» » Tantric Buddhism in East Asia
While the tantric Buddhism found in the Indian and Tibetan traditions is increasingly recognized, in East Asia tantric Buddhism remains largely unknown. This collection brings together twelve key essays on tantric Buddhism in East Asia, drawn from sources that are not commonly available. The collection is organized into four sections: China and Korea, Japan, Deities and Practices, and Influences on Japanese Religion. Payne's work, which brings together in one place a "critical mass" of scholarship, will create a sea change in the understanding of the history of East Asian Buddhism and Tantra.

Tantric Buddhism in East Asia

Author: Richard K. Payne

Title: Tantric Buddhism in East Asia

ISBN: 0861714873

ISBN13: 978-0861714872

Publisher: Wisdom Publications; 1St Edition edition (November 29, 2005)

Language: English

Subcategory: World

Size pdf version: 1306 kb

Size epub version: 1340 kb

Size fb2 version: 1902 kb

Rating: 4.9/5

Pages: 320 pages


Reviews (3)
Jaberini
First of all, if you are new to Buddhism then I do not recommend this book to you. It will likely create more confusion than clarity. There are better introductions to Tantric Buddhism and Esoteric Buddhism (although mostly in Tibetan traditions, some in Japanese traditions, fewer in Chinese and Korean).

I really wanted to LOVE this book as a whole but each chapter is a different essay on a different topic by a different author (for the most part), which that alone is fine, but some chapters I liked more than others. I did learn a lot about Buddhism in China, Korea and Japan from reading this book in terms of history but I wish it had more in terms of practice.

There are too few books in publication on the Tantric traditions of Asia outside of Tibetan Buddhism and I am grateful this book exists as a window into some of the traditions of Vajrayana in China, Korea, and Japan. Most of the chapters are approached from far too scholarly a perspective, rather than from the perspective of practitioners or the living traditions but there are some gems scattered throughout this book if you can make it through.

If you are a practitioner of Buddhism more than a scholar I would say that chapters 4 - 8 would be best for you. I am the type of person who likes to read a book from cover to cover and all the notes as well and am also someone who does not like to give up on a book. I did read the entire book before starting this review. For people that are not like this I doubt they would make it through the introduction before giving up, especially if they are practitioners.

Also, as other reviewers here have mentioned, this book which spans several countries and languages, fails to provide a glossary of undefined terms from Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Indian. Luckily for me, having studied Tibetan Buddhism extensively I am familiar with most of the Indian terminology and a little bit of the Japanese but not the Chinese or Korean. This book would be much more accessible with an extensive glossary that takes into account each of the various chapters.

The introduction is so horribly academic in the worst sense, and so flawed by the misinterpretations that have spread misunderstandings in the topic of vajrayana for so long (while saying it is trying to address some of them at the same time), it is quite surprising to read that the author is a Shingon Priest and a Professor. I feel sorry for the students who have to read this introductory essay and am surprised it made it past the editors at Wisdom Publishing. It was literally painful to read the introduction. I would recommend just skipping the introduction all together if you do get this book.

Chapter 1, Tantrism in China, was very interesting to me but mostly a scholarly historical review which paid too little attention to the practices, rituals, and philosophies, while paying too much attention to the political and historical aspects. Some of the few mentions of the actual texts or practices that these masters brought to China from India were not explained and sometimes not named in a way that can be easily researched (using Chinese terms transliterated into English - and not defined). I would give a similar review to chapters 2 and 3 although they might be a little better. Chapter 3 shared quite a bit of information from chapter 2 so there is a bit of repetition there.

Chapters 4 - 8 were the most enjoyable from the point of view of a Buddhist practitioner. These chapters would be confusing to a beginner of Buddhism though. For a practitioner of Vajrayana in any tradition these chapters will make more sense. These chapters, that are focused on actual practices, rituals, and philosophies were great but keep in mind that these were all from Japanese traditions. If you are interested in learning about the practices, philosophies and rituals in Chinese or Korean Buddhism you will only get glimpses and references in chapters 1 - 3.

Chapter 9 was interesting to learn about Shugendo and its connections to Buddhism. I did enjoy that.

I also enjoyed chapter 10 as it brings in a living tradition in the present day where the author actually participated in ritual and this chapter has a decent balance of scholarly approach mixed with practice.

Over all I am glad I read this book but it took a lot of determination and previous knowledge. If you are a serious practitioner and scholar then I would recommend it for the good parts and the hidden gems. I would give chapters 4-10 four star rating, chapters 1-3 a three star rating and the introduction a 1 star (there is no zero).

I hope this review helps people interested in reading this book. Although it is not a great review I do hope this book continues to be printed and made available as it does fill in some gaps for English readers. I hope that it does help others contribute more to the publications of the Buddhist practices in Southeast Asia, especially China and Korea, where there is little available in English.
Jaberini
First of all, if you are new to Buddhism then I do not recommend this book to you. It will likely create more confusion than clarity. There are better introductions to Tantric Buddhism and Esoteric Buddhism (although mostly in Tibetan traditions, some in Japanese traditions, fewer in Chinese and Korean).

I really wanted to LOVE this book as a whole but each chapter is a different essay on a different topic by a different author (for the most part), which that alone is fine, but some chapters I liked more than others. I did learn a lot about Buddhism in China, Korea and Japan from reading this book in terms of history but I wish it had more in terms of practice.

There are too few books in publication on the Tantric traditions of Asia outside of Tibetan Buddhism and I am grateful this book exists as a window into some of the traditions of Vajrayana in China, Korea, and Japan. Most of the chapters are approached from far too scholarly a perspective, rather than from the perspective of practitioners or the living traditions but there are some gems scattered throughout this book if you can make it through.

If you are a practitioner of Buddhism more than a scholar I would say that chapters 4 - 8 would be best for you. I am the type of person who likes to read a book from cover to cover and all the notes as well and am also someone who does not like to give up on a book. I did read the entire book before starting this review. For people that are not like this I doubt they would make it through the introduction before giving up, especially if they are practitioners.

Also, as other reviewers here have mentioned, this book which spans several countries and languages, fails to provide a glossary of undefined terms from Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Indian. Luckily for me, having studied Tibetan Buddhism extensively I am familiar with most of the Indian terminology and a little bit of the Japanese but not the Chinese or Korean. This book would be much more accessible with an extensive glossary that takes into account each of the various chapters.

The introduction is so horribly academic in the worst sense, and so flawed by the misinterpretations that have spread misunderstandings in the topic of vajrayana for so long (while saying it is trying to address some of them at the same time), it is quite surprising to read that the author is a Shingon Priest and a Professor. I feel sorry for the students who have to read this introductory essay and am surprised it made it past the editors at Wisdom Publishing. It was literally painful to read the introduction. I would recommend just skipping the introduction all together if you do get this book.

Chapter 1, Tantrism in China, was very interesting to me but mostly a scholarly historical review which paid too little attention to the practices, rituals, and philosophies, while paying too much attention to the political and historical aspects. Some of the few mentions of the actual texts or practices that these masters brought to China from India were not explained and sometimes not named in a way that can be easily researched (using Chinese terms transliterated into English - and not defined). I would give a similar review to chapters 2 and 3 although they might be a little better. Chapter 3 shared quite a bit of information from chapter 2 so there is a bit of repetition there.

Chapters 4 - 8 were the most enjoyable from the point of view of a Buddhist practitioner. These chapters would be confusing to a beginner of Buddhism though. For a practitioner of Vajrayana in any tradition these chapters will make more sense. These chapters, that are focused on actual practices, rituals, and philosophies were great but keep in mind that these were all from Japanese traditions. If you are interested in learning about the practices, philosophies and rituals in Chinese or Korean Buddhism you will only get glimpses and references in chapters 1 - 3.

Chapter 9 was interesting to learn about Shugendo and its connections to Buddhism. I did enjoy that.

I also enjoyed chapter 10 as it brings in a living tradition in the present day where the author actually participated in ritual and this chapter has a decent balance of scholarly approach mixed with practice.

Over all I am glad I read this book but it took a lot of determination and previous knowledge. If you are a serious practitioner and scholar then I would recommend it for the good parts and the hidden gems. I would give chapters 4-10 four star rating, chapters 1-3 a three star rating and the introduction a 1 star (there is no zero).

I hope this review helps people interested in reading this book. Although it is not a great review I do hope this book continues to be printed and made available as it does fill in some gaps for English readers. I hope that it does help others contribute more to the publications of the Buddhist practices in Southeast Asia, especially China and Korea, where there is little available in English.
Silvermaster
"Tantric Buddhism is East Asia" is a welcome collection of essays on Vajrayana Buddhism and the many guises it takes in East Asia. As a casual reader of Buddhist texts I found it to be most enjoyable and recommend it as an introduction to the general climate of what has come to be known in the West as "tantric" Buddhism. The collection is edited by Richard Payne, a Western scholar of religion who happens to be an ordained Shingon priest; though you wouldn't know this from reading his introductory essay. It has some merit, but the author seems excessively spooked by what he sees as orientalist authoritarianism which mire classic Buddhist studies in the West. Without doubt modern philosophical currents shaped the study of Buddhism in the West and continues to do so for the most part to this day. Unfortunately Payne fails to see any "authoritarianism" in his thoroughly "Western academic" approach to the study Buddhism.

As far as the essays are concerned it would be hard to single out the most important essays because they are all quite diverse and important in their own right. Those which appealed to me were James Stanford's "Breath of Life: The Esoteric Nembutsu", H. Byron Earhart's "Shugendo, the Traditions of En no Gyoja and Mikkyo Influence", Henrick Sorensen's "Esoteric Buddhism in Korea", Hisao Inagaki's "Kukai's 'Principle of Attaining Buddhahood with the Present Body'", and Ian Astley's "The Five Mysteries of Vajrasattva: A Buddhist Tantric View of the Passions and Enlightenment". I especially enjoyed the essay on Shugendo, a topic so rare in studies of Japanese religion, yet one of the most interesting for me personally because of its synthesis of Mikkyo and the indigenous mountain asceticism (sangaku shinko) of Japan.

What makes this collection valuable is the scarcity of quality introductions to Vajrayana outside of the well-known Tibetan tradition and the extreme difficulty one finds in accessing the inner logic of Vajrayana, or more popularly "tantric" Buddhism. The essays here are by and large introductory yet scholarly rigorous and, in the case of Korean Esoteric Buddhism, the first of their kind that I've seen. This field is still opening up as interest in Vajrayana increases and as the prejudices which saw in Vajrayana a falling away from the purity of the "original Dharma" begin themselves to fall away.
Silvermaster
"Tantric Buddhism is East Asia" is a welcome collection of essays on Vajrayana Buddhism and the many guises it takes in East Asia. As a casual reader of Buddhist texts I found it to be most enjoyable and recommend it as an introduction to the general climate of what has come to be known in the West as "tantric" Buddhism. The collection is edited by Richard Payne, a Western scholar of religion who happens to be an ordained Shingon priest; though you wouldn't know this from reading his introductory essay. It has some merit, but the author seems excessively spooked by what he sees as orientalist authoritarianism which mire classic Buddhist studies in the West. Without doubt modern philosophical currents shaped the study of Buddhism in the West and continues to do so for the most part to this day. Unfortunately Payne fails to see any "authoritarianism" in his thoroughly "Western academic" approach to the study Buddhism.

As far as the essays are concerned it would be hard to single out the most important essays because they are all quite diverse and important in their own right. Those which appealed to me were James Stanford's "Breath of Life: The Esoteric Nembutsu", H. Byron Earhart's "Shugendo, the Traditions of En no Gyoja and Mikkyo Influence", Henrick Sorensen's "Esoteric Buddhism in Korea", Hisao Inagaki's "Kukai's 'Principle of Attaining Buddhahood with the Present Body'", and Ian Astley's "The Five Mysteries of Vajrasattva: A Buddhist Tantric View of the Passions and Enlightenment". I especially enjoyed the essay on Shugendo, a topic so rare in studies of Japanese religion, yet one of the most interesting for me personally because of its synthesis of Mikkyo and the indigenous mountain asceticism (sangaku shinko) of Japan.

What makes this collection valuable is the scarcity of quality introductions to Vajrayana outside of the well-known Tibetan tradition and the extreme difficulty one finds in accessing the inner logic of Vajrayana, or more popularly "tantric" Buddhism. The essays here are by and large introductory yet scholarly rigorous and, in the case of Korean Esoteric Buddhism, the first of their kind that I've seen. This field is still opening up as interest in Vajrayana increases and as the prejudices which saw in Vajrayana a falling away from the purity of the "original Dharma" begin themselves to fall away.
6snake6
Don't let the slightly New Age look of the cover fool you. This book consists of a number of articles all of high scholarly calibre. Except for the editor's introduction (which includes an interesting if slightly nitpicky consideration of the category "tantric" and other relevant terms), these articles have appeared before, but scattered in more or less inaccessible sources. To have them all easily available together here is a real godsend (so to speak). Also, and perhaps accidentally, a good balance is struck between studies of the esoteric tradition in its classical, clearly formulated aspect and explorations of its interaction and osmosis with other Buddhist traditions.

By the way, the articles are:

1. Tantrism in China (Chou Yi-Liang)

2. Esoteric Buddhism in Korea (Henrik H. Sorensen)

3. On Esoteric Practices in Korean Son Buddhism during the Choson Period (Henrik H. Sorensen)

4. Kukai's "Principle of Attaining Buddhahood with the Present Body" (Hisao Inagaki)

5. The Five Mysteries of Vajrasattva: A Buddhist Tantric View of the Passions and Enlightenment (Ian Astley)

6. An Annotated Translation of the Pancabhisambodhi Practice of the Tattvasamgraha (Dale Todaro)

7. The Twelve-Armed Deity Daisho Kongo and His Scriptural Sources (Pol Vanden Broucke)

8. Breath of Life: The Esoteric Nenbutsu (James H. Sanford)

9. Shugendo, the Traditions of En no Gyoja, and Mikkyo Influence (H. Byron Earhart)

10. The Cave and the Womb World (Helen Hardacre)
6snake6
Don't let the slightly New Age look of the cover fool you. This book consists of a number of articles all of high scholarly calibre. Except for the editor's introduction (which includes an interesting if slightly nitpicky consideration of the category "tantric" and other relevant terms), these articles have appeared before, but scattered in more or less inaccessible sources. To have them all easily available together here is a real godsend (so to speak). Also, and perhaps accidentally, a good balance is struck between studies of the esoteric tradition in its classical, clearly formulated aspect and explorations of its interaction and osmosis with other Buddhist traditions.

By the way, the articles are:

1. Tantrism in China (Chou Yi-Liang)

2. Esoteric Buddhism in Korea (Henrik H. Sorensen)

3. On Esoteric Practices in Korean Son Buddhism during the Choson Period (Henrik H. Sorensen)

4. Kukai's "Principle of Attaining Buddhahood with the Present Body" (Hisao Inagaki)

5. The Five Mysteries of Vajrasattva: A Buddhist Tantric View of the Passions and Enlightenment (Ian Astley)

6. An Annotated Translation of the Pancabhisambodhi Practice of the Tattvasamgraha (Dale Todaro)

7. The Twelve-Armed Deity Daisho Kongo and His Scriptural Sources (Pol Vanden Broucke)

8. Breath of Life: The Esoteric Nenbutsu (James H. Sanford)

9. Shugendo, the Traditions of En no Gyoja, and Mikkyo Influence (H. Byron Earhart)

10. The Cave and the Womb World (Helen Hardacre)

Related PDF / EPUB / FB2 Books