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Institute of Buddhist Studies Podcast

Category Archive: Video Episodes

Cleaning Cloths, Poetry, and Personal Buddhas: Laywomen’s Healing Practices in Contemporary Japan

Domestic Dharma: Beyond Texts, Beyond Monasteries, Numata Symposium 2012 Keynote Address by Prof. Paula Arai.

Creativity, flexibility, and accessibility are qualities characteristic of the Buddhist practices that women in contemporary Japan engage in as they weave healing activities into their daily life. Home-made ritualized activities, which draw upon and innovatively adapt age-old traditions, include common greetings turned into healing events, cleaning cloths performing medical mysteries, and poetry writing. In addition, this domestic Dharma often sees a loved one transformed into a Personal Buddha upon death, bestowing wise counsel and compassionate support.

Originally recorded on 22 September 2012
(c) 2012 The Institute of Buddhist Studies and Paula Arai

An audio-only version of this talk is also available.

Nuns at Home, Nuns as Homebuilders: Rethinking Ordination and Family in Medieval Japan

Domestic Dharma: Beyond Texts, Beyond Monasteries, Numata Symposium 2012 Keynote Address by Prof. Lisa Grumbach.

An exploration of the roles of ordained women within the social and familial structures of medieval Japan. Focusing on the reasons women became nuns, their age at ordination, and the work they performed as nuns, Prof. Grumbach argues that women used ordination as a way to build and maintain homes rather than as a way to “leave home.” Autobiographical writings by women, historical and biographical information about nuns, and medieval literature are used to show that ordination and family life were not opposing categories for many women, suggesting that we need to revise our understanding of what it meant to be a “nun” in medieval Japan.

Originally recorded on 22 September 2012
(c) 2012 The Institute of Buddhist Studies and Lisa Grumbach

An audio-only version of this talk is also available.

Karmic Mindfulness: Rethinking Morality in Contemporary Buddhism

As a basic principle governing moral thinking, the Buddhist concept of karma is brilliant. With clarity and simplicity, it informs participants in Buddhist cultures that what becomes of them in life is dependent on the quality of their relations to other people and on what they do in life. The fact that the concept of karma was transferred from one religious tradition to others in Asia has meant that its early mythological foundations have been weakened, to some extent allowing it to stand on its own.
Although western religions have moral principles that function in similar ways, in each case these concepts cannot so easily be severed from their mythological grounding in the ideas of the will of God, heaven and hell. That difference suggests that karma’s potential as a moral principle for contemporary global culture is outstanding. In order to live up to that role, however, some dimensions of the concept of karma would require rethinking. In this lecture, Prof. Wright assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the idea of karma, and suggests how certain aspects of the idea can be developed into a powerful and realistic moral framework for the approaching global society.

An audio-only version of this talk is also available.

Originally recorded on 28 October 2011, at the Institute of Buddhist Studies in Berkeley, Ca.
Copyright © 2011 Dale Wright

Making Sense of the Blood Bowl Sutra: Gender, Pollution, and Salvation in Buddhist Sermons from Early Modern Japan

Sometime during the late fourteenth or early fifteenth century, several variants of an indigenous Chinese sutra known as the Xuepenjing 血盆経 (“Blood Bowl Sutra,” Jpns. Ketsubonkyō), were transmitted to Japan. Emphasizing the impurity of women’s reproductive blood, this short scripture teaches that women are fated to fall into a special hell known as the “Blood Pond Hell” (chi no ike jigoku 血の池地獄) in retribution for the sin of polluting the earth with blood. By the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, temples throughout Japan actively promoted the cult of the Blood Bowl Hell as a method of saving women. In this cult, disgust for the female body, first emphasized in Buddhist texts as a means of encouraging celibate monks to remain distant from women, is directed not to celibate monks, but to a new audience of lay men and women. My talk will explore two early modern commentaries on the text in an effort to understand how priests presented the teachings of the Blood Bowl Sutra to this audience. 

An audio-only version of this episode is also available.

Originally recorded April 22, 2011 at the Institute of Buddhist Studies in Berkeley, Ca.
Copyright © 2010 Lori Meeks

The History of the Shin Buddhist Tradition (part six of six)

The History of the Shin Buddhist Tradition (part six of six)
by Professor Atsushi Hirata, Department of History, Ryūkoku University, Kyoto, Japan.

In Japanese with live English translation.

This is a six part series covering the 2011 Ryūkoku Lecture Series held at the Institute of Buddhist Studies in Berkeley, CA, in March 2011.

  • Lecture One (parts one and two): Buddhadharma and the feudal system
  • Lecture Two (parts three and four): The Sangū Wakuran incident and its impact
  • Lecture Three (parts five and six): Hongwanji and the State: the two truth theory

The History of the Shin Buddhist Tradition (part five of six)

The History of the Shin Buddhist Tradition (part five of six)
by Professor Atsushi Hirata, Department of History, Ryūkoku University, Kyoto, Japan.

In Japanese with live English translation.

This is a six part series covering the 2011 Ryūkoku Lecture Series held at the Institute of Buddhist Studies in Berkeley, CA, in March 2011.

  • Lecture One (parts one and two): Buddhadharma and the feudal system
  • Lecture Two (parts three and four): The Sangō Wakuran incident and its impact
  • Lecture Three (parts five and six): Hongwanji and the State: the two truth theory

The History of the Shin Buddhist Tradition (part four of six)

The History of the Shin Buddhist Tradition (part four of six)
by Professor Atsushi Hirata, Department of History, Ryūkoku University, Kyoto, Japan.

In Japanese with live English translation.

This is a six part series covering the 2011 Ryūkoku Lecture Series held at the Institute of Buddhist Studies in Berkeley, CA, in March 2011.

  • Lecture One (parts one and two): Buddhadharma and the feudal system
  • Lecture Two (parts three and four): The Sangō Wakuran incident and its impact
  • Lecture Three (parts five and six): Hongwanji and the State: the two truth theory

The History of the Shin Buddhist Tradition (part three of six)

The History of the Shin Buddhist Tradition (part three of six)
by Professor Atsushi Hirata, Department of History, Ryūkoku University, Kyoto, Japan.

In Japanese with live English translation.

This is a six part series covering the 2011 Ryūkoku Lecture Series held at the Institute of Buddhist Studies in Berkeley, CA, in March 2011.

  • Lecture One (parts one and two): Buddhadharma and the feudal system
  • Lecture Two (parts three and four): The Sangō Wakuran incident and its impact
  • Lecture Three (parts five and six): Hongwanji and the State: the two truth theory

The History of the Shin Buddhist Tradition (part two of six)

The History of the Shin Buddhist Tradition (part two of six)
by Professor Atsushi Hirata, Department of History, Ryūkoku University, Kyoto, Japan.

In Japanese with live English translation.

This is a six part series covering the 2011 Ryūkoku Lecture Series held at the Institute of Buddhist Studies in Berkeley, CA, in March 2011.

  • Lecture One (parts one and two): Buddhadharma and the feudal system
  • Lecture Two (parts three and four): The Sangō Wakuran incident and its impact
  • Lecture Three (parts five and six): Hongwanji and the State: the two truth theory

The History of the Shin Buddhist Tradition (part one of six)

The History of the Shin Buddhist Tradition (part one of six)
by Professor Atsushi Hirata, Department of History, Ryūkoku University, Kyoto, Japan.

In Japanese with live English translation.

This is a six part series covering the 2011 Ryūkoku Lecture Series held at the Institute of Buddhist Studies in Berkeley, CA, in March 2011.

  • Lecture One (parts one and two): Buddhadharma and the feudal system
  • Lecture Two (parts three and four): The Sangō Wakuran incident and its impact
  • Lecture Three (parts five and six): Hongwanji and the State: the two truth theory
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