Chinese Buddhism Today - Conservatism, Modernism, Syncretism and Enjoying Life on the Buddha’s Light Mountain - Yu-Shuang Yao

Chinese Buddhism Today - Conservatism, Modernism, Syncretism and Enjoying Life on the Buddha’s Light Mountain - Yu-Shuang Yao

Karma, Death and Ancestors

Chinese Buddhism Today - Conservatism, Modernism, Syncretism and Enjoying Life on the Buddha’s Light Mountain - Yu-Shuang Yao

Yu-Shuang Yao [+-]
Fo Guang University, Taiwan
Yu-Shuang Yao completed her PhD in Sociology of Religion at the University of London in 2001. She is a Professor at Fo Guang University, Taiwan, specializing in contemporary religions of Taiwan.
Richard Gombrich [+-]
University of Oxford / Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies
Richard Gombrich is founder and President of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies. Before his retirement in 2004, he held the Boden Chair of Sanskrit at Oxford University and a Professorial Fellowship at Balliol College for 28 years. He supervised nearly 50 theses on Buddhist topics, and is the author of 200 publications. He continues to lecture and teach at universities round the world.

Description

The chapter begins with the observation that Tai Xu was particularly critical of of contemporary Chinese Buddhism for devoting far too much attention to rituals for the dead and the income derived from performing those rituals, at the cost of doing the many things which would directly benefit the living. The authors then trace the history and development of the doctrine of Karma and note how all the Indian soteriologies – Brahminical/Hindu, Jain and Buddhist come to agree that since all lives are finite and a good rebirth will inevitably come to an end, the best solution – the only final one – is liberation. There then follows a discussion of the specifically Buddhist views regarding fate of the dead, the role of mortuary rites, sacrifice and ritual and the importance of the debates about the the the transfer of merit and the notion of intention. They argue that the link between karma and intention was broken in Mahāyāna teachings since, if one could acquire merit through some act of empathy, without even being aware of it, then the Buddha’s teaching that we are solely and wholly responsible for our own karma becomes less significant. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the concept of collective karma and whether it is implied in the Buddha's teachings or whether there are words for the concept in the traditional lexicons. The authors, in fact, conclude that the notion of collective karma that may be observed in aspects of contemporary Buddhism is an inheritance from Western esoteric speculations on the concept which first appeared in Helena Blavatsky's The Key to Theosophy (1889).

Notify A Colleague

Citation

Yao, Yu-Shuang; Gombrich, Richard. Karma, Death and Ancestors. Chinese Buddhism Today - Conservatism, Modernism, Syncretism and Enjoying Life on the Buddha’s Light Mountain. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 37-53 Jun 2022. ISBN 9781800502321. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=43514. Date accessed: 25 Jun 2024 doi: 10.1558/equinox.43514. Jun 2022

Dublin Core Metadata