THE PEOPLE of Kory had inherited from Silla a Buddhist cosmology that, embracing the animistic myths and rituals of the shamans and the Daoists, was rich and mysterious, with manylayered heavens and hells and an infinite variety of demons and fairies, sages and saints, a world in which some of the distinctions between daylight and dream, male and female, or human and animal were still fluid. Progressively refined by the compassionate ethics and metaphysical sophistication of the Mahayana, it had, at its best, served to persuade Kings and nobles that the greatest power belonged to those who were free from worldly wealth or ambition and that noble deeds, or evil ones, would resound through distant stars and many incarnations. The salvation not only of the poor and the afflicted, not only of humanity, but of every living thing was the buddhas' high task, and the buddha-nature lay, waiting to be aroused, in every one of them, but the credibility of such a vision required an apostolic succession of single-minded ascetic heroes, it depended on the integrity of the monastic communities, and it was vulnerable to the scepticism aroused by contact with other cultures and the more rational metaphysics of the Neo-Confucians.