The introduction explains the relevance of studying the Non-Action Teachings in terms of religious and social history. Thanks to a relative abundance of primary sources in classical as well as modern Chinese, but also in English, we can follow one particular lay Buddhist movement in considerable detail over several centuries of its history. Until now the group has been described mainly in the context of the history of religious persecution, which in their case is then explained (or even justified) in terms of their purported rebellious, or messianic, aims. This first chapter places the specific goals of the book within the larger state of the field.
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