Near-Death Folklore in Medieval China and Japan : A Comparative Analysis

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Near-Death Folklore in Medieval China and Japan : A Comparative Analysis

James McCleno

Quote:Western researchers have found common elements within modern near-death experiences (NDEs). Equivalent primary features exist in medieval European and Asian folklore accounts. These elements, which seemingly transcend culture,
support belief in spiritual guides, immediate judgement by a deity follow in death, and transitional stages within the netherworld. Commonalities within NDE accounts may have contributed to cross-cultural convergences within religious ideologies.

Quote:Medieval Chinese and Japanese " anomalous event literature " (in Chinese: chih-kuai [records of anomalies], or ch'uan-ch'i [accounts of the extraordinary]) furnishes many examples of NDEs. Medieval European literature harbors equivalent accounts. These narratives furnish a means of testing the experiential source hypothesis. The population of possible features, occurring within dreams, visions, and apparitional hallucinations, is large, making the NDE pattern of primary features unique. If NDE primary features (transition stages, guides, boundaries within the spiritual realms, beings of light, judgement) are
present within medieval reports, the experiential source hypothesis would be supported. Narratives with primary features could easily have originated with actual experiential episodes. If these accounts can be shown to have had ideological impact, this would further support the experiential source theory; primary elements may have contributed to ideological convergences.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell

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