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White Lotus society picture and LI Gonglin's pure land faith

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Chapter Summary

This chapter demonstrates that what Li Gonglin depicted matched the fundamental Chinese Mahāyā bodhisattva Pure Land cultivation ideology as it had existed ever since the Northern Wei. It also reveals how Yongming Yanshou's teachings contributed to the Song redefinition of this Pure Land practice and to its intense popularity as reflected in Xingchang's achievement and in Li Gonglin's White Lotus Society Picture. The chapter reviews the core of Li Gonglin's White Lotus Society Picture, inside the Society: how do the three Buddhist scenes, each dominated by either an historic personage or a Buddhist deity, represent the three great bodhisattvas in the "Gandhavyūha" and thereby delineate the three-tiered dunwu jianxiu scheme of the bodhisattva path? It discusses Maitreya and his role in the "Gandhavyūha". Maitreya is the first kalyāṇamitra Sudhana encounters on his journey, and his appearance at the beginning of the "Gandhavyūha" guarantees the appearance of Tathāgata.

Keywords: bodhisattva path; Buddhist scenes; dunwu jianxiu scheme; Gandhavyūha; Li Gonglin's pure land faith; White Lotus Society Picture



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