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The Buddhist Hagiographical Writings of
|Keywords:||《高僧傳》 ; 《續高僧傳》 ; 《宋高僧傳》 ; 《大明高僧傳》 ; 示寂夢 |
Biographies of Eminent Monks ; Further Biographies of Eminent Monks ; Song Biographies of Eminent Monks ; Ming Biographies of Eminent Monks ; Nirvana dreams
|Issue Date:||2020-10-12 09:54:47 (UTC+8)|
The Nirvana dream can be viewed as the delivery of a death message, which a dreamer received about the imminent death of an eminent monk. The dream would later be recorded in the monk's biography. The signs revealed in the dream indicated place of rebirth of the dying monk or the verification of his accomplishment from his practice. This paper analyzes accounts of various versions of Nirvana dreams as recorded in Huijiao's Biographies of Eminent Monks (Biographies, Gaoseng zhuan), Daoxuan's Further Biographies of Eminent Monks (Further Biographies, Xu gaoseng zhuan), Zanning's Song Biographies of Eminent Monks (Song Biographies, Song gaoseng zhuan) and Ruxing's Ming Biographies of Eminent Monks (Ming Biographies, Da-Ming gaoseng zhuan), compiled in the Liang, Tang, Song, and Ming Dynasties, respectively. It categorizes the dream visions into five types, including predictions of the impending death, saints' welcome, the auspicious signs of the Pure Land, the omens of structures falling, and bidding farewell in dreams. Huijiao Biographies and Daoxuan's Further Biographies recorded the most auspicious signs of saints' welcome. These saints included Amitabha, Avalokitesvara, ancestral masters, and Devas from the realm of the saints. These dreams all verified the accomplishments of the eminent monks by celestial manifestations, rather than relying on other powers. Zanning's Song Biographies included many dreams foretelling the masters' imminent deaths received by the disciples, which involved stupas falling and Buddha halls being damaged. These omens indicated the difficult separations and homage to the masters who made tremendous contributions. Ruxing's Ming Biographies focused on chanting Amitabha's name for the eminent monks to be reborn in the Pure Land. From the perspective of faith, a Nirvana dream can be regarded as the transcendence and breakthrough of the individual life by an eminent monk. When the monk woke up from his dream, though he had received the message of his imminent death, he could accept the promise of being reborn in the Pure Land due to his mysterious experience from the manifestation of the Buddha and Bodhisattva. Therefore, he was not afraid to face death, and was confident in his faith in the ideal Pure Land. With regard to literature, the writers of the hagiographies intentionally described the plot of receiving dreams elaborately to sanctify the lives of eminent monks. They often led the readers to lofty aesthetic experience through the death of an eminent monk by developing an analogy between life and dream and a contrast between the moments before and after the death. This writing method of illustrating the accomplishments of eminent monks greatly facilitated the preaching of Buddhism.
|Relation:||政大中文學報, 32, 167-199|
|Appears in Collections:||[政大中文學報 THCI Core] 期刊論文|
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