Chapter three focuses on cases of collective patronage, in which groups of individuals pooled their resources to sponsor sutra transcription, often identifying themselves as wholesome friends. It shows how fellowship groups were drawn together for a variety of motivations ranging from political to pious, as many individuals treated participation in these groups as an opportunity to engage in Buddhist practice. While many scholars treat fellowships as an example of popular or folk Buddhism (minshū Bukkyō), this chapter shows how many of these groups benefited from state institutions. At the same time, it argues that many organizations transcended officially sanctioned social structures and introduced new notions of community, such as wholesome friends who joined together in practice and worship. It focuses on Japan but also makes comparison with similar groups in China.
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