James Carter

in Heart of Buddha, Heart of China

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780195398854
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199894413 | DOI:

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Leaving Ningbo, Tanxu visits Beitang, the village where he grew up. Although none of his relatives live there any longer, he makes offerings at his parents’ graves, and in so doing illustrates the tensions between traditional Confucian values and the solitary life of a Buddhist monk. In a culture that cherished large families and extended genealogies, Tanxu’s decision jeopardized an entire lineage. Even more affected was Tanxu’s former wife, whom he visited next, in Yingkou. Tanxu’s painful encounter with the mother of his children reminds the reader of the costs that accompanied Tanxu’s career choice, and make clear the human element of a religious vocation usually described in otherworldly terms.

Keywords: Beitang; ancestor worship; Confucianism; monks

Chapter.  3762 words. 

Subjects: Buddhism

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