Caodaism’s “Outrageous Syncretism” Incorporates Chinese, Buddhist, and Western Religions

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Hoskins-DivineEyeThe Divine Eye and the Diaspora: Vietnamese Syncretism Becomes Transpacific Caodaism
by Janet Alison Hoskins
February 2015 | 308 pages | 8 color and 17 b&w illustrations
Cloth | ISBN 978-0-8248-4004-4 | $65.00
Paper | ISBN 978-0-8248-5140-8 | $32.00

Caodaism is a new religion born in Vietnam during the struggles of decolonization, shattered and spatially dispersed by cold war conflicts, and now reshaping the goals of its four million followers. Colorful and strikingly eclectic, Caodaism forces us to reconsider how anthropologists study religious mixtures in postcolonial settings. Its dynamics challenge the unconscious Eurocentrism of our notions of how religions are bounded and conceptualized.

“This examination of the Caodai religious movement is easily the most comprehensive and sympathetic study yet prepared on what is surely the most fascinating yet also the most misunderstood of Vietnam’s ‘new’ (colonial and postcolonial) religions. The work engages critically with existing interpretations of the Caodai faith and ventures a new interpretation of its emergence as a reflexive re-synthesis of Vietnamese religious traditions—a self-defensive re-articulation of identity—in the context of colonial cultural and political domination, frustrated nationalism, diasporic dispersal, and transnational globalism. . . . In the hands of the author, this engaging, complex, and big-hearted Vietnamese religion at last has gained the sensitive and capable treatment it deserves.” —Philip Taylor, The Australian National University

Author Steven Heine talks about his title, Zen Koans

zenkoans


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Zen Koans
written by Steven Heine

2014 | 206 pages
Cloth | ISBN 978-0-8248-3973-4 | $48.00
Paper | ISBN 978-0-8248-3974-1 | $17.00
Dimensions of Asian Spirituality

Buddhist networks amid political transition

fisherFromComrades
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From Comrades to Bodhisattvas: Moral Dimensions of Lay Buddhist Practice in Contemporary China
written by Gareth Fisher

2014 | 301 pages | 13 illustrations
Cloth | ISBN 978-0-8248-3966-6 | $50.00
Topics in Contemporary Buddhism

 

“From Comrades to Bodhisattvas reveals for the first time an important and rapidly developing aspect of Chinese religiosity—the rise of lay Buddhism, which takes place in the cracks of China’s strict system of religious control. Nothing in the current literature on Buddhism or on religion in China is comparable to Fisher’s important contribution. His fascinating findings include, for example, showing how a ‘karmic’ morality offers an alternative for people unhappy with the more utilitarian morality of connection-building that characterizes much of life in Beijing. Other sections show counter-intuitively how a nostalgia for some of the ideals of the Maoist period—a sense of community, a commitment to a kind of egalitarian fairness for all, a broadly shared sense of thrift and poverty—can combine with Buddhist ideals to create a critique of the current system.” —Robert P. Weller, Boston University

 

Enlightened phrasing in Zen Buddhist learning

heineZenKoans
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Zen Koans
written by Steven Heine

2014 | 206 pages
Paper | ISBN 978-0-8248-3974-1 | $17.00
Cloth (Print on Demand) | ISBN 978-0-8248-3973-4 | $48.00
Dimensions of Asian Spirituality

 

In this compact volume, Steven Heine, who has written extensively on Zen Buddhism and koans, introduces and analyzes the classic background of texts and rites and explores the contemporary significance of koans to illuminate the full implications of this ongoing tradition. He delves deeply into the inner structure of koan literature to uncover and interpret profound levels of metaphorical significance. At the same time, he takes the reader beyond the veil of vagueness and inscrutability to an understanding of how koan writings have been used in pre-modern East Asia and are coming to be evoked and implemented in modern American practice of Zen.

 

Transitions in faith, times of turmoil in turn of the century Korea

youngEasternLearning
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Eastern Learning and the Heavenly Way: The Tonghak and Chondogyo Movements and the Twilight of Korean Independence
written by Carl F. Young

2014 | 297 pages
Cloth | ISBN 978-0-8248-3888-1 | $49.00
Hawaii Studies on Korea

It was in this context of social change and an increasingly perilous international situation that Tonghak rebuilt itself, emerging as Ch’ŏndogyo (Teaching of the Heavenly Way) in 1906. During the years before Japan’s annexation of Korea in 1910, Ch’ŏndogyo continued to evolve by engaging with new currents in social and political thought, strengthening its institutions, and using new communication technologies to spread its religious and political message. In spite of Korea’s loss of independence, Ch’ŏndogyo would endure and play a major role in Korean nationalist movements in the Japanese colonial period, most notably the March First independence demonstrations in 1919. It was only able to thrive thanks to the processes that had taken place in the twilight years of Korean independence.