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Imperfect Accomplishment: The Fo Guang Shan Short-Term Monastic Retreat and Ethical Pedagogy in Humanistic Buddhism

By James Laidlaw, Jonathan Mair

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Cite As:
Laidlaw, James, and Jonathan Mair. 2019. “Imperfect Accomplishment: The Fo Guang Shan Short-Term Monastic Retreat and Ethical Pedagogy in Humanistic Buddhism”. Cultural Anthropology 34 (3), 328–358. https://doi.org/10.14506/ca34.3.02.

Abstract

Fo Guang Shan (佛光山; Buddha’s Light Mountain), an international Buddhist movement headquartered in Taiwan, regularly runs what it calls a short-term monastic cultivation retreat, a week-long residential program designed to provide lay members with an opportunity for intensive cultivation (修養; xiuyang or 修行; xiuxing). Contributions to the anthropology of ethics have recently drawn sharp distinctions between ordered, systematic ethics associated especially with religious traditions, and the compromise and accommodation that result from the exigencies of everyday life. This retreat, we argue, shows that the experience of ethical shortcomings can be a positive instrument and aspect of religious striving. While much debate in the anthropology of ethics assumes an a priori conceptual framework that opposes ordinary or everyday exigency to ordered transcendence, exigency and order in the Fo Guang Shan retreat are instead mutually constitutive and dynamically related. Here, failing and being corrected are not imperfections in, but central and ritually scripted elements of its ethical pedagogy.

摘要

總部設於臺灣的佛光山是具有世界影響力的佛教組織。其各地道場定期舉行之「短期出家修道會」活動通常持續一周,旨在為信眾提供密集修行機會。目前倫理人類學研究領域已明確區分了兩種道德實踐:其一為具有完美性和秩序性特質之系統,如宗教;其二為在日常生活應對道德困境時形成的具有折衷性和適應性的倫理。本研究透過分析佛光山「短期出家」活動,提出:(1)「不圓滿」體驗在個人宗教修行中具有獨特的積極促進作用;(2)兩種倫理是相輔相成,互動共生的。在佛光山「短期出家」中,活動參與者的行為錯誤與被矯並非通常認為的「不圓滿」所在,而是修行教育體系中至關重要的核心部分。

摘要

总部设于台湾的佛光山是具有世界影响力的佛教组织。其各地道场定期举行“短期出家修道会”,活动通常持续一周,旨在为信众提供密集修行机会。目前伦理人类学研究领域明确区分了两种道德实践:一是具有完美性和秩序性特质的系统,如宗教;二是在日常生活应对道德困境时形成的具有折衷性和适应性的伦理。本研究通过对佛光山“短期出家”活动的分析,提出:(1)“不圆满”体验在个人宗教修行中具有独特的积极促进作用;(2)两种伦理是相辅相成,动态共生的。在佛光山“短期出家”中,活动参与者的失败感与被矫正经验并非通常认为的“不圆满”所在,而恰是修行教育体系中至关重要的核心部分。

Keywords

ethics; self-cultivation; virtue; pedagogy; character; Buddhism; Taiwan; Fo Guang Shan; 核心詞:道德; 自修; 美德; 教學法; 品格; 佛教; 臺灣; 佛光山; 核心词:道德; 教学法; 台湾