Anarchy in the Pure Land

Reinventing the Cult of Maitreya in Modern Chinese Buddhism

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Justin Ritzinger
  • Oxford, England: 
    Oxford University Press
    , September
     2017.
     336 pages.
     $74.00.
     Hardcover.
    ISBN
    9780190491161.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.
Review coming soon!

Review by Francesca Tarocco forthcoming.

Description

This title is also being reviewed in JAAR by Zhiru Ng.

Anarchy in the Pure Land investigates the twentieth-century reinvention of the cult of Maitreya, the future Buddha, conceived by the reformer Taixu and promoted by the Chinese Buddhist reform movement. The cult presents an apparent anomaly: It shows precisely the kind of concern for ritual, supernatural beings, and the afterlife that the reformers supposedly rejected in the name of "modernity." This book shows that, rather than a concession to tradition, the reimagining of ideas and practices associated with Maitreya was an important site for formulating a Buddhist vision of modernity.

Justin Ritzinger argues that the cult of Maitreya represents an attempt to articulate a new constellation of values, integrating novel understandings of the good, clustered around modern visions of utopia, with the central Buddhist goal of Buddhahood. In Part One he traces the roots of this constellation to Taixu's youthful career as an anarchist. Part Two examines its articulation in the Maitreya School's theology and its social development from its inception to World War II. Part Three looks at its subsequent decline and contemporary legacy within and beyond orthodox Buddhism. Through these investigations, Anarchy in the Pure Land develops a new framework for alternative understandings of modernity in Buddhism.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Justin R. Ritzinger is assistant professor of religious studies at the University of Miami. He received his PhD in the Study of Religion from Harvard in 2010.

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