|September 22, 2012|
|9:00 am||to||5:30 pm|
The Institute of Buddhist Studies Numata Symposium:
Beyond Texts, Beyond Monasteries
Saturday, September 22, 2012, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Jodo Shinshu Center
2140 Durant Avenue
For a detailed schedule of the day’s event, download this flyer and schedule.
Lay Buddhist practices are increasingly recognized as a distinct tradition, existing outside the definitions of Buddhism provided by the textual tradition and by monastic models. The 2012 IBS Numata Symposium will focus on the practice of Buddhism in the household—the Dharma in its domestic setting. Keynote addresses will be given by Paula Arai and Lisa Grumbach. Other speakers will include Daijaku Judith Kinst and Scott Mitchell.
Dr. Arai will speak on the topic of “Cleaning Cloths, Poetry, and Personal Buddhas: Laywomen’s Healing Practices in Contemporary Japan.” Creativity, flexibility, and accessibility are qualities characteristic of the Buddhist practices that women in contemporary Japan engage in as they weave healing activities into their daily life. Home-made ritualized activities, which draw upon and innovatively adapt age-old traditions, include common greetings turned into healing events, cleaning cloths performing medical mysteries, and poetry writing. In addition, this domestic Dharma often sees a loved one transformed into a Personal Buddha upon death, bestowing wise counsel and compassionate support.
Paula Arai, the author of Women Living Zen: Japanese Buddhist Nuns (Oxford University Press, 1999) and Bringing Zen Home: The Healing Heart of Japanese Buddhist Women’s Rituals (University of Hawaii Press, 2011), has performed ground-breaking research on monastic and lay Japanese Buddhist women. She is currently an associate professor of Buddhist Studies at Louisiana State University and vice-president of Sakyadhita International Association of Buddhist Women.
Dr. Grumbach’s presentation will be entitled, “Nuns at Home, Nuns as Homebuilders: Rethinking Ordination and Family in Medieval Japan.” She will explore the roles of ordained women within the social and familial structures of medieval Japan. Focusing on the reasons women became nuns, their age at ordination, and the work they performed as nuns, she will argue that women used ordination as a way to build and maintain homes rather than as a way to “leave home.”
Autobiographical writings by women, historical and biographical information about nuns, and medieval literature will be used to show that ordination and family life were not opposing categories for many women, suggesting that we need to revise our understanding of what it meant to be a “nun” in medieval Japan.
Lisa Grumbach teaches at the Institute of Buddhist Studies, Berkeley, California, and at Ryukoku University, Kyoto, Japan. Her research focuses on interactions between Buddhism and Shinto in medieval Japan, the development of Shinto-Buddhist ritual, and the role of food in East Asian religions.
This event is free and open to the public. Please RSVP using the form below.