Domesticating the Dharma: Buddhist Cults and the Hwaom by II McBride Richard D.

By II McBride Richard D.

Western scholarship has hitherto defined the assimilation of Buddhism in Korea by way of the importation of Sino-Indian and chinese language highbrow faculties. This has ended in an overemphasis at the scholastic knowing of Buddhism and missed proof of ways Buddhism used to be practiced "on the ground." Domesticating the Dharma offers a much-needed corrective to this view via proposing for the 1st time a descriptive research of the cultic practices that outlined and formed the way in which Buddhists in Silla Korea understood their faith from the 6th to 10th centuries. Critiquing the normal two-tiered version of "elite" as opposed to "popular" faith, Richard McBride demonstrates how the eminent clergymen, royalty, and hereditary aristocrats of Silla have been the first proponents of Buddhist cults and that wealthy and numerous practices unfold to the typical humans due to their influence.Drawing on Buddhist hagiography, conventional narratives, old anecdotes, and epigraphy, McBride describes the seminal function of the worship of Buddhist deities--in specific the Buddha ??kyamuni, the long run buddha Maitreya, and the bodhisattva Avalokite?vara--in the domestication of the faith at the Korean peninsula and using imagery from the Maitreya cult to create a symbiosis among the local non secular observances of Silla and people being imported from the chinese language cultural sphere. He exhibits how in flip Buddhist imagery remodeled Silla intellectually, geographically, and spatially to symbolize a Buddha land and sacred destinations designated within the Avatasaka S?tra (Huayan jing/Hwa?m ky?ng). Emphasizing the significance of the interconnected imaginative and prescient of the universe defined within the Avatasaka S?tra, McBride depicts the synthesis of Buddhist cults and cultic practices that flourished in Silla Korea with the practice-oriented Hwa?m culture from the 8 to 10th centuries and its next upward thrust to a uniquely Korean cult of the Divine meeting defined in scripture.Given its ground-breaking strategy, Domesticating the Dharma should be very important not just for college kids and students of Korean historical past and faith and East Asian Buddhism, but additionally extra ordinarily for historians drawn to how elements of patronage, ritual approaches, and devotional show show overarching similarities among varied non secular traditions.

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Extra info for Domesticating the Dharma: Buddhist Cults and the Hwaom Synthesis in Silla Korea

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The important issue at hand is that some influential people of Silla presented this as the truth during the seventh and eighth centuries. Faithful Buddhists developed these stories as a means of adding symbolic value to the monasteries they were constructing while Buddhist culture prospered in Silla. 49 This inscription also provides evidence for the way in which cultic sites associated with Silla’s indigenous gods and spirits may have been transformed into protectors of the Buddhadharma as Buddhism grew in power and prestige on the peninsula.

It took a miracle performed by an aristocrat to cause the Silla elite to relent and accept Buddhism as a state religion. I would argue that this sort of analysis is too simplistic and is based on the deployment of a handful of questionable narratives as historical facts. Evidence from Chinese sources suggests that Buddhist monks who had contacts in north China were active in Koguryŏ roughly fifty years prior to the time that Buddhism was made a state religion. Furthermore, various sea routes connecting southern Chinese states and Paekche were open during this period.

When discovered, the king would deny complicity and move to execute Pak. Under these circumstances, Pak would testify about the power of Buddhism and perform a miracle that Buddhism and the State in Silla17 would convert the aristocratic officials. Pak was executed by beheading. 12 Instead, an aristocrat named Ch’ŏlbu was named chief minister (sangdaedŭng) in 531 and was entrusted with the affairs of state. No biography of Ch’ŏlbu has been passed down, so we cannot know of his attitude toward Buddhism.

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