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Toward a Chinese Buddhist Modernism: Khenpo Sodargye and the Han Inundation of Larung Gar

走向中国佛教现代主义: 索达吉堪布和五明佛学院汉族僧众的增长

In: Review of Religion and Chinese Society
Author:
Andrew S. Taylor (唐安竺) Department of Theology and Religious Studies, The College of Saint Scholastica Duluth, MN USA

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Abstract

Larung Gar is often hailed by scholars and practitioners alike as a last bastion of authentic Buddhist practice by ethnic Tibetans within the PRC. And yet, Larung is visited every year by tens of thousands of Han pilgrims and houses hundreds of Han monastics who have taken vows in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. The author draws on a variety of oral and written sources to show that the Han inundation of Larung was not a byproduct of happenstance, but was actively facilitated by the Larung leadership, especially Khenpo Sodargye (མཁན་པོ་བསོད་དར་རྒྱས་ 索达吉堪布), through the targeted recruitment of Han practitioners. A comparative analysis of Tibetan- and Chinese-language materials shows that the neo-scientific and therapeutic teachings used to recruit Han practitioners superficially resemble similar “Buddhist modernist” discourses in the west and Tibet, but that their content is decidedly more soteriological than this moniker suggests. The article considers whether the encounter between Han practitioners and Tibetan Buddhism might eventually represent a nascent form of inter-ethnic Chinese Buddhist modernism.

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