Erenlai - Religions at the Crossroads 當神人相遇
Religions at the Crossroads 當神人相遇

Religions at the Crossroads 當神人相遇

Our world is being shaped by inter-religious interaction, both cooperation and conflict. Here is a selection of articles and testimonies that challenges the encounters of believers from various faiths, with special focus on Asia.

當這個世界的和諧深繫於宗教間的合作或衝突時,我們要如何讓不同的宗教合奏出優美的旋律呢?你所全心信仰的神引領你變得更開闊,還是將你關在只看得見自己的牢籠中?

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, 10 February 2007

山林中的十字架

【翻译/陈太乙】

台湾原住民与教会,曾经共同写下一段宣教传奇。
面对当前多变的社会,他们仍将以活力与正向态度迎接挑战。

在诸如CNN、时代杂志(《Time》)等国际媒体的报导中,当记者提到原住民(Indigenous People)这个名词,人们立刻想到的常是美洲的印第安人、澳洲原住民或纽西兰的毛利人。我们经常忘记:其实这个名词也用在亚洲一亿五千万人身上。

原住民族在亚洲

「原住民是某个特定领土上最早的居民。在人数较多或文化较先进的民族大举迁入之后,逐渐丧失领土主权…他们与主流社会有明显的区别:他们有自己的语言、宗教、风俗,及其希望传承后世的独特世界观…通常,他们与大自然之间维系著一种特别亲近的关系,这与他们的生活模式及精神心灵有著密切关联。由于仍无法要求恢复绝对的自主权,所以他们的奋斗常只能在于重新取得掌握族群命运的力量,以保障其族群自身文化的延续(注1)。」
以上这段文字,是科蓝·尼可拉斯(Colin Nicholas)和拉吉恩·辛(Rajeen Singh),这两位研究亚洲少数族群的人类学专家,对原住民所作出的定义。依据此一定义模式,这两位学者将亚洲许多族群纳入「原住民」的范畴。这些族群十分多元,包括印度半岛的早期印度人(Adivasis)、西马来西亚原住民(Orang Asli)、缅甸、泰国、寮国、越南、菲律宾的高山族、婆罗洲的土著、新几内亚的巴布人(Papous)、台湾原住民、中国大陆的大部分少数民族,以及日本北海道的爱奴人(Ainu)。
这些亚洲原住民的处境,因著每个国家的不同情况,有极大差异。在印度某些省分(中部地区)和东马来西亚(北婆罗洲),原住民族确实享有政治、经济和文化上的自主权,生活水平也因而获得明显改善。然而在其他地区,原住民却常是许多威胁下的主要受害者:跨国公司在他们的土地上进行大规模的农业、林业和矿业的开发,通常手法草率(如中南半岛、菲律宾、印尼的伊利安查亚)、没有政治自由(中国大陆、缅甸、寮国、越南),或长期处于内战炮火之下(印度拉格兰省、菲律宾南方的民答那峨、伊利安查亚、巴布亚新几内亚)。

基督信仰与原住民解放运动

大部分的东亚原住民有一个很重要的共通点,却鲜为媒体报导:在殖民时期或后殖民时期,多数居民都归信基督信仰(天主教或基督教)。无论在何种情势下,传教都算相当成功。改信基督之后,这些族群对于自身所受到的不平等待遇,则能做出较正确的分析,精神上也有了较坚定的力量——这两项改变各自造就了一起解放运动。我们不可否认以下事实:早期的印度人如今在该国的基督教团体中,已成为重要且积极的一支;马来西亚东部的土著民族,起而对抗向来倾向于优惠西部之广大回教徒的马来政府,终于获得政治实权。这些事实也说明,像是越南政府那样不讲民主的政权,至今为何仍以严厉的措施,禁止基督信仰中的传教士(天主教的神父及修女、基督教牧师)进入极度贫穷、教育匮乏的原住民山区。

福尔摩沙传教奇迹

近二十年来,台湾的原住民逐渐成为基督/天主教会协助亚洲原住民重新自我主宰的良好典范。台湾约有四十二万原住民,是岛上原生人种的后裔,在台湾于一八九五年成为日本殖民地之前,非平埔原住民居住于中央山脉或太平洋沿岸等地势险峻之处,因此从未被其他民族所同化。二十世纪初,日本政府以绥靖招安为藉口,有系统地入侵尚未汉化的原住民山区。事实上,日本人乃是企图藉此侵入台湾珍贵的山林,并强行徵收骁勇善战的年轻原住民,以充实皇军的武力。在这段漫长悲惨的时期中,许多起而反抗的部落遭到轰炸,甚至被施放毒气。平地汉人及外国传教士皆被禁止进入山区。然而,从一九三○年起,日本殖民政府却也对原住民的发展做出了些许贡献,如引进栽培稻米的技术,设立小学,及日语教学的普及实施。
到了一九四五年,由于国民党政权的领导者蒋介石本身是基督徒,于是便开放基督教和天主教传教士进入原住民山区。在过去的三百年中,长老会已在大陆迁徙来台的中产阶级人士中拥有一定势力,因此战后不久,长老会教派便成功地在这些区域传播福音。天主教教会起步较迟,然而在五○年代初期,被共产党驱逐的西方传教士大批涌入台湾,也多亏了他们,天主教的传播也得到良好的成效。不到二十年,85%以上的台湾原住民都信奉基督教义,主要为长老会和天主教,人们称之为「福尔摩沙传教奇迹」。但是,这项奇迹只发生在原住民身上,因为在同一时期,岛上的多数居民对于基督教并没有很大的兴趣,信奉的人数比例从来未曾超过2%。

原住民为何成为基督徒

一九五○年到七○年间,台湾原住民大量信奉基督教,这个现象吸引许多新近研究的关切(注2)。这些研究显示,当时基督教派的传教士们,为贫穷的原住民提供了许多帮助(特别在社会工作和教育方面),他们的努力成为最有利的传教方式。同时,台湾原住民自愿改信基督信仰的原因之一,可能也在于他们已经隐约感受到族群文化有灭绝的危险,希望找到应对的办法。经过日本殖民五十年,台湾原住民族的传统文化受到极大的撼动,已经摇摇欲坠。更何况,战后初期国民党政府强制推行汉化政策,同样深具威胁。当时的原住民首领们意识到此一危机,或许他们认为基督教义就如同一个坚固的堡垒,多少能保护他们的文化不被多数民族所吞灭。
接下来的三十年里,国民党政权禁止在公共场所使用方言,于是,天主堂和基督教会成为唯一能自由使用族语的场所(他们的族语甚至被拼写成西方罗马字母,而被记录保留下来)。于是,地方教会拯救了濒临灭亡的原住民语,而这些语言是南岛语系家族的丰富资产。蒋介石的独裁政权奖励全民检举方言,其眼线渗透在所有学校及社团中。在很长一段时间里,国民党政府希望能压制独立且喜欢「滋事」的原住民首领,然而他们却忽略了,基督/天主教会教育出许多思想自由的原住民领导人和知识分子,这些人成为台湾原住民解放运动的先驱。他们在八○年代末政权民主化时期,毅然展开行动。关于这一点,不能不特别提及台湾长老会的玉山神学院,他们贡献非凡,教育出好几代以自身文化为傲的原住民牧师,随时愿意积极奉献自我、捍卫族人权利、要求政治自主、适合他们的教育,以及经济发展。同时也须提及,自六○年代起,透过许多天主教传教士的努力,台湾原住民保存了大部分的传统风俗及庆典,甚至发展出充满现代感和基督精神的原住民艺术。许多地区的崇拜仪式(如舞蹈、多声部合唱)以及祭仪场地的装饰,都反映了这些族群的原始文化。

社会变迁引发新问题

另外,我们亦不能忽略其他两项推动原住民解放运动的重要因素:从一九七○年之后的十年,台湾的经济发展出奇快速,台湾政府拥有较大的财力,能给予原住民足够的补助,以建立比较独立的管理制度:社工支援、乡村发展、文化提倡和教育等等;而在一九八○年代末到一九九○年代初,台湾政权迈向民主化,亦有助于原住民运动的蓬勃发展。
但是,这两项因素在今天却造成新的问题,这和其他有原住民的国家(如加拿大、美国和澳洲)所曾经遭遇的困难十分类似。例如。政府想藉由大笔的经费预算,补偿过去对原住民的忽视,却引起一些预料之外的影响:原住民之中不少人持有被救济的消极心态 (「努力有什么用?反正救济我们的社会津贴只是为了弥补祖先所遭受的侮辱!」)国家拿人民的血汗钱,花在一些无用的外交礼节上,根本是挥霍浪费,教会的影响力明显低落,原住民的传统道德大幅沦丧。由于这些因素,原住民部落中的自杀、酗酒、家暴、少年犯罪等等问题,皆日趋严重。

贫富差距与「内部的敌人」

由于实施地方自治,政权和财政权常轻易落入部落首领手中——他们可能不懂管理运用,也有可能心怀不轨。于是,贪污贿赂、举用亲私、利益输送等陋习层出不穷…结果,台湾原住民社会内部的贫富差距越来越严重。在眷顾弱势团体的差别政策中,例如就学优惠和公家机构所提供的就业保障名额等方面,原住民中的新富阶级成为最大的受益者。从许多方面我们发现,原住民最大的敌人已不是平地人,而是在自己的族群中——他们最大胆,也最聪明,利用赤贫无知的族人对他们相当的信任,把钱赚进自己的口袋。比方说,他们强迫穷苦的族人便宜地卖掉土地,结果仅够换取一点温饱;或者开设一些假公司拉人投资,害许多人连仅有的一点储蓄也被骗光。

原住民教会迎接新挑战

面对如此恶劣的情势,地方教会准备迎接新的挑战。首先,应避免将事态看得过分严重,不应缅怀过往──当时教会机构被视为防堵罪恶的铜墙铁壁。此外,也应当强调当今情势的正面部分:对多数人而言,生活水准和社会福利有了显著的改善,族群的命运已掌握在自己族人的手中,传统文化和语言都注入了新生命,人们重新对原住民身分引以为傲,社会大众对原住民文化及价值观也越来越关注(虽然有时被过度理想化)。
此外,教会亦可带动、奖励或促进所有能确实顾及全体原住民族的活动,例如:成立地方讲座,培育农耕经济和观光业的人才;对原住民家庭妇女、青少年以及移居到工业区工作的工人,进行长期的社工辅导…等。然而,对于留在家乡部落的人们也应给予更多关怀,帮助他们在现今世代中,分辨何者才能顾及全族与个人的利益。
基督信仰,佐以对《圣经》的深入思考,在这些层面上应能彰显成效,以协助所有愿意从中获取智慧的人。《圣经》的内容已广为大多数台湾原住民所熟知,非常适合用来帮助部族认清事实:解放的障碍不仅来自于外部,族群内部里也存在一种奴役行为,这也应该纳入长期奋斗的目标…每一位成员都要谦卑地承认自己的错误及不足,这样社会才能真正进步。如此,我们才能真正建立一个更公平、更博爱的社会。

注释
------------------
1. Colin Nicholas and Rajeen Singh (ed), Indigenous Peoples of Asia. Many Peoples. One Struggle, Bangkok, 1996, pp. 1-10.
2. 〈战后大批改宗潮(1945-1968)〉,丁立伟、詹嫦慧、孙大川合著,《活力教会:天主教在台湾原住民世界的过去现在未来》,光启社,2004年,页75~97。

附加的多媒体:
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Saturday, 10 February 2007

山林中的十字架

台灣原住民與教會,曾經共同寫下一段宣教傳奇。
面對當前多變的社會,他們仍將以活力與正向態度迎接挑戰。

在諸如CNN、時代雜誌(《Time》)等國際媒體的報導中,當記者提到原住民(Indigenous People)這個名詞,人們立刻想到的常是美洲的印第安人、澳洲原住民或紐西蘭的毛利人。我們經常忘記:其實這個名詞也用在亞洲一億五千萬人身上。

原住民族在亞洲

「原住民是某個特定領土上最早的居民。在人數較多或文化較先進的民族大舉遷入之後,逐漸喪失領土主權…他們與主流社會有明顯的區別:他們有自己的語言、宗教、風俗,及其希望傳承後世的獨特世界觀…通常,他們與大自然之間維繫著一種特別親近的關係,這與他們的生活模式及精神心靈有著密切關聯。由於仍無法要求恢復絕對的自主權,所以他們的奮鬥常只能在於重新取得掌握族群命運的力量,以保障其族群自身文化的延續(註1)。」
以上這段文字,是科藍‧尼可拉斯(Colin Nicholas)和拉吉恩‧辛(Rajeen Singh),這兩位研究亞洲少數族群的人類學專家,對原住民所作出的定義。依據此一定義模式,這兩位學者將亞洲許多族群納入「原住民」的範疇。這些族群十分多元,包括印度半島的早期印度人(Adivasis)、西馬來西亞原住民(Orang Asli)、緬甸、泰國、寮國、越南、菲律賓的高山族、婆羅洲的土著、新幾內亞的巴布人(Papous)、台灣原住民、中國大陸的大部分少數民族,以及日本北海道的愛奴人(Ainu)。
這些亞洲原住民的處境,因著每個國家的不同情況,有極大差異。在印度某些省分(中部地區)和東馬來西亞(北婆羅洲),原住民族確實享有政治、經濟和文化上的自主權,生活水平也因而獲得明顯改善。然而在其他地區,原住民卻常是許多威脅下的主要受害者:跨國公司在他們的土地上進行大規模的農業、林業和礦業的開發,通常手法草率(如中南半島、菲律賓、印尼的伊利安查亞)、沒有政治自由(中國大陸、緬甸、寮國、越南),或長期處於內戰砲火之下(印度拉格蘭省、菲律賓南方的民答那峨、伊利安查亞、巴布亞新幾內亞)。

基督信仰與原住民解放運動

大部分的東亞原住民有一個很重要的共通點,卻鮮為媒體報導:在殖民時期或後殖民時期,多數居民都歸信基督信仰(天主教或基督教)。無論在何種情勢下,傳教都算相當成功。改信基督之後,這些族群對於自身所受到的不平等待遇,則能做出較正確的分析,精神上也有了較堅定的力量——這兩項改變各自造就了一起解放運動。我們不可否認以下事實:早期的印度人如今在該國的基督教團體中,已成為重要且積極的一支;馬來西亞東部的土著民族,起而對抗向來傾向於優惠西部之廣大回教徒的馬來政府,終於獲得政治實權。這些事實也說明,像是越南政府那樣不講民主的政權,至今為何仍以嚴厲的措施,禁止基督信仰中的傳教士(天主教的神父及修女、基督教牧師)進入極度貧窮、教育匱乏的原住民山區。

福爾摩沙傳教奇蹟

近二十年來,台灣的原住民逐漸成為基督/天主教會協助亞洲原住民重新自我主宰的良好典範。台灣約有四十二萬原住民,是島上原生人種的後裔,在台灣於一八九五年成為日本殖民地之前,非平埔原住民居住於中央山脈或太平洋沿岸等地勢險峻之處,因此從未被其他民族所同化。二十世紀初,日本政府以綏靖招安為藉口,有系統地入侵尚未漢化的原住民山區。事實上,日本人乃是企圖藉此侵入台灣珍貴的山林,並強行徵收驍勇善戰的年輕原住民,以充實皇軍的武力。在這段漫長悲慘的時期中,許多起而反抗的部落遭到轟炸,甚至被施放毒氣。平地漢人及外國傳教士皆被禁止進入山區。然而,從一九三○年起,日本殖民政府卻也對原住民的發展做出了些許貢獻,如引進栽培稻米的技術,設立小學,及日語教學的普及實施。
到了一九四五年,由於國民黨政權的領導者蔣介石本身是基督徒,於是便開放基督教和天主教傳教士進入原住民山區。在過去的三百年中,長老會已在大陸遷徙來台的中產階級人士中擁有一定勢力,因此戰後不久,長老會教派便成功地在這些區域傳播福音。天主教教會起步較遲,然而在五○年代初期,被共產黨驅逐的西方傳教士大批湧入台灣,也多虧了他們,天主教的傳播也得到良好的成效。不到二十年,85%以上的台灣原住民都信奉基督教義,主要為長老會和天主教,人們稱之為「福爾摩沙傳教奇蹟」。但是,這項奇蹟只發生在原住民身上,因為在同一時期,島上的多數居民對於基督教並沒有很大的興趣,信奉的人數比例從來未曾超過2%。

原住民為何成為基督徒

一九五○年到七○年間,台灣原住民大量信奉基督教,這個現象吸引許多新近研究的關切(註2)。這些研究顯示,當時基督教派的傳教士們,為貧窮的原住民提供了許多幫助(特別在社會工作和教育方面),他們的努力成為最有利的傳教方式。同時,台灣原住民自願改信基督信仰的原因之一,可能也在於他們已經隱約感受到族群文化有滅絕的危險,希望找到應對的辦法。經過日本殖民五十年,台灣原住民族的傳統文化受到極大的撼動,已經搖搖欲墜。更何況,戰後初期國民黨政府強制推行漢化政策,同樣深具威脅。當時的原住民首領們意識到此一危機,或許他們認為基督教義就如同一個堅固的堡壘,多少能保護他們的文化不被多數民族所吞滅。
接下來的三十年裡,國民黨政權禁止在公共場所使用方言,於是,天主堂和基督教會成為唯一能自由使用族語的場所(他們的族語甚至被拼寫成西方羅馬字母,而被記錄保留下來)。於是,地方教會拯救了瀕臨滅亡的原住民語,而這些語言是南島語系家族的豐富資產。蔣介石的獨裁政權獎勵全民檢舉方言,其眼線滲透在所有學校及社團中。在很長一段時間裡,國民黨政府希望能壓制獨立且喜歡「滋事」的原住民首領,然而他們卻忽略了,基督/天主教會教育出許多思想自由的原住民領導人和知識分子,這些人成為台灣原住民解放運動的先驅。他們在八○年代末政權民主化時期,毅然展開行動。關於這一點,不能不特別提及台灣長老會的玉山神學院,他們貢獻非凡,教育出好幾代以自身文化為傲的原住民牧師,隨時願意積極奉獻自我、捍衛族人權利、要求政治自主、適合他們的教育,以及經濟發展。同時也須提及,自六○年代起,透過許多天主教傳教士的努力,台灣原住民保存了大部分的傳統風俗及慶典,甚至發展出充滿現代感和基督精神的原住民藝術。許多地區的崇拜儀式(如舞蹈、多聲部合唱)以及祭儀場地的裝飾,都反映了這些族群的原始文化。

社會變遷引發新問題

另外,我們亦不能忽略其他兩項推動原住民解放運動的重要因素:從一九七○年之後的十年,台灣的經濟發展出奇快速,台灣政府擁有較大的財力,能給予原住民足夠的補助,以建立比較獨立的管理制度:社工支援、鄉村發展、文化提倡和教育等等;而在一九八○年代末到一九九○年代初,台灣政權邁向民主化,亦有助於原住民運動的蓬勃發展。
但是,這兩項因素在今天卻造成新的問題,這和其他有原住民的國家(如加拿大、美國和澳洲)所曾經遭遇的困難十分類似。例如。政府想藉由大筆的經費預算,補償過去對原住民的忽視,卻引起一些預料之外的影響:原住民之中不少人持有被救濟的消極心態 (「努力有什麼用?反正救濟我們的社會津貼只是為了彌補祖先所遭受的侮辱!」)國家拿人民的血汗錢,花在一些無用的外交禮節上,根本是揮霍浪費,教會的影響力明顯低落,原住民的傳統道德大幅淪喪。由於這些因素,原住民部落中的自殺、酗酒、家暴、少年犯罪等等問題,皆日趨嚴重。

貧富差距與「內部的敵人」

由於實施地方自治,政權和財政權常輕易落入部落首領手中——他們可能不懂管理運用,也有可能心懷不軌。於是,貪污賄賂、舉用親私、利益輸送等陋習層出不窮…結果,台灣原住民社會內部的貧富差距越來越嚴重。在眷顧弱勢團體的差別政策中,例如就學優惠和公家機構所提供的就業保障名額等方面,原住民中的新富階級成為最大的受益者。從許多方面我們發現,原住民最大的敵人已不是平地人,而是在自己的族群中——他們最大膽,也最聰明,利用赤貧無知的族人對他們相當的信任,把錢賺進自己的口袋。比方說,他們強迫窮苦的族人便宜地賣掉土地,結果僅夠換取一點溫飽;或者開設一些假公司拉人投資,害許多人連僅有的一點儲蓄也被騙光。

原住民教會迎接新挑戰

面對如此惡劣的情勢,地方教會準備迎接新的挑戰。首先,應避免將事態看得過分嚴重,不應緬懷過往──當時教會機構被視為防堵罪惡的銅牆鐵壁。此外,也應當強調當今情勢的正面部分:對多數人而言,生活水準和社會福利有了顯著的改善,族群的命運已掌握在自己族人的手中,傳統文化和語言都注入了新生命,人們重新對原住民身分引以為傲,社會大眾對原住民文化及價值觀也越來越關注(雖然有時被過度理想化)。
此外,教會亦可帶動、獎勵或促進所有能確實顧及全體原住民族的活動,例如:成立地方講座,培育農耕經濟和觀光業的人才;對原住民家庭婦女、青少年以及移居到工業區工作的工人,進行長期的社工輔導…等。然而,對於留在家鄉部落的人們也應給予更多關懷,幫助他們在現今世代中,分辨何者才能顧及全族與個人的利益。
基督信仰,佐以對《聖經》的深入思考,在這些層面上應能彰顯成效,以協助所有願意從中獲取智慧的人。《聖經》的內容已廣為大多數台灣原住民所熟知,非常適合用來幫助部族認清事實:解放的障礙不僅來自於外部,族群內部裡也存在一種奴役行為,這也應該納入長期奮鬥的目標…每一位成員都要謙卑地承認自己的錯誤及不足,這樣社會才能真正進步。如此,我們才能真正建立一個更公平、更博愛的社會。

註釋
------------------
1. Colin Nicholas and Rajeen Singh (ed), Indigenous Peoples of Asia. Many Peoples. One Struggle, Bangkok, 1996, pp. 1-10.
2. 〈戰後大批改宗潮(1945-1968)〉,丁立偉、詹嫦慧、孫大川合著,《活力教會:天主教在台灣原住民世界的過去現在未來》,光啟社,2004年,頁75~97。


【輔仁大學原住民神學研究中心】

本中心成立於二○○二年,宗旨為推動原住民牧靈之人才培育及研究工作。其方式之一為定期舉辦相關進修活動及聯合會議。例如於輔大神學院開設「台灣原住民牧靈課程」、「原住民牧靈專題合作研究」等課程,以培育原住民修生,即未來的神父。
中心亦長期進行原住民神學之田野調查、學術研究及學術交流等活動。例如,二○○六年將舉辦「東亞地域少數民族宗教:薩滿教/巫術與基督宗教的相遇」研討會、出版相關書籍、不定期在媒體發表相關文章等等。
未來,中心將持續發表論文、架設網站,並與玉山神學院、東華大學民族學院、輔仁大學宗教系及原住民服務中心等相關機構進行更密切的合作,同時亦希望能與東南亞推行神學本位化的機構合作。

中心主任:丁立偉
地址:台北縣新莊市中正路514巷103號
電話:02-29017270# 611 傳真:02-29062439
E-mail :This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


【翻譯/陳太乙】

Sunday, 04 February 2007

East Asian Christianity: Languages and Stories

In 1974, a seminal book, Waterbuffalo Theology, authored by a Protestant Japanese theologian working in northern Thailand, Kosuke Koyama, started with the contemplation of a herd of buffalos grazing in a muddy paddy field. “The water buffaloes tell me that I must preach to these farmers in the simplest sentence-structure and thought-development. They remind me to discard all abstract ideas, and to use exclusively objects that are immediately tangible.” Kosuke Koyama was advocating the use of picture-words as a way to escape from Western abstraction and to return at the same time to the essence of Christian faith and to the core of people’s life. Monsoon frogs, sticky-rice and cock-fighting were realities providing the congregation with metaphors akin to the language and insights of the Hebraic psalms.

Koyama was also contrasting the “coolness’” of Thai Buddhism vocabulary and approach of life with the “hotness” of Christian lexical register. The stress on being detached from desires and liberated from suffering translates into a specific vocabulary, as does the insistence on the burning “Passion” of a God who intervenes in history. Making “hot” and “cool” religious standpoints meet and equilibrate each other involves a lexical operation, a recapturing of the full range of vocabulary offered by separate traditions in order to “warm” one tradition and to “cool down” the other. Within the biblical canon (and showing a sense of humor not foreign to the nature of his theological project), Koyama sees the Epistle of James as a good example of the use of picture-words and as an attempt at “cooling down” the tongue.

Koyama was advocating a humbling, a “kenosis” of the South-East Asian Christian vocabulary as the way to root the faith into the earthly realities shared by the poor living on these lands. On the whole, such calls have been well received. At a ecumenical consultation held in Singapore in 1987, it was recognized by participants that “the Asian ethos is very attentive and sensitive to the particular, the concrete. Every particular is let to live, respected, fostered for what it is. No attempt is made to reduce the particular to an abstraction, to ready-made categories of thought.” The lexical imperative was thus integrated into an epistemological endeavor: how to express and understand the Christian faith from within the Asian ethos?

It is on such premises that the theological stress has progressively been transferred from lexical questions to the narrative dynamic. Religious experience, it was recognized, is translated not only into creeds and practices but also into narratives of various kinds. Mythical tales, hagiographies, the story of one’s conversion, the enacting of certain rituals are all multi-layered narratives. Within Christianity, the narrative structure of the Apostle’s Creed as of the reenactment of the Last Supper has becomes a topos of contemporary theology. Was not the rooting of Christianity in South-East Asia dependent on the way faith-based communities were able to enact, develop and exchange their own narratives?

In the Philippines, notes Jose Mario C. Francisco:

“Traditional religious narratives before Spanish colonization have been preserved among some tribal groups who continue to tell folktales and to chant indigenous epics during ritual feasts and events. (…) {However} due to the majority status of Christianity in the Philippines, the dominant religious narratives are those of the Christ story--its canonical form from the Bible and its popular form in the vernacular pasyon tradition. Before the recent translations of the Bible into the vernaculars, the popular form of chanting and later of dramatizing the Christ story during Holy Week has functioned like an epic in lowland communities. It makes the Christ story available as foundational narrative and enables Christians to appropriate this story as their own.”

Such resources are seen as invaluable for the ongoing shaping of South-East Asian Christianity in terms of language and narrative identity. In so far as narratives also combine with a ritual dimension, they even open up to the field of extra-textual hermeneutics. Anthropological studies in the line of a Clifford Geertz have played a role in this attention given to forms of religious language going behind or beyond discourse and dogmas. At the same time, this reappraisal has been progressively leading to a questioning of Christian “identity” itself. An extra-textual hermeneutics blurs the denominational frontiers and points anew to the variety of religious experience in East Asia.

Quite naturally, the stress put on the rooting of Christian narratives and ritual expressions in South-East Asia’s cultures has led to a focus on the interaction between the various faiths operating in the region. Such attention has been also fostered by the various ethno-religious conflicts that have developed especially in the Philippines and Indonesia. If Christian communities had to be agents of peace, religious narratives were to play a role: creative interpretation of canonical narratives can stress peace and reconciliation; in the pluralistic situation of the Philippines’ southern island of Mindanao, some narratives play a mediating role by incorporating elements from different religious traditions; the sharing of stories (especially role-model stories) at the local grassroots level is by itself a factor of reconciliation.
At the theological level, some thinkers nowadays see hermeneutics not as a tool for redefining Christian identity in the region but rather as a resource for challenging it. R.S Sugirtharajah says that “the task is seen not as adapting the Christian Gospel in Asian idioms, but as reconceptualizing the basic tenets of the Christian faith in the light of Asian realities. … There is a willingness to integrate, synthesize and interconnect.” (Admittedly, one can also witness the opposite tendency in the sharpening of denominational boundaries and accompanying lexical sub-species.) The need to connect with other believers in order to implement justice, peace and environmental concerns also plays a role in the “communication and interconnection” paradigm, which is strongly influenced by theologians such as Michael Amaladoss, Raimundo Panikkar, Paul Knitter and Aloysius Pieris. Of special relevance might be the concept of intra-religious dialogue as championed by Panikkar: one’s religion is very akin to a native tongue, and any religion is as complete as a language is. The discovery of the Other draws us out of our language and leads us to understand what its “words” means to our religious partner. To enter another’s world is a religious experience that engages a dialogue not only with the Other but also within our self. In this approach, and other similar, the hermeneutics of inter-religious diaogue is not seen as a theological task among other but as the one that determines the future of Christianity in Asia and even the shaping of religious forms, identities and experiences in the world. South-East Asia is a place in which the intermingling and communicability of religious faiths is esepcially visible, which gives it a prominent role in the continuation of this global endeavor.

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Sunday, 04 February 2007

The Future of Nuosu Religion

Will local religions proper to several ethnic minorities throughout Asia eventually disappear? Or is their resilience stronger than generally thought? Let us examine this question through the prism of “Nuosu religion” (Sichuan province, Liangshan prefecture) discussed in several sections of this website. How will this world vision and its expressions evolve during the next twenty years or so? For the sake of the argument, let me distinguish between three scenarios:

- A - The case for ultimate disappearance

It can be argued that further opening of Liangshan to the external world will lead to the progressive disappearance of Nuosu religion. Local religions (defined as religions in which local belongings are central to the definition of the “dogmatic” content itself) have a propensity to disappear. Taiwan aboriginal religions are a case in point. A progressive bettering of the health care system (still expensive and very deficient in China’s remote areas) would greatly concur to it.


The generalization of literacy might also contribute to the weakening of Nuosu religion. This would not be so just because of the content of the instruction delivered but rather because the education of bi-mox now works as a parallel educative system, costly in time and not easily compatible with compulsory education. In other words, the generalization of literacy, would contribute to rarefy the supply of bi-mox and would make the remaining bi-mox even more marginal in their own society.

It can be further argued that the very content of Nuosu religion makes it part of a social model that will disappear over time. It is not only that alternative health care models will take over ritual. It is also that “survival” will become less of a stake when Liangshan overcomes the stage of the subsistence economy. Besides, there is a certain pessimistic outlook of Nuosu religion (see the strong probability to become a ghost in case of premature or violent death for instance) that might contribute to its demise when fear becomes less of a dominant social and personal feeling.

Finally, the religious evolution of other groups of Yi and other Chinese minorities (in Yunnan province for instance) might confirm this prognosis. When they have occurred, intensive contacts with Han populations and, before 1949, with missionaries have greatly weakened the vitality and significance of many of these groups’ religions.

- B - The case for survival and creative adaptation

Against this model, it could first be argued that the outlook for Liangshan prefecture might not be necessarily one of continuous growth and progress in health care, education and communication, at least not for the next twenty years. Corruption and inefficiency greatly restrain the significance of the amount of investment consented there. The society should remain basically agrarian. When badly handled, health care can actually contribute to the surge of illness (the repeated use of syringes for shots illustrates this point), which in turn undermines confidence in public health care and encourages the recourse to rituals. Rising cost of medication works in the same sense.

Looking at the question from another perspective, I suggest that the development of communication networks and further exploitation of the resources of Liangshan could induce a surge of Nuosu identity that would express itself through rituals. Being a Nuosu and practicing Nuosu religion could become more and more one and the same thing, not only in an implicit way as is the case now but explicitly as well. The fact that Nuosu people have been exposed to foreign religions in the past (Lamaism for instance) and have not relinquished in the least their own system of beliefs and rituals reinforces the strength of this conjecture.

Actually, far from disappearing, Nuosu religion shows its plasticity by adapting ritual molds to new social situation and settings. And the surge of rituals is encouraged by disposable wealth, when resources are indeed at hand. In some ways, this plasticity as well as the “virtuous” link between religious activities and wealth reminds one of what happened in Taiwan from the beginning of the eighties on. Taiwanese popular religion adapted to new conditions (linking worship to bets in the stock market for instance) and flourished because of the prosperity of the island. Thanking gods and spirits for the prosperity one enjoys while ensuring the continuing influx of riches were reasons good enough for performing rituals and extending donations. A similar logic could work in Liangshan, should the economy develop. In other words, the Nuosu religious outlook is flexible enough for adapting to positive as well as to adverse circumstances.

This is not for denying that the content and expressions of rituals are being and could be further reinterpreted. It is actually possible that such reinterpretation will make Nuosu religion even richer. Religions are flexible, adaptable systems, this allowing them to express the identity, hopes and sufferings of a community by constantly renewing the meaning of ancient practices within an ever-changing context. Let me quote here the following statement by Roy A Rappaport: “That sanctity supports social order is one of anthropology’s most ancient truisms. That it may increase the adaptiveness of social ssytem is not. (…) In response to changing historical conditions, the connections of the eternal unvarying truth to ever-changing history may be reinterpreted, and in light of the reinterpretation social rules and even cosmological axioms may change without many or even any of the devout becoming aware of these changes.”

Summing up, by providing a framework for interpreting everyday events plus a certain amount of symbolic capital for the survival and ongoing building-up of Nuosu identity, Nuosu religion provides to the Liangshan Yis a ground on which social adaptation and group cohesiveness are made possible. This should ensure its long-term survival.

- C - The case for the emergence of a “civil religion”

The paradox might be that the core arguments of the two preceding paradigms are both true. Is there a way of finding a kind of in-between model?

First, let me assume that Liangshan will indeed experiment a process of gradual development, slower than in the rest of China but allowing for a more diverse economy, a greater integration into market mechanisms, certain social disruptions (migrations, further spreading of AIDS and drugs), a more diverse exposures to alien modes of thought, while retaining many of its present characteristics. The assumption might not be true. For instance, social disruptions might be much more severe than envisioned here, up to the point of inducing a large-scale disintegration of the traditional Nuosu social and familial model. Or sweeping changes in China could provoke a much broader exposure to other thoughts and religions - though such opening would certainly induce an adaptation process rather than a breaking down of traditional mental structures.

My thesis is that, under my assumption, confidence in the efficacy of traditional rituals will gradually erode. Besides, the relative revival of Nuosu culture presently witnessed will not be enough for avoiding a slow but significant attrition in the number of religious performers able to master bi-mox writings and to perform sophisticated, large-scale rituals. At the same time one might witness three phenomena: {a} the continuation of a certain number of rituals as an “insurance” against casualties as long as the cost does not appear as prohibitive; (b) further adaptation of rituals to evolving social conditions, an adaptation paradoxically facilitated by the lesser degree of formation of those who will perform the rituals; (c) the explicit justification of the continuation of rituals in terms of maintenance of Nuosu identity as well as of family and community cohesiveness. In other words, Nuosu religion will evolve into a form of “civil religion” that, in certain circumstances, might even not be incompatible with other sets of professed beliefs. Rituals will continue to be enacted but the lived experience that is at their ground will undergo transformations slowly affecting the very way they are performed.

The collective narrative of the Liangshan Yi people has to do with the natural history of the area and with their living conditions, with the bettering or the worsening of the global economy, with the evolution of their relationships with the Han and neighboring people. Nuosu religion unfolds this narrative at the level of individual existence as well as for communities. The resources contained in rituals, beliefs and stories will continue to be mobilized in the future, but they will also be reinterpreted. Ghosts will probably still be chased away, but the fears that their figures embody will be differently accented. Ancestors will be invoked like in the past, but the way one refers to one’s identity and ethnic history will necessarily be redefined. Illness will still be experienced as a persecution mechanism, but the whole set of relations to the physical and collective body will be lived against an evolving background. An open question remains: how far can such a reinterpretation go? Will Nuosu religion be an agent of social change by allowing Nuosu people to make use of its power for becoming agents of their own development, or will it just accompany and justify changes on which people will have no leverage? The answer to this question largely determines the future relevance of Nuosu religion. However, as choices have to be forged throughout a creative and yet undetermined process, such answer ultimately belongs to no one else than the Nuosu people itself.

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Tuesday, 30 January 2007

讓宗教為和平帶路

當今世界並不需要特殊的理論,需要的是共通的倫理與共識。
宗教團體應成為匯通的橋樑,藉由交流對話,建立社會共識,以行動創造和平。



去年八月,我與佛教淨心長老、台北清真大寺馬孝棋教長、天帝教郝光聖副理事長等宗教領袖共同出席在日本京都舉行的第八屆世界宗教和平大會( World Assembly of Religions for Peace ),同行者尚有法鼓山果品法師和常智法師。與會貴賓包括日本前首相小泉純一郎、伊朗前總統哈他米、大會主席哈珊王子,以及來自全世界的兩千多位宗教領袖,當然還包括千百年來始終水火不容的幾大宗教代表。

藉著此次大會,宗教領袖們重回這塊象徵世界和平的平安京──日本京都,重新省視這三十多年來,人類繳出了怎樣的成績單:中東戰亂、以阿衝突、庫德族的殺戮、九一一恐怖攻擊、愛滋氾濫、貧窮等等,犧牲了千萬人的性命,似乎仍不足以喚醒人類的覺知。二次大戰造成全世界將近六千五百萬人喪生,其中四千萬是無辜的平民,人類學到經驗了嗎?

在「解決暴力衝突」方面,大會總結報告人特別提到預防的重要,如何在暴力發生前即採取積極的作為,建立信任,必須從和平教育做起。宗教組織要更加主動地介入一些外圍組織才能發揮更大的作用,否則影響力有限。對媒體亦須進行宣傳,宣傳宗教團體追求和平的共同聲音,建立共識,形成網絡。尤其在戰亂地區,宗教團體負有更大的責任。

在「建構和平」方面,來自孟加拉的伊斯蘭和平建設組織表示,暴力本身會造成無止境的循環,絕不能以暴制暴。但商業市場的不公平發展造成了世界上半數人口的貧窮問題,無形中助長了暴力的發生。唯有共同安全性的建立,才能實現人類渴望的共同安全。期待各國建立和平組織,謀求軍事和政治上的保證,積極行動。

沒有受過恐怖威脅,無法深刻感受和平的重要。伊拉克什葉派代表亦提到賽拉姆前政府以各種手段對自己的國民施以嚴重的暴力,人民生活在鮮血與恐怖威脅之下。斯里蘭卡代表也表示,他們這二十五年來因內亂衝突,數百萬人民因而受苦。他希望透過主辦單位居中斡旋,讓政府與依拉姆組織能早日達成停火協議。此動議被視為決議正式提出…

重返台灣,政治社會亂象依舊,讓人感慨萬千。相較於以上國家的迫切危機,我慶幸台灣至少還在相對安全的環境中過著安居樂業的生活。國人應該懂得珍惜,不要再將資源浪費在空轉內耗。與其空談理念,不如起而力行。現在的世界其實並不需要特殊的理論,需要的是共通的倫理,宗教可擔當各領域的溝通橋樑,藉由交流對談,找出共通的倫理基礎,建立社會共識,再藉由人民的力量,落實到實際行動,共同創造和平。誠如史懷哲所言:「儘管我的認知是悲觀的,但我的心願和希望是樂觀的!」


Friday, 20 October 2006

Xavier, the patron saint of globalization

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Continue tibo’s tour of favorites and hear a fabulous fable where u will hear about the rematch of the turtle and the hare...
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Beijing University
Monday, October 24, 2005

There is something amazing in the fact that the international community has only very recently taken full conscience of the risks that the negligence of water issues could entail. We had to wait the Johannesburg Environment Summit of 2002, for instance, to decide to add the issue of sanitation to the list of the Millennium Development Goals. But, for the leaders of the world to decide to reduce by half, before 2015, the proportion of people in the world with access to water and to sanitation, is one thing - visionary and generous indeed. Another thing is to find the financing for it and to make sure that the proper resources are channelled properly where the real problems are.
To be continued here (pdf)

Attached media :
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Tuesday, 10 October 2006

Mercantilism, Millenarianism and Monasticism

In this paper, first published in 1998 in the “Inter-religio”Bulletin, I was not intending to offer a comprehensive survey of the present-day Taiwanese religious landscape. I was trying to point out some major trends, the understanding of which might help us to better grasp overall changes in Taiwanese culture and society. I summarize these trends by the formula “mercantilism, millenarianism, monasticism.” It seems to me that the formula has still some relevance for the understanding of religious trends in the whole of East Asia at the beginning of the 21st century.

One of the main feature affecting religious activities in Taiwan is mercantilism, which goes along with a strong individualistic focus that characterizes the spiritual quests of many Taiwanese. However, the way mercantilism answers the needs expressed within the "religious market" reveals deep social fears which could one day crystallize into millenial movements, which are not unknown in the Taiwanese tradition. Furthermore, the way millenial tendencies are at the same time generated and controlled has much to do with the very peculiar political situation of the island. Finally, monasticism functions as a social model, a model which at the same time answers and transcends the needs revealed in the course of our analysis.


Taiwan’s religious landscape

In the Chinese context, determining the boundaries of religious affiliations is always a risky process and, to a certain extent, a meaningless one. The concept of "diffused religion" is widely used when observers seek to describe the unique intertwining of social and religious rites, as well as the intermingling of different religious traditions and practices that has taken place throughout Chinese history. Studies have shown that nearly half of the people of Taiwan define themselves as Buddhists, when they are asked about their religious affiliation. However, some surveys that include more detailed questions about observance of Buddhist beliefs and practices have indicated that only 7 to 15 percent of Taiwanese are Buddhist believers stricto sensu, the lowest figure of this estimate being probably more accurate.

It is generally estimated that folk religion constitutes the religious system of at least 65 percent of the population. It should be stressed that the beliefs held by followers of new religious movements are not easily distinguished from those pervading folk religion. The ’"folk-religion" label comprises believers belonging to the traditional social and ritual network as well as members of small-scale organizations with a strong sense of identity.

Taoism, Buddhism, Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam, Baha’I Faith, Tenrikyo, Li-ism, Tiandejioa, Yiguandao, Xuanyuanjiao and Tiandijiao are the twelve “religions” officially recognized as such by the government. However, recently, some “churches” and new religious movements have also been “recognized” in one way or another by the government. Their official status is often ambiguous. Such is the case of the Unification Church that the government has accepted to recognize as a Protestant organization, despite the protests of most Churches.

A 1996 report of the Interior Ministry offers very accurate information. Among the twelve religions officially recognized in Taiwan it lists 3,938 temples of various Buddhist denominations, served by a clergy of 9,360 monks and nuns (as will be shown in this paper, the present figure is already higher). The faithful registering with these Buddhist associations totals 4.8 million people. The number of temples affiliated under the Taoist association’s banner, and home for most folk religious practices, amounts to 8,292, with registered persons numbering 3.8 million. A very loose definition of Taoist clergy results in a total of 31,950 persons in this category. Among the recognized new religions, Yiguandao (see below) claims a membership of 942,000 persons. It is followed by Tiandejiao (200,000 followers) and Tiandijiao (roughly the same figure). Tiandejiao was founded in the Mainland in 1923 and legalized as a religion in Taiwan in 1989. Tiandijiao, founded by Li Yu-chieh in 1980, might be the fastest growing new religion in Taiwan. Xuanyuanjiao, established by the legislator Wang Han-sheng in 1957 claims to have a membership of 136,000 (but the claim is dubious, and this is certainly the less dynamic of the new religions), and Li-ism , one of the syncretistic religions having flourished in China throughout the ages, gives a figure of 140,000. Let me note also that Xuanyuanjiao, Tiandijiao and Yiguandao have recently formed an “alliance” or “network” (zongjiao lianyihui) which might enable them to enhance a new approach of what “Chinese religion” (as being characterized by the “three religion in one” tradition) can signify in modern society.

According to the 1996 report, Catholic membership is 304,000 and the membership of the various Protestant denominations is 402,000. The Catholic Church and the main Protestant denominations have remained at a standstill in growth, or might even have experienced a slight decline, for the last twenty-five years. This might be partially due to the fact that Christianity is still considered as a "foreign" religion, which is an impediment now that cultural pride has been restored and further enhanced by economic successes. However, the influence of Christianity in Taiwan goes beyond its institutional boundaries, and some of its core ideas and symbolism sometimes appear in new religious movements. Nevertheless, the latter basically rely on the pattern provided by "Chinese religions" throughout the ages.

The above mentioned figures cover only the religious movements legally recognized, and thus partly ignore the flourishing of movements and masters outside these official associations. However, many new movements fall under the umbrella of the Buddhist or Taoist associations, and it would be inaccurate to draw too strong a distinction between "established" religions and "marginal" ones. The Taiwanese religious landscape is characterized by its fluidity, which may explain why many Buddhist masters are anxious to draw a line between self-declared spiritual leaders and mainstream associations through the enacting of a law on religions (see below).

How do religious groups operate within the social fabric? The recognition of a religious group as an "official religion" is generally done on political grounds, and such recognition facilitates its establishment within society. Furthermore, in the process of gaining official recognition, the religious movement may lose its messianic or “”radical” overtones (granted there are such overtones at the start). But even religious groups not recognized officially can become channels of social integration rather than of radicalization. This is due to the fact that many new movements emphasize the importance of literacy, relying on a given set of "classics" and enhancing the status of its followers by the cultural background they claim to provide them with. A continuous process may lead from the fluidity of folk religion to the boundaries of institutional organizations through the channel provided by new religious movements. Furthermore, the transitional function played by small-scale religious movements is manifested in the fact that some of their adepts may later evolve towards orthodox forms of Buddhism. The movement has provided a first contact with Buddhist scriptures, and this contact will continue, while other beliefs and practices they were associated with in the first place will eventually falter.

Religious consumerism in Taiwan

Roughly speaking, it can be estimated that Taiwan had around 4,000 temples in 1960 and has well over 15,000 today. The accumulation of wealth has made places of worship bigger and even more richly adorned. The building of temples and their ornamentation now represents huge business. Generally speaking, the amount of money going into religious activities as well as its proper use represents a growing concern. Some religious leaders, such as the respected Master Cheng-yan, have openly expressed their fear that this might generate a moral and cultural crisis within the various religious communities.

Everything, it seems, induces Taiwanese people to invest more and more in religious practices, goods and proselytizing activities:
- Religious affiliation is about networking, starting from the level of neighborhood. Preserving one’s face, securing moral leadership or asserting the strength and position of a community are all factors that encourage one to invest in temple construction, ornamentation or ceremonies.
- The religious “supply” in Taiwan is extremely competitive: after 1947, many religious leaders took refuge in the island (Buddhist masters, Catholic missionaries…), starting a process that has utterly changed Taiwan’s religious landscape. Hence the desire of many believers to strengthen the visibility of their own community of faith. This also accounts for the intense competition between rival Buddhist organizations. Recently, this quest for visibility has prompted investment within the media. For instance, the Buddhist Compassion Tzu Chi Association has started the “Da Ai” TV channel, and Catholics lay people have created a support group for financing religious programs.
- In time of economic boom, especially at the beginning of the 90s, religious “investment” was often seen as a way to enhance one’s opportunities in life, to take one’s share of profits generated by the stock market, the lottery or land speculation. Now that Taiwan has entered sober times, the trend seemingly continues but the stress is not as much on “opportunities” as on “security.”

Recalling a few events of the last two or three years might help us to further the analysis:
- Throughout the year 1996, there has been a craze around TV shows centering on after-worldly experiences such as encounters with the souls of dead people. These shows have been accused of having too strong an impact on the psyche of vulnerable individuals and even to be partly responsible for the suicide of some teenagers. The Ministry of Interior has announced the setting-up of some regulations for limiting the scope of such psychic manipulations.

- In October 1996, a famous medium named Sung Chi-li was arrested for allegedly swindling NT$3 billion from his followers in Taiwan and 400,000 renminbi from 20,000 followers in Mainland China. He had sold a huge number of "miraculous" objects such as lotus seals or pictures of him featuring his "halo", but later admitted that his claims of possessing supernatural powers were fraudulent. It was estimated that at least one hundred mediums operating in the Sung Chi-li style were active throughout the island.

- At almost the same time, another religious leader, Master Miao-t’ian, was accused of cheating followers of more than NT$ 2 billion by selling space in illegally built pagodas and temples that would supposedly benefit the owner’s ancestor. A third similar case involved Master Ch’in-hai, although it should be noted that allegations made against her are somehow more controversial. In any case, the association she founded is among those accused of having made dubious contributions to the Clinton election campaign. Similarly, around the end of December of the same year, a well-known Taiji master has been accused of various financial malpractices.

- It should be noted that none of these financial scandals affected the large-scale Buddhist organizations, although the extent of their wealth is now the subject of public attention. The cases disclosed are certainly to be understood in the light of the struggle presently engaged against corruption, a struggle whose scope and efficiency is often questioned. Furthermore, they allowed the government to advance drive for a law controlling the activities of religious organizations. This is a project supported by prominent Taoist and Buddhist organizations, but staunchly opposed by the Catholic hierarchy, afraid of anything that would limit religious freedom or tighten the government’s control on religious activities.

- Open scandals have seemingly vanished during the last year, although some marginal millenial cults have drawn public attention. At the same time, the development of new practices and schools, especially the astonishing growth and multiplication of Tibetan Buddhist groups, have drawn concern and sometimes criticisms from other denominations. Most of the criticisms might be biased. However, they point out a common point. They all relate the growth of Tibetan Buddhist practices to the consumerist attitude of Taiwanese people towards religious phenomena. The “religious goods” offered in this case are: esoteric knowledge supposedly deeper than the one possessed by other Buddhist schools, practices leading to enlightenment and salvation that can be learned in a quick and safe way, and, finally, religious exoticism. Actually, one can overhear Tibetan masters expressing the same kind of concern.

Once put into context, the meaning of these various phenomena can be analyzed as follows:
- In the first half of the nineties, religious fervor in Taiwan has reached a climax: one witnesses a "religious consumerism", with people anxious to buy religious goods supposedly ensuring happiness, security and enlightenment.
-In this perspective, religious consumerism is the result of a mix of material affluence and psychological insecurity.
- This climate has provoked an influx of money for religious organizations, which has in turn aroused the interest of local mafias and unscrupulous individuals in this potential source of profits.
- The media have likewise participated in the dramatization of the religious phenomena, playing on fear and curiosity.

New Religions and Millenarianism

In Taiwan, small-scale religious movements presently emphasize individual spiritual needs and provide psychological support which can sometimes supplement that offered by the village community, especially when it comes to movements aiming at simple people. Such is the case for the "Church of Compassion", Cihuitang, which is very much an association of local chapters. They may offer a religious world-view tainted with millenarianism, but in fact their impact on millenarian thought in Taiwan remains limited. Likewise, it would be interesting to know exactly how many new religions are of Japanese origins, and, of those that are, if they display clearer apocalyptic features. But the small scale and secrecy of such organizations make any evaluation problematic. Experts believe that "at least twenty religious movements" come from Japan, though they are not specific about which ones. Actually, considering how close links generally are between Japan and Taiwan, it seems that that the impact of the Japanese "doomsday cults" has been rather limited. Furthermore, the "Aum Shinirikyo" scandal has caused new religious movements in Taiwan to distance themselves from new religions in Japan.

Therefore, I shall focus rather on two of the more important new religions, Yiguandao and Tiandijiao. To what extent do such movements display millenarian features? As we shall see, the answer is not a clear-cut one.

Yiguandao or "Unity Sect" shows certain affinities with the White Lotus Society (bailianjiao) , although this assertion has been recently challenged by the organization itself, a further sign of the "legitimization process" noted above. The history of its foundation is obscure. It was active on the Mainland during the 1920s and 1930s and banned by the Communist regime in 1949, as a result of accusations of collusion with the Nanjing puppet government. Some of its leaders began arriving in Taiwan in 1945. Internal rivalries within the organization, its tradition of secrecy, and the constraints imposed by political prohibitions (see below) divided the movement into a large number of small associations, organized around family altars. The proselytic character of the religion, whose main target now seems to be overseas Chinese communities, is certainly a sign of its initial millenial focus, as the increase in numbers of faithful and places of worship is seen as the means for bringing xitian, the "Western Paradise", to earth. Yiguandao, therefore, is partially of millenial origin and has a tradition of secrecy which has influenced its earlier development in Taiwan. However, its success has coincided with the social promotion of the kind of people it was aiming to proselytize, such as native Taiwanese who are small entrepreneurs for example, and who are able to bring their employees into the church. This has made the religion something of a success story and, on the whole, a firm supporter of Li Teng-hui’s government. Might its millenial potential be reactivated if social circumstances were to change? The question remains an open one, though I personally doubt it.

Li Yu-chieh (1901-1994), the founder of Tiandijiao, has related his original spiritual experience to the Sino-Japanese war, when, secluded in Mount Hua, he received a message from Tiandi , “ the Lord on High , a message which was at the same time about personal enlightenment and collective salvation in these times of hardship for the Chinese nation. Tiandijiao became an established religion only in 1980, after a split with Tiandejiao. The teachings of the religion stress the necessity for its followers to pray and strive night and day in order to delay or avert a global nuclear holocaust, and maintain world peace and to safeguard Taiwan as a base for the peaceful unification of China under the Three People’s Principles. The orison of the Tiandijiao’s evening prayer states: “May the tide of fate be turned and imminent cataclysm be averted in the non-physical realm. May there be faith without confusion, to clear away the miasma of brutal power, bring rescue to the vulnerable beings under heaven, dispel the threat of nuclear holocaust and let this great earth be reborn!”

In the beginning, this stress on the nuclear threat reinforced the millenial outlook of the teachings of the movement. Recently, however, personal healing has been emphasized more than collective issues. As is the case for so many new religions, there is a strong belief in the healing powers of Qi and a cultivation of these powers. It may be the case, however, that the tension arising between Taiwan and Mainland China (where Tiandijiao is very active and has obviously high-level contacts) might lead the movement to emphasize its specific message on millenarian matters. Tiandijiao is certainly a new religion that states its political outlook clearly, and its stress on nuclear threats emphasizes its millenial tendencies. It seems to me that such tendencies might or might not be realized according to an assessment of the political situation made by the leadership of the organization.

Both Yiguandao and (perhaps more clearly) Tiandijiao provide us with examples of religious movements which exhibit a millenial potential without fully realizing it. It is not enough to look at their teaching however. The social context where it occurs also must be carefully examined.

The millenial potential

The situation in contemporary Taiwan is not unprecedented. After the Taiping Tianguo rebellion (1850-1864), many leaders moved out of Fujian and came to Taiwan, where they somehow continued to spread their messianic world-view. This was manifested by the development of vegetarian cults and halls in Taiwan during this period. Vegetarianism has always been strong in some areas of Taiwan, especially in the south, and is easily linked with marginal religious movements. At the turn of this century, the cult of the God of War, Guandi, witnessed a tremendous increase, related to the development of automatic writing activities, the concern for opium addicts (who were often cured through the intervention of mediums) and the growth of nationalist feelings at the beginning of the Japanese occupation. Such a movement had obvious millenial overtones. However, none of these tendencies has developed into an open millenarian mass movement.

The millenial movement has always been in some way linked to the struggle conducted by Taiwanese people to assert their own identity, and is also connected to the fear that the Taiwanese autonomy and specific character might eventually disappear. The vegetarian cults uniting villages and guilds outside the religious cults promoted by the Qing rulers, the devotion surrounding Guandi when Japanese were trying to assert their authority, and the spreading out of the Yiguandao religion in the south of Taiwan in the first period of the Kuomintang regime are all examples of this permanent trend.

In this conceptual framework, the problem becomes: what has been the religious behavior preferred by Taiwanese people for expressing the fear of a Mainland invasion, since such an invasion could be easily perceived as a good substitute for an apocalyptic ending? Historical distinctions are required here: during the first part of the Kuomintang rule, there was strong political censorship of any movement which could have induced public disorder or anxiety. This explains, for instance, the successive bans imposed on the Yiguandao in 1952, 1959 and, in harsher fashion, in 1963. Starting in the eighties, the liberalization of the regime and the taiwanisation of the KMT occurred simultaneously. This has been followed by an institutionalization of previously marginal religious movements, this institutionalization process expressing the move from the margin to the center of power achieved by Taiwanese natives.

Once again, the dominant trend during the eighties and the first part of the nineties has been toward institutionalization much more than toward millenarianism, since social sectors formerly marginalized have begun to find place in the social and political fabric. We are beginning to witness the end of this process: the consolidated Taiwanese power is now faced with growing social and political troubles. Furthermore, after having induced social cohesiveness Taiwan’s economic and educational apparatus has begun to show its propensity to marginalize categories of people unable to cope with Taiwan’s success story. As we have seen already, these new trends have not merged into a consistent and recognizable millenial discourse, but the potential for this appearing is clearly present.

When assessing the millenial potential a word remains to be said about millenial tendencies in Chinese Buddhist thought and the way they find their way into Taiwanese religions. When speaking about Buddhist millenarianism, one inevitably evokes the figure of Maitreya, milefo, the Future Buddha. The figure of Maitreya is indeed very much present in Taiwan’s temples, as it is in so many parts of China. However, the kind of eschatological thought it embodies can have a revolutionary flavor or, on the reverse, it can lead one to believe that no cosmic change will occur before a term that goes well beyond any future the mind can possibly envision. Maitreya’s figure is important in the sense that it provides any aspiring religious leader with an opportunity to play a role by displaying the right combination of Master-like, Revolutionary-like and Savior-like features. Furthermore, Maitreya gives popular Buddhism its universal and cosmic dimension, and, mixed with other devotions, displays a very strong millenial appeal. In this case also, the realization of the millenial potential depends on the historical circumstances.

Millenarianism and the Taiwanese religious psyche

If a millenial movement were to consolidate in Taiwan, what would its characteristics be? Would it belong more to a "Western" or an "Eastern" species of millenarianism? I have already noted that, although some fundamentalist Christian movements are active in Taiwan, their audience remains a very limited one. Even more important is the fact that millenial phenomena observable in Taiwan presently relate much more to classic Chinese millenarianism than to any Christian influence. Taoist overtones are especially obvious. Taiwanese people spontaneously draw a link between any crisis of cosmic nature, such as an earthquake, and the accumulation of social evil or the general disorder of the society. The world is viewed as a global equilibrium, and a dysfunction in some part of the system automatically affects the other parts. Too strong a desequilibrium might bring irreversible damage. The renowned Taoist scholar Li Fung-mao has recently written several papers about Taoist eschatology, stressing its importance in today’s context and the role played by Taoist liturgy for putting in order social mechanisms. If I interpret his latest productions correctly, he believes that the Taoist tradition can provide Taiwanese with an eschatology that allows them to cope better with the tensions provoked by their present situation and to reduce the impact of internal and external conflicts.

As a way to conclude this long discussion about millenarianism in Taiwan, let me consider the following statement: "Chinese millenarianism ... exerted its greatest appeal among marginal or peripheral members of society who, though not necessarily economically deprived, were denied access to power and prestige in the orthodox world. Through mutual aid and group solidarity, these people were able to gain self-respect and a sense of worth from their affiliation with sectarian organization." Given the general historical significance of this statement, do present day Taiwanese millenial tendencies fit into classical Chinese millenial categories? The answer to this question is complex. People being at the periphery of culture are indeed likely candidates for entering marginal religious movements that rely on divination techniques and provide strong emotional support. Such an affiliation is also a way to claim a contact with the written word, with scriptures, and then to enhance one’s status. However, these movements are not always the ones displaying the most striking millenial tendencies. Millenarianism is rather a feature potentially present in most of the major religions represented in Taiwan. The island as a whole sees itself as marginalized by its position vis-a-vis Mainland China. This marginalization nourishes underlying fears about the future. But the very pervasiveness of these fears makes it difficult for a religious movement to assert its religious originality. In Taiwan, millenarianism does not allow one to differentiate between "marginal" and "orthodox" movements - a distinction that, as such, is not a very meaningful one in the Taiwanese context. Furthermore, the stress on apocalyptic predictions would almost certainly induce a strong political response from the State, because it would be seen as a threat to public security. Religious movements do know that the issue is a sensitive one, and downplay the collective threat, transferring it to the realm of the individual. In other words, the plausibility of a political apocalypse makes it more difficult to promote the idea of a religious apocalypse.

It is also noteworthy that millenial tendencies in today’s Taiwan stress much more the apocalyptic character of the coming events than the utopian potential of these events. The focus is much more on the End than on the hope for a totally different New World. Anxiety has been nourished by Taiwan’s impressive economic growth of the last fifteen years. To some extent, the golden age is already behind. Nowadays, much is at stake, much can be lost, and after having enjoyed so many opportunities, the Taiwanese people unconsciously fear that a counter-process might be under way.

The meaning of Monasticism

In my introduction I said that Monasticism answers and transcends social needs revealed throughout the course of this analysis. In devoting a special section to the development and meaning of monastic life in Taiwan I first want to draw special attention to the growth of the various Buddhist movements, which is after all the most notable phenomenon in the Taiwanese religious landscape during the last fifteen years or so. I also want to go beyond a purely “external” or “objective” view of Taiwanese religion and, somehow, pay respect to the spiritual quest that is also at the root of Taiwan’s religious vitality.

Before speaking specifically about the significance of Buddhist monasticism today, a word has to be said about Buddhism in Taiwan as a whole. Originally, Buddhism in Taiwan was divided between institutional sects imported by the ruling class from the Mainland and various forms of lay Buddhism. The Japanese occupation promoted orthodox Buddhist sects and a “beyond this world” attitude. After 1947, the influx of monks who had left the Mainland was the cause of a vigorous power struggle. One has here to note the influence of the disciples of Tai Xu (1890-1947), a monk who, during the 1930s, had advocated an aggiornamento of Buddhist doctrines and institutions. In Taiwan, Yin-shun is the main promoter of this current and gives it solid intellectual and spiritual foundations. A reaction followed the creation of the official Buddhist association in 1952, and, in 1954, the writings of Yin-shun were severely criticized. The KMT-controlled associations were content with maintaining the status-quo, almost unchallenged until the beginning of the 1980s. However, around this time, several masters started attracting the public attention. Such is the case of Hsing-yun, founder of the monastic and cultural center of Fokuangshan, Cheng-yan, a leading intellectual and spiritual figure, or Ch’eng-yan who promotes the idea of a socially engaged Buddhism. The Tzu-chi Association that she created in 1966 has today four million members committed to the development of social, medical, educational and cultural projects. In less than ten years, four Buddhist universities have been founded in Taiwan and a fifth one will open its doors in the year 2000.

One striking feature is the success encountered by Chan sessions. Each year, thousands of persons follow one of the many three-day or seven-day spiritual retreats directed by Chan masters. Student Buddhist associations are especially active in promoting such activities. This is certainly the main channel for nurturing vocations. Indeed, in the secularized and consumerist climate of Taiwan, more than one thousand young people per year are ordained. In 1998, as in 1997, the figure is reportedly about 1,200. In size, the biggest organizations are Fokuangshan and Ch’ung-tai shan. Their two main monasteries host more than one thousand nuns and monks each, while all the other monasteries are home for 400 hundreds monks and nuns at most (often much less than this). In generals, monks and nuns receiving ordination do this within a few months of their entering the monastery. To some observers, especially if they are used to the slow process of entering religious life now followed in the Catholic Church, this seems to be rather hasty. However, until now, most ordained monks do stay in the monastic condition. Monks who are not yet twenty years old need a written approval from their parents. This is also the case for monks being married and thus entering a new way of life who need also a written approval from their legal spouse.

In 1998, three ordination ceremonies occurred in Taiwan, all in December. Such ceremonies last about one month, with three ordaining monks officiating together. For a long period of time, there was only one ordaining ceremony in Taiwan each year, this under the influence of the respected Master Pai-sheng. The fact that there are again several ceremonies might be due to the growing number of monks, but it can also indicate a renewed fragmentation of Taiwanese Buddhism. Will the accession to notoriety of what Venerable Hui-kong calls “the third generation of Taiwanese Buddhist leaders” accentuate this fragmentation or lead to a more unified outlook of Buddhism in the island? This third generation, gathering young Masters all born after 1950, has known the democratization process, economic development, and has a very international perspective. It has strong educational links with Japan and the US, and dreams of making Taiwan the leading force for Buddhist reinforcement in America, Africa and Europe. Noteworthy is its involvement in Mainland China, even though this generation stresses its Taiwanese identity; Taiwan has a leading role to play when it comes to Buddhist education and reform in China. The more plausible scenario is that each school and its monasteries will retain its autonomy while developing exchanges with others. This might go with periodic frictions between traditions differing very much in focus, such as Pure Land and Tibetan Buddhism.21

Especially noteworthy is the growth of the Ch’ung-tai shan monastery, as it started only in 1987. In January 1995, the community was still comprising less than 300 monks and nuns… The success of its founder, Wei-chüeh, who aims at representing the quintessence of the Chan tradition, might be linked to the creation of meditation centers throughout the island (according to my knowledge, there are around forty of them today.) Actually, the very success of Wei-chüe has been a source of difficulty at time. On September 1 1996, the Ch’ung-tai shan monastery received as monks and nuns 132 university students who had just participated in a summer camp within the premises of the temple. Such a move aroused the fury of the relatives of the newly ordained monks; some of these relatives gathered in front of the temple and, in some cases, forcibly took back their loved ones. Most of the young converts have stuck to their decision and later returned to the temple. Ultimately, the outcry that happened at the time has not tarnished the Ch’ung-tai shan reputation neither its development. However, Wei-chüeh remains a somehow enigmatic figure. Some his disciples claim that he is able to do accept new monks very quickly because, knowing at first glance other people’s former lives, he recognizes who has been already his disciple in the past. Let us also note that (maybe for avoiding the 1996 controversy) Wei-chüeh has sent a few monks to the Mainland for ordination (other masters seem to have done the same, and it remains to be seen whether this practice will become more popular).

It is especially worth to note that seventy-five to eighty per cent of those choosing monastic life are women. It is actually quite plausible that nuns feel that they can develop their creativity and potential more than marriage (with the burden of extended family obligations) would allow them to do. And they are indeed at the root of most of the charitable or cultural initiatives undertaken by Buddhist monasteries. The development of Buddhist feminine monastic life in Taiwan is a fascinating topic that requires an in-depth study. In February 1998, Fokuangshan organized an ordination ceremony in India, for reestablishing the ordination lineage for nuns in such countries as India, Sri Lanka and Nepal. On this occasion, Ven. Yi-fa presented the Fokuangshan nuns order as an example for the promotion of Asian women as a whole: “Over half of the nuns at Fokuangshan have received university or higher education. About three-fifths of the nuns are between 20 and 40 years of age. Therefore this monastic Order is a young and energetic one – which makes it very attractive to young lay women. (…) Another aspect of our monastic life that appeals to young Asian women is its objective fairness. (…) In this system, all monastic, monks and nuns are given equal opportunities. This system is operated by a collective leadership assembly of monks and nuns known as the Religious Affairs Committee. The chairperson of this committee can be male or female, and is elected by secret ballot.” 22

Monasteries are not only centers of monastic activities, they remain the backbone institution of Buddhism. The prestige of a master and his/her social influence are expressed through the size, reputation and range of activities that his/her monastery will be able to convey. In this respect, the classical thesis of Ernst Zürcher (Buddhist development in China relying on the natural expansion of flexible, decentralized monasteries permeating their environment) still proves true in today’s Taiwan. Although lay associations play their role in Buddhist expansion, they heavily rely on a master and a community of disciples organized as a monastic community.

In this respect, monasteries can be studied as key elements in the framing of the Taiwanese social and cultural landscape. They answer “consumerist” needs listed below as they offer ritual practices, religious goods and affiliation networks, and they do so in a way that is much less linked to “localism” than is the case with popular religion. The monastery also works as a haven of quietness and certainty that may dispel social and individual anxiety, the more so because of the imposing figure of the Master at its center. At the same time, religious life always works as a protest (be it verbally expressed or not) against the dominant social model. The austerity of many monasteries in Taiwan as well as the time devoted to meditation and charitable pursuits indeed transcend and challenge Taiwan’s consumerism and social restlessness. Different schools express this challenge in different ways (Pure Land Buddhism and Chan tradition do not interfere in the same way with the secular word), but they all channel their answer through the monastic matrix. The fact that Taiwan claims the greatest number of Buddhist nuns in the world cannot but lead one to wonder what are the underlying trends working in contemporary Taiwan’s culture and society.

Conclusion

Each part of the present study would have required an in-depth analysis, and the trends here reported should be supported by more data. However, it seems to me that considering these fields and data as a whole provides one with a thought-provoking perspective. It suggests that Taiwanese religions can be studied as a consistent whole, and that a cross-denominational study provides the researcher with new insights on the present day Taiwanese psyche. Besides, some trends are typical of the historical working of Chinese religions as whole, while other elements point towards the peculiar situation of Taiwan and the way modernity alters the social fabric. The Taiwanese religious world deals with greed and mysticism, changing social roles and traditional networks, social conservatism and monastic creativity. As such, it might be the alchemist furnace in which the main tenants of the Taiwanese identity of the next century are taking shape.

REFERENCES

CHEN, Hsinchih. 1995. The Development of Taiwanese Folk Religion, 1684-1939. Seattle: University of Washington, Ph.D. dissertation.
CH’U, Hai-yuan. 1997. A Socio-political Analysis of Religious Changes in Taiwan Taiwan Zongjiao bianqian de shehui zhengzhi fenxi. Taipei: Guiguan tushu Publishing House.
CONTEMPORARY MONTHLY. Dangdai . 1994. Special issue on Vegetarian Cults in Taiwan. July: no 99.
FOKUANGSHAN, 1998. Bodhgaya International Full Ordination, 1998, Commemorative Magazine.
HSING, Lawrence. 1983. Taiwanese Buddhism and Buddhist Temples. Taipei: Pacific Cultural Foundation.
Hui-Kong (Ven. -), 1997. Perspectives on change of generation in Taiwanese Buddhism Taiwan fojiao shedai jiaoti de zhanwang. Wenshuyuan tongxun, 1997, February 1, pp.1-3.
JORDAN, David K. and OVERMYER, Daniel L. 1986. The Flying Phoenix, Aspects of Chinese Sectarianism in Taiwan. Princeton: Princeton U.P.
MINISTRY OF INTERIOR. Neiizhengbu1993. Report on an Inquiry on Religious Communities Zongjiao tuanti diaocha baogao. Taipei.
SHEK, Richard. 1987. Chinese Millenarian Movements. Encyclopedia of Religion, vol.9. New-York: MacMillan Publishing Company.
SPONBERG, Alan and HARDACRE, Helen, eds. 1988. Maitreya, the Future Buddha. Cambridge: Cambridge U.P.
SUNG, Kuang-yu.1982. A Probe into Yiguandao tansuo Yiguandao. Newsletter of Chinese Ethnology, 18: 30-35.
TIANDIJIAO. 1987. A Brief Look at Tiandijiao Tiandijiao da kewen.Taipei: Tiandijiao Publishing House.
VERMANDER, Benoit. 1995a. Religions in Taiwan today. China News Analysis, no 1538-1539: 1-15.
VERMANDER, Benoit. 1995b. Le Paysage Religieux de Taiwan et ses Evolutions Récentes. L’Ethnographie XCI (2): 9-59.
VERMANDER Benoit, 1998. Religions in Taiwan: Between Mercantilism and Millenarianism. Japanese Religions XXIII (1-2): 111-123.
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Tuesday, 10 October 2006

The Catholic Church and Social Work in Taiwan

In contrast with the classic works by Murray Rubinstein on Protestant history in Taiwan, or the studies by Bays, Ladany, Madsen, Tang, and Wiest on the Catholic Church in mainland China, there exist no academic studies (in Chinese or foreign languages) about the Catholic Church on Taiwan. This is a surprising, in light of the fact that the Catholic Church in Taiwan has nearly 400 years of history, beginning in 1626 with the Dominicans, and, of the twenty-eight foreign states today that maintain formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, ROC, only one is European: the Vatican.
Although Catholics in Taiwan today number only 300,000 out of a total population of over 22 million, thus ranking a distant fourth behind Buddhists, Daoists, and Protestants, the Catholic Church has made a deep structural and attitudinal impact upon Taiwan, not only in the education sector (nursery school to university level, including trade and technical schools), media, and publishing, but particularly in the areas of traditional charity and relief, medical care, and modern social work.

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Tuesday, 10 October 2006

Mapping the Trajectories of Engaged Buddhism

The impetus for this article arose at the Fourth Annual Conference on the Thought of Yinshun (Taiwan 2003) when I was assured by Taiwanese scholars that Thich Nhat Hanh (Ven. Yixing’s) concept of “Engaged Buddhism” derived from Ven. Yinshun’s ideas about renjian fojiao, “Humanistic Buddhism.” This seemingly simple statement piqued my curiosity so I investigated further into the existing literature on Engaged Buddhism, as well as corresponded with several founding members of the International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB) and scholars of Buddhism in Vietnam. I then compared these findings with readings and fieldwork I have done on contemporary Buddhism in Taiwan.

I found that early in the 20th century, Vietnamese reformist monks were directly inspired by not Yin Shun but Taixu’s “ Humanistic Buddhism,” renjian fojiao, called in Vietnamese nhan gian phat giao. The seeds planted by Taixu’s ideas in Vietnam not only resulted in institutions which organized and educated a modernized sanga, but “…managed to bring about changes in public consciousness which led to a reacquisition of [Buddhism’s] national role in later decades,” with Thich Nhat Hanh and others’ actualized Buddhism of 1960s’ Vietnam.

The fact is that little if any comparative research has been done for Taiwan and Southeast Asian Buddhism so that the literature on Engaged Buddhism rarely, if ever, mentions Taiwan’s Buddhism, and does not note the Taixu link. At the same time, the growing body of works on the history of Buddhism in Taiwan rarely, if ever, draws comparisons with Southeast Asia or even Japan or Korea. In this paper, I will trace the paths of humanistic Buddhism from China’s Taixu to Vietnam and from Taixu to Taiwan, and to explore how different socio-political contexts in Vietnam and Taiwan resulted in various forms of engaged Buddhism.

Besides the case of Vietnam, many scholars have discussed the alliance of Buddhism and national liberation movements, from the l9th c. on, throughout Southeast and East Asia. It is remarkable to see how in each case the revival of Buddhism (whether state-directed, state-approved, or from below) was seen as the way to assert each nation’s “authentic” identity; towards the goal of unifying and strengthening the nation in the face of the Western onslaught, whether colonialism or modernization or both. Then, Buddhism faced a new set of global trends such as the 1960s and 1970s social movements; and peace and human rights movements in Latin America, East Europe, South Africa, and Asia in the 1970s and 1980s. Now again, Buddhism must deal with the contemporary challenges of globalization. While always keeping in mind crucial differences in social and historical contexts, it is vital to keep a transnational perspective to avoid claims of ‘uniqueness” by any one Buddhist tradition or Buddhist movement.

Due to time limitations, I must focus my discussion on China, Vietnam, and Taiwan, going most in depth about the various manifestations of Humanistic Buddhism in Taiwan, especially the engaged Buddhism propagated by the radical activist Ven. Zhaohui, about whom next to nothing is written in English. It is hoped that the findings of this paper may contribute to the ongoing debates about the origin, definitions, and varieties of Engaged Buddhism as it highlights both the innovations and limitations of Humanistic Buddhism in Taiwan.

 

The Chinese Buddhist Revival:

In China, “(t)he Buddhist revival, I believe, began as an effort by laymen to reprint the sutras destroyed in the Taiping Rebellion [1860s]. It gathered momentum as the discovery of Western Buddhist scholarship stimulated the need for Chinese Buddhist scholarship, and as the invasion of China by Christian evangelists and missionaries led to the idea of training Buddhist evangelists and sending missionaries to India and the West. Up to this point only laymen were involved…But in the last years of the Ch’ing dynasty[late 19th-early 20th c], when moves were made to confiscate their property for use in secular education, the monks began to organize schools and social-welfare enterprises as a means of self-defense.”

Holmes Welch believes that three threads run through the Chinese Buddhist revival: The need to secure religious identity by the laypeople; the need for economic self preservation on part of the monastics; and gain international status (cachet), by both lay and monastics.

Speaking of the Buddhist reformers in early 20th c. China, “The need for status-intellectual status-led to the necessity of meeting the challenges of science and Western philosophy, of Marxism, and of Christianity. It helped to bring about the revival of interest in Dharmalaksana (Faxiang zong, Consciousness-only school), the birth of Buddhist scientism, and participation in modern, Western forms of social welfare.”

The major figure in the Chinese Buddhist Revival was the monk Taixu (1890-1947) and his ideas about “Buddhism for Human Life, “ rensheng fojiao and “Humanistic Buddhism,” renjian fojiao. Instead of waiting and praying, through the intercession of Amitabha, for the glories of the Pure Land in a future life, “Taixu visualized this earthly world transformed by the dedication and sacrificial hard work of thousands of average bodhisattvas…” both monastic and lay. These bodhisattvas would ideally work in tandem with a stable and enlightened government.

Characterizing the Buddhist revival of the late Qing-early Republican period, Holmes Welch finds that the revival in the modern period included new elements like growth of lay organizations and lay teachers of the Dharma; clinics, orphanages, and schools; a radio station in Shanghai; proselytizing in prisons; and the effort to start an ecumenical movement with Buddhists abroad. Also, the modern revival saw Buddhist publishing houses, reorganized seminaries for Buddhist monastics, and national Buddhist associations. All of the above innovations were directly or indirectly indebted to the vision and reforms of Taixu.

Taixu’s political stance is not easily categorized: He came of age during the heady years of the 1911 revolution and his friends and colleagues included revolutionaries, anarchists, and socialists. At first he admired socialism because it, like Buddhism, he claimed, advocated human equality and social welfare. He liked socialism’s message “from each according to his abilities; to each according to his needs.” At first he was optimistic that socialism could curb the excesses of individualism as well as monopolies and large corporations that exploit national and international markets and create growing disparities between rich and poor.

However after 1925, Taixu rejected Communism’s call for violent class conflict and over-emphasis on the material and the collective, while neglecting the mind, the body, and the individual. His political stance became situated “right of center” partly for pragmatic reasons (to obtain political imprimatur for his plans to reform and modernize Buddhism, and to proselytize abroad) and partly for ideological reasons.

As Don Pittman has shown, Taixu not only propagated his vision of a modern, human-centered Buddhism within China but also hoped to transform Buddhism into a global movement that would transcend narrow nationalisms and lead to world peace.

Towards this end, Taixu traveled to Taiwan, Japan and Hong Kong (1917-1925); then to France, England, Belgium, Germany, and the United States (1928-9), as well as to Myanmar, Sri Lanka, India, and Malaysia (1939-40). In Sri Lanka, homeland of the great Buddhist revivalist Dharmapala, Taixu spoke at length with the Buddhist scholar G. P. Malalasekera about forming a world Buddhist federation; in 1950 this plan came to fruition when Dr. Malalasekera founded the World Fellowship of Buddhists.

In the mid-1940s Taixu briefly considered founding a Buddhist political party but then thought it sufficient that Buddhists keep up with political affairs and become active member of a political party of their choice, even the Communist party, though monastics should not serve in government.

Taixu in 1937 deemed his attempts to inspire “a revolution in Buddhism” to be a failure, due to both his own “weaknesses and failures” as well as the strength of his opponents. He was too self-critical. Besides being the inspiration for several leading Taiwanese Buddhist organizations (to be discussed later in this paper) decades after his death in 1947, Taixu did not know of his profound influence on Vietnamese Buddhism in the 1920-30s, which set the stage for its remarkable developments in the 1960-70s.

 

Buddhist Movements in Vietnam before the Taixu Impact

There already were anti-French risings by rural-based lay Buddhist millenarian groups in the 1860s and the period 1885-1898 saw not only lay group resistance but armed revolutionary risings by Buddhist monks, as in the 1898 “Monks’ War” in central Vietnam. The French authorities thus intensified their suppression of Buddhism and stepped up their promotion of Catholicism to solidify their colonial rule. “This was the beginning of religious discrimination, an idea that cannot be separated from the whole complex drive toward national independence.” French repression did not stop but on the contrary stimulated the Vietnamese resistance movements; many Buddhist participants, lay and monastic, sought to propagate Buddhism and make Buddhism institutions stronger throughout Vietnam.

The Impact of Taixu and the Buddhist Revival in Vietnam

Thien Do believes that Buddhist revival in Vietnam has two main components. First, besides the stimuli of modernization and nationalism in the late 19th c. there was the influence of a “reverse Orientalism” as works by Western scholars in Hindu and Buddhist studies were translated in the languages South, Southeast and East Asia, thus stimulated domestic revivals in a number of Asian nations. Here Thien Do stresses the great influence of Taixu upon the Vietnamese Buddhist revival among urban elites in Vietnam. Second, participants in the anti-colonial struggle, from the late nineteenth-century, turned to the Buddhist sanga for leadership after Confucian literati failed at the task.

Thich Nhat Hanh wrote: “In the 1930s, the Buddhist scholars had already discussed the engagement of Buddhism in the modern society and called it Nhan Gian Phat Giao, [Taixu’s renjian fojiao] or engaged Buddhism.” Thien Do says that the Vietnamese version of Vietnam: Lotus in a Sea of Fire, Chapter Two, has both “Nhan gian Phat giao” as well as the phrase “mot nen Phat giao dan toc Vietnam” (a foundation for Vietnamese national Buddhism). Thien Do writes that this term was used:

“…to describe the widespread issue of reform inspired by the Chinese example at the time, including ’the reform of belief, and abolishment of superstition’. It was part of a pre-World War awakening to the necessity of defining a national identity through Buddhism, but this issue has been considered an urban elite-driven one…”

Though Taixu did not visit Vietnam, his writings such as Fojiao wushen lun (Essay on aetheistic Buddhism)[Phat giao vo than luan], at once a critique of Christianity and an argument why Consciousness-Only is superior to the Pure Land and Chan traditions had already in the 1920s been translated by reformist monk Thien Chieu. The latter also propagated Tai Xu’s Zhengli sengqie zhidu lun [The Reorganization of the Sangha System] among monks in north Vietnam. This bold "...plan called for Chinese Buddhism to be reshaped institutionally with new model monasteries, benevolent organizations, and educational ventures.” These were key documents, with the periodical Hai Chao Yin (Sound of the Tide) and the publications of Shanghai Buddhist organizations, inspiring the Buddhist Revival taking place in Vietnam.

Thien Do wrote me:“I don’t think Ven. Taixu had ever visited Vietnam as I have not come across any record of such visit either. I doubt if the French would let him in anyway. Otherwise it would make a big splash on the news, as from the 1930s, his writings were received so enthusiastically and the topic of a reformed and ’national Buddhism’ was avidly discussed.”

At first, this “actualized” Buddhism concentrated on educating the monastics, propagation of Buddhism through publications and lectures, forming local and regional Buddhist associations, building lay “self-cultivation” groups, and forming Buddhist youth groups. However the revival before 1945 was mainly limited among urban educated groups. Buddhists as yet were not politically engaged and welfare provision had not gone beyond the traditional model of short-term welfare aid provided by temples. But after WWII, with the rise to power by the Viet Minh, the subsequent Indochinese war, and the partition of Vietnam, the “…Buddhist intellectuals were now realizing the position of Buddhism in a new political orientation.” In 1951 Buddhists from all over Vietnam came together for the first time to form a national association. “(T)he collective yearning for a non-violent solution to the armed conflict appeared more urgent…”

Yet the Diem regime’s repression of intellectuals, businesses, youth, and Buddhist groups united Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike into an anti-government movement that culminated in the self-immolation of Thich Quang Duc and others in mid-1963. “For the first time the word ‘struggle’ (dau tranh) was used in official sangha language.”
On the Origin of the Term, “Engaged Buddhism”

It is vital to note that Thich Nhat Hanh became a novice at the Tu Hieu monastery in the Linzhi Chan tradition, then he prepared for and received full ordination in 1949 at the Bao Quoc Institute, one of the fruits of the 1930s Buddhist Revival movement in Vietnam. Most scholars trace the term “engaged Buddhism” to Thich Nhat Hanh and the early 1960s Vietnamese socio-political crises. For King, “engaged Buddhism” of any kind begins with Thich Nhat Hanh, with no mention of Vietnamese history, Taixu, or other Southeast Asian developments.

Christopher Queen also notes French influence: “...it seems likely that the French term ‘engagé, meaning politically outspoken or involved, was common among activist intellectuals in French Indochina in the 1960s.”

I asked Thien Do his opinions on this, and here is his response, which I have quoted at length because I believe readers will find it interesting. He agrees that Sartrean terminology was in vogue in Saigon the early 60s and that Dan than became the Vietnamese term for Sartre’s engage; dan, meaning to go forward, to push; than, the body…Yet
“I don’t really know when the actual term ’engaged Buddhism’ was first used by Vietnamese writers, if at all. I could only tell when the idea of engaged Buddhism was first promoted by Thich Nhat Hanh and his group…In the early 1960s, Thich Nhat Hanh wrote of ’hien dai hoa’ (which he is known to have insisted to mean an ’actualised’, not ’contemporarised’ nor ’modernised’ Buddhism). I think that was as close as he went to the ’engaged’ meaning (you know the meaning of the French word ’actualité’ as present reality or current affairs). Another phrase he mentions in ’Lotus...’ is the Buddhists’ desire to "mang dao Phat di vao trong cuoc doi" ( bring Buddhism into the current of life, or day-by-day world).

Then after Van Hanh [Buddhist] University was established, he headed the School of Youth for Social Work (phung su xa hoi - literally ’in the service of society’), an actual interpretation of engaged Buddhism which brought him so much hassle with other senior members of the Sangha. This was around 1963-64. But Sister Chan Khong recounts these ideas were discussed with him earlier, 1958-61 when she already started welfare work with a few friends (The Buddhist nun Chan Khong has written about these years in Learning True Love: How I Learned and Practiced Social Change in Vietnam, [Berkeley: Parallax Press, 1993], Ch. 4).”

Also inspired by the example of Catholic welfare institutions, and by the Vatican II reforms that called for an emphasis on social justice, younger Buddhists hoped that Vietnamese Buddhism could re-interpret and actualize the bodhisattva’s mission in similar ways, as Taixu had called for a generation earlier. However, by no means did all monastics agree with this aspect of engaged Buddhism, Thien Do relates how Thich Nhat Hanh was expelled from the An Quang temple he had helped found, due to his elders’ opposition. But by the mid-1960s, Buddhist monastics and lay people administered the Buddhist Youth Family Movement; primary and high schools called Bodhi schools, located in each province; orphanages, nursery schools, hospitals, literacy campaigns, and first-aid classes. And, the purpose of Van Hanh University’s School of Youth for Social Work, mentioned above, was to train young people as cadres to develop rural society.

In 1965 Thich Nhat Hanh founded the Tiep Hien Order, comprised of both monastics and laypersons, to promote their actualised Buddhism. “Tiep” means “to be in touch with,” to continue,” while “Hien” means “to realize in the present;” in English the order is named Order of Interbeing. Tiep Hien then, and now (based in France), insists on non-sectarianism and non-attachment to views; focus on an actualised Buddhism which reliefs suffering in the here and now; and, maintaining a good balance between compassionate social action and meditative/mindfulness practice.

As King relates, Thich Nhat Hanh and his group took a different path than Thich Tri Quang and other monks of the An Quang Temple who engaged in direct political action, organized mass demonstrations, and formed a short-lived political party.

As mentioned above, An Quang Temple and Thich Nhat Hanh disagreed about the forms that engaged Buddhism should take. Thich Nhat Hanh was averse to Buddhists direct involvement in the formal political system, since this would inevitably violate his fundamental principles of non-dualism and non-partisanship. He believed his group could make the most meaningful contributions outside the self-interested world of political power struggles. “By calling ourselves non-violent we are against all violence, but we are first against the institutional violence.” Furthermore, Thich Nhat Hanh believed the roots of the war were found in the United States, and thus he focused on peacemaking activities abroad. Yet as King points out, one can argue that the An Quang group justified their direct political involvement within Vietnam as their means of fighting against institutional violence. Thus, King reminds us that the “theoretical questions in the background of a party such as this remain” for Buddhist scholars’ and activists’ further reflection and debate.

As the United States escalation of the war resulted in countless civilian deaths, from 1963 the Buddhist-led anti-war movement exploded in South Vietnam. After experiencing severe repression in 1966, the movement continued through protest literature, civil disobedience, fasting, and forming an “underground railroad” for those who refused to serve in the army. However the movement was never strong enough to realize its goal of acting as a “third force” between the American-backed South and the Communist North. Thich Nhat Hanh was forced into perpetual exile overseas (based in France) from 1967.

As happened in China after 1979, from 1990 in Vietnam there has been economic restructuring and reopening of Vietnam to the world. But institutional Buddhism is still tightly controlled by the Communist party-state and Thich Nhat Hanh, his works, and any type of “Engaged Buddhism” are verboten in Vietnam. The state provides charity and emergency services through state-controlled bodies such as the umbrella ‘Fatherland Front’ but allows a few temples to provide such services on a local and ad hoc basis.
From Taixu to Yinshun

Taixu did not live to see the fate of Buddhism in China after 1949. All religions were strictly controlled by the Communist party-state, and during the Cultural Revolution, nearly destroyed. After 1979, the atmosphere for the officially-controlled religions such as (Chinese) Buddhism, Daoism, Islam, and Christianity relaxed somewhat. Scholars in China are currently interested in Taixu and Yinshun’s Humanistic Buddhism, after a long period of neglect. Chen Zimei writes that the Hebei-based monk Ven. Jinghui (b. 1933) promotes Humanistic Buddhism but this is not the mainstream tradition.

“Taixu’s legacy is most clearly visible in Taiwan.” The struggle within the Buddhist Association in China in the 1930s and 1940s between traditionalist monks versus monks who supported Taixu in his reformist efforts continued after 1949 via each’s disciples and their circles in Taiwan. Yinshun (b. 1904) was Taixu’s student; a graduate of one Taixu’s seminaries in China; chief editor of Taixu’s complete works; and is Taixu’s biographer. Due to a number of factors, Yinshun has spent his life after 1960 mostly in seclusion, producing a large and sophisticated body of scholarship on Humanistic Buddhism, early Indian Buddhism particularly the Agamas, Madhyamika studies, and Chan. By his own admission, he in no way resembles Taixu the organizer, administrator, and internationalist.

But politics might be the greater factor. After 1949 Yinshun left China for Hong Kong. In his Jingtu xinlun [New Treatise on the Pure Land] of 1951 Yinshun roundly criticized, from scriptural, historical, and methodological perspectives, popular Pure Land piety as reductionist and full of errors. Though his was certainly not the first nor last critique of popular Pure Land worship, it led to great political trouble for Yinshun. In 1952 Yinshun left Hong Kong to become abbot of the important Shandao Temple in Taipei. He was invited by disciples of Taixu in Taiwan, who were engaged in a political struggle with traditionalists over the leadership of the Buddhist Association of the ROC (BAROC) and of the future direction and scope of Buddhism in Taiwan.

Yinshun became caught in the fray, was criticized publicly and privately; it is rumored that his writings were burned in Taizhong (central Taiwan). This took place of course in the Cold War context of the 1950s, as the Nationalists government newly transplanted to Taiwan carried out repression of the native Taiwanese elite establishment as well as suspected Communist influences. “(S)ome within BAROC even used their influence with the government to have certain Nationalist Party officials issue a statement that Yinshun’s writings were infected with the poison of Communism…”

Yinshun resigned from his post at Shandao temple, wrote a “self-criticism” asking pardon, and from that time on retired from public life, (except for serving as an ordination master), devoting his days to scholarship. (Ibid) From 1960, with the election of Baisheng as President of BAROC, the traditionalists have held command in Taiwan’s institutional Buddhism. Extant Buddhist groups in Taiwan who wanted to survive in the Nationalist era after 1949 deferred to BAROC’s authority, which served the Nationalist party-state as “the exclusive representative of Buddhism in Taiwan” until the end of martial law in 1987.

Yet there are a number of Buddhist groups, each quite different, including the radical activist Ven. Zhao Hui, as well as the largest and richest temples in Taiwan today, each of whom claim direct inspiration from Yinshun’s work and vision, thus linking back to Taixu. Though scholars have noted the differences between both in content of their thought, and unlike the ever-engaged Taixu who worked himself to death at age 57, Yinshun virtually retired from society from 1960 on and devoted his life to scholarship. This year Yinshun celebrates his 100th birthday.

Both, in their propagators of renjian fojiao are considered to be the major reformers in 20th Chinese Buddhism. Taixu, not Yinshun, was the first to speak of renjian fojiao in 1933 “Zenyang lai jianshe renjian fojiao” [How to establish a humanistic Buddhism] from his Taixu dashi quanshu, [Complete Works] 47.431-456. Here is his definition:
“Renjian fojiao is not a Buddhism in which you leave the human realm and become a god or ghost, or for everyone to take monastic vows, go to a temple, or become an eremite in the forest. It’s a Buddhism which, in accordance with Buddhist teachings, reforms society, helps humankind to progress, and improves the whole world.” And in 1930 discussed the idea of constructing a Pure Land in the human realm, in his “Jianshe renjian jingtulun”, Taixu dashi quanshu, [Complete Works] 47:349-430. But he usually employed the term rensheng fojiao, as in his 1928 “Duiyu zhongguo fojiao gemingseng de xunci,” [Instructions for Chinese Buddhist Revolution’s Monastics ] to stress that “primitive Buddhism” were teachings directed at humans in the here and now, but that over the centuries, in China and elsewhere, Buddhism had become a religion of ghosts, the dead, and the afterlife.

Yinshun agreed but preferred the term renjian fojiao to stress even further the central place of human beings and “this-world;’ he believed that Taixu didn’t criticize enough the deification tendencies in Buddhism as it developed over time, such as worship of Bodhisattvas, praying to Amida for rebirth in the Pure Land, etc .

Yinshun believes that Buddhism should stress ““Here, now, this person…” Taking his inspiration from the Agamas, he stresses the path of taking the Bodhisattva’s vow, pusa yuanxing, which his students and those inspired by him put into practice as serving society, in various forms, in order to create a Pure Land on earth. Yet Yang Huinan holds that for Yinshun, “thought” is more important than “action.” Yinshun wrote that one taking the Bodhisattva path “should undertake works that benefit others…that benefit humanity,” this itself is intrinsic part of one’s individual cultivation.

The forms each mission will vary but all should start from a heart filled with wisdom, compassion, and emptiness, towards the goals of helping others and propagating the dharma. But Yinshun did not elaborate upon the details; he did not (like Taixu) outline a blueprint for action for the contemporary Bodhisattva: the heirs of Yinshun made their own interpretative and methodological leaps from Yinshun’s thought to its actualization in Taiwan society.


Heirs of Taixu and Yinshun: The Three Mountaintops of Humanistic Buddhism in Taiwan: Foguangshan, Ciji, Dharma Drum Mountain

Some Western scholars have attached the label Engaged Buddhism to Taiwan’s Humanistic Buddhist groups. Compared to traditional Pure Land or other Buddhist groups in Taiwan, they are, since they are engaged in numerous missions to promote social welfare, education, culture, and environmentalism. But they are not radical activists, not truly engagé in the original sense of the term, which I believe meant challenging the status quo. Thus, on the chart of engaged Buddhism (See Appendix) they should be placed in the category of “social service and welfare.” This becomes clearer when we look at the relation of Buddhist groups to politics in Taiwan over the past thirty years.

Comparing the record of Buddhists in Taiwan to the contributions of the Presbyterian Church during Taiwan’s democratization process: “…despite their remarkable achievements in the areas of education, welfare provision, and charity---not to mention proselytizing---and despite the fact that they are far more numerous than their Christian compatriots…Buddhists did not play a comparable role in the process of transition to democracy…One is left with the impression that Buddhists were at best indifferent to politics and at worst hostile to democratization.” Throughout his essay, André Laliberté stresses a consistency among the major Buddhist groups in Taiwan: not straying far from KMT direct or indirect patronage and a “…mutual indifference between Buddhist organizations and opposition parties…”

He discusses Buddhist groups in the context of a party/state-directed civil society that emerged in the 1980s (he doesn’t speak of a “civil society” which developed autonomously out of the efforts of underground, oppositional, or overseas exile groups active in Taiwan’s democracy movement) especially after the lifting of martial law in 1987 and passage of the 1989 law that legalized the founding of autonomous civic organizations. Laliberté argues that the Nationalist party-state needed the Buddhist groups during their gradual, top-down transition to democracy, so gave them space to develop, even those groups formally outside of BAROC: “As the corporatist structure of the government gradually loosened under the rule of Chiang Ching-kuo [son of Chiang Kai-shek] monks and nuns (like Xingyun of Foguangshan; Zhengyan of Ciji, and Shengyan of Dharma Drum Mountain)…undertook endeavors in areas that were hitherto the preserve…” of the party-state itself, like education, charity, disaster relief, and source of a moral value system, as the legitimacy of the Nationalists’ Three People’s Principles has faded away. Laliberté is saying that Buddhist groups like Foguangshan and Ciji could build their kingdoms outside of the BAROC sphere because they could supply “free goods” that the Nationalist party-state needed during their critical transition to democracy from the 1970s on.

Laliberté points out that the Nationalists always needed the monks of BAROC politically, to endorse domestic policies (thus BAROC never criticized the Nationalist regime for their human rights abuses) and to enlist in the ideological fight against Communism whether in Taiwan or abroad among the overseas Chinese communities, or in cooperation with other Buddhist nations, and BAROC regularly sent delegates to represent the ROC in various international meetings. But from the 1980s, the Nationalists saw in Taiwan’s popular Buddhist temples (many of whose leaders propagate Humanistic Buddhism) with large lay membership a vital source to woo for political support.

Now all observers agree that BAROC’s authority and influence has diminished significantly since Taiwan democratized and civil society has flourished: BAROC cannot compete with popular temples rich in lay talent, material resources, and highly effective proselytizing mechanisms, while now, other temples besides BAROC are authorized to hold ordination ceremonies for domestic and international monks and nuns.

 

Foguangshan Temple: Laliberté astutely describes the political behavior and degree of “social engagement” of the Foguangshan temple organization and its founder, Xingyun. Foguangshan is the huge rich Buddhist monastery and lay organization located in Kaohsiung county, southern Taiwan that has branches throughout Taiwan and the world, for example its Xilai University in California. It may be that Foguangshan is the living embodiment of Taixu’s ideals build a Pure Land on Earth: A rigorous system to train monks and nuns in both Buddhism and a modern studies; while also providing health care and charity services to society; offering Buddhist courses and retreats for laypersons and various forms of community outreach; producing Buddhist scholarship like the Foguang da cidian as well as publications aimed at the general public, a daily newspaper, radio and TV broadcasts; holding domestic and international monastic ordination ceremonies; promoting biqiuni ordination in Taiwan and throughout Asia. The editors of Xingyun’s lectures would agree: “The Venerable Master Taixu was the advocate of a Buddhism for human life, but Xingyun is the one who has put a Buddhism for human life into practice.”

Critics of Foguangshan’s empire however see too much wealth, comfort, and commercialism for a Buddhist temple, while others point to his politics: he consistently supported the KMT throughout the period of martial law; he served as a member of the KMT Central Standing Committee; and he was a commissioner in the Overseas Chinese Affairs Committee. In addition, Foguangshan has indirectly represented the ROC in visits to mainland China and espouses a “Greater China,” world-view, decidedly not for Taiwan independence.

Xingyun delimits “political participation” on the part of his followers to individual cultivation of ethical behavior and spiritual purification. He stresses how cultivation of wisdom, morality, virtue, and conscience can cure the ills of modern society and politics, not through political mobilization or by opposing the political or economic status quo. When Laliberté asked why did Foguangshan collaborate with structures that have brought about these very ills, he was told that “ (Master Xingyun) had no choice but to collaborate with the authorities for the benefit of Buddhists and the people in general during that period.”
As we have seen above, Taixu also remained close to the Nationalists throughout his whole life, but did not forbid his followers from participating in politics. He probably also would have been critical of Foguangshan’s mountain-topism (shantou zhuyi) sectarianism characteristics: promoting a “Foguanghshan Buddhism” based on Master Xingyun’s ideas, and expecting loyalty to the Foguanghsan collective identity.

Taiwan scholar Zheng Zhiming also has criticized the tendency in several of big popular Buddhist temples to center around a cult of the founder with an over-emphasis on the study of his/her teachings, rather than study and meditation upon the dharma conveyed in the Buddhist sutras themselves. Zheng did not name specific associations, but doubtless he meant the “Buddhist mountaintops” of Foguangshan as well as the

Ciji Buddhist Compassion Relief Association: Ciji, an international NGO with a board of lay trustees, is claimed by some sources to be the largest civil organization in Taiwan. Worldwide membership numbers over four million members and its assets exceed that of many world nations. Its founder is the Taiwan nun Zhengyan; besides one hundred resident nuns, Ciji it is primarily a lay Buddhist organization whose missions include charity and disaster relief, medical care and research (including two hospitals, and the first Bone Marrow Bank in Taiwan); education (from kindergarten to university and a medical school); culture (TV station, videos, magazines) and environmental protection.

Though Zhengyan always refers herself as a disciple of Yinshun, in fact she did not study with Yinshun, or with any master, for intensive periods of time. Yinshun did agree to be her tonsure master so that she was eligible to attend the BAROC ordination session in 1963, and he gave her the Dharma name Zhengyan. He also instructed her: “At all times do everything for Buddhism, everything for sentient beings (shishikeke wei fojiao, wei zhongsheng). Most observers see Ciji as the shining example of actualizing Yinshun’s exhortation to build a Pure Land on earth.

Zheng Yan’s belief that poverty is primarily caused by disease and individual and social suffering have primarily moral and spiritual causes is why Ciji concentrates on providing medical care and charity, and expressly does not advocate political or economic change. Ciji members and employees within the Ciji infrastructure, whether nuns or laypeople, are forbidden to participate in formal politics or socio-political activism. “Fighting for the downtrodden and shouting about justice will make the situations even more complicated and confused…(a) sense of responsibility is more important than a sense of justice.”

Here, Zheng Yan is even stricter than Yin Shun. “(U)nlike Tai Xu, Yinshun shuns political activity and emphasizes a return to appropriate religious practice and charitable activity…” Yin Shun did not forbid laypeople to participate in political life, but as for monastics, listed “political organizations” in the same forbidden category as dance halls, red-light districts, bars, etc.

Furthermore, with all their experience and expertise in the areas of health-care, welfare and relief, Ciji has not taken part in public or academic debates, have not lobbied the government, nor have Ciji members served as legal or policy advisors to government officials, all this in contrast to other NGOs in Taiwan.

Taiwan’s activist nun Ven. Zhao Hui wrote on Zheng Yan:
1. Ciji promotes a Pollyannish view of the world that Buddhism in fact does not declare (I.E., Ciji’s “love” is not the same as Buddhist compassion)
2. Ciji encourages idol worship because it concentrates on promoting the life and thought of “The Shangren,” [respectful title for Buddhist Master, Zhengyan] and over-emphasizes Guanyin, rather than promoting the Dharma as conveyed in Buddhist scriptures themselves
3. Ciji’s approach to propagating Zheng Yan’s Still Thoughts is, this is the truth, which must be obeyed, without critical reflection
4. Doctors, nurses, all Ciji personnel, all Ciji lay members, etc. are not allowed to participate in politics or political movements. This violates the civil rights of ROC citizens.
5. Charity is but a band-aid that lacks/precludes
a. Further internal/spiritual change/growth
b. Further structural change, preventive measures
6. Claiming neutrality (中立) may in fact at times contribute to social problems and the sum of human suffering.

Elsewhere Ven. Zhaohui praises Zheng Yan for her achievements in welfare, relief, education, and medical services. “But sometimes the cause of human suffering is political. What good is going to be accomplished if we feed the hungry without addressing the causes of their hunger…” Zhao Hui continued by pointing out that she has been criticized by some Buddhist organizations for her activist style of engaged Buddhism. Members of Ciji, for example, criticized Zhao Hui (a foremost activist for animal rights in Taiwan) for showing a videotape of a pig slaughterhouse, for this would give bad publicity to pig farmers, thus disrupt the economy, and thus disrupt social harmony in Taiwan. “But I (Zhao Hui) think the harmony this person and others speak of is illusory. From my [Buddhist] perspective eating pork is not only causing the pig to suffer but also humans…Humanistic Buddhism is not just about human society, but all living creatures. I want to address the areas of inequality and injustice that affect all beings.”

“These organizations’ leaders have developed neither a comprehensive perspective on political economy nor a detailed social doctrine.” However, supporters of Ciji both in and without the organization hold that Ciji in fact is more radical than critics see, because Ciji calls for a total and holistic reorientation in values on both the individual and social level that eventually will transform society far beyond what schemes for socio-political reform could accomplish.

 

Dharma Drum Mountain, founded in 1989 by Master Sheng Yan, a Chan master who , since he promotes the establishment of a Pure Land on Earth, considers himself a descendant of the reformist lineage of Taixu and Yinshun. Other formal links to Taixu include the fact that Shengyan was trained in a Buddhist seminary in China founded by a student of Taixu and in 1960 was formally tonsured in Taiwan by Dongchu, another student of Taixu. Shengyan writes: “It is because of [Taixu] that modern Buddhism maintains many of its hopes for security and new life…I am not one who espouses or implements in practice Taixu’s particular theories, yet I am one who reveres his spirit.”
Dharma Drum Mountain is dedicated to creating a Pure Land on earth , using the methods of the basic Buddhist precepts; meditation, and wisdom, via the following blueprint: (See http://dharmadrum.org)
Protection of the Spiritual Environment and promoting the spiritual renaissance. First we purify our minds, then we purify our actions and thus purify society.
Sheng Yan promotes four kinds of environmentalism:
Protect the spiritual environment: use sincerity, compassion, and humility to purify our minds
Protect the natural environment
Protect the living environment by leading a simple frugal tidy life
Protect the social environment through correct decorum in mind, speech, action. Simplify life-rituals like weddings and funerals; promote wholesome practices and customs (sic)

The Spiritual Renaissance addresses topics like cultivating peace (at the levels of self, family, society); dealing with desires; handling problems; how to help oneself and others; cultivating blessings.

Dharma Drum has invested much money and human talent in academics (Buddhist studies; universities); public outreach; and education through caring services (disaster aid, charity; care of old, sick and dying; promoting “simple and healthy” ceremonies for birthdays, marriages, and funerals)

It must be said that, different to the Ciji organization, Buddhist studies at Dharma Drum ranks at a world-class level and Master Sheng Yan travels around the world promoting inter-religious dialogue as well as international Buddhist academic and cultural exchanges. He has done much to promote Buddhism worldwide; Taixu would be gratified.

In sum, Dharma Drum advocates a process of peaceful evolution, with primary emphasis on individual transformation, towards the goals of harmony and tranquility. There is no socio-political critique, let alone any calls for political activism, opposition to power-holders, or radical restructuring. Again, this is true to the letter of Yin Shun, and like Zheng Yan, does not believe true social change will come via political struggle. It is worth noting that Shengyan spent ten years in the Nationalist Army from 1949-59 and served as a delegate to the National Assembly; it does not seem he was ever inclined to question the political-military status quo, either now or during the time of martial law in Taiwan. While privately he may oppose war, for example, neither he nor Xingyun or Zhengyan supported the anti-war movements like the one in Taipei last spring opposing the American war in Iraq.

Sheng Yan commented last March that he doesn’t support any kind of war but “…when war is inevitable, I believe that displays of military force which mainly serve to intimidate the enemy and at the same time minimize the destruction of life and property are better relative to other sorts of war.” But, who or what, exactly, is “the enemy?” What happened to Buddhist non-duality? A far cry from Thich Nhat Hanh’s “Do not kill. Do not let others kill. Find whatever means possible to protect life and prevent war.”

In conclusion, Taiwan’s top three Humanistic Buddhist groups have made striking contributions to the growth of Taiwan’s civil society in the areas of education, free media, welfare provision, and charity, and the environmental movement, and their progressive tendencies of encouraging active participation by laypeople (male and female) and promoting the nuns (biqiuni) order. Yet Laliberté points to their overall conservative political position and their acceptance of neo-liberal capitalist economic policies advocated by nearly all political parties on Taiwan. “They do not advocate a ‘third way’ between socialism and liberalism, and they do not articulate the kind of radical views associated with liberation theology. They shun principles such as ‘preferential option for the poor’ and are not associated with the trend of engaged Buddhism pushing for democratic consolidation that thrives in South and Southeast Asia.”

However, one could argue for the power of changing consciousness: Ciji and Dharma Drum have been very effective in educating people about basic environmental issues, while Ciji has extended women’s nurturing and healing role from home to society, (the scope is widened though the “maternal” role is basically the same); and getting the family-oriented Chinese to think beyond family unit to neighborhood, other regions, other countries, to extend care and resources universally, in other words, evolution of a public consciousness which is crucial for a true civil society.

However, Laliberté did not discuss the younger generation of Buddhist activists, as will be seen below.

 

Paradigm shift?

Taiwan’s environmental movement began in the late 1980s and several major Buddhist groups like Ciji and Dharma Drum Mountain have done good work promoting environmental and ecological consciousness, in contrast to mainstream Buddhist circles who remained detached from any social movement. This is the first shift in the paradigm wheel. Yet Jiang Canteng points out that they are still inspired by traditional attitudes of “husheng, xifu” (protect life, lead a frugal life/not waste resources, recycle….on an individual level) rather than criticizing the source of environmental problems within industry, government policy, capitalism, etc.

This kind of approach Jiang and other scholars categorize as biedu (case by case, individual salvation, assuming that the root of social problems is within oneself, not society or environment) vs. pudu (universal salvation).

Buddhist leaders in Taiwan had not looked deep into Buddhist ethics and created a Buddhist ecology, though recently there are works by lay scholars and by Yinshun’s disciples and lately Zheng Yan refers to “Gaia theory” in her writings. Yinshun’s disciples such as Ven. Chuandao of Miaoxin Temple continue to shift the paradigm wheel, and in Jiang’s phrase, have progressed to the level of pudu, universal salvation, as they now critique the collusion of government and big business. The message of Chuandao’s writings and films is: break the myth of Taiwan’s “Economic Miracle,” rectify biased government development policies! He urges the passage of law to end manufacturing of styrofoam and plastic, though these are huge enterprises in Taiwan, like the behemoth Formosa Plastics. But these are triply polluting: the factories themselves, the refuse wasting space in landfills; if refuse is burned, causes harm to humans and food chain.

And he has opposed construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, as has Zhaohui.

She also founded the “Caring about Life Association” to promote animal protection and animal rights in Taiwan. (more below) for she believes that Humanistic Buddhism does not mean Human-centered Buddhism, it is for the liberation of all sentient beings.

 

The Post-Yinshun Generation

In Taiwan today, only a few monastics such as the nun Ven.Zhaohui, her student Ven. Xingguang, and, the monk Ven. Chuandao (mentioned above) could be placed in the category of “radical activists” on the chart of engaged Buddhism. (See Appendix)

Ven. Zhaohui (b. 1957) founded the Hongshi Buddhist Institute in Taoyuan in 1998, though she has been a Buddhist activist since the late 80s. She is Yinshun’s disciple and main champion, and regards her social activism as the “testing ground” for Humanistic Buddhism’s exhortation to take the Bodhisattva’s path. She is a brilliant debater and lecturer, teaches at several universities, has produced many books, articles, has hosted innumerable academic conferences and press conferences, and also is an indefatigable worker for a number of social causes. Her most recent academic work is in vinaya studies and on Buddhist normative ethics with regard to such issues as organ transplant; surrogate motherhood; abortion; stem cell research; euthanasia; suicide; the death penalty; Taiwan’s adultery law; human rights, animal rights, and environmental rights; and aboriginal groups and ritual hunting practices.

She first gained public notice as an advocate for monastics’ representation in the media, especially the negative image of nuns in previously current in Taiwanese society. When the monks and nuns need an advocate, they can rely upon Zhaohui: “Zhao hui fa shi (Ven. Zhaohui): these four characters really are effective!”
As far as I know, the only “Buddhist Feminists” are Zhaohui and Xingguang.

They support efforts by government, education, and NGO circles to work towards gender equality in Taiwan, while Zhaohui’s recent Chinese book Intonation for Thousands of Years: Buddhist Feminist Thought for a New Century (Taipei: Fajie Press, 2002) has one section called “Deconstructing Buddhist Male Chauvinism and a second section on “Building a Space for Gender Equality in Buddhism.”

With their call to Gaobie chuantong (Bid Farewell to Tradition), they have tried to rally Buddhist circles to abolish “the Eight Special Rules” (attha garudhamma) which uphold the subordination of nuns to monks and to end “Buddhist male chauvinism.”

Zhaohui has urged the Dalai Lama to restore full ordination for Tibetan nuns as soon as possible. However, contrary to expectations (Taiwan’s nuns outnumber monks three to one and nuns have a high social status, are well-educated and are supported by well-organized temples) this movement has not gained wide-spread support in Buddhist circles in Taiwan though Xingyun of Foguangshan supports Zhaohui’s efforts.

Why is Zhaohui a radical activist? Zhaohui feels that Buddhists, according to the Dharma and also as citizens in a democratic society, have the powers and duty to speak out and act, to protect the weak and silent, especially animals, and to work for a fair and just society. “A silent people in a democratic society is just like empty air.” Zhaohui and her “Caring about Life Association” has tackled the serious problem of stray dogs in Taiwan’s cities and the abuse of laboratory animals and circuses. One of the fruits of their efforts is the passage of wild animal protection laws and a law to forbid horse-racing in Taiwan.

In addition, Zhaohui and Xingguang are the only monastics who have voiced opposition to the death penalty and in the past have assisted those on death row whose sentences are controversial. And they oppose initiatives to build casinos in Taiwan.

She believes that Humanistic Buddhism promoted by the three major Buddhist groups in Taiwan has made great achievements in charity and relief, education, and culture, but should do more regarding issues of human rights, animal rights, and environmental protection. Charity and relief is not enough to relieve suffering, much of which arises from flaws in government policy and law, and from the collusion of money and power. Thus she believes in civil society, non-governmental organizations should play crucial roles as watchdog, by analyzing, advocacy, and lobbying.

She says that Buddhists should not sit back, and “…cool themselves in the shade of trees that others planted.” Where were the Buddhists, she wonders, while others took to the streets during the previous decades of social movements in Taiwan?

Now, Taiwan is an open and free society yet many Buddhists, in the name of harmony and peace of mind, shun social activism, also fearing harm to their organization’s future.
She says that her stance as a Buddhist regarding politics is inspired by Taixu, wenzheng er bu gan zhi, that Buddhists should be concerned with politics but not become directly involved in its administration, like forming parties, running for office, etc. Zhaohui works to raise the public’s consciousness and lobby to change laws if necessary. More than ever, in Taiwan’s current polarized political environment, where every issue seems to be reduced to a pro-DPP or pro-Blue stance, Zhaohui believes that NGOS (including Buddhist ones) should be the “permanent opposition party,” and keep the focus of debate on critical issues common to all citizens. For example, Zhaohui in the past worked together with politicians against building the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, but recently these same people, just to show their displeasure with the DDP , voted for building the nuclear plant.

In other example, during the recent presidential elections, she held a press conference to critique some recent pronouncements by Ven. Weijue of the Zhongtai Chan Temple: He told his followers to vote for the KMT-PFP candidates and, to boycott this year’s proposed referendum, claiming it as illegal. Zhaohui saw this as “terrifying people…” “His (Weijue’s) anti-democratic words and deeds humiliate Buddhist circles.”

In sum, we can mention a cover story of the Chinese New Taiwan Weekly that featured Zhaohui, with her picture and a large headline: “The media despots don’t fear the big officials, they only fear Shi Zhaohui!” “She IS the Taiwan Miracle!” And the article continues: “Her martyr spirit is like a nuclear bomb….” Others describe her as one with a Bodhisattva’s heart plus “eyes filled with righteous anger,” numu jingang. Her closest colleague at the Hongshi Institute, Ven. Xingguang, compares her spirit to the endless surge of the Yangzi River.

She is part of a very small minority in Taiwan and does not lack critics. Due to her books, lectures, and conferences she is becoming known in Hong Kong and China, in the future her publications should be translated into foreign languages. The Hongshi Institute should establish more connections with other like-minded engaged Buddhists in Asia and throughout the world.

 

Concluding Remarks

The Buddhist Revival began in a transnational context from the 19th century through the 20th and will continue to evolve in an ever-more connected globe. I have just traced the trajectories of humanistic Buddhism from Taixu to Vietnam and from Taixu to Taiwan, and hoped to show how different socio-political contexts in Vietnam and Taiwan resulted in various forms of engaged Buddhism. The Taixu-Vietnam link was previously unknown outside of Vietnam until recently, (see the recent works by Thien Do and Shawn McHale, for example) and works on engaged Buddhism do not mention the connection. Clearly more comparative work is needed on the history of modern Buddhism.

Whether in China, Vietnam, Taiwan, or other nations in which several phases of a modern Buddhist revival occurred, Buddhism has been undergoing a process of globalization for over a century, with laymen and laywomen playing active roles, performing modern educational and social service functions, utilizing modern forms of communication, modern ideas about institution–building; attempts to form international and intra-disciplinary networks, etc. “It is difficult to point to any part of the contemporary Buddhist world that has not been massively transformed by at least one aspect of modernity, be it colonialism, industrialization, telecommunications, consumerism, ultra-individualism, or totalitarianism of the left or right…

The emergence of engaged Buddhism over the past century, and its radical activism from the mid-20th century on, is one strand among many in contemporary Buddhism, and scholars debate passionately, as they have for over a century, about the importance of and relationship between contemplation and action in Buddhist thought and history. To cite but one example, during the second wave of Sri Lankan Buddhist revival in the 1940s, the monk Walpola Rahula, proclaimed in his Heritage of the Bhikkhu that “monks had a right, indeed a duty, to engage actively in the politics of the island.” and to work for public welfare, and that Sri Lankan monks historically had always been so engaged until Buddhism’s decline in the era of colonialism. Against Rahula, as heard often in the critique of a socially-engaged Buddhism, detractors insist that the original message of Buddhism was primarily to obtain personal salvation, to transcend the bonds of this world, and, with the Bodhisattva’s vow, help others do the same. These goals, say the critics, are not synonymous with provision of social service and pursuit of social justice.

And within engaged Buddhist circles there is no consensus about what degree of engagement defines one as an engaged Buddhist. Ken Jones distinguishes between two types of engaged Buddhists: “soft-enders who trust in the ripple effects of one-to-one influence in launching a peaceful society, and the hard-enders who are committed, quietly or militantly, to influence public policy and create new institutions.”

Some insist on a macro approach, like the Buddhist Peace Fellowship’s Think Sangha group: “…acting for the benefit of others in this era of globalization cannot be fully realized by simply employing the individual ethical exhortations of the tradition, like being materially generous. The bodhisattva vow means also confronting the structures of greed, ill will and delusion that imprison whole societies and communities in the wheel of suffering.” Likewise, Santikaro Bhikkhu of Think Sangha believes that “socially engaged Buddhism ought to aim for influencing the causes of suffering, both in the ego structures operating within individuals and in their parallel structures within society.”

I asked Jonathan Watts if he thinks the big Humanistic Buddhism groups in Taiwan are examples of socially engaged Buddhism? He answered that on the one hand “they seem to use the Dhamma as an important grounding to their work,” (not simply slapping on Buddhist label) yet it is open to debate whether the provision of social welfare activities like hospitals can be called engaged Buddhist practice.

“Some say…the distinctive new feature of engaged Buddhism is to challenge the present system with a new paradigm of activities and programs and not merely an activity which cleans up social problems but does not confront their roots [in structural violence]…A second issue is that do Taiwanese Buddhist groups undertake social activities “…as part of their missionary work…to eventually convert them in order to build their Dhamma empire? If yes, this would go against the core ecumenical principles of socially engaged Buddhism.”

And, are Taiwan’s Humanistic Buddhist groups overseas branches true examples of “globalization” as engaging in critical dialogue with the Other? Or do they take root primarily among the overseas Chinese? At some level, are they simply a one-way extension of institutional influence?

Taiwan’s Humanistic Buddhist groups (especially Zhaohui and her activist generation) could well avail themselves of the International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB) founded by Sulak Sivaraksa of Thailand in 1989. High on his list of priorities are human rights, social justice, environmentalism, and a critique of consumerist society and he has been censored and jailed for his activism. INEB is a loose non-hierarchal network comprised of a few, “very small marginalized Buddhist NGOs and activists” though Thich Nhat Hanh and the 14th Dalai Lama are among INEB’s advisors. Groups from Taiwan (Foguangshan, Ciji) , Korea, Japan, did not send participants until recently. This was not due to regional (Southeast Asia, Northeast Asia) or doctrinal differences (Theravada, Mahayana) but to the organization structures of INEB (small grassroots, marginalized from the government and national sangha powers) For even the mega-NGO Sarvodaya in Sri Lanka did not attend INEB meetings until about four years ago. I also wonder how the various Buddhist groups (monastic or lay) throughout East and Southeast have access to news and developments in Buddhism throughout the regions? Is there also the problem of language barriers?

Like each of us, Buddhism must face the hopes and dangers in globalization such as new nationalist and fundamentalist movements, unprecedented interconnectedness due to ease of air travel, instant communication and access to information via email and Internet, inundation by consumer culture and the banality of violence, growing disparity between rich and poor, and environmental degradation. To meet these challenges, engaged Buddhism must find a workable balance among mindfulness, critical analysis, and risk-taking action.


Tuesday, 10 October 2006

Reaching All Generations: Buddhist Outreach in Taiwan

Since 1949, institutional Buddhism has seen tremendous growth in Taiwan, especially since the economic take-off in the 1970s and then, in the mid-1980s, the end of martial law and development of democratic government and civil society in Taiwan. According to the most recent government statistics, the number of Buddhists in Taiwan has increased from 800,000 followers in 1983 to around 3.67 million Buddhists today, out of Taiwan’s overall population of 22 million. It is also vital to note that the total number of monks and nuns in Taiwan is 30,000, 75% of whom are nuns. This is an astounding and unique phenomenon in world Buddhism.
These figures are even more stupendous when we realize that historically speaking, the major religion in Taiwan has not been Buddhism, but rather the polytheistic and syncretic religion known as the “Chinese folk religion,” a mixture of ancestor worship, worship of the Bodhisattva Guanyin; worship of the folk goddess of the sea, Mazu; worship of the Wang Ye gods who protect communities against disease and disaster, worship of the Eternal Mother; the Earth God; the Kitchen God; plus a whole pantheon of gods and heroes from the Daoist tradition.
Even today, most people in Taiwan are NOT officially and regularly affiliated with a formal, organized religion, be it Buddhism, Daoism, Christianity, Islam, and some other smaller sects and New Age Religions. Many people here, especially in urban areas are either completely non-religious, or, do undertake certain rituals from time to time according to the Chinese almanac and on various holidays according to the Chinese lunar calendar. Besides of course the rituals of ancestor worship, common petitions to the gods and goddesses include: Praying for success in examinations, praying for health, wealth, to beget children, (especially sons) and for protection against accidents and harm, as well as funeral and mourning rituals.
However, as just noted above, in the last twenty years, Taiwan has seen a dramatic revival in institutional Buddhism, (primarily a Pure Land/Chan mixture) centered around temples and monasteries of fully ordained nuns and monks, propagating the Dharma. Nuns and monks have worked together with their hard working and generous, lay followers to create the Pure Land on Earth. This means that Buddhism here not only guides the Taiwanese to ponder spiritual, philosophical, and ethical questions, but also Buddhism here has promoted the values of community involvement and volunteerism in Taiwan. Buddhist organizations have fostered a concern for the common-weal, for the greater good of society that is relatively new to the traditionally family-oriented Chinese culture of Taiwan.
“They are also building an international network of Buddhist organizations that embraces not only the Mahayana traditions but spreads out to countries in the Theravada tradition, in a conscious effort to strengthen the roots of the Buddhist world view in contemporary society.” Taken as a whole, Buddhist organizations in Taiwan are rich in human talent, property, and resources, and Buddhism is the fastest growing religion in Taiwan today.
II
So, what is the secret of their success? There are many reasons, political, economic, cultural, but I would like to focus on how Taiwan Buddhism has proselytized and attracted lay followers from across the spectrum of generations, from the following four categories: Children, high school/college students; adults, and senior citizens.
Since Taiwan is a group-oriented society, Buddhists here naturally focus on methods of group mobilization, and use proselytizing traditions from both within and without Buddhism. The former include large-scale Buddhist gatherings, celebration of the Buddha’s birthday and the Pu Du (Universal Salvation) rituals for the souls of the dead held in August; Buddhist lectures and sermons; one-day, three-day, and seven day retreats; Chan retreats; lay ordination ceremonies; pilgrimages; free publications; and classes on Buddhist teachings for all levels.
Buddhist organizations in Taiwan also adopt methods and forms that are familiar to people here from their schools and clubs (group-spirit rallies, night school, fairs, auctions, and formal degree programs). Buddhists also have adopted methods and forms from Boy and Girl Scout groups like summer and winter camps, and various hobby and personal enrichment classes geared to different age groups. Buddhists also stress how much they have learned from the Christian groups who have much experience in organizing camps, retreats, classes of all kinds, and charity drives.
For children, Buddhists hold camps and teach the Dharma through cartoons and picture books, singing, games, dancing, storytelling, and art projects. For the youth, besides the college student clubs and summer and winter meditation camps that many Buddhist groups organize, here we must note the work of the Chinese Young Buddhist Association that specifically targets students and young adults. Also, the activities of the Chinese Buddhist Temple Association, which not only serves as an umbrella organization for temples throughout Taiwan but also does the following:
*Holds series of seminars on how to integrate Buddhist philosophy into one’s daily life
*Teaches the Dharma in jails and detention centers
*Holds college students’ career development workshops
*Holds a lecture series on the problems and concerns of teenagers such as how to deal with school and examination pressures; and how to develop communication skills and one’s so-called “Emotional Quotient” (EQ)
*Holds a series of lectures on the concerns and needs of single parent households and especially the effects on the children.
These are just some of the activities of the Chinese Buddhist Temple Association.
Now, to turn to another generation group,
For adults, there are a wide variety of activities as mentioned earlier. The Ciji Buddhist Foundation for example, has a Men’s League; a Teachers’ Association composed of teachers and professors from all over Taiwan, and, has established Ciji Student Clubs in universities across Taiwan.
As for the senior citizens, besides classes on the Dharma, and classes in adult education and hobbies, Buddhist groups visit ill and bed-ridden elders who may not have family members to care for them, as was the rule in Chinese tradition.
Recently, one topic of great interest in Taiwan is on dying with dignity, hospice care, death, and the afterlife, and Buddhist groups hold classes and seminars to discuss these sensitive issues. (Dying and death were topics which were traditionally taboo and not to be discussed openly or at all) Indicative of these very recent developments are Fo Kuang Shan Monastery’s Graduate Institute of Life and Death Studies, at their Nan Hua University, and the Chinese Society for Life and Death Studies, a private association comprised of academics and funerary professionals founded in 1999.

*In addition, Buddhist temple organizations hold scholarly conferences, art exhibitions and concerts that enrich and elevate Taiwan cultural life.
*And, Buddhist organizations reach all generations through their own newspapers, television stations and programs, websites, magazines, music and video-tapes.
Thus, Buddhist outreach in Taiwan reflects fully the high level of education that Taiwanese have received over the past 50 years, and also access to technology and information, freedom of the press, which Taiwanese have enjoyed especially since the 1980s.
*Of special note, there is also a comprehensive website in Chinese called “Buddhism City,” http://www.buddhismcity.net, created and maintained by the Pu Tuo Culture and Education Foundation. This website includes the following categories of information:
Buddhist News
Buddhist Biographies
Online Buddhist Discussion Forum
Online Sutras and Buddhist texts, mantras, etc
Buddhist Organizations and Temples
Buddhist Art and Artifacts
Individual Web-pages
Buddhist Charity and Philanthropic Works
Buddhist Media and Publishing Houses
Guide to Vegetarian Restaurants
Education
Information about the Tibetan Tradition
Information about Buddhist Rituals
There is also a section called “Hot Topics,” for example, “Talking about Gender Equality in Buddhism.”
And this website also lists information about Buddhist activities and events in Mainland China, Japan, America, and other Asian nations. Such a website contributes greatly to the unity and maturation of Buddhism in Taiwan.
III
And now for some concluding reflections…
No one can deny or castigate the great achievements and contributions that Buddhist groups have made to Taiwan society and culture. With such spectacular growth over the last twenty years, Buddhism has contributed greatly to the spiritual, emotional, and intellectual lives of Taiwanese. Yet I see some difficulties involved with Buddhist outreach in Taiwan.
1.The great challenge for all religions but perhaps especially Buddhism remains: how to protect the need for individual study, meditation, reflection, discernment, silence, solitude, non-attachment, not only in the midst of all the demands, the confusion, the violent and noisy materialism of overly-developed societies, but also when one is fully committed to a Buddhist group, the group’s mission and busy secular activities, however laudable and beneficial to society, one’s own study and cultivation may be neglected or even forgotten. There is so much action but is there also corresponding reflection and discernment?

2. Related to the previous concern is the question, what is particularly Buddhist about these lay organizations? Have some Buddhist temples and lay organizations become too commercialized? Do they ironically run the risk of fragmentation into special-interest groups competing for survival in the feel-good, fast-food-style cultural market of today’s society?

3. As Benoit Vermander has written in his article “Religions in Taiwan Today,”
in recent years, “…Taiwanese Buddhism has gained an unprecedented social audience and independence. However, the proliferation of communities gathered around competing spiritual masters still makes them prone to political manipulation.”
There is no state or official religion in Taiwan; freedom of religion is a constitutional right of all citizens, and all religious groups are private non-government organizations. But it is indeed disturbing to observe the factionalism and competition that exists among some Buddhist organizations in Taiwan; the term in Chinese is called “mountain-top-ism,” shantou zhuyi, meaning that certain Buddhist organizations have become virtually fiefdoms unto themselves and are reluctant to cooperate and share resources and talents with each other.

Happily, there are also groups that endeavor to unite and form positive alliances among different Buddhist groups, for example, like the Buddhist Association of the Republic of China (Taiwan)
The Chinese Young Buddhist Association in Taiwan;
The Chinese Buddhist Temple Association as mentioned above, and
the World Religions Museum in Taipei, established by the Ling Jiu Shan Buddhist Monastery.

4. Buddhist ethics, espousing non-violence, compassion, wisdom, employing the “skillful means” approach to problem-solving, non-attachment, etc. seem especially apposite to solve today’s ills. Yet, “the social critique developed by Taiwanese Buddhism remains rather cautious at present...” Could not Buddhist groups in Taiwan speak out more strongly against the Taiwanese companies and government policies that have contributed to the pollution and environmental degradation of Taiwan? In the future, perhaps the Buddhist groups in Taiwan do even more to help the underprivileged non-Chinese aboriginal groups in Taiwan, to criticize the sex industry, or support the anti-nuclear power movement, or the brand-new and tiny movement to abolish the death penalty, and participate more in today’s life and death struggle against terrorism, militarism and violence in the world today?
Obviously these are extremely complex and serious problems that require thoughtful and long-term vision and planning. The four concerns I just mentioned need the Buddhist groups in Taiwan to unite their hearts, minds, and resources, and cooperate not only with each other but also reach out to Buddhist groups world-wide. For the Dharma transcends individual egos, attachment to Masters and groups, to nations, to one’s Buddhist tradition. This may be the hardest challenge of all.

*A different version of this paper was read as part of the panel “Bridging Generations,” at the 7th Sakyadhita International Conference on Buddhist Women, July 11-17, 2002, Hua Fan University, Taiwan.

References

Chinese Buddhist Temple Association: General Introduction, (Kaohsiung: Chinese Buddhist Temple Association, 1999).

DeVido, Elise A. “The Infinite Worlds of Taiwan’s Buddhist Nuns,” The Ricci Bulletin, Vol. 3, pp. 79-89.

Jones, Charles, B, Buddhism in Taiwan: Religion and the State, 1660-1990, (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1999).

Overmyer, Daniel L, Religions of China: The World as a Living System, (Prospect Heights, Il.: Waveland Press, 1986) pp. 51-54; 103-6.

Republic of China, Government Information Office, Free China Review, Vol. 44, No. 12, December 1994, pp. 1-35.

Republic of China, Ministry of the Interior, Civil Affairs Department, http://www.moi.gov.tw/W3/outline/c-2.htm, December 2000, Table 2-7.

Vermander, Benoit, “Religions in China Today, China News Analysis, 1538-9, p. 4.

Wang Shunmin, “Dangdai Taiwan fojiao bianqian zhi kaocha,” [A Study of Change in Contemporary Taiwanese Buddhism] in Zhonghua foxue xuebao, No. 8, July 1995, pp. 315-342.

Xu Shengxiong, “Zhongguo fojiao zai Taiwan zhi fazhanshi,” [History of the development of Chinese Buddhism in Taiwan] in Zhonghua foxue yanjiu, , No. 2, (1998), pp. 289-298.

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Tuesday, 10 October 2006

Leprosy and the Buddhist Tradition

Leprosy and Karma-At first glance, one is shocked by Buddhism’s seemingly hard and fatalistic view of leprosy: This disease, along with various congenital physical handicaps and mental illnesses, as well as the Ebola and AIDS viruses, is a prime example of what Buddhists call a “Karmic type” of disease [the other types being diseases which arise from 1}disharmony of the physiological systems; 2}immoderate eating or drinking; 3}disruption of daily rhythm of living; 4}bacteria and viruses, and spiritual malaise].
A “Karmic type” of disease is considered as “retribution,” as a matter of course, for heavy sins in one’s past lives. Besides the usual list of mortal sins such as murder and unfiliality, leprosy is seen as punishment for such trangressions as slandering and doing harm to monastics, disparaging the Sutras, and damaging Buddhist temples.

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Tuesday, 10 October 2006

暴力與聖經

人類史實際上亦可稱之為暴力敘述史。暴力始終無所不在,並以種種方式呈現出來:凶猛的戰爭、經濟的剝削、文化的侵略、兩性的不平等...一個國家的發展史,是由一連串的內部衝突、動亂及鎮壓所寫成。二十世紀末的今天,環顧四週,類似的例子不勝枚舉,諸如飢荒造成暴動、恐怖主義橫行、領土保保衛戰、軍事武器擴建、城市的破敗不堪...
面對暴力,基督徒是否無計可施?基督徒信仰有沒有可能幫助現代世界克服所謂的暴力宿命?面對這一挑戰,信徒不應立即絕望。至少,他們應該注意到,有關暴力的故事,在聖經的記載十分豐富。因為聖經是一個民族歷史的記述,所以它也是毀滅、強姦、強暴故事的縮影,暴力的起始與發展構成了聖經故事的主軸。為何聖經著重人類歷史的暴力特質?本文的著眼點如下,謂聖經的人,不但無法避免面對暴力的問題,進一步更應發現,天主啟示祂的救恩計劃,正在人類的暴力史中。換句話說,洞察聖經的暴力觀念,會使我們領悟所謂的聖經救恩與解放的真諦。
本文的題目包羅萬象,惟恐無法面面俱到。我們可先從暴力的觀念談起。之後,我們研究聖經有關暴力思想的四個階段:(一)人性和獸性之間的關係,以創世紀第一章至第九章為例;(二) 厄則克耳先知書中的祭祀與偶像批判;(三)出谷紀第十四章與所謂的聖戰觀念;(四)山中聖訓裡,溫和如何克服暴力的過程。

何謂暴力

就某個角度而言,「暴力」二字含意明確,無須再下定義。挨揍是承受暴力的一種形式,動粗干擾他人的發言權則是另一種形式。然而,真相絕非如此單純。言語有時比拳頭更具殺傷力,而武力的動用亦能使人保持緘默。暴力究竟為何?這種一面扮演犧牲者,一面扮演幫凶角色的神秘、力量究竟為何?(1)
「暴力」由「力」字組成。「力」一方面包括生命的力量,另一方面包括死亡的力量。根據最基本的生死經驗,我們或許能夠明瞭暴力中「力」的含意。智慧篇云﹕「我一出生,便呼吸了公共的空氣,落在具有同一命運的地上,哭出了第一聲...人人進入生命的路,只有一條,去世亦然。」(智七3,6)「第一聲」的用語有兩個意義,它表現我們無法避免人類命運,而應該遭受和面對這一股超越生死力量。再者,智慧篇的上下文中談到的「第一聲」,令人聯想起天主的「聲音」,在聖經裡的第一聲為「有光!」(創一3)也有誕生的含意。然而,天主的「聲音」好似兼具了創造與毀滅力量的象徵:

上主的聖音響徹水面,
天主雷鳴再顯示莊嚴,
上主臨到澎湃的水面。
上主的聲音具有威權,
上主的聲音具有莊嚴。(詠二十九3,4)

「上主的聖音響徹水面」這個句子又令人聯想到創世紀第一章:「在水與水之間要有穹蒼,將水分開!」(創一6)聖經裡從頭到尾,水的分開表達上主的創造和救恩能力(2):「紅海裡開出一條無阻的道路,巨濤中出現了一片青草地,你的全體百姓,在你親手掩護之下,由那裡經過,看到了神奇的異跡。」(智十九7,8)「分開」的行為建立一個有秩序的世界,也清晰的表達誕生的含意。首先,「分開水」乃創造世界,接著,「分開紅海」乃解放民族,最後,「分開天空」(見默十九11)乃產生新世界:「我看見了一個新天新地,因為先前的天與先前的地已不見了,海也沒有了。」(默二十一1)相反地,洪水表現死亡的暴力。以聖經而言,「分開的力量」(亦即創造力)是「混亂的力量」(亦即暴力)的對立。我們現在將深入研究聖經,並以四個階段為例。

人性與獸性(創一至九章)

「加音與亞伯爾」的故事是《聖經》暴力記述的開端。透過象徵語言,這個故事表達出暴力的潛在性:「你若做得不好,罪惡就伏在你門前,企圖對付你,但你應制服它。」(創四7)在希伯來文裡,robes,「伏」字,僅限於獸類用語(3)。

創世紀第四章的獸性象徵乃引用前一章內容:厄娃也沒有制服伏在她之下的蛇,反而聽了它的話。在加音和厄娃的故事中,有兩條路,是人性制服獸性,或是獸性制服人性?
「制服獸性」究竟意義何在?天主創造了人類之後,祝福道:「你們要管理海中的魚,天空的飛鳥,各種在地上爬行的生物!」(創一28)在〈創二20〉又云:「人遂給各種畜牲、天空中的各種飛鳥和各種野獸起了名字;但他沒有找著一個與自己相稱的助手。」人管理禽獸,因人是真實的「天主的肖像」,因人做的事和天主一樣,根據他說話的能力區分萬物,給予每種禽獸一個名字,建立一個秩序。在這個故事裡,我們得知只有透過交談才能掌控管理禽獸。
天主賦予人制服禽獸的權力,同時祂訂立最初的盟約:「看,全地面上結種子的各種蔬菜,在果內含有種子的各種果樹,我都給你們做食物;至於地上的各種野獸,天空中的各種飛鳥,在地上爬行有生魂的各種動物,我把一切青草給牠們做食物。」(創一29、30)也就是說,對人和動物而言,原本的盟約尊重素食的典範(4),原本的世界狀態是溫和的,而不是暴力的。
加音殺害了亞伯爾以後,創世紀轉變為暴力蔓延的記述:「因我受傷,殺了一成年,因我受損,殺了一青年﹔殺加音的受罰是七倍,殺拉默客的是七十七倍。」(創四24)久而久之,「大地已在天主面前敗壞,到處充滿了強暴。」(創六11)洪水就象徵人與人之間的暴力的必然結局。因此,聖經故事常將人類暴力與自然洪水緊密聯繫在一起,並暗示若暴力充斥,大地將不復存在。同樣地,
中國詞源學結合政治和灌溉的藝術,形成政治一詞。暴力的失控會導致恐懼退回「混沌狀態」,亦即社會組織形成前,自相殘害的局面。從各種內戰造成社會結構解體一事,即可得知混沌狀態決非憑空捏造之詞。在世界許多文明中,藉著洪水神話,敘述人力無法控制的洪水四處泛濫景象,若隱若現的透露出這種恐懼混亂的心態。
洪水結束以後,天主與諾厄立約。(創九)是第一次聖經使用「盟約berith一字,可是若從〈創一28-30〉來看,天主和諾厄的盟約已可稱為新約)表面上,創一盟約和創九盟約很像,但是我們仍可以發現相異點:自此以後,人類不但管理禽獸,而且也讓牠們感到畏懼。〈創九〉云﹕「各種禽獸,都要對你們表示驚恐畏懼;這一切都已交在你們手中。凡有生命的動物,都可做你們的食物。」動物的驚恐是可以了解的。新盟約不適用於理想的世界,而適用於實際的形勢。上主說:「人心的思念從小就邪惡。」可是,「我也再不照我所作的打擊一切生物了。」(創八29)盟約的目的是控制暴力來保證人類與世界的存在。按此邏輯推演,盟約應能包容帶有些許暴力色彩的言論表達,以免暴力累積凝聚過量,如同河水暴漲,終至無法負荷而泛濫成災。因此,盟約需要挖掘運河渠道,以疏導社會暴力的流量,該工程不僅是預防措施,更應富有教育意義。在創世紀第九章裡,這樣的救育過程是從禁止喝血的說明:「有生命、帶血的肉,你們不可吃。」這樣禁止的目的在讓人類記起在伊旬樂園裡的生物與生物之間的和諧關係。換言之,人雖然是卑微的,仍為天主的肖像。
總之,管理禽獸的權力表現出人類應盡職的責任:制服他自已的獸性。若人性無法制服獸性,暴力必然會蔓延,直到「一切有血肉的人」甚至都遭受毀滅(見創六12)。在歷史上,人以暴力面對他人與禽獸,則需要有象徵意義的法律來喚起記憶。人因為仍是天主的肖像,應根據溫和的典範運用他的制服權力。在先知的理想國裡,我們可看出戰爭的結束,與人獸之間的和平,息息相關:「到那一天,為了他們,我要同田間的野獸、天空的飛鳥和地上的爬蟲訂立盟約,並且我要從地上將弓弩、刀劍和戰爭毀滅,使他們安居樂業。」(歐二20﹔也見依撒意亞十一6~9)

在厄則克耳先知書中的祭祀與偶像批判

「人性是否能夠控制獸性?」這是《聖經》中一再提及的問題。先知對偶像的激烈批判能幫助我們對獸性與暴力的思想,做進一步推究(5)。實際上,出谷紀曾將偶像與獸性這兩個主題相提並論:「眾百姓即將他們耳上的金環摘下,送到亞郎跟前。亞郎從他們手裡接過來,製了一個模型,用來鑄了一個牛像。」(出三十二3,4)芸芸眾生崇拜偶像猶如崇拜自己的獸性:「他們竟然還敬拜那些最可憎惡的動物...因此,天主用同樣的動物來懲罰他們,使他們受許多動物的殘害,很為適當。」(智十五18,十六1)
我們應該注意到的是,偶像與祭祀的關係極為密切。「他們去給巴耳獻祭,向偶像進香。」(歐十一2)在先知思想中,祭祀是宗教的暴力症狀。誠然,舊約時代的普遍祭祀方式好像是來自於兒童(特別是長子)的犧牲:「(國王)卻沒有成功,於是將那要繼承自己位的長子叫來,在城牆上祭殺了,作為全燔祭。」(列下三27,也見蘇六26,民十一)
厄則克耳批判偶像崇拜的特質,對他而言,偶像崇拜、犧牲子孫和經濟壓制是密不可分的。透過先知的聲音,天主對耶路撒冷說:「甚至你還祭殺你給我生的子女,作為它們『偶像』的食品。」(則十六20)則二十二又云:「那流人血,使時辰迫近,製造偶像,自染不潔的城,是有過的!...看,以色列的首領,在你中間各逞其能,傾流人的血。在你中間有人輕視父母,在你中間有人壓迫外方人,在你中間也有人欺壓孤兒寡婦...在你中間有人接受賄賂,以傾流人血。你收息金,放重利,用強力剝削你的近人...本地的人民蠻橫強暴,劫奪搶掠,欺壓窮苦貧困的人,迫害外方人,無法無天。」(則二十二3-29)我們可以看到這篇經文的現實性。此外,厄則克耳書的分析可以澄清人類暴力的三個特質﹕

(一)天主拒絕接受犧牲。從亞巴郎與依撒格的故事以來,這就是《聖經》一貫教訓。「不可在這孩子身上下手!」(創二十二12)厄則克耳提及,因為犧牲將人類的暴力投影在天主的形象上,所以犧牲亦可被視為對天主的一種暴力。「我喜歡仁愛勝過祭獻,喜歡人認識天主勝過燔祭。」(歐六6)不認識天主的人,以為祂要求犧牲,遂不區別天主和偶像的差異。

(二)除了對他人和對天主的兩種暴力之外,還有另外一種暴力,可稱為「對我自己的暴力」,它明白地呈現在子孫的犧牲上。

恨自己的人,用子孫做代替品。在厄則克耳書中,關於自恨,有以下兩種解釋:
.
(1) 自恨寧願有無生命的肖像(亦即偶像),而拒絕活的肖像(亦即子孫)。我們能明瞭「自恨」這種衝動的理論根據,與自佛洛依德以來,許多心理分析家提出的「生之本能」與「死之本能」理論相符合。在具有暴力傾向的人身上,兩種本能互相交替否認及至對方不再存在 粗暴的人發出肺腑之言,「所有不認同我形象的人都不存在。」

(2) 「恨我自己」這種衝動理諭的第二個解釋是,一個人,是否承受了父母的愛?若沒有,他很可能無法愛他自己,也無法愛自己活的肖像,無法愛自己的子孫。厄則克耳藉著使用過的比喻,表達同樣的道理,他認為,耶路撒冷人民是赫特人民(亦及外邦人民)的子孫。「凡說格言的必以格言指著你說,有其母必有其女!你真不愧是你母親的女兒,因為她憎嫌了自己的丈夫和子女。」(則十六44,46)被父母恨的人必恨自已的子孫,此乃暴力蔓延的原則(6)。 .

(三)最明顯的暴力方式在於違犯「不可殺人」這個戒律。果真如此,為何厄則克耳將謀殺、通姦、經濟剝削和偶像崇拜相提並論?此乃因為暴力否定他人存在的意義,也就是藐視法律和人倫的必要性。否定他人和廢除法律,彼此是一氣相通的。因為隨著另一張面孔的出現,緊接著而來的即是言語及法律,而自然法則是絕對禁止謀殺的。暴力的本體在於否定法律的意義。暴烈的人把偶像作為法律的代替者,因為偶像乃自我的呈現,所以我們也可以說,暴烈的人建立自己的法律。


從聖戰記述到默示錄文體的轉變

雖然《聖經》中並無所謂「聖戰」的字眼,但是,無可諱言,在以色列人民的戰爭記述中,天主的角色顯得特別重要。對聖經神學而言,這樣的陳述有什麼意義?以色列人民的「聖戰」神學是否可以幫助我們明瞭與面對暴力?
關於「聖戰」的注釋很多(7),本文無法一一提及,而有關「聖戰」對暴力意義的解釋,只需強調一點:按筆者的看法,在〈出谷紀〉第十四章可以找到「聖戰」的原始典範。深入分析這段文章,能有助於明瞭「聖戰」觀念的變遷。
表面上,橫渡紅海的插曲不屬於戰爭記述的範疇,埃及人組成一個部隊,可是以色列人只是一個民族而已。此外,在這個插曲裡,並無戰爭。然而,梅瑟的凱旋歌形容天主為「戰士」,又云:「以你無比的威嚴,毀滅了你的敵人。」(出十五3,7)加上橫渡紅海可稱為勝利,那麼到底是那種勝利呢?「當法郎來近的時候,以色列子民舉日,看見埃及人趕來,都十分恐怖,向上主哀號,也向梅瑟說:『你為什麼這樣待我們,將我們從埃及領出來?...我們甘願服事埃及人,服事埃及人比死在曠野裡還好呀』梅瑟向百姓說:『你們不要害怕,站著別動,觀看上主今天給你們施的救恩...上主必替你們作戰,你們應安靜等待。』」(出十四10,14)渡紅海後,「以色列人看見了埃及人的屍首浮在海邊上」(出十四30)。「站著別動,你們應安靜等待」這種態度,彷彿是拯救的必然條件。雖然在歷史上以色列和其他民族的戰爭大同小異,可是,對以色列而言,理想的勝利是「被動的得勝者」的作為。例如,〈編年紀下〉第二十章根據〈出第十四〉的典範,描寫對約沙法特國王的戰爭:「上主這樣對你們說:你們不要為這支龐大軍隊害怕,因為戰爭不在乎你們,而在乎天主...不必畏懼,不必害怕!明天你們只管出去迎敵,因為上主與你們同在...上主派出伏兵,襲擊了那些來攻擊猶大的阿孟人、摩阿布人和色依爾山地的居民,他們便被擊敗了。阿孟人和摩阿布人起來攻擊色依爾山地的居民....猶大到了俯瞰曠野的高崗上,觀望大軍,見浮屍遍野,沒有一個逃脫的。」
這樣的「理想戰爭」(8),不但仿效〈出十四〉的典範,而且還有一個很有意思的特質:不是天主毀滅敵人,而是敵人彼此殺害。剛提的經文中,暴力殺死粗暴的人。後代的聖經文學,闡述這樣的思想。例如,〈智慧篇〉提出橫渡紅海的新解釋,天主以宇宙的元素,間接的懲辦義人的壓迫者。亦即:宇宙懲辦惡人,地球反叛惡德。「整個世界都要跟隨上主來攻擊愚頑的人。」(智五21)這樣的「宇宙報仇」觀念好像是屬於生態主義!(也見肋十八25,二十22﹔默十二16)如同編年紀以〈出十四〉的典範描寫「理想戰爭」,亦如同〈智慧篇〉以同樣的典範為「末世戰爭」之先聲。
此外,〈智慧篇〉幫肋讀者明瞭,毀滅宇宙秩序的暴力,結果也是毀滅自己的威力。這就是「惡人的懲罰」的真諦。「人用什麼來犯罪,就用什麼來罰他。」(智十一17)這種思想亦為默示錄文體的起點(9)。毀滅粗暴者的乃是他自己的執拗。「其餘沒有被這災害殺死的人,仍然沒有悔改,離開他們手所作的,仍舊去崇拜邪魔和那看不見、聽不見、走不動的金、銀、鋼、石、木神像;他們也沒有悔改,放棄各種兇殺、邪術、姦淫和偷竊。」(默九20-21)
再者,在默示錄文體中,偶像的主題讓人聯想到武器。偶像和武器,均是靠人手所作的東西﹕「他們的地域充滿了馬匹,戰車不可勝數。遍地都是偶像,人人崇拜自己手做的東西。」(依三7-8)因此,毀滅偶像的上主同時破壞武器:「我必要從她的口中把巴耳的名號除掉,使他們再也不提起他們的名字。到那一天,為了他們,我要同田間的野獸、天空的飛鳥和地上的爬蟲訂立盟約,並且我要從地上將弓弩、刀劍和戰爭毀滅。」(歐二19-20,也見米五,厄三十四,匝九)上主是破壞弓弩的「戰士」,祂贏得「聖戰」,才重新訂立人類和禽獸的原始盟約。

溫和如何克服暴力

匝加利亞先知對「聖戰」的得勝者描繪如下:「看,你的君王到你這裡來,他是正義的,勝利的,騎在驢上,騎在驢駒上....他要從耶路撒冷除掉戰馬...他要向萬民宣布和平...」(匝九9-10)對基督徒而言,匝加利中的君王形象乃基督自己的象徵(見瑪二十一4-5)。然而,我們應該注意到,君王是「勝利的」,他騎的驢駒暗指戰爭的車馬,換言之,他根據自己的方法去打仗。換言之,溫和與勝利的君王克服暴力,而不低估它。這樣陳述不禁令人懷疑,究竟耶穌對暴力的教訓與態度如何?
毋庸置疑,耶穌的話不乏激烈之語:「你們現今飽飫的是有禍的,因為你們將要飢餓。」(路六25,也見瑪十一21;瑪二十一41,路十九27)耶穌也表現憤怒:「耶穌遂含怒環視他們,見他們的心硬而悲傷...」(谷三5)還有,耶穌最令人驚訝的行為是潔淨聖殿的插曲:「在殿院裡,他發見了賣牛、羊、鴿子的,和坐在錢莊上兌換銀錢的人,就用繩索做了一條鞭子,把眾人連羊帶牛,從殿院都趕出....」(若二14-15)實際上,鞭子的運用屬於先知具有象徵意義的連續行為,而且,它的意義相當明顯:祭祀時代結束了。「時候要到,且現在就是,那些真正朝拜的人,將以心神以真理朝拜父」(若四23)。一般來說,耶穌的態度和依撒意亞所描繪的默西亞是相似的:「他不爭辯,也不喧嚷,在街市上沒有人聽到他的聲音。已壓破的蘆葦,他不折斷,將熄滅的燈心,他不吹滅」(見瑪十二19-20)。然而,他直接的面對爭論、審判、十字架、種種暴力福音情節和戰鬥記述類似,福音則可稱你「暴力」與「溫和」拉鋸戰的戰鬥敘述。保祿節略福音敘述的結局如下:「他以十字架誅滅了仇恨」(弗二16)。「誅滅」二字屬於仇恨的字彙,而彷彿只有這種字彙能夠表達暴力的反面意義,仇恨的暴力轉變為仁愛的暴力。同理推之,溫和並不否認暴力,反在扭轉它的力量。「迫害你們的,要祝福...你不可你惡所勝,反應以善勝惡」(羅十二12,20)。
耶穌以辯論面對暴力,他的武器是他的言,就當他談及他所引用的舊約經文。「天主的話確實是生活的,是有效力的,比各極雙刃的劍還銳利」(希四12,也見弗六17)。換言之,耶穌最有力的武器就是他的舌。惡人也善於利用舌頭,而他們天花亂墜的目的在於誅滅語言。惡人喧嚷而不傾聽他人的話,他動口就是動手:「你這欺詐的人,你時時懷念邪惡,你的舌頭正如一把銳利的剃刀」(詠五十二4)。天主的話和惡人的舌頭相似,均像是銳利的刀劍。(也見瑪十34,「我來不是為帶平安,而是帶刀劍。」)舌頭是暴力與溫和的共同武器:「誰若在言語上不犯過失,他便是個完人,他必能控制全身。試看,我們把嚼環放在馬嘴裡,就可叫牠們順服我們,調動他們的全身。同樣,舌頭雖然是二個小小的肢體,卻能誇大。看,小小的火,能燃著廣大的樹林!舌頭也像是火......我們用它讚頌上主和父,也用它詛咒那照天主肖像而受造的人,讚頌與詛咒竟從同一口裡發出!我的弟兄們,這事絕不該這樣!泉源豈能從同一孔穴,湧出甜水和苦水來?」(雅三2,11)
粗暴的言語會妨礙其他聲音的出現:「他們都大聲亂嚷,掩著自己的耳一齊向他撲去,把他拉出城外,用石頭砸死了。」(宗七57)換言之,暴力與言語是對立的,拳打腳踢會制止他種意見的傳達,經濟的壓迫會妨礙一些階層進入文化核心,甚至妨礙其言論表達。暴力始終企圖扼殺言語。另外再舉個例子,無心的父母,常會粗暴的阻止小孩去認識熟悉自己特有的表達方式,以便按部就班的進入言語的階段。
諸如此類暴力,常呈現出各種面貌,體罰為其一;極盡溫柔、反覆再三的告誡子女不可讓父母傷心難過為其二;第三種可稱之為「冷漠的暴力」,亦即對週遭人群及事物均冷漠以待,不讓他人與自己有溝通機會,片面決定他人言行的無足輕重、毫無價值。由此可見,暴力甚於拳打腳踢。有些時候,拳打腳踢或許不是最差勁的表達方式,如此一來,言論的品質愈顯重要。單是言行不一就會導致嚴重的暴力。謊言糢糊了真相,使得語言的交流成為空談,猶如偽鈔的介入,會干擾貨幣兌幣市場一般。因此,暴力主要根據它的相反詞「言語」來下定義。
當然,言語裡可解讀暴力,諸如不少人以傲慢、輕蔑、咄咄逼人態度發表言論。反之,暴力也會透露言語,例如,粗暴行為可以是恐懼、嫉妒、沮喪或是期待等情緒的表達。然而,就本質上來說,粗暴行為是阻礙溝通的行為,而言語則始終主張溫和勝於武力。
前一個分析能夠幫助我們明瞭山中聖訓為何可視為「非暴力」的圭臬。耶穌並不建議被動忍耐,而推崇一種「主動的溫和態度」。首先,山中聖訓強調我們剛剛提到的言論品質的重要性:「你們一向聽過給古人說『不可殺人!』誰若殺了人,應受裁判。我卻對你們說,凡向自己弟兄說『傻子』,就要受議會的裁判;誰若說『瘋子』,就要受火獄的罰......當你和你的對頭還在路上,趕快與他和解,免得對頭把你交予判官,判官交給差役,把你投在獄裡」(瑪五21,26)。這個教訓的目的在於制止從開頭以來暴力的蔓延(我們可以記起〈加音與亞伯爾〉的故事)。然而,「主動溫和」是唯一能談出真誠的話語:「你們的話該當是:是就說是,非就說非,其他多餘的,便是出於邪惡」(瑪五37)。「主動溫和」也反對「冷漠的暴力」:「你們若只問候你們的弟兄,你們作了什麼特別的呢?」(瑪五47,也見路十30,37)
果真如此,我們不禁會提出質疑,在〈山中聖訓〉的上下文中,耶穌所說的:「若有人掌擊你的右頰,你把另一面也轉給他」(瑪五39),有什麼意義呢?我們應該注意的是:「把另一面也轉給人」也可稱為主動態度,令人領悟溫和比暴力更強烈與有韌性。根據溫和典範行事的人,不但不消極,反而能以慷慨就義克服暴力:「那願與你爭訟拿你的內衣的,你連外衣也讓給他。若有人強迫你走一千步,你就同他走兩千步。求你的,就給他﹔願向你借貸的,你不要拒絕」(瑪五40,42)。山中聖訓的誇張文體不屬於法律範疇(10),而它的目的在於解構讀者的溫和觀念,溫和實際上並不被動,並不軟弱,比暴力更有力量,溫和表明仁愛的活力。「罪惡在那裡越多,恩寵在那裡也越格外豐富,以至罪惡怎樣藉死亡為王,恩寵也怎樣藉正義而為王,使人藉著我們的主耶穌基督獲得永生」(羅五20-21)。

結論

凡跟隨耶穌基督的信徒,不得不面對充滿暴行的世界。信徒觀察暴力的蔓延,而且也覺察到自己也可能是暴力的同謀者。「敵人」不一定是「他人」,暴力的同謀者(亦即順從暴力威力的人)亦可視為自己的敵人。因此,暴力成為意料中的事,而無法避而視之。福音的精神讓我們領悟到,防治之道是找出一個嶄新的說話方式與生活模式,以提出和解及重新開始的管道。因而,我們不能將「溫和態度」定義為一固定的觀念。溫和乃生命不斷創新,人與人之間的和平也在不斷的創作過程。猶如暴力可被視為毀滅的能力,溫和與和平創造力的果實。創造和諧世界的上主給予人類終極和平的主基督:「都是在他內受創的...他是元始,是死者中的首生者...因為天主樂意叫整個的圓滿居在他內,並藉著他使萬有,無論是天上的,是地上的,都與自己重歸於好,因著他十字架的血立定了和平」(哥一15,20)。

【神學論集第106期,1995年冬】

注釋
----------------------------
(1)參考《聖經神學辭典》:「暴力」、「戰爭」、「溫良」、「動物」、「偶像」、「祭祀」等章節。也可見筆者所著的《暴力與政治》一書,輔仁大學出版社,一九九五年。
(2)見Paul Beauchamp, Création Séparation, Desclée, 1969.
(3)Paul Beauchamp, La violence dans la Bible, Cahier Evangile 76, p.7.
(4)Paul Beauchamp, “Création et Fondation de la Loi en Gn 1,1-2,4 ” in La Création dans l’Orient Ancien, Cerf, 1986, pp.139-182.
(5)有關犧牲,見Evaristo Villar,〈聖經是否描繪了一個暴力的天主?〉神學論集,第六十二期,一九八四年冬,頁613-621。
(6)有關暴力與心理分析,見Denis Vasse, Un parmi d’autres, Seuil, 1987 ; La Chair envisagée, Seuil, 1988.
(7)有關聖戰,請參考廖湧祥,神學論集,第八十三期,一九九○年春,頁15-39。參考書:G. von Rad, Der Heilige Krieg im Alten Israel, Zurich, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1952. A. de Pury et al, “La Guerre Sainte”, Etudes Théologieques et Religieuses, 1981, 1. A van der Lingen, Les guerres de Yahve, Cerf, 1990.
(8)有關理想戰爭的典範,見N. Lohfinck, “Der Schichten des Pentateuch und der Krieg”, in Gewalt und Gewaltlosigkeit im Alten Testament, Freiburg, 1983, pp.51-111.
(9)有關默示錄文體,見AFCB, Apocalypses et Théologies de l’Espérance, Cerf, 1977. J. Dupont, Les Trois Apocalyses Synoptiques, Cerf, 1985.
(10)見Interpretation, April 1987 : R. Guelich, “Interpreting the Sermon on the Mount”, pp.117-130 ; L. S. Cahill, “The ethical implication of the Sermon on the Mount”, pp.114-152.



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