to become scholars will go in this direction.
There is no suffering to be severed. Ignorance and klesas are indivisible from bodhi. There is no cause of suffering to be abandoned. Since extremes and the false are the Middle and genuine, there is no path to be practiced. Samsara is nirvana. No severance achieved. No suffering nor its cause. No path, no end. There is no transcendent realm; there is only the one true aspect. There is nothing separate from the true aspect.
-Guanding, Perfect and Sudden Contemplation,
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Re: Open Request to E. Asian Buddhist Scholars

Post by Zhen Li »

Well, that sounds promising. I agree that it will take time.
Queequeg wrote: Sat Jun 22, 2024 4:28 pm I understand Paul Swanson was translating the full Profound Meaning of the Lotus Sutra, Fahua Hsuan-i, but have not heard much about the project lately.
Ah, yes, I heard down the grapevine that Paul Swanson just finished this a few weeks ago. It will probably be a while before it gets through the editors, but it's on the way.
Queequeg wrote: Sat Jun 22, 2024 4:28 pm Translation will depend on those outside of Japan but perhaps Enryakuji will support publication.
This is true and practically better off from a translation theory POV—mastery of the target language, at a native level, is the most important thing in producing readable translations and is sometimes overlooked with temple-sponsored projects.
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