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To Ransom Destiny: The Daoist Search for Deliverance in Medieval China

November 18, 2016 @ 11:00 am - 1:00 pm

Daoist destinies were mortgaged from birth – by guilt inherited from the past, debts owed to one’s parents, and the initial endowment of vitality. To live meant to inexorably augment the original burden. Accumulated liabilities accounted for suffering, disease, and ill fortune met with in this world. They presaged a diminished life span and an adverse afterlife. To ransom destiny was to make amends for liabilities incurred through a person’s own fault or by exposure to external malignant forces. The questions this talk addresses are: what was the nature of the liabilities weighing in the balance of human destiny? Which ritual measures were envisaged to obtain deliverance or improve an unfavorable outcome? How did constituencies of collective destiny form? Who were the agents of the redemptive process and what were their roles?

Speaker: Franciscus Verellen, professor in the History of Daoism, Ecole Française d’Extrême-Orient (EFEO), and member of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, served as director of the EFEO from 2004 to 2014. He is currently head of the EFEO Hong Kong Center and a senior research fellow in the Institute of Chinese Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong. Verellen has published widely in the fields of regional history and Daoism. He was co-editor with Kristofer Schipper of The Taoist Canon: A Historical Companion to the Daozang (Chicago, 2004). A new book manuscript on the notion and practice of “redeeming destiny” in medieval Daoism is currently in preparation.



November 18, 2016
11:00 am - 1:00 pm
Event Category:


CGIS Knafel K262
1737 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies

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