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Buddhist-Christian Studies 20 (2000) 287-292



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Book Review

Original Tao: Inward Training and the Foundations of Taoist Mysticism

Laughing at the Tao: Debates Among Buddhists and Taoists in Medieval China

Taoist Tradition and Change: The Story of the Complete Perfection Sect in Hong Kong

Lord of the Three in One: The Spread of a Cult in Southeast China


Original Tao: Inward Training and the Foundations of Taoist Mysticism. By Harold D. Roth. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999. xv + 275 pp.

Laughing at the Tao: Debates Among Buddhists and Taoists in Medieval China. By Livia Kohn. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995. xii + 281 pp.

Taoist Tradition and Change: The Story of the Complete Perfection Sect in Hong Kong. By Bartholomew P. M. Tsui. Hong Kong: Chinese Study Centre on Chinese Religion and Culture, 1991. 207 pp.

Lord of the Three in One: The Spread of a Cult in Southeast China. By Kenneth Dean. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998. xii + 406 pp.

Buddhism in China has many forms: sometimes functioning as a foreign object provoking attraction, rivalry, or persecution, and at other times being so integrated that it epitomized or completed Chinese culture. Although the elite monastic community maintained its distinctive Buddhist identity throughout its history, the story of the various forms of popular appropriation of Buddhist elements beyond the monastic [End Page 287] walls is just beginning to be studied. Probably the most important arena where Buddhism became part of Chinese culture is its mixture with Daoist practice, but only in the 1990s have Daoist studies evolved to the point where the Buddhist presence can be traced and evaluated. The four books listed above are among a shelf-full of new studies on Daoism that offer resources for exploring the complex relationships among Buddhism, Daoism, and Chinese culture.

The study of the Inner Training by Harold Roth clarifies a core practice within early Daoism that was later integrated--usually without acknowledgment--as a central practice by both Confucianists and Buddhists, especially Ch'an. In contrast, the definitive study by Livia Kohn of the Xiaodao lun shows a carefully constructed Buddhist attack on Daoist scriptures. During the last millennium, the two most influential integrations of the three religions--Daoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism--were achieved by Wang Chong-yang (1113-1170) and Lin Zhao-en (1517-1598). Bartholomew Tsui offers an important field study of the liturgical practices of the contemporary followers of Wang as embodied in Hong Kong temples of Quanzhen (Complete Perfection) Daoism, while Kenneth Dean provides a massive field report of over one thousand temples of the Xiajiao movement in contemporary Fujian Province that revere the teachings of Lin Zhao-en as Lord of the Three-in-One. All four books provide rich materials for reflecting on interreligious encounter in China.

The archaeological discovery of lost Chinese texts has made clear that the Lao-tzu is no earlier than the beginning of the third century b.C.E. and did not exist at the time of Confucius. Harold Roth's book argues that earlier than the book of Lao-tzu there was a movement of internal cultivation that was first expressed in two fourth-century b.C.E. texts, the first seven chapters of Chuang-tzu and a text found among the seventy-six texts in the Kuan-tzu that Roth calls Inner Training. Roth proposes that this latter text constitutes the "original Tao" in the sense that it is the core practice embodied in those thinkers who were grouped together by later historians. Roth observes that the earliest identification of a Daoist school (daojia) by Ssu-ma T'an about 110 b.C.E. emphasized techniques or practices, "not the philosophies that developed along with them and that support them. . . . Techniques must be seen as a way to define pre...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9472
Print ISSN
0882-0945
Pages
pp. 287-292
Launched on MUSE
2000-01-01
Open Access
No
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