Original buddhism and its discontents: The Chinese buddhist exchange monks and the search for the pure Dharma in Ceylon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The reform movement of Republican-era Chinese Buddhism was remarkable for the distance between its ambitions and its capacities. It seemed to produce an endless stream of grandiose plans with no apparent means of implementation. Little wonder that Holmes Welch regarded the movement as an overrated failure of little lasting significance. While recent work has called this evaluation into question, many of its initiatives did fail. Among these failures, the programs to send monks to study in Ceylon were particularly resounding. Tasked with retrieving pure original Buddhism and returning as model monks, the participants in the end disrobed and returned to lay life. This would appear a disastrous result. Yet there is much that we can learn from failure. The exchange provides an illuminating window on some of the most important issues and developments of the day, including utopianism, translocal networks, and the construction of new understandings of “Buddhism.”.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-173
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Chinese Religions
Volume44
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2016

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Monks
Ceylon
Buddhist
Buddhism
Dharma
Evaluation
Republican
Ambition
Utopianism

Keywords

  • Monasticism
  • Original buddhism
  • Sri lanka
  • Student-monks
  • Taixu
  • Theravada
  • Transnationalism
  • Utopia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies

Cite this

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