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Death and the Afterlife in Japanese Buddhism$
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Jacqueline I. Stone and Mariko Namba Walter

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780824832049

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824832049.001.0001

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Collective Suicide at the Funeral of Jitsunyo

Collective Suicide at the Funeral of Jitsunyo

Mimesis or Solidarity?

(p.137) 4 Collective Suicide at the Funeral of Jitsunyo
Death and the Afterlife in Japanese Buddhism

Mark L. Blum

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter analyzes the suicides of Jodo Shinshu adherents, following the death of the abbot Jitsunyo—the monshu or head of the powerful Shinshu Honganji organization. The practice of “relinquishing the body” has always held an ambivalent position in Buddhist traditions, being alternately condemned and valorized, and recent scholarship has expanded on its multiple significances in specific Buddhist cultures. Drawing on both Buddhist canonical sources and the history of this practice in East Asia, the chapter studies the complex ideological heritage underlying the suicides attending Jitsunyo's death. The suicides accompanying his death were acts both of mimesis, replicating Jitsunyo's act of achieving the Pure Land, and of solidarity, expressing loyalty to Jitsunyo.

Keywords:   Jodo Shinshu adherents, abbot Jitsunyo, Shinshu Honganji, Buddhist traditions, Pure Land, mimesis, solidarity

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