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“Prince Moonlight”: Messianism and Eschatology in Early Medieval Chinese Buddhism [12]

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Chapter Summary

The first part of this chapter presents a brief survey of the main themes in Daoist eschatology, centering around the belief in cosmic disasters at the end of a cycle and in the appearance of a superhuman saviour. The second part examines how far the "original" Buddhist heritage, that is, Buddhism as it was introduced into China from without, in itself contained certain elements that may be called eschatological and messianic. The prediction of future Buddhahood was destined to become an important theme in the kind of literature that we are dealing with, as it forms the scriptural base of all messianic expectations connected with Maitreya and Candraprabhakumāra. The saving power of Bodhisattvas is another theme that was to play an important role in the development of Chinese Buddhist messianism. Chinese Buddhist apocrypha very often contain detailed descriptions of the moral degeneration that prevails in the "last period".

Keywords: Bodhisattvas; Candraprabhakumāra; Chinese Buddhist apocrypha; Chinese Buddhist messianism; Daoist eschatology; last period; Maitreya; superhuman saviour



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