Living Karma: The Religious Practices of Ouyi Zhixu

Hardcover | August 26, 2014

byBeverley Foulks McGuire

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Ouyi Zhixu (1599-1655) was an eminent Chinese Buddhist monk who, contrary to his contemporaries, believed karma could be changed. Through vows, divination, repentance rituals, and ascetic acts such as burning and blood writing, he sought to alter what others understood as inevitable and inescapable. Drawing attention to Ouyi's unique reshaping of religious practice, Living Karma reasserts the significance of an overlooked individual in the modern development of Chinese Buddhism.

While Buddhist studies scholarship tends to privilege textual analysis, Living Karma promotes a balanced study of ritual practice and writing, treating Ouyi's texts as ritual objects and his reading and writing as religious acts. Each chapter addresses a specific religious practice-writing, divination, repentance, vows, and bodily rituals-offering first a diachronic overview of each practice within the history of Chinese Buddhism and then a synchronic analysis of each phenomenon through close readings of Ouyi's work. This book sheds much-needed light on a little-known figure and his representation of karma, which proved to be a seminal innovation in the religious thought of late imperial China.

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From the Publisher

Ouyi Zhixu (1599-1655) was an eminent Chinese Buddhist monk who, contrary to his contemporaries, believed karma could be changed. Through vows, divination, repentance rituals, and ascetic acts such as burning and blood writing, he sought to alter what others understood as inevitable and inescapable. Drawing attention to Ouyi's unique ...

Beverley Foulks McGuire is an assistant professor of East Asian religions at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. She received her Ph.D. from Harvard University and her M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School. Her academic research focuses on Chinese religions, Buddhism, and comparative religious ethics.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:240 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.98 inPublished:August 26, 2014Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231168020

ISBN - 13:9780231168021

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Table of Contents

IllustrationsAcknowledgmentsIntroduction1. Karma as a Narrative Device in Ouyi's Autobiography2. Divination as a Karmic Diagnostic3. Repentance Rituals for Eliminating Karma4. Vowing to Assume the Karma of Others5. Slicing, Burning, and Blood Writing: Karmic Transformations of BodiesConclusionAppendix 1. A Translation of Ouyi's AutobiographyAppendix 2. A Map of Ouyi's LifeNotesGlossary of Terms, People, Places, and Titles of TextsBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

In admirably concise and lucid writing, McGuire offers us a rare glimpse into the inner life of the great Ming dynasty Buddhist master Ouyi Zhixu.