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Against HarmonyProgressive and Radical Buddhism in Modern Japan$
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James Mark Shields

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190664008

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190664008.001.0001

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The Many Faces of Meiji Buddhist Enlightenment

The Many Faces of Meiji Buddhist Enlightenment

(p.33) 1 The Many Faces of Meiji Buddhist Enlightenment
Against Harmony

James Mark Shields

Oxford University Press

Chapter 1, “The Many Faces of Meiji Buddhist Enlightenment,” provides the historical and philosophical context for the emergence of Buddhist reform in the mid- to late-Meiji period by examining a variety of new ideas brought about by the profound social, political, economic, and religious transformations that shaped Japan in the two decades following the Meiji Restoration of 1868. Particularly important are the impact of Western thought, including Christianity, the emergence (in theory if not yet practice) of State Shinto, and the brief but traumatizing attempt to disestablish Buddhism by the state—i.e., the so-called haibutsu kishaku廃‎仏‎希‎釈‎ movement of the early 1870s. The chapter examines the various responses to these currents via the writings and activities of paradigm scholars and scholar-priests representing the so-called “Buddhist Enlightenment” of the late 1880s and 1890s.

Keywords:   modernity, enlightenment, reform, persecution, Unitarianism, socialism

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