Babylonian Witchcraft Literature: Case Studies (Brown Judaic by I. Tzvi Abusch

By I. Tzvi Abusch

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Morality is a necessary but not sufficient condition for salvation; the master’s message contains corporal techniques ranging from rituals to mantras 26 falun gong and the future of china to meditation to miracle cures, and the master’s individual guidance, or presence, is often necessary to the success of the practitioner’s efforts. The master’s message is generally—but not always—consigned to scripture, and often sounds apocalyptic themes, driving home the need for repentance and moral rectitude.

Some groups were urban, others were rural; some appealed more than others to the gentry in late imperial times and to the middle class in the twentieth century. Some groups adopted the cosmology of the White Lotus tradition, others did not. ‘‘Salvation’’ took a variety of forms, some more or less corporal than others. At the same time, the benefits of such a regrouping are numerous. First, I mentioned above that many scholars, Western as well as Chinese, have continued to use the term White Lotus, despite a strong argument that the ‘‘tradition’’ as presented in the documents of the late imperial elite never existed outside the state discourse of persecution, in part because neither a new characterization nor a new terminology has arisen to take its place.

25 As the title of her book—Breathing Spaces— suggests, Chen sees qigong as a resource that allows the much put-upon urban Chinese to assert a kind of independence, perhaps even a transcendence, in the face of the indignities of life in much of reform era China. 26 These studies are excellent, as far as they go, but at the same time they tell us little about the origins—ancient or contemporary—of qigong, nor about the particular contexts which gave rise to and shaped the evolution of the qigong movement.

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