Living Karma: The Religious Practices of Ouyi Zhixu (1599-1655)


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


East Asian Languages & Civilizations


This dissertation focuses on a prominent but understudied Chinese Buddhist monk named Ouyi Zhixu, who lived in the late Ming (1368-1644) and early Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. He had a formative influence on Buddhist thought and practice for three centuries and played a fundamental role in the development of repentance rituals that are ubiquitous in contemporary China, Taiwan, and Chinese diaspora communities. Repentance becomes somewhat paradoxical in a Buddhist context because of the difficulty of determining what actions one has committed in previous lives. This dissertation argues that Ouyi viewed divination as a technique for determining his past karma, and that he used his body as a means of rectifying such karma.