Mon, Feb 28

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Dr. Yu-Chen Li - Journeys to the South: Chan Buddhist Records from the Chinese Diaspora

Dr. Li discusses the movements of Chinese Buddhism in and from Malaysia and the ways in which monks and nuns understand the localization and globalization of Malaysian Chinese Buddhism.

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Dr. Yu-Chen Li - Journeys to the South: Chan Buddhist Records from the Chinese Diaspora

Time & Location

Feb 28, 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM PST

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About the Event

Modern and Contemporary Buddhist Encounters in the Southern Sinosphere

Institute for the Study of Humanistic Buddhism (ISHB), University of the West

Dr. Yu-Chen Li - National Chengchi University

Malaysian Chinese Buddhism began as an offshoot of Buddhism from Fujian and Guangdong Provinces in the Ming and Qing Dynasties. As of the 21st century, it has evolved into a distinct Buddhist tradition with its own complex networks with Chinese communities in Taiwan, Europe, and North America. However, it remains an under-researched field, mostly due to the lack of access to records. Nanyou Yunshuiqing (Southward Travels: Buddhist Luminaries in Singapore and Malaysia), compiled by Venerable Kaidi開諦 (1964-) and published in 2009 and 2013, is a two-volume collection of previously unseen photographic records of the monastic figures, temples, and monasteries of Malaysian Chinese Buddhism. This collection contains a great deal of rare data that will surely propel further studies.

By analyzing the structure and content of Southward Travels, this paper aims to answer two interrelated questions. One, what are the characteristics of the international transmission of Malaysian Chinese Buddhism as seen in the Dharma lineages, temple records, and biographies of monastics in Nanyou Yunshuiqing? Two, how does Ven. Kaidi’s collection and narration reflect the ways in which the Malaysian Chinese monastic communities understand their international transmission? “Migration” is one of the key words in understanding Malaysian Chinese Buddhism, and yet in the past the focus of research was on the transmission of Chinese lineages into Malaysia. However, Malaysian Chinese have migrated out to other parts of the world as well and have collaborated with other Chinese communities to propagate the Buddha-Dharma. Both migration and the international transmission of Buddhism have flown in more than one direction. Through asking the two interrelated questions above, this paper aims to delineate the movements of Chinese Buddhism in and from Malaysia and the ways in which monks and nuns understand the localization and globalization of Malaysian Chinese Buddhism. Both questions will help us to get a clearer picture of the development of Buddhism in Malaysia.

Dr. Yu-Chen Li is professor at the Graduate Institute of Religious Studies and the director of the Center for the Studies of Chinese Religions at Cheng Chi University, Taiwan. She received her Ph.D. in East Asian Literature from Cornell University, U.S.A., specializing in Chinese and Taiwanese Buddhism as related to gender and monasticism. Her monographs include The Bhiksunis in the Tang Dynasty (1989), Buddhism and Women in Postwar Taiwanese (2016) and Ordinary and Extraordinary Men and Women in Buddhist Literature (2016). She is also the co-editor of Women and Religions: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (2003)Recently with a great academic team on a six volumes series on the History of Taiwanese Buddhism will be published in 2022, she is the main editor of the Volume on The Monasteries, Monastic Founders, and Lineage in Taiwan (1640-2020).

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