The Varieties of Confucian Experience

Click here to load reader

  • date post

    21-Feb-2022
  • Category

    Documents

  • view

    0
  • download

    0

Embed Size (px)

Transcript of The Varieties of Confucian Experience

For use by the Author only | © 2018 Koninklijke Brill NV
LEIDEN | BOSTON
Documenting a Grassroots Revival of Tradition
Edited by
Sébastien Billioud
For use by the Author only | © 2018 Koninklijke Brill NV
Contents
Acknowledgements vii List of Illustrations viii Notes on Contributors xi
Introduction 1 Sébastien Billioud
1 The Birth of a New Religion: The Development of the Confucian Congregation in Southeast China 17
Chen Na, Fan Lizhu and Chen Jinguo
2 Making a Virtue of Piety: Dizigui and the Discursive Practice of Jingkong’s Network 61
Ji Zhe
3 Popular Groups Promoting “The Religion of Confucius” in the Chinese Southwest and Their Activities since the Nineteenth Century (1840–2013): An Observation Centered on Yunnan’s Eryuan County and Environs 90
Wang Chien-Chuan
4 Belief and Faith: The Situation and Development of Confucianism in Yunnan Province 122
Chung Yun-ying
5 Civil Spirituality and Confucian Piety Today: The Activities of Confucian Temples in Qufu, Taipei, and Changchun 153
Nakajima Takahiro
6 The Revival of Traditional Culture and Religious Experience in Modern Urban Life: The Example of the Changchun Confucius Temple 176
Ishii Tsuyoshi
7 Contemporary Confucius Temples Life in Mainland China: Report from the Field 205
Anna Sun
vi Contents
For use by the Author only | © 2018 Koninklijke Brill NV
8 Rites Bridging the Ancient and Modern: The Revival of Offerings at Urban Ancestral Temples 235
Chen Bisheng
9 An Adventure Called “Sishu”: The Tensions and Vagaries of a “Holistic” Educational Experience (zhengti jiaoyu) in Today’s Rural China 262
Guillaume Dutournier and Wang Yuchen
10 Confucian Revival and the Media: The CCTV “Lecture Room” Program 302
Fabrice Dulery
For use by the Author only | © 2018 Koninklijke Brill NV
chapter 7
Contemporary Confucius Temples Life in Mainland China: Report from the Field
Anna Sun
1 Introduction
Since 2000, I have conducted ethnographic research in 15 Confucius temples in Mainland China.1 Some Confucius temples have a vibrant ritual life, some do not. Why the difference?
When I speak of a vibrant ritual life, I am referring to the density of rit- ual activities in Confucius temples, which can be seen in Mainland China as well as Taiwan today (the focus of this study is Confucius temple life in Mainland China). Here I am not referring to the public performance of ritu- als in Confucius temples such as the celebration of Confucius’ birthday, which are in general organized by temple management and often in collaboration with local municipal government offices. My focus is on what I call the “pri- vate rites” in Confucius temples, namely rituals performed by individuals that are not part of any public performances. Some of these rituals are traditional, some newly modified or invented. 2
Here is a list of the most commonly observed ritual activities in contempo- rary Confucius temples:
1 My greatest thanks to Sébastien Billioud for inviting me to be part of this project on Confucian piety and for being an excellent editor of this volume. I also thank the two anony- mous reviewers for their thoughtful and helpful comments.
2 See Anna Sun, Confucianism as a World Religion: Contested Histories and Contemporary Realities (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2013).
206 Sun
For use by the Author only | © 2018 Koninklijke Brill NV
table 7.1 Most commonly observed ritual activities in contemporary Confucius temples
Ritual activities in Confucius temples
Traditional rituals New or modified rituals
1 Burning incense in courtyard of the temple
Placing packages of incense on the altar of the temple (due to fire regulations)
2 Praying to Confucius (kneeling or bowing)
Writing prayer cards and hanging them on shelves or trees inside the temple
3 Offering objects of sacrifice (such as dry food items, flowers, fruits)
Purchasing items of blessings (such as printed cards or silk pouches)
In this chapter, I try to answer the question of the differences in ritual life in these temples by examining the social conditions under which ritual activities may thrive or wither. The density of ritual activities in a given temple does not remain constant; in fact, it is constantly changing, reflecting the ecologi- cal relations the temple has with its physical surrounding as well as the larger social, institutional, political, cultural, religious, and ritual systems of which it is a part. I argue that the social factors that would cause differences include at least the following: a) Ritual availability within the temple; b) Economic structure of the temple; c) Location of the temple in local temple ecology; d) Ritual habitus of local religious systems; e) Relation to the local ritual calendar. I believe these are in fact elements that affect not only Confucius temple life, but also ritual life in China in general. Although the focus of this study is Confucius temples, I hope such analysis may be able to shed light on the general patterns and structures of religious practices in contemporary China.3
3 This is the direction of my current ethnographic research project on prayer life in contempo- rary urban China, which covers multiple religious traditions. However, this chapter focuses mostly on Confucius temples.
207Contemporary Confucius Temples Life in Mainland China
For use by the Author only | © 2018 Koninklijke Brill NV
2 Overview of Fieldwork
According to the website of the Chinese National Association of Confucius Temples (CNACT), there are currently 124 member temples across 31 provinces in Mainland China, plus 4 in Taiwan. The CNACT holds annual meetings; the 17th annual meeting took place at Deyang Confucius Temple in October 2016, with more than 200 people attending the conference.
For this project on contemporary Confucius temple life, I have conducted ethnographic research in 15 Confucius temples in several different regions in Mainland China. The temples are the following:
Beijing Confucius Temple, Beijing ; Tianjin Confucius Temple, Tianjin ; Shanghai Confucius Temple, Shanghai ; Qufu Confucius Temple, Shandong Province , ; Jinan Confucius Temple, Shandong Province , ; Deyang Confucius Temple, Sichuan Province , ; Bishan Confucius Temple, Sichuan Province , ; Zizhong Confucius Temple, Sichuan Province , ; Suzhou Confucius Temple, Jiangsu Province , ; Nanjing Confucius Temple, Jiangsu Province , ; Hangzhou Confucius Temple, Zhejiang Province , ; Wujiang Confucius Temple, Jiangsu Province , ; Foshan Confucius Temple, Guangdong Province , ; Kunming Confucius Temple, Yunnan Province , ; Jingzhou Confucius Temple, Hubei Province , .
The regional distributions are the following:
Northern provinces : Hebei and Shandong provinces , ; South of Yangtze River provinces : Zhejiang and Jiangsu prov-
inces , ; Southern provinces : Hubei, Sichuan, Yunnan, and Guangdong
provinces , , , .
The development of ritual life in Confucius temples certainly has a temporal dimension. This study focuses on ritual activities observed between 2000 and 2014, during the period of robust cultural and political revival of Confucianism
208 Sun
For use by the Author only | © 2018 Koninklijke Brill NV
in China.4 For the temples I have revisited since 2014, the end of my fieldwork for this project, such as the Confucius temples in Beijing, Shanghai, and Qufu, necessary updates are provided.
3 Conceptual Framework: The Linked Ecology of Confucius Temple Life
In social theory, there have been many attempts to theorize social action in the larger context of society and culture. The most widely used concepts in recent years include theories of social systems;5 rational choice theory of the market;6 theories of toolkits, repertories, and habitus,7 and theories of fields, including theories of “strategic action fields.”8 Goossaert and Palmer have discussed the possibility of using the concept of ecology to study religion in modern China.9
I propose to examine Chinese religious life through the conceptual metaphor of “linked ecologies.” The concept of “linked ecologies” was first
4 Daniel Bell, China’s New Confucianism: Politics and Everyday Life in a Changing Society (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010); Anna Sun, Confucianism as a World Religion: Contested Histories and Contemporary Realities (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2013); Sebastien Billioud and Joël Thoraval, The Sage and the People: The Confucian Revival in China (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015); Kenneth Hammond and Jeffrey Richey, eds., The Sage Returns: The Confucian Revival in Contemporary China (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2015).
5 Talcott Parsons, The Social System (New York: The Free Press/Macmillan, 1964); Niklas Luhmann, Social Systems (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1995).
6 Gary Becker, The Economic Approach to Human Behavior (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1976). Rodney Stark and Roger Finke, Acts of Faith: Explaining the Human Side of Religion (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000); Yang Fenggang, “The Red, Black, and Gray Markets of Religion in China,” The Sociological Quarterly 47 (2006): 93–122.
7 Ann Swidler, “Culture in Action: Symbols and Strategies,” American Sociological Review 51(2) (1986): 273–86; Robert Campany, “On the Very Idea of Religions (in the Modern West and in Early Medieval China),” History of Religions 42 (4) (2003): 287–319. Gareth Fisher, From Comrades to Bodhisattvas: Moral Dimensions of Lay Buddhist Practice in Contemporary China (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2014); Anna Sun, “Theorizing the Plurality of Chinese Religious Life: The Search for New Paradigms in the Study of Chinese Religions,” in Religion and Orientalism in Asian Studies, ed. Kiri Paramore (London: Bloomsbury, 2016), 51–72.
8 Pierre Bourdieu, The Logic of Practice (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1990). Neil Fligstein, and Doug McAdam, A Theory of Fields (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).
9 Vincent Goossaert and David A. Palmer, The Religion Question in Modern China (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010). David A. Palmer and Xun Liu, eds., Daoism in Twentieth Century China: Between Eternity and Modernity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012).
209Contemporary Confucius Temples Life in Mainland China
For use by the Author only | © 2018 Koninklijke Brill NV
articulated by the historical sociologist Andrew Abbott, who suggests that we need to understand the structure of social processes through “reconceptu- alizing the social world in terms of linked ecologies, each of which acts as a (flexible) surround for others.”10 Abbott suggests that the concept of ecology consists of three components: “actors, locations, and a relation associating the one with the other.” This relation is what he calls “ligation,” which “constitutes and delimits both actors and locations.”11 This conceptual framework allows us to analyze religious life not from the assumption of firm commitments to beliefs and membership, assumptions rooted in monotheistic understanding of religion, but from a perspective that focuses on the fluid interconnections amongst pluralistic practices. These are indeed the cultural toolkits and reper- tories of Chinese religious life.12
Following this analytical conceptualization, I argue that there exists not a single ecological system of Chinese religious life, but a set of linked ecologies, allowing different systems of ritual practice to coexist through competition as well as interdependence. More specifically, I propose two linked ecologies.
First, there is a linked ecology of temple life, which refers to the ways religious organizations and sites coexist through competition as well as interdependence. The actors in this system are the temple organizations, the locations are the actual physical sites, and the ligation refers to the constantly evolving relationship amongst them. This may lead to studies of ecologies of local temple life, which examine not only how temples coexist and thrive (or fail) together in a region, but also the linked ecologies of local social, political, and cultural life.
Second, there is a linked ecology of religious traditions, which refers to the ways religious belief, rituals, and equipment are often circulated in different religious traditions in a polytheistic society. The actors in this system are the different religious traditions. In the case of China, they are Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism, and the so-called popular or folk religions.13 They often share
10 Andrew Abbott, “Linked Ecologies: States and Universities as Environments for Professions,” Sociological Theory 23 (3) (2005): 245–274.
11 Ibid., 248. 12 Ann Swidler, “Culture in Action: Symbols and Strategies,” American Sociological Review
51 (2) (1986): 273–86; Gareth Fisher, From Comrades to Bodhisattvas: Moral Dimensions of Lay Buddhist Practice in Contemporary China (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2014); Anna Sun, “Theorizing the Plurality of Chinese Religious Life: The Search for New Paradigms in the Study of Chinese Religions,” in Religion and Orientalism in Asian Studies, ed. Kiri Paramore (London: Bloomsbury, 2016), 51–72.
13 Although I speak of “Buddhist,” “Daoist,” and “popular or folk religion” temples here, in the context of contemporary Chinese religious life, it is often difficult to make a distinc- tion between a Daoist temple and a so-called poplar or folk religion temple. A good case
210 Sun
For use by the Author only | © 2018 Koninklijke Brill NV
the similar ritual activities, such as the burning of incense as part of prayer, the offering of fruit or other food items as sacrifice, and the burning of paper goods (such as spirit money) as sacrifice. The two monotheistic traditions in China, Christianity and Islam, have far stricter boundaries about ritual activities that can and cannot be performed by their adherents, hence are less likely to be part of this linked ecology, even though there are certain ritual connections— or slippage—between them and the other religious traditions as well.14 The locations of this second linked ecology are the sites where the rituals are per- formed, such as temples or home shrines, and the ligation refers to the ritual actions shared in this linked ecological system.
A study of the ecology of Chinese religious traditions will lead to a more nuanced understanding of the way different religions coexist in Chinese soci- ety; unlike the idea of the religious economy and market, in which different religions and groups compete for success and dominance on the religious mar- ket, the emphasis here is on the coexistence and interdependence of temples, shrines, ritual practices and ritual apparatus, since people don’t need to choose one or the other in their religious life, but many different things at once.15
4 Ritual Life and the Economic Structure of a Confucius Temple
The economic structure of a Confucius temple and the availability of ritual apparatus in the temple are intimately connected in contemporary China. The reason is quite straightforward: most of the ritual apparatus, such as packages of incense, prayer cards, and various objects of blessing, are items sold by the
in point is the City God temples , temples dedicated to the local deity of a city, town, or village who guards and protects the people living under his jurisprudence. In the current religious management system in China, City God temples are usually placed within the administrative boundaries of local Daoist Associations. In the City God Temple in Shanghai today, for example, the Daoist priests (of Zhengyi lineage) are the clergy in charge of all ritual activities in the temple. For accounts of the complex development of Daoism in contemporary China, see Palmer and Liu 2012.
14 Here I will only mention two examples from my fieldwork. The first is the well-documented case of the way many Chinese Christian converts—both Catholics and Protestants—still practice ancestral rituals such as incense burning and the burning of spirit money, which I have observed frequently. The second is from my fieldwork in a mosque in Beijing in 2015, where I observed the offering of incense in front of the historical tombstone of a legendary imam. This is a ritual practice mostly associated with Confucian grave rites, which—theoretically—was not supposed to take place in a mosque.
15 For discussions of Chinese religious life through the lens of religious economy, see Yang 2006.
211Contemporary Confucius Temples Life in Mainland China
For use by the Author only | © 2018 Koninklijke Brill NV
temple management for the consumption of individual visitors. None of these items is for free, and one is discouraged from bringing in items such as incense purchased from outside of the temple.
It is up to the temple management to decide whether it is necessary to have these items for sale. In other words, in order to perform the rituals commonly seen in Confucius temples today, such as burning incense in the courtyard or writing prayers on paper cards, the items have to be available for purchase in the temples in the first place, usually in the temple gift shop or at a selling station by the entrance of the temple. And it is also up to the temple to set up what I call “ritual points” within the temple complex, such as incense burner in the courtyard or wooden shelves for people to hang their prayer cards. Without these ritual items and “ritual points,” the performance of rituals in a given tem- ple becomes merely an abstract idea.
If it is the case that the availability of ritual apparatus is directly related to the density of ritual life in a Confucius temple, then the economics struc- ture of the temple is directly related to the creation and maintaining of this availability, as I have suggested elsewhere. Since Confucianism is not officially recognized as a religion by the Chinese state, Confucius temples are not under the purview of the State Administration of Religious Affairs (SARA). The tem- ples, as “cultural institutions,” are owned by the state and managed by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage (SACH) under the Ministry of Culture, which has localized policies regarding the economic responsibilities of each “cultural institution” under its management.
As a result, Confucius temples often have different economic structures based on the different local municipal policies governing “cultural institutions.” For instance, the Suzhou Confucius Temple, at the time of my fieldwork, was given a budget as a temple museum, and it also houses the local steles collec- tion. This meant that the temple management received its operating budget as well as personnel salaries from the Suzhou municipal government. Since there was no incentive for the temple to generate additional income—the income would not be able to be shared by the temple personnel—the management had done very little to encourage ritual activities. For example, there was no one selling incense or prayer cards, nor any other ritual-related items. However, this did not mean there was no ritual life in this temple. During my fieldwork, I did observe an incense burner placed in front of the statue of Confucius in the temple courtyard, which had a few sticks of incense left by visitors.
A different example is the Nanjing Confucius Temple. It is entirely “
” (“the organization is responsible for its own profits and losses”), with the salary of the temple management coming based on the income that the tem- ple can generate. In order to generate income, it has been leased to a company
212 Sun
For use by the Author only | © 2018 Koninklijke Brill NV
specializing in tourism to manage its day-to-day operation. As a result, the temple has the most vibrant ritual life I have seen among the temples I have studied. There are at least 16 “ritual points” within the temple where ritual items can be placed and ritual activities performed, from hanging prayer cards to kneeing on prayer mats, from burning incense to donating money for bless- ings. In addition, there were a dozen or “tour guides” who offered free tours of the temple. All dressed in light blue dawn parkas in the wintery weather during the period of my fieldwork, they told visitors where one should offer incense, purchase prayer cards, and make donations for blessings.
The most surprising instruction involved how one should ask for blessings from one of the stone statues of Confucius’ disciples that lined the main path once one entered the temple. The young woman who guided me instructed on how to touch the carved stone fish held in the hands of one of the statues: “You should…