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Title: The symbolism of the Chinese Buddhist temple
Author: Chiu, Shih-ren
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1995
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The Chinese Buddhist temple has been frequently discussed on a secular level, that is to say, in terms of its stylistic development, the details of its aesthetic, its socio-economic context, and so on. But the temple also has a metaphysical relationship with its transcendent source which has largely been ignored by recent literature. This thesis aims therefore to unveil this metaphysical connection between the physical reality of the temple and its transcendent origin: the religious symbolism which cannot be perceived except by the tutored mind. In this symbolic schema, the Chinese Buddhist temple is regarded as a microcosm which allows the devotee to communicate with the higher level, and is the sacred place where Heaven and Earth, the sacred and profane worlds, are connected. It is the locus of the axis mundi, a vertical channel through which two complementary forces - the proliferative centrifugal and the unifying centripetal - are made manifest. As this thesis explains, at the heart of this perception of the temple are the doctrines of Progenitive Centre and Ultimate Return. In the former, the Centre is denoted as the source of the universe from which originates the whole phenomenal existence of the world, including the embodiment of space and time, and the myriads of beings; in the latter, the salvation of sentient beings is said to lie in embarkation on a spiritual journey, which ultimately culminates in a "return" to the Centre. Informed by these doctrinal formulations, the Chinese Buddhist temple is an ideal paradigm of these cosmic processes, which, in architectural terms, are embedded deep within its spatial organisation and outward form - its orientation and axiality, the form of its individual buildings, and its iconography.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available