Early Kamakura Buddhism

A Minority Report

Robert E. Morrell

New York: Crossroad, 1983.

Our view of Kamakura Buddhism rests largely on interpretations by the heirs of its successful innovators——the Zen, Nichiren, and Pure Land movements——while the Establishment is represented merely as the hostile background against which our currently accepted heroes of the age had to struggle to create their brave new world.

In this “minority report,” four leaders of the traditional older sects are given an opportunity to present their side: Tendai’s Jien, Hossō’s Jōkei, Kegon’s Myōe, and Shingon’s Kakukai——largely through selected translations of their writings, and other contemporary accounts. Students of history, literature, and religion are invited to reexamine this critical period in the story of Japanese religion from a new perspective.

In this clear and carefully documented work, Morrell gives us a glimpse of the ‘other side’ to the spirituality of Kamakura Buddhism.… It makes fascinating reading for a broad range of readers: historians, literature scholars, and buddhologists.

Alan Miller

Morrell’s book shows a rare command of both the Buddhist textual and literary traditions..

Martin Collcut