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Chan Narratives about Death Premonitions and Avoidance of Fate

In: International Journal of Divination and Prognostication
Author:
Mario Poceski University of Florida Gainesville, FL US

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Abstract

The article explores the scope, content, and function of prophecies and premonitions presented in Chinese Buddhist literature, with a focus on the Chan school and the late medieval period. It is especially concerned with Chan narratives that feature premonitions about an upcoming death or demise, either one’s own or of another person. Additionally, that is related to prevalent notions about the possibility of changing individual fate (or destiny), mainly at the point of facing death or when coming to terms with the daunting prospect of a terrible afterlife. While these themes resonate with the broader Buddhist tradition, the Chan school’s production of narratives that feature this kind of thaumaturgic elements were linked to changing conceptions of exemplary religiosity, in which the Chan masters’ real supernatural power is ultimately based on their possession of superior wisdom.

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