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By Stephen R. Bokenkamp

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Additional info for Ancestors and Anxiety: Daoism and the Birth of Rebirth in China (Philip E. Lilienthal Books)

Example text

While the resulting arguments often tell us something of doctrine and ideology, the reasons for their being lie elsewhere. The arguments attributed to the dead present, in short, externalist arguments that can tell us as much about society and its discontents as about evolving religious ideologies. As will become apparent, I am guided in this analysis by the way in which Tao Hongjing and Lu Xiujing read the texts that came before them, though I often highlight social details they want to suppress or redefine.

In the remainder of this tale, Zhu Sengdu will take this well-used coin and return it as a “tessera” in a creative act of misreading that seeks to renew the Chinese poetic tradition through his Buddhist message. Sengdu’s letter in response said “Serving one’s ruler to bring to order a single kingdom is not so good as spreading the Way in order to succor the myriad countries. Bringing comfort to one’s relations through marriage is not so good as exalting the Way to succor the three realms. That hair and skin should not be injured is but a common saying among the profane.

10 Since Fengdu, as we shall see, arrived on the scene rather later than the Yellow Springs or Mount Tai, we might expect to find traces of Buddhist conceptions, but we do not. 11 Instead, those who serve there, the “lords below the ground” 地下主, occupy administrative posts similar to those they held in life. They may even, through hundreds of years of study, advance in the bureaucracy to the point where they are transferred to more attractive afterlife destinations. 12 But this is Yang’s sole mention of diyu in the Dec- Teiser, Scripture on the Ten Kings.

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