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Hualin International Journal of Buddhist Studies 5.2 (2022): 232–255;

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Precepts and the Calculation of Time: The Case of the Buddhist Monk Yixing

ZHAN Ru 湛如
Peking University

Abstract: This study focuses on the reasons for the Tang dynasty monk Yixing’s 一行 (683–727) participation in calendar formulation, examining the many changes that Buddhism brought to China from a social perspective. It is argued that on both doctrinal and practical levels, Buddhism played a significant role in promoting science and technology to an unprecedented height of development in medieval China, or even the whole of East Asia, before it ceded its influence to other religions in modern times.

Keywords: Buddhism and technological innovation, horological instruments, Yixing 一行 (683–727), precepts, calendrical science


About the Author: Zhan Ru 湛如 is a Professor in Peking University’s School of Foreign Languages. Additionally, he is a vice president of the Buddhist Association of China and vice president of the Peking University Orientalism Research Institute. His areas of research include: Buddhist and Buddhist literature, the Indian Ministry of Buddhism, Dunhuang Buddhism, Buddhist system.

About the Translator: Matthew A. Hale (Ph.D. anthropology, University of Washington) is an independent translator and researcher currently based in Nashville, Tennessee. He has translated books and articles in the fields of anthropology, sociology, history, and Buddhist studies. His research has focused on emancipatory movements in modern China, but has recently turned toward the intersection of religion and class struggle from the Tang to the Ming period.


This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.