Colloque : « The Cult of the Healing Buddha in East Asia, » Temple de Donghwasa, 29-30 mai 2013

 

 

The Cult of the Healing Buddha in East Asia  동아시아의 약사신앙

Donghwasa Temple, South Korea, May 29–30, 2013

The Columbia Center Center for Buddhism and East Asian Religion (C-BEAR) and Donghwasa temple in South Korea will hold the following international conference, on the topic of the Healing Buddha (Bhaisajyaguru) at Donghwasa temple in S. Korea, from May 29 to 30, 2013.

The cult of the Healing Buddha (Skt. Bhaiṣajyaguru, Ch. Yaoshi, K. Yaksa, J. Yakushi) constituted one of the major cults in East Asia. And yet, with the exception of Raoul Birnbaum’s seminal work (The Healing Buddha, first published in 1979), it has been until now largely neglected in Western scholarship. The present conference is intended as a first step toward redressing this neglect.

The functional relation between Bhaiṣajyaguru and healing opens up a large area of research on the relationships between Buddhism, medicine, and healing cults. In spite of seminal work done by Paul Demiéville (Buddhism and Healing) and Michel Strickmann (Chinese Magical Medicine), there has been very little research addressing these relationships. More specifically, the extent to which Bhaiṣajyaguru’s cult contributed to promoting Buddhist priests as healers remains unexplored territory.

The cult of Bhaiṣajyaguru is not limited to disease and healing, however. A listings of its other aspects would include:

Socio-political and cultural aspects in comparative perspective. Attention should also be paid to the mediating role played by this figure in the interface between the monastic tradition and folk beliefs in various Asian cultures. Donghwasa, a Son (Zen) monastery that is also one of the major cultic centers of Bhaiṣajyaguru in Asia, is a particularly interesting case in this respect.

Bhaiṣajyaguru’s lapis-lazuli paradise and its relation to Amitābha’s Pure Land; repentance rituals and other ritualistic aspects of his cult; his relation to death, the dead, and the underworld; his role as a ruler of human destiny, which links him to the Twin-devas (J. kushōjin 倶生神) and rituals designed to recall the soul.

The esoteric Bhaiṣajyaguru as a cosmic deity, at the center of the spatio-temporal framework formed by the bodhisattvas Sūryaprabha and Candraprabha and the twelve spirit-commanders (who are linked to the twelve zodiacal signs). In his capacity as an astral deity, Bhaiṣajyaguru is also associated with the cult of the seven Bhaiṣajyaguru and the pairing of this septet with the seven stars of Ursa Major (i.e., the Big, or Northern, Dipper). In Japan, for example, this cult provided a bridge between esoteric Buddhism and the so-called Way of Yin and Yang (Onmyōdō).

While this buddha has been relatively well studied by art historians, the tendency has been to treat him as an independent figure, separated from his ritual and iconographic contexts. Furthermore, his relationship to other figures (especially the twelve spirit-commanders, who are emanations of Bhaiṣajyaguru) has been ignored. To give one example, in Japan the pestilence god Gozu Tennō 牛頭天王 is often considered a manifestation of Bhaiṣajyaguru. Did similar relationships exist in China and Korea as well?

Certain aspects of Bhaiṣajyaguru’s cult have received more emphasis than others. A conference focused on this figure would ideally include those with expertise on Bhaiṣajyaguru in South, Southeast, and Central Asian Buddhist cultures, not just East Asian Buddhism, so that a larger, cross-cultural picture may be painted. We may not achieve that goal on this first attempt. We can only hope that this conference, which aims to bring scholars from various countries and disciplines together at the Korean abode of Bhaiṣajyaguru, will provide an impetus for further studies.

Program

5/29 (Wed)

10:00 Opening Ceremony

10:10 Welcoming Remarks

Ven. Seongmun, Prof. Chun-fang Yu, Prof. Bernard Faure

10:30 Congratulatory Remarks by the Master Jinje

11:00 End of Opening Ceremony

11:30 Lunch

Panel 1 Folk Beliefs [Chair: Jongmyung Kim]

12:30 Mu-hee Nam, “The Cult of the Medicine Buddha at Donghwasa in Mt.
Palgong”

Discussant: Michael Como

13:30 Jongmyung Kim, “Belief in the ‘Healing Buddha’ Katpawi in
Contemporary Korea”

Discussant: Samuel Morse

14:30-15:00 Coffee Break

Panel 2 Medicine and Healing [Chair: Juhn Ahn]

15:00 C. Pierce Salguero, “Putting the Medicine Buddha in Context: Medicine in Chinese Buddhist Scriptures”

Discussant: Juhn Ahn

16:00 Michael Como, “The Medicine Buddha and the Dragon King: Healing and Rainmaking in Ninth-Century Japan”

Discussant: Bryan Lowe

17:00 Max Moerman, “The Buddha and the Bath Water: Healing Hot Springs and the Cult of Yakushi in Japan”

Discussant: C. Pierce Salguero

5/30 (Thurs)

Panel 3 Changing Images [Chair: Juhn Ahn]

9:00 Nam-su Lim, “The Iconography and the Tradition of the Bhaiṣajyaguru Image in the Ancient Period Korea”

Discussant: Juhn Ahn

10:00 Yui Suzuki, “Saichō and Tendai Yakushi Worship During the Heian Period”

Discussant: Max Moerman

11:00 Samuel Morse, “The Healing Buddha as Kami: Shinto-Buddhist Syncretism in the Early Heian Period and the Unified Silla-Period Standing Buddha at Watatsumi Shrine, Tsushima”

Discussant: Bryan Lowe

12:00 Lunch

Panel 4 From Past to Present [Chair: Soonil Hwang]

13:00 Shi Zhiru, “Lighting Lamps to Prolong Life: Venerating Bhaisajyaguru and Popular Ritual Conceptions of Healing and Longevity in Fifth- and Sixth-Century China”

Discussant: Yui Suzuki

14:00 Byeong-sam Jeong, “The Characteristics of the Cult of Bhaiṣajyaguru in Silla:On Its Doctrinal Interpretations and Cultic Practices”

Discussant: Soonil Hwang

17:30-17:50 Concluding Remarks: Ven. Seongmun, Prof. Bernard Faure

12:30 Mu-hee Nam, “The Cult of the Medicine Buddha at Donghwasa in Mt.
Palgong”

Discussant: Michael Como

13:30 Jongmyung Kim, “Belief in the ‘Healing Buddha’ Katpawi in
Contemporary Korea”

Discussant: Samuel Morse

Panel 2 Medicine and Healing [Chair: Juhn Ahn]

14:30 Robert Thurman, “Buddha as Medicine and Buddhist Medical Sciences and Arts: Religion and Science as Interactive in the Tibetan Medicine Tradition”

Discussant: Chun-fang Yu

15:30 C. Pierce Salguero, “Putting the Medicine Buddha in Context: Medicine in Chinese Buddhist Scriptures”

Discussant: Juhn Ahn

16:30-17:00 Coffee Break

17:00 Michael Como, “The Medicine Buddha and the Dragon King: Healing and
Rainmaking in Ninth-Century Japan”

Discussant: Bryan Lowe

18:00 Max Moerman, “The Buddha and the Bath Water: Healing Hot Springs and the Cult of Yakushi in Japan”

Discussant: C. Pierce Salguero

5/30 (Thurs)

Panel 3 Changing Images [Chair: Juhn Ahn]

9:00 Nam-su Lim, “The Iconography and the Tradition of the Bhaiṣajyaguru Image in the Ancient Period Korea”

Discussant: Juhn Ahn

10:00 Yui Suzuki, “Saichō and Tendai Yakushi Worship During the Heian Period”

Discussant: Max Moerman

11:00 Samuel Morse, “The Healing Buddha as Kami: Shinto-Buddhist Syncretism in the Early Heian Period and the Unified Silla-Period Standing Buddha at Watatsumi Shrine, Tsushima”

Discussant: Bryan Lowe

12:00 Lunch

Panel 4 From Past to Present [Chair: Jongmyung Kim]

13:00 Shi Zhiru, “Lighting Lamps to Prolong Life: Venerating Bhaisajyaguru and Popular Ritual Conceptions of Healing and Longevity in Fifth- and Sixth-Century China”

Discussant: Yui Suzuki

14:00 Byeong-sam Jeong, “The Characteristics of the Cult of Bhaiṣajyaguru in Silla:On Its Doctrinal Interpretations and Cultic Practices”

Discussant: Jongmyung Kim

15:00-15:30 Coffee Break

15:30 Chongxin Yao, “Yearning for the Pure Land or Cherishing This Life?: The Connotations of the Healing Buddha Cult in Medieval China”

Discussant: Shi Zhiru

16:30 Raoul Birnbaum, “Glimpses of an Inner Life: Master Hongyi (1880-1942), the Healing Buddha, and the Power of Vows”

Discussant: Chun-fang Yu

17:30-17:50 Concluding Remarks: Ven. Seongmun, Prof. Bernard Faure

If you have any questions regarding the conference, please contact our coordinator, Sujung Kim, at sujung.kim1979@gmail.com.


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