Thriving in Crisis

Buddhism and Political Disruption in China, 1522–1620

Dewei Zhang

Columbia University Press

Thriving in Crisis

Pub Date: June 2020

ISBN: 9780231197007

360 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $65.00£54.00

Pub Date: June 2020

ISBN: 9780231551939

360 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $64.99£54.00

Thriving in Crisis

Buddhism and Political Disruption in China, 1522–1620

Dewei Zhang

Columbia University Press

Late imperial Chinese Buddhism was long dismissed as having declined from the glories of Buddhism during the Sui and Tang dynasties (589–907). In recent scholarship, a more nuanced picture of late Ming-era Buddhist renewal has emerged. Yet this alternate conception of the history of Buddhism in China has tended to focus either on doctrinal contributions of individual masters or the roles of local elites in Jiangnan, leaving unsolved broader questions regarding the dynamics and mechanism behind the evolution of Buddhism into the renewal.

Thriving in Crisis is a systematic study of the late Ming Buddhist renewal with a focus on the religious and political factors that enabled it to happen. Dewei Zhang explores the history of the boom in enthusiasm for Buddhism in the Jiajing-Wanli era (1522–1620), tracing a pattern of advances and retrenchment at different social levels in varied regions. He reveals that the Buddhist renewal was a dynamic movement that engaged a wide swath of elites, from emperors and empress dowagers to eunuchs and scholar-officials. Drawing on a range of evidence and approaches, Zhang contends that the late Ming renewal was a politically driven exception to a longer-term current of disfavor toward Buddhism and that it failed to establish Buddhism on a foundation solid enough for its future development. A groundbreaking interdisciplinary study, Thriving in Crisis provides a new theoretical framework for understanding the patterns of Buddhist history in China.
Thriving in Crisis is a groundbreaking monograph that will provide a template for future studies in the Ming period, which is still little studied and deserving of much more attention. While previous studies have tended to focus on single figures or texts, this book offers a broad reach that will inspire further work. Albert Welter, author of Religion, Culture, and the Public Sphere in China and Japan
List of Illustrations
List of Tables
Preface
Abbreviations and Conventions
Chronology
Introduction
1. Setting the Stage
2. Emperor Jiajing (r. 1522–1566): A Four-Decade Persecutor
3. Empress Dowager Cisheng (1545–1614): A Great Patron
4. The Eunuchs: Organized but Not Always Reliable
5. Scholar-Officials: Struggling for the Right Position
6. Eminent Monks: Engaged in, or Entangled with the World?
7. Temples: Evolving Under Influence
8. Setbacks: Losing Beijing as a Growth Engine
Conclusion
Notes
References
Index

About the Author

Dewei Zhang is an associate professor at Jinan University in Guangzhou. He holds two PhDs, first in Chinese philosophy from Peking University and then in East Asian Buddhism from the University of British Columbia.