Education About Asia: Online Archives

Teaching East Asian Religions through Literature and Film

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This essay argues that texts (including films) ordinarily regarded  as “secular”—as fiction rather than “scripture”—have functioned as sacred texts in traditional East Asian cultures, and to some extent, still do today. While it is true that Chinese, Korean, and Japanese authors and film makers have brought their own individual experiences and creative visions to their work, it is also true the world over that “no important work can ever be the expression of a purely individual experience.” This is especially true in the case of literary works produced in traditional East Asian cultures, but it is no less true of works produced today. One of the most enduring wellsprings of East Asian literature and cinema has been contemplation of self in the unseen order of things.