“Problems in the Study of Later Chinese Buddhist Apocrypha," a talk by Prof. James Benn (McMaster University)
The contributions of apocryphal scriptures—that is to say, sacred texts that claimed to be translations of works in Indic languages but were in fact composed in literary Chinese—to the formation of East Asian Buddhism have been the focus of considerable study in the last few decades. However, while we now have a more sophisticated sense of the contributions of apocryphal works to Chinese Buddhist doctrine and practice—especially texts such as the Awakening of Faith in the Mahāyāna, the Scripture of Benevolent Kings, and the Scripture of Brahma’s Net—we have not always been able to appreciate the full effects of later, eighth-century works such as the Scripture of the Heroic March (Śūramgama sūtra, Lengyan jing). In this talk, I will consider the Scripture of the Heroic March in its immediate early eighth-century context and explore why it continued to hold such a fascination for Chinese intellectuals of much later times.
James A. Benn (PhD, UCLA 2001) is Associate Professor of Buddhism and East Asian Religions at McMaster University. He studies Buddhism and Taoism in medieval China. He has published on self-immolation, spontaneous human combustion, Buddhist apocryphal scriptures, and tea and alcohol in medieval China. He is the author of Burning for the Buddha: Self-immolation in Chinese Buddhism (University of Hawai‘i Press, 2007) and is currently completing a second book, Tea in China: A Religious and Cultural History.
Cost: Free and open to the public
Sponsor(s): Center for Buddhist Studies
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