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Buddhists: Understanding Buddhism Through the Lives of Practitioners

Todd Lewis (Editor)
ISBN: 978-1-118-32203-1
384 pages
July 2014, Wiley-Blackwell
Buddhists: Understanding Buddhism Through the Lives of Practitioners (1118322037) cover image


Buddhists: Understanding Buddhism through the Lives of Practitioners provides a series of case studies of Asian and modern Western Buddhists, spanning history, gender, and class, whose lives are representative of the ways in which Buddhists throughout time have embodied the tradition.

  • Portrays the foundational principles of Buddhist belief through the lives of believers, illustrating how the religion is put into practice in everyday life
  • Takes as its foundation the inherent diversity within Buddhist society, rather than focusing on the spiritual and philosophical elite within Buddhism
  • Reveals how individuals have negotiated the choices, tensions, and rewards of living in a Buddhist society
  • Features carefully chosen case studies which cover a range of Asian and modern Western Buddhists
  • Explores a broad range of possible Buddhist orientations in contemporary and historical contexts
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Table of Contents

Notes on Contributors ix

Preface xiii

Acknowledgments xv

Introduction 1
Todd Lewis

Part I Buddhists in the Earliest andMedieval Eras 11

1 The Female Householder Mallika 13
Kristin Scheible

2 Bhadda Kundalakesa:The Ex-Jain 21
Alice Collett

3 Two Noted Householders of the Buddha’s Time: Upasika Vishakha and Upasaka Anathapindika 29
Todd Lewis

4 Nagarjuna:TheGreatPhilosopher 39
Joseph Walser

5 WhoIsUncleDonpa? 52
David J. Cooper

6 Ma-chig Lab-dron: Mother of Tibetan Buddhist Chod 62
Michelle J. Sorensen

Part II Buddhist Lives in theWest 71

7 I.B. Horner and the Twentieth-Century Development of Buddhism in theWest 73
Grace G. Burford

8 Takyu: A Young Buddhist Nun at a Ch’an Temple in the English Midlands 80
George D. Chryssides

9 Refuge and Reconnection: One LaoWoman’s Story 87
Stewart Jobrack

10 Conversion, Devotion, and (Trans-)Mission: Understanding Ole Nydahl 96
Burkhard Scherer

11 Noah Levine: Punk Rocker and Buddhist Meditation Teacher 107
Brooke Schedneck

12 Legendary Beat Poet: Allen Ginsberg 115
Tony Trigilio

13 Dr. Stephen John Fulder: Founder of Vipassana in Israel 124
Joseph Loss

14 Amala Sensei: Zen Priest 133
Sally McAra

Part III Buddhist Lives in South and Southeast Asia 145

15 Pawinee Bunkhun:The Life of a Thai Buddhist Upasika 147
Rachelle M. Scott

16 Mahasi Sayadaw of Burma 157
Bradley S. Clough

17 Corporal Monk: Venerable Sudinna’s Journey from the Sri Lankan Army to the Buddhist Sangha 165
DanielW. Kent

18 The Lure of Renunciation and theWays of theWorld: MaechiiWabi ofThailand 172
Sid Brown

19 Becoming aTheravada Modernist Buddhist in Contemporary Nepal 179
Lauren Leve

Part IV Buddhist Lives in the Himalayan Region 191

20 Tenpe Gyaltsen: The Fifth Jamyang Zhepa 193
Paul K. Nietupski

21 A Female Tibetan Buddhist Diviner in Darjeeling 201
Tanya M. Zivkovic

22 Tsultrim Zangmo: A Twenty-First-Century Tibetan BuddhistWoman in South Asia 209
TsultrimZangmo andMichelle J. Sorensen

23 Bakula Arhat’s Journeys to the North: The Life andWork of the 19th Kushok Bakula in Russia and Mongolia 218
Vesna A. Wallace

24 Hunger, HardWork, and Uncertainty: Tashi Dondrup Reminisces on Life and Death in a Tibetan Village 228
Geoff Childs

25 Benefiting the Doctrine and Sentient Beings: The Life of a Tibetan Lineage Master and the Ethos of Altruistic Action 236
Nicolas Sihlé

26 Living Practical Dharma: Chomo Khandru and the Himalayan Bon Tradition 246
Sara Shneiderman

27 Excavating the Stories of Border-CrossingWomen Masters in Modern Buddhism: The Oral Biography of Pelling AniWangdzin and Her Family 257
Amy Holmes-Tagchungdarpa

Part V Buddhist Lives in East Asia 265

28 The Life of a Contemporary Japanese Buddhist Priest: Protecting the Dharma and Ensuring Its Flowwith All ofOne’s Strength 267
Naoyuki Ogi

29 Toshihide Numata: Igniting the Flame of the Dharma 274
Naoyuki Ogi

30 Seno’o Giro:The Life and Thought of a Radical Buddhist 280
James Mark Shields

31 Building a Culture of Social Engagement: Nichiren Buddhism and Soka Gakkai Buddhists in Japan 289
Anne Mette Fisker-Nielsen

32 Blood and Teardrops:The Life and Travels of Venerable Fazun 296
Brenton Sullivan

33 A Modern Chinese Laywoman: Dumplings, Dharani, and Dedication –Honest Auntie Li Tries to Be a Good Buddhist 305
Alison Denton Jones

Index 317

For an alternative table of contents that, for the purposes of teaching, arranges the biographies into the various schools of Buddhism, please go to www.wiley.com/go/lewisbuddhism.

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Author Information

Todd Lewis is Professor in the Religious Studies Department at The College of the Holy Cross. He is one of the world's leading authorities on the social history of Buddhism. His most recent book, Sugata Saurabha: A Poem on the Life of the Buddha by Chittadhar Hridaya of Nepal, was awarded the Toshide Numata Book Prize for the best book in Buddhist Studies in 2010 and the Khyentse Foundation Award in 2012, for the best translation of a Buddhist text. In 2011, Professor Lewis was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.

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“…this volume goes far in filling this lacuna in our teaching resources by presenting a series of biographies of Buddhists that demonstrates the way in which they try and live their lives asBuddhists.”  (H-Net.org, 1 June 2015)

“This volume invites readers to understand what it can mean to be Buddhist in manifold ways.  Rather than approaching Buddhism as an abstract entity by means of investigating ideas and practices that form a coherent and fixed system, these humanistic accounts enable one to situate and to comprehend various ways in which people have actually LIVED and thereby impacted Buddhist tradition.  One comes away from reading this book with a knowledge of how Buddhism is a force that is fluid, diverse, and distinctive in its countless iterations.”
John Holt, Bowdoin College

“I know of no other book in Buddhists Studies quite like this, and it should make fascinating reading for those who really want to understand what makes Buddhists and Buddhism ‘tick’, not as a collection of abstract ideas but as an actual lived way of being in the world and looking forward to the world(s) to come. Great stuff - this book is highly recommended!”
Paul Williams, University of Bristol, and author of Mahâyâna Buddhism: The doctrinal foundations (Routledge)

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