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BuddhismIndigenous - 43 | Buddhism and Indigenous Chinese...

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Unformatted text preview: 43 | Buddhism and Indigenous Chinese Culture IN THE COURSE of the spread of the Buddhist religion from India to China, which had begun quietly during the first century of the Common Era, there came a point at which it began to arouse the opposition of certain members of the gentry who saw it as a threat to China’s tradi— tional values. By the end of the fifth century, resistance was especially strong among representa- tives of China’s indigenous religion of Taoism in the Southern Dynasties of Qi (479—502) and Liang (502—557), whose rulers actively supported the foreign faith. Their resistance is the more interesting in view of the traditional Chinese belief, shared by both Confucianists and Taoists, that a Central Harmony, or Unitary Force, called “the Way” (Tao) pervades the entire universe, and that following the Tao is not only natural, but is the only principle by which the universe can run smoothly. Because of this Unitary Force, all apparent differences are treated as “outward man— ifestations” (ji BI), which, if traced to the Center, will be found to be in harmony with the Tao. This basic characteristic of the Chinese world—view has made it possible for most Chinese to rec— oncile any variance from their own traditions as merely a superficial aberration. Even the harshest critics of the foreign religion insisted that they had no quarrel with Buddhism’s ultimate goal of Enlightenment. What offended them most was the introduction of barbarous customs (m), such as monks and nuns deserting their families, and shaving off the hair bestowed on them by their parents, and, yes, squatting on their heels or in chairs instead of sitting respectfully on the ground. The resulting crossfire of polemic attacks by members of the Taoist and Confucian gentry and defenses by Buddhist apologists, including occasional rejoinders by the original attackers, has filled large sections of two anthologies: the Collection of [Doeumentr] on the Propagation and Illumina- tion [of tbe Dbarma] (Hongm'ngjz), compiled by the monk Sengyou (see selection 42) around 510, and its sequel, the Expanded Col/ettion [of Dommentr] eta (Guang bongmingjz), by Dao Xuan, a cen— tury later (both may be found in vol. 52 of the Tait/20' Tnpttaka). To give some sense at first hand of the issues involved, and the emotional intensity of the dis- putants, we have selected the greater portion of the “Treatise on Barbarians and Chinese” (Yixia lun) by the Taoist priest {dam/)1) Gu Huan (d. after 48 5), included in his official biography in the Hirtogt 0f the Seat/Jen: Q1" (Nan Q1" 1/214, 54), followed by a rebuttal by the Liu-Song Director of Instruction, Yuan Can (420—477), through his friend, the monk Shi Huitong, and, finally, Gu Huan’s rejoinder, all from the aforementioned biography—RM ff— Gu Huan’s “Treatise on Barbarians and Chinese” In distinguishing between truth and falsehood it is appropriate to base one’s opinion on sacred scriptures (r/Jengdian). If one researches the sources of the two traditions (Buddhism and Taoism), indeed one finds that both point to scriptural passages. A Taoist scripture states, “Lao Zi entered the Pass (i.e., the Hindu Kush) and proceeded to the kingdom of Kapilavastu (Uia-] wei—[luo]— wei). The wife of the king was named Maya (Jingmiao). Lao Zi, taking advantage of her daytime nap, entered into Maya’s mouth riding on the essence of the sun (ryz'ng). Later, on the eighth day of the fourth month, at midnight, he (Lao Zi/the Buddha) was born by opening up her left armpit. The momen Buddhism came intt (Xuanm'ao neg'bz'an).‘ A Buddhist scrip berless kagbas.” [Thj (Fa/ma, Wiliangrbou). Tao, the Ancestor 0 meat of tbe Crown Pri; My thoughts on t Ones,4 none of thes the Tao, none ever would have surpass: Buddha, then who \ Tao is the Buddha; in their outward ma Tao]), which illumi which reveals what i not penetrate. [Buc entrances have not adherents] fulfill th« nial caps and robes, cials]; shaved heads and bowing from tl ing like foxes and S buried in a double under water is the observe the proper appearance and alt: up with strange bei beasts are often bu Through endless Five Canom (wag; sages] have chirpec the Chinese they h: that’s all. Although are limitations imp are on a level WhCI tions between Barl the means are inter overland? At present [som the doctrines of th same, nor, on the c dren, and have do: attached and whicl". reverence that are : compliance with t er nich had begun ich it began to 3 China’s tradi- ang representa- (479-502) and nce is the more sts and Taoists, entire universe, 'he universe can . “outward man- iy with the Tao. : Chinese to rec- ven the harshest ultimate goal of [storms (m), such )n them by their y on the ground. ucian gentry and .al attackers, has ztiorz and Illumina- 42) around 510, )ao Xuan, a cen- ensity of the dis- . Chinese” (Yixia biography in the Song Director of , and, finally, Gu apinion on sacred lism and Taoism), ., “Lao Zi entered l (Uia-] wei-[luo]- .ge of her daytime on the eighth day )ening up her left armpit. The moment he dropped to the ground, h Buddhism came into being.” This passage comes Buddhism and Indigenous Chinese Culture | 271 e walked seven paces. It was at this point that from the Inner Chapter: (ft/1e Myrten'ou: Wonder (Xuanmiaa neipiarz).‘ A Buddhist scripture says, berless lea/pas.” [This passage] comes from the (Fabua, Wu/t'zmgrbau).2 [Another passage states,] Tao, the Ancestor of the Literati.” “[This passage] c ment oft/1e Crown Prince ([Taizi] raging bertqz‘jirzg).”3 My thoughts on this are as follows: During the reigns of the Five Thearchs and Three August Ones,4 none of these rulers was without an adviser. Among National Preceptors and Masters of the Tao, none ever surpassed Lao Zi and Zhuang Zi. As for the Ancestor of the Literati, who would have surpassed the Duke of Zhou and Confucius? If Confucius and Lao Zi were not the Buddha, then who were they? Thus, what the two traditions say are like the two halves of a tally. Tao is the Buddha; the Buddha is Tao. In their ideal of sageliness (r/Jeng) they are identical; only in their outward manifestation (jz) are they at odds. One is the “Tempered Light” (beguang [of the Tao]), which illuminates what is near; the other is the “Radiant Spirit” (yac/z'ng) [of the sun], which reveals what is distant.5 The Tao sustains all under heaven; there is no quarter Where it does not penetrate. [Buddha]-wisdom pervades all creation; no being is unaffected. But since their entrances have not been the same, their effects are also bound to differ. In each tradition [the adherents] fulfill their own natures (xing), and thus do not alter the things they do (.rbt). Ceremo- nial caps and robes, with tablets of office tucked in their sashes, are the fashion of Chinese [offi- cials]; shaved heads and loose garments are the habit of Barbarian [monks]. Kneeling reverendy and bowing from the waist are expressions of respect within the [Chinese] royal domain; crouch- ing like foxes and squatting like dogs are deemed to be dignified postures in the wilds. To be buried in a double coffin is the rule in China; to be incinerated on a funeral pyre or submerged under water is the custom among the western Barbarians. To preserve one’s body whole and observe the proper rituals is the teaching that aims at perpetuating goodness; to disfigure one’s appearance and alter one’s nature is the study that seeks to terminate evil. Since [the latter] link up with strange beings, are they the same as humans? [Thus,] the kings of birds and the lords of beasts are often buddhas. Through endless generations sages have arisen one after another. Some Five Curlew (Wudz'an); others have propagated the Three Vehicles (Sansheng).6 Among birds [the sages] have chirped like birds, and among beasts they have roared like beasts. When instructing the Chinese they have spoken Chinese, when converting Barbarians they have spoken Barbarian, that’s all. Although boats and carriages are equal when it comes to traveling distances, still there are limitations imposed by whether one is traveling by rivers or overland. Buddhism and Taoism are on a level when it comes to “achieving transformation” (dd/ma). However, there are distinc- tions between Barbarians and Chinese. If one thinks that since the ends are the same, therefore the means are interchangeable, does that mean that carriages may cross rivers or boats may travel “Sakyamum became the Buddha as many times as there are num- section “The Infinite Life Span” of the Letter Sutra “He became a National Preceptor, a Master of the omes from the Sutra an tbe Augbieiour Fulfill- have expounded the overland? At present [some misguided people] are trying to make the nature of the Chinese conform to the doctrines of the western Barbarians. These two peoples are, on the one hand, not entirely the same, nor, on the other, are they entirely different. [The Barbarians] abandon their wives and chil- dren, and have done away with ancestral sacrifices. On the other hand, things to which they are ‘ attached and which they desire are promoted by their rituals; it is only the canons of filial piety and reverence that are suppressed by their doctrines. They have rebelled against the rites and violated compliance with them without ever being aware of it. Weak and lost, they have forgotten to 272 | Buddhism and Indigenous Chinese Culture return home. Who among them recognize their past? Furthermore, that which is most honorable in the noumenal world (11' E) is the Tao; that which is most contemptible in the phenomenal world (5/11' E) is custom (:14). To reject the Chinese (Hua) and imitate the Barbarians (Yi)—where can morality be found in that? Should we follow the Tao? The Tao is definitely in accord with [our tradition]. Should we follow [Barbarian] custom? [Barbarian] custom is greatly at odds [with it].7 I have frequently observed “gunwale-notching” (kexian) Buddhist monks and “tree-trunk— guarding” (:bouz/m) Taoist priests8 arguing back and forth over which is greater or smaller, tak— ing potshots at each other. Some delineate the Tao, considering it [and vulgar custom] to be two [different things]. Others obfuscate vulgar custom, considering it to be one and the same [with the Tao]. This is dragging together things that are different and considering them the same, and destroying things that are [really] the same and considering them different, with the result that they become the source of conflict and the basis of confusion. Even though [these two tradi— tions] are the same in seeking sagehood (xumbeng), their methods [in doing so] are as far apart as left and right. Their beginnings have no starting—point and their final goal no ending-point. Attaining nirvana (nibuan) and becoming a transcendent being (xianbua) are each distinct tech— niques. Buddhists call theirs “Correct Truth” (zbmgz/Jen); Taoists call theirs “Correct Unity” (z/Jengyz). “Unity” results in “No Death” (1mm). “Truth” coincides with “No Rebirth” (wusbeng). In name they are in opposition; in reality they are in agreement. But the doctrine of “No Rebirth” refers to a postponed future (.r/Je), while the transformation of “No Death” deals with the imme— diate present (qie). A doctrine of immediacy may be used to encourage humility and gentleness (qianruo), whereas a doctrine of a postponed future may be used to discourage bragging and vio- lence (kuaqiang).9 Buddhism is elaborate and diffuse; Taoism is plain and refined. The refined is not something crude people believe in, nor is diffuseness something refined people are capable of. Buddhist words are flowery and attractive; Taoist words are truthful and forbidding. If it is forbidding, then only the intelligent make progress; if it is attractive, then the unintelligent com— pete to move forward. Buddhist scriptures are prolix and obvious; Taoist scriptures are terse and obscure.10 If it is obscure, then the “Subtle Gate” is hard to see; if it is obvious, then the “Cor— rect Path” is easy to follow. These are the distinctions between the two doctrines. The sage craftsman has no [prejudicial] thoughts (wuxz'n), but square and round each has its [own distinctive] shape. So, just as each tool (whether a square or a compass) has its own special function, doctrines also have different applications. Buddhism is a formula for destroying evil; Taoism is a technique for encouraging goodness. To encourage goodness, naturalness (ziran) is paramount; to destroy evil, courage and ferocity (jangmeng) are valorized. The outward traces of Buddhism are brilliant and massive, suitable for converting living beings. The outward traces of Taoism, on the other hand, are secret and subtle, beneficial for use in self-development. The supe- riority or inferiority of one in relation to the other lies, for the most part, in these distinctions. As for the posture of squatting on their heels (duryz) and talking gibberish (lou/uo), each of these comes out of their customs, which they understand among themselves. It’s like the chirp- ing of insects and twittering of birds. Why would it be worth transmitting or imitating? Yuan Can’s (420—477) Response to Gu Huan through the Monk Shi Huitong When the sun halted its beams and the constant stars hid their light—the fulfillment of [the Bud- dha’s] descent and birth—this event took place before [the time of ] Lao Zi, so it would appear that [Lao Zi] did not first enter the Pass before this portent was manifested.11 Furthermore [in __,__, _..._.. ..._._,...... +W --_——-—~———u the teachings of ] bility of survival bequeathed teachi worm [in his next ism], in the end t that’s all. [According to] it is customary (ya [Buddhists] do n( religious worship humility. They do the land of the R Tong (identity un When the King u throne] three tim who have accepti regard both to pt always in compli: Wen’s father) est: Yi, so that they n¢ pared to] boats a doctrines have cc of “pure faith” (. appearance or cl: framazza, or monk follows the Tao, : naturally diverge] Confucius, Lat points, and in es- different. For Cc Sikyamuni trans gent, their destir tally” (fa/2e} natu Furthermore, body” (biamben) first. For those V be able to becon diminish, in a pr of Immortality a Gu Huan’s Re In regard to the (ca. 1045—771 B. the Eastern Han h is most honorable 2 phenomenal world 1s (Yi)——where can in accord with [our [y at odds [with it].7 :s and “tree-trunk- iter or smaller, tak- : custom] to be two and the same [with hem the same, and with the result that 'h [these two tradi- so] are as far apart 11 no ending-point. each distinct tech- s “Correct Unity” Rebirth” (wusbeng). 1e of “No Rebirth” als with the imme- lity and gentleness : bragging and vio— 1ed. The refined is people are capable forbidding. If it is unintelligent com- tures are terse and us, then the “Cor- nes. :ound each has its 1as its own special 3r destroying evil; :uralness (ziran) is outward traces of outward traces of »pment. The supe- rse distinctions. 3 (10141140), each of [t’s like the chirp- nitating? Huitong nent of [the Bud- 3 it would appear Furthermore [in nub-.5.— Buddhism and Indigenous Chinese Culture | 273 the teachings of] Lao Zi, Zhuang Zi, [the Duke of] Zhou, and Confucius, if there is the possi- bility of survival [after death], it is like the fading rays of the sun. According to Sakyamum’s bequeathed teachings, an ox-thief who falsely claims to be good will, on the contrary, become a worm [in his next incarnation]. If you examine the original sources [of Taoism and Confucian- ism], in the end they simply differ from the way our [Buddhist] community practices the Tao, that’s all. [According to] records from the Western Regions (xzju) and statements in the Buddhist sutras, it is customary (m) to consider crawling on hands and knees to be a ceremonious act (1:). [Buddhists] do not favor squatting on their heels (dunzuo) as a respectful posture. And in their religious worship they consider a threefold circumambulation (Ianrao) to be a sign of respectful humility. They do not esteem squatting haughtily (ju’ao) to be dignified. Why would it be only in the land of the Rong Barbarians [that this is done]? Indeed, it also happens here. When Xiang Tong (identity uncertain) paid a visit to the emperor, he approached him crawling on his knees. When the King of Zhao had an audience with the King of Zhou, he circumambulated [the throne] three times before stopping. At present, ever since Buddhism has been in China, those who have accepted it are always peaceful and law—abiding. Their rules of conduct are good in regard both to personal behavior and in relations with others, and those who walk in them are always in compliance. When King Wen founded the Zhou (ca. 1045 B.C.E.), and Taibo (King Wen’s father) established Wu (in the Yangtze Delta), they totally transformed the Rong and the Yi, so that they no longer followed their old customs. How can Chinese and Barbarians be [com- pared to] boats and carriages, whose principles are not mutually interchangeable? As Buddhist doctrines have come down and evolved, some have been followed and some changed. Followers of “pure faith” (qingxz'n, a literal translation of updxaka, or lay believer), have not changed their appearance or clothing. In the case of those “of tranquil mind” (xixin, a literal translation of framagza, or monk), their clothing and appearance are changed by necessity. The change basically follows the Tao, and does not conform to local custom. The mores (feng) of the two religions are naturally divergent; there is no need to complain about any confusion. Confucius, Lao Zi, and Sakyamuni, as persons, were in some respects the same. In their view- points, and in establishing their doctrines, [what each deemed to be] the “Tao” was necessarily different. For Confucius and Lao Zi, governing the world (z/Jisbz) was their starting point. For Sakyamuni transcending the world (tburbz) was his ideal. Since their starting points were diver- gent, their destinations were also different. The notion of their “matching like two halves of a tally” (fa/1e) naturally proceeds from [unsupported] opinion. Furthermore, “transformation into a transcendent being” (xianbua) puts “changing the body” (biamben) in the ascendancy, whereas nirvana (ni/man) puts “molding the spirit” (taoxben) first. For those who change the body, their white hair may change to black, but they will never be able to become immortal. Those who mold the spirit, causing its dust and delusion daily to diminish, in a profound way will survive forever. When the Taos of Nirvana and of the Lands of Immortality are as diametrically opposed as this, how can you say they are the same? Gu Huan’s Rejoinder In regard to the creation on the Taoist scriptures, they were written during the Western Zhou (ca. 1045—771 B.C.E.), whereas the coming [to China] of Buddhist scriptures began only during the Eastern Han (25—220 C.E.). The number of years that the Taoist scriptures preceded the Bud- 274 I Buddhism and Indigenous Chinese Culture dhist is thus more than eight hundred, and the reigns during that interval numbered several tens. If you think that, even though the Yellow Emperor and Lao Zi are ancient, it is still excessive [to claim they came] before Sakyamuni, this is [like saying] Lii Shang (who aided in overthrong the Shang ruler, Zhou Xin) stole Chen Heng’s state of Qi,12 or that Liu Xiu usurped Wang Mang’s state of Han.13 The classic” states, “The Rong Barbarian temper is violent. They capture people and commandeer carts. Furthermore, the Yi Barbarian custom of kneeling upright is different from that of the Chinese. Their left knee sticks up and their right knee splays out, just as though they were ‘squatting on their heels.”’ Also, in regard to the Yi Barbarian custom of constantly squatting, the way they do it is dif— ferent from that of the Chinese, who raise the left [knee] and kneel on the right. The Barbarians always squat on their heels (dury'u). It was because of this that the D...
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