The Oxford Handbook of Buddhist Practice
by Kevin Trainor & Paula Arai, editors 2022
About the Editors
Paula Arai is Professor of Buddhist Studies at Louisiana State University, holding the Urmila Gopal Singhal Professorship in Religions of India. She is author of Painting Enlightenment: Healing Visions of the Heart Sutra—The Buddhist Art of Iwasaki Tsuneo, Women Living Zen: Japanese Buddhist Nuns, and Bringing Zen Home: The Healing Heart of Japanese Buddhist Women’s Rituals. Her research has received a range of support, including from Fulbright and the American Council of Learned Societies. She has curated exhibits of Iwasaki’s Heart Sutra paintings at the Museum of Art at Louisiana State University, the Crow Collection of Asian Art in Dallas, and the Morikami Museum in Delray Beach Florida.
Kevin Trainor is Professor of Religion at the University of Vermont. His work has centered on Buddhist relic practices in South Asia, highlighting the centrality of material mediations of the Buddha’s presence and the importance of embodied practices in the formation and dissemination of early Buddhist traditions in India and Sri Lanka. His publications, as author or editor, include Relics, Ritual and Representation in Buddhism: Rematerializing the Sri Lankan Theravada Tradition, Embodying the Dharma: Buddhist Relic Veneration in Asia, co-edited with David Germano, Buddhism: The Illustrated Guide, and Relics in Comparative Perspective
About the Book
Popular representations of Buddhism often depict it as spiritual, disembodied, and largely devoid of ritual. Yet embodiment, materiality, emotion, and gender shape the way most Buddhists engage with their traditions. The essays within The Oxford Handbook of Buddhist Practice push beyond traditional representations of Buddhism as divided into static schools and traditions, highlighting instead the contested and negotiated character of individual and group identities.
This volume will serve as a corrective to the common misconception that Buddhist practice is limited to seated meditation and that ritualized activities are not an integral dimension of authoritative Buddhist practice. Essays in this handbook explore the transformational aims of practices that require practitioners to move, gesture, and emote in prescribed ways, including the ways that scholars’ own embodied practices are integral to their research methodology. Authors foreground the role of the body, examining how the senses, gender, specific emotions, and material engagements impact religious experience. They highlight, as well, the multiplicity of methods and theoretical perspectives that scholars of Buddhism use in their research and writing, including field-based, textual, and historical approaches. Given the fluidity and diversity of Buddhist practices, the question that animates this volume is: What makes a given practice Buddhist?
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This is an insightful and informative review of The Oxford Handbook of Buddhist Practice. It sheds light on the important role of embodiment, materiality, and ritual in Buddhist traditions, challenging common misconceptions about Buddhist practice.
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