Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien
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Answers to Big Questions: Contemporary Buddhist Guides to Life Management
April 7, 2004 / 6.30 p.m
Katja Triplett, Marburg University
Guides or “How to do it” books are an interesting indicator of current trends in particular life problems and suggestions about how to solve them. As is well known, the Buddha denied an answer to questions which might seem to be very important such as the limits of space and time, but by remaining silent he redirected the focus to leading a dignified life in the here and now. Concrete answers to decent destiny and life management are provided in contemporary Buddhist guides, often pointing to the story of the Buddha just mentioned. These guides may take the form of manga (comics), especially when intended for evangelistic and missionary purposes. Examples of this particular medium, that is, religious guide books, will be presented in the context of the outlook on the `big questions` in different Japanese Buddhist schools. The`big questions` themselves concern the inescapable human fate of aging, becoming ill and dying.
Katja Triplett graduated from Marburg University, Germany, in 1996 and obtained her doctorate in 2002 in the Study of Religions. She is currently employed in a research project in Marburg about contemporary Japanese religions.