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Zen RitualStudies of Zen Theory in Practice$
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Steven Heine and Dale S. Wright

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195304671

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195304671.001.0001

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 Buddhist Rituals for Protecting the Country in Medieval Japan: Myōan Eisai's “Regulations of the Zen School”

 Buddhist Rituals for Protecting the Country in Medieval Japan: Myōan Eisai's “Regulations of the Zen School”

(p.113) 3 Buddhist Rituals for Protecting the Country in Medieval Japan: Myōan Eisai's “Regulations of the Zen School”
Zen Ritual

Albert Welter (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Chapter 3 provides a concrete analysis of Zen ritual in the earliest stages of Japanese Zen, including an important discussion of the reasons given for the practice of Zen ritual. This chapter suggests that the function of ritual in Eisai's account of Zen is to serve the communal needs of the society as a whole, and is not primarily a tool in the quest for individual enlightenment. Looking closely at Eisai's seminal text, “Promoting Zen for Protecting the Country,” Zen monasteries were collective enterprises in the service of the moral and social order to the nation is shown. Existing at the will of the Kamakura bakufu leaders, Zen institutions sought to fulfill their social/political roles, and one of the most important of these was to conduct rituals for protecting the country. Eisai's “sixteen types of ceremonies” show clearly all of the ways in which Eisai sought to fulfill his obligation as a Zen master to the government and to Japanese society as a whole.

Keywords:   early Japanese Zen, Eisai, sixteen types of ceremonies, bakufu, Zen in society

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