Divining Monks according to the Shenseng Zhuan , T .2064

Dr. Wei Li, Dr. Esther-Maria Guggenmos

This project intends to provide an overview of monks ‘performance of divinatory practices in the Shenseng Zhuan, T. 2064. Although the practice of divination has been regarded with caution throughout the history of Chinese Buddhism, not only lay Buddhists, but also eminent monks like Dao’an or Vajrabodhi established themselves as diviners. To trace the divinatory role of members of the monastic order more systematically, out of the large corpus of biographical writings within the Buddhist canon the Shenseng Zhuan - The Biographies of Monks Having Miraculous Powers - has been chosen. The Shenseng Zhuan with its 208 biographies presents a compilation of miraculous narrations mainly taken from Buddhist biographical collections. It was assembled on the initiative of the third emperor of the Ming dynasty, Zhūdì, in 1417. The project aims to categorize the divinatory practices of monks mentioned in the Shenseng Zhuan and translate selected biographies of outstanding diviners from it.

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