Jokei and Buddhist Devotion in Early Medieval Japan

Hardcover | September 7, 2006

byJames L. Ford

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This is the first book-length study in any language of Jo kei (1155-1213), a prominent Buddhist cleric of the Hosso (Yogacara) school, whose life bridged the momentous transition from Heian (794-1185) to Kamakura (1185-1333) Japan. "Kamakura Buddhism" has drawn notable scholarly attention,largely because it marks the emergence of new schools-Pure Land, Nichiren, and Zen-that came to dominate the Buddhist landscape of Japan. Although Jokei is invariably cited as one of the leading representatives of established Buddhism during the Kamakura period, he has been seriously neglected byWestern scholars. In this book, James L. Ford aims to shed light on this pivotal and long-overlooked figure. Ford argues convincingly that Jokei is an ideal personage through which to peer anew into the socio-religious dynamics of early medieval Japan. Indeed, Jokei is uniquely linked to a number of decisive trendsand issues of dispute including: the conflict between the established schools and Honen's exclusive nenbutsu movement; the precept-revival movement; doctrinal reform efforts; the proliferation of prominent "reclusive monks" (tonseiso); the escalation of fundraising (kanjin) campaigns and popularpropagation; and the conspicuous revival of devotion toward Sakyamuni and Maitreya. Jokei represents a paradigm within established Buddhism that recognized the necessity of accessing other powers through esoteric practices, ritual performances, and objects of devotion. While Jokei is best known as aleading critic of Honen's exclusive nenbutsu movement and a conservative defender of normative Buddhist principles, he was also a progressive reformer in his own right. Far from defending the status quo, Jokei envisioned a more accessible, harmonious, and monastically upright form of Buddhism. Through a detailed examination of Jokei's extensive writings and activities, Ford challenges many received interpretations of Jokei's legacy and the transformation of Buddhism in early medieval Japan. This book fills a significant lacuna in Buddhist scholarship

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This is the first book-length study in any language of Jo kei (1155-1213), a prominent Buddhist cleric of the Hosso (Yogacara) school, whose life bridged the momentous transition from Heian (794-1185) to Kamakura (1185-1333) Japan. "Kamakura Buddhism" has drawn notable scholarly attention,largely because it marks the emergence of new s...

James L. Ford is a Z. Smith Reynolds Fellow and Associate Professor in the Department of Religion at Wake Forest University where he teaches courses relating to East Asian religions. He holds a Master's in Theological Studies (M.T.S.) from Vanderbilt Divinity School (1992) and an M.A. and Ph.D. in East Asian religions from Princeton ...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:336 pages, 6.42 × 9.29 × 1.18 inPublished:September 7, 2006Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195188144

ISBN - 13:9780195188141

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"Finally, we have a thorough study in English on this extremely important religious figure from medieval Japan. Ford's insightful work provides us with a totally new grounding to understand Jokei's life and thought. It also illustrates, from Jokei's unique perspective, the intricaterelationship between the court and the Buddhist order, the celebrated rivalry between the 'Old Buddhism' and 'New Buddhism,' the influence of Esoteric Buddhism on new doctrinal developments, and other major traits of Buddhism in the most tumultuous period in Japanese religious history. With itslucid narrative and incisive analysis, James Ford's work is a gem that illumines amidst the ongoing process of revising our knowledge of Japanese Buddhism." -- Ryuichi Abe, author of The Weaving of Mantra: Kukai and the Construction of Esoteric Buddhist Discourse