How Buddhism Acquired a Soul on the Way to China
How Buddhism Acquired a Soul on the Way to China tells the story of the spread of Buddhist religious thinking and practice from India to China and how, along the way, a religion was changed. While Indian Buddhists had constructed their ideas of self by means of empiricism, anti-Brahmanism and analytic reasoning, Chinese Buddhists did so by means of non-analytic insights, utilising pre-established epistemology and cosmogony. Furthermore, many specific Buddhist ideas were transformed when exchanged from an Indian to a Chinese context, often through the work of translators concept-matching Buddhist and Daoist terms.
One of the key changes was the Chinese reinterpretation of the concept of shen - originally an agent of thought which died with the body - into an eternal essence of human spirit, a soul. Though the notion of an imperishable soul was later disputed by Chinese Buddhist scholars the idea of a permanent agent of perception flourished in China. This historical analysis of the concept of self as it developed between Indian and Chinese Buddhism will be of interest to readers of Buddhist Philosophy as well as the History of Ideas.
Published: Apr 1, 2012
This book will undoubtedly re-ignite debates about the fidelity of Chinese Buddhism to Early Buddhism, the place of the Chinese canon in the study of Buddhism, and the parameters, if any, by which Buddhism adapts to new contexts. As Buddhism adapts to more and newer contexts in the twenty first century, Park’s book is an enduring contribution not only to the scholarship on the sinification of Buddhism, but also to its immense adaptability. His death at a young age is a great loss to academia.
Religions of South Asia 7, 2013
Makes a valuable contribution to the field of Buddhist studies in detailing precisely how and why early Buddhist translators interpolated the notion of an imperishable soul, and how subsequent Chinese traditions elaborated this notion.
Journal of Chinese Religions, 2013
Few anthropologists have the linguistic facility and the knowledge of several bodies of literature required to follow Park into the depths of translation and comparison which he attempts here. That is precisely why his work is so worthwhile.
Anthropology Review Database, November 2012
Indispensable for consultation as a reference book. [It] shows that here was a brilliant scholar in the making who was prevented from maturing by his untimely death.
Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland