Thursday, 16 April 2015

Ghastly Hauntings and Divine Justice- Lecture by Bryan Lowe- Leiden- 12 may 2015

Ghastly Hauntings and Divine Justice: A New Approach to Ritual, Ethics and Kingship in Ancient Japanese Buddhism

Lecture by Bryan Lowe (Vanderbilt University)

Buddhism & Social Justice Event 
12 May 2015  
15:00 - 17:00 hrs

In the middle of 748, Queen Consort Kōmyō commissioned one hundred copies—many on fine colored paper—of a relatively obscure work, entitled the Scripture on Saving and Protecting Body and Life
This text promises protection from attacks by demons and sorcerers, as well as from other threats that plague humans living in an era of decline. 
She also sponsored one hundred copies of the Golden Light Sutra and three copies of the Scripture on Brahma’s Spirit Tablets, a divination sutra, at the same time. 

This talk will place these three projects within the broader historical and cosmological climate of eighth-century Japan. 
While recent scholarship on ritual and politics has focused on the way Buddhist patronage functioned to theatrically demonstrate political legitimacy, Bryan Lowe uses  these projects to depict a world in which kings and queens were haunted by ghastly attacks and answered to celestial kings who threatened to punish the impious. 
In this environment, ritual was not merely an expressive tool used to justify political authority; Buddhist ideas were themselves an authoritative force that structured ethical codes of conduct in early Japan. 

Kings reigned through earthly laws, but they were governed by divine justice.

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