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8 Buddhism Ab Ovo: Aspects of Embryological Discourse in Medieval Japanese Buddhism

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Chapter Summary

While embryological symbolism pervades Buddhist discourse, it has only recently come to the attention of Buddhist scholarship. The present paper, after briefly discussing the notion of the “five stages of gestation” (tainai goi), focuses on its symbolic expression in medieval Japan—not only in esoteric Buddhism, with the embryological encoding of the “wisdom kings” Aizen and Fudō, but also in medieval Shintō, with the figure of the sun goddess and in Shugendō, a mountain cult aimed at spiritual rebirth.



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