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Myoshinji: Institution, History, And Structure

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Chapter Summary

Today Myōshinji is the largest Rinzai Zen sect in Japan. The temple complex in Kyoto consists of 46 subtemples, and 3,500 local temples throughout the country reveal the size of the institution. This chapter introduces the Myōshinji history and institution. A sketchy account from the legendary and institutional beginning through Meiji and the postwar period will trace elements from its religious and social history to the contemporary institutional context. Religious universes in one sense are based on counterintuitive visions, but also lives by metaphors from a very concrete reality. The question of transmission is first a matter of belonging to the sacred lineage of patriarchal Zen masters. During the Muromachi period, Japanese monks and sects became more independent from their Chinese relations. A keyword in all Buddhist modernity was, and still is, the focus on the role of lay Buddhism, zaike bukkyō.

Keywords: Buddhism; Japan; Kyoto; Muromachi period; Myōshinji; Rinzai Zen sect

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