Our first seminar for 2017 will be at 6:00-7:30pm on Thursday March
23 in the Rogers Room (N397) of the John Woolley Building,
University of Sydney.
We hope you can attend.
Interwar networks of Modern Global Buddhism: The
Eastern Buddhist, the Young
East, and the International Buddhist
Society, Tokyo, 1934
The Kokusai Bukkyō Kyōkai (International Buddhist Society, IBS) was
formed in Tokyo in December 1934. In 1937, it listed 93 separate branches
across 71 cities in 41 countries, including Australia and New Zealand.
Prominent on its board of counselors were D. T. Suzuki and his wife
Beatrice Lane Suzuki, founding editors of the Eastern Buddhist and Takakusu Junjirō,
founding editor of the Young
East. Both these English language journals were, by this
time, well established. The Eastern
Buddhist first appeared in 1921, the Young East in 1925.
Although different in content, both were dedicated to the international
promotion of a determinedly modern Buddhism—Buddhism in the world and for
the world—and by the end of the 1920s, both had established global
networks. By taking over the Young
East as its official organ and installing Takakusu and the
Suzukis as its international face, the IBS built upon the achievements of
the previous decade.
This paper considers the international diplomatic impetus for the
promotion of Buddhism by Japanese in the turbulent decades between the
first and second world wars. It then examines international participation
in the Young East,
both in its founding period and under IBS auspices, to map global
networks of modern Buddhism in the early twentieth century and identify
the engines of globalization. Though some of the names of IBS members
will be familiar, much of the excellent work on pioneering Buddhists to
date has been nationally focused. The Young
East and the IBS expands the list of pioneer Buddhists and
offers an international framework in which to view them. An offshoot of
the study is an early history of the 1960’s ‘Zen boom’ which had its origins
in these much earlier writings of D. T. Suzuki which were reprinted in
The paper is part of the ongoing research of Judith
Snodgrass on the formation of Modern Global Buddhism. It began
with a study of the late nineteenth century Pali scholarship of Mr and
Mrs Rhys Davids which gave us modern Buddhist humanism. This was followed
by her 2003 publication on the introduction of Mahayana Buddhism to the
West in 1893. (Presenting
Japanese Buddhism to the West: Orientalism, Occidentalism and the
Columbian Exposition, University of North Carolina Press).
Her more recent work has been on the internationalisation of Buddhism in
the 1920s and 30s. Judith has been lecturing on Japanese History at
Western Sydney University since 1991.
Gold leaf covered schist reliquary in
the form of a stupa. Kusana period, North Western India. National
Museum, Karachi, Pakistan. Copyright: Huntington, John C. and Susan L.Huntington Archive