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Conceptualizing Japanese Religion

B022
Session Chair: Michael Pye | Thursday, August 27, 3:30-5:30 p.m. | Venue

Michihiro Yokota

Daisetz Suzuki’s Outlines of Mahayana Buddhism and its influence upon Max Weber’s sociology of religion

In his work Hinduismus und Buddhismus, Max Weber described Mahayana Buddhism as “the inner-worldly mysticism”. Weber’s theory on Mahayana Buddhism was actually based on Daisetz Suzuki’s work Outlines of Mahayana Buddhism. Suzuki wrote this during his stay in America in order to show western Christians what Mahayana Buddhism is. Suzuki applied Schopenhauer’s theory of the Will to the doctrine of Mahayana Buddhism in which all beings are one in the Dharmakaya. This corresponds with Schopenhauer’s Will, however the Dharmakaya is not necessarily “blind” as it is in Schopenhauer’s Will. The Will has no direction or goal for history and social organization, but the Dharmakaya provides guidance for how to live our lives. Our shared ignorance of the Dharmakaya corresponds with the blindness of Schopenhauer’s Will. In this presentation, I will analyze Suzuki’s interpretation of Mahayana Buddhism and show how Max Weber’s understanding of Mahayana Buddhism was influenced by Suzuki’s work.

Makoto Ozaki

Heidegger and the Lotus Sutra on the Beginning

There might be some affinity between Heidegger and the Lotus Sutra concerning the beginning. For Heidegger western history begun with Greeks as the first beginning and now comes to the end, preparing for the other beginning of a new history in which the last God may appear. In the Lotus Sutra the historical Buddha reveals his own eternal origin in the countless past and predicts the appearance of the unseen Buddha hidden in the depth in the eschatological time, i.e., the mappo era. While Heidegger’s idea of the other beginning as the retrieval of the still deeply hidden origin of the first beginning is restricted to the finite history, the notion of the eternal original Buddha suggests his cyclic reappearance in history after the demise of the historical Buddha in the anticipatory form of the Supreme Conduct Bodhisattva. Heidegger’s concept of the last God may correspond to the anticipatory Bodhisattva.

Eckehart Schmidt

The spirits, the Buddha, and a working definition of religion

It is well known that Theravāda-Buddhism is the main religion of Myanmar. In addition to Buddhism, there is another spiritual practise which is of great importance, especially among the rural folks: nat (spirit) worship. Since both spiritualities are often practised by the same individual, it is the question how they are related to one another. Is nat worship a special part of Myanmar Buddhism? Is it separated from Buddhism and can be explained as mere superstition? Are both spiritualities based on two different religious systems? There is some disagreement about this question. The answer depends on the applied working definition of religion. In this paper a definition which focuses on the individual will be proposed. Therein, religion shall not be understood as a monolithic entity distinctly separated from other cultural areas. Multiple religiosity could be described without downgrading nat worship as 'superstition' or defining it as one part of Buddhism.

Takashi Okinaga

The “Logic of Basho” of Nishida Kitaro and the Question about the Beginning: Contrasting with “Original Chance” of Kuki Shuzo

Why does our question about the beginning of universe become a mystery? In this presentation, we examine this issue referring to Nishida’s “Logic of Basho (topos)”. When we ask about a cause of substances, we confront an infinitely retroactive mystery in which a cause requires another cause. On the contrary, we cannot ask a cause of Basho. This is the fundamental difference between substance and Basho. The question “why did something come into being?” can be answered only when a form is settled to regulate both “before” and “after” sides of its existence. However, if that form itself came into being sometime, we cannot explore the beginning of the existence of that “something” before the form came into being. Is the peculiarity of Basho, transcending any predicates, really beyond rules, time and causality? We will investigate this topic by contrasting it with “original chance” of Kuki Shuzo.

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