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3. Historical Thematic Changes under the Impact of Buddhism in Early
Medieval China as Seen in the Youming lu

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Chapter Summary

The Youming lu is a work that demonstrates Buddhist influence as it began to appear in Chinese narrative on a relatively large scale. There is evidence that the concept of heavenly retribution appeared as early as the Shang Dynasty. The most important Buddhist influence on traditional Chinese ideas of retribution is the concept of rebirth or transmigration. The motif of the "netherworld adventure" in which the soul departs from the body in a temporary death is an important one. The indigenous Chinese netherworld includes both the heavens and the underground. After Buddhism was introduced into China and became widespread, Guanyin, became the dominant new savior by replacing Heaven, the conventional indigenous Chinese savior. Worship of constellations was an important part of early Chinese religion. In the cultural history of Buddhism in medieval China, Buddhist thoughts infiltrated Chinese literature through a dual, simultaneous process of infiltration and assimilation.

Keywords: Buddhism; Guanyin; Medieval China; netherworld adventure; Youming Lu



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