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Death and the Afterlife in Japanese Buddhism$
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Jacqueline I. Stone and Mariko Namba Walter

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780824832049

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824832049.001.0001

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With the Help of “Good Friends”

With the Help of “Good Friends”

Deathbed Ritual Practices in Early Medieval Japan

(p.61) 2 With the Help of “Good Friends”
Death and the Afterlife in Japanese Buddhism

Jacqueline I. Stone

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter argues that, while hopes for the Pure Land may have encouraged a reconceiving of death as joyful, the importance placed on right-mindfulness in one's last moments also provoked fears. If correct meditative focus at the moment of death could transcend the sins of a lifetime and secure one's birth in the Pure Land, the reverse was likewise true. Examining instructions for tenth-century deathbed practice, the chapter traces the importance of the “good friend” or zenchishiki—the religious advisor in attendance who guides dying persons in their deathbed visualizations. The emergence of the zenchishiki at the deathbed as a formal ritual role marked a significant step in the growing influence of Buddhist clergy over death-related practices.

Keywords:   Pure Land, deathbed practice, zenchishiki, religious advisor, deathbed visualizations, Buddhist clergy

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