Caution and Creativity – Legitimizing and Conceptualizing Prognostic Practices in Chinese Buddhism

September 3-4, 2012

Convenor: Dr. Esther-Maria Guggenmos (IKGF)

Caution and Creativity – the title of the workshop already hints at the ambivalent relationship between Chinese Buddhist sources and mantic practices: The attitude of the monastic order towards mantic practices has been overshadowed by the general discouragement in the monastic discipline from engaging in mantic counseling for monetary purposes. Nevertheless, the mantic arts are mentioned side by side with medical practices and the efficacy of mantic practices is at least not necessarily doubted in the vinaya sources. Independently of the ambivalent relationship between the saṃgha and the mantic arts, there are numerous, influential Chinese Buddhist texts and ritual traditions that implement, transform and incorporate mantic and prognostic elements. This workshop will focus on this amalgamation process, elucidate strategies for legitimizing the adoption of mantic practices and analyze the philosophical conceptualizations that structure the material.


Monday, September 3, 2012:
"Apocryphal" Creativity in Early Medieval China
9:15 a.m. Prof. Dr. Michael Lackner (IKGF director):
Welcome Address
Dr. Esther-Maria Guggenmos (IKGF):
"Buddhism and Divination"? – Some Preliminary Remarks on the State of the Field
9:45 a.m. Prof. Dr. Kuo Liying (EFEO, Paris):
Key to Dream: Salvation in Chinese Buddhism
10:45 a.m. Coffee Break
11:15 a.m. Dr. Esther-Maria Guggenmos:
Mantic Knowledge in Transfer – The Example of the Brahmajāla Text Family
Response: Marc Kalinowski
12:15 p.m. Lunch Break (Buffet)
2:30 p.m. Text Reading 1: Selected Passages from the Zhancha Shan'e Yebao Jing 占察善惡業報經
3:15 p.m. Text Reading 2: Mantic Arts in the Brahmajāla Text Family
4:00 p.m. Coffee Break
4:15 p.m. Text Reading 3: Legitimizing Mantic Practices – Reading of Selected Arguments
5:00 a.m. Prof. Dr. Gudrun Bühnemann (University of Wisconsin-Madison): Divination as Part of Maṇḍala Initiation in Tantric Buddhist Traditions
Tuesday, September 4, 2012:
Revivals, Amplifications and more (esp. Ming dynasty)
9:30 a.m. Prof. Dr. Beverley McGuire (The University of North Carolina, Wilmington):
"Emptiness in Principle, Divination in Practice: Ouyi Zhixu’s Writings on the Sutra on the Divination of Good & Bad Karmic Retribution“
Response: Prof. Dr. Chün-fang Yü (Columbia University)
11:00 a.m. Dr. May-Ying Mary Ngai (PhD The University of British Columbia, Vancouver):
"Introduction of the Board Game designed by Buddhist Master Ouyi Zhixu and its Significance in Popularizing Buddhism in China and other Asian Countries"
Response: Prof. Dr. Chün-fang Yü (Columbia University)
12:30 p.m. Lunch Break (Buffet)
2:30 p.m. Text Reading 4: Selections of Ouyi Zhixu's Zhancha Shan'e Yebao Jing Xuanyi 蕅益智旭:占察善惡業報經玄義
3:30 p.m. Text Reading 5: Ouyi Zhixu's Preface of the Xuanfo Pu 選佛譜 / The Xianxing Xifang Jing 現行西方經
4:30 p.m. Coffee Break
5:30 p.m. Final Discussion
6:00 p.m. End


Internationales Kolleg für Geisteswissenschaftliche Forschung (IKGF)
Ulrich-Schalk-Strasse 3a
91056 Erlangen
3rd floor – Conference Room
View access route…


Workshop Flyer (315 KB)
Workshop Poster (160 KB)


For more information, please contact Dr. Esther-Maria Guggenmos at