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This innovative work on Chinese concepts of the afterlife is the result of Stephen Bokenkamp's groundbreaking study of Chinese scripture and the incorporation of Indic concepts into the Chinese worldview. Here, he explores how Chinese authors, including Daoists and non-Buddhists, received and deployed ideas about rebirth from the third to the sixth centuries C.E. In tracing the antecedents of these scriptures, Bokenkamp uncovers a stunning array of non-Buddhist accounts that provide detail on the realms of the dead, their denizens, and human interactions with them. Bokenkamp demonstrates that the motive for the Daoist acceptance of Buddhist notions of rebirth lay not so much in the power of these ideas as in the work they could be made to do.
Note on Translation
Introduction: The Problem of Rebirth
1. Envisioning the Dead
2. The Unquiet Dead and Their Families, Political and Agnate
3. Questionable Shapes: How the Living Interrogated Their Dead
4. Doomed for a Certain Term: The Intimate Dead
5. Rebirth Reborn
List of Abbreviations
Stephen R. Bokenkamp is Professor in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at Indiana University. He is the author of Early Daoist Scriptures (UC Press).
"Ancestors and Anxiety focuses on one of the most important periods in the history of Chinese religion, the third through sixth centuries C.E., when social and political changes were matched by innovation and an outpouring of textual production in Daoism and Buddhism. Steve Bokenkamp makes an innovative and unprecedented contribution to the study of Chinese concepts of the afterlife. Anyone with an interest in Buddhism, Daoism or other forms of Chinese religion should want to read this book. It is a mature work of historical and literary scholarship that draws on a wide range of genres: revealed poetry, liturgies, ghost stories and anecdotes, historical sources, and other forms of literature. Bokenkamp's superb research will unquestionably provide a stimulus for future work in related areas."—Stephen F. Teiser, D.T. Suzuki Professor of Buddhist Studies, Princeton University
"Stephen Bokenkamp's Ancestors and Anxiety is well-written, lucidly presented, and based on cutting edge scholarship from around the world. Focusing on key interactions of the nascent Daoist religion and the recently introduced Buddhist faith, this book will assist readers towards a clearer understanding of the complexities of early China's ancestral system and has the potential to mark a wholly new phase in the study of Chinese religions. It is sure to be of interest to a wide reading public, including specialists in Chinese religion, Buddhologists, social and intellectual historians, and general readers interested in world religions."—Terry Kleeman, University of Colorado