Traditional Community Associations (she 社) and Buddhism in Medieval China
This paper is a preliminary study of the relationship between traditional community associations (she 社) in villages, towns, and cities that originally involved semi-annual sacrifices and the Buddhist religion during the Wei, Jin, Period of Division (North and South), Sui and Tang dynasties (fourth-tenth centuries). It reveals that during this time, the main conflict between the early associations and Buddhist monks concerned the killing of animals. It further shows that later, in the seventh-tenth centuries, the two traditions came to a less confrontational arrangement, involving mutual understanding and assimilation. In the earlier stage, Buddhist monks fought against Chinese traditional culture, trying to persuade village associations to accept foreign ideas and give up traditional practices. This changed during the second stage, when monasteries and monks adopted a more co-operative attitude. The lecture addresses the problem of taking life in Buddhism and Chinese culture, Confucian values, debates over the making of statues, mortuary practice, monasticism, and the conflict of cultures. Evidence is drawn from stone stelae inscriptions, biographies and histories, as well as manuscripts. The lecture will be in Chinese, with brief English summary.
Professor Has is currently a Visiting Professor at Yale University
Co-Sponsored by the Buddhist Studies Workshop