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Tang Religion. Intellectual pluralism = religious pluralism Major league: Confucianism Daoism Buddhism Sinism Minor league: Zoroastrianism Nestorianism Manichaeism Judaism Islam. Buddhism—institutional, devotional Tiantai Buddhism Huayan Buddhism The Sect of the Three Stages

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tang religion
Tang Religion
  • Intellectual pluralism =religious pluralism
    • Major league:
      • Confucianism
      • Daoism
      • Buddhism
      • Sinism
    • Minor league:
      • Zoroastrianism
      • Nestorianism
      • Manichaeism
      • Judaism
      • Islam
Buddhism—institutional, devotional
    • Tiantai Buddhism
    • Huayan Buddhism
    • TheSectoftheThreeStages
    • Chan/Zen (Ch’an) Buddhism
    • Pure Land faith
  • Daoism (Taoism)—talismanic, alchemical
    • Orthodox Unity (Zhengyi)
    • Mt. Mao (Maoshan)
    • Supreme Purity (Shangqing)
    • Numinous Treasure (Lingbao)
  • Popular Level—shamanic, magical, therapeutic, paramedical, ritualistic
    • Heavenly Heart (Tianxin)
    • Thunder Magic (Leifa)
chan buddhism
Chan Buddhism
  • A genuine Chinese Buddhism, but whose advocates traced its origin back to the Mahakashapa as its first patriarch in India, and Bodhidharma as its first patriarch in China.


Anonymous, date unknown,

In Myoshinji, Kyoto


Bodhidharma's "Gazing at the Wall", by Fu Yan, date unknown

Huike begged Bodhidharma to be disciple

Liang Kai, Southern Song

chan zen teachings
Chan/Zen Teachings

Claimed to have a long and unbroken tradition handed down by a succession of patriarchs, from the 1sttothe28th inIndia,andto the 1sttothe6thinChina

Recognized the theory of universal Buddhahood

Advocated the direct apprehension of the Buddha nature that exists in the mind of each individual










the platform sutra and the sixth patriarch
The Platform Sutra and the Sixth Patriarch

The Sixth Patriarch refers to Huineng (Hui-neng), who was established as the sixth leading master of the Chinese Chan traditionandthe founder of the Southern School of Chan

Huineng’s sermons were compiled into a book titled The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch




methods of direct apprehension
Methods of direct apprehension
  • Masters used provocative and sometimes violent language to inspire disciples
  • Master-disciple dialogues were used as contemplation objects
  • Reading and comprehending scripture gave way to intensive but non-restricted forms of meditation
  • Scriptures were no longer sacred
  • The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch emerged as a guiding text
huineng s notion of merit
Huineng’s Notion of Merit
  • Emperor Wu of Liang’s mind was depraved; he did not know the right Dharma.
  • Emperor Wu of Liang’s understanding of merit:
    • Building temples and giving sanction to the Sangha
    • Practicing giving and arranging vegetarian feasts
  • Huineng:
    • Liang Wu’s act is called ‘seeking blessings’; Do not mistake blessings for merit and virtue.
    • Merit and virtue are in the Dharma body, not in the cultivation of blessings."

Huineng’s image gilded

With gold

Huineng’s mummified body

the southern school of chan
The Southern School of Chan
  • The Southern School of Chan split into five houses, each was named after its founder whose sayings were also compiled into book
    • The Linji (Lin-chi) lineage
      • The Recorded Sayings of Chan Master Linji Yixuan (Lin-chi I-hsuan)
      • Spread to Japan, called Rinzai
    • The Caodong (Ts’ao-tung) lineage
      • Spread to Japan, called Sōto
    • The Fayan, Kuiyang, and Yunmen flourished in early to mid-Song and declined later
the mind to mind transmission of the dharma
The Mind-to-mind Transmission of the Dharma
  • Chanists claimed that the Chan tradition was based on the understanding of :
    • A separate teaching outside of doctrines
    • No dependence on or establishment of letters
    • Transmission of the dharma [directly] from [master’s] mind to [disciple’s] mind
    • Seeing [one’s inherent Buddha] nature and attain Buddhahood
  • The mind-to-mind transmission of the Dharma was conducted through master-disciple dialogues
    • Master’s language used in the dialogue tended to be thought-provoking, illogical, paradoxical, and oftentimes violent
  • Wisdom or insight resulted from dialogues and meditation led to ultimate enlightenment
tang rulers and religion
Tang Rulers and Religion
  • Tang rulers generally supported Buddhism and Daoism, even though they also tried to revitalize Confucianism
  • Buddhism:
    • Some emperors wanted to curb the influence of Buddhism because it was too powerful
    • Others were devout patrons of Buddhism
      • Their piety found its expression in buildingimperialmonasteries
      • the reception of the bone of Buddha.


    • MonksofimperialmonasterieswereorderedtochantasutracalledTheScriptureofHumaneKing(仁王經 Rén wáng jīng )
    • MonasteriesinMt.Wutaiservedthestate
      • MonasteriesherewereassociatedwiththecultoftheBodhisattvaManjusri
  • Buddhismexpandeditsinfluence
    • Monasteriesofferedpopularlecturesinlargecitiesandsmalltowns
    • Literarymonkscomposedpoetryandprose,engagedincalligraphyandpainting,andbefriendedConfucianintellectuals

Han Yu’s “Memorial on the Bone of Buddha”

    • Acriticism of the overwhelming and unrestrained imperialpatronage of Buddhism, which he thought was equivalent to the cultic folk practice of the religion
    • RepresentedConfucianintellectuals’attackonBuddhismandintellectuals’self-reflectionwhenfacingthechallengeofaforeignreligion
  • Han Yu and his cohort called for a “return to antiquity” as the model of writing.
    • Launched “Classical prose movement”
    • Combating Buddhism “Finding the Origin of the Way”


    • Most emperors favored Daoism for two basic reasons:
      • Daoism was state cult and Laozi was the projenitor of the Tang ruling family.
      • Quest for immortality/longivity for which Daoists claimed to have expertise
    • Daoism expended its influence
      • Informed emperors of divine support for the ruling house
      • The Zhai ritual feasts performed on Daoist festivals
      • Daoist scholars and thaumaturgists proliferated.
emperor xuangzong and daoism
Emperor Xuangzong and Daoism
  • Invited leading Daoist scholars to court as personal advisors
  • Wrote commentary on the Laoziand canonized Daoist classics: the Daode jing (the Laozi) , the Nanhua jing (the Zhuangzi)
  • ApotheosizedLaozi
  • Built state-sponsoredDaoist temples and consulted with Daoist priests,scholars,andthaumaturgies.

OrderedDaoistcanonbecompiledandtheDaodejing(CanonoftheWayandItsPower)beincludedinthe imperialexaminationsasacompulsorytext.

  • DedicatedtheTangancestraltemplesinChang’anandLuoyangtoDaoistworship
  • OrderedDaoistclergyatallstate-sponsoredinstitutionstoperformrituals


  • Orderedthe inscription oftheDaodejingonstoneinthreedifferentstylesofSimaChengzhen’scalligraphy
    • Had Sima Chengzhen perform the Golden Register ritual.
  • Changed traditional rituals dedicated to the five sacred peaks into Daoist ceremonies devoted to the Five Perfected Ones dwelling on those peaks.

Called Daoist priests to conduct “spirit summoning” ofthespiritof Yang Guifei.

    • Bai Juyi’s “A Song of Unending Sorrow” indicated that the Daoist wasbroughttotheimperialpalacetosummonthe spirit of Yang Guifei
  • Impacts of imperial patronage:
    • Daoist notion of immortality and immortals spread widely,andDaoistnunsandpriestsproliferated
    • Many Tang poets were devotees of Daoism and wrote poems repleted with references to Daoism

Eight Daoist Immortals

By Huang Shen, Qing Dynasty

Taizhou Museum

Daoist Temple,

Yuxu guan, Anhui

buddhists and daoists as healers and exorcists
Buddhists and Daoists as Healers and Exorcists
  • Tang rulers, particularly Emperor Xuanzong, paid close attention to health care.
    • Established positions for professors of medicine in public schools
  • Medical students were trained in schools
  • Many Buddhist monks and Daoist priests were knowledgeable physicians
  • Daoist priests and Buddhist monks were also expert exorcists
popular deities
Popular Deities
  • Local deities
    • Originated from local cults, often regarded by Confucians, Buddhists, Taoists as illicit deities, not worthy of public worship
      • Confucian officials were busters of these deities
      • Local cults and their representative deities were suppressed
      • Deities worshiped were said to have attained the Way when they were living as mortals
      • Local cults often survived suppressions
    • Many new deities and cults were introduced in Tang
      • There were defined as “beneficent, clean, vegetarian” gods.
      • Kuan-yin (Guanin, Avalokitesvara), Ti-tsang (Dizang, Ksitigarbha) and the god of Mount Tai (T’ai)
the cult of p i sha men pishamen vaisravana
The Cult of P’i-sha-men (Pishamen, Vaisravana)
  • One of four Buddhist Heavenly Kings from India
    • Often pictured carrying a halberd, money bag, or mongoose
    • Associated with walls and gates in India, Central Asia, and China
In China: protector of cities
    • Statue or image always appeared on wall towers, often in the northwest corner of city wall
    • Held a spear or trident in his right hand and a stupa in his left
monastic guardians
Monastic Guardians
  • Pishamen (Pi-sha-men) in China
    • became monastic guardian and wall-and-moat god
    • Its popularity encouraged the spread of other monastic guardians and wall-and-moat gods
  • Other monastic guardians
    • Guan Yu (Guan Yu, Lord Guan)
    • Gu Yewang
  • Wall-and-moat gods (Ch’eng-huang; Cheng-huang): appeared all over China by the 8th and 9th centuries

Four Deva-Kings (Heavenly-Kings; Tianwang) : Guardians of the world. Each dwells on one side of Mount Sumeru. From right to left:

    • east: Dhrtarastra (Duoluozha; Chiguo), south: Virudhaka (Zengzhang),
    • west: Virupaksa (Guangmu), north: Vaisravana (Pishmen;Duowen).

Lord Guan,

By Wu Daozi