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Ritualized WritingBuddhist Practice and Scriptural Cultures in Ancient Japan$
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Bryan D. Lowe

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780824859404

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824859404.001.0001

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Merit, Purity, and Ceremony

Merit, Purity, and Ceremony

(p.29) 1 Merit, Purity, and Ceremony
Ritualized Writing

Bryan D. Lowe

University of Hawai'i Press

Chapter one outlines three ways that writing was ritualized in East Asian Buddhism: the discourse of wholesome action and merit that treated sutra transcription as uniquely pious and instrumental; the purification of scribal bodies prior to transcription through practices such as performing ablutions, wearing special garments, and avoiding defilements including meat, death, and illness; and participation in ceremonies to dedicate merit on calendrically significant days, when it was believed that deities descended from the heavens to observe human conduct. It uses a variety of sources from throughout the Buddhist world including quotations from Indic sutras, Dunhuang manuscripts from western China, tales that circulated throughout East Asia, and Shōsōin documents.

Keywords:   ritual, purity, calendrics, scribes, sutra copying, Dunhuang, Shōsōin, Buddhism, setsuwa, merit

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