Christianity as Model and Analogue in the Formation of the ‘Humanistic’ Buddhism of Tài Xu and Hsing Yún
Keywords:Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, mortuary rites, Engaged Buddhism, Humanistic Buddhism, monastic education, missionary work
This article examines how modern Chinese Buddhism has been influenced by Christianity. For our purposes ‘modern Chinese Buddhism’ refers to a form of what has become known in the West as ‘Engaged Buddhism’, but in Chinese is known by titles which can be translated ‘Humanistic Buddhism’ or ‘Buddhism for Human Life’. This tradition was initiated on the Chinese mainland between the two World Wars by the monk Tài Xu, and Part one of the article is devoted to him. Since the communist conquest of China, its main branches have flourished in Taiwan, whence two of them have spread worldwide. The most successful, at least in numerical terms, has been Fo Guang Shan (‘Buddha’s Light Mountain’), founded by a personal disciple of Tài Xu, Hsing Yun, now very old, and it is on this movement that we concentrate in Parts two and three. We differentiate between conscious imitation and analogous development due to similar social circumstances, and show how Protestant Christianity and Roman Catholicism have had different effects. In Part four, we examine Fo Guang Shan as a missionary religion.
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