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Living KarmaThe Religious Practices of Ouyi Zhixu$
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Beverley McGuire

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231168021

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231168021.001.0001

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Karma as a Narrative Device in Ouyi’s Autobiography

Karma as a Narrative Device in Ouyi’s Autobiography

(p.17) One Karma as a Narrative Device in Ouyi’s Autobiography
Living Karma

Beverley Foulks McGuire

Columbia University Press

This chapter examines Ouyi Zhixu's autobiography, in which he avoids identification with the particular institutions (Buddhist or Confucian) of his day, and instead broadly appeals to ritual and writing as means of religious development. Ouyi's autobiography draws from two genres of writing—specifically, Chinese biography and Buddhist hagiography—to create a narrative that positions him within Confucian and Buddhist traditions. He also uses tropes of divination, dreams, and death to imagine a religious community that is diverse and nonsectarian in nature, and to show how a person's connection to sects or to groups is more fluid than fixed, changeable rather than predetermined. Ouyi's autobiography could also be read as an example of how one might live in the face of karma, and respond to karmic obstacles through reading, writing, and ritual.

Keywords:   Ouyi Zhixu, Buddhism, Confucianism, ritual, writing, Chinese biography, Buddhist hagiography, divination, karmic narrative

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