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The Water-Land Dharma Function Platform Ritual and the Great Compassion Repentance Ritual


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Doctor of Philosophy in Religious Studies


Lancaster, Lewis R.
Santucci, James A.
An-Hue, Thich


For Taiwanese laity, the Water-Land Dharma Function Platform is the largest ritual in terms of scale, while the Great Compassion Repentance is most often performed. The former contains two divisions known as the “Inner Platform” and the “Outer Platform.” The Outer Platform, consisting of the recitation of texts to create the power necessary for the ritual, contains seven “platforms”: Great, Sutras, Dharma Flower, Pure Land, the Medicine Buddha, Leng Yen and Hua Yen. The “Inner Platform” has the function of inviting the deities and other beings from the Four Holy Realms and the Six Worldly Realms. In this work, there is an attempt to create a timeline of information about these rituals from the Chinese Buddhist canonic texts and to fully describe the ritual. Included in these rituals are some of the most important aspects of Chinese culture and comparisons to the elements of the ritual in Victor Turner’s studies. There are references to ancestor veneration, including rescuing them from unfortunate rebirths, feeding the hungry ghosts, and rebirth in Amitābha’s Pure Land. Among the elements of the ritual, Yogācāra Dharma Function Ritual depended on the translation of Indian texts while Emperor Liang Repentance Service was completely composed in China. The Great Compassion Repentance, less concerned with these social and ancestral elements, is primarily concerned with personal cultivation and the participants use it to repent of their sins and to make a vow to be reborn as Kuan-yin. Compared to Turner’s studies, there are similar and unique aspects of the studied rituals that are reflected in the conclusions.

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University of the West

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