The Patterns and Characteristics of Esoteric Buddhist Therapies during Goryeo Dynasty
This study focused its investigation on esoteric Buddhist treatment methods during Goryeo. In Goryeo, they published dharani scriptures related to illness. Beomseo-chongji-jip, a collection of dharanis, contains few dharanis for treatment. The publication of a dharani scripture was a precondition of dharani-based Buddhist prayers. There had been cases of treating illness through Buddhist prayers based on a dharani since ancient times, and Hyetong of Samgukyusa is a good example. The religious
... ct of esoteric Buddhism that inherited the line of Hyetong in Goryeo was Chongji-jong, which seems to have been partially responsible for royal medicine and engaged in relief activities for people to end an infectious disease. During the period of Yuan's interventions, Yeom Seung-ik became a favorite of the king for his ability of treating illness through his spells. He was not a Buddhist monk, and his case reflects the wide spread of disease-treating spells among common people those days. The establishment of a ritual was one of the traditional therapies. In Goryeo, various esoteric Buddhist rituals were held for therapeutic purposes. Marijicheon-doryang, Gongjakwang-doryang, and Buljeongsim-doryang were established to expel infectious diseases, and Sojae-doryang and Boseong-doryang were established to treat the illness of kings and queens. They were intended to treat illness by eliminating the causes of epidemics and diseases by the virtue of dharanis. Esoteric Buddhist therapies containing Taoist elements were also developed. The utilization of Eight-Gate Transformation and talismans are the exampels. In early Joseon, Buddhist monks of Chongji-jong were said to have contributed to the treatment of diseases by using Eight-Gate Transformation. They were used to predict a good direction for the treatment of a patient. This practice of Chongji-jong Buddhist monks in early Joseon seems to have inherited the heritage of Goryeo, which suggests that Eight-Gate Transformation was one of the therapies practiced by esoteric Buddhist monks in Goryeo. Talismans are commonly known to be used in Taoism and shamanism, but Buddhist scriptures, especially esoteric Buddhist scriptures, contain a variety of talismans. Buljeongsim-darani-gyeong has talismans on its last page and records that one can treat his or her illness by burning the talisman and taking its ash. This therapy proposed by this scripture seems to have enjoyed considerable popularity in Goryeo, when its simplified versions comprised only of dharani phrases and talismans were made. These various esoteric Buddhist therapies demonstrate that human beings made utmost efforts to overcome their personal and social crises. Therapies are a total reflection of a society's contemporary politics, religion, ideas, and culture. Esoteric Buddhist therapies may seem like superstitions in the eyes of modern people, but they must have been reliable treatment methods whose efficacy was guaranteed within the thinking system of people during Goryeo.