Tung Lin Kok Yuen International Conference
Buddhist Canons: In Search of a Theoretical Foundation for a Wisdom-oriented Education
27 & 28 November, 2021 (HKT) | Online & On-site at HKU
Buddhism and Chinese Religions
Arizona State University
Huaiyu Chen is Associate Professor of Buddhism and Chinese Religions at Arizona State University. He has numerous publications in both Chinese and English on Buddhist rituals and monastic culture, the interactions among Buddhism and other religions, animals in Chinese religions, Western missionaries in China, and modern Chinese intellectual history. He will publish a new English book tentatively titled In the Land of Tigers and Snakes: Living with Animals in Medieval Chinese Religions (forthcoming). He has held fellowships from Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton (2011-2012), Cambridge University (2014-2015), and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin (2018), as well as visiting professorships at several Chinese universities.
Shaping the Order of Ritualized Community in Medieval Chinese Buddhist Monasticism
Daoxuan (596-667) was one of the most prolific scholarly monks in medieval Chinese Buddhism. His writings on medieval Chinese Buddhist monasticism shaped many aspects of monastic life institutionally and served as significant sources for our understanding of Buddhist perspectives on traditional Chinese thoughts. Although Daoxuan was promoted as a superintendent of a royal temple in his later years, he insightfully observed numerous challenges that the monastic community faced both inside and outside in his era. His writings, therefore, often addressed contemporary issues and offered solutions that later shaped the order of Buddhist monasticism in medieval China. In reading his essays on rituals of training newly ordained Buddhist monks and rituals of handling monastic property, this study aims to analyze how he negotiated with Chinese intellectual traditions for redefining the internal relations within a monastic community, focusing on master-disciple and male-female relationships. His understanding of the master-disciple relationship seems to mix both Buddhist moralities of obedience and humility and traditional Chinese value of filial piety centered on the father-son relationship. His handling of the male-female relationship appears to be also shadowed by the prevalent misogyny in medieval Chinese society. Nevertheless, he attempted to compromise the Buddhist values and Chinese traditional values, given the sophisticated interactions between the monastic community and beyond, while preserving the integrity of the monastic community as a spiritually cultivated realm. In other words, on the one hand, he laid out his masterful knowledge of Buddhist Vinaya traditions, textually and doctrinally, as the foundational principles. On the other hand, he often introduced new interpretations from his wisdom of traditional Chinese thoughts for reasoning or making his arguments. This study suggests that the medieval Chinese Buddhist monastic community was a ritualized community shaped by both Buddhist and Chinese wisdom, as seen from the writings of Daoxuan, who was educated in both Buddhist and classical texts.