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Religion And The (Second) Axial Age: Comments On Richard Madsen

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Chapter Summary

Richard Madsen’s paper has much to offer in terms of its aspiration, relevance, and overarching problematics. It needs to be underscored that many of Madsen’s observations are keen and significant, and biding well within broader philosophical strivings for the ‘second Axial Age’. It is clearly meaningful to appreciate the tolerant, humane, and ‘ecumenical’character of the Taiwanese religious sects concerned, yet their alleged progressive nature has to be more closely ascertained. As Taiwanese Buddhist sects, the Buddha’s Light Mountain, the Tzu-chi Merit Association and the Dharma Drum Mountain all draw heavily from the Zen and Pure Land Schools, building Zen monasteries and Zen-Pure Land centres, running Zen meditation classes, and seeking to actualize Humanistic Buddhism and the Pure Land of the Human World.

Keywords: Buddha’s Light Mountain; Humanistic Buddhism; Richard Madsen; second Axial Age; Taiwanese Buddhist sects; Tzu-chi Merit Association



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