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A Space of Mountain within a Forest of Buildings? Urban Buddhist Monasteries in Contemporary Korea

Abstract : What is a sach'al today in the South Korean capital? Should we call it a monastery, a temple or a kind of Buddhist mega-church? Buddhism in twentieth century Korea has been characterized by the crossing and occasional confrontation of two major concerns: the quest for modernization and social integration on the one hand, and the overhaul and reaffirmation of its monastic legitimacy on the other. By tracing some characteristics of the recent development and transformation of Buddhism in Korea, this chapter aims at questioning aspects of the contemporary relationship between calls for greater engagement with the world and aspirations to restore and rejuvenate monastic asceticism. It, like the debate it traces, is organized in a somehow dialectic logic. The first part focuses on a movement from the mountains to the cities. It sketches how reform projects tend to reorganize a criticized “monastic tradition” in accordance with conceptions of a “modern religion,” and it describes some of the changes in the role and status of the laity. The second part deals with presenting another side of the picture. It focuses on the emphasis given to monasticism’s aspects of asceticism and world withdrawal. It makes another detour in recent history to present the movements advocating a monastic reform of Buddhism and tries to explore how withdrawal from the world is considered today.
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Submitted on : Thursday, September 29, 2016 - 5:57:36 PM
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Florence Galmiche. A Space of Mountain within a Forest of Buildings? Urban Buddhist Monasteries in Contemporary Korea. Enzo Pace; Isabelle Jonveaux; Stefania Palmisano. Sociology of Monasticism, Between Innovation and Tradition, 5, Brill, pp.227-239, 2014, Annual Review of the Sociology of Religion, 9789004270879. ⟨hal-01374132⟩



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