This introductory chapter provides an overview of the book’s main themes. This book adds a new dimension to the study of Buddho-Taoist relationships. During mid-and late medieval times (from the end of the Six Dynasties through the Tang and Five Dynasties periods), religious life was far more confrontational than the considerable interpenetration of the two religions might at first appear. An amazing competition was taking place between the two communities, a fight for hegemony in the domains of scripture and ritual. Within the vast field of interaction between the two great Chinese traditions, some of the examples of apocryphal sūtras and Taoist “revealed” scriptures reveal not mere hybridization or passive borrowing, but a unique type of scriptural production, whereby the two traditions mirrored one another. The quest, for both religions, was not only achieving scriptural hegemony. Buddhism and Taoism also sought to strengthen their respective liturgical and evangelical monopolies. To integrate one another’s favored rituals was undoubtedly viewed as the best means to consolidate the status of their clerical organizations and to attract or keep faithful followers by providing them with the most fashionable religious trends, even if this meant borrowing conspicuously from the opposing camp’s heritage.
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