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Passing the Light

The Incense Light Community and Buddhist Nuns in Contemporary Taiwan

Chün-fang Yü (author)

ISBN: 9780824836580

Publication Date: May 2013

Format: Hardback

Also available as: Paperback  

The term “revival” has been used to describe the resurgent vitality of Buddhism in Taiwan. Particularly impressive is the quality and size of the nun’s order: Taiwanese nuns today are highly educated and greatly outnumber monks. Both characteristics are unprecedented in the history of Chinese Buddhism. This is the first in-depth case study of the community, founded in 1974, a small but influential order of highly educated nuns who dedicate themselves to teaching Buddhism to lay adults.
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The term “revival” has been used to describe the resurgent vitality of Buddhism in Taiwan. Scholars have particularly been impressed by the quality and size of the nun’s order: Taiwanese nuns today are highly educated and greatly outnumber monks. Both characteristics are unprecedented in the history of Chinese Buddhism and are evident in the Incense Light community (Xiangguang). Passing the Light is the first in-depth case study of the community. Founded in 1974, Incense Light remains a small but influential order of highly educated nuns who dedicate themselves to teaching Buddhism to lay adults.

The work begins with a historical survey of Buddhist nuns in China, based primarily on the sixth-century biographical collection Lives of the Nuns. This is followed by discussions on the early history of the Incense Light community; the life of Wuyin, one of its most prominent leaders; and the crucial role played by Buddhist studies societies on college campuses, where many nuns were first introduced to Incense Light. Later chapters look at the curriculum and innovative teaching methods at the Incense Light seminary and the nuns’ efforts to teach Buddhism to adults. The work ends with portraits of individual nuns, providing details on their backgrounds, motivations for becoming nuns, and the problems or setbacks they have encountered both within and without the Incense Light community.

This engaging study enriches the literature on the history of Buddhist nuns, seminaries, and education, and will find an appreciative audience among scholars and students of Chinese religion, especially Buddhism, as well as those interested in questions of religion and modernity and women and religion.
Pages 272
Dimensions 229 x 152mm
Date Published 30 May 2013
Publisher University of Hawai'i Press
Series Topics in Contemporary Buddhism
Subject/s East Asia, Far East  
Chün-fang Yü is Shen Yen Professor of Chinese Buddhist Studies in the Department of Religion and the Department of East Asian Languages and Culture at Columbia University, USA.

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