Dear friends and members of the Unitarian Fellowship
Date January 11, 2015
Venue:#402 of International House of Japan.
Our speaker: Dominick Scarangello
(A scholar of early modern Japanese Buddhism and religion)
Title of the speech:
The laity can’t really practice or can they?
The history of the early Meiji period Buddhist ‘church’ movement.
‘In the early 21st century, Buddhism is commonly seen as an egalitarian faith that offers practices such as meditation for all and holds the promise of Buddhahood and liberation for both monastic and lay alike. However, this was not always the case. Even in many strands of Mahayana Buddhism, living an active life of Buddhist practice was once thought to be the prerogative of renunciant monastics.
In this presentation I will talk about the early to mid-Meiji movement to develop lay soteriological teachings, creeds and practices from the traditions of Japanese Buddhist groups that had historically privileged renunciant, ascetic practitioners. In addition to eludicating an understudied episode in Buddhist modernism, I hope that the history of this movement will also provide context for understanding successful Buddhist lay movements that developed later in the 20th century.’