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Buddhist Faith and Conceptions of the Afterlife in Koryo
- Buddhist Faith and Conceptions of the Afterlife in Koryo
- Mi, Kim Young
- Ewha Authors
- Issue Date
- Journal Title
- Seoul Journal of Korean Studies
- Seoul Journal of Korean Studies vol. 21, no. 2, pp. 193 - 220
- Death; afterlife; Buddhism; Koryo; divination
- KYUJANGGAK INST KOREAN STUD
- SCOPUS; KCI
- Document Type
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- The Koryo government based its rule on Confucian ideology, but Buddhism was the popular religion of the period. Therefore it is reasonable to assume that Buddhist ideas of death and afterlife were widely propagated. As shown in this article, the Buddhist concept of reincarnation based on one's karma was indeed widespread in the Koryo period. Consequently, people turned to Buddhism to avoid the evil rebirth of hell and attain a better rebirth in heaven. Especially popular were the heaven associated with Maitreva, Tu ita, and Amitabha's Western Paradise. However, it seems that people believed that rebirth in Tusita did not guarantee escape from the cycle of rebirth; thus Tusita came to be almost synonymous with "the afterlife," a better destination in the next life, but not necessarily a conduit to liberation. By contrast, rebirth in the Western Paradise would guarantee the attainment of Buddhahood and thus escape from the cycle of rebirth. Special rituals, the copying of sutras, and the commissioning of paintings were all popular practices designed to obtain a better destination for the deceased. However, the Chomch'al Dharma Mass, based on a scripture that explains how to divine one's retribution, was especially prominent, thanks to the certainty it provided about one's karmic state and how to improve it.
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