Zhu Xi and Buddhism

  • Kam-por YuEmail author
Part of the Dao Companions to Chinese Philosophy book series (DCCP, volume 13)


As Chan Buddhism, with the popularist Pure Land School aside, was the dominant version of Buddhism in Song dynasty (Ch’en 1964: 389, 398), Zhu Xi’s understanding and critique of Buddhism was mainly directed toward Chan Buddhism (Lao 1980, vol. 3B: 326). Though Zhu Xi had been attracted to Buddhism and had studied Buddhism seriously during his early years, his knowledge of Buddhism was mainly confined to the dominant school of Buddhism in his time, i.e., Chan Buddhism, and with the leading monk-scholar Dahui Zonggao 大慧宗杲 (1089–1163) as his major imagined opponent (Ariki 2008: 203). The works of Dahui Zonggao had been very close to the heart of Zhu Xi when he was young, and he had been a student of the Buddhist monk Daoqian 道謙 (c. 1093–1185), who was the dharma heir of Dahui Zonggao (Ariki 2008: 204). Dahui Zonggao belongs to the Linji 臨濟 house of Chan Buddhism, which is one of five houses of Chan Buddhism and the most influential one in the time of Zhu Xi. Hence Zhu Xi’s comments on the differences between Confucianism and Buddhism are basically on the differences between Confucianism and Chan Buddhism (or a leading school in Chan Buddhism), and his comments are very influential on later Neo-Confucians, whose comments on this topic are basically taken over from Zhu Xi (Qian 2011, vol. 1: 27; Ding 2011: 544–48).


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.General Education CentreHong Kong Polytechnic UniversityHong KongPeople’s Republic of China

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