Buddhism in Late Ching Political Thought

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Chan Sin-wai
ISBN: 978-962-201-323-0
Chinese University Press
192 pag. hardcover 16 x 24 cm

It is basically an attempt to study the religious, cultural and political significance of Buddhism in late Ch'ing intellectual thought through an examination of the writings of a few influential figures like liang Ch'i-ch'ao, K'ang Yu-wei, Chang Ping-lin, and particularly T'an Ssu-t'ung. My findings reveal that Buddhism came to play a part in these reformers' thought as a result of several factors: the rekindled interest in Buddhism brought about through the efforts of laymen such as Yang Wen-hui, the need to find a counter-balance to Christianity, the search for a new unifying ideology for China as Confucianism crumbled before the challenge from the West, and the immense potentiality of Buddhism to cater for the intellectuals' diverse cultural and political purposes. The masterpiece of T'an Ssu-t'ung, entitled An Exposition of Benevolence (Jen-hsiieh), is chosen here to exemplify the use of Buddhism in late Ch'ing political thought. Buddhism not only served as the all-embracing school of his eclectic synthesis, it also formed the foundation of the major concepts in the treatise, and was closely related to his radical thinking.