Luis O. Gómez Rodríguez, Professor
Dept. of Asian Languages and Cultures, University of Michigan (Ann Arbor)
Jinrei : The Buddhist Apologete as Scholar
Characterizations of the Tokugawa era seem to fall into two extreme views. Some emphasize state control and submission to state ideology. This point view naturally suggests that this was a period of extreme conservatism and stagnation. Others, mostly defenders of particular sectarian or religious views have emphasized the creativity and independence of some of the leading figures of the period. Often the same persons that are associated with submission to the state are identified as independent thinkersÑfigures like Suzuki Shoosan.
The present paper considers one neglected figure of the period : Jinrei Shigiyoku (also known ingoo, Koogatsuin, 1749-1817). With a close reading of selected passages from his commentary on the Amida-kyoo (Joodosambukyoo Koogi), the presentation creates an image of Jinrei as a person negotiating his apologetic interests and his scholarly inclinations, institutional loyalties against independent thought. This image is used to suggest the degree to which conservatism, scholarship, and creativity were able to coexist during this period.