Iryŏn's Samguk yusa preserves several accounts of Buddhist monks of the ancient Korean state of Silla encountering supernatural beings in what may be termed vision-quests. Information of this kind has hitherto been understood by scholars as evidence of the persistence of ancient Korean shamanism. As context, this article problematizes the idea of shamanism and its relationship to Tantric Buddhism and provides evidence for the visionquest motif in Sino-Indian Buddhist literature. It focuses on examples of this motif in the Samguk yusa to suggest that connections between ancient Korea, China, and India are closer than previously believed. The motif does not demonstrate the rapprochement between indigenous shamanism and Buddhism so much as attest to an ancient approach to religious experience.


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pp. 16-47
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