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The synthesis of religious and medical healing rituals in the Song

Asian Religions, Technology and Science Routledge
Cho, P.S. Yonsei University,
Seoul, South Korea
2015 Consciousness, Foundations

The Northern Song’s (960-1127) attempts to standardize medicine and popular religion were part of an integrated whole, especially under the reign of Emperor Huizong 徽宗 (r. 1100-1125) in the twelfth century. The government attempted to establish networks of local medical schools and Divine Empyrean temples that followed state orthodoxy.

The state also sponsored the collation of medical texts into compendia such as the General Record of Sagely Benefaction (Sheng ji zonglu 聖濟總錄) and religious texts into the Longevity Daoist Canon (Wan shou dao zang 萬壽道藏).

The medical system was to be staffed by state doctors who passed a newly established medical exam that mirrored the civil service test. Huizong also co-opted many leaders of religious movements by grantingd them titles in the imperial court. These sweeping attempts to bring religion and medicine under imperial order were reflected in the synthesis of ritual healing techniques and medical theories.

Imperial Medical Academy physicians in the twelfth century sought to incorporate exorcism and healing rituals associated with contemporary religious movements and explain them using theories of the circulation of qi and the various somatic manifestations of possession. One way they did this was by explaining the expulsion and protection against ghosts, otherwise known as interdiction or jin禁, as a matter of praying about the cause of illness zhuyou 祝由 to move and transform qi in the body.

The article was published in. Asian Religions, Technology and Science Routledge. 134-148.

Full article

This work was supported (in part) by the Fetzer Franklin Fund of the John E. Fetzer Memorial Trust.