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Buddhism and Education in Tang Times [22]

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Chapter Summary

This chapter discusses Buddhism and education in Tang times. Apart from a number of stray references in secular literature, the main body of evidence suggesting that the monastery played such a role is found in the Dunhuang materials. In late Tang times, Buddhist monasteries engaged in some kind of external education at the grass-roots level, probably as the result of a fusion between the semi-monastic postulants' training and the local community schools (xiangxue). Confucianism had its own brand of moral "education for the masses", in which, in principle, the saṅgha had no role to play. In this way, at a social level far below that of the master-minds of Neo-Confucianism, Buddhism may have contributed to breaking down the barriers of Confucian orthodoxy: in its humble and inconspicuous way, it may have created a space in which Neo-Confucianism eventually could operate.

Keywords: Buddhism; Confucianism; Dunhuang materials; education; saṅgha; xiangxue

10.1163/9789004263291_011
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