Journal of Buddhist Ethics

An online journal of Buddhist scholarship related to ethics.

Bodhisattva Precepts in Ming Society

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 13, 2006

Bodhisattva Precepts in the Ming Society: Factors behind their Success and Propagation

William Chu
University of California, Los Angeles

The wide popularization of versions of Bodhisattva precepts that were based on apocrypha coincided with certain medieval developments in technology and social/political developments. All these changes facilitated a much more pervasive “Confucianization” of Chinese society, notably during the Song dynasty (960-1279), and were accentuated in the Ming (1368-1643). Riding on these trends, it was only natural that the apocryphal Bodhisattva precepts that were so much tailored to Confucian ethical norms found a much greater popular basis at the same time. This paper also takes a cultural comparativist perspective and analyzes the propagation of the same apocryphal precepts in Japan, which could also be explained by comparable conditions in political and technological infrastructure.

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