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An analytical study of the Procedure and Protocol of Performing Repentance Throughout the Six Divisions of the Day compiled by Trần Thái Tông (r. 1225-1258)

Item

Author

Nguyen, Hanh Thi Minh

Date

2022

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy in Religious Studies

Committee

Chu, William
Lancaster, Lewis
Nguyen, Trian

Abstract

This dissertation provides an analysis and annotated translation of the Procedure and Protocol of Performing Repentance Throughout the Six Divisions of the Day 六時懺悔科儀 (Lục Thời Sám Hối Khoa Nghi, hereafter the Procedure), one of the most important manuscripts on repentance within the Vietnamese Buddhist tradition, written by King Trần Thái Tông (r. 1225-1258). Trần Thái Tông argues that by single-mindedly and devotedly performing the ritual purification, a religious practitioner is able to achieve a high meditative state, which eventually leads to enlightenment. The dissertation provides an analysis of this influential ritual text, while also highlighting the syncretic character of Vietnamese Buddhism with respect to the incorporation of different types of Buddhist practices and spiritual traditions that comprise Vietnam’s cultural history.

The study is based on a close reading of the ritual text within the framework of the King’s Essays on Emptiness 課虛錄 (Khóa Hư Lục) along with two other Chinese repentance texts, namely, the Jeweled Repentance of Emperor Liang 梁皇寶懺 and the Compassionate Samādhi Water Repentance 慈悲三昧水懺. In addition, the analysis also presents a structural comparison between the ritual text and Chinese repentance texts of the same genre. This comparison leads to the conclusion that the Procedure is the only extant text within the genre in which the six senses are treated as separate objects of repentance activities. Due to its historical and religious significance, the Essays on Emptiness becomes a “sutra” for Vietnamese Buddhists.

This dissertation addresses a significant gap in Western language scholarship on Vietnamese Buddhism. The study provides the first known English translation of the Procedure, as well as an analysis and comparison of the repentance practice within social, historical, and religious contexts of the syncretic Vietnamese Buddhist tradition. The analytic study of this ancient text helps us understand how this famous Buddhist king’s religious practice and written works have actively transformed and continue to influence present-day Vietnamese Buddhism.

Keywords

Daily-based repentance practice
Repentance ritual
The Truc Lam Thien School
Vietnamese Buddhism

Degree Granter

University of the West


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