Seeing the Buddha and Calling his Name: On the Shifting Interpretations of buddhānusmṛti
Mon, March 21, 2011 • 12:00 PM • Burdine Hall (BUR) 436A
This lecture traces the development of the practice of “being mindful of the Buddha” (Sanskrit buddhānusmṛti; Chinese nianfo; Japanese nenbutsu) in Buddhist history, which is at the heart of the so-called Pure Land practices. The talk will focus on historical and modern accusations against the practice of buddhānusmṛti as a simplified, easy, and even heterodox version of a more demanding, original Buddhist practice. Dr. Kleine will demonstrate how modern scholars often suggest selective and biased interpretations of traditional Buddhist texts in their portrayal of buddhānusmṛti. In particular, he will reexamine the stereotype of “meditational Buddhism” and raise the question of whether the distinction between “meditative” and “devotional” practices in Buddhism makes any sense at all.
Dr. Christoph Kleine is Professor of History of Religions in the Department of Religious Studies at Leipzig University, Germany. His major fields of research are premodern East Asian Buddhism, the religious history of Japan, and method and theory in the study of religions. In particular he has worked on Hōnen (1133–1212), the founder of the Pure Land school, Jōdo Shū, and on hagiographies of eminent monks in China. He is the author, co-author, and co-editor of nine books and has published numerous articles and book chapters on historical and theoretical issues.