Exploring Shinto - Michael Pye

Exploring Shinto - Michael Pye

4. Medieval Tendai Buddhist Views of Kami

Exploring Shinto - Michael Pye

Yeonjoo Park [+-]
Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture
Yeonjoo Park received a doctorate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for her dissertation on medieval Tendai discourse on Kami-Buddha relations (2016). Now settled in Korea, she has published on topics relating to Japanese Buddhism, Shinto, and interreligious dialogue and peace. Park is currently associated with the Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture, and has taught philosophy and Japanese Buddhism at Dongguk University in Seoul, Korea.


This study examines the medieval Tendai Buddhist views on kami, worked out by scholar monks seeking to accommodate the indigenous religious culture of Japan, to incorporate its divinities into Buddhist pantheon, and thereby to reinforce the authority and dominance of their own Tendai tradition. Particular attention is given to Tendai’s elaborate discussions in the voluminous Hiei-Tendai compilation work, Keiran shūyōshū (ca. 1318-48), specifically about the ability of kami to benefit all sentient beings by guiding them to enlightenment. The rationale for the discussions of the role and ability of the kami is explored in relation to the honji suijaku structure and the mechanism of the Tendai concept of original enlightenment. These discussions in Keiran help us to envision what Tendai thinkers discovered and/or invented as ethical ideals in kami worship, which ultimately served medieval Tendai’s own esoteric soteriological view.

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Park, Yeonjoo. 4. Medieval Tendai Buddhist Views of Kami. Exploring Shinto. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 79-103 Jul 2020. ISBN 9781781799604. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=39484. Date accessed: 19 Jun 2024 doi: 10.1558/equinox.39484. Jul 2020

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