MRI Forum 52

"Contemporary Chinese Buddhism: Doctrines and Practices"

Date:

  • 29 September 2009

Location:

  • Macau Ricci Institue

Time:

  • 18:00 to 21:30

Cost:

  • Free

Languages:

  • English

Speaker

Venerable Guang Xing 廣興法師

Venerable Guang Xing 廣興法師 is Assistant Professor in the Centre of Buddhist Studies of the University of Hong Kong. He studied Buddhism in Sri Lanka and England where he earned his PhD from SOAS (University of London). He has published various articles and two books: The Concept of the Buddha: Its Evolution from Early Buddhism to the Trikaya Theory (2005) and Renjian Fotuo – Lishi Fotuo Guan (The Historical Buddha, 2005). His fields of speciality are: Indo-Chinese Buddhism, Early Buddhism, Early Mahayana Buddhism, Chinese Buddhist thought and practice.

Introduction

Buddhism was introduced to China in 67 AD during the Han Dynasty and since then became a powerful religious tradition that had a profound influence on Chinese culture. Through its interaction particularly with Taoism and Confucianism it was gradually blended with Chinese culture and became genuinely Chinese Buddhism. It was not only due to the open-mindedness and all-inclusiveness of the Chinese nation, but also because Buddhism itself is a rich tradition, which serves as a supplement to the Chinese culture. Today, from all the Buddhist schools in China there are basically four main existing traditions: Pure Land, Chan, Tantra and Theravada. The latter two are found in Tibet and Yunnan areas. We will look at some of the ways Buddhism is practiced in China today, looking separately at lay practices and monastic life. However, as the Buddhist practice cannot in fact be understood without reference to Buddhist thought, we will examine the basic Buddhist doctrines in contemporary China as well.

In the 20th century all religions in China suffered social and political turmoil, but since the late 1970s they began recovery and revive. This transformation within Buddhism brought a distinction made between the practice of traditionalists and modernists and the development of the concepts renjian fojiao and renjian jingtu, which have been the most important phrases shaping contemporary Buddhism in China. The modernist approach has set much of the contemporary agenda. Today Chinese Buddhism continues to develop greatly and the international academic exchanges are expanding. Whether these signs of a revival of Buddhism in China are a tide, or a wave, only the future can reveal.