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Monastic learning 寺學 is the kind that take place within a monastery; it is contrasted with the secular studies. The secular studies could, in turn, be divided into official 官學 and private education 私學. The former, the official education, refers to those supported by the government, with the goal of training civil servants. Whereas private education is the kind rooted in the society; its goal could also be to train civil servants but more often, it is meant to provide training in various kinds of craftsmanship relevant to the everyday life. “Monastic Learning and Private Education” in the title naturally means the relationship between these two forms of learning.
Monastic learning shows the feature of openness, inclusiveness and fluidity. Its diverse curriculum included not only “the inner studies” 内明 (the science of spirituality), but also the studies of languages, logics, medicine and pharmacy as well as secular knowledge such as various craftsmanship. Monasteries everywhere naturally became the optimal place for storing all sorts of knowledge and for facilitating the exchange between the secular and sacred knowledge, and for promoting their transmission. The “fluidity” refers to the versatile nature of monastic learning which emphasizes the importance of studying away from one’s home monastery. Monastic learning is also international. As Buddhism transmitted all around Asia, sacred and secular knowledge that originated from different parts of Asia was also able to circulate widely in the continent. Monasteries such as those during the Tang Dynasty, including Ximing si 西明寺, Qinglong si 青龍寺 and Great xingshan si 大興善寺, were all important centres for Sino-foreign cultural exchanges and intermediary junctures for the circulation of knowledge.
Manuscript Pelliot chinois 3698 from the Bibliothèque nationale de France is a scroll with a copy of the Xiaojing 孝經the colophon attributes to a student from the Lingtu Monastery 靈圖寺 in Dunhuang. Although undated, the manuscript was most likely produced during the tenth century and is part of a series of such scrolls copied by students who studied in local monasteries. On the verso of the scroll, amidst a multitude of scribble-like jottings, there is a brief note that states that “the ox is a powerful bodhisattva.” This line seems to be completely unconnected to the miscellaneous material on the verso and uses vernacular grammar, showing that it probably relates to an oral tradition. The motif of the ox being a powerful bodhisattva is known from Qing dynasty baojuan 寶卷 texts, according to which the bodhisattva took pity on humans who toiled the earth and, in order to help them, reincarnated as a beast of burden. Even as a disconnected note, the Dunhuang example gives evidence to the existence of this tradition during the tenth century, possibly even the eighth, when Dunhuang was still part of the Tang empire. The current study is an attempt to gather relevant information from manuscripts and other sources and examine the early stages of this belief. One of the key points I intend to emphasize is the continuity of oral traditions between the medieval and modern periods with little evidence for a written transmission.
Born in Gaochang高昌, an ancient oasis city on the northern rim of the Taklamakan Desert in present-day Xinjiang 新疆, Huisong received a good education in Chinese classics at a young age. After becoming a Buddhist novice, he immersed himself in the study of Buddhism and was especially versed in Samyuktābhidharmahṛdayaśāstra (Za apitan xin lun雜阿毘曇心論). Later, Huisong was sent by the King of Gaochang to Yuanwei元魏, where he further learned Pitan毘曇 and Chengshi成實 from Zhiyou智遊 and won the title of “the Confucius of Abhidharma” (Pitan kogzi毘曇孔子). A native of the Western Regions (Xiyu西域) who later became the monk superintendent (sengtong僧統) in Xuzhou徐州, Huisong had a great influence in the transmission of Abhidharma teachings in China. Zhinian志念, the teacher of Daoyue道岳 who was the first Abhidharma teacher of Xuanzang玄奘, received Abhidharma teachings from Huisong. As one of the representatives of “Abhidharma masters” (pitan shi 毗曇師) whose thoughts were mostly influenced by Hṛdayaśāstra texts, some of Huisong’s arguments were preserved in Ju she lun ji 俱舍論記, a commentary of Abhidharmakośabhāṣya by Xuanzang’s disciple Puguang普光. These arguments, which are more closely related to western Sarvāstivādins in the Gandharan area, form a contrast with the so-called “orthodoxy” Kashmir Sarvāstivādins. This paper plans to conduct a close study of Huisong’s biographical records and doctrinal arguments, which will help us to understand the role of Western Regions in both the transmission and chronological development of Abhidharma studies in China.
In the political culture of ancient China, there were two traditions for dealing with corpses on the battlefield. The first is the “Jingguan” tradition, which involved piling up the bodies of defeated and slain commanders and soldiers and then covering them with dirt; this expressed martial dominance and aimed to deter enemies. The other tradition was that of a benevolent monarch. It involves burying the remains and skeletons of the defeated, thereby forming the image of a monarch of benevolence who blesses the bones of his enemies. From the Sui dynasty to the early Tang dynasty, Buddhism came to intersect with these two traditions. Emperor Wen (Yang Jian) of the Sui Dynasty built a Buddhist temple on the battlefield of Xiangzhou to pray for the fallen commanders and soldiers of his side, but it also prayed for the souls of the enemy army, which had never been done before. 對於戰場上的屍骸，中國古代政治文化中有兩個並列的傳統：一是建立京觀，即通過將戰敗被殺的敵軍將士屍首夯土爲臺，以宣揚武功、震懾敵人；另一個則是仁德之君掩骼埋胔的傳統，藉此塑造澤及枯骨的仁君形象。從隋到唐初，佛教因素開始與這兩個傳統產生交集。隋文帝楊堅於相州戰場建立佛寺，不僅爲己方陣亡將士祈福，還首次希望救度敵軍亡魂。
The climax of this occurred with Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty. Under the influence of a monk named Mingshan, Emperor Taizong set up Buddhist temples at the sites of the seven major battles that led to his founding the Tang Dynasty. He also had Yu Shinan, Xu Jingzong, and Yan Shigu make inscriptions on these stelae, which became visible to the world. Like Emperor Wen of the Sui Dynasty, these temples were built to provide blessings to both “the righteous soldiers and murderers who fell on the battlefield.” The names of these seven temples—Zhaoren (Projecting Benevolence), Puji (Universal Relief), Dengci (Equal Benevolence), and so on—truly reflected Taizong’s concept of “comprehensive and equal Buddhist compassion for all.” By using such Buddhist terms as “compassion”, “equality”, and “salvation”, Emperor Taizong transcended the tradition of “covering the remains and skeletons of the defeated”. When Emperor Taizong built the seven temples to save the souls from the battlefields, he also demolished the new and old jingguan mounds across the whole nation, as he had completely transcended this tradition. This is because building temples and erecting stelae also achieved the jingguan‘s objective of projecting martial dominance. From Emperor Wen in the Sui Dynasty to Emperor Taizong in the Tang Dynasty, and from the erecting of Buddhist temples to the abolition of the jingguan tradition, we can clearly see one aspect of the profound effect that Buddhist had on Chinese political culture during middle ancient times. 這一影響的頂峰，出現在唐太宗貞觀之初。在高僧明贍的影響下，太宗下詔在自己創業開國所經歷的七大戰場上置立佛寺，并由虞世南、許敬宗、顏師古等第一流文臣撰寫碑文，昭示天下。與隋文帝時一樣，這些佛寺的祈福對象同時包括了“義士、凶徒隕身戎陣者”，而七寺之名如昭仁、普濟、等慈等，真切反映了太宗“釋教慈心，均異同於平等”的觀念。通過“慈悲”、“平等”與“救度”這樣的佛教話語，唐太宗完成了對“掩骼埋胔”傳統的超越。在建七寺救度戰地亡魂的同時，太宗又在全國範圍內刬削新舊京觀，從而也完成了對京觀傳統的超越，因爲置寺立碑同樣能實現京觀那種昭示武功的功能。從隋文帝到唐太宗，從置立佛寺到廢毀京觀，清晰顯示了中古時期佛教對中國傳統政治文化深刻影響的一個側面。
This paper examines the significance of the Japanese Buddhist cartography of Xuanzang’s Great Tang Record of the Western Regions for the origins of European Buddhology. It traces the paper trail of 19th-century French editions of 18th-century Japanese maps of Xuanzang’s pilgrimage to reveal the unrecognized contributions of Japanese understandings (of Chinese understandings) of the geography of the Silk Road and Early Buddhist India to development of Buddhist Studies in Europe.
In a previous publication, I argued that China’s first and only female emperor Wu Zhao (624-705) developed a pantheon of female divinities and dynastic mothers from Buddhist, Confucian, and Daoist traditions that she tactically deployed to enhance her visibility and political amplitude, effectively imbuing herself with the aggregate cultural resonance, maternal potency, demiurgic energy, and traditional charisma of these female ancestors. It seems that I overlooked several important devī from the Hindu tradition: indomitable radiant warrior queens Durgā, Cuṇḍī (Ch: Zhunti 准提), and Mārīcī (Ch: Molizhitian 摩利支天). This paper claims that the timely confluence of “heroic Shaktism” and esoteric Buddhism—newly arrived and nascent yet influential religious and cultural currents in late seventh century China—enabled this trio of Hindu goddesses (often fused and confused in the process of being incorporated into the matrix of esoteric Buddhism) to play an integral part in the construction of Wu Zhao’s sovereignty, including a particularly central role in her accession in 690. The late Antonino Forte’s brilliant translation of the Commentary on the Great Cloud Sutra contains a number of prophecies that provide insight into the roles that these devīs played.
The history of Indian and Chinese Buddhism abounds with biographies and hagiographies. This genre has mainly served the purpose of setting an edifying model for the audience by accounting for the vicissitudes of exceptional figures. Among the many manifestations of this sort, the life of Bodhidharma epitomizes the very idea of a biographical narration imbued with translocality and transculturality. A mysterious man traveling from Persia to China, Bodhidharma’s rebirth narratives occur in both Chan and non-Buddhist sources (e.g. Daoism), providing a particularly illuminating case study about the porosity of this genre across different geographical and cultural traditions. While scholarship has directed much attention to the Chinese elaborations and the popularization of Bodhidharma in early-modern Japan, little is known about the circulation of legends centered on the rebirth of Bodhidharma and the reshaping of the continental hagiographical models in the construction of medieval Japanese Zen.
In my paper, I will explore the legend about the apparition of Bodhidharma in Japan on Mt. Kataoka by deconstructing the many components of this multicolored mosaic of genres, common tropes found in Chinese sources, historical (arti)facts intimately linked with the transmission of Buddhism to the archipelago. Particular attention will be given to Zen secret manuals and how these documents illustrate the linkage between Bodhidharma’s rebirth in Japan, Mt. Kataoka, and death establishing this legend as the ontological ground to perform a ritual for the anticipation of the moment of death. The genealogy of this ritual significantly helps us to redefine the transmission of the parable as developed by Zen scholar-monks, showing the networks of knowledge, notions, and individuals underlying the creation of a ritual within a regime of secrecy. I argue that the connection with similar ceremonies contained in Tendai secret oral instructions, the echoes of Daoist notions on the alchemical body, and the medieval écriture of this parable represent a fundamental component for the orthopraxy of the ceremony, which epitomizes the hybridity of Zen secrecy in premodern Japan.
In conclusion, I maintain that not only did the life of Bodhidharma respond to the need to construct a model of behavior, but it also became the medium through which to disseminate teachings and notions from the continent. In light of the recent discoveries, my paper attempts to rethink the conventional limits of this literary genre and offer a new line of inquiry into the medieval conundrum.
With the discovery of a copy of the Platform Sūtra of the Sixth Patriarch at the Lüshun Museum in Liaoning (dated to 958), three complete manuscripts of the Platform Sūtra from the Dunhuang cave library are now available to us, in addition to several fragments of the text that were also found there. In this paper I explore what these manuscripts can tell us about the dissemination of the Platform Sūtra and its role in Chan Buddhism in the 9th and 10th centuries. The paper compares and analyses the texts on several levels: how do we know if the manuscripts really are from Dunhuang and not forgeries? How do the three copies and various fragments differ in content? And what can an examination of the physical properties of the manuscripts suggest about the circulation and use of the Platform Sūtra?
In medieval China such exotic Indian names as Queen Vaidehī 韋堤希, King Śuddhodana 净饭王, Bimbisāra 頻婆娑羅, Devadatta 提婆達多 were common knowledge in the daily life of both rich and poor alike. Indeed, an entire storyworld of kings and queens, palace intrigue, and adventure existed evoking the life, history, and religion of India thousands of kilometers away and more than a thousand years in the past. The central protagonist of this distant world was Śākyamuni, and numerous stories of his life and those of his associates formed a coherent corpus of narrative materials that was presented transmedially through text, image, sculpture, as well as live performances. Western parallels to such a phenomenon would be the complex mythic storyworld of the Bible, where a wealth of narratives and characters set in ancient Israel became common knowledge of, and indeed fundamental to, European medieval culture.
This paper explores how this resurgence of interest in Śākyamuni at Dunhuang during the 9-11thcenturies occurred for both political and sacred purposes, redefining piety for adherents and profoundly reshaping their visual, material, and ritual culture. The impetus for these developments was two-fold: first, the exigencies of Dunhuang’s status as a peripheral and increasingly estranged polity from the Central Plain with its legitimizing authority, and, second, the ever-present harbinger of the declining Dharma mofa 末法. For Dunhuang ruling elites, Śākyamuni as cakravartin served as model for legitimate rule, while subjective engagement in his storyworld collapsed the distance of time and place, especially important during the era of declining Dharma. Liturgical texts thus functioned as participatory verbal relics, while the chronotope of India during Śākyamuni’s time became conspicuously genre-defining for enacted narratives, namely yinyuan 因緣, clearly distinguishing them from the other significant performed genre of the period, bianwen 變文. This talk reviews the visual, liturgical, and spatial resources that exemplify these remarkable transformations, and concludes with a striking parallel in early Byzantium where the Divine Liturgy analogously reframed sacred time and place with congregants as players in the life of Jesus.
A Buddhist cave decorated with scenes of meditation at once makes perfect sense and no sense at all. It makes sense in view of the centrality of meditation in Buddhist imagination and practice. It makes no sense in that nowhere in Buddhist discourse do we ever find the instruction that meditation involves looking at wall paintings about meditation. Current scholarship is also polarized into camps of either affirmers and deniers. Affirmers regard meditation as the central function of decorated caves. Deniers see them as sites of mortuary function. Meditation and memorial thus become mutually exclusive. I see them as mutually dependent. Meditation is not the function of decorated Buddhist caves, but is its narrative frame; memorial is essential to such caves, only that it often takes the narrative form of meditation.
Fantastical tales of flying icons figured vividly in the Silk Road Buddhist imaginaire. Known as ruixiang, or “auspicious images,” they appear in the mural paintings of the Mogao cave shrines at Dunhuang in present-day Gansu Province, as well as in manuscripts and portable paintings from the Dunhuang manuscript corpus. Yet despite their capacity for flight, their visual representation is for the most part curiously devoid of motion. They were often depicted instead as still forms, enclosed within rectangular frames or arranged side by side in a grid-like fashion. Complicating the near-scientific precision of their visual representations are detailed textual descriptions in Dunhuang manuscripts that narrate their movements and the sense of wonder that they instilled in devotees. My paper untangles the puzzling contradictions between stillness and motion, and opens new avenues for conceptualizing the visual documentation of flying statues from the perspectives of proto-evidential research and the “collecting” of Silk Road wonders.
Despite many scholarly tomes, Empress Wu 武后 (Wu Zhao, written 武照 or 武曌; a.k.a. Wu Zetian 武則天, 624–705) remains an enigmatic figure in Chinese or East Asian history. This paper attempts to delineate more clearly the contents and style of Buddhist art developed during the reign of Empress Wu (684–705) and their impact on neighboring countries, notably Japan and to some extent Korea. The paper posits that the Buddhist state/empire that Empress Wu envisioned and implemented provided a model of governance/kingship as well as the kind of state-sponsored institutions, rituals, and arts for neighboring polities to follow. While Wu’s reign ended in 705, her court’s influences lasted well beyond this date, not the least of which was her exemplar as a female sovereign and patroness of Buddhism and Buddhist art. The Buddhist art and architecture that flourished at the Japanese court in Nara and the Unified Silla dynasty attest to the legacy of Wu’s impact as well as regional, independent developments.
This paper explores the role of Chinese Buddhism in Sino-Japanese Trade during the seventeenth century. It is noticeable but often neglected that along with the boom in trade volume and the number of ships calling at Nagasaki, a group of Chinese monks, under the leadership of Yinyuan Longqi (1592—1673), settled in Japan successfully during the latter half of the seventeenth century and founded the unique Ōbaku tradition. Despite their religious contribution, these Chinese monks were actively involved in Sino-Japanese interactions and the Chinese monasteries where they resided were patronized by Chinese merchants in Nagasaki. Drawing upon sociological concepts, this study shows that in Nagasaki Chinese Buddhism had become the sources of human, social, and cultural capitals for building Chinese merchants’ collective identity.
In Medieval China, Luoyang was not only the political center of empire, but also a sacred city full of religiously symbolic meanings. The Bronze Camel Avenue as the main axis of the old capital of Luoyang from Eastern Han (25-220) to Western Jin (265-316), and a series of ritual architectures in the southern suburbs, such as the Bright Hall, Piyong, Lingtai and Imperial College (Taixue), composed the background and basis of Luoyang in Northern Wei (386-534). The previous tradition of capital planning, especially the remarkably massive Buddhist monasteries and pagodas in the old capital of Northern Wei, Pingcheng (nowadays Datong in Shanxi), constituted its other background and basis which should be inherited. From the original plan of Emperor Xiaowen (467-499, r. 471-499) to the establishment of 「system in the second year of Jingming (501)」 by Emperor Xuanwu (483-515, r. 499-515), the fundamental pattern of Luoyang, the new capital of Northern Wei was established. After Empress Ling (?-528) took power, the construction of a series of pagodas in Yongning Monastery, Jingming Monastery and Qin-Taishanggong double Monasteries, considerably reshaped the central axis of Luoyang during the period of Emperor Xuanwu and made relative decline of the area of ritual architectures in the southern suburbs. The pagodas of Empress Ling were not only the material representations of her personal power and Buddhist beliefs, but also considerably reshaped the urban landscape and skyline of Luoyang. Additionally, the establishment of Empress Ling had two obvious counterparties and frames of reference: the one was Liang (502-557), which had long been a chaser, and the other is Cakri Stupa, which was established in the period of Kaniṣka (r. 127-150). Besides these actions, Empress Ling also attempted to build five-story pagodas in every prefecture to compose a politically oriented pagodas system in the whole empire, partly followed the distribution of relics and establishment of stupas by Aśoka (r. BCE 268-232). At least since the period of Empress Ling, the towering and majestic pagodas were no longer just the monumental evidence of Buddha’s tracks and Buddhist beliefs, but remarkably enriched and challenged the capital space dominated by the royal palaces and Confucian ritual architectures, to reshape the cultural landscape and geographical features of medieval capitals.
As a protective and dignifying device for sustaining sutra scrolls, the sutra kerchief was recorded for the first time in the register list of donation for the Mountain Yuquan玉泉山 in Jinzhou 荆州made by Jin Wang 晉王 (late Emperor Yang of Sui 隋煬帝). But its development of offering and religious practice in medieval China has never been traced. Based on investigations of various physical and textual sources: biographies of eminent monks, Daoist ritual texts, official documents of donation and Buddhist prayers in Dunhuang manuscripts, archaeological remains discovered from the Library Cave at the Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang and the White Pagoda of Qinzhou 慶州白塔, murals from the Baoshan tomb of Liao dynasty 寶山遼墓, the author analyzed their material structure, book culture, practical functions of making offerings, ritual practices, positional significance, blessedness space, and multiple artistic expressions in reading performances and dignifying rituals. By the means of inter-scrutinizing of neglected traditional documents, archaeological evidences, ritual space of objects, we can reconstruct a new cultural landscape that created by “sutra devices”, and rethink the relationship among religious constructions, material culture, visual representations, time and space in rituals, and reveal the deep structure and multidimensional signification between social reality and the erudition-faith tradition.
This paper examines the little studied history of the eighteenth-century Japanese transmission, textual restoration, and printing reproduction of the 9th-century bilingual Chinese-Sanskrit manuscript, “A Thousand-Character-Text in Sanskrit” (Fanyu qianziwen 梵語千字文; Jp. bongo senjimon). The manuscript corresponds to the text as it appears in Taishō Tripiṭaka 2133A. Its content is attributed to the famous seventh-century Chinese Buddhist pilgrim Yijing (635-713) with the purpose of helping Chinese people who wished to go to India to study Buddhist scholarship equip themselves with fundamental Indic-Chinese translation ability. Part of a broader culture of Siddhaṃ-Chinese lexicographical compositions in the seventh century under the influence of Esoteric Buddhism and amid increasing pilgrimages from China to India, this text served a double purpose: as primer for Sanskrit lexicon and Siddhaṃ script and a basic encyclopedic introduction to knowledge about India.
The Sanskrit Siddhaṃ material is juxtaposed with a Chinese equivalent. Written in verse with the aim of using 1,000 different characters without repetition, the manuscript became trilingual in the 10th century. Apparently, a century after its transmission into Japan by the monk Ennin, the original manuscript acquired a Japanese gloss in the katakana syllabary. Secluded in both China and Japan for the next millennium, eighteenth-century Japanese Tendai monk Jakumyō spent nineteen years emending and reconstructing it. This led to the text’s first printed edition, a blockprint published in 1727 in Kyōto. Half a century later in 1773, another Tendai monk Keikō revised Jakumyō’s work and created an annotated, trilingual, Sanskrit-Chinese-Japanese printed edition in 1773. Understanding how the text was transmitted in Japan is crucial to modern criticism of the text; I also hope to shed light on how Sanskrit was imagined to best be taught in the East Asian cultural sphere.
The Sutra of the Buddha’s Mother (佛母經), also known as the Chapter of Buddha’s Mother of the Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra (大般涅槃經佛母品) or the Sutra of the Little Nirvana Sūtra (小涅槃經), is an apocrypha written in China and popular among folk since the Tang and Song dynasties. There are fifty existing pieces, including forty-eight transcripts and two engravings, most of them were preserved in Dunhuang and Turfan documents, and a few of which were handed down to the Ming and Qing Dynasties, collected not only in the Jiaxing Canon (嘉興藏), but also in the classics of Yunnan Ah Cha Lik teachings (雲南阿吒力教). It was mainly adapted from the Mahāmāyā-sūtra (摩訶摩耶經), which translated by TanJing (曇景) in Southern Qi Dynasty. In the process of spread, the scripture had gradually formed copes of six different systems. Some of the contents served as the cartouche, appeared next to the Nirvana sūtra Illustrations or the illustrations of the life of the Buddha in Dunhuang Grottoes, which makes itself become a classic source of these sūtra illustrations and story telling pictures. There are also 20 other copies of he Praise for Buddha’s Mother (佛母讚) in Dunhuang Manuscripts, which are short, easy-to-chant seven-word poems of praise, mainly adapted from the Sutra of the Buddha’s Mother (佛母經). In short, from the Tang Dynasty onwards, this sutra has both scripture in circulation and praise in chanting, as well as the carving and drawing of the cave murals, from the Sheng Tang Dynasty to the Ming and Qing Dynasties, from Turpan in the northwest to Yunnan in the southwest, during the long period of time and cross-regional transmission, in variety of forms, this sutra endlessly conveyed an ancient and eternal theme of filial piety, graphically demonstrating the specific process of Sinicization and secularization of Buddhism. 《佛母經》也稱《大般涅槃經佛母品》或《小涅槃經》，是唐宋以來流行民間的一部中國撰述的僞經，現存50件，包括抄本48件、刻本2件，大多保存在敦煌吐魯番文獻中，少數流傳至明清時期，不僅爲《嘉興藏》收録，還載于雲南阿吒力教經典。經文主要據蕭齊曇景譯《摩訶摩耶經》改編而成，流傳中逐漸形成六種不同系統的文本。其中一些內容或以榜題的形式，出現在敦煌石窟的涅槃經變相或佛傳故事畫中，成爲經變畫、故事畫的經典來源。敦煌文獻中另有20件《佛母讚》寫本，是據《佛母經》改寫的篇幅短小、便於唱誦的七言歌讚。其經從唐代開始，既有經文的流布，亦有歌讚的傳唱，還有石窟圖像的雕繪，從盛唐到明清，由西北的吐魯番到西南的雲南，長時段、跨區域的傳播，以多彩的形式經久不息地傳達一個亘古不變的主題——孝親，形象地展示了佛教中國化、世俗化的具體過程。