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Pure Land, Real WorldModern Buddhism, Japanese Leftists, and the Utopian Imagination$
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Melissa Anne-Marie Curley

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780824857752

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824857752.001.0001

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Special Marxist, Special Buddhist

Special Marxist, Special Buddhist

Kawakami Hajime

(p.86) Chapter Three Special Marxist, Special Buddhist
Pure Land, Real World

Melissa Anne-Marie Curley

University of Hawai'i Press

Kawakami Hajime was one of the most influential Japanese Marxist thinkers of his time. Before turning to Marxism, Kawakami had briefly been involved with Itō Shōshin’s utopian movement, Muga-ai (Selfless Love). Kawakami was sent to prison in 1933 as a result of his involvement with the Japanese Communist Party; while in prison, resisting ideological conversion (tenkō), he took up the question of religious truth and its relationship to Marxist social science. In his Prison Ramblings, Kawakami presents his theory of religious truth. In his autobiography, he details the connections between this theory of religious truth and the religious experience he had as a young man, triggered by his encounter with Itō. Kawakami’s interpretation of Pure Land Buddhism reflects his understanding of religious truth as thoroughly subjective and internal, allowing him to use Buddhism as a tool for securing a stable, autonomous self.

Keywords:   Kawakami Hajime, Marxism, Japanese, Pure Land, Itō Shōshin, prison, utopian, tenkō

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