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Burma, or Myanmar as it was renamed in 1989, is largely ignored within the discipline of South Asian Studies, despite its cultural, religious, economic, and strategic significance for the wider worlds of Asia. Burma is often studied either in isolation or alongside Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia, despite its equally important historical and cultural connections to communities, states, and networks across what is now India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, or Nepal. In this Roundtable, four scholars of South Asia discuss Burma's erasure within the discipline, the origins and limitations of traditional area studies frameworks, and the possibilities afforded by Burma's inclusion within a more expansive conception of South Asia.
Despite a recognition of religion as a resource for coping in later life, few studies have examined how religion is summoned to cope with the stressors of late-life immigration. Drawing upon data generated in a phenomenological study of the aging-out-place experience, this article presents a hermeneutic analysis of textual extracts addressing 10 Sri Lankan-born late-life immigrants’ Buddhist beliefs and practices, and how these beliefs and practices contributed to coping with immigration stressors. Four shared experiences facilitated through religious engagement were revealed: religious engagement as a source of purpose, making meaning of suffering and experiencing hope, non-attachment, and connecting to the past and the ethnoreligious community. Late-life immigrants drew on religious engagement to remain resolute amidst adversities, thus reinforcing the importance of culturally responsive milieus and services to support religion-focused coping. Findings are interpreted in relation to Pargament’s (1997) theory of religious coping.
This article argues that the Mongol empire's famous religious tolerance cannot be explained solely through its adoption of Inner Asian imperial political traditions of ruling over ethnically and religiously diverse subjects. Instead, this pluralism can be ascribed to a wider religious pattern of the Mongols. The first part argues that the analytical category of immanentist religions explains not only the inter-cultic transparency exhibited by the Mongol courts, but also the few explicit instances where the Chinggisid rulers reacted with ‘religious’ violence. The article further explores the strategies employed by the religious vectors, mainly Buddhists and Muslims, to address, accommodate, and subvert the Chinggisids’ patterns of religiosity and primarily their pluralism, and the Mongols’ deified mode of sacralizing kingship. Focusing on the Mongol-Ilkhanid court in Iran, the article examines how religious representatives used conceptual affinities and equivalences between the Mongol traditions and certain principles of their own religious frameworks to gain influence and favour, and persuade the khans to convert or retain their earlier commitment to the new religious affiliation. Employing this assimilative approach, they manoeuvred within the religious, immanentist paradigm of their nomadic patrons while moulding and manipulating it to their own religious, transcendentalist ends. The article further demonstrates how this ‘translation’ process of Chinggisid patterns became an arena of Buddhist–Muslim rivalry and competition, but also cross-cultural fertilization.
This chapter explores the excavated evidence of religious institutions and diverse faith-based practices across the city, revealing a bare and unvarnished set of concerns and habits focused on the commemoration of death and ritual use of objects.
The Silk Road trade, which involved mostly prestige goods, started from the Han dynasty, around the second century bce, under the protection of Han imperial expansion into Central Asia. The economy of the Han Empire was mainly based on agriculture. Taxes in the form of agricultural products – such as food grains, silk yarn and floss, and bast-weave cloths such as ramie and hemp – in addition to corvée labor provided the major revenue for the state. Although commerce flourished in cities and connected both rural and urban residents into a nationwide market, traders held the lowest status in the social hierarchy. The impetus for trade with foreign countries, therefore, was initiated by the Han ruling elite, who, like aristocrats in ancient regimes around the world, had always been looking for rare and expensive goods to mark their distinguished status. Meanwhile, the Han Empire engaged in warfare with pastoral nomads of the Central Asian steppe grasslands from the founding of the dynasty. The perennial wars with the Xiongnu nomad confederation extended the horizon of the Han rulers, north to the steppe and west to Central and South Asia, reaching as far as the Mediterranean.
This chapter looks at the thinking and practice of international relations and world order in pre-Muslim India. It opens by setting India’s geopolitical context. In terms of thinking it covers Kautilya’s Arthashastra, Ashoka’s Dharma, and the ontology and epistemology of India’s epic literature. In terms of practice, it covers the Mahajanapadas and the peaceful spread of Indian culture.
This chapter addresses five difficulties in our approach: how to handle the close link between the discipline of IR that we now have and the period of Western world dominance; does culture matter in international relations or is it all materialism?; how ‘Western’ is modern IR?; Can ancient and modern concepts and practices be equated?; Empires versus states, and how to differentiate inside and outside.
This article compares the ideas, connections, and projects of two South Asian figures who are generally studied separately: the Indian pan-Islamist Muhammad Barkatullah (1864–1927) and the Sinhalese Buddhist reformer Anagarika Dharmapala (1864–1934). In doing so, I argue that we can understand these two figures in a new light, by recognizing their mutual connections as well as the structural similarities in their thought. By focusing on their encounters and work in Japan, this article demonstrates how Japan—particularly after defeating Russia in the Russo-Japanese War in 1905—had become a significant site for inter-Asian conversations about world religions. Importantly, exploring the projects of Barkatullah and Dharmapala makes visible the fact that, from the late nineteenth century until the outbreak of the First World War, religion played a central role—alongside nationalism, race, and empire—in conversations about the possible futures of the international order.
We discuss music as a reflection of our deepest and most important existential concerns. Indeed, music connects us with the transcendent and is used to express our spirituality. The term “requiem” refers to music that honors those who have died. In this chapter we discuss death and dying, and our approach to living that gives us comfort, hope, and a sense of finality. We posit spirituality as a key thread in the various social theories of aging, and recognize music as a vehicle to and key aspect of the sacred moment. We also explore Buddhist thought (e.g., right view, right livelihood) as a metaphor and method to apply to our attitude toward music and music as a profession. This chapter recognizes how music may be involved in spiritual expressions and in the celebration of the End-of-Life.
Buddhism is a tradition that set itself decidedly against theism, with the development of complex arguments against the existence of God. I propose that the metaphysical conclusions reached by some schools in the Mahayana tradition present a vision of reality that, with some apparently small modification, would ground an argument for the existence of God. This argument involves explanation in terms of natures rather than causal agency. Yet I conclude not only that the Buddhist becomes a theist in embracing such explanations as legitimate, but also ipso facto abandons their metaphysical project and ceases to be a Buddhist.
Mindfulness techniques, which are currently widely used in psychosomatics and psychotherapy, pose challenges when treating people coming from Buddhist groups for several reasons.
For their treatment, it is important to take into account decontextualized terms that underlie crucial group dynamics and the effects of damaging neologisms in international Buddhist organizations.
In the current research project, this topic is approached in combining quantitative with qualitative data. Whereas the data collection is still ongoing, the replies of twelve people are presented.
As commitments to secrecy hinder people to ask for psychotherapy for long, they were asked on their thoughts about secrecy in Buddhist groups. Five of them agreed that acts against them were declared secret, which they then further specified. Six probands agreed having witnessed acts directed toward others being sworn to secrecy, four of which told this was about sexual abuse. Whereas nine agreed having experienced enemy images being built up, three agreed and specified how their own freedom was impaired and six witnessed and specified other group members’ freedom having been constrained. While six persons agreed that it was assumed in their group one or more persons could ‘purify’ someone else in the sense of a ‘karma purification’ and specified their replies, two replied this concept was used to rationalize actions towards themselves and how it has affected.
As for psychotherapy, it is important to take into account rationalization of violence and abuse through neologisms, pseudotherapies and structural issues in context.
Conflict of interest
This research is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).
Wright wrote and published poetry throughout his career, culminating in the remarkable collection of “projections in the haiku manner” which he composed in the last years of his life. This analysis contextualizes Wright’s late turn to haiku in relation to his larger body of work; his reading of scholarship on haiku and Japanese Buddhism; his involvement with the Partisan Review during the 1930s; his revisionary engagement with modernist poetry, including Ezra Pound’s haiku-inspired imagism as well as T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land; and his affirmation of Emersonian pragmatism. I conclude by exploring the transmission of Wright’s legacy to contemporary African American poets such as Sonia Sanchez, whose liberating experiments with haiku have resulted in new expressive possibilities.
Although allegations of monastic financial embezzlement and sexual misconduct are the most frequent and outrageous monastic scandals reported in Thailand's media outlets, this article discusses a separate category of scandal I label ‘everyday scandals.’ This type of scandal describes the phenomenon of monks committing bodily transgressions, including inappropriate behaviours outside the temple and unacceptable presentations of the body. For Thai Buddhist laity, photos of monks taking trips to the mall and working out at a gym can be indicators that their religion is in decline. A proper male monastic body enacting acceptable behaviour signals the difference of the monastic life from the lay life, ensuring the efficacy of merit and ritual performance. The regulation of everyday monastic life is a fertile topic in Thai media. Because the Buddhist monastic institution is interconnected with the Thai nation-state, the male monastic body is a site of evaluation and critique. At stake is national Thai heritage and pride in Thailand's majority religion: Buddhism. Besides the strength of contemporary Thai Buddhism, everyday scandals also reveal continuity in the discourse of decline and anxiety over monastic behaviour, which began with the earliest Buddhist communities. The threat of Buddhism's decline is part of a continuum of debates within monastic texts and Buddhist history regarding proper monastic behaviours in public.
Many people describe themselves as secular rather than religious, but they often qualify this statement by claiming an interest in spirituality. But what kind of spirituality is possible in the absence of religion? In this book, Michael McGhee shows how religious traditions and secular humanism function as 'schools of wisdom' whose aim is to expose and overcome the forces that obstruct justice. He examines the ancient conception of philosophy as a form of ethical self-inquiry and spiritual practice conducted by a community, showing how it helps us to reconceive the philosophy of religion in terms of philosophy as a way of life. McGhee discusses the idea of a dialogue between religion and atheism in terms of Buddhist practice and demonstrates how a non-theistic Buddhism can address itself to theistic traditions as well as to secular humanism. His book also explores how to shift the centre of gravity from religious belief towards states of mind and conduct.
For centuries, Buddhism was said to be the main source of law in Buddhist kingdoms in mainland Southeast Asia, as seen in the prevalence of the cult of Dhammasastra. But what is Buddhist about these Buddhist laws? Buddha had never taught a legal code, only dhamma and vinya for monastic life, so the relationship between Buddhism and law is not straightforward. Dhamma itself is cosmic law. Vinya is a monastic code of conduct. This chapter aims to explore how the three types of ‘law’, dhamma, vinya, and Buddhist law, related with one another in ancient Siam. How did Buddhism shape legal, and political, arrangement in Siam? More importantly, when the service of Buddhist law officially came to an end in the early 20th Century, is there any residue of the idea left in the modern legal thought and culture of today Thailand?
Are humans superior to all other animals? People of religion – Christianity and Buddhism – say yes. People of science – those for and those against Darwinian evolutionary theory – say yes. People of philosophy – the existentialists in particular –say yes. Why? People of religion think it is God’s intention (Christians) or simply the way the world is (Buddhists). People of science, both those for and those against Darwin, think it is simply a fact of nature. People of philosophy, existentialists, argue that meaning must come from within. Are humans superior? That is for us to decide and demonstrate. Natural (science) and unnatural (religion) facts tell us nothing.
Why do we think ourselves superior to all other animals? Are we right to think so? In this book, Michael Ruse explores these questions in religion, science and philosophy. Some people think that the world is an organism - and that humans, as its highest part, have a natural value (this view appeals particularly to people of religion). Others think that the world is a machine - and that we therefore have responsibility for making our own value judgements (including judgements about ourselves). Ruse provides a compelling analysis of these two rival views and the age-old conflict between them. In a wide-ranging and fascinating discussion, he draws on Darwinism and existentialism to argue that only the view that the world is a machine does justice to our humanity. This new series offers short and personal perspectives by expert thinkers on topics that we all encounter in our everyday lives.
The Maldives Heritage Survey was established to document cultural heritage vulnerable to human and environmental threats in the Maldives. An open-access online database is being produced to inform academic studies, support heritage-management plans and create a permanent archive of digital heritage resources.
Using received texts and excavated funerary epitaphs, this article examines the intricacies of gender and migration in early medieval China by exploring women's long-distance mobility from the fourth century to the sixth century, when what is now known as China was divided by the Northern Wei and a succession of four southern states—the Eastern Jin, Liu-Song, Southern Qi, and Liang. I focus on three types of migration in which women participated during this period: war-induced migration, family reunification, and religious journeys. Based on this analysis, I propose answers to two important questions: the connection between migration and the state, and textual representations of migrants. Though the texts under consideration are usually written in an anecdotal manner, the references to women, I argue, both reveals nuances in perceptions of womanhood at the time and elucidates the contexts within—and through—which long-distance travel became possible for women.
The Buddhist no-self and no-person revisionary metaphysics aims to produce a better structure that is motivated by the normative goal of eliminating, or at least reducing, suffering. The revised structure, in turn, entails a major reconsideration of our ordinary everyday person-related concerns and practices and interpersonal attitudes, such as moral responsibility, praise and blame, compensation, and social treatment. This essay explores the extent to which we must alter and perhaps discard some of our practical commitments in light of the Buddhist revisionism. I do not argue here that we should change our ordinary practices, concerns, and attitudes, or that the Buddhist metaphysics does succeed in presenting a better structure. Rather, I offer it as an alternative structure that should be considered seriously.