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Bones of ContentionAnimals and Religion in Contemporary Japan$
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Barbara R. Ambros

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780824836269

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824836269.001.0001

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Vengeful Spirits or Loving Spiritual Companions?

Vengeful Spirits or Loving Spiritual Companions?

Changing Views of Pet Spirits

(p.156) Five Vengeful Spirits or Loving Spiritual Companions?
Bones of Contention

Barbara R. Ambros

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter considers the ongoing debate about the posthumous fate of animal spirits, which has been influenced by animistic, Buddhist, Christian, and spiritualist notions of the next life. It begins with a discussion of Japanese mainstream Buddhist views of the spiritual status and the afterlife of animals, with particular emphasis on how Buddhist clerics tend to promote the notion of pets as fellow sentient beings and the idea of rebirth near the former owner in this life or the next, while others specializing in pet memorial rites tend to avoid equating pets with the beastly existence. It then examines the portrayal of pet spirits in the psychic literature of the 1990s as vengeful spirits, along with the emergence of contemporary views that present a comforting, benevolent rather than frightening, vengeful vision of the afterlife of pets. It shows that pets nowadays are often presented as beloved family members and as faithful companions even after death, rather than as a threatening other.

Keywords:   animal spirits, pet memorial rites, pets, animal afterlife, rebirth, pet spirits, psychic literature, Buddhist clerics

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