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“The Multi-Complex of the Sacred as Seen in Medieval Dreams and Oracles”


The third year of Ken'nin (1203) stood at the center of Medieval Japanese histories of mentalités as a period that constituted a major transitional phase in the conceptualization of divinities. In this year, the eminent monks Jien, Shinran, and Myōe received messages from the beyond in dreams, revelatory visions, and oracles. These miracles marked a crucial turning point in the lives of each of these priests. By analyzing the texts that the monks left behind, this paper will illuminate and interpret the different revelations of deities, as well as explore various aspects of the monks' miraculous experiences. The paper examines how monastics grappled with the notion of the sacred when it manifested itself as gods and Buddhas. It argues that there was a shared conceptualization of the sacred in these separate encounters. In other words, there was an ideal objet in the form of a constantly shifting sacrality, which was deeply etched in both body and mind of the monks.


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