Between The Mundane and Super-Mundane: Master Yongjue Yuanxian and the Revival of Chinese Buddhism in 17th Century Fujian Area
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractYongjue Yuanxian (1578-1657) was a Confucian scholar, an eminent 17th-century Buddhist Master, and a prolific writer who re-established the reputation of the Caodong Buddhism. This study investigates Yuanxian's life and his works: the Shou ta ming (Inscription of the Longevity Stupa), the Yiyan (Nonsense Uttered in Dreams), the Jie ni nü (To Refrain from Drowning Female Infants), and the Jianzhou hongshi lu (Record of Propagating Buddhism in Jianzhou). This research unfolds Yuanxian's Confucian and Buddhist backgrounds as well as his impact through his writings on both the mundane and super-mundane worlds. The Shou ta ming gives us clues regarding Yuanxian's natural inclination and life. The study of Yiyan investigates Yuanxian's philosophy, his position towards the harmonizing the Three Teachings, and his approach towards the challenges of 17th-century Chan Buddhism. The Jie ni nü provides us with Yuanxian's engagement in Fujian society, the social phenomena among the commoners, and their unconventional Buddhist concepts. His Jianzhou hongshi lu reveals eminent local Chan and Confucian masters, how the Chan teachings enhanced the Confucian scholars' demeanor, and the influence of the Chan masters of the Jianzhou area that extended well beyond that local region. Yuanxian devoted his literary talents as a reviver and fearless defender to uphold the supremacy of Buddhism. He vigorously pointed out the deficiencies of Confucianism and Daoism and expressed distinctive insight towards the popular trend of the Three Teachings syncretism. His life manifested the ideal of actualizing the functions of the super-mundane world while engaging simultaneously in society.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
East Asian Studies