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Book: Miniature Books

Chapter: Sutras Working in Buddha’s Belly and Buddhists’ Pockets: Miniature Sutras in Korean Buddhism

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.37769


This chapter argues that miniature sutras allow Korean Buddhists to feel Buddha's presence and protection in their daily lives. Miniature sutras are so small that they are difficult, if not impossible, to read, but these texts are not intended for study. Instead, the mere presence of these miniature sutras is thought to be efficacious. Many Korean Buddhists possess small Buddha statues at home into whose hollow bellies they insert miniature sutras. To those Buddhists, sutras, which are the dharma of the Buddha, activate the statues and turn them into the Buddha himself. In addition, they believe that miniature sutras in their hands or pockets bless them and protect them from evil. Scriptures as the word-body of the Buddha are thought to work for Buddhists irrespective of their semantic content, and without any explicit ritual recitation or repetition.

Chapter Contributors

  • Yohan Yoo ( - yohanyoo) 'Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea'
  • Woncheol Yun ( - wyun) 'Seoul National University'