Three Buddhist Texts from Dunhuang

The Scripture on Healing Diseases, the Scripture Urging Goodness, and the New Bodhisattva Scripture

in Asian Medicine
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Abstract

“Three Buddhist Texts from Dunhuang” provides an introduction to and translation of texts that are representative of the larger genre of Chinese Buddhist medical literature. These examples are indigenous Chinese Buddhist scriptures dating to the early ninth century. They were recovered in the early twentieth century at Dunhuang in western China. Although they often draw from Indian Buddhist sources, these texts are local Chinese products and are characterized by etiologies and therapeutics drawn from both Indian Buddhist traditions and Chinese worldviews. In these texts, disease is alternately the result of personal immorality, divine retribution, and collective misconduct. The prescribed therapies are also multiple, but consistently social in nature. These include worshiping buddhas and Buddhist deities, performing repentance rituals, copying Buddhist scriptures, sponsoring meals, and refraining from immoral behavior. As manuscripts essentially discovered in situ, these texts provide valuable insight into on-the-ground worldviews, concerns, practices, and institutions in far western China. With their composite nature, drawing from established Indian Buddhist scriptures, folk beliefs, and governmental fiats, they are also suggestive of the strategies behind indigenous textual production.

Three Buddhist Texts from Dunhuang

The Scripture on Healing Diseases, the Scripture Urging Goodness, and the New Bodhisattva Scripture

in Asian Medicine

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References

Foguang Dacidian. 1989. Beijing: Shumu wenxian chubanshe.

Foshuo jiubing jing 佛說救疾經 (Scripture Spoken by the Buddha on Healing Diseases) T 85.2878.1361.b14-1362c10. Chinese Electronic Tripitaka Collection Version 2011.

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HuckerCharles O. 1985. A Dictionary of Official Titles in Imperial China. Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press.

HurvitzLeon. 1976. Scripture of the Lotus Blossom of the Fine Dharma. New York: Columbia University Press.

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LoVivienne and Christopher Cullen. 2005. Medieval Chinese Medicine: The Dunhuang Medical Manuscripts. London: RoutledgeCurzon.

Quanshan jing 勸善經 (Scripture Urging Goodness) T 85.2916.1462a01-20. Chinese Electronic Tripitaka Collection Version 2011.

Xin pusa jing 新菩薩經 (New Bodhisattva Scripture) T 85.2917a. Chinese Electronic Tripitaka Collection Version 2011.

Xin Tangshu. 1975. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju.

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