Paul L. Swanson

Senior Research Fellow, Nanzan Institute for Religion & Culture

Professor Emeritus, Nanzan University

Paul is an MK (“missionary kid”) who was born and raised in Japan. He has four children and one wife, is a Bob Dylan freak, and was the Editor of the Japanese Journal of Religious Studies for 33 years. He did his graduate studies at Sophia University, the University of Tokyo, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His dual areas of specialization are Japanese Religions (Shugendo) and Buddhist Studies (T’ien-t’ai/Tendai Buddhism). He is officially retired from Nanzan University as of 1 April 2020 and is currently the holder of the “Roche Chair for Interreligious Research” at the Nanzan Institute, where he is working on further translations of Tiantai texts. His publications include:

Foundations of T’ien-t’ai Philosophy, a study of the threefold truth as the basic structure of T’ien-t’ai Buddhist philosophy, including an annotated translation of part of the Fa-hua hsuan-i.
Religion and Society in Modern Japan, a collection of essays intended for use as a textbook for classes on Japanese religions
Pruning the Bodhi Tree, a collection of essays on “Critical Buddhism”
If you teach me Japanese, I’ll teach you English, a guide to exchanging languages
Nanzan Guide to Japanese Religions, edited with Clark Chilson
Clear Serenity, Quiet Insight: T’ien-t’ai Chih-i’s Mo-ho chih-kuan, a complete annotated translation of one of the most influential treatises in East Asian Buddhism.
In Search of Clarity: Essays on Translation and Tiantai Buddhism, a collection of essays written over a period of more than 30 years while working on translating Buddhist texts into English.

Titles in Vietnamese:
Thien & Chi Quan
Thien Thai Tong

Clear Serenity, Quiet Insight: T’ien-t’ai Chih-i’s Mo-ho chih-kuan” was awarded the 2019 Toshihide Numata Book Award for Buddhism. “

Paul’s current projects include:

    • * translating the Mo-ho chih-kuan 『摩詞止観』 and other T’ien-t’ai texts into English

Table of Contents for complete Mo-ho chih-kuan.
Sample text: The Section on “Contemplating Objects as Inconceivable” (aka “On Ichinen sanzen” 一念三千), T46.52b-55c.