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Lay and Monastic Forms of Pure Land Devotionalism: Typology and History

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This study attempts to broaden the usual understanding of the Chinese and Japanese Pure Land traditions by delineating two orientations toward Pure Land devotionalism: A lay orientation which is usually considered the whole of Pure Land devotionalism, and a monastic orientation which is often excluded from the history of Pure Land piety. This distinction makes clear not only the greater breadth of the Pure Land movement, but the way in which its growth was influenced by cross-currents between its two wings. In part one of the paper, the two orientations are typologically differentiated by considerations of (1) their views of history and of the human condition, (2) the types of buddha-reflection (nienjolnembutsu) they taught, and (3) their soteriologies. In part two we then sketch the history of these two forms of Pure Land devotionalism in China and Japan down to the twelfth century. We propose four stages of development: (1) A stage of initial formulation of the principals and styles of the monastic and the lay oriented traditions by Lu-shan Hui-yuan [334-416] and T'an-luan [c. 488-554], respectively; (2) a stage of clear differentiation of the two traditions represented by Chih-i [538-97] on the one hand, and by Shan-tao [613-81] on the other; (3) a stage of integration of the two forms, in China by Tz'u-min hui-jih [680-748], and in Japan by Genshin [942-1017]; and (4) a stage of radical re-differentiation of these by Hônen [1133-1212] in Japan.

Affiliations: 1: The University of Vermont Department of Religion 481 Main Street Bington, Vermont 05405, USA


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