Buddhist response to Jesuits in China

Buddhist response to Jesuits in China

Postby Indrajala » Mon Feb 13, 2012 1:37 pm

I stumbled across this interesting paper by Beverley Foulks entitled Duplicitous Thieves: Ouyi Zhixu’s Criticism of Jesuit Missionaries in Late Imperial China
.

http://enlight.lib.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/ ... 170590.pdf

Interesting analysis of Ouyi Zhixu's polemic against them. It is funny how he accused them of theft.
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Re: Buddhist response to Jesuits in China

Postby Astus » Mon Feb 13, 2012 2:00 pm

Huseng wrote:Interesting analysis of Ouyi Zhixu's polemic against them. It is funny how he accused them of theft.


Interestingly enough, repentance is not something people associate with Buddhism here.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Buddhist response to Jesuits in China

Postby Indrajala » Mon Feb 13, 2012 2:09 pm

Astus wrote:
Huseng wrote:Interesting analysis of Ouyi Zhixu's polemic against them. It is funny how he accused them of theft.


Interestingly enough, repentance is not something people associate with Buddhism here.


That's true. It would sound too much like Catholic repentance.

Here in Taiwan confessional practices are common enough. It is part of ordinary practice. It is also in the daily liturgy.

I think if you understand the basic idea of karma, then confessional practices not only make sense, but sound rather appealing. By making the karmic action incomplete by becoming dissatisfied with it, you will suffer the result to a lesser extant than if you hadn't confessed it.
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Re: Buddhist response to Jesuits in China

Postby Huifeng » Tue Feb 14, 2012 1:53 am

Repentance is extremely widespread in all forms of Chinese Buddhist practice, not just in Taiwan, but throughout the sinosphere.
For quite some time, repentance has formed an important part of the so-called "Chan Daily Liturgy" 禪門日誦.
Large scale repentance services led by monastics and open to lay devotees, range from 1-2 to up to 20-30 hours in length. These form the most common medium to large scale chanting and religious services in Chinese Buddhism. Their roots can be found a long way back, too.

~~ Huifeng
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Re: Buddhist response to Jesuits in China

Postby mint » Tue Feb 14, 2012 1:58 am

Huseng wrote:
Astus wrote:
Huseng wrote:Interesting analysis of Ouyi Zhixu's polemic against them. It is funny how he accused them of theft.


Interestingly enough, repentance is not something people associate with Buddhism here.


That's true. It would sound too much like Catholic repentance.


What are the differences?
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Re: Buddhist response to Jesuits in China

Postby Josef » Tue Feb 14, 2012 2:17 am

mint wrote:
What are the differences?

Karma.
One is about acknowledging mistakes and working with causality, while the other is about guilt and penance.
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Re: Buddhist response to Jesuits in China

Postby Tilopa » Tue Feb 14, 2012 2:41 am

Huifeng wrote:Repentance is extremely widespread in all forms of Chinese Buddhist practice..

In all forms of Mahayana Buddhism AFAIK and certainly an important part of daily practice in the Tibetan tradition.
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Re: Buddhist response to Jesuits in China

Postby mint » Tue Feb 14, 2012 3:25 am

Nangwa wrote:
mint wrote:
What are the differences?

Karma.
One is about acknowledging mistakes and working with causality, while the other is about guilt and penance.


That's not a very fair comparison.

In the sacrament of reconciliation, contrition is rooted in the will, not the emotions. And what is penance but restitution?
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Re: Buddhist response to Jesuits in China

Postby Josef » Tue Feb 14, 2012 3:29 am

mint wrote:
Nangwa wrote:
mint wrote:
What are the differences?

Karma.
One is about acknowledging mistakes and working with causality, while the other is about guilt and penance.


That's not a very fair comparison.

In the sacrament of reconciliation, contrition is rooted in the will, not the emotions. And what is penance but restitution?


It's a completely fair comparison.
One considers dependent origination and causality and the other denies it.
The two are completely different in their understanding of the individual and liberation.
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Re: Buddhist response to Jesuits in China

Postby mint » Tue Feb 14, 2012 4:10 am

Nangwa wrote:
mint wrote:
That's not a very fair comparison.

In the sacrament of reconciliation, contrition is rooted in the will, not the emotions. And what is penance but restitution?


It's a completely fair comparison.
One considers dependent origination and causality and the other denies it.
The two are completely different in their understanding of the individual and liberation.


If you consider misrepresentation fair, then I question your standards of qualification.
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Re: Buddhist response to Jesuits in China

Postby Josef » Tue Feb 14, 2012 4:22 am

mint wrote:
Nangwa wrote:
mint wrote:
That's not a very fair comparison.

In the sacrament of reconciliation, contrition is rooted in the will, not the emotions. And what is penance but restitution?


It's a completely fair comparison.
One considers dependent origination and causality and the other denies it.
The two are completely different in their understanding of the individual and liberation.


If you consider misrepresentation fair, then I question your standards of qualification.


I don't see any misrepresentation on my part.
The two are different, its just that simple. One considers karma, the other denies it. To claim they are not vastly different in this regard is a huge misrepresentation.
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Re: Buddhist response to Jesuits in China

Postby mint » Tue Feb 14, 2012 4:33 am

Nangwa wrote:
I don't see any misrepresentation on my part.
The two are different, its just that simple. One considers karma, the other denies it. To claim they are not vastly different in this regard is a huge misrepresentation.


Saying that Catholic/Orthodox confession is solely motivated by the emotion of guilt is, as I said above, a misrepresentation.
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Re: Buddhist response to Jesuits in China

Postby Josef » Tue Feb 14, 2012 4:40 am

mint wrote:
Nangwa wrote:
I don't see any misrepresentation on my part.
The two are different, its just that simple. One considers karma, the other denies it. To claim they are not vastly different in this regard is a huge misrepresentation.


Saying that Catholic/Orthodox confession is solely motivated by the emotion of guilt is, as I said above, a misrepresentation.


I said it was about guilt and penance, in a general sense. I did not say that it was solely motivated by the emotion of guilt. Actually, I said nothing about emotions.
You seem to be trying to force more square pegs in to round holes here Mint, and at the same time twisting what I say in order to force your point.
It wont work.
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Re: Buddhist response to Jesuits in China

Postby mint » Tue Feb 14, 2012 4:54 am

Nangwa wrote:
mint wrote:
Saying that Catholic/Orthodox confession is solely motivated by the emotion of guilt is, as I said above, a misrepresentation.


I said it was about guilt and penance, in a general sense. I did not say that it was solely motivated by the emotion of guilt. Actually, I said nothing about emotions.
You seem to be trying to force more square pegs in to round holes here Mint, and at the same time twisting what I say in order to force your point.
It wont work.


Suggesting, in a general sense, that Catholic/Orthodox confession is characterized by guilt is a misdirection and a misrepresentation. Confession has its root the love of God and the desire to correct one's wrongs. This is why it is called the sacrament of reconciliation. I stated this above as being the definition of contrition.

So, again, how are the two comparable?
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Re: Buddhist response to Jesuits in China

Postby Josef » Tue Feb 14, 2012 5:05 am

mint wrote:
So, again, how are the two comparable?

You have stated how they are comparable.
I have stated how they differ.

It seems that you desperately want them to be the same. Unfortunately they are much different.
Karma, the individual, dependent origination, no first cause, etc. make the two completely different, at least in theory.
I am sure many Buddhists and Christians do confess out of guilt, fear, and other emotional impulses, the worlds of theory and practice are often quite far from one another.
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Re: Buddhist response to Jesuits in China

Postby Kaji » Sat Aug 25, 2012 10:06 am

Huifeng wrote:Repentance is extremely widespread in all forms of Chinese Buddhist practice, not just in Taiwan, but throughout the sinosphere.
For quite some time, repentance has formed an important part of the so-called "Chan Daily Liturgy" 禪門日誦.
Large scale repentance services led by monastics and open to lay devotees, range from 1-2 to up to 20-30 hours in length. These form the most common medium to large scale chanting and religious services in Chinese Buddhism. Their roots can be found a long way back, too.

~~ Huifeng

Yes, repentance is widely practised in Chinese Buddhist practices. I have not been to any Chinese Buddhist temples or practice places that do not have repentance, even if it is with only a short verse, in their routine practices. To add to Huifeng's descriptions, some repentance services can go for days.

It has been taught that, unless one has repented, the precepts cannot be taken and vows cannot be made in a pure manner.

I have made it my daily practice to repent using a short verse. Sometimes when I have the time I use the Great Compassionate Dharani Repentance verses.
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Re: Buddhist response to Jesuits in China

Postby Luke » Sat Aug 25, 2012 3:05 pm

Astus wrote:Interestingly enough, repentance is not something people associate with Buddhism here.

Yes, that's true. Repentance isn't fashionable.

You do find a lot of westerners with that "Oh, I will throw off all your foolish oppressive traditional values and dance naked and freely as a great tantric Super Yogi!" attitude. lol
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Re: Buddhist response to Jesuits in China

Postby Queequeg » Sat Aug 25, 2012 3:47 pm

Hello All,

Huseng wrote: It is funny how he accused them of theft.


The article suggests it was the Jesuits who first leveled that criticism. But truthfully, isn't the success of Catholic Missionaries, particularly Jesuit missionaries, attributable in a great degree to their liberal attitude toward syncretism, their willingness to adapt local beliefs and customs towards Christianity? "Oh, this is a temple to Qetzalcoatl, the Serpent God of the Harvest? Well, the REAL identity is Our Lady of Guadalupe. Why don't we just tear down this temple and raise a church to Our Lady?" The paper mentions that this WAS what the Jesuits were doing to an extent, particularly with their attitude toward ancestor veneration, until the Pope found out and put an end to that, anyways. (Buddhist missionaries have done the same thing, by the way - in Japan, kami were interpreted by Buddhists as Buddhist protective deities. Heck, its in Buddhist DNA - see incorporation of the Vedic pantheon and physical and spiritual architecture of the world in Buddhist thought).

With that said, I think it was a common trope in East Asian Buddhist rhetoric to accuse rival teachers or sects of "stealing the ghee" of one's own school. It is mentioned that Ouyi was associated with Tientai. Certain Tientai masters accused other sects of stealing Zhiyi's Trichiliocosm in a Single Thought. I would guess that Ouyi would have been familiar with those writings. It would be interesting to see if any connection can be drawn.

On a related note - I know the author of this article; she's coming out of Harvard where Ryuichi Abe teaches. He used to be my adviser at Columbia. When I was applying, one of the things we talked about was the relatively novel experience of being a practicing Buddhist studying Buddhism in the academy and how this was considered by many in the field to be a fatal shortcoming - I guess its presumed one's perspective will be compromised (Abe, who has a Shingon background, quipped something about women in the women's studies department should also be criticized for similar reasons by that rationale). He told me that would not be a problem at Columbia because both he an Bob Thurman, being practitioners, did not share that prejudice. At least when I knew Prof. Foulks (she was a grad student at the time) she was a practicing Buddhist.

It is interesting that Prof. Foulks considers the subjective experience of Ouyi, particularly as it relates to his repentance for having once criticized Buddhism. I was looking forward to a deeper exploration based on the introduction to the article, but it seems this part of her study was yet undeveloped. Consideration of subjective religious experience seems to me a relatively new direction in Religious studies - at least when it comes to Buddhism. The scholarship of previous generations tended, at least this is my impression, to be limited to taxonomic approaches. Consideration of the subjective experience of Buddhism tends to be circumscribed. In a way I understand - Religion departments approach religion differently than it is in say a seminary or monastic environments. But I still felt that scholarship was lacking in this regard - let's be frank - religion is about the religious experience, and everything else - the theory, rituals, history etc. orbit around this. I always thought that Buddhism is particularly amenable to the study of this precisely because so much of Buddhist writing is itself about the religious experience. It would be interesting to find out if this direction in Prof. Foulks work is at all influenced by a more permissive approach under Prof. Abe. I ended up not pursuing an academic career, but I always felt that there was room to approach the subjective religious experience with scientific rigor - even those areas that get "far out" from the narrow confines of "normal human experience" in the academy. This article doesn't go that far into Ouyi's subjective experience, but there are some hints in this general direction I'm suggesting. I will be looking forward to Prof. Foulks further studies on the subject.

The discussion above about the comparative role of repentance in East Asian and Western Buddhism is really interesting. I think it deserves its own thread...
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Re: Buddhist response to Jesuits in China

Postby Kaji » Sat Aug 25, 2012 6:13 pm

Queequeg wrote:The discussion above about the comparative role of repentance in East Asian and Western Buddhism is really interesting. I think it deserves its own thread...

I'm actually quite surprise that there hasn't been more discussion on repentance in this Buddhist forum. I'd be glad to see a thread on it.
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