Chinese Tranformation of Buddhism

Chinese Tranformation of Buddhism

Copyright Date: 1973
Pages: 345
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    Chinese Tranformation of Buddhism
    Book Description:

    When Buddhism was introduced into China at about the beginning of the Christian era, the Chinese were captivated at first by its overpowering world view. Consequently, Buddhism in China has usually been discussed in terms of the Indianization of Chinese life and thought, but Kenneth Ch'en shows that as Indian ideas were gaining ground the Chinese were choosing among them and modifying them to fit their situation.

    To demonstrate how the Chinese transformed Buddhism the author investigates its role in the ethical, political, literary, educational, and social life of the Chinese. Buddhism was able to gain a wide following by accommodating itself to Chinese ethical practices. The Buddhist monastic community submitted to the jurisdiction of the state and the monasteries also became integrated into the economic life of the empire through their ownership of land and their operation of industrial and commercial enterprises. Through an analysis of the work of a representative Chinese poet the author reveals the ways in which Buddhism came to be reflected in the literary life of China. Finally, he explores the methods used by the Buddhists to popularize their religion.

    Originally published in 1973.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-7208-4
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Kenneth K. S. Ch’en
  4. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-1)
    (pp. 2-2)
    (pp. 3-13)

    At the Tercentenary Celebration of Harvard University in 1936, the late Dr. Hu Shih presented an address entitled, “The Indianization of China,” in which he discussed the role played by Buddhism in Indianizing Chinese life and thought.¹ Dr. Hu contended that the plain, simple religion developed by the ancient Chinese consisted primarily of worship of ancestors, of natural forces, and of T’ien or heaven; of belief in the efficacy of divination; and of some vague notions of rewards and retributions. After Buddhism was introduced into China, the simple, practical Chinese were confronted with a hierarchy of heavens peopled by deities,...

    (pp. 14-64)

    The traditional Chinese social system was based on the family, not the individual, and to preserve the family, Confucian ideology insisted that filial piety orhsiaobe the foundation of its ethics. To the Chinese, family existence, clan harmony, social peace, and the preservation of Chinese culture all rested on the proper observance of this virtue. In theHsiaoching,or theClassic on filial piety,we read, “Filial piety is the basis of virtue and the source of the teachings. We receive our body, our hair, and skin from our parents, and we dare not destroy them. This is the...

    (pp. 65-124)

    In India, the Buddhist sangha considered itself to be a community beyond the authority of the secular rulers. It claimed to be an organization consisting of members who had renounced the involvements and attachments of family, society, and the state to live the religious life of the recluse. By joining the Buddhist sangha and undertaking the vows of celibacy, poverty, subsistence on alms, and the cultivation of monastic discipline, the Buddhist monk no longer felt bound by the norms of political and social conduct that governed the lives of ordinary people. Specifically, he claimed that he was no longer obliged...

    (pp. 125-178)

    Buddhist temples and monasteries were established primarily for religious purposes. They served as the place where ritual worship of the Buddha might be practiced, where monks and nuns could follow the religious discipline prescribed by the Buddha, where the clergy could preach the teachings to all those who came, and where pious laymen could acquire some knowledge of Buddhism and deepen their faith in the Buddha. However, when a temple or monastery became rich and powerful, then it began to widen its scope of activities. Thus we find the Buddhist sangha in T’ang China occupying an important role in the...

    (pp. 179-239)

    If one were to read the works of the T’ang poets, he would find that many of them, who were also officials in the government, were attracted to Buddhism because the religion offered an avenue of escape from the ills of the world. Such ills were usually taken to refer to the honors, power, prestige, and emoluments accruing from officialdom and political authority. These men had spent long years and arduous labor in preparing for the civil service examinations, and after having successfully passed them, had been appointed to office in the government bureaucracy. As literati and officials they were...

    (pp. 240-304)

    After centuries of steady growth¹ Buddhism during the T’ang dynasty had become the dominant faith of the masses of Chinese. It provided a philosophy and a system of thought for the educated and the elite, and it served as a religion of faith and salvation for the common people. Monks who had left society to lead the monastic life, hermits and recluses who had retreated from the cares of the world to seek solace and tranquility, the hard-working laymen who remained in society and sweated out their daily labors, women who were saddened by family losses, the high-born who desired...

    (pp. 305-314)
    (pp. 315-330)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 331-345)