How Japan Became the World Center: “Three Countries” in the Medieval Religious Imagination

How Japan Became the World Center: "Three Countries" in the Medieval Religious Imagination

Jacqueline Stone - Professor of Japanese Religion, Princeton University

Thursday, March 28, 2013 - 4:00pm to 5:30pm
Auditorium (Room 101), Henry R. Luce Hall See map
34 Hillhouse Avenue
New Haven, CT 6511

The Council is pleased to present the 14th Annual John W. Hall Lecture in Japanese Studies. Notions of the eastward spread of Buddhism through “three countries” gave pre-modern Japanese Buddhists a framework in which to orient themselves with respect to the time and place of their tradition’s origins and to compare Japan—favorably or otherwise—with the great realms of the continent, India and China. During the medieval period, Japan’s status among the three countries was continually refigured and invoked to bolster a range of arguments for what constituted normative Buddhist thought and practice. In the process, innovations especially in the areas of esoteric Buddhism and kami worship helped refigure Japan from a marginal land to the very center of the Buddhist cosmos.

Jacqueline Stone is Professor of Japanese Religions in the Department of Religion at Princeton University. Her chief research field is Japanese Buddhism of the medieval and modern periods. Her current research interests include death and the afterlife in Buddhist cultures, Buddhism and national identity, and traditions of the Lotus Sutra, particularly Tendai and Nichiren. She is the author of Original Enlightenment and the Transformation of Medieval Japanese Buddhism, which received a 2001 American Academy of Religion Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion. Reception to follow in Luce Common Room.