From Temples to Teahouses

Exploring the Evolution of Lay Buddhism in Post-Mao China

In: Review of Religion and Chinese Society
Author: Gareth Fisher1,2
View More View Less
  • 1 Associate Professor, Department of Religion, Syracuse University
  • | 2 Associate Professor, Department of Religion, Syracuse University
Download Citation Get Permissions

Access options

Get access to the full article by using one of the access options below.

Institutional Login

Log in with Open Athens, Shibboleth, or your institutional credentials

Login via Institution


Buy instant access (PDF download and unlimited online access):


This article presents an overview of the nature of lay Buddhist revival in post-Mao China. After defining the category of lay practitioner, it outlines key events in the revival of lay Buddhism following the end of the Cultural Revolution. Following this, it describes three main aspects of the revival: the grassroots-organized formation of communities of lay Buddhists that gather at temples either to share and discuss the moral teachings of Buddhist-themed media or to engage in devotional activities; devotional and pedagogical activities organized for lay practitioners by monastic and lay leaders at temples and lay practitioners’ groves; and, more recently, the emergence of private spaces for specific practices such as meditation, the appreciation of Buddhist art and culture, and the discussion of teachings from specific Buddhist masters. The article concludes that while government-authorized temples continue to be active spaces for lay practitioners interested in Dharma instruction from monastics, regular devotional activities, and opportunities to earn merit and gain self-fulfillment through volunteerism, greater state restrictions on spontaneous lay-organized practices in temple space are increasingly leading lay practitioners to organize activities in private or semi-private spaces. The introduction of social media has facilitated the growth of Buddhist-related practices for laypersons in nontemple spaces.

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 321 147 10
Full Text Views 48 20 1
PDF Views & Downloads 74 47 5