Chen Hailiang’s Vision of Buddhist Family Life: A Preliminary Study
This paper attempts to provide an overview of how modern Chinese Buddhists worked to blend self-cultivation and family life, with a focus on the ideal of the “Buddhicized family” (Fohua jiating 佛化家庭) as expressed in the writings of the lay Buddhist elite Chen Hailiang 陳海量 (1910–1983), which provided spiritual and material advice for readers striving to achieve equilibrium between religious requirements and social norms. Due to his extensive work with young Buddhist men and women who were seeking spouses, getting married, and starting their own families, Chen’s works paid close attention to issues of gender and sexuality, including childbirth, menstruation, masturbation, etc. Chen’s vision of modern Buddhist family life sheds light on significant processes of change taking place in the early twentieth century, with that religion’s urban elites seeking to define their approach to Buddhism in such a way that both maintained their commitment to social activism yet established the basis for a rich religious life. The data below highlight the complexity of Buddhist thought during the modern era, the interaction between religious discourses and others circulating at that time, and the continuing relevance of these issues in present-day Chinese societies around the world.
Buddhicized families, Chen Hailiang, lay Buddhism, social activism, spiritual & material, gender & sexuality, childbirth, menstruation, masturbation
佛化家庭, 陳海量, 佛教居士, 精神與物質, 性別, 分娩, 月經, 手淫
This paper attempts to provide an overview of how modern Chinese Buddhists worked to blend self-cultivation and family life, with a focus on the ideal of the “Buddhicized family” (Fohua jiating 佛化家庭) expressed in the writings of the lay Buddhist elite Chen Hailiang 陳海量 (1910–1983). Chen’s works, which attempted to provide both spiritual and material advice for readers striving to achieve equilibrium between religious requirements and social norms, raise a number of questions: How did Buddhist discourses about family and community transform during the modern era? What socioeconomic, cultural, and religious factors contributed to these changes? To what extent did such texts influence the practices of their readers? In considering these issues, I argue that Chen’s vision of modern Buddhist family life sheds light on significant processes taking place in the [End Page 33] early twentieth century, with that religion’s urban elites seeking to define their approach to Buddhism in such a way that both maintained their commitment to social activism yet established the basis for a rich religious life as well. The data below highlight the complexity of Buddhist thought during the modern era, the interaction between religious discourses and others circulating at that time, and the continuing relevance of these issues in present-day Chinese societies around the world.
My research approaches the above issues by considering texts and practices related to self-cultivation and family life in the broader context of modern Chinese religious history, especially religious publishing and the lives of religious elites.1 While it is common knowledge that family constitutes an integral component of Chinese social life, previous scholarship has tended to overlook the family experiences of Buddhist practitioners, including marriage, child-rearing, housekeeping, etc. In fact, achieving equilibrium between Buddhist religious requirements and social norms has always been a leading concern, especially for monks and nuns who refer to their decision to pursue such a path as “leaving the family” (chujia 出家) while also stressing their commitment to filial piety (xiaodao 孝道).2 One notable example from the modern era involves the eminent monk Tanxu 倓虛 (1875–1963), who chose to return home and convert his wife to Buddhism (she ended up forming a Buddhicized family of her own, albeit minus her husband).3 This paper expands our perspective to include not only monastics but also lay worshippers, who pursued self-cultivation while also leading family lives. Moreover, it is essential to remember that many lay Buddhist men and women are the sole believers in their families, or live with family members who are indifferent to or even critical of their practices, which suggests they might find it difficult to form a Buddhicized family even if they wished to achieve this goal.
In the case of Republican-era Buddhism, as early as the 1950s Holmes Welch pointed to the importance of various lay Buddhist societies, which were active in scripture chanting, promoting vegetarianism, pursuing philanthropy, etc.4 More recently, numerous scholars have provided vivid accounts of how Republican lay Buddhist urban elites influenced by Western ideas and Christian organizations devoted themselves the formation of social and religious communities that engaged in publishing, charity, education, and the promulgation of morality). However, previous research has been marked by an intellectual history approach to how elites reinterpreted Buddhist doctrine, as well as a tendency to [End Page 34] overemphasize their formation of a “collective lay Buddhist identity,”5 In fact, lay Buddhist discourses featured a great diversity of viewpoints and tensions regarding a wide range of issues, particularly when it came to questions of how to blend standard cultural mores with Western science plus ideas of the body, hygiene, etc., as well as concerns that foreign modernity stressed the material (wuzhi 物質) over the spiritual (jingshen 精神) and ethical (daode 道德).6 Chen Hailiang strove to find a balance between these concerns, while also focusing on an aspect of lay Buddhist religious life that has been largely overlooked, namely the family.
I consider the above issues by examining Chen Hailiang’s most important works on Buddhicized families, including Essentials for Studying Buddhism in the Home (Zaijia xuefo yaodian 在家學佛要典; published in 1943),7 Knowing Oneself and Others (Zhiji zhibi 知己知彼; 1946),8 and Building Buddhicized Families (Jianshe Fohua jiating 建設佛化家庭; written in 1947, published in 1948).9 These works presented Buddhicized families as vital to that religion’s mission of adapting to the challenges of the modern era and promoting social reform. Accordingly, Chen and his peers strove to promote a form of lay Buddhism that encouraged believers to lead active family and social lives, engaging in communal outreach via philanthropy, publishing enterprises, and musical/dramatic performances, all of which were designed to spread the dharma (hongfa 弘法). At the same time, they often shied away from or rejected facets of Chinese communal ritual, especially those centered on temple cults, while taking a dim view of other organized religions, especially sectarian movements and their spirit-writing rituals. Efforts to achieve a balance between these views continue to shape Buddhism today. [End Page 35]
Shanghai and Its Lay Buddhist Communities
Chen and his peers’ writings on family life were forged in China’s major urban centers, the modern histories of which were marked by large-scale migration and rapid urbanization,10 trends that could give rise to new forms of Buddhist practice. In Chen’s case, the most significant trend featured the growth of various forms of lay Buddhism (literally “householder Buddhism” or jushi Fojiao 居士佛教) that flourished during the Republican era, especially in Shanghai, referred to by Francesca Tarocco as a “Buddhist city” of venerable and strong Buddhist traditions that continued to thrive despite the challenges of the modern era.11 It was home to the Shanghai Buddhist Householder Association (Shanghai Fojiao jushilin 上海佛教居士林), which was founded in 1918 and four years later grew into the better-known World Buddhist Householder Association (Shijie Fojiao jushilin 世界佛教居士林), as well as the [Buddhist] Enlightenment Society (Jueshe 覺社; also founded in 1918) and the Shanghai Buddhist Pure Karma Society (Shanghai Fojiao jingyeshe 上海佛教淨業社; 1922). Lay Buddhists were active in philanthropy and ritual, with the World Buddhist Householder Association earning renown for sponsoring charitable activities (including preaching the dharma in prisons) and the Shanghai Buddhist Purity Society helping organize numerous Buddhist rituals, particularly ceremonies to protect the nation and ease calamities (huguo xizai fahui 護國息災法會). Its members also endeavored to embrace a modern urban spirituality that stressed a moral orientation designed to contrast with the “hot and noisy” (re’nao 熱鬧) religious practices of temple cults as well as the consumer-oriented world of department stores and entertainment quarters.12 The impact of these trends on Chen Hailiang and his peers remains to be fully determined, but it is worth noting that the Buddhicized family ideal they described tended to be a nuclear one, as opposed to the extended families and lineages of more rural areas.13
Chen Hailiang’s writings on Buddhicized families were also shaped by similar discourses that accompanied Buddhism’s development during the Republican era. Many leading monks wrote extensively on family life, starting with Taixu 太虛 (1890–1947) [End Page 36] as part of his mission to promote Humanistic Buddhism (Renjian Fojiao 人間佛教, literally “Buddhism within the human world”), namely the idea of religious cultivation as here and now, not separated from daily or family life, which became an integral facet of Buddhist modernization rhetoric.14 One of Taixu’s clearest expressions of this idea may be found in an essay entitled “Building Modern Chinese Buddhism” (Jianshe xiandai Zhongguo Fojiao 建設現代中國佛教), which treats the family as the cornerstone of Buddhist communal life and essential for spreading the dharma.15 Taixu also provided an important precedent for Chen in emphasizing the equality of men and women, yet positing conservative gender roles for women as being mainly responsible for raising their children according to Buddhist values.16 His 1935 lecture on the subject at a Hong Kong site for lay Buddhist women was widely reprinted, and continues to circulate today.17 The above trends continued with Yinguang 印光 (1861–1940), who instructed his lay disciples that the home should serve as a sacred space for Buddhist practice (jiating bian shi daochang 家庭便是道場).18
Another phenomenon meriting closer attention is the idea of “Buddhicization” (Fohua 佛化), which seems to have accompanied or even preceded the spread of Human-istic Buddhism. Its importance can be seen in a wide variety of phenomena, including concepts like “Buddhicized education” (Fohua jiaoyu 佛化教育), journals like the Fohua xunkan 佛化旬刊 (founded in 1921), organizations like the Association of Buddhicized Youth (Fohua xinqingnianhui 佛化新青年會; 1923), and practices such as Buddhicized weddings (Fohua hunli 佛化婚禮; see below).19 One early advocate was the monk Daxing 大醒 (1899–1952), who composed a lengthy essay on Buddhicized families in 1934, an act that was prompted by the son of a lay elite blinding another member of Daxing’s group while trying to steal her jewelry. Daxing emphasized that lay worshippers were responsible for the deeds of their family members, and were not entitled to solely practice [End Page 37] self-cultivation while overlooking daily life obligations. In addition, he drew on the writings of Taixu and Yinguang as inspirations for advocating the importance of family life in self-cultivation, while observing that wholesome Buddhicized families could benefit society, the nation, and even the cause of “international Buddhicization” (guoji Fohua 國際佛化). Daxing’s writings also feature a distinction between “Buddhicized families” (Fohua jiating 佛化家庭, where only one member practiced Buddhism; one leading example being Wang Yiting 王一亭 [1867–1938]) and “families becoming Buddhicized” (jiating Fohua 家庭佛化; where the entire family practiced Buddhism), with the latter being a logical outgrowth of the former.20 These ideals were widely promoted by lay Buddhists and the groups they belonged to, although the success of their efforts remains to be determined.21
Chen’s views also appear to have been influenced by an essay on Buddhicized families by a prominent lay Buddhist named Cai Jitang 蔡吉堂 (1904–1996). Cai was born in Hsinchu 新竹 (northern Taiwan), but his father chose to return to their native home in Xiamen 廈門 (Fujian), apparently due to his discontent with Japanese colonial rule (Cai did not formally become a Chinese citizen until 1937, following the outbreak of the War of Resistance against Japan). Cai resembled Chen in being close to Republican-era monks, becoming a disciple of Yinguang in 1924 and Taixu in 1932. He was also well-acquainted with Hongyi 弘一 (1880–1942; lay name = Li Shutong 李叔同), who spent much of his later life in Xiamen. In 1940, Cai (using the pseudonym Yanglian 養蓮) composed a detailed essay on Buddhist family life that was first published in Haichaoyin 海潮音 and reprinted numerous times, including in Chen’s Essentials for Studying Buddhism in the Home. Cai embraced an agenda that resembled Chen’s (and Taixu’s) in arguing that Buddhicized families occupied a central position in that religion’s reformation and development, while also advancing the distinction between the material and spiritual that figures so prominently in Building Buddhicized Families. However, Cai does not seem to have been particularly fond of children, observing that a proper Buddhist household should never be disturbed by their ruckus (zaoyin 噪音).22 Such views stand in sharp contrast to those expressed by Chen in his writings.
Chen Hailiang’s Life and Career
While the events of Chen Hailiang’s life are briefly described in a number of sources,23 the most detailed account I have found to-date is an article composed by Zheng Songying 鄭頌英 (1916–2000), another leading lay elite who was also born into Buddhicized [End Page 38] family;24 Zheng was assisted in this biographical task by one of Chen’s sons.25 Chen was born in Tiantai 天台, home to venerable Buddhist sacred sites like the Guoqing Monastery (Guoqing Si 國清寺) as well as the cult of Jigong 濟公. He came from a true Buddhicized family, with both his parents being believers who recited scriptures alongside their son. However, Chen’s personal devotion to Buddhism can be traced to his having befriended the renowned monk Hongyi 弘一 in 1929, becoming his refuge disciple in 1931 and receiving instruction and guidance from him for many years thereafter.26 Accounts of these events observe that Hongyi urged Chen to focus on practicing self-cultivation as part of his daily life, ideals which may well have shaped the ideas Chen expressed in his later writings.27 Chen was very close to Hongyi, and is said to have viewed him as a father figure; one source claims that Hongyi believed both men had been monks at the Guoqing Monastery during a previous lifetime.28 We know that Hongyi interacted extensively with the Chen family, having also been refuge master for Chen’s father (Chen Fuchu 陳復初) and composing a calligraphic necrology in his memory in 1941.29 Hongyi wrote a number of letters to Chen during the 1930s and early 1940s, including requests that Chen come and visit him,30 but a combination of professional and personal obligations prevented Chen from doing so, and he is said to have been profoundly grief-stricken when [End Page 39] he learned of Hongyi’s death. Chen devoted considerable effort to compiling a memorial volume for Hongyi (the Hongyi dashi yonghuailu 弘一大師永懷錄), and also composed a poem in his memory.
Chen Hailiang also maintained connections with some of Hongyi’s most important refuge disciples, including Xia Mianzun 夏丏尊 (1886–1946) and the famed artist Feng Zikai 豐子愷 (1898–1975). Feng had become a disciple of Hongyi before Chen, doing so in 1927 on the occasion of his twenty-ninth birthday, and worked with Hongyi to produce a series of illustrated works entitled Collection of Paintings for Protecting Life (Husheng huaji 護生畫集) that vividly depicted the need for kindness to sentient beings, including in the context of family life (some were included in Chen’s writings; see below).31 Chen was also close to Yinguang, and helped edit the Yinguang dashi yongsiji 印光大師永思集. Chen’s biography of Yinguang in this work recounts how Hongyi had given him a copy of Yinguang’s collected writings (Yinguang fashi wenchao 印光法師文鈔), which had helped set him on the path of self-cultivation he still adhered to.32
Chen married another lay Buddhist, Mao Yuanxin 茅遠信, with their union blessed by two sons (Wugou 無垢 and Wuyou 無憂) and one daughter (Wuxia 無瑕).33 Initially working as an accountant to support his family, Chen ended up moving to Shanghai in 1938 and devoting his life to religious publishing at the request of another lay Buddhist from Zhejiang, Chen Wuwo 陳無我 (1884–1967).34 Migrating from county settings to major urban centers often proved trying for young elites, who could feel challenged or even shocked by the new ideas they encountered, at times experiencing frustration or despair.35 Chen seems to have made the adjustment reasonably well, starting with his first job at the Dafalun shuju 大法輪書局 and later helping to found the Daxiong shuju 大雄書局 in 1949 while also editing prominent Buddhist periodicals like Jueyouqing 覺有情.36 Apart from religious publishing, Chen served as a leader of the Young Buddhist Association of Shanghai (Shanghai Fojiao qingnianhui 上海佛教青年會), which he established in the late 1940s with Zheng Songying to train a new generation of lay Buddhists. Its goal was to guide lay Buddhists in practicing their religion in an urban environment, while also combining these agendas with conventional emphases on self-cultivation, charity, and spreading the dharma. The rapid growth of this organization, which at its peak attracted [End Page 40] several thousands of members, was in part due to Chen and Zheng’s skills as part of a new generation of lay leaders who had experienced Western educational systems and absorbed their ideas of communal life, including health and the family.37
In a somewhat ironic twist of fate, Chen’s pursuit of these activities cost him dearly in terms of his own family life, as he had to spend long periods of time away from home. He was not able to move his wife and children to join him in Shanghai until 1951, but their reunion was to be short-lived. The CCP authorities started to crack down on Buddhist organizations in 1953,38 which may well be one factor underlying Zheng Songying’s publishing a long essay that stressed Buddhism’s ability to serve “new China” (xin Zhongguo 新中國), including the cessation of performing rituals for money, avoiding contact with temple cults and popular deities, and becoming active in political affairs.39 Both Zheng and Chen were arrested in 1955 during the anti-rightist campaign against Hu Feng 胡風 (1902–1985), and sent to Qinghai 青海 for “labor reform” (laogai 勞改).40 During those years of hardship, Buddhism provided Chen with a source of strength and comfort, as he accepted this suffering as his due karma. His steadfastness extended to his vegetarian diet: twice a month, prisoners were given time off from work, with a portion of fish added to the usual bowl of gruel. Vegetarians had to go hungry, but this did not deter Chen from his Buddhist path. When possible, he worked to spread the dharma among those he encountered, including jailers. Chen’s deeds earned him a degree of sympathy, to the point that, when he was singled out to be “struggled” (pidou 批鬥) during the Cultural Revolution, one fellow prisoner ripped down the poster (dazibao 大字報) listing his alleged crimes. However, nothing could make up for the anguish of being separated from his family, feelings movingly expressed in Chen’s prison poems, including one composed on learning of the death of his mother.41
Released in 1980 as one of the last prisoners to gain his freedom (Zheng Songying was let out in the early 1960s), Chen returned to Shanghai, where he remained active in Buddhist groups until his death, working with Zheng Songying and Zhao Puchu 趙樸初 (1907–2000),42 and editing a collection of essays on behalf of overseas Chinese Buddhists in the United States. Detailed accounts of Chen’s passing adhere to Buddhist ideas about the importance of the dying process and treatment of the corpse, with the relics found after cremation proving that self-cultivation had been successful.43 His writings were [End Page 41] banned in China from the 1950s to 1970s but returned to circulation after the Cultural Revolution and continue to be reprinted among temples and lay societies in urban centers like Beijing, Nanjing, and Shanghai,44 as well as online,45 and have spread throughout Taiwan, Hong Kong, and overseas Chinese Buddhist communities. It is to Chen’s writings, and the historical forces that molded their composition, that we now turn our attention.
Chen’s Writings on Buddhicized Families
As noted above, by the late 1930s Chen Hailiang had become an active figure in Buddhist publishing. However, he does not appear to have devoted his efforts to promoting Buddhist ideas until the early 1940s. His earliest published writings focused on self-cultivation practices, his relationship with Hongyi, accounts of Buddhicized weddings (佛化婚禮), and the miraculous experiences of fellow lay Buddhists, especially women. For example, he composed a moving account of the death of the renowned lay Buddhist woman Lü Bicheng 呂碧城 (1883–1943),46 and also included a controversial dream about Yinguang by another lay Buddhist woman, Yang Xinfang 楊信芳, in the commemorative volume he helped edit.47
Chen’s activism may have been in part due to his wartime experiences, and he adhered to views many Buddhist of that era embraced on believers being justified in fighting back should they be attacked.48 Furthermore, one of his earliest monographs, To Permit what can be Permitted (Kexu zexu 可許則許; first printed as a lengthy article in 1944 before appearing as a small book in 1946), was inspired by his observing Chen Wuwo and his family during the war years: Every evening they would gather together to make offerings at their Buddhist altar, while praying that these deities use their power to end the suffering around them, each ritual ending with the words “To Permit what can [End Page 42] be Permitted.” Chen originally considered it unreasonable for believers to ask Buddhist deities to end all suffering, but after carefully pondering this family’s deeds he came to appreciate the need for leeway when dealing with the concerns of lay worshippers.49 This sense of flexibility, which distinguishes Chen from more doctrinaire Buddhists (see below), may be one main reason why works like Building Buddhicized Families have remained popular to the present day.
The earliest of Chen’s books on Buddhist family life I have been able to locate to-date is the Essentials for Studying Buddhism in the Home, which reads like a veritable encyclopedia of knowledge for Republican-era lay Buddhist practitioners and their families. The Essentials features a wide variety of texts, including not only Chen’s writings about Buddhicized families (see pp. 215–220, 258–262; some were reproduced in his Building Buddhicized Families), but also works on this subject by monastic leaders such as the “Zaijia xuefo fayao 在家學佛法要” by Yinguang (pp. 233–237), the “Zaijia xuefo xingyi 在家學佛行儀” by Shi Shanyin 釋善因 (fl. 1912–1948; see pp. 179–193), and Hongyi’s classic work on the end of life entitled “Rensheng zhi zuihou 人生之最後” (pp. 264–269). In addition, there is a lengthy set of writings on the benefits of Buddhicized families practicing vegetarianism (“Fohua jiating pengren fangzhen 佛化家庭烹飪方針”; pp. 220–229), as well as Chen’s own compilation of scriptural passages on Buddhist worldviews (“Fojiao renshengguan 佛教人生觀”; pp. 270–279), which resembles The Must-Read Buddhist Classics for Lay Practitioners (Zaijia bidu neidian 在家必讀內典) compiled in 1931 by the renowned Yogācāra thinker Ouyang Jingwu 歐陽竟無 (Ouyang Jian 歐陽漸; 1871–1943) at the behest of Dai Jitao 戴季陶 (1891–1949).50
One key feature of the Essentials is its essays exhorting devout lay Buddhists to help spread the dharma via musical performances, including two songs on Buddhicized families composed by Chen (see Figure 1). Both an artist and a devout Buddhist, Chen followed the example of his mentor Hongyi in striving to use poetry and music to spread the dharma, especially new devotional songs (Fohua gequ 佛化歌曲) intended for lay gatherings. Songs composed by Chen and other Buddhist elites proved highly popular in cities like Shanghai, circulating in published anthologies like the Qingliang geji 清涼歌集 (1936).51 These trends have continued to the present day, while expanding to new forms of media such as television and the internet.52 Chen also called for staging dramatic performances with Buddhist themes (Foju 佛劇; pp. 175–179, 243–246, 257–258; their [End Page 43] impact remains unknown), while urging Buddhists to spread the dharma in prisons (a deed he ended up accomplishing after his arrest in 1955).53
The Essentials is particularly noteworthy for its detailed treatment of childhood, which reflects a trend among many Republican-era lay Buddhists to embrace the idea that children possessed a “pristine” state of mind approaching Buddhist enlightenment.54 This work contains the idyllic-sounding “Garden for Buddhist Children” (Fohua ertong leyuan 佛化兒童樂園), designed to provide instruction for children on Buddhist doctrine and practice and including works like Yinguang’s “Fohua ertong duben 佛化兒童讀本” (pp. 304–318).55 Many ideals and practices described in the Essentials are enhanced with [End Page 44] illustrations by Feng Zikai and Jin Xuechen 金雪塵 (1904–1991; see Figures 2–3). Chen also placed great emphasis on texts that stressed the importance of a child’s good health while featuring dire warnings to parents about the dangers of puberty and becoming sexually aware (see for example the “Fohua jiating peizhi jiankang zinü zhi yaodian 佛化家庭培植健康子女之要點” by someone using the pseudonym “Mengfei” 夢飛; pp. 231–233). There are also calls for the destruction of “heterodox books” (xieshu 邪書) or “licentious books” (yinshu 淫書) that could lead children astray (pp. 253–254). Chen’s views on these issues may have been influenced by his interactions with Nie Qijie 聶其傑 (Nie Yuntai 聶雲臺; 1880–1953) (the two corresponded; see below), a Christian turned lay Buddhist who published works expressing profound anxiety about moral degeneration in wartime Shanghai, including a decline in family values (in part due to Western culture and pornography).56 Both Chen and Nie appear to have shared a common mission, namely relying on new forms of mass media to promote ethical education and social renewal for ensuring the nation’s salvation.
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The above views also shine through in Chen’s published articles, including a 1943 essay that placed great emphasis on two scriptures he deemed suitable for children, the Sujāta Sūtra (Foshuo Shanshengjing 佛說善生經) and Foshuo Yuye nüjing 佛說玉耶女經. This essay is notable for voicing Chen’s concerns over the state of Buddhism, which he feared was declining due to pervading stereotypes about Buddhists avoiding worldly commitments, views that he deemed to have merit. Chen also pointed to difficulties in recruiting youths (which likely shaped his commitment to the Young Buddhist Association) because of preconceptions that Buddhism was most suitable for the elderly. Accordingly, Chen recommended the Foshuo Shanshengjing and Foshuo Yuye nüjing for spreading the dharma among the young due to their being relatively easy to understand when dealing with daily life issues, with the former work ideal for boys and the latter for girls.57
The importance of Buddhicized families to Chen Hailiang can also be seen in a series of lectures he gave in Tiantai after the war, published under the title Knowing Oneself and Others (Zhiji zhibi). This work, the first print run of which totaled 30,000 copies, received a recommendation from the monk Daxing, who as we saw above was strongly committed to promoting Buddhicized families and communities.58 Chen’s preface consists of quotes by famous Chinese and Western elites (including figures like Bertrand Russell), proclaiming the merits of Buddhism while emphasizing that it was a “religion” (zongjiao 宗教), not “superstition” (mixin 迷信). Chen drew on these quotes to observe that Buddhism possessed inherent value not only for rectifying the mind, but also serving society, bringing order to the nation and peace to the people, and providing salvation for all sentient beings (jiuzheng renxin, fuwu shehui, zhiguo anmin, jiuji zhongsheng 糾正人心、服務社會、治國安民、救濟眾生), sentiments voiced by other leading Buddhists of the modern era (see pp. 1–4).
Three of Chen’s six lectures are closely related to the present study. The second, on Buddhist self-cultivation, provides guidance to lay men and women on how go about their daily lives, including respecting religious requirements while “eliminating all old and improper customs” (gechu yiqie buliang de jiu xisu 革除一切不良的舊習慣), the latter goal most likely influenced by the Republican era’s anti-superstition campaigns.59 However, Chen also exhorted all Buddhists to strive towards converting popular deities to Buddhism (pp. 19–21). Chen discussed these ideas with Nie Qijie, who proved more flexible than Chen in some respects, objecting to the use of labels like “improper” (buliang 不良) while also arguing in favor of absorbing local deities into Buddhism.60 Another goal of the second lecture was to portray the familial nature of Buddhist communities, vividly expressed in the section entitled “All Buddhists belong to one family” (fan shi Fojiaotu [End Page 46] dou shu yijiaren 凡是佛教徒都屬一家人), with Śākyamuni Buddha as their “merciful father” (cifu 慈父), Amitābha Buddha as “compassionate mother” (beimu 悲母), and practitioners as “brothers and sisters” (xiongdi jiemei 兄弟姐妹) (pp. 24–25).
The third lecture, entitled “Buddhicized families” (Fohua jiating 佛化家庭), previews the contents of Building Buddhicized Families with its emphasis on marital relations, children’s health and well-being, family finances, social relations, etc. Chen viewed the family as forming the foundation of all Buddhist communities (Fohua jiating shi Fojiao de jichu 佛化家庭是佛教的基礎), and therefore took special care to present his own definition of what constituted a Buddhicized family: 1) All members being Buddhist refuge disciples; 2) Practicing morning and evening rites of worship (zaowan gongke 早晚功課); 3) Adhering to a vegetarian diet, but if unfeasible at least refraining from taking life (jinliang rusu, ruo wufa zuodao, juedui yao jinzhi shasheng 盡量茹素，若無法做到，絕對要禁止殺生); 4) Avoiding opium and gambling (pp. 29–30, 36–37). Chen’s guidelines exhibit flexibility by not insisting on strict vegetarianism, which could be a source of tension during meals with non-believers, especially wedding feasts (see below). However, the first two allowed Buddhists to distinguish themselves from the communities they lived in, while the call to avoid gambling ran the risk of Buddhists being seen as anti-social on festive occasions like the Lunar New Year. One other aspect of this lecture is its stressing the importance of good health, with Chen claiming that worshipping at the family’s Buddhist altar constituted a beneficial form of calisthenics (pp. 31–32).61 The final section of this lecture contains a lengthy discussion on how to spread the dharma among other family members, as well as friends, neighbors, and servants, with further detail provided in the fourth lecture (pp. 32–51).
The fifth and sixth lectures, on Christianity and Islam, provide lengthy discussions of their historical development based on Chen’s readings of textual materials available at that time. While he is critical of Chinese Christian elites who rigidly rejected Buddhism’s status as a religion, he does note that some had ended up converting to Buddhism, one example being Nie Qijie. Chen also praises Islam for its rigorous methods used to convert others (Huijiao chuanjiao fangfa zui wei yanmi wanzheng 回教傳教方法最為嚴密完整), while exhorting Buddhists to follow Islam’s example in terms of boldly standing up to their oppressors (pp. 51–98; see also his essay cited in note 50 above). Chen’s attitudes contrast markedly with Cai Jitang’s, as Cai showed less tolerance for other religions, referring to popular practices as “heterodox religions outside the Way” (waidao xiejiao 外道邪教) while labeling Christianity and Islam as “absurd discourses” (miushuo 謬說).62
Chen’s most popular work, Building Buddhicized Families, develops ideas from his earlier writings on family life, while striving to provide not only doctrinal guidance but also a wealth of practical advice on how to merge essential aspects of Buddhist self- cultivation plus daily life. Its contents are divided into the following chapters: [End Page 47]
*至情篇: Parent-child relations and observing filial piety; Relationships between mothers-inlaw and daughters-in-law
*夫婦篇: Husband-wife relations; Need for respect and tolerance
*育兒篇: Pregnancy, especially diet; Birth; breast-feeding and infant care; Teaching children, including first exposure to Buddhist scriptures
*理財篇: Family budgets and need for thrift, including saving enough money for Buddhist rituals; Keeping household items clean; Recycling
*衣服篇: Best ways to launder and take care of clothing
*飲食篇: Health benefits of adhering to a vegetarian diet
*居住篇: Keeping one’s home clean and tidy, including the kitchen and the toilet; Fire-prevention techniques and taking care not to disturb one’s neighbors; Caring for the household Buddhist altar (Fotang 佛堂)
*衛生篇: Emphasis on healthy lifestyle, including vegetarian diet and avoidance of drinking or smoking; Treating various illnesses and nursing patients; Conjugal relations; Menstruation and masturbation; Meditation and Buddhist ceremonies
*修養篇: Buddhist self-cultivation; Songs and poems (shige 詩歌) dating from Tang dynasty to the twentieth century, including by Chen
*婚喪篇: Engagement procedures and wedding ceremonies; Mourning rituals, especially the role of reciting Buddhist scriptures on behalf of the dying and deceased (zhunian 助念)
*交際篇: Forms of address, including for monks and nuns; Visiting friends and entertaining guests; Gift-giving and letter-writing
*娛樂篇: Music, flower arranging, poetry
As Chen noted in the preface to this work, his presentation was largely grounded in the distinction between the material and spiritual (see pp. 1–4), which as we noted above was a core concern of Republican-era lay Buddhist discourse. Chen also seems to have incorporated ideas from popular (kepu 科普) writings on practical matters circulating since at least the 1920s, one case being the newspaper column by Chen Diexian 陳蝶仙 (1879–1940) entitled “Common-Sense Family Knowledge” (Jiating changshi 家庭常識), published in Shenbao 申報’s “Ziyoutan 自由談” literary supplement during the Republican era.63 Moreover, Building Buddhicized Families contains contemporary discourses about gender, the body, and the nation, including ideals like xianqi liangmu 賢妻良母,64 plus considerations of women’s reproductive roles65 and the need for modern [End Page 48] women to help strengthen the nation by improving their skill in managing “family affairs” (jiazheng 家政; Chen also uses this term in his work). These views reflect the persistence of ancient ideas that home and state power were interconnected spaces central to social and political order, and that women could contribute to the maintenance of morally upright and economically stable families; yet they also encouraged the development of nuclear families among the urbanized middle class, and acknowledged the importance of science, especially medical and hygienic knowledge.66
Building Buddhicized Families is especially noteworthy for its attention to gender roles and the body, Chen’s mission being to instruct readers on how to find the right balance between the spiritual and the material when dealing with these issues. For example, the sections on husband–wife and mother-in-law–daughter-in-law relations brim with scriptural sources of inspiration (pp. 19–25), while that on pregnancy contains extensive instructions on personal hygiene, with only brief exhortations for expectant mothers to recite Buddhist scriptures daily (pp. 26–30). A further point of interest is that while Building Buddhicized Families clearly advocates adherence to Buddhist doctrines (as well as knowledge of the texts promulgating them), it also features an innovative aspect, namely attempts to combine beliefs and practices with Western ideas of the body and good health as guidelines for China’s youth, including the men and women Chen was working with as a leader of the Buddhist Youth Association.
One instance involves the mundane aspects of childbirth and child-rearing. While Buddhist texts would have had little to say about such matters, Chen not only describes them at some length but takes pains to stress that the process of giving birth is neither polluting nor an obstacle to Buddhist self-cultivation (p. 29). Chen also differed from other Buddhist elites in not promoting abstinence, seemingly recognizing that young couples who might read his work would tend to be sexually active. Instead, he warned readers about the risks of excessive sex, and cautioned against intercourse under a number of circumstances, including after a meal, when overtired, before or after a long trip, or during pregnancy (for fear it might induce labor). He also advised against stopping during intercourse, as failure to ejaculate could harm the husband’s health. His final words on this subject were to encourage readers to rely on Buddhist practice to inhibit carnal desires (pp. 92–93). In contrast, Yinguang’s essay entitled “The Way to Ask for an Heir” (Qiuzi zhi dao 求子之道) insisted that married couples wishing to have a son abstain from sexual relations for at least 100 days (six months was the preferred length). They should then wait for a clear night on an auspicious day shortly after the wife’s most recent period to have intercourse, which would surely result in a successful pregnancy. All conjugal relations should then cease until the 100th day after the birth of a son (Chen only recommended eight weeks).67 [End Page 49]
Another striking feature of Building Buddhicized Families is its discussions of menstruation and masturbation. Chen’s views on menstruation resemble those on childbirth described in the previous paragraph in that he did not consider it to be a hindrance to Buddhist self-cultivation. Instead, he tried to assure women readers that the physical and emotional discomforts of menstruation were not signs of illness, while also recommending the performance of Buddhist rituals to relieve any period-related stress (pp. 94–95). In contrast, Chen viewed masturbation as a serious health risk, presenting stark warnings of what he believed to be its many dangers, including impotence in men and the risk of rupturing a woman’s hymen, which could raise suspicions about her virginity on her wedding night. This is followed by a number of suggestions for remedying the habit, including washing the genitalia with cold water before bedtime, reciting the name of the Buddha, meditation, and getting married as early as feasible (pp. 90–92).
The fact that young people’s health seems was an issue of the utmost importance for Chen can be seen in the fact that in 1948, the year Building Buddhicized Families was first published, he reproduced its section on health and self-cultivation (the Weishengpian 衛生篇) as a separate book entitled The Road to Health (Jiankang zhi lu 健康之路). These issues were of concern to other Buddhist elites as well, one example being a book often cited by Chen entitled Keys to a Young Person’s Health (Qingnian jiankang de guanjian 青年健康的關鍵), compiled during the 1940s by the lay Buddhist intellectual Li Yuanjing 李圓淨 (1894–1950).68
For Chen Hailing and other lay Buddhist elites, one of the most important means of constructing Buddhicized families involved staging Buddhicized weddings. These ceremonies commenced during the 1920s, apparently shaped by practices in Japan and Taiwan (some early weddings were held in venerable Taiwanese monasteries like the Linji Si 臨濟寺 in Taipei). While Chinese marriage was already being transformed due to Western influences, the growth of Buddhicized weddings was in large part due to Taixu, who included such practices among his proposed reforms for transforming family and social life. Be that as it may, these weddings featured their share of conventional Chinese family values, most notably that marriages should produce filial male heirs who would worship their ancestors.69 Taixu’s promotion of such ceremonies became increasingly popular among lay Buddhists during the Republican era, one example being Wang [End Page 50] Yiting’s hosting a Buddhicized wedding and vegetarian banquet in October 1936.70 These trends continued into the 1940s, as can be seen in Chen Hailiang’s publishing a poem he composed for one Buddhicized wedding held in 1942.71 Zheng Songying’s wedding the same year attracted numerous lay Buddhist luminaries (including Chen) who presented poems to honor the occasion. These works were collected into a volume entitled edited by Chen and entitled Fohua hunli jinianji 佛化婚礼紀念集, which was destroyed when the Red Guards ransacked Zheng’s home during the Cultural Revolution. Buddhicized weddings could be marked by controversy though, including over where to stage them, whether both members of the happy couple needed to convert to Buddhism by becoming refuge disciples and/or observing the precepts (shoujie 受戒), whether monks or lay Buddhist should preside over the ceremony, and whether meat dishes should be allowed for non-Buddhists who attended the wedding banquet.72
Buddhicized weddings have become increasingly popular in Taiwan during the past decades. However, while there is a wealth of scholarship on Taiwanese Buddhism,73 relatively little work has been done on these practices or other aspects of family life.74 As was the case in Republican-era China, Buddhicized weddings have both flourished yet continued to generate controversy, especially the issue of whether they should be presided over by lay Buddhists or members of the sangha.75 More recently, some members of the sangha are starting to take positions on gay marriage, especially the nun Shih Chao-hui 釋昭慧, who participated in a lesbian wedding in 2012 and later proposed that Buddhism [End Page 51] avoid taking a negative stance on this issue.76 Buddhist websites in China also feature discussions of this practice by leading monks and lay disciples,77 but I have yet to determine how popular such weddings might be.
The evidence presented above reveals that one facet of modern Chinese Buddhist history involved trying to find a balance between the spiritual rigors of self-cultivation and the material/practical needs of family and communal life, with both members of the sangha and lay elites promoting Buddhicized families as one means of achieving this goal. At the same time, however, attempts at promoting beliefs and practices related to Buddhist family life exposed an issue that has bedeviled this religion since its “conquest” of China: How to best interact with people who do not adhere to Buddhist beliefs and practices? One tried and true solution was to embrace traditional norms, so it hardly seems surprising that Chen Hailiang’s views on family life not only had precedents in Buddhist texts dating back to the imperial era,78 but also drew on Confucian writings such as the Classic of Filial Piety (Xiaojing 孝經) and The Great Learning (Daxue 大學), with its ascending scales of moral cultivation that extend from individuals to families and society as a whole.79 Chen was not alone in this regard, with many leading Buddhists (including Chen’s master Hongyi) viewing their beliefs and practices as being in harmony with standard Chinese norms. Reality on the ground could prove more vexing though, as can be seen in the controversies surrounding Buddhicized weddings described above. The divergent views expressed by Chen Hailiang and other Buddhist elites reflect the presence of such tensions during the Republican era, as they strove to blend various mores and ideals in the cause of establishing new communities, while also showing some tolerance for beliefs and practices usually viewed as beyond the mainstream. Moreover, in light of the diversity of the discourses presented in this paper, we may need to carefully ponder whether a Buddhist Studies approach alone is sufficient for fully understanding the spectrum of these elites’ mentalities.80 [End Page 52]
Another example that has recently attracted scholarly attention is Buddhist attitudes towards spirit-writing rituals (fuji 扶乩, fuluan 扶鸞). On the one hand, mainstream Buddhist theology stipulated that non-Buddhist deities lacked any doctrinal status, which meant the moral teachings expressed in these rites should be utterly rejected by the laity (who were also enjoined not to take part). On the other hand, Yinguang and other members of the sangha interacted extensively with lay elites like Wang Yiting who practiced spirit-writing, and therefore proved more circumspect. Accordingly, Yinguang noted that while such rituals might not be of value in enhancing Buddhist self-cultivation, they did possess merit in terms of their moral admonitions and ability to promote philanthropy.81 The controversial nature of this practice can be further appreciated in two essays composed by none other than Chen Hailiang’s close friend Zheng Songying. The first, written three years after Yinguang’s passing, summarizes the eminent monk’s critiques of spirit-writing as a waste of time and hindrance to Buddhist self-cultivation.82 However, just one year earlier Zheng had also penned a piece describing how his relatives relied on this practice to ask the spirits about current and future affairs. While this essay ends with negative Buddhist attitudes towards spirit-writing, the neutral tone of the lengthy account prior to the conclusion suggests at least some reluctance in issuing a blanket condemnation, especially when such practices became a family affair.83
Like Zheng, Chen Hailiang tended to veer towards the path of flexibility when dealing with non-Buddhist practices. His relative openness may in part be due to the fact that Republican-era religious elites lived in a world that defies easy labeling by current academic categories, a world where “religion” and “science” or for that matter “tradition” and “modernity” could coexist and reverberate.84 Thus, the religious lives of these individuals might best be understood in terms of what Paul Cohen calls the “lived or experienced past.”85
A number of topics merit further exploration. One involves comparing Buddhist ideas of family life to those of other religious movements: For example, redemptive societies (jiushi tuanti 救世團體) like the Unity Sect (Yiguandao 一貫道) similarly emphasize the importance of family life, adopting discourses and practices that aim to create, maintain, and extend a social intimacy and religious identity indicated by frequent use of mutual forms of address like “relatives of the Dao” (daoqin 道親) that emphasize the family and posit fictive kinship.86 In the case of Daoism, while there does not seem to [End Page 53] have been a sustained or systematic discourse on family life, reformers like Chen Yingning 陳攖寧 (1880–1969) did offer practical advice on how practitioners of inner alchemy (neidan 內丹) should handle moral, social, and family obligations to their spouses and children. Chen’s marriage to Wu Yizhu 吳彝珠 (1882–1945) stressed mutual commitment plus shared spirituality as the basis of their life together, and while they chose not to have children he noted that ancient Daoists had been family men, decrying Quanzhen 全真 celibacy and leaving the home as not truly Daoist.87 The impact of Christianity and its discourses about family life is also worth exploring.88 One example is the New Life Movement (Xinshenghuo yundong 新生活運動), which drew inspiration from both Confucianism and Christianity, including ideas on family life.89
Paul R. Katz 康豹 is a Distinguished Research Fellow at the Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica. His research centers on modern Chinese religious life, with his most recent monograph (Religion in China and Its Modern Fate) published in 2014.
Earlier versions of this paper were presented at the American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting (Boston, November 18–21, 2017) and the Annual Conference of the Association of Asian Studies (Washington, DC, March 22–25, 2018). I am deeply grateful to Rob Weller and Raoul Birnbaum for their discussant’s remarks, as well as Gilbert Chen, Jennifer Eichmann, Natasha Heller, Hou Kun-hung 侯坤宏, Gil Raz, Lai Rongdao, Justin Ritzinger, Sun Huei-min 孫慧敏, and Jessica Zu for their helpful comments and suggestions. The paper represents one result of a two-year research grant funded by Taiwan’s Ministry of Science and Technology: MOST 106-2410-H-001-069-MY2.
1. Overviews may be found in Vincent Goossaert and David A. Palmer, The Religious Question in Modern China (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011); Paul R. Katz, Religion in China and Its Modern Fate (Waltham, MA: Brandeis University Press, 2014); Paul R. Katz & Vincent Goossaert, The Fifty Years that Changed Chinese Religion: 1898–1948, in Asia Past and Present: New Research from AAS (Ann Arbor: Association of Asian Studies, in press).
2. Chen Zhe, a doctoral candidate at Washington University in St. Louis, is currently writing a dissertation on this topic. See also his “Unlawful and Unorthodox? Buddhist Clerical Marriage in Late Imperial China,” presented at the Annual Conference of the Association of Asian Studies, Washington, DC, March 22–25, 2018.
3. James Carter, Heart of Buddha, Heart of China: The Life of Tanxu, a Twentieth-Century Monk (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 86–91.
4. Holmes Welch, The Buddhist Revival in China (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1968), 75–76.
5. Zhang Jia & Ji Zhe, “Lay Buddhism in Contemporary China: Social Engagements and Political Regulations,” The China Review 18, no. 4 (2018): 11–39; Jan Kiely and J. Brooks Jessup, “Introduction,” in Recovering Buddhism in Modern China, ed. Kiely and Jessup (New York: Columbia University Press, 2016), 1–33.
6. J. Brooks Jessup, “Buddhist Activism, Urban Space, and Ambivalent Modernity in 1920’s Shanghai,” in Recovering Buddhism in Modern China, ed. Kiely and Jessup (New York: Columbia University Press, 2016), 37–78; Erik Hammerstrom, “Buddhism and the Modern Epistemic Space: Buddhist Intellectuals in the Science and Philosophy of Life Debates,” in Recovering Buddhism in Modern China, 79–110; Justin Ritzinger, “Parsing Buddhist Modernity in Republican China: Ten Contrasting Terms,” in Buddhist Modernities: Re-Inventing Tradition in the Globalizing Modern World, ed. Hanna Havenvik et al. (New York & London: Routledge, 2017), 51–65, esp. 60–61. See also Erik Hammerstrom, The Science of Chinese Buddhism: Early Twentieth-Century Engagements (New York: Columbia University Press, 2015).
7. Chen Hailiang, Zaijia xuefo yaodian 在家學佛要典 (Taipei: Fojiao chubanshe, 1982).
8. Chen Hailiang, Zhiji zhibi 知己知彼 (printed by Zhou Baorong 周葆榮, publisher unknown, 1946). The first half of the title refers to Buddhism and the latter to Christianity and Islam.
9. I have used the following edition of this work: Chen Hailiang 陳海量, Jianshe Fohua jiating 建設佛化家庭 (Shanghai: Daxiong shuju, 1948).
10. Susan Glosser, Chinese Visions of Family and State, 1915–1953 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003); David Strand, Sherman Cochran & Yeh Wen-hsin, eds., Cities in Motion: Interior, Coast, and Diaspora in Transnational China (Berkeley: Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California: Center for Chinese Studies, 2007); Zou Yiren 鄒依仁, Jiu Shanghai renkou bianqian de yanjiu 舊上海人口變遷的研究 (Shanghai: Shanghai renmin chubanshe, 1980).
11. Francesca Tarocco, The Cultural Practices of Modern Chinese Buddhism: Attuning the Dharma (New York & London: Routledge, 2007), 27–41.
12. J. Brooks Jessup, “The Householder Elite: Buddhist Activism in Shanghai, 1920–1956” (PhD diss., UC Berkeley, 2010); Zhong Qiongning 鍾瓊寧, “Minchu Shanghai jushi Fojiao de fazhan (1912–1937) 民初上海居士佛教的發展 (1912–1937),” Yuanguang Foxue xuebao 圓光佛學學報 3 (1999): 155–190, esp. 183–184. See also Gao Zhennong 高振農, “Shanghai Fojiaoshi 上海佛教史,” in Shanghai zongjiaoshi 上海宗教史, ed. Ruan Renze 阮仁澤 & Gao Zhennong (Shanghai: Shanghai renmin chubanshe, 1992), 188–206; You Youwei 游有維, Shanghai jindai Fojiao jianshi 上海近代佛教簡史 (Shanghai: Huadong shifan daxue chubanshe, 1988), 87–94.
13. For data on Buddhist practices in such areas, see Neky Tak-ching Cheung, Women’s Ritual in China: Jiezhu (Receiving Buddhist Prayer Beads) Performed by Menopausal Women in Ninghua, Western Fujian (New York: Edwin Mellen Press 2008); Tam Wai Lun 譚偉倫, ed., Minjian Fojiao yanjiu 民間佛教研究 (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 2007).
14. Eric Stephen Goodell, “Taixu’s (1890–1947) Creation of Humanistic Buddhism” (PhD diss,, University of Virginia, 2012).
15. For more on this work, see Li Mingyou 李明友, Taixu ji qi Renjian Fojiao 太虛及其人間佛教 (Hangzhou: Zhejiang renmin chubanshe, 2000), 85–89.
16. For more on women in modern Chinese Buddhism, see Li Yu-chen 李玉珍, “Fojiao Lianshe yu nüxing zhi shehui canyu: 1930 niandai Shanghai Lianshe yu 1960 niandai Taiwan Lianshe zhi bijiao 佛教蓮社與女性之社會參與: 1930年代上海蓮社與1960年代台灣蓮社之比較,” in Gong yu si: jindai Zhongguo geti yu qunti zhi chongjian 公與私: 近代中國個體與群體之重建, ed. Huang Ko-wu 黃克武 & Chang Che-chia 張哲嘉 (Taipei: Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica, 2001), 255–312; David C. Schak, “Gender and Buddhism in Taiwan,” Hsuan Chuang Foxue yanjiu 玄奘佛學研究 9 (March 2008): 144–172.
17. Taixu 太虛, “Youpoyi jiaoyu yu Fohua jiating 優婆夷教育與佛化家庭,” recorded by Zhumo 竹摩, Haichaoyin 海潮音 17, no. 2 (February 1936): 141–145. See also Zongxing 宗性, “Fohua jiating ze zai nüzhong 佛化家庭責在女眾,” Zhengxin zhoukan 正信週刊 49 (June 1937): 5–7. Zongxing’s essay quoted liberally from Taixu’s work.
18. Jan Kiely, “The Charismatic Monk and the Chanting Masses: Master Yinguang and His Pure Land Revival Movement,” in Making Saints in Modern China, ed. David Ownby, Vincent Goossaert, and Ji Zhe (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), 30–77.
19. Wang Chien-chuan 王見川, “Zhang Zaizong, Ning Dawen yu Minguo shiqi de ‘Fohua qingnianhui” 張宗載、甯達蘊與民國時期的’佛化新青年會’,” Yuanguang Foxue xuebao 圓光佛學學報 3 (1999): 325–355.
20. Daxing 大醒, “Fohua jiating tan 佛化家庭譚,” Zhengxin 正信, no. 1 (October 8, 1934): 8–9; Zhengxin, no. 2 (October 15, 1934): 8–9.
21. See for example Mingshan 茗山 (1914–2001), “Tichang Fohua jiating 提倡佛化家庭,” Zhengxin 正信, no. 34 (March 1937): 5.
22. Yanglian 養蓮, “Jianshe Fohua xin jiating zhi shangque 建設佛化新家庭之商榷,” Haichaoyin 海潮音 21, no. 2 (1940): 9–12. For Cai, see Yu Ling-po, Xiandai Fojiao renwu cidian (Sanchong: Foguang chubanshe, 2000), volume 2, 1582–1583.
23. See especially J. Brooks Jessup, “Beyond Ideological Conflict: Political Incorporation of Buddhist Youth in the Early PRC,” Frontiers of History in China 7, no. 4 (2012): 551–581; Yu Ling-po 于凌波, ed., Minguo Fojiao jushi zhuan 民國佛教居士傳 (Taipei: Ciguang tushuguan, 2004), volume 2, 220–222; Yu Ling-po, ed., Xiandai Fojiao renwu cidian, volume 1, 1091–1092.
24. A native of Ningbo, Zheng enjoyed a long and fruitful friendship with Chen, joining forces to lead various Buddhist associations and publication projects; see Yu Ling-po, Xiandai Fojiao renwu cidian, volume 2, 1595–1596.
25. “Chen Hailiang laojushi qiren qishi 陳海量老居士其人其詩,” in Zheng Songying, Jingyishi wencun 淨意室文存 (Beijing: Zhongguo xianzhen nianjianshe, 2001); see volume 2, 107–115. An expanded version of this article, with many more poems, was published in volumes 511 and 512 of the journal Xianggang Fojiao yuekan 香港佛教月刊. For online versions, see http://www.juicy-group.com/hkbd/magazine/511/511_08.html and http://www.juicy-group.com/hkbd/magazine/512/512_08.html (accessed January 24, 2019).
26. See especially Raoul Birnbaum’s pioneering studies, especially “The Deathbed Image of Master Hongyi,” in The Buddhist Dead: Practices, Discourses, Representations, ed. Jacqueline Stone and Bryan Cuevas (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2007), 175–207; “Two Turns in the Life of Master Hongyi, a Buddhist Monk in Twentieth-Century China,” in Making Saints in Modern China, ed. David Ownby, Vincent Goossaert and Ji Zhe (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), 161–208. See also Chen Huichien 陳慧劍, Hongyi dashi zhuan 弘一大師傳 (Taipei: Kangli shuju, 1965); Chen Xing 陳星, Fangcao bi liantian: Hongyi dashi zhuan 芳草碧連天：弘一大師傳 (Taipei: Yeqiang chubanshe, 1994).
27. See Chen Hailiang’s description of these events: “Xianghuo yinyuan hua wanqing 香火因緣話晚清,” in Hongyi dashi yonghuailu 弘一大師永懷錄, ed. Xia Mianzun 夏丏尊 (Taipei: Longshu pusa zengjinghui, 1991), 198–199; Wu Kewei 吳可為, Gudao changting — Li Shutong zhuan 古道長亭—李叔同傳 (Hangzhou: Hangzhou chubanshe, 2005), 278–280.
29. See Hongyi dashi quanji 弘一大師全集 (Fuzhou: Fujian renmin chubanshe, 1991–1993), volume 7, 589; Hongyi dashi quanji (xiudingban) 弘一大師全集 (修訂版) (Fuzhou: Fujian renmin chubanshe, 2010), volume 7, 396. This account also contains a moving account of one of Chen’s younger brothers dying in childhood that vividly expresses Buddhist ideals about death and self-cultivation.
30. Three letters written by Hongyi to Chen are preserved in the Hongyi dashi quanji, volume 8, 244–245; Hongyi dashi quanji (xiudingban), volume 8, 423–424. The first of these letters is dated to 1938; the latter two to 1941.
31. For more on Feng Zikai, see Geremie R. Barmé, An Artistic Exile: A Life of Feng Zikai (1898–1978) (Berkeley & London: University of California Press, 2002); Chen Xing 陳星, Feng Zikai pingzhuan 豐子愷評傳 (Jinan: Shandong huabao chubanshe, 2011). The Husheng huaji is treated in Poon Shuk-wah 潘淑華, “ ‘Husheng’ yu ‘Jintu’: 1930 niandai Shanghai de dongwu baohu yu Fojiao yundong 「護生」與「禁屠」：1930年代上海的動物保護與佛教運動,” in Gaibian Zhongguo zongjiao de wushinian, 1898–1948 改變中國宗教的五十年，1898–1948, ed. Kang Bao 康豹 (Paul R. Katz) and Gao Wansang 高萬桑 (Vincent Goossaert) (Nankang: Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica, 2015), 399–426.
32. See Chen Hailiang, “Yinguang dashi xiaoshi 印光大師小史,” in Yinguang dashi yongsiji 印光大師永思集 (Shanghai: Honghuashe, 1941), 18.
33. All three names reflect Buddhist values pertaining to the pursuit of self-cultivation.
35. See for example Yeh Wen-hsin, Provincial Passages: Culture, Space, and the Origins of Chinese Communism (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996), 94–95, 176–180, 199–204.
36. For more these activities, see Philip Clart and Gregory Adam Scott, eds., Religious Publishing and Print Culture in Modern China, 1800–2012 (Boston & Berlin: De Gruyter, 2014).
39. Zheng Songying, “Tantan Fojiaojie de yifeng yisu 談談佛教界的移風易俗,” Juexun yuekan 覺訊月刊 7, no. 6 (1953): 10–11.
40. Jessup, “Beyond Ideological Conflict,” 576. Some of these events are described in “Shanghaishi Fojiao xiehui juxing shengtao Hu Feng fangeming tuanti lishi kuoda zuotanhui 上海市佛教協會舉行聲討胡風反革命集團理事擴大座談會,” Honghua yuekan 弘化月刊, no. 170 (1955): 3–5.
41. “Chen Hailiang laojushi qiren qishi,” in Zheng Songying, Jingyishi wencun, volume 2, 109–113, as well as http://www.juicy-group.com/hkbd/magazine/512/512_08.html.
42. For more on Zhao’s life and career, see Ji Zhe, “Comrade Zhao Puchu: Bodhisattva under the Red Flag,” in Making Saints in Modern China, ed. David Ownby, Vincent Goossaert, and Ji Zhe (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016), 312–348.
44. Gareth Fisher, From Comrades to Bodhisattvas: Moral Dimensions of Lay Buddhist Practice in Contemporary China (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2014); Alison Denton Jones, “A Modern Religion? The State, the People, and the Remaking of Buddhism in Urban China Today” (PhD diss., Harvard University, 2010); Chen Jian 陳堅, “ ‘Jiating jingshe’: Zhongguo dangdai ‘Fohua jiating’ yanjiu ‘家庭精舍’：中國當代‘佛化家庭’研究,” Foxue yanjiu 佛學研究, no. 17 (2008): 353–365; Chen Jian, “ ‘Fohua jiating’ shi dangdai ‘dushi Fojiao’ de xinsheng changdian ‘佛化家庭’是當代’都市佛教’的新生長點,” in Qita baoen wenhua luntan 七塔報恩文化論壇, ed. Kexiang 可祥 (Hangzhou: Xileng chubanshe, 2011), 295–313.
46. Chen Hailiang, “Lü Bicheng nüshi Shengxiji: Ba Lü Bicheng nüshi yishu 呂碧城女士生西記：跋呂碧城女士遺書,” Jueyouqing 覺有情, no. 85–86 (1943): 12. For more on Lü, see Zhang Yan 張晏, “Hongyang Jingtu: Lü Bicheng (1883–1943) nüjushi xuefo licheng de mengjing shuxie 弘揚淨土：呂碧城（1883–1943）女居士學佛歷程的夢境書寫,” Xinshiji zongjiao yanjiu 新世紀宗教研究 15, no. 2 (2016): 123–152.
48. Chen Hailiang, “Guojia zhi xingwang yu Fojiao 國家之興亡與佛教,” Jueyouqing banyuekan 覺有情半月刊 7, no. 23 (October 1945): 14–15. For more on Buddhism in wartime China, see Xue Yu, Buddhism, War, and Nationalism: Chinese Monks in the Struggle against Japanese Aggressions, 1931–1945 (New York: Routledge, 2005).
49. Chen Hailiang, “Kexu zexu 可許則許,” Jueyouqing 覺有情, no. 113–114 (1944): 6–9.
50. See Gregory Adam Scott, “The Buddhist Nationalism of Dai Jitao,” Journal of Chinese Religions 39 (2011): 55–81, as well as Jessica Zu’s article in the present issue of the Journal of Chinese Religions.
51. The use of mass media in spreading Buddhism is vividly described in Tarocco, The Cultural Practices of Modern Chinese Buddhism, 110–114. For more on Chen’s musical career, see Larry Tse-Hsiung Lin, “The Development and Conceptual Transformation of Chinese Buddhist Songs in the Twentieth Century” (PhD diss., UC San Diego, 2012), 51–52, 60–68, 87–97, 107.
52. Philip Clart, “New Technologies and the Production of Religious Texts in China, 19th–21st Century,” in Modern Chinese Religion II: 1850–2015, ed. Vincent Goossaert, Jan Kiely, and John Lagerwey (Leiden: Brill, 2016), volume 1, 560–578; Chen Pi-yen, “Buddhist Chant, Devotional Song, and Commercial Popular Music: From Ritual to Rock Mantra,” Ethnomusicology 49, no. 2 (2005): 266–286; Francesca Tarocco, “Technologies of Salvation: (Re)locating Chinese Buddhism in the Digital Age,” Journal of Global Buddhism 18 (2017): 155–175.
53. Chen Hailiang, “Fojiaotu xu renshi hongfa zhi zeren 佛教徒須認識弘法之責任,” Honghua yuekan 弘化月刊, no. 55 (1946): 5–7.
55. The impact of this work is as yet unclear, but the importance of Buddhist children’s literature has been studied by scholars like Natasha Heller. See “Buddhist Parenting for Modern Families: A Case Study,” presented at the American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, Boston, November 18–21, 2017. See also Vanessa Sasson, Little Buddhas: Children and Childhoods in Buddhist Texts and Traditions (Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press, 2013).
56. See Jan Kiely, “Shanghai Public Moralist Nie Qijie and Morality Book Publication Projects in Republican China,” Twentieth-Century China 36, no. 1 (2011): 4–22.
57. Chen Hailiang, “Quanqing shouchi Shanshengjing Yuye nüjing zuzhi Fohua jiating zhenxing Fojiao qi 勸請受持善生經玉耶女經組織佛化家庭振興佛教啟,” Honghua yuekan 弘化月刊, no. 21 (1943): 12–16. Jessica Zu’s article in this issue shows that Ouyang Jingwu also referred to these texts in his writings.
58. See the Juequn zhoubao 覺群週報, no. 26–27 (1947): 12.
60. Nie Yuntai 聶雲台, “Fu Chen Hailiang jushi shu 復陳海量居士書,” Jueyouqing banyuekan 覺有情半月刊 7, no. 9–10 (1947): 9; Chen Hailiang, “Da Nie Yuntai jushi 答聶雲台居士,” Jueyouqing banyuekan 7, no. 11–12 (1947): 13.
61. For more on Buddhism and the body, including sporting activities, see Ann Heirman & Mathieu Torck, Pure Mind in a Clean Body: Bodily Care in the Buddhist Monasteries of Ancient India and China (Gent: Ginkgo Academia Press, 2012).
62. Yanglian, “Jianshe Fohua xin jiating zhi shangque.”
63. See Eugenia Lean, “The Butterfly Mark: Chen Diexian, His Brand, and Cultural Entrepreneurism in Republican China,” in The Business of Culture: Cultural Entrepreneurs in China and Southeast Asia, 1900–65, ed. Christopher Rea and Nicolai Volland (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2015), 62–91.
64. Gail Hershatter, Women in China’s Long Twentieth-Century (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007); Susan Mann, Gender and Sexuality in Modern Chinese History (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011).
65. Tina Philips Johnson, Childbirth in Republican China: Delivering Modernity (Lanham: Lexington Books, 2011).
66. Helen M. Schneider, Keeping the Nation’s House: Domestic Management and the Making of Modern China (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2011).
67. This work has been reproduced in a number of online editions, including in both Taiwan (http://big5.xuefo.net/nr/article2/22726.html) and also China (http://www.dizang.org/rm/yg1/qzzd.htm) (accessed October 11, 2017). It appears to be an expansion of ideas Yinguang presented in 1930 in his “Linian Guanshiyin pusa qiuzishu 禮念觀世音菩薩求子疏,” contained in the Yinguang dashi wenchao xubian 印光大師文鈔續編. Ouyang Jingwu also stressed not having sex, and praised his disciples for practicing abstinence (Jessica Zu personal communication, May 18, 2018).
68. For Li’s biography, see Yu Ling-po, Minguo Fojiao jushi zhuan, volume 2, 269–278; Yu Ling-po, Xiandai Fojiao renwu cidian, volume 1, 510–513; Kiely, “The Charismatic Monk and the Chanting Masses,” 38, 42. Li’s corpse was found along a waterway on May 13, 1950; the cause of his tragic death was never determined.
69. Deng Jie 鄧劼, “Minguo Fohua hunli de zhenglun yu shijian 民國佛化婚禮的爭論與實踐,” Putuo xuekan 普陀學刊 1 (2014): 202–213; Kan Cheng-tsung 闞正宗, “Shequ de aiqing jianzheng — Cong Fokan jian Zhanhou Taiwan ‘Fohua hunli’ de lishi yanbian 社區的愛情見證—從佛刊見戰後臺灣「佛化婚禮」的歷史演變,” Huseng jikan 護僧季刊, no. 51 (June 2008): 1–6; Linda Learman, “Modernity, Marriage, and Religion: Buddhist Marriages in Taiwan” (PhD diss., Boston University, 2005). See also Chang Wei-Cheng 張維正, “Jiechu, zhimin yu wenhua rongshou: Rizhi shiqi Taiwan Hanren hunli de bianqian 接觸、殖民與文化容受：日治時期臺灣漢人婚禮的變遷” (M.A. thesis, National Taiwan Normal University, 2011).
71. Chen Hailiang, “Shiyuan: Renwu chunmiao Taicang Shen Shiliang xiansheng yu Chen Shuru nüshi jiehun yu Gongdelin jinhe xiaoshi yi cun shengyuan 詩苑：壬午春杪太倉沈士良先生與陳淑如女士結婚於功德林謹賀小詩以存勝緣,” Jueyouqing 覺有情, no. 62–63 (1942): 14.
72. Deng, “Minguo Fohua hunli de zhenglun yu shijian,” 210; Kan, “Shequ de aiqing jianzheng,” 3–4. These issues were the subject of an intense debate among lay and monastic Buddhist elites from 1945 to 1947, including essays by Zheng Songying and Chen Wuwo; see for example Zheng Songying, “Fohua hunli zhi chongxing shangque 佛化婚禮之重行商榷,” Honghua yuekan 弘化月刊, no. 47 (1945): 12–13; Chen Wuwo, “Fohua hunli zhi shangque 佛化婚禮之商榷,” Jueyouqing 覺有情, no. 135–136 (1945): 365–368. In 1947, the Buddhist Youth Association put out a call for essays on how to further improve this practice; see “Fojiao qingnianhui huiji duiyu Fohua hunli deng jianyi yanjiu gailiang 佛教青年會彙集對於佛化婚禮等建議研究改良,” Haichaoyin 海潮音 28, no. 7 (1947): 55.
73. Valuable studies of Taiwanese Buddhism include Chiang Ts’an-t’eng 江燦騰, Renshi Taiwan bentu Fojiao: Jieyan yilai de zhuanxing yu duoyuan xinmao 認識臺灣本土佛教：解嚴以來的轉型與多元新貌 (Taipei: Taiwan Shangwu yinshuguan, 2012); Charles B. Jones, Buddhism in Taiwan: Religion and the State (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 1999); Yü Chün-fang, Passing the Light: Community and Buddhist Nuns in Contemporary Taiwan (Honolulu: University of Hawaiʻi Press, 2013).
74. Some examples include Li Yu-chen 李玉珍, “Munü qingjie: Taiwan nüxing chujia yu jicheng jiating jiaose de liang nan 母女情結：台灣女性出家與繼承家庭角色的兩難,” in Qinggan, qingxu yu wenhua: Taiwan shehui de wenhua xinli yanjiu 情感、情緒與文化：台灣社會的文化心理研究 (Taipei: Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica, 2002), 363–404; Lu Hui-hsing 盧蕙馨, “ ‘Jiating zongjiaohua’ yu ‘Zongjiao jiatinghua’—Fojiao nüxing de xinyang shijian「家庭宗教化」與「宗教家庭化」— 佛教女性的信仰實踐,” in Zhongguo jiating ji qi lunli yantaohui lunwenji「中國家庭及其倫理」研討會論文集 (Taipei: Center for Chinese Studies, 1999), 295–319; David C. Schak, “Gender and Buddhism in Taiwan.”
75. Shengyan 聖嚴, Jielüxue gangyao 戒律學綱要 (Taipei: Fagu wenhua, 1999), 290–294.
76. See “Taiwan’s First Same-Sex Wedding Held at Buddhist Monastery” (https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/13/taiwan-same-sex-wedding-photos_n_1773086.html; accessed March 16, 2018).
77. Some examples may be found on the “Fohua jiating wenji 佛化家庭文集” website (http://www.fjdh.cn/wumin/2013/06/154048249859.html; accessed September 15, 2017). For more on Buddhism in China today, see Gareth Fisher, From Comrades to Bodhisattvas; Alison Denton Jones, “A Modern Religion?”. See also Chen Jian, “ ‘Jiating jingshe.”
78. Yü Chün-fang, The Renewal of Buddhism in China: Chu-hung and the Late Ming Synthesis (New York: Columbia University Press, 1981); Ye Luhua 業露華, “Cong Foshuo shansheng jing kan Fojiao de jiating lunli guan 從《佛說善生經》看佛教的家庭倫理觀,” Zhonghua Foxue xuebao 中華佛學學報 13 (May 2005): 69–82; Jennifer Lynn Eichman, A Late Sixteenth-Century Chinese Buddhist Fellowship: Spiritual Ambitions, Intellectual Debates, and Epistolary Connections (Boston: Brill, 2016).
79. Lu Miaw-fen 呂妙芬, Xiao zhi tianxia: Xiaojing yu jinshi Zhongguo de zhengzhi yu wenhua 孝治天下：《孝經》與近世中國的政治與文化 (Taipei: Lien-ching, 2011); Guang Xing, “Buddhist and Confucian Attitudes toward Life: A Comparative Study,” International Journal of Buddhist Thought and Culture 21 (2014): 7–48.
80. Heartfelt thanks to Raoul Birnbaum for his guidance in considering these issues.
81. Wang Chien-chuan 王見川, “Jindai Zhongguo de fuji, cishan yu ‘mixin’ — Yi Yinguang wenchao wei kaocha xiansuo 近代中國的扶乩、慈善與「迷信」—以印光文鈔為考查線索,” in Belief, Practice and Cultural Adaptation: Papers from the Religion Section of the Fourth International Conference on Sinology, ed. Paul R. Katz and Liu Shufen 劉淑分 (Nankang: Academia Sinica Press, 2013), 531–568.
82. Zheng Songying, “Yinguang dashi zhiyu fuji 印光大師之於扶乩,” Honghua yuekan 弘化月刊, no. 30 (1943): 3–4.
83. Zheng Songying, “Wanggui jitan 王鬼乩談,” Jueyouqing 覺有情, no. 70–71 (1942): 9.
84. For more on these issues, see Katz, Religion in China and Its Modern Fate, 152–153.
85. Paul A. Cohen, History in Three Keys: The Boxers as Event, Experience, and Myth (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997), xii-xiii, 59–68.
86. David Ownby, “Redemptive Societies in the Twentieth Century,” in Modern Chinese Religion II: 1850–2015, ed. Vincent Goossaert, Jan Kiely, and John Lagerwey (Leiden: Brill, 2016), volume 2, 685–750; Nikolas Broy, “Vegetarianism and the Dao: Community-Making in the Modern Chinese-Taiwanese Religious Movement Yiguandao,” presented at the Association of Asian Studies Annual Conference, Washington, DC, March 22–25, 2018.
87. Liu Xun, Daoist Modern: Innovation, Lay Practice, and the Community of Inner Alchemy in Republican Shanghai (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2009).
88. Daniel H. Bays, A New History of Christianity in China (Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012).
89. Wang Shou-nan, “Chiang Kai-shek and the Promotion of the Chinese Cultural Renaissance Movement,” Chinese Studies in History 21, no .2 (1987–1988): 66–90; Wang Sihan 汪思涵, “1934–1937 nianjian Xinshenghuo yundong yu Jidujiao — Yi Jiaowu zazhi wei zhongxin 1934–1937 年 間的新生活運動與基督教 — 以《教務雜誌》為中心,” Zhongguo shehui jingjishi yanjiu 中國社會經濟史研究 4 (2007): 65–82. See also Jay Taylor, The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard Press, 2009), 13–14, 108–109.