Welcome to the Mugen Project.
The Mugen Project is a new web resource for the study of Buddhism. Our website is a bibliographic database containing references to tens of thousands of Buddhist resources, ranging from film and audio recordings to academic books and articles to liturgical texts. What’s more, the Project houses not only resources across a range of media, but also across an array of literary types, such as academic scholarship, popular studies from modern times, canonical texts representing the Buddha’s teachings, major treatises of Buddhist masters across time and place, the vernacular texts of local Buddhist traditions, and so on. With such wide horizons, the Mugen Project is the first comprehensive database of the Buddhist tradition. The Project’s only parameter is language: our database contains only resources of the Buddhist tradition in Western languages, with a predominance of English language entries.
As such, the Mugen Project is a portal into Buddhist traditions across continents and epochs. We begin with eight categories: time periods, rituals, society, geography, philosophy, traditions, texts and persons. These eight spokes of the wheel on our homepage represent eight gateways into the contents of the Buddhist tradition as it has travelled across the world and developed over 2,500 years. From there, the eight categories lead to more and more specific areas of research, such as particular texts, types of rituals, historic monks, nuns, laypeople, and deities, not to mention more recent thematic areas, such as the role of Buddhism in family formations, nationalism, the social order, the economy, and gender, to name only a few. We reflect continuously on these categories and add new ones in order to help members of our user community find the resources they need.
While the records and expressions of other traditions and academic fields have been collected, well documented, and gathered into specific libraries and online databases, this has not been the case with Buddhist writing and literature. Works by Buddhists and about Buddhism have been scattered across different journals, archives, private collections, and web resources. Researchers, practitioners and those with a casual interest in Buddhism do not have one portal to meet their needs. The Mugen Project fills this gap. By gathering and organizing all the diffuse resources of Buddhism in one place, it is our goal to stimulate education and research on Buddhism. Further, by developing a number of innovative web tools, such as highly integrated maps, time lines, comments sections, and other features, we offer new perspectives onto the Buddhist tradition that simplify the search for books, articles and recordings and let users navigate the heritage of the Buddhist tradition in new, creative ways.
The Mugen Project will have a “soft launch” at the next annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion, held this year in San Francisco. From November 19-22, 2011, we will introduce the Project to the academic community by running demonstrations and workshops at the Mugen Project/BDK-Numata booth in the exhibit hall. At the time of the conference, we will release the content of our database related to Japan and Japanese Buddhism to the public for free. We are launching our Japan-related content first because this is currently our strongest area, and because it will give us the chance to welcome input from our user community based on a limited data set. After November, as we process and incorporate this feedback, we will begin to improve our holdings for Buddhist traditions beyond Japan.
To improve our resources in geographic areas beyond Japan, the Mugen Project has recruited an Advisory Board comprised of scholars with expertise in different major Buddhist traditions across Asia and in the West. After developing our Japan-related resources under the guidance of Japan experts Duncan Williams (USC) and Lori Meeks (USC), we will improve our resources for the study of Buddhism in Korea (Hwansoo Kim, Duke University), China (Marcus Bingenheimer, Temple University), India (James McHugh, USC), Southeast Asia (Justin McDaniel, University of Pennsylvania), Tibet (Lara Braitstein, McGill University), Khotan and Central Asia (Warner Belanger, Georgia College), and the West (Sharon Suh, Seattle University).
This is Mugen Project at a glance: a vast web resource, an educational and research tool, a community of scholars and practitioners, and a gateway into Buddhism. Please explore the site, and help us improve it by sending us your feedback.
The Mugen Project
17 May, 2011
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- Please send corrections or additions to Duncan Williams