a public event
Some Reflections on Buddhist Studies in Japan
Center for Buddhist Studies Colloquium Series with MASAHIRO SHIMODA
Friday, November 21, 2003
3:00 PM - 4:30 PM
243 Royce Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90095
From its beginning in the Meiji era (1868-- 1912) to the recent development of "Critical Buddhism," Buddhist studies in Japan has been fairly strongly influenced by the methodology of modern Buddhist studies generated in early nineteenth-century Europe, a region completely outside the domain of living Buddhism. With the basis of its research confined almost solely in method to philology and in subject to questions of historicity, Japanese Buddhist studies as a whole seems to have succeeded in reconstructing Buddhism in ancient India as a coherent theoretical system.
On the other hand, however, it has failed to consider Buddhism from the perspective of its ever-changing historical situation or the actual practices of daily life, sometimes going so far as to dismiss such phenomena from consideration by characterizing them as "impure" Buddhism. This results not only in an overly narrow conception of the object and methodology of Buddhist studies, but places extreme limits on the reading of texts themselves. In this presentation, Professor Shimoda will explore the historical background and methodological implications of this situation.
Professor Shimoda is an associate professor of Indian philosophy and Buddhist Studies at the University of Tokyo's Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology. He received his BA in Indian philosophy and Sanskrit literature from the University of Tokyo. He also received his doctorate degree from the University of Tokyo in Indian philosophy after writing, in Japanese, his thesis, "Study of the Mahaparinirvanasutra."
His published works include:
A Study of the Mahaparinirvanasutara: With a Focus on the Methodology of the Study of Mahayanasutras (in Japanese), Tokyo: Shuju-sha, 1997.
An Annotated Japanese Translation of the Tibetan Version of the Mahayana Mahaparinirvanasutra (I), Tokyo: The Sankibo Press, 1993.
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