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Please join the Center for East Asian Studies at the University of Chicago for the third installment of The Body in the East Asian Imaginaire Series on Monday, May 17, 2021 at 5 p.m. (CDT).
Dr. Or Porath, Post-Doctoral Researcher in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago, will be speaking on The Dharma of Sex: The Body in Medieval Tendai Sexual Consecrations. For more than a century, scholars of medieval Japanese religion have assumed that ritualized sex was a marginal phenomenon, if practiced at all, and then only by a small group of subversive monastic communities. This talk, by contrast, will show that the relationship between Buddhism and sex was much more complicated. In late medieval times (15th-16th centuries), Buddhist monks developed “the ritual consecration of acolytes,” or chigo kanjō ritual. The ritual involved male-male sexual interaction on the basis of medieval Buddho-Shinto orthodoxy. Indeed, the chigo kanjō ritual was a rite-of-passage designed to initiate a “child-acolyte” (chigo) into secret Tendai teachings, and it was constructed as a seal of approval and in preparation for sexual acts between adult priests and youthful acolytes. Textual analysis of ritual procedures reveals that the chigo kanjō ritual enacted a mystical union between the chigo and various buddhas, bodhisattvas, and kami, by relying on complex ritual choreographies, the absorption of esoteric knowledge, and a deification rite. Finally, the talk will demonstrate that the deification of the boy as a living deity provided a new discourse on the body in medieval Japanese religion.
To register for this event, please click the Zoom link HERE.
Megumi Kim, Center Administrator