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Shingon Risshū: Esoteric Buddhism and Vinaya Orthodoxy in Japan

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Chapter Summary

Shingon Risshū designates the Japanese Buddhist order of Saidaiji in Nara that emerged from the "precepts restoration movement" initiated by Eison and others around 1238. The distinctive twofold appellation "Shingon Risshū" hints at the synthesis of "Shingon doctrine" and ritual with the praxis and ceremonial of monastic discipline as propagated in the Japanese "Vinaya school" or Risshū. Jianzhen introduced the Shibunritsu interpretation of Daoxuan or the Nanshan Vinaya school, and conferred the "full precepts" of the continental tradition upon Japanese priests who renounced their previous "unorthodox" initiations, and thus became the first full-fledged monastics on Japanese soil. Just as during the period prior to Jianzhen, Eison and Kakujō saw themselves compelled to self-ordinations, which in contrast to the Nara tradition of separate Shibunritsu and Bonmōkyō ordinations were performed as a single "comprehensive ordination" before a buddha statue in the hope of reestablishing a legitimate dharma lineage.

Keywords: Shibunritsu interpretation; buddha; Japanese Buddhist; Jianzhen; Shingon Risshū; Vinaya Orthodoxy



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