Baha'i News -- Buddhist organizations and democracy in Taiwan

Buddhist organizations and democracy in Taiwan

By Andre Laliberte
Departement de science politique
Universite du Quebec a Montreal
C.P. 8888, succ. Centre-ville
Montreal, Quebec
H3C 3P8
514-987-3000 poste 7676

The relevance of religious institutions to the process of democratization in Taiwan represents a neglected area of study in Western scholarship.1 Works in Chinese, however, have already started to pay attention to the role of religious movements, such as The Way of Pervasive Unity (Yiguandao), in transition toward democracy.2 Nevertheless, studies on the involvement of Buddhist organizations in that process of democratization in any language remain rare. Recent contributions that have started to explore the issue of monastic and lay Buddhists' involvement in Taiwanese politics from the beginning of Qing rule to the contemporary era suggest this is about to change.3 While it is beyond the scope of this paper to explore the reasons behind the rarity of studies on the politics of Taiwanese Buddhist institutions, some important questions about their significance deserve to be addressed. In particular, Buddhist organizations in Taiwan, for the most part, remained silent during the period of martial law (1947-1987), and have not been involved during the process of democratization in the 1990s. Considering that some other religious institutions in Taiwan were caught up in politics during the martial law period and after, why have most Buddhist organizations eschewed such participation? Under which conditions could Buddhist organizations in Taiwan become involved in democratic consolidation? Finally, assuming that these organizations would become engaged in politics, what type of politics would they promote? This article seeks to answer these questions in turn.

The Quietist Behavior of Taiwanese Buddhist Organizations

The behavior of Buddhist organizations in Taiwan in the last two decades can best be described as generally indifferent to the process of democratization. Most Buddhist leaders have avoided opposing the government since the Nationalist Party (GMD [Guomindang]) established its control over Taiwan in 1945. The leaders of the Buddhist Association of the Republic of China (BAROC [Zhongguo Fojiaohui]), in 1982, went even as far as criticizing calls for the end of martial law and the creation of political parties.4 Since the beginning of political reforms, only a few Buddhist individuals have come forward to join in the consolidation of democracy. The nun Zhaohui (Chao Fei), for instance, has criticized the authoritarian tendencies she observes in Chinese societies.5 The lay Buddhist Chen Lu'an (Chen Li-an) served as the first civilian National Defense Minister in 1990 and ran as a candidate for the 1996 presidential election.6 The former Interior Minister and former GMD Secretary-General Wu Boxiong (Wu Po- hsiung), who has served in the successive Li Denghui (Lee Teng-hui) administrations that have ushered in the process of democratization in Taiwan, also heads the ROC chapter of the Buddha Light International Organization (BLIA [Guoji Foguanghui]), the most important of the lay branches of the Buddha Light Mountain Monastic Order (better known as Foguangshan, its Chinese name). Beyond these individuals, however, no major Taiwanese Buddhist organization is openly supporting the process of democratic consolidation currently underway. This indifference to political change does not mean that Buddhists are aloof from "this-worldly" concerns. Quite the contrary. The two largest Taiwanese Buddhist organizations, Foguangshan and the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation (hereafter Ciji [Ciji Gongdehui]), have developed over the years into large institutions that run their own hospitals and clinics, universities, publishing houses, and television channels.7 With a membership of more than one million people for Foguangshan8 and over two million for Ciji,9 in a Buddhist population of 4.9 million,10 both organizations have the capacity to act as pressure groups, if not to perform the role of critics.

Taiwanese Buddhist organizations, for the most part, acted as "fellow travelers" of the government when it enforced its authoritarian rule until 1989,(11) and have yet to demonstrate their support for democratic consolidation, either by sponsoring candidates or voicing their opinions on public policies. Buddhist organizations in Taiwan have remained aloof from the major events that have marked that process of democratization, such as the Gaoxiong (Kaohsiung) incident in 1979 and the founding of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP [Minjindang]) in 1986. The support of Xingyun (Hsing Yun), the founder of the Foguangshan monastic order, for the candidacy of Chen LiPan in the presidential election of 1996,(12) and his participation in a grass-roots campaign that led to the downfall of the Lian Zhan (Lien Chan) cabinet in 1997,(13) briefly suggested that some Taiwanese Buddhist organizations were about to join other popular movements pushing for the consolidation of democracy. Subsequent events, however, revealed that the involvement of Foguangshan in oppositional politics was an anomaly rather than the emergence of a new trend. They confirmed the view that the overwhelming majority of Taiwanese Buddhist organizations avoid lending their support to nongovernmental organizations in the process of democratization, and prefer cooperation with state officials. Hence, Xingyun never ceased to work closely with the GMD Central Committee-in which he had served since 1986-and even accepted an appointment by the cabinet-level Overseas Chinese Affairs Commission (OCAC [Qiaoweihui]) in 1997.(14) Finally, along with other Buddhist leaders, he did not sponsor any candidate during the presidential election of 2000.

This limited success of candidates who have been endorsed by Buddhist leaders leaves open the question about the influence of the latter on their followers' political behavior and electoral choices. Although BLIA members were briefly mobilized in 1997, they refrained from intervening openly in politics in the following years. In relation to this, the widespread perceptions of Xingyun as more supportive of the conservative factions of the GMD, have led many to suggest that members of the BLIA lean toward the anti-Li Denghui factions of the GMD, if not toward the New Party (NP [Xindang]), or, more recently, the People's First Party (PFP [Qinmindang]), and are hostile toward the DPP. These alleged conservative leanings of Xingyun and its impact on the political behavior of lay Buddhists are problematic: the views of Xingyun himself have not been consistent over the years and two important figures close to him, Chen Lu'an and Wu Boxiong, were even involved in opposite camps during the 1996 election.15 These attitudes do not differ significantly from those which Ciji's members display publicly. Some people have suggested that most members of Ciji, relating to the background of its leader, Zhengyan (Cheng Yen), as a "person from this province" (Benshengren),16 should show more sympathy toward the Taiwanese independence-leaning DPP. Opinions expressed by Ciji workers, volunteers, and commissioners over the years, however, refute that logic: the individuals who have joined Ciji express a wide diversity of views about the DPP, Taiwanese independence, and other issues. As persons associated with Ciji and Zhengyan herself have asserted over the years, politics are too "complex," and one is left with the conclusion that the involvement of Ciji members in sensitive political debates may prove too threatening for the organization's cohesion.

These ambiguities could lead to the conclusion that Taiwanese Buddhists do not matter in the politics of the island, if it were not for the fact that politicians of all tendencies assiduously court their votes. The absence of any functional equivalent to the Japanese Buddhist Party for Clean Politics (Komeito) on the island and the absence of data on voting preferences according to religious beliefs, however, preclude for the moment the profiling of average Buddhist voters. Could survey data on electoral choice, party identification, and candidate preference in light of various demographic attributes such as class, gender, ethnic and regional origins, education, and age group help to determine the political behavior of Buddhist organizations when the demographic attributes of each become known? Even if these figures become available, such information might not produce a portrait representing the views of most Buddhist voters, because, as Ding Renjie's (Ting Ren-chieh's) study of Ciji illustrates, there exist different categories of membership in such organizations, associated with varying degrees of commitment.17 Keeping in mind this caveat, one fact nonetheless can be asserted: the demographic characteristics of Foguangshan and Ciji do not appear to differ significantly from each other and both organizations appeal to the same mainstream constituencies of middle-class Taiwanese. The two organizations rely on massive lay support all over the island, women are very active in both organizations, and both attract Taiwanese of all ethnic backgrounds.18 Overall, these demographic characteristics of the two organizations raise an intriguing paradox: they are not distinct enough to explain the difference between the BLIA's greater assertiveness in 1996 and 1997, nor why that organization should openly support proreunification factions within the GMD. These issues, however, are too complex to be discussed within the limits of this paper. Therefore, the following sections will focus on the motives behind the passive and active support of Buddhist organizations for previous authoritarian regimes and their current absence in the ongoing process of democratic consolidation.

Understanding the Quietist Attitude of Buddhist Organizations

The reluctance of Taiwanese Buddhist organizations to become involved in the process of democratization is all the more surprising because they draw from an important tradition of opposition followed by Buddhists to established regimes in the Chinese mainland and Taiwan since the turn of the twentieth century. During the Republican era, for instance Taixu (Tai Hsu), a monk still compared in contemporary China to Martin Luther,19 befriended socialists and anarchists, opposed conservative elites within the Buddhist monastic order, and favored internal democracy within Chinese Buddhism with his encouragement of greater participation on the part of lay people.20 Taixu was only one figure among many other Buddhists who tried to use the ethics and philosophy inherent to their beliefs as an alternative to the declining Confucianism of the late Qing dynasty. Lay Buddhists such as Zhang Binglin,21 Liang Qichao,22 and the young Liang Shuming23 often reflected on political issues from the perspective of their religious values. Although nothing emerged from these endeavors that could compete with nationalism and socialism, their attempts nonetheless bear witness to the fact that, during the first half of the twentieth century, Chinese Buddhists did not shun discussing politics. The same holds true for Taiwan. When the island was under Japanese colonial rule, individuals such as the monk Zhengfeng (aka Lin Qiuwu) went as far as espousing Marxism and Taiwanese self-determination.24 After the retrocession of Taiwan to the Republic of China in 1945, however, no Buddhists came close to adopting such leanings. This was true not only during the period of martial law, but also throughout the period of transition toward democracy up to now, even though most prominent leaders in contemporary Taiwanese Buddhism are believed to uphold the views of Taixu.25 Why this reluctance to become involved? The following considers three sets of explanations: theology, "Chineseness," and authoritarianism.

Buddhist theology does not emerge as an explanatory factor for the quietist attitude of Buddhist organizations in contemporary Taiwan, which contrasts markedly with the socially engaged attitude of organizations subscribing to the same religion in other countries. Although Buddhism in Taiwan appears indifferent to politics, the diverse paths followed by Buddhists in many other Asian countries demonstrate that their faith can condone widely divergent forms of behavior. Many Buddhists in Southeast Asia and in Japan, inspired by their religious beliefs, have not hesitated to become involved politically, creating lay organizations to promote their religious values, or even full-fledged political parties.26 Under the rubric of Buddhism, these groups pursue very different objectives. Whether it is the Dhammic socialism of Sulak Sivaraksa in Thailand27 or the conservative pacifism of the Society for the Creation of Value (Soka Gakkai) and the Komeito in Japan,28 these politically active groups demonstrate that Buddhism is not indifferent to "this-worldly" concerns. The political participation of Buddhists, furthermore, can take a wide variety of forms. While a majority of the politically active Buddhist devotees pursue their objectives through peaceful means, not a few Buddhist activists in Japan, Sri Lanka, and other countries have condoned throughout history more aggressive behavior. During the first half of the twentieth century, for instance, the Zen master Suzuki condoned the aggressive policy of the Japanese militarist government.29 Even more recently, Buddhist monks have been involved in the Sri Lankan civil war.30 That is, Buddhist theology does not preclude political participation, but also it does not provide guidance about how this political participation should be undertaken.

Explanations for the quietist behavior of Taiwanese Buddhist organizations based on "Chinese-ness" do not appear compelling either, since their attitude contrasts with the behavior of some other religious organizations in Taiwan. The story of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan and its contribution to the emergence of the DPP, in particular, is well known. Don Baker has convincingly argued elsewhere that the international links of these institutions help to explain their more activist behavior.31 The implicit suggestion made here is that Chinese religious institutions, in general, are not interested in politics. This explanation for the quietist behavior of Buddhist organizations in Taiwan, however, could only work if all religious institutions with a Chinese background were apolitical. This is not the case. Equally significant for political development in Taiwan during the last two decades of the twentieth century, but largely ignored in the West, is the role played by the Yiguandao sect in helping the Taiwanese factions of the GMD to gain power within the party and thus consolidate the position of Li Denghui as the party's leader.32 This activism on the part of a Chinese sect-Yiguandao emerged in the late nineteenth century in North China33-suggests that the Chinese identity of Buddhist institutions in Taiwan cannot entirely explain the latter's quietist attitude.

The legacy of an authoritarian government-such as the four decades of GMD rule under martial law-can leave many different kinds of imprints, ranging from nostalgia for previous arrangements, in which specific institutions stood to benefit in terms of authority, to the mistrust of any government, which results from an institutional memory of persecution. Clearly, this double bind is relevant to Taiwanese Buddhist organizations. Hence, until 1987, the BAROC benefited considerably from the corporatist structure imposed by the GMD because it was illegal for any other Buddhist institution to be established outside of its authority.34 The leaders of that organization, not surprisingly, had no reason to support the unraveling of a structure that had favored them until then and it is not surprising that, throughout the 1990s, as the process of democratization unfolded, the BAROC leaders kept on asking for more control by the central government on religious affairs, hoping to strengthen their declining position within the Buddhist community by maintaining their role as custodians of the faith.35 The effect of the institutional memory of authoritarianism on Buddhist organizations' lukewarm support for democratization, however, may not emerge as a convincing explanation when one keeps in mind that state repression of religious activities, primarily through the provincial government's police administration, affected Yiguandao, the Soka Gakkai, the Presbyterian Church, etc., but not Buddhist organizations, per se.36 Evidence of this high degree of tolerance from the GMD for Buddhism is the fact that other Buddhist institutions have been established since 1966 along the BAROC lines, despite the corporatist arrangement enforced in Taiwan. Another legacy left by authoritarianism, however, may have had a more lasting effect: the structure of Buddhist organizations.37 Hence, the leadership of Ciji is based entirely on the charismatic leadership of Zhengyan, who is helped by a board of directors accountable to no one else.38 The Foguangshan monastic order, which supervises the BLIA, also is a hierarchy: leadership succession is determined by the deliberations of the eleven-member Committee for Religious Affairs.39 This adoption of authoritarian structures by Buddhist organizations suggests that important elements of the explanation for their political behavior may reside within the organizations themselves.

To sum up, theology, "Chinese-ness," and authoritarianism are all insufficient, when each is taken alone, to explain the lack of enthusiasm displayed by Taiwanese Buddhist organizations toward democratization, but the ways in which the leaders of these organizations have interacted with these factors may provide a better explanation. Studies undertaken about the behavior of religious organizations in the United States have suggested that the political stand they adopt is shaped by the preferences of their leaders, who are granted a legitimacy that transcends external constraints. Therefore, leaders are able to mediate for their followers the impact of theology, the social environment, and political circumstances.40 These findings, however, have left open one important question: To what extent have social and political contexts shaped the preferences of these leaders? Hence, in Republican China, the reformist ideas of Taixu and the modernist views of lay Buddhists have emerged among the circumstances of the social upheaval during which they have lived. Conversely, the conservative climate in which the GMD exercised its rule in Taiwan since 1945 and the concern of many Buddhists for the survival of their religion in China, especially during the Cultural Revolution, coincided with a drift toward a more cautious attitude on the part of Buddhists in Taiwan, hailed as the repository of Chinese traditions.41 The acceleration of democratization in Taiwan, while not changing the strategic situation of the island vis-a-vis mainland China, has nonetheless significantly transformed the domestic situation and offers considerable opportunities for any group that wants to become involved politically. As discussed above, however, the tremendous changes in the Taiwanese political system have not led to a noticeable change in the political behavior of Buddhist organizations. Is it because the changes are too recent? Or is it because the leaders of Taiwanese Buddhist organizations believe that the current transformations are only cosmetic and fail to address their concerns? In other words, under which conditions could the interests of these organizations' members and the ideas of their leaders change? In an attempt to answer this question, the next section looks at the ways in which recent changes in Taiwanese society and in its political system affect the political views of Buddhist organizations' leaders.

Explaining the Lukewarm Response of Buddhist Organizations to Democratization

While theology, the cultural environment, and political culture may have shaped over decades-if not centuries-the range of options available to Buddhist leaders when they select their preferences, including their preference for democratization, factors pertaining to socio-economic conditions and the political context, which could influence their choice for the best strategies available to achieve these goals, have yet to be examined. In particular, more needs to be known about the extent to which economic growth, by creating new opportunities for the growth of religious institutions and the proliferation of new ones, may present more established institutions with a competition that they did not have to face under an authoritarian regime, with the result that democratization may not necessarily appear as an advantage for them. Among political factors, at least three stand out for their possible impact on shaping the preferences of Taiwanese Buddhist leaders. Firstly, and with respect to democratization per se, it is possible that the leaders of Taiwanese Buddhist organizations find that many of the fundamental premises of democracy are incompatible with the tenets of their religious worldviews. Secondly, it is not clear to what extent the divisive nature of ethnic cleavages within Taiwanese society may compel Taiwanese Buddhist leaders to avoid interference in politics lest it has a negative impact on the growth of their membership. Finally, it is worth asking to what extent the strategic situation Taiwan is experiencing can compel them to adopt prudent positions.

The impact of social change on the behavior of religious institutions in Taiwan has been abundantly documented, and a growing literature exposes the relationship between the "economic miracle" and the explosion of religious expression that comes in its wake; but this effect on Buddhists' support to democratization has yet to be clearly understood. Figures on the growth in the number of Buddhist temples between 1960 and 1989 show the congruence between economic growth and the expansion of religious activities.42 The wealth of publications in Chinese and Western languages attests to the positive impact of economic growth on the expansion of religious institutions.43 This phenomenon, however, comes with two drawbacks. Firstly, the simultaneous expansion of the economy and of religious activities often coincides with a commercialization of religion, which, in turn, puts the credibility of established institutions to the test. Hence, the case of Foguangshan is illustrative of this predicament. Victim of its own success, the organization has been severely criticized for its positive valuation of material wealth.44 Secondly, and in relation to this problem, the "this-worldly" orientations of established organizations such as Foguangshan and Ciji leave unsatisfied many people who are looking for a more esoteric religious practice, therefore providing the incentive for the development of new cults. The proliferation of new religious movements such as Forshang Buddhism (Foshengzong), the Way of the Children (Haizidao), the Wheel of the Law (Falungong), etc., suggests the existence of that demand in Taiwan.45 To what extent organizations belonging to more orthodox traditions are welcoming this development remains to be seen. The attitude of the BAROC in that regard is instructive. Throughout the 1980s and the 1990s, the organization had pushed in vain for legislation on religion that would, in effect, limit the number of legalized religions.46 Although the BAROC's proposals for a law on religion was resisted by a few small Buddhist organizations and many individuals belonging to other faiths,47 Xingyun and Zhengyan did not oppose the move, thereby suggesting their indifference, if not their hostility, to the freedom of religion from state intervention inherent to democratic consolidation.

Among political factors, the workings of democracy themselves may not necessarily appeal to the promotion of the interests and the ideals of the large Taiwanese Buddhist organizations. In particular, the proliferation of organizations allowed by democratic institutions makes the advocacy of Buddhist interests under one leader much more difficult, and competition among political parties representing antagonistic interests contradicts the goal of harmony they are supposed to nurture. The argument that democracy may not serve the interests of Buddhists may seem counter-intuitive in light of the absence of legal existence for any Buddhist organization besides the BAROC until 1989, when new legislation put an end to that privilege. Yet, a closer look at the history of Foguangshan and Ciji-which were both set up in 1966-- reveals that the leaders of both organizations have managed to take advantage of the legal structure prevailing during martial law.48 Xingyun developed his organization within the umbrella of the BAROC, and was indeed a high- ranking member of that organization.49 Zhengyan set up her own institution as a charity, and therefore never competed with the BAROC for the representation of Buddhist interests; in fact, her organization is not even registered with the Ministry of Interior's Bureau for Religious Affairs.50 In light of these circumstances, the process of democratization, by allowing younger Buddhist monks to create their own representative organizations, not only diminishes severely the authority of the BAROC secretary-general, but also prevents charismatic leaders such as Xingyun from rallying a majority of Buddhists under his guidance, with the result that many different voices speak for Buddhism today in Taiwan. This competition among Buddhist institutions, in turn, refutes the impression of harmony in society and disinterest that leaders like Zhengyan have so successfully nurtured over the years. Although differences of opinion among Taiwanese Buddhists do not lead to acrimony, they are important enough to prevent the creation of an organization representing a majority of them.51 The 1996 presidential election taught Buddhists one important lesson in this regard. The results achieved by Chen LiVan showed that a candidate supported by a major Buddhist organization like Foguangshan, who relied in addition on other sectors of civil society thanks to his choice of Wang Qingfeng (Wang Chingfeng) as a vice-presidential candidate, could not gather more than 10 percent of the vote, and that many Buddhist voters preferred to cast their vote for more established parties.52 It is therefore not surprising that neither Foguangshan nor Ciji showed any interest in supporting any of the contenders for the 2000 presidential election, lest it would further increase division among them, even if President-elect Chen Shuibian (Chen Shui-bien), acknowledging the mobilizing capacity of Xingyun, paid a visit to Foguangshan, where he invoked Buddhist compassion as a way to improve the climate of cross-= Strait relations.53

A second political factor, the communal cleavage based on places of origin between the Benshengren and "those from outside the province" (Waishengren)54 that defines Taiwanese politics55 is also likely to exercise an impact on the preferences of Taiwanese Buddhist leaders that could bode ill for their active support of democracy. Successive GMD governments controlled by the minority Waishengren ruled the island until the late 1980s, even though the Benshengren represented a majority of the population. While the late President Jiang Jingguo (Chiang Ching-kuo) promoted Benshengren in the party and in public administration in the 1980s, Taiwanese politics continue to be influenced by this cleavage, which resonates with the issue of national security.56 The leaders of both Foguangshan and Ciji have always sought to transcend these divisions. Xingyun has demonstrated throughout his career the political acumen of selecting Benshengren for positions of importance in his organization.57 Zhengyan, although identified as a Benshengren herself, has never expressed in her numerous discourses either a sense of entitlement for Benshengren or resentment towards Waishengren. Nor do Buddhist leaders play up other communal cleavages among the inhabitants of Taiwan, based on ethnicity separating aboriginal people and ethnic Chinese, between Hoklo and Hakka among the Benshengren, or between Buddhists and adherents to the other fifteen recognized faiths in the island. This attitude, which may help in nurturing a sense of national identity devoid of ethnic or communal dimension and based on citizenship, is certainly commendable. However, by refraining to speak out on the suffering experienced by the Yuanzhumin at the hands of ethnic Chinese settlers, and by Benshengren elites harassed by the Waishengren- controlled GMD during the period of martial law, Buddhist leaders have deprived themselves of adopting a principled stand on the ethnic divide. Lacking credibility on this sensitive issue, it is therefore not surprising that they would hesitate to get involved in politics, and thus refrain from pronouncing themselves on any dimension of democratic consolidation.

Finally, a third political factor, the strategic situation experienced by Taiwan, also influences indirectly the attitude of Buddhist organizations. In relation to the cleavages mentioned above, the status of Taiwan as a de facto independent state, either as t\he Republic of China or the Republic of Taiwan, divides Taiwanese politics, and presents Buddhist organizations with another reason to keep their distance from politics. The conservative members of the GMD, the supporters of the People's First Party, the splinter party led by Song Chuyu (James Soong), and the New Party support the former position, while members of the DPP, the Taiwanese Independence Party (TAIP [Jiangguodang]), and the newly-established Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU [Taiwan Tuanjie Lianmeng]), lean toward the latter. All parties may paint each other as more extremist on the issue of Taiwanese independence or reunification with China, but they all fundamentally seek the vote of the same constituency. The vast majority of the population, which is satisfied with the current status quo, agrees with the popular slogan "not pressing for independence, nor pressing for re-unification."58 On this issue, Taiwanese Buddhist organizations have clearly preferred the existing situation and have never supported openly Taiwanese independence, fearing its consequences in terms of interstate violence. Would the leaders of Taiwanese Buddhists organizations, then, consider subordination to the People's Republic of China a lesser evil than armed conflict? Any answer to this question is a matter of speculation, but it is clear that Taiwanese Buddhist organizations have gone very far in establishing good relations across the Strait. Ciji, in particular, has offered relief to provinces affected by floods and other natural disasters since 1992. Taiwanese Buddhists may take some comfort from the experience of their co-religionists of the Chinese Buddhist Association (CBA [Zhongguo Fojiao Xiehui]) in the PRC, who have weathered since 1953 traumatic events,59 but who now are experiencing a remarkable revival. If the PRC tried to impose directly its authority on the island, it is not inconceivable that mainstream Taiwanese Buddhist organizations would revert to the practice adopted by the BAROC when the GMD implemented martial law in Taiwan. The rationale would be the same as then: concerns for self-preservation-whether of the organizations or of the faith itself. That is, cooperation with those who favor PRC sovereignty over Taiwan may appear a better guarantee for the survival of Taiwanese Buddhist institutions in the long run, as long as other stands are interpreted in Beijing as support for Taiwanese independence.

Although prudence, if not approval of the official ideology, explains the indifference of most Buddhist leaders to democracy during the period of martial law, the absence of state repression in the current climate of democratic consolidation and the diversity of views upheld by legislators and officials of all parties may compel the leaders of Buddhist organizations to become more pro-active. The lack of concern for democratization by the large Taiwanese Buddhist organizations represents an increasingly untenable position to adopt because politics on the island are becoming more polarized, and taking refuge into passivity may simply be perceived as cooperation with the adverse camp. This situation presents Buddhist organizations with the opportunity to act as disinterested third parties. But assuming Buddhist leaders eventually decide to intervene in politics, what kind of politics would they be likely to endorse for their lay followers? Although Taiwanese Buddhists have yet to produce any systematic reflection comparable to the Catholic Church's social doctrine-not to mention its Liberation Theology-or to inspire any movement that could be associated to the trend of "Engaged Buddhism," the political leanings of Buddhist organizations in Taiwan can nevertheless be surmised by an examination of the specific political concerns raised by their leaders over the years.

The Contour of a Taiwanese Buddhist Political Philosophy

The pace of democratization and the uncertainties it presents for the continuing growth of Buddhist organizations may help explain their attitude toward democracy, but do not say much about the political values these organizations could stand for if they should decide to become involved. Two points can be asserted with confidence about their political orientations. Firstly, with respect to their beliefs, the writings of Xingyun, Zhengyan, Yinshun (Yin Shun) and others suggest that most of the popular Buddhist leaders subscribe to political philosophies that try to reconcile socially conservative values with the acceptance of neo-liberal economic policies. Besides this fundamental element of convergence, however, important disagreements among them arise about two issues: Buddhists' participation in politics and their relationship to wealth. These divergences point to the difficulty inherent in the establishment of a Buddhist political doctrine supported by most adherents of that faith. In particular, the contrasting views of Xingyun and Zhengyan on political participation, as well as their diverging opinions on wealth, discussed below, illustrate the obstacles preventing the constitution of a specifically Buddhist political stand. Secondly, looking at the practice endorsed by Taiwanese Buddhists' approaches to politics from a comparative perspective, their embrace of mainstream society demonstrates that none of them approves radical theologies. However, they also differ from the large, mainstream religious institutions found in Western Europe and Japan that have worked with confessional parties to reconcile their support for market economies and policies of redistributive social justice. Taiwanese Buddhist institutions prefer to quietly exercise their influence through informal channels within existing institutions, in line with their conservative theology. The following two subsections elaborate on these two points.

Unity and Diversity of Taiwanese Buddhist Perspectives on Politics

The political views embraced by the leaders of Buddhist organizations do not differ in most respects from the positions adopted by the conservative politicians affiliated with the GMD, the PFP, or the NP, who support the status quo in cross-Strait relations, sanction the market economy, approve the principle of a minimum welfare state, and who still dominated the ROC legislature in the fall of 2001. Until the end of martial law in 1987, Buddhist organizations aligned themselves with the GMD government in international fora and in domestic politics, but since the middle of the 1990s, they have distanced themselves from the party, which was suspected of covertly leaning toward Taiwanese independence under the stewardship of Li Denghui. In retrospect, this should not come as a surprise. Studies of the GMD ideology by Metzger suggest that the "revolutionary" legacy of the party, which embraced the three principles of nationalism, democratization, and social welfare,60 was bound to be less-not more-conservative than the world-views embraced by Buddhist leaders in the second half of the twentieth century. This became clearer in the 1990s, when the GMD, under the influence of a growing number of Benshengren, became more lukewarm on the issue of reunification with China, in contrast to many of the important Buddhist monks who, born in the mainland, continued to support that goal. To the extent that they oppose socialism and have expressed reservations toward political liberalism-but not toward neo-liberal economic policies-most leaders of the Taiwanese Buddhist organizations can be defined as conservatives.61 That is, they agree with world-- views critical of the belief that volition is powerful enough to remold human nature by the creation of a new social order, and for which the appropriate analogy for people within a polity is not the contractarian model of liberal theory, but the family. Perhaps not surprisingly for people who uphold an old tradition, they agree that allegiance to authority is part of a convention, not a matter for negotiation. In their behavior and in their writings, Buddhist leaders such as Xingyun, Zhengyan, and Yinshun agree with these classical definitions of conservative political philosophy for which the ultimate value is not individual liberty, but the authority of established government, and for which there exists no natural right transcending the citizen's obligation to be ruled.

Nevertheless, the values advocated by the leaders of the BAROC, Foguangshan, and Ciji differ from those of the conservative factions within the GMD in one important respect: they are derived from a theological view of the world. They mirror in some respects the ideologies of the Western European conservatives for whom, in the words of O'Sullivan, "everything has a place to it assigned by God."62 In that sense, they differ radically from the GMD conservative old guard, whose ideas rest on a belief in the existence of historical laws and objective barriers to human volition, such as passions and emotions, and of which German romanticism represented a good example.63 In other words, the conservative views of Taiwanese Buddhist leaders, premised on theological ideals that emphasize harmony within society, moral rectitude from the political leadership, and altruism from the population, differ from the perspective of the GMD old guard on revolutionary nationalism. But while the GMD conservative leanings are not necessarily incompatible with democracy-as the evolution of the last decade demonstrates-democracy appears problematic for many Buddhist leaders. From the perspective of Xingyun and Zhengyan, the competition for votes between the GMD and the DPP implies fierce and bitter struggles that demonstrate the divisive nature of democracy. In that respect, they agree with nonmainstream GMD figures like Hao Bocun (Hau Po-tsun) and his supporters-who have joined the NP and the PFP-who believe that the enforced unanimity and the semblance of harmony prevailing during the martial law peri\od have given way to disorder and uncertainty. Although Buddhist leaders do not publicly criticize the process of democratization, their speeches on the "purification of minds" and the ban on political participation do not support it.

The limited evidence available on their political ideas suggests that Buddhist leaders, while not opposed to democracy per se, hold political views that are more germane to neo-corporatist regimes and other forms of minimal democracies. Although the term "corporatism" has been abandoned in political science literature to describe political developments in post-industrial societies,64 it has seemed more relevant to understand the politics of Taiwan, where the state has long licensed specific organizations with a monopoly of representation for their constituencies.65 Although corporatist structures have been undermined throughout the 1990s, organizations such as the BAROC have waged a rearguard campaign to maintain them. This should not be surprising because the BAROC benefited from the corporatist structure of representation for different sectors of society enforced until the late 1980s. Although Xingyun also has advocated some state intervention to regulate religion in Taiwan, Zhengyan never has expressed such intention. However, her own ideas on political participation suggest that she subscribes to a minimalist form of democracy: people have the right to vote, but they should not become involved in politics, which is considered unworthy activity.66 Zhengyan's negative views on politics are derived from the teaching of her mentor Yinshun, who derides it as a pursuit as condemnable as prostitution and drunkenness. Many Buddhist individuals belonging to Ciji to whom the author has talked over the years certainly agree and see politics as a source of perplexity and confusion. Even Xingyun, who approved the candidacy of Chen LiVan, justified his decision in purely religious terms. But besides these similarities in the negative opinion held toward the confusion inherent to politics, important differences remain.

Although Xingyun and Zhengyan, like many other contemporary Buddhist leaders of note in Taiwan claim to uphold the legacy of Taixu, they differ in many respects from him and use his legacy as a rationale to justify a diversity of attitudes. The complex and controversial views of Taixu himself on politics, social justice, and nationalism are no stranger to the inconsistent interpretations of his thought.67 The most lasting legacies of Taixu's work are the reform of the monastic order, the development of the laity, and the creation of an international organization representing Buddhists,68 objectives that Xingyun and Zhengyan also approve in their own activities. Taixu, however, also took a keen interest in politics and was close to lay activists such as Ouyang Jianwu and Zhang Binglin.69 The GMD suspected some of his followers-such as Xingyun and Yinshun-of communist sympathies after they escaped the turmoil of the civil war and relocated to Taiwan. Subsequent events would demonstrate that these concerns were misplaced. Nonetheless, such suspicions may explain why both Yinshun and Xingyun over the years have avoided any association with the most radical elements of Taixu's thinking, and substituted for his concept of "Buddhism for human life" (rensheng fojiao) the idea of "Buddhism for the human realm" (renjian fojiao). The result is that while Xingyun is a liberal who reconciles "spreading the Dharma" with a wealthy sangha in his interpretation of renjian fojiao,70 Yinshun, arguably one of the most respected heirs of Taixu still living in Taiwan, uses renjian fojiao in more restrictive terms,"71 advocating a frugal lifestyle and inspiring his most famous student, Zhengyan, to use charity work as a path to enlightenment.72

Looking at the political participation of people associated with Foguangshan and Ciji, the views of the leaders of these two organizations appear quite different from each other during the first decade of democratization. Foguangshan has supported Chen Lu'an and Xingyun has endorsed other candidates in local elections over the years. Wu Boxiong, a prominent member of the GMD, is also president of the ROC branch of the BLIA, the satellite lay organization of Foguangshan. Xingyun himself, as discussed before, has been involved with the GMD as adviser for the OCAC. He has said of Buddhists that they should follow Taixu's motto: "participating in politics, but not governing [Canzheng erbu Ganzhi]."73 Zhengyan, for her part, has consistently distanced herself from politics, and says that members of Ciji "care about but do not get involved in politics [Guanxin dan bu Jieru Zhengzhi]."74 During the presidential election of 2000, however, a convergence among the large Buddhist organizations emerged, with Xingyun not endorsing any candidate in particular, therefore, moving closer to the position of noninterference chosen by Zhengyan.

The views of Xingyun and Zhengyan on wealth and poverty also differ significantly. Xingyun has received his fair share of criticism for his positive appreciation of wealth, a view seen by other Buddhists as contrary to the vows of frugality expected of monastics. The radically different views of Zhengyan on poverty also deserve mention because they shed light on the possibility for Buddhists to develop their own version of a "social doctrine of the Church" or a "social gospel," which has been instrumental in the development of Christian democracy in Western Europe. Zhengyan's analysis of poverty is straightforward: it blames illness and therefore offers health care to eradicate poverty. Her simple diagnosis aside, other large Buddhist organizations have yet to develop a systematic reflection on the issue. In sum, while Xingyun reconciles "this-worldly Buddhism" with the pursuit of wealth, Zhengyan emphasizes selflessness. These irreconcilable differences illustrate that Buddhist elites have yet to elaborate from renjian fojiao a "social doctrine" that can offer Taiwanese voters an alternative to the existing parties' established social policies. Besides these differences, however, the leaders of these mainstream Taiwanese Buddhist organizations share two fundamental premises making their differences trivial. They do not criticize the principle of the market economy and they do not believe that the state has any role to play in the redistribution of wealth. This consensus does not represent an ironclad endorsement of democratization: laissez-faire economics and a minimal welfare state can thrive under authoritarian regimes as well.

Comparative Perspective

The evidence about Taiwanese Buddhist organizations collected so far unambiguously indicates that these groups are stranger to the extremist and antisecular paths taken by organizations such as the World Hindu Council (better-known as the VHP [Vishwa Hindu Parishad]) and the Jana Sangh in India,75 the Islamist movements from the Maghreb to the Mashrek,76 Buddhist radical movements such as the Sri Lankan Mavbima Surakime Vyaparaya,77 or the Japanese Aum Shinrikyo. These cases of religious extremism are often the expression of a resistance to a secular state, which is considered highly problematic by these organizations and somehow alien to the native culture.78 Taiwanese Buddhist organizations do not harbor such views. They are also uninterested in the advocacy of alternative sources of authority or new modes of political identity, as is often the case in other societies in Southeast and Northeast Asia.79 Even though Buddhist organizations in Taiwan may criticize the virtue of specific leaders or scorn politicians, they differ from these religious organizations in a significant way. They shy away from criticizing the state's secular values and seek to join the mainstream rather than subverting it and replacing it with their own views. In sum, Taiwanese Buddhist organizations do not belong to the class of phenomena associated with contemporary communal violence in other regions of the world or in other periods of Chinese history, and are not alienated from mainstream society.

Taiwanese Buddhist organizations also show no interest in following the path of mainstream religious institutions such as the Catholic Church or large lay organizations such as the Japanese Soka Gakkai, which have encouraged the creation of centrist political parties. The Western European political parties identified with Christian Democracy, for the most part associated with Catholicism, did not necessarily derive their strength from the organizational capacity of the Church-- Catholic lay associations were often independent from the Church-but were stimulated by a long tradition of political philosophy critical of liberalism and socialism, articulated since the nineteenth century in the "social doctrine of the Church."80 Chinese and Taiwanese Buddhists did not benefit from a comparable experience, in the absence of a unified sacerdotal order and without a tradition of reflection on social welfare. Christian Democratic organizations have benefited from the support of centuries-old religious institutions that claimed the allegiance of the entire population. This is not the case with any of the Buddhist institutions in Taiwan: with the exception of a brief period during the Sui dynasty, Buddhism never became a state religion. Today, Taiwanese Buddhists have to contend with a more complex religious situation than most Western European states, its religious diversity having more in common with that found in Japan or the United States.

Taiwanese Buddhists, finally, are also unlikely to follow the example of their Japanese co-religionists, who, despite short-- comings similar to theirs, nevertheless set up the Komeito, a party established by a lay Buddhist organization, the Soka Gakkai. The Komeito advocates pacifist values, and has over the years promoted a program of Buddhist soc\ialism advocating a "third way" between unfettered capitalism and authoritarian socialism. The program of the Komeito has often been derided as opportunistic and not very different from the mainstream Liberal Democratic Party, but at least in the area of foreign policy, it has consistently been supportive of the constitutional ban on Japanese military intervention abroad.81 The advocacy of pacifism by any political party hoping to become significant in contemporary Taiwan, however, is unlikely: the situation of the ROC as an island militarily threatened by China's People's Liberation Army would make such a proposal tantamount to treason. In relation to this, their pacifism was the main "fault" that the Taiwan provincial police authority found in organizations such as the Mormons, the Jehovah's Witnesses, and the Baha'is.82

The absence of religious militancy and the reluctance to create a large mainstream political party begs the question about the mechanisms that Taiwanese Buddhist organizations may have to use for the promotion or the protection of their interests. So far, the BAROC, Foguangshan, and Ciji are comparable to American evangelical and fundamentalist Protestant movements which compete for influence over the agenda of mainstream political parties. With the rise to power of a new technocratic elite that is Western-educated and more open to liberalism in the GMD, a gap gradually widened between Buddhist lay organizations and the mainstream faction of the ruling party during the 1990s, making the necessity for them to organize all the more pressing. The indifference of Lian Zhan to the request of the BAROC for a law on religion, and the lack of support of the nonmainstream GMD member Chen Lu'an for the mainstream GMD candidate Li Denghui, clearly illustrated this tension. For the moment, ideological differences between Taiwanese Buddhist organizations and the GMD-or the PFP-are not great enough to justify the creation of a distinct Buddhist political party. The resilience of conservative factions in the GMD and the presence of lay Buddhist politicians such as Wu Boxiong within the ruling party offer better opportunities for Buddhist organizations to gain influence over policy. In addition, relations between the main Buddhist organizations and the DPP may be offering new opportunities for leverage, if Chen Shuibian's entreaties to Buddhists after his election in 2000 were any indication. More research needs to be done on this interplay between Foguangshan, Ciji, and other Buddhist organizations, and specific factions or individuals within mainstream political parties to determine if Taiwanese Buddhist organizations are seeking to penetrate them and influence their agenda.


The reluctance of Taiwanese Buddhist organizations to become involved in the process of democratic consolidation can be explained primarily by the obedience of members to leaders committed to a conservative version of the modern theology of "this-worldly Buddhism" more than any other cultural, political, or socio- economic factor. This conservative approach does not question the socio-economic status quo and supports the current neo-liberal economic policies implemented by both the GMD and the DPP governments, which leave poverty alleviation in the hands of charity organizations rather than in the care of agencies such as those found in Western welfare states. Buddhist organizations in Taiwan appear content with the current promarket policies pursued by current governments, which implement most of the developmental state models adopted when the island was under authoritarian rule. Having benefited from these policies then and since the era of martial law, despite their indifference to the process of democratization, the need for them to speak out on the consolidation of democracy does not stand out as self-- evident. Having transcended ethnic and regional cleavages in the last thirty-five years of existence, large organizations like Foguangshan and Ciji may stand to lose their effectiveness as proselytizing agencies or charity institutions if they intervene in politics and, as a consequence, appear too partisan.

1 The literature on the Presbyterian Church and other Christian communities in that process constitutes an important exception to that rule in the English language. See Murray A. Rubinstein, The Protestant Community on Modern Taiwan: Mission, Seminary, and Church (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1991), and Michael Stainton, "`Through Love and Suffering': The Role of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan's Democratization," paper presented to the Joint Center for Asia- Pacific Studies Annual Conference "Democracy and Identity Politics," Toronto, December 4, 2000.

2 See Qu Haiyuan (1997), ed., Taiwan Zongjiao Bianqian de Shehui Zhengzhi Fenxi (A socio-political analysis of religious change in Taiwan) (Taipei: Guiguan, 1997); Song Guangyu, Zongjiao yu Shehui (Religion and society) (Taipei: Dongta, 1995); Lin Benxuan, Taiwan de Zhengjiao Chongtu (The conflict between politics and religion in Taiwan) (Panchiao, Taipei County: Daoxiang Chubanshe, 1994).

3 Charles B. Jones, Buddhism in Taiwan: Religion and the State: 1660-1990 (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1999); Andre Laliberte, "The Politics of Buddhist Organizations in Taiwan, 1987- 1995," Ph.D. Dissertation, University of British Columbia, 1999; Julia Huang Chien-yu and Robert P. Weller, "Merit and Mothering: Women and Social Welfare in Taiwanese Buddhism," The Journal of Asian Studies 57, no. 2 (May 1998): 379-96.

4 Charles B. Jones, Buddhism in Taiwan, 322-3.

Shi Zhaohui, "Renjian Fojiao" Shilianchang (Examining "this- worldly Buddhism") (Taipei: Fajie, 1998), 90-4.

Xie Jianping, Chen LiVan Zhenhan (The Chen Lu'an effect) (Taipei: Yaxiya, 1995), 146-52.

Wang Shunmin, Zongjiao Fuli (Religious welfare) (Taipei: Yatai Tushu, 1999), 172-210.

8 Fu Zhiying, Zhuan Deng: Xing Yun Dashi Zhuan (Handing down the light: The biography of Venerable Master Hsing Yun) (Taipei: Tianxia Wenhua Chuban, 1995), 377.

9 Kang Le and Jian Huimei, Xinyang yu Shehui (Belief and society) (Banqiao [Panchiao], Taipei County: Taipei County Cultural Center Publishing, 1995), 92.

10 Government Information Office (GIO), Republic of China Yearbook, 2000 (Taipei: GIO, Executive Yuan of the ROC, 2000), 459.

11 Jiang Canteng, Taiwan Fojiao Bainianshi zhi Yanjiu, 1895-1995 (Research on a century of Buddhism in Taiwan, 1895-1995) (Taipei: Nantian, 1996), 454.

12 "Xingyun Yong Chen Fan Li Yinfa Zongjiaojie Yao Yuanzheng Duozhan (Xingyun's support for Chen triggers competition within religious circles), Guohui Shuangzhoukan (September 1, 1995): 12- 15.

13 Foguang Shiji (July 16, 1997): 4.

14 Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS), "Buddhist Master Named Commissioner of OCAC," FBIS-CHI-97-032 (February 16,1997), Taiwan Central News Agency WWW.

15 Chen was running for the presidency against the KMT candidate Li Denghui while Wu was supporting the ruling party.

16 This term describes Taiwanese with a Chinese background, and differs from aboriginal people (Yuanzhumin).

17 Hence, in the Taipei area, women represent 75 percent of the core constituency of the organization, the commissioners (Weiyuan), while 65 percent of the "honored patrons" (Rongdong) are wealthy males with a high socioeconomic status. Some 94 percent are over forty years old. In addition, figures about membership, in the case of Ciji, may be inflated: hence, the study by Ding has demonstrated that a majority of the members are individuals who make regular donations on a monthly or bimonthly basis but who include all members of the household as members of the organization. See Ting Jen-chieh, "Helping Behavior in Social Contexts: A Case Study of the Tzu-Chi Association in Taiwan," Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1997, 128-29, 131, 144. See also Kang and Jian, Xinyang yu Shehui, 88-90.

18 No study yet has provided data on the ethnic background of each organization, but one can infer the importance of the Taiwanese Benshengren presence in both organizations by the number of speeches and documents produced in Fukienese (Minnanhua), their native language. Detailed descriptions of the temples affiliated to Foguangshan and of the branches of Ciji also indicate that both organizations have managed to attract followers in all counties on the island, and studies by Kang and Jian suggest further that the membership of both organizations is more important in large urban centers. For the localization of Foguangshan's affiliated temples in Taiwan, see Fu Zhiying, Zhuan Deng, 363. For Ciji's branches in Taiwan, see Fojiao Ciji Cishan Shiye Jijinhui, Ciji Zhiye Xunli (An overview of Ciji's purpose) (Taipei: Ciji Wenhua Chubanshe, n.d.), 121-22. For a breakdown of members in both organizations by counties and cities, see Kang and Jian, Xinyang yu Shehui, 89, 171-72.

19 Deng Zimei, "Taixu yu Mading Lude: Xiandaihua Shijiaoxiade Zhongxi Zongjiao Gaige Bijiao" (Taixu and Martin Luther: A comparison on the basis of religious reformation viewed from the perspective of modernization) Shijie Zongjiao Yanjiu (Research on world religions) no. 1 (2000): 22-33.

20 Holmes Welch, The Buddhist Revival in China (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1968), 29-35, 71.

21 Chan Sin-wai, Buddhism in Late Ch'ing Political Thought (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1985).

22 Hao Chang, Liang Chi-chao and Intellectual Transition in China, 18901907 (Taipei: Rainbow Bridge, 1971).

23 Guy S. Alitto, The Last Confucian: Liang Shu-ming and the Chinese Dilemma of Modernity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979).

24 Charles B. Jones, "Buddhism and Marxism in Taiwan: Lin Qiuwu's Religious Socialism and Its Legacy in Modern Times," Journal of Global Buddhism 1 (2000): 82-115 .

25 Jiang Canteng, Taiwan Fojiao yu Xiandai Shehui (Taiwanese Buddhism and contemporary society) (Taipei: Dongda Tu\shu Gonsi, 1992).

26 Ian Harris, ed., Buddhism and Politics in Twentieth-Century Asia (London: Pinter, 1999).

27 Donald K. Swearer, "Sulak Sivaraksa's Buddhist Vision for Renewing Society," in Engaged Buddhism, ed. Christopher S. Queen and Sallie B. King (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1996), 195-236.

28 Daniel A. Metraux, The Soka Gakkai Revolution (Lanham, MD: University Press of America 1994).

29 Brian A. Victoria, Zen at War (New York: Weatherhill, 1996).

30 Stanley J. Tambiah, Buddhism Betrayed? Religion, Politics and Violence in Sri Lanka (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992).

31 Don Baker, "World Religions and National States: Competing Claims in East Asia," in Transnational Religion and Failed States, ed. Susanne Hoeber Rudolph and James P. Piscatori (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1997), 144-72. 32 Lin Benxuan, Taiwan de Zhengjiao Chongtu.

33 David K. Jordan and Daniel L. Overmyer, The Flying Phoenix: Aspects of Chinese Sectarianism in Taiwan (Taipei: Caves Books, 1986); Joseph Bosco, "Yiguan Dao: 'Heterodoxy' and Popular Religion in Taiwan," in The Other Taiwan: 1945 to the Present, ed. Murray Rubinstein (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1994), 423-44.

34 Charles B. Jones, Buddhism in Taiwan, 179-80. 35 Zhongfohui Kan 122 (April 13, 1994): 3-4.

36 Ho Fang-jiau (He Fengjiao), Taiwan Sheng Jingwu Dang'an Huibian: Minsu Zongjiao Pian (Documentary collection of Taiwan's police administration: Folklore and religion) (Hsintien [Xindian], Taipei County: Academia Historica, 1996).

37 Chen Zailai, Zongjiao yu Guanli (Religion and administration), research report for the management science research institute (Hsinchu [Xinzhu]: Chiaotung [Jiaodong] University, 1994).

38 Kang Le and Jian Huimei, Xinyang yu Shehui, 57-9.

39 Jiang Canteng, Taiwan Dangdai Fojiao (Buddhism in contemporary Taiwan) (Taipei: Nantian, 1997), 27-8.

40 James R. Wood, Leadership in Voluntary Organization: The Controversy Over Social Action in Protestant Churches (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1981).

41 Jiang Canteng, Taiwan Fojiao Bainianshi zhi Yanjiu, 251-320.

42 Song Guangyu, Zongjiao yu Shehui, 179.

43 Robert P. Weller, "Markets, Margins, and the Growth of Religious Diversity: Taiwan in Comparative Perspective," "Third International Conference on Sinology," Nan kang, Taiwan, Academia Sinica, June 29-July 1, 2000.

44 "Foguangshan de Haohua Lingwei: Kaijia Zai Sanshiwan Yuan Yishang" (The starting price for funerary tablets in Foguangshan: 30,000 New Taiwan dollars) Xinxinwen (The Journalist) (October 26, 1996): 47-9.

45 Li Guangshen, "Shijimou, Shenfo Man Tianqi? Taiwan de Xinxing Zongjiaofeng" (Taiwan's new age cults) Sinorama (October 2000), 6-19.

46 Qu Haiyuan, Zongjiaofa Yanjiu (Research on the legislation pertaining

to religion) (Taipei: Neizhengbu Weituo Yanjiu [MOI Research Commission], 1989).

47 "Zhonghua Foxiehui Fandui Chengli Fojiao Zonghui" (The CBTA opposes the establishment of the BFA) Ziyou Shibao (Liberty Times) (September 24, 1996); "Fojiaofa Cao'an: Zhonghua Foxiehui You Yiyi" (Draft law on Buddhism: The CBTA disagrees) Zhongshi Wanbao (China Evening Times) September 23, 1996.

48 Charles B. Jones, "Relations between the Nationalist Government and the Buddhist Association of the Republic of China (BAROC) since 1945," Journal of Chinese Religions 24 (Fall 1996): 77-97.

49 Fu Zhiying (Fu Chi-ying), Xinhuo: Foguangshan Chengxianqihou de Gushi (The story of Foguangshan founders' spiritual heirs) (Taipei: Tianxia Wenhua Chuban [Commonwealth Publishing], 1997).

50 Neizhengbu (Ministry of the Interior), Quanguoxing Zongjiao Tuanti Minglu (Registry of religious organizations across the country), comp. Zhong Fushan (Taipei: Zhonghua Minguo Xingzhengyuan Neizhengbu, 1994).

51 This becomes clear when considering the various voices with which Buddhists express themselves, whether through respected scholarly journals such as Faguang (Dharma Monthly), or the periodicals published by established organizations, such as Zhongfohui Kan (Chinese Buddhism Monthly), the BAROC mouthpiece; Bumen Zazhi (Universal Gate), Jueshi (Awakening the World), Renjian Fubao (Merit Times), Foguang Jikan, all owned by Foguangshan and its affiliates; Jingdian Zazhi (Rhythm Monthly), Ciji Yuekan (Tzu Chi Monthly), Tzu Chi Quarterly, Ciji Daolu; or Fagu Zazhi (Dharma Drum Magazine), Foyin Shibao, Haichaoyin, etc.

52 "Sense and Sensibility: On Taiwan's Political Future," China News Analysis 1558 (April 15, 1998).

53 "Bian: Fofa shi Lianxia Zuijia Teshi" ([Chen Shui-]bian: The Buddha Law is the best way for cross-Strait relations) Taiwan Xingshengbao (May 15, 2000): 2.

54 This term designates Chinese immigrants who came to Taiwan after 1945, when the authority of the Republic of China assumed political control over the island.

55 Alan M. Wachman, "Competing Identities in Taiwan," in The Other Taiwan: 1945 to the Present, ed. Murray A. Rubinstein (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1994), 17-80.

56 Christopher Hughes, Taiwan and Chinese Nationalism: National Identity and Status in International Society (London: Routledge, 1997).

57 Fu Zhiying, Xinhuo.

58 Surveys from the Mainland Affairs Council indicate that, since 1997, more than 75 percent of the population prefers the current political status of Taiwan with regard to cross-Strait relations to the alternatives of independence or reunification with the PRC. As of March 2001, only 5.6 percent of the people surveyed by the Center for Public Opinion and Election Studies at Sun Yat-sen University in Kaohsiung supported immediate independence, and 3 percent supported immediate reunification. Source: MAC 2001 .

59 Holmes Welch, Buddhism Under Mao (Cambridge: Harvard University Press 1972), 1-108, 231-66, 340-63.

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