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American Occultism and Japanese Buddhism: Albert J. Edmunds, D. T. Suzuki, and Translocative History

Thomas A. Tweed
Japanese Journal of Religious Studies
Vol. 32, No. 2, Essays from the XIXth World Congress of the IAHR, Tokyo, March 2005 (2005), pp. 249-281
Published by: Nanzan University
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30234063
Page Count: 33
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
American Occultism and Japanese Buddhism: Albert J. Edmunds, D. T. Suzuki, and Translocative History
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Abstract

Transnational exchanges shaped religious life in Meiji (1868-1912) and Taishō (1912-1926) Japan and Gilded Age (1865-1900) and Progressive Era (1900-1917) America. This essay analyzes one case of cultural exchange in this period. It focuses on Albert J. Edmunds, a British-American Buddhist sympathizer, and it considers the ways that Western occult traditions, especially Swedenborgianism, moved back and forth across the Pacific and shaped the work of D. T. Suzuki. The article offers three conclusions. First, for his influence on Suzuki and others in Japan-he sparked Suzuki's personal interest in Swedenborgianism, for example-Edmunds deserves to be recognized in scholarly narratives. Second, it is important to note the influence of Western occult traditions on Suzuki's work, especially between 1903 and 1924. Third, the essay considers the implications of this case study for writing translocative histories, and it suggests that historians reconsider the periodization and spatialization of their narratives as they also reaffirm the importance of scholarly collaboration.

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