In this episode, we talk with Prof. Hank Glassman who’s written a new book titled The Face of Jizo : Image and Cult in Medieval Japanese Buddhism (University of Hawaii Press, 2012). Jizo is a Buddhist Bodhisattva whose presence has become ubiquitous throughout Japan as the protector of travelers, women, and children and childbirth. Historically, though, he has also been closely associated with death and is known as the protector of the six realms of rebirth. In some accounts, this bodhisattva is also conflated with King Yama, the lord of the hell realms, and it according to his mythology, Jizo has vowed now to enter full awakening until all the hell realms have been emptied of suffering sentient beings.
Prof. Glassman’s book is the culmination of decades of interest and research on the cult of Jizo . He is interested in how Jizo came to take such a prominent place in Japanese Buddhism and religious life and practice. His book is extremely well written and accessible, conveying through numerous stories and narratives the life this particular bodhisattva has had in Japanese religious history.
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