On Face Masks as Buddhist Merit: Buddhist Responses to COVID-19. A Case Study of Tibetan Buddhism in Shanghai
Keywords:Religion and COVID-19, Tibetan Buddhism, Buddhist merit, ritual economy
The global media has reported various institutional responses of Buddhism to COVID-19. This paper offers a look at the grassroots of Buddhist religious activity in response to the pandemic, examining its impact on lay Buddhist followers of the Nyingmapa Buddhist tradition in Shanghai. The paper relates the activity of this group of lay adepts vis-à-vis COVID-19 to the material characteristics of Tibetan Buddhism, and how they manifest in the Han Chinese urban environment. Exploring the concept of merit, the paper argues how religious responses to the pandemic act as components in contemporary China's ritual economy.
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