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The Other Side of Zen:
A Social History of Soto Zen Buddhism in Tokugawa Japan
Duncan Ryuken Williams

Book Description
Chapter 1 [in PDF format]


"The Other Side of Zen brings to light the vital but little studied social dimension of early modern Japanese Zen. Drawing on a wealth of hitherto untapped sources, Williams offers insightful analyses of how Soto Zen temples won and maintained broad lay support by providing rites for healing and protection in this world and salvation in the next. This fascinating study will be essential reading for students and scholars of Buddhism and Japanese religion and has much to offer anyone interested in the social roles of religion."--Jacqueline Stone, Princeton University

"This is the first significant contribution in a Western language on Soto Zen of this period. The author's approach is innovative. His use of recently discovered sources, well synthesized, has helped the author succeed in demythologizing the Soto tradition. The book reflects the best of Japanese scholarship."--Michel Mohr, independent scholar

"This book--well argued, well documented and filled with fascinating material--demonstrates the strengths of a social history approach to the study of Buddhist life and contributes to the field of Zen studies in a dramatic way."--Charles Hallisey, University of Wisconsin, Madison.

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File created: 4/17/2014

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