Advertisement

The Ethics of Generosity in Chinese Mahayana Buddhism: Theory and Practice

  • Vincent ShenEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Dao Companions to Chinese Philosophy book series (DCCP, volume 9)

Abstract

This chapter explores the theoretical and practical aspects of Chinese Mahayana Buddhism’s ethics of generosity from a philosophical point of view. Buddhism is a religion par excellence of strangification and generosity. After an introduction, I discuss some essential sources both from Indian and Chinese Buddhism. Then I develop the idea of strangification and ethic of generosity in Chinese Mahayana Buddhism, before I arrive at some words of conclusion.

On the theoretical side, I explore the ontological foundation of the ethics of generosity in The Awakening of Faith. This is one of the founding texts in the history of Chinese Mahayana Buddhism that offers an ontological foundation to Buddhist generosity. It does this by the affirmation of One Mind or the Mind of All Sentient Beings as the Ultimate Reality. However, it also sets certain limits to generosity by denying difference/otherness, and sees difference/otherness as merely a delusion. On the practical side, I discuss three types of gift, namely the gift of material goods, the gift of no fear and the gift of teaching Dharma, and more interestingly, the practice of huixiang 迴向 (turning one’s merit to many others) as discussed by Huiyuan in the entry “huixiang” of his Dasheng Yizhang (The Meaning of Mahayana Buddhism).

Some conclusive reflections are done to consider the Chinese Buddhist ethics of generosity in relation to the post-modern ethics of generosity to many others.

Keywords

Chinese Mahayana Buddhism Ethic of Generosity Theory Practice Strangification huixiang 

References

  1. Asanga. 1979. On Knowing Reality. The Tattvartha Chapter of Asanga’s Bodhisattvabhumi. Trans. with introduction, commentary, and notes by Janice Dean Willis. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Asanga. 1992. Mahāyānasūtrālamkāra. Trans. by S. V. Lamaye. Delhi: Sri Satguru Publications.Google Scholar
  3. Conze, Edward, trans. 1973a. The Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines and Its Verse Summary. San Francisco: Four Seasons Foundation.Google Scholar
  4. Conze, Edward, trans. 1973b. Perfect Wisdom – The short Prajnaparamita Texts. Devon: Buddhist Publishing Group.Google Scholar
  5. Fang, Thomé 方東美. 1981. Chinese Philosophy: Its Spirit and Its Development. Taipei: Linking Press.Google Scholar
  6. Hakeda, Yoshito S., trans. 1967. The Awakening of Faith. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Jingying Huiyuan 淨影慧遠. Dasheng Yizhang 大乘義章 (Treatise on the Meaning of Great Vehicle). T 44, 1851.Google Scholar
  8. Santideva. 1997. Bodhicaryavatara or A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life. Trans. by Vesna A Wallace and B. Alan Wallace. Ithaca: Snow Lion Publications, 1997.Google Scholar
  9. Shen, Vincent. 1994. Confucianism, Taoism and Constructive Realism. Vienna: Vienna University Press.Google Scholar
  10. ———. 1997. “Inter-religious Dialogue Between Buddhism and Christianity Conceived with Strangification and Contrast.” In The Movement of Constructive Realism, ed. by Thomas Slunecko. Wien: Wilhelm Braumüller.Google Scholar
  11. ———. 2002. Duibi, Waitui Yu Jiaotan 對比、外推與交談 (Contrast, Strangification and Dialogue). Taipei 臺北: Wunan Publishing Company 五南出版社.Google Scholar
  12. ———. 2003. “Appropriating the Other and Transformation of Consciousness into Wisdom: Some Reflections on Chinese Buddhism.” Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 3.1: 43–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Takakusu, Junjiro. 1976. The Essentials of Buddhist Philosophy. Eds. by Wing-tsit Chan and Charles Moors. Westport, CT.: Greenwood Press.Google Scholar
  14. Wallner, Fritz. 1992. Acht Vorlesungen über den Konstruktiven Realismus. Vienna: Vienna University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Xuanzang (Hsuan Tsang) 玄奘. 1973. Ch’eng Wei-shih Lun 成唯識論 (Treatise on the Establishment of Consciousness-Only). Trans. by Wei Tat. Hong Kong: Dai Nippon Printing Co.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of TorontoTorontoCanada

Personalised recommendations