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A study and translation of Compassionate Water Repentance Ritual



Hong, De




Master of Arts in Religious Studies


Capitanio, Joshua
Chu, William
Long, Darui


Buddhist repentance (chanhui 懺悔) is one of the few areas of Buddhist studies that has not been fully examined by western scholars even though it plays a major role in the Buddhist monastic communities and lay life in Chinese Buddhism. The Compassionate Water Repentance Ritual (henceforth Water Ritual) is one of several popular repentance rituals from the tenth century and is still in practice today in Buddhist monasteries in East Asia, Vietnam, Europe, and America.

After reviewing the existing research on this ritual in Chinese and examining several scriptures in the CBETA in the textual and historical context, the popularity of the Water Repentance was due to an efficacious claim of Wuda guoshi’s tumor narrated in the Preface. However, the narrative about how his tumor was cured was found to be fictitious and the Water Repentance subsequently was considered apocryphal by Zanning 贊寧 (919-1001). Regardless, the Water Repentance has been highly revered and has survived from the late Tang dynasty until today. This ritual’s popularity demonstrates the importance of chanhui in Chinese Buddhism.

Repentance, form or formless, can be regarded as a form of soteriological cultivation in which one can realize enlightenment or seek better rebirths in next life.

Degree Granter

University of the West

Library Holding

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