“Branching Streams Flow On in the Dark”
Rethinking American Buddhism in Light of Mizuko Kuyō
This chapter argues that ritual needs to be given greater attention in the historiography of American Buddhism. The popularity of mizuko kuyō points to a significant turn toward appreciation of ritual in convert Zen since the 1980s, as women have taken a greater role in leadership and Zen’s own success has led to a diversification of views. Furthermore, ritual has always existed to a larger extent than previous studies acknowledged, but it was partially obscured by uncritical acceptance of Zen practitioners’ descriptions of normative practice. Future studies should try to focus on neglected areas that may bring this wider range of practices to light; possible foci include places, material culture, bodies, and emotions, all of which have been insufficiently accounted for in previous research.
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