1 Transcendence and the Mundane at the Edge of the Middle Kingdom: Protestantised and Pragmatic Tibetan Buddhism in Hong Kong

In: Religious Transformation in Modern Asia


This paper explores the way in which the Hong Kong Christian education system, inherited from the British, has influenced certain Chinese practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism in the territory to follow a ‘Protestantised’ form of Tibetan Buddhism. This paper shows how such practitioners often reject a pragmatic approach to Tibetan Buddhism followed by other Chinese practitioners in Hong Kong, the latter of whom may bring ‘this worldly’ concerns to various deities, bodhisattvas and lamas. Arguing from an ‘alternative’ position on postcolonial and subaltern studies, this paper seeks to show how these Protestantised practitioners, while drawing from a modernist Christian perspective on Tibetan Buddhism, also appropriate the ‘rationalising’ aspects of their Christian education as well as Tibetan Buddhist doctrinal arguments to undermine this perspective. By mimicking the discourse of their Christian education, appropriating it to ‘prove’ the truth of Tibetan Buddhism, and at times undermining the logic of this discourse itself, such practitioners creatively ‘talk back.’

Religious Transformation in Modern Asia

A Transnational Movement