SPP: Ch’an/Zen Buddhism and Neo-Confucianism

Sino-Platonic Papers has rereleased Buddhist Influence on the Neo-Confucian Concept of the Sage, by Pratoom Angurarohita.

This is issue no. 10 and was first published in June 1989.

Here’s an excerpt from the introduction.

There are three lines of thought that can be traced as the main sources of Neo-Confucianism. The first is Confucianism itself. The second is Buddhism, via the medium of the Ch’an [Zen] sect, for of all the schools of Buddhism, Ch’an was the most influential at the time of the formation of Neo-Confucianism. The third is the Taoist religion, of which the cosmological view of the Yin-Yang school formed an important element. The cosmology of the Neo-Confucianists is chiefly connected with this line of thought.

Since Buddhism had become an intimate part of Chinese intellectual life for several centuries, it was impossible for the Sung reformists to replace Buddhism entirely by their new philosophy. While using concepts found in the Confucian Classics, the Neo-Confucianists interpreted them in the light of Buddhist understanding. To limit the topic of study, this paper will examine only the influence of Buddhism on the Neo-Confucian concept of the sage, focusing on sagehood as an attainable goal and self-cultivation. The study of the concept of the sage in Neo-Confucianism will show not only the Buddhist influence, but also the development of the concept from early Confucianism.

The full essay is also available as a PDF (1.6 MB), which preserves the look of the original printed issue.

One thought on “SPP: Ch’an/Zen Buddhism and Neo-Confucianism

  1. Although it is not complete to be Confucian, conscientious people should at least be Confucian. To say that everyone can strive to be virtuous and magnanimous in all five social relationships. To achieve the proper attitude and disposition of ethical behavior requires both inward ( spiritual / emotional ) and outward ( physical / scientific ) types of investigaton of things through feelings, conceptualizations, experimentation, and meditation.
    Confucianism most clearly states the harmonization of familial relations and the peaceful society are the results of the investigation of things and the extension of knowledge. Without the evidence of peaceful families,
    interdependence, mutual prosperity and universally shared values, dogmatic and doctrinal claims to higher truths – transcendent or scientific – must be called into question and restrained. In this sense to be at least Confucian may well be the salvation of the social sciences.

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