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Esoteric Buddhism And Magic In China

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Chapter Summary

Displays of magic have played important roles in Esoteric Buddhism in China and East Asia. This chapter explores the role of magic in Esoteric Buddhism as well as relationships and distinctions between miracles caused by the practice of magic and spiritual attainment as such, provided such distinctions may be observed to prevail. Although magic was present in the Buddhist religion from early on, the Buddha, at least in the early tradition, is often depicted as opposing its use and the use of spells. In the Esoteric Buddhist tradition the science of language was most fully unfolded in the performative and ritual uses of the Sanskrit language in the form of spells and mantras. In Esoteric Buddhism the performative aspect is especially important. Ritual success through a rite based on belief in magic and wonderworking is considered on a par with doctrinal mastery, skill in meditation, and moral purity.

Keywords: China; esoteric Buddhism



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