Thursday Lecture Series

Grey Zone and Fuzzy Boundary: New Developments of the Post-Mao Chinese Buddhism and the Fragmented A

Thursday, The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room

In post-Mao China, a Buddhist movement inspired by the teachings of Monk Jingkong, a Buddhist teacher based outside the mainland, has displayed more dynamic and potent growth than the Chinese Buddhist establishment, even though it does not enjoy the greater resources and secured state recognition of the latter. How do we account for the rise of the Jingkong Buddhist movement under the restrictive state religious policies? And how do we explain the differentiated growth patterns between the Jingkong movement and the Chinese Buddhist establishment? Dr. Sun argues that reforms in post-Mao China have given rise to a central contradiction between the logic of political control and the logic of market. One result of this contradiction is the rise of a “grey area” where religious groups are able to achieve autonomous growth. The Buddhist establishment has been unable to expand quickly because their relationships with the state as well as their institutional features and patterned practices have prevented them from tapping into the grey area, whereas the institutional features and practices of the Jingkong groups have helped them to circumvent state constraints and achieve a vigorous growth.