Where earlier the Buddhist reformer Anagarika Dharmapala was influenced by pseudo-scientific 'Theosophy', the latter met in China with Yang Wenhui who was the teacher of Taixu. (Don Alvin Pittman,Toward a Modern Chinese Buddhism: Taixu's Reforms, 2001, p. 42.)
Influenced by Yang Wenhui, Taixu was oriented towards a "world Buddhism". However Taixu's orientation toe world Buddhism was limited, becouse his apparent cosmopolitianism was contradicted by strong Chinese Nationalism.
Although nationalism was supreme in both Japan and China in the early twentieth century, its meaning and implication were differently perceived. In China, nationalism was manifested in the efforts to build new China through patriotic movements and in the struggle to end foreign occupation and dominance in China. The compelling fervor of such nationalistic sentiment prevailed throughout the nation after the founding of the Republic of China. The nationalistic movement demonstrated on May 4, 1919, and May 30, 1925, inspired Chinese people, especially intellectual minds and the young students including "new student-monks," who were fired up with a passion to protect the country and to recover national sovereignty. Japanese invasion further intensified Chinese nationalistic feeling and strengthened their will to expel all foreign powers from China.
For the half century before war broke out in 1937, Buddhists, especially young monks, pushed for Buddhist reforms in the hope of reintegrating Buddhism into society. While resisting state persecution, these young monks urged all clergy to join the rest of the Chinese people to contribute to the nation and work for social welfare. After more than three decades of self reorientation and social assimilation, Buddhist institutions became more accessible to society and more young monks became deeply concerned with contemporary domestic and international political developments. The nationalistic and patriotic sentiments were, therefore, easily incorporated into the sangha and readily inspired young monks who shaped modem Buddhist nationalism. The eruption of the war in 1937 thus provided them an opportunity to carry out their efforts. These monks abandoned their feud with the government and extended their full support to the national resistance against the invasion, and readily sacrificed themselves and their religion for the nation. They put aside traditional Buddhist discipline, and instead espoused commitments to the nation as supreme duty.
In September 1936, a long article on "Buddhism and the Revival of Our Race, appeared in Hai chao yin. The author Fushan the abbot of the Jade Buddha Temple (Yufo Si) in Shanghai, analyses the close relationship between Buddhism and the state, emphasizing Buddhist contributions to Chinese culture and spiritual life, and to the ending of earlier foreign occupations. But due to the decline of Buddhism and the nation, Fushan laments:
Our land has been trodden by the horses of foreign soldiers, our ports are full of foreign fleets of war ships, our tariffs on imported goods are collected by foreigners, our judiciary is interfered with by foreigners, the system of our communication is managed by foreigners, and our trades and commercial goods are manipulated by foreigners. In short, our lives are almost completely in the hand of foreigners. In order to change this sorrowful situation, all Chinese, including Buddhist monks and nuns, should unite and regenerate national spirit through self-reliance and cultivation of Chinese traditional virtues. Fushan calls upon all Chinese, especially followers of religions, to rise up against the old foreign powers of the West, to reject the new imperialism of Japan, and to seek international equality.
Buddhism is the religion of compassion and universal love that aims at saving the world, rejecting all sorts of egoism and adopting the cause of altruism. It is sure that the Chinese nation will be on the healthy and broad track to revival if all Party members and citizens aspire to save the nation through the great compassion, wisdom, heroism and the idea of merit in Buddhism he wrote.
At this time, the prevailing opinion in society towards Buddhist institutions and clergy was rather negative, if not contemptuous. Due to the degeneration of the sangha and the debilitation of the religious vitality of clergy, Buddhist institutions had long been regarded as a burden of the state, and the clergy were accused of being parasites of society. Even thinkers like Tan Sitong, Liang Qichao, and Zhang Binglin who favored Buddhism and tried to use Buddhist philosophy to deal with social and political problems and thus to render Buddhism relevant to people's lives, still severely criticized monks and practice of the sangha. Many intellectuals charged that Buddhism was not only useless but harmful to the nation. In India, they assumed, Buddhism had contributed to decline and collapse and brought it under British rule. Against criticisms, young intellectual monks made various counter-arguments to explain Buddhism and the sangha in positive terms.But Zhenhua insisted that Buddhism could make great contributions to the nation. He alleged that the colonization of India was not because of Buddhism, but on the contrary. its worst degeneration in history.
And although Taixu did not go further to explain whether Buddhism contributed to the prosperity of the nation or visa versa, he proved that the destiny of the nation was closely connected with the fate of Buddhism. Taixu also demonstrated that Buddhist doctrines, such as the equality of liberation and compassion for saving the world, were all useful for expelling foreign invasions and for national building. Taixu's assertion that the destinies of the state and Buddhism were linked shows his eagerness to urge Buddhists to serve the nation, although his claim may not necessarily be true.
Wude, in an article on the "Survival of the Sangba and the Citizen's Attitude, distinguishes between private virtue and public virtue (gongde) in Fo hai deng, v. 2. n. 2 (1937): 1.
Working for one's own benefit is private virtue; for the benefit of others is public virtue. Although the two should be cultivated simultaneously, public virtue is always more important because it unites people to achieve a common goal of community and nation. Wude believed that the nation is the collective unity of all individuals, it provides an arena for one to work for others, as well as for others to work for one.
Thus young monks argued that it was important to prepare themselves to defend the nation by undertaking military training and how they articulated that they could subordinate their religious commitment to the fulfillment of national duty by replacing the precept of non-killing with that of compassionate killing. Their arguments, however, can be understood only in light of the contemporary social, political, and military contexts in which nationalism and patriotism reigned supreme. As war loomed during the 1930's, Buddhist propaganda criticizing Japanese aggression intensified. Articles in such propaganda described the Japanese as "devils" and Japan as imperialistic; their support for the Nationalist government's fight against the Japanese continued throughout the eight years of the war, This chapter explores the role of Buddhist propaganda in criticism of Japanese aggression in China.
The eight years of the war from the Marco Polo Bridge Incident on July 7, 1937, to Japan's surrender on August 15, 1945, caused tremendous suffering to the Chinese people and devastation to the Chinese nation, including-according to some estimate-the deaths of more than twenty-one million Chinese and the destruction of 100 billion dollars worth of property.
The war transformed institutional Buddhism and its social environment in China, and a new form of Buddhism gradually developed. Inspired by widespread nationalistic and patriotic ideas throughout China at the time and urged on by the Nationalist government, Chinese clergy transcended the discipline of non-killing and non-association with the military; they reinterpreted the Mahayana doctrines of compassion and skilful means so as to reinvent the Buddhist tradition of national protection. They emphasized the path of bodhisattva and advocated the ideal of "compassionate killing" to circumvent the discipline of non-killing so that they could better serve the nation. Having abandoned their feud with the national government, which had prevailed during decades when the state appropriated temple properties to promote education, the clergy now voluntarily relinquished their religious commitments and engaged in anti-Japanese propaganda and charitable activities under the Nationalist government. Although the most popular activity was rescue work, many monks were conscripted into the army or took part in guerilla warfare.
When in Shanghai. mid 1938, it was rumored that the clergy in Japanese-occupied areas had either voluntarily or unwillingly collaborated with the Japanese under the name of the Chinese Buddhist Society in Shanghai. The Nationalist government worried that the cooperation of Chinese monks with the Japanese would undermine efforts to form a united front against Japan. In response to the government's concern, Taixu declared the end of the Chinese Buddhist Society in Shanghai and urged the leaders of the society in Shanghai to transfer the documents to Chongqing. In November 194 1 however, Taixu declared the closure of the office because his suggestion did not receive support from the government.
Earlier he had founded already the Yunnan Sangha Rescue Team in fact to encourage Buddhists to serve their country just as the other citizens of the nation are doing. cared for. Taixu also felt that it was the duty of all Chinese people to provide material support to Chinese soldiers. In order to encourage Buddhists to save everything useful and donate it to the government, Taixu personally donated 300 yuan for the welfare of soldiers in September 1937. In his radio speech, "Money Donation to Soldiers and Buddhist Generosity" (Chuqian laojun yu bushi ) delivered on February 15, 1941, Taixu argued that providing gifts to the army was not only to fulfill their duty as citizens of the nation but it was also sanctioned by Buddhism as one of the Six Perfections. Donations to the soldiers should be understood as encompassed in the three kinds of offerings in Buddhism: the offering of materials, of Dharma, and of fearlessness:
At this moment of resisting the Japanese and building the nation, [one who] propagates the idea of national supremacy [is making] the highest Dharma offering; [one who) participates in resisting the invasion and in repelling the evil enemy in order to secure military victory [is making] the foremost offering of fearlessness; [one who] unites the will and power [of all the people] for the sake of the victory of the nation in the war [is making] material offering. By identifying the donation to the soldiers with the religious activity of generosity, Taixu supplied a Buddhist theory to his proposition that serving the soldiers and providing them with advanced weapons were tantamount to serving the nation, and serving the nation was to serve Buddhism. Although Taixu creatively connected Buddhist practice of generosity with donations to the soldiers, he did not go further to explain whether such kind of connection could be suspected of supporting violence and of violating moral discipline of non-association with army and nondealing with weapons.
To reconcile the contradiction between the Buddhist ideas of ahimsa and their national duty, they discovered a few Buddhist texts, which they interpreted in accordance with the needs of contemporary nationalism. They invented a Buddhist tradition of "compassionate killing' in serving the nation during the war. In response to the claim made by Japanese clergy that the Japanese military invasion aimed to protect Buddhism in China and Asia, Chinese monks declared that the resistance would safeguard Buddhism from destruction along with the Chinese nation, and thus they justified their own act of violence. Although Japanese and Chinese clergy did not completely distort Buddhist teachings nor were their arguments entirely baseless, in both cases overwhelming nationalistic zeal is obvious. They used the bodhisattva ideal of compassionate killing to justify their participation in the war, and the methods and theories of China and Japan were almost the same.
The same year Taixu wrote to Adolph Hitler, he moved to Chongqing where he became actively engaged in the resistance war against the Japanese in China.
After the fall of Burma, traffic from India through the Himalayas to Kunming became the only channel for outside military and food supplies to China. In order to effectively strengthen international cooperation against Japan, China decided to send three divisions of troops on a military expedition to India. Joining the rest of the transportation corps, twenty two monks followed Chinese troops into battle against the Japanese on the border between India and Burma. In their daily life, the monks continued to observe the vow to be vegetarians, and they kept their religious identity. Although they wore military uniforms, the monks tried not to violate their Buddhist commitments, and according to their leader as Leguan , they never visited places of entertainment, but frequented Buddhist temples in the region, talking to the resident monks about Chinese Buddhism and the current war in China. (Leguan, Sengla kangzhan gongno shi, 72-73).
Information scattered in Buddhist records indicates that quite a large number of monks also participated directly in the fighting. They joined the Chinese army and battled the Japanese at the front, or they carried on guerrilla warfare in Japanese-occupied areas.
On March 10, 1933, Shenbao carried the news that Liangshan skilled at martial arts, had gathered over three hundred disciples, clergy and lay, and formed an anti-Japanese base on Hongliu Mountain in Jinxi. He often led the troops out of the mountain to attack Japanese military camps, inflicting casualties on the Japanese soldiers. His fame spread in the area and many other resistance forces came to join him. In the south, when Japanese troops advanced toward Yixing, after occupying Shanghai and Suzhou at the end of 1937, Henghai, the abbot of Chenguan Si, organized more than a thousand monks and lay Buddhists into guerrilla troops. After a short period of military training, the troops were joined by other resistance forces in the region and actively launched a guerrilla war.' 14 Buddhists nuns, although less recorded, also joined antiJapanese forces and threw themselves into the war. In 1938, a group of nuns served on the first aid team at Wuhan and participated in the defense of Wuhan. After it fell, they joined the army, replacing their robes with military Uniforms, and marched to the battlefield with the other Chinese soldiers. There are however few materials on how Buddhist nuns acted in the war.
In 1938, the troops gradually expanded their influence to twenty-three counties, and created the first military base behind Japanese lines in the AntiJapanese War. In January 1938, a convention of various parties was organized to celebrate the establishment of the base government. Buddhist institutions on Mt. Wutai jointly sent a message of their fall support of the resistance war:
[Our] community, together with all lay Buddhist followers, would like to express its willingness to accept the leadership of the government; we will fight against the Japanese to the end. We pray for all people in Tibet and Inner Mongolia to unite to drive the Japanese out of China("Stepping out the Sutra Recitation Hall and Struggling with Evil Devils- The Outburst of Zeal for Anti-Japanese War in Mt. Wutai," in Shi zi hao, v. I n. 2 (1941): 28). It should also be noted that soon after the war broke out in 1937, Communists joined Nationalists and formed a united front. Therefore the Communists recognized the leadership of the Nationalists and fought the Japanese under the Nationalist government.
Some Monks also served the nation as disguised secret agents inside Japanese military organizations. Temples became the battle field of guerilla war, and monks set traps inside temples in order to catch Japanese, who were regarded not as pilgrims but as enemies. It seems that many monks adopted new lives and did everything possible as the war requested. This could be considered as skilful means in serving the nation as these monks claimed, however, as the right-livelihood, one of the Eightfold Path in Buddhism, indicates that Buddhists should avoid hypocrisy and lead righteous life. It seems that these monks and others lived double lives during the war, sometimes as monk and sometimes as guerilla soldiers, or openly serving with Japanese troops yet secretly working for resistance forces. Although their actions of "double status" could be justified in the name of nationalism and patriotism, it is unclear whether the thought ever occurred to them that their action might be regarded as hypocritical. We may not be able to completely understand the contemporary situation and the motivation of these monks; yet we should keep in mind that not all clergy did or thought the same. The monks and lamas in Wutai Mountains should have similar religious and political interests as one community, yet they apparently divided among themselves-one group supported the Japanese and the puppet government in Beijing while another assisted resistance forces. It is quite possible that individual Buddhists acted differently toward both the Japanese invasion and Chinese resistance.
In his proposal to the Social Affairs Ministry for the formation of the Sangha Service Team in 1940, the Buddhist leader Leguan alleged that all of four hundred thousand monks (beside nuns) in China only appeared to be monks. They ate without fanning, and wore clothes without weaving. His criticism was even more severe than traditional critiques of Buddhism. Zhonghua Minguoshi dangan ziUao huibian, v.5 pt.2 sect.5 n.2 (1991), 801-2. One of charges was that monks knew nothing but ritual service to the dead for earning their living. Quite ironically, Leguan was paid by the money earned from ritual service when served in the Ciyun Si Sangha Rescue Team. Under the slogans "the nation is first," "the war is first," and "victory, is first," a number of monks were truly determined to serve the nation first, and to place their civic duty before their religious commitment. Nevertheless, it is evident that a large number of monks, such as those in Chongqing and Changsha, were reluctant to give up the traditional practices of Buddhism. To some extent, their participation in the war of resistance was rather a result of compelled pressure of nationalism on the one hand and activism of the "new young monks," such as Leguan, one the other hand.
While the war transformed the monks, Buddhist participation in the war also simultaneously changed public opinion toward institutional Buddhism, just as was anticipated by those like Taixu who advocated Buddhist involvement in the war. Thanks to the news media, the image of Buddhism improved and the monks were recognized as members of one national family. Zhou Zhongguang, in his article "Learning from the Example of Monks" (Xiang heshang kanqi ) published in December 1944, highlighted some episodes of monks in the war.
Of course where Nippon's army went, its religion went too, Japanese Buddhist missionaries opened schools and orphanages in their newly founded missionary stations and also in Chinese temples. Many Chinese children became orphans during the war, and were enrolled in such institutions. The children were taught Buddhist ethics, Chinese and Japanese language, and mathematics, with all classes conducted in Japanese. These young Chinese were indoctrinated with Japanese ideas and educated to have goodwill towards Japan, which was depicted as having sent its troops to China to help the Chinese achieve independence.
No doubt Japanese involvement in Chinese Buddhist affairs enhanced the growth of intellectual Buddhism, while also facilitating Japanese influence on Chinese Buddhists.
Buddhist journals published in the Japanese-occupied areas depict institutional Buddhism experiencing peaceful and prosperous. development. Some Chinese monks said that Buddhist institutions received more respect and protection under the Japanese. Mingyi, an abbot of Chongfu Si in Taiyuan, praised Japanese soldiers in the region for having kept peace and protected temples from robbery so that Buddhism was able to revive. In gratitude, Mingyi suggested that the Chinese Buddhists conduct a religious ritual once a week to pray for the welfare of the Japanese. In October 1938, a group of twenty-one living Buddhas from Wutai Mountain visited Beijing, and according to Takeda Hiroshi, at the department of Japanese military intelligence, the lamas were overwhelmed by Japanese hospitality and highly praised the protection of Wutai Mountain by Japanese imperial soldiers. We should not simply dismiss all this as pure political propaganda. Just as some monks were convinced because of nationalism that they should participate in the resistance, others surely believed that Chinese Buddhism could benefit from Japanese protection, and help make that protection last long, they would not hesitate to politicize their religious activities.
The politicization of Buddhist activities in Manchuria began soon after Japanese occupied the Northeast. After the founding of Manchuguo in 1934, Japanese missionaries from different Buddhist sects gradually arrived, and a number of semi Buddhist organizations, such as the Central Buddhist Society for Universal Salvation (Zhongyangpqjifqjiaohui), were established. 57 In 1934, a delegation of several priests from the Tendai Sect arrived in Manchuria and set up a General Buddhist Society in Binjiang (Binjiangfqjiao zonghui) in the hope of strengthening ties between Japan and Manchuria. Many of its founding members were Manchurian politicians and leading monks.
When the Japanese occupied the northeast on September 18, 193 1, Danxu had just completed the construction of Jile Si in Harbin City. The temple was mainly funded by Zhu Ziqiao, the general and chief administrator in the northeast, who had been well-known for his nationalist zeal against Japan. Some monks from Jile Si followed general Zhu and fought guerrilla war against the Japanese occupation in the region. One of them was Ciyun, who used to be a superintendent monk of Jile Si and later on became an influential member of the anti-Japanese guerrillas. Danxu, being the abbot of Jile Si and closely associated with general Zhu, was suspected of secretly supporting the anti-Japanese movement. Japanese intelligence personnel Imai Akirayoshi was sent to the temple to investigate whether Danxu and other monks were activists in the anti-Japanese forces. He moved to live in the ternple and dressed himself as a monk, vigilantly monitoring every monk's social activities by checking their telephones and inquiring about visitors. Danxu struggled hard to prove his disassociation from the politics and vigorously denied any link with Zhu Ziqiao beyond religious dimension when Poruo Si held an ordination ceremony for more than one thousand monks and nuns, two Japanese spies disguised themselves and mixed in with the others, investigating any possible connection between Danxu and anti-Japanese forces. In the end, they came forward and met Danxu, who reassured them that he had nothing to do with the military or polifics.59 From then on, Danxu completely evaded suspicion and the Japanese never bothered him again. In fact, after full-scale war erupted in 1937, Danxu apparently remained on good terms with the Japanese during his abbotship of Zanshan Si in Qingdao; he frequently received Japanese Buddhist delegations. On May 21, 1939, he attended a ritual service organized by the Japan-China Buddhist Study Society that was exclusively dedicated to Japanese dead soldiers (Danxu, Yingchen huiyi lu, 281-82).
In 1942, a Branch of the Common Buddhist Purpose Society was established in Qingdao and Danxu served as the chairman. As was mentioned before, the headquarters of the society was in Beijing, and its political orientation aligned it closely with the Japanese and the puppet government.61 Two clues may be drawn from Danxu's change towards the Japanese. First, Chinese monks like Danxu vigorously attempted to prove that they had nothing to do with anti-Japanese forces although they also kept distant from supporting the Japanese. However, as the war developed and China seemed to lose hope of expelling the Japanese, these monks became more inclined toward cooperation with the Japanese authorities. Second, the activities of these monks could not easily avoid being politicized one way or another in the Japaneseoccupied area even though sometimes they were unaware of such politicization.
Danxu did not stay long in the temples he built in the north. After the completion of Poruo Si in Changchun in 1937, he came to Tianjin to renovate the ancient temple of Dabei Yuan, and left the responsibility of taking care of the temples to his disciples and Dharma brothers. One of them, Ruguang (1894-1962), became the abbot of Jile Shi in 1929 and maintained his position until 1946. During his tenure, which approximately paralleled the Japanese occupation of the region, Ruguang expanded the size of the temple, regulated religious practices, and actively propagated Buddhism in society. His achievements, to a large extent, resulted from his social talents and association with political and military authorities in the region.
Rugang had received a good education before he renounced the world. After he succeeded to the abbotship of Jile Si, he became acquainted with Yuan Jinkai, Zhen Xiaoxu, and Zhang Jinghui, the most powerful figures in Manchuguo. In 1934, the Civil Affairs Ministry of Manchuguo invited Ruguang to lead a Buddhist delegation to participate in the Pan-Pacific Buddhist Youth Conference in Tokyo, and he was elected vice president of the International Young Buddhist Society, which was newly founded at the conference. The position provided Ruguang with a new political advantage in his religious activities and enhanced his social status. After returning from Japan, he frequented Poruo Si in Changchun, the capital of Manchuguo, where he met the director of the General Service Bureau of Changchun City, Ueda Shikotairo, a powerful lay Japanese Buddhist in the capital. In 1935, Ruguang invited Ueda Shikotairo to serve as the chairman of the Society for Protecting Buddhism that he had newly established. After he was promoted to be one of the Japanese advisors in Manchuguo, Ueda Shikotairo sponsored the establishment of the General Buddhist Association of Manchuguo (Manzhou guofojiao zhonghui in 1937 and Ruguang was elected the chairman. Thereafter, Ruguang became actively involved in cooperation with the puppet administration and Japanese authorities. One of his associates described Ruguang's position as follows:
Ruguang spared no pain to advocate tolerance, compassion and kindness in order to show goodwill between Japan and Manchuguo. He often suggested that as teeth and lips, Manchuguo and Japan should help each other under any circumstance. The people of two countries who have one mind can achieve world unity and establish the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere. Only when the sacred war of great East Asia was accomplished could law and order be achieved and could people live in peace and happiness (Gao Pikun, "Ruguang qiren" (About Ruguang), in Sun Ban, ed., Weimang shehui (Society in Puppet Manchuguo; Changchun: Jilin rentnin chubanshe, 1993): 587).
This kind of support by an eminent Chinese monk was just what Japan and Manchuguo needed. In appreciation of his services, the Civil Affairs Ministry of Manchuguo conferred on Ruguang the honorary title of Thera (the elder or Zhanglao in Chinese). He also received the title "Superintendent Monk" bestowed by the Tendai School of Japan. We can only speculate about whether Ruguang-would have been convicted and punished for his connection with the Japanese if he had not gone to Hong Kong at the end of the war. The same consideration may also be applied to Danxu, who also went to Hong Kong at the end of the war; no one questioned his actions under the Japanese administration during the war.
Many other monks with similar careers at the time of the war were not so lucky; after the war ended they were arrested and sentenced harshly for their cooperation with the Japanese. Shanguo, the abbot of Poruo Si had come to know Danxu when he studied at the Zanshan Buddhist College in Qingdao in 1933, and had acted as a master of ceremonies at the ordination held in Poruo Si in 1936. He won the favor of Danxu, who then entrusted the abbotship of Portio Si to him in 1937 when Danxu left for Tianjin. Shanguo visited Japan in 1938 and participated in the one thousand and fiftieth anniversary celebration of the Tendai School. While in Japan, he was impressed by Japanese economic and political development, and became convinced that only Japan could save Asia from poverty and disorder. After 1940 when he became the branch chairman of the General Buddhist Association of Manchuguo in Changchun, Shanguo devoted his services to the Japanese authorities. In order to express his loyalty to the Japanese emperor, on the eighth day of every month, which was also called the "day of receiving imperial edicts," he would have the monks of the temple gather to conduct a ceremony to pay homage to the Japanese and Manchuguo flags, and would prostrate himself in the direction of Japan, and follow up with a lecture on the unity of Japan and Manchuguo. This tradition (shukushin) was followed generally by Japanese Buddhist even before the imperialist period.
Shanguo collaborated with the Japanese not because he was coerced or for the sake of protecting his temple, but because he believed that the Japanese were helping people in China and in Asia.
Shortly after the eruption of the Pacific War on December 7, 1941, a large number of young people in Manchuguo were drafted into military service, and Shanguo was often invited to comfort these young soldiers and raise their morale. On one such occasion, Shanguo instructed them:
Japanese imperial soldiers have helped us establish a new world of freedom. You will make contributions to strengthen this new order of Greater East Asia so that we can win the holy war soon. You will work hand in hand with the Japanese soldiers of our beloved neighboring country, struggling hard to accomplish the glory of national defense. On the fourth- day of every month, Shanguo- performed religious rituals in a train station to receive the ashes of Japanese soldiers killed in the war. When Japan faced a shortage of military supplies, Shanguo donated all temple instruments of religious service made of metal to the Japanese authorities. When the war situation ftirther deteriorated in 1945, Shanguo, following the instruction of the General Buddhist Association of Manchuguo, carried out the campaign of donating "A Buddhist Airplane" to the anny.
Under his leadcrship, the Buddhists in Changchun successfully collected a sum of money large enough to purchase an airplane and handed it to the Japanese military. The similar actions were also undertaken by the Japanese priests in Japan during this period. They donated ritual instruments, such as bells, for military usage.
In order to assist the Japanese authorities in keeping social order and in performing charitable work at the end of the war, Shanguo organized Buddhist nuns in Changchun, together with the Women's Society for National Defense, to provide services to the Japanese military. When the war was over in 1945, many Japanese in Manchuguo escaped to Poruo Si in order to avoid being arrested by the Red Army of Russia. Shanguo had their heads shaved and dressed them in Buddhist robes, disguising them as monks and allowing them to live in the temple(Meng Xianling, "Pizhe zongjiao waiyi de Shi Shanguo," in Sun Ban, ed., Weimang shehui (Society in Puppet Manchuguo; Changchun: Jilin renn-lin chubanshe, 1993): 599). The same movement but with opposite political orientation was carried out by Buddhists in the Nationalistcontrolled areas.
When Changchun was recovered by the Nationalist army in 1945, he made use of his erstwhile connection with the Nationalist party to be appointed as special Buddhist commissioner of the nine provinces in the north (Meng Xianling, "Pizhe zongiiao waiyi de Shi Shanguo" (Shi Shanguo Who Disguised Himself under Buddhism), in Sun Dan, ed., Weimang shehui (Society in Puppet Manchuguo; Changchun: Jilin ienniin chubanshe, 1993): 600. According to Meng Xianting, Shanguo, wag a double agent working for both the Japanese and the Nationalist Government).
However, Shanguo was sentenced to death by the Communists probably not only because he collaborated with the Japanese but also because he served under the Nationalists after the war. it is striking that Buddhist clergy in the north and northeast, according available information, never openly denounced the Nationalist government in Chongqing, although they urged Buddhists and non-Buddhists to eliminate the influence of the Communists and the Red Army. On June 10, 1939, the North Shandong Buddhist Association conducted an Anti-Communist Seminar for monks and nuns. In June 15, a communiqud entitled "To the Entire Chinese Sangha," called on all Buddhists to unite against the Communists. 71 In supporting Japanese rule in the region, Ruguang often asserted that Japanese assured religious freedom by keeping the activities of Communists under control. He criticized the Communism and urged all Buddhists and non-Buddhists to terminate Communists in the region. He maintained that Communists were the enemies of religion since in the Soviet Union all temples, churches, and mosques had been burned down and religious followers killed. In order to prevent the spread of the "Red Terror," Ruguang requested Buddhists to assist Japanese soldiers and keep the Russian Red Army from invading Manchuria. This may be why Ruguang was condemned as a runningdog of the Japanese by the Cointramists later on. See He Jingson, Jindai dongyafqjiao (Buddhism in Modem East Asia: Beijing: Zhongguo shehui kexueyuan, 2001).290.
At the same time, as we have mentioned, many monks and nuns supported Communist efforts during the war, and some of them even secretlyjoined Communist Party. Xue Song, a monk in Yancheng, became a member of the Political Consultative Conference in the later 1940s, praised Communists for their policy toward Buddhism and contributions to the war(Gregor Benton, New Fourth Army: Communist Resistance Along the Yangtze and the Huai 1938-1941 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999): 234).
Communist sources claimed that the Communist Party respected religion and provided religious freedom to all during this time. The January 1934 "Outline Constitution of the Republic of Chinese Soviet (Zhonghua suweiai gongheguo xianfa dagan) guaranteed religious freedom to all people within the territory of the Soviet and prohibited discrimination against any religion or religious followers. In 194 1, another regulation declared that all people have the right of religious freedom (Long Jinru, Zongiiaofalu zhidu zhutan, (Priniary Research on Religious Law and Regulation, Beijing: Zhongguo falu chubanshe, 1997): 146-47).
The Communist party, which had a united front in this period apparently believed that religious freedom was important to win over sympathizers. Nonetheless, considering what happened shortly after Communists took power in mainland, and especially during the Culture Revolution, we may doubt whether Communist leaders ever sincerely believed that Chinese should have religious freedom and whether such a policy was actually implemented in the areas controlled by Communist forces.
Let us turn now to south China. Compared with that in the north, institutional Buddhism in the south had been more widespread in society and more intimately associated with the people of upper social, military, and political classes. Therefore, politicization of Buddhist activities during the war was more obvious. In March 1940, Wang Jingwei, having secretly escaped from Chongqing, became the head of the Nationalist government in Nanjing sponsored by Japanese. In July 1940, the prime minister of Japan, Konoe Furnimaro formed a new cabinet and modified Japanese policy toward China in an attempt to establish the new order of greater East Asia, later known as the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere. According to this new policy, China would be conquered not through military power alone, but through political cooperation and cultural penetration. A plan called "An Outline for Dealing with the China Incident" ), laid down in a cabinet meeting on November 13, 1940, prescribed that Japan, instead of depending exclusively on military operations, should initiate negotiations with the Nationalist government in Chongqing and push Jiang Jieshi to accept peace. This was part of the strategy to prevent America and British from supporting China.
The political propaganda of both the Japanese military authority and the puppet government in Nanjing was made explicit in the East Asian Buddhist Conference held in Nanjing in April 1941. The conference was attended by more politicians than Buddhist clergy. Chu Minyi ?MRM-, the Foreign Minister, Cai Pei the mayor of Nanjing, Honda Japanese Ambassador to China, Harada , a Japanese general in Nanjing, and many other eminent Chinese and Japanese political and military figures attended the conference . The name of the conference was the same as the one that was held more than a decade before in Japan in 1925. Twenty-eight eminent monks and lay Buddhists from China participated in that conference. From available information, we do not know whether there was any connection between these two conferences, although one thing that may be common is that both of them were highly politicized.
Several Buddhist organizations in Japan and Japanese-occupied north China sent delegations. Monks from Nanjing, Shanghai, and Zhenjiang also participated in the conference, although they did not play a leading Tole. The purpose of the conference was to pray for the arrival of peace between Japan and China, to achieve the co-existence and coprospenty of the yellow race, and to establish a new order in East Asia. The conference delivered two letters to Wang Jingwei and Konoe Furnimaro, pledging Buddhist support for establishing "real peace and order" in China. Meanwhile, it also passed a resolution that urged Jiang Jieshi and the Nationalist government in Chongqing to stop the resistance war and to solve Sino-Japan conflict through political negotiation.
The document issued after the conference shows that the number of monks and nuns who attended was insignificant and included no eminent Chinese monks. This may indicate that many Chinese monks attempted to avoid being associated with such politicized activities. The sudden Japanese occupation and quick defeat of Chinese troops made many well-known Chinese clergy who remained in the Japanese-occupied areas pessimistic. Most of them had been involved in Buddhist social activities and reform, and were influenced by nationalism before the war. They must have been concerned about the future institutional Buddhism after the war. Unwilling to collaborate with the Japanese yet unable to openly challenge them, some retreated into isolation in international concession zones in Shanghai, while others confined themselves within temples so that they could keep their distance from Japanese-sponsored activities (Dongyafojiao dahuijiyao (Outline of the East Asian Buddhist Conference; Nanjing, 194 1). Such as the General Buddhist Society of Manchuguo, the Society of Common Buddhist Wills in Beijing, and Great Japan Buddhist Society.
The war ended the activities and destroyed the hopes of four monks in Shanghai who had been pillars of Chinese Buddhism before the war, well-known for their Buddhist learning, social activities, and religious virtue, actively involved in Buddhist reforms. Chisong (1894-1972), a master of esoteric Buddhism in modem China, confined himself in a laydisciple's house for eight years during the war. One report claims that Chisong turned down an invitation from the Japanese authorities to work for the puppet government in Nanjing by pretending to be constantly sick. Similarly, Zhifeng (1901-1949), once an editor of Hai chao yin, and Daxing(I899-1952), a well-known disciple of Taixu and abbot of Xuedao Si in Zhejiang, remained inside Jin'an Si in Shanghai during wartime. Both of them were so depressed by the political situation that they did not want to step out of the ternple.80 Nevertheless, they too did not want to go to the Nationalistcontrolled region in spite of repeated urging by Taixu. Changxing (1896-1939), the general secretary of the Chinese Buddhist Society, declined to participate in any Japanesesponsored activities. After failing into depression from worry about the future of the Chinese nation and Buddhism, he died in January 1939. See: You Youwei, "Chisong fashi shengping shilde" (Short Biography of Master Chisong), in Zhonghua wenshi ziliao wenku, 534-35. However, by examining another source, largely provided by those who favored the Nationalist government, Chisong.was deeply dejected by the decline of Esoteric Buddhism, once overwhelmingly received by Chinese people. As Buddhists then turned away from the esoteric Buddhism, the practices lost general appeal in the public, Chisong, thus depressed, had to confme himself from the public. Dongchu, ZhongguofqjiaofindaiShi, 415. so Dongchu, ZhongguofqI'iaofindaishi, 908-09.
Keeping in mind the political situation in Shanghai at the beginning of the war, we may speculate that his activities in organizing and financing sangha rescue work were inspired by both nationalism and Buddhist compassion. In 1939, Yuanying had been arrested by Japanese military police in Shanghai, and taken to Nanjing together with one of his disciplines, Mingyang.81 He was interrogated for three weeks about his activities during the first two years of the war. Yuanying disassociated himself from the Nationalist government and denied that he had sent donations to resistance forces. As Mingyang later recalled, Yuanying was tortured harshly on the first day of the imprisonment and went on a hunger strike in protest. 82 Later, the Japanese changed their attitude and tried to force him to be the head of the China-Japan Buddhist Association. 83 But Yuanying declined on the grounds that he was old and in poor health. After 25 days in prison, he was released. As there was no formal charge, there was no statement of explanation for his release, and this omission left room for contradictory speculations about why he was arrested and why he was released.84 On January 8, 1940, three months after his release, Yuanying sent a letter to the Chinese Buddhist Society announcing his resignation from the positions of chairman of the society and director of the Rescue Team for Disaster Areas. In the letter, Yuanying attributed the malfunction of the Chinese Buddhist Society to the eruption of the AntiJapanese War$6 and the associated difficulties of communication; he specifically clarified that the 90,000 yuan he had collected from overseas Chinese was used exclusively for relief work. He explained that his resignation was due to his old age and declining health, which prevented him from performing duties as a leader of the society. He wished to devote himself to writing and politely refused to receive any visitors.
The time that the Japanese asked Yuyin to cooperate is differently given by several records. According to Wangxmg, this happened soon after he came back from abroad when a Japanese monk invited him to be the head of China Japan Buddhist Society. Wangxing, "Huiyl Yuanying fashi" (in Reminiscence of Master Yuanying), in Zhonghua wenshi ziliao wenku, 492. There were two different rumors, one was reported by Reuter's News Agency that Yuanying had collected a large sum of money for the Nationalist government. Another one was carried by Shenbao which said that Yuanying, had refused to be the chair of China and Japan Buddhist Society. However both reports were neither affirmed nor rejected by Yuanying.
Yuanying did not leave Shanghai until May 1942, when he was invited by Jin Yunpeng to give sermons on Buddhism in Tianjin under the Japanese rule. Jin, a former pro-Japanese prime minister and lay Buddhist leader in the north, served as the honorary chairman of the Buddhist Common Purpose Society in Beijing. 87 Although it was not very clear why Yuanying, after three years of self-confinement, accepted the invitation to go to the north, his trip to the north itself may indicate that he accepted the reality of Japanese occupation. His activities and speeches during this visit manifested his changing attitudes towards current politics in China. In a banquet speech in Tianjin about the Buddhist doctrine of no-self, he blamed the war on ideas of race and nation. Peace could not be achieved unless people abandoned the view of self.88 In a sermon, "Peace and Compassion" (Hepingyu cibei) delivered to Buddhists in Tianjin in June 1942, he urged people to give up racial and national discriminations. In order to achieve peace, people should practice Buddhist compassion and consider friends and enemies equally; only then could the war be stopped.89 He made typical Buddhist arguments for world peace and harmony, yet in the Japanese-occupied areas, the political implication could be that Buddhists should not be involved in nationalistic activities against the Japanese, but should regard the Japanese and Chinese as one. Such speeches would certainly not be appreciated by resistance forces but be welcomed by the Japanese and those Chinese who served in the puppet governments. Nevertheless, his disciples and followers later described Yuanying as "an old patriot" (aiguo laoren), and quoted his speech to students of the China Buddhist College in Beijing on September 30, 1942, in which he used the ancient saying "The rise and fall of the country is the responsibility of ordinary people" (guojia xingwangpifu youze).
A closer look at the context in which Yuanying referred to this ancient saying, however, reveals that Yuanying was not expressing patriotism, but talking about one's duty to Buddhism:
An old saying goes like this: 'The rise and fall of the country is the responsibility of ordinary people.' However, I would say, 'The rise and fall of Buddhism is the concern of every Buddhist.' (fojiao xingwangfozi youze) Not only should the clergy be concerned about it, but also lay people. In all, the four Coups of Buddhists are responsible for the protection of Buddhism (Huang Xianian, Yuanyingfi (Collection of Yuanying; Beijing: China Social Science Press, 1995); 99).
It is interesting to see that the term "Kangri zhanzheng "(Anti-Japanese War) is used in Yuanying's letter of resignation written when he was in Shanghai under the Japanese rule. Yuanying's activism during the war shows the difficult situation that Chinese monks lived through under the Japanese-occupation. As one of the leading monks in China, Yuanying could not openly support or finance any activity against the Japanese.
At the end of the war, Taixu, ambitious for his new Buddhist mission, campaigned for Buddhist participation in political and social affairs. His efforts were, however, set back by resistance from political and Buddhist circles and by his unexpected death. Although the Buddhist awakening movement waned during the civil war, the spirit and mission of Buddhist social service and political involvement could continue to be seen. Monks and nuns used their constitutional rights through the medium of Buddhist journals to protect the state appropriation of their property and occupation of temples by local governments, although direct criticism of the central government was carefully avoided. Meanwhile, institutional Buddhism under the leadership of the Chinese Buddhist Society continued to emphasiZe social and political involvement in serving the nation, which usually meant the Nationalist government. Buddhist engagement in social and political activities thus became a common legacy of modem Chinese Buddhism. It facilitated monks and nuns in both Taiwan and mainland China to fit into contemporary society, to cooperate with their government, to work for the benefit of society, and to safeguard and develop Buddhism.
During. and after the civil war, many young- monks went to Taiwan with the Nationalist government either as refuges or as soldiers. The arrival of a large number of monks in Taiwan contributed to the Buddhist development in the island. Before the end of the civil war, a number of branches of the Chinese Buddhist Society had already been established in Taiwan. When Dongehu left the mainland in 1949, he took with him the documents of the society to Taiwan, where it played important roles in reorganizing Buddhist activities and protecting the sangba. Monks who were inspired by the spirit of Taixu's reform continued to advocate the Buddhist mission of serving society and political engagement and the importance of self-cultivation of clergy. Buddhist revival emerged in Taiwan in the following decades. On the other hand, Buddhism in the mainland China continued its course of destruction and decline. At the end of The Buddhist Revival in China, Holms Welch predicted that Buddhist decline in China might be a preceding stage for its revival in future. He could not see such revival when he published Buddhism under Mao, but he predicted at its end that Buddhism would revive after the end of Mao's regime. It seems that this prediction is correct, for temples have been gradually restored and monks and nuns returned to their temples while a large number of new young monks have entered into temples since 1980.
Before and during the war, three aims of Buddhist participation in the war were articulated: to promote the idea of a nation-state; to reform Buddhist regulations; and to revive Buddhism. Buddhist participation in war was not only necessary to fulfill the civic duties, but would also benefit Buddhist awakening movement. The strenuous military training at the beginning of the war and subsequent participation in the war itself forged new characteristics of the sangha, and a new Buddhism began to emerge in China. The Chinese public, impressed by Buddhist participation in the war, generated new and positive attitudes towards Buddhism. In the past, people often had looked down on clergy as social parasites, who depended on society and produced nothing of economic value. During the war, some foresighted monks such as Taixu urged monks who served in the sangha rescue teams to wear their robes. By participating in the war and displaying their Buddhist identity, they showed they were contributors to the nation. Having heard and witnessed their war activities, the public now called them "revolutionary comrades" (geming tongzhi) Shuangting also left China after the end of the war so that he was not formally charged for his actions in the wartime.
At the end of the war, the monks who were suspected of have cooperated with the Japanese were charged, imprisoned, and even executed by the Nationalists and Communists. Tiechan, the abbot of Liurong Si in Guangzhou, was one such victim who was charged with treason and imprisoned in 1946. Although Shanguo of Poruo Si in Changchun escaped from pUnIshment by the Nationalists, the Communists sentenced him to death in 1951 for his cooperation with the Japanese.
The abbot and the superintendent monk of Jing'ap Si M4 in Shanghai during the time of Japanese occupation, were accused of treason and imprisoned in October 1946. They were prosecuted for six crimes: being the members of the Shanghai Buddhist Society under the puppet government; setting up a Japanese school in the temple; organizing a Buddhist ceremony participated in by traitors who served in the puppet government in Nanjing; founding the society for temple protection under the Japanese leadership; sponsoring Buddhist rituals to pray for Japanese dead soldiers; and participating in a ceremony to welcome the Japanese, Wude and Mijia protested that they had been forced to associate with the Japanese and that they had been ignorant of any political implication in their activities. They further argued that their cooperation had done no hann to the Chinese people and nation, and explained that all leading monks and nuns in Shanghai had done the same, as all of them were members of the standing committee of the Shanghai Buddhist Society during the war. Wude and Mijia pleaded that the society was devoid of any political and military significance, and according to its charter, was aimed at social service and charitable works. As to sponsoring a Japanese school in their temple, Wude and Mijia said that they had refused the Japanese request at first, but had to give in under pressure. Besides, they defended their action that the school had provided free education to thousands of Chinese children. To the charge that they had participated in rituals for the dead Japanese, they maintained that it was their religious duty to perform rituals for the dead without considering any political significance; they also asserted that they could not prevent anyone, either the Japanese or the leaders of the puppet government, from taking part in rituals organized by the ternple.
What Wude and Mijia did can be considered as normal religious and charitable activities if the political context is put aside, activities that had been practiced in China for more than a thousand years. However, because such activities were carried out directly or indirectly under the Japanese, the enemies of China, these monks were accused of being traitors. What they did, to some extent, facilitated the Japanese occupation of China, although it is difficult to assess whether they genuinely harmed the nation. Given the political circumstances of Japanese rule and the charges against Wude and Mijia after the war, it would seem that few monks and nuns in the Japanese occupied areas could conscientiously say that they were innocent of betraying the nation.
If one considers Buddhist activities in both Jappnese-occupied areas and Nationalist-controlled regions during the war as a whole, one may realize that the pupliticization of Buddhism was almost inevitable. The same Buddhist activities performed under two rival political regimes served directly opposite purposes. Buddhist activities in the Nationalist-controlled areas, such as the Buddhist rescue teams, rituals for the dead soldiers, and prayers for peace and victory, were admittedly designated to serve the Chinese nation under the influence of nationalism. Similar activities performed by the Buddhist clergy in the Japanese-occupied areas, however, were suspected to have served the purpose of the Japanese occupation. At the end of the war, such Buddhist activities in the Nationalist-controlled areas were praised as the manifestation of nationalism and patriotism while those in the Japanese-occupied areas were accused of being treasonous.
It is quite difficult to say that there is any difference between Buddhist activities in these two regions, and the only difference perhaps is the politicization or rather discrimination imposed by political interpretations. The monks were charged with cooperating with the Japanese, to a large extent, not because of their religious or charitable activities per se, but because such activities were exploited by both the Japanese and the puppet governments during the war, and by Nationalists or Communists after the war.
On August 10, 1945, when the Japanese emperor announced the unconditional surrender of Japan, almost a half-century of Japanese incursion (1895-1945) and eight years of war (19371945) finally ended. In the Japanese-occupied areas during the war, no charismatic, figure, either monk or lay Buddhist, emerged to provide a. United leadership for Buddhist institutions. In contrast, in the areas controlled by resistance forces many well-known monks continued to play a leadingrole in organizing Buddhist activities against the Japanese invasion. The most prominent of them was Taixu. His writings on Buddhist war theory set the tone for Buddhist propaganda in criticizing Japanese invasion and in arousing Chinese Buddhists against the invasion; his activities inspired followers, especially young, monk-students to participate in the war.
democratic society. The final aim of Taixu's activism was to serve the nation and thus to safeguard sansana-Buddhism. His strong nationalism is not the end by itself, but skillful means in order to bring Buddhists, especially monks and nuns into common social and political life of Chinese people, and thus eventually benefit Buddhism.
Although Taixu believed that during the war nationalism was necessary to counter invasion, he never doubted that peace could be preserved only through internationalism. Soon after the war ended, Taixu's emphasis shifted ftom nationalism to internationalism, which, he believed, Buddhism could do much more to inspire.
Taixu's concept of peace was drawn from the Buddhist doctrine of dependent origination (vuanqifa which teaches that everyone and everything in the world is related to every other being or thing, directly or indirectly. This interrelatedness entails universal egalitarianism as all human beings are members of one family. According to Taixu, all human beings are so closely related that one cannot survive without the others. Therefore, one must show compassion instead of hatred to others and one must try to release them from their suffering. Killing others is no different from suicide; the suffering of one who is killed will be the same as that of the one who kills. Therefore, all killing should be prevented and all lives respected. In order to prevent war and preserve peace, it is important to eliminate various kinds of injustice and inequality.
Taixu in a 1930s commentary entitled "How to Equalize the World's Two Inequalities" (Zenyangping shie linage buping had written that conflict and war were due to material inequality among individuals domestically and inequality of rights and benefits among nations(This article was first published in Hai chao yin vol. 14 n. 5 (1933).
He believed that these two inequalities could be obliterated only through Buddhist teachings, which aim to eliminate all ideas of difference in the quest for Nirvana. Taixu maintained that Buddhism condemns the caste system and the idea of "chosen ones," and held that all people and nations should be treated equally without discrimination. Expounding on the Buddhist doctrines of connectedness and equality of all, Taixu urged both Japanese and Chinese to love one another, and to adopt peace instead of war.
Those nations which want to expand their own powers at the cost of destroying others do not understand the great Dban-na of dependent origination. In other words, they have violated the law of connectedness and interrelatedness of one and others. 25 If all people realized that everyone is related and everything is just the combination and continuation of cause and conditions, there would be no violence or conflict in the human world. Taixu first articulated these ideas in the early 1930s when nationalistic Chinese were demanding military action to recover Manchuria. He, however, still believed that nationalism might produce more conflict. Before the war erupted in 1937, Taixu even suggested that if China became a united and strong nation state, this would merely add one more state to the international struggles. Such nationbuilding was meaningless compared to the value of humanity and the welfare of the world as a whole. On May 1933, Taixu observed that modem powerful nation-states were always seeking their own benefit at the expense of others and would never hesitate to wage war if their interests were threatened. Every nationstate, therefore, must first strengthen its self-defense and prepare for war, because no nation could avoid being pushed into the whirlpool of conflict. A second way to protect the nation according to Buddhist principles was based on the altruism of bodhisattva in Mahayana Buddhism, which called for the expansion of the narrow concept of nationalism to a broader understanding of internationalism, which would be a way for world peace.
In order to achieve peace, Taixu took every opportunity to remind Chinese and Japanese that they were brothers of the same culture and same race, nurtured by the same Buddhist doctrines. China had provided Japan with advanced Chinese culture and Japan had set the example of national modernization for China; the history of the two countries had been so intimately connected that there was no reason for their citizens to go to war against each other .26 In May 1935, the Japanese monk whose brothers had been killed in battles between Japanese and Chinese troops in 1931 and 1932, asked Taixu to write an inscription for the memoria Ftablet of his brothers' graves. 27 In his "Inscription on the Memorial Tablets of Those Who Died in the War between China and Japan in Liaonin and Shanghai" (Zhongri Liaohu zhanshi shuanfan zhansishe gongyang daming ) Taixu compared China and Japan to two brothers with more than 1300 years of good relations, capable of co-existing in peace and harmony by helping each other. However, influenced by the West, the younger brother (Japan) had become an arrogant and bully, while the older brother (China) had become indolent and self-indulgent. The increasing tension between the two countries testified to the truth of the Buddhist doctrine of causality that hatred can never be eliminated by hatred.
In March 1937, Taixu, together with many other Chinese and Japanese Buddhists, including the Japanese monk Ogasawara, held a meeting at a sub-temple of the Higashi Hongariji in Shanghai. They discussed the possibility of promotingpeace and goodwill in the world through Buddhism, and Taixu expressed his hope that Buddhist efforts for peace might alter the course of conflict between China and Japan. Taixu's suggestion that Chinese and Japanese Buddhists cooperate for world peace was announced just a few months before full scale war erupted in July 1937. He must have resisted tremendous pressure to join the overwheiming.nationalism that prevailed in China at the time, insisting that Buddhists in China and Japan would be able to dissolve the military tension so that the two nations could stand side by side and lead Asia under the banner of Buddhism.
Taixu supported "supremacy of the nation" and advocated nationalism during, the war. When all other ways failed, resisting the invasion and defensive action itself were the only way to achieve peace. In 1938 he wrote an article "Have Japan and the Puppet Governments Awakened?" (Riwei yijuewufou), and declared that the Chinese resistance war was not the violence of random killin&, but instead the way to stop violence. An arhat, a Buddhist sage who gains liberation through personal effort, is one who scares away evil. Taixu felt that Chinese monks and nuns should follow the example of the arhat, and, by using all necessary means, drive the Japanese out of Chinese territory or force them to surrender. In June 1938, Taixu delivered a speech "Subduing Evils to Save the World and Resisting the Japanese to Build the Nation.
This article was
responding to an article "Two Inequalities of the World" that
appeared in Shenbao on October 23, 1933.
Taixu's perspective on war was drawn from his nationalistic ideas which in turn reflected his political views and close association with politicians in the Nationalist government. Taixu's political views, as he stated in his autobiography underwent several changes;
My political and social ideas changed from constitutional monarchism, to national revolution, to socialism, to anarchism. I even regarded anarchism as a close neighbor of Buddhism. What could be achieved gradually through democratic socialism.' At the beginning of the twentieth century when he was at the formative age of twenty, Taixu became associated with the revolutionists; he showed keen interest in the Three People's Principles of Sun Yatsen and was deeply impressed by Zou Rong's anti Manchu Revolutionary Army. Therefore, Taixu's nationalism during this time was directed toward revolution to overthrow the Manchu Qing dynasty.
Although disappointed by governments in Beijing after the founding of the Republic of China in 1912, he staunchly supported the Nationalist government founded in Nanjing in 1928, for he believed it uniquely capable of leading Chinese people to rebuild the nation and expel foreign invasion.
At the turn of the 1930s, Taixu became associated with high government officials although his efforts were partially aimed at protecting Buddhism. He was one of a few Buddhist monks who were well-known to the top political and government circles, and his relation with Jiang Jieshi, the military and political leader of China, became legendary among Buddhists and nonBuddhiStS.2 In September 1927, when Jiang Jieshi was forced to resign as commander-in-chief of the Nationalist Army, he invited Taixu to Xuedao Si for Buddhist consultation. It was the night of the full moon of the eighth month when they met for the first time. On this occasion, Taixu gave a sermon on The Diamond Satra to the audience, including Jiang Jieshi, his first wife Mao Fumei, and Jiang's staff. After the sermon they toured the temple under the bright moon. These romantic surroundings prompted Taixu to compose an impromptu poem in appreciation of the hospitality and Jiang's mother and his first wife were devoted lay Buddhists, and they must have influenced Jiang, who also showed interest in Buddhism in his earlier career. Whenever he returned to his hometown, Jiang would accompany his mother to Xuedou Si, which was traditionally patronized by Jiang's family in )Gkou. It is said that Jiang Jieshi first heard about Taixu because Sun Yat-san composed an inscription for Taixu's collection of poems in 1916. It is said that on August 25, 1916, Sun visited the Putuo Mountain where Taixu had been practicing self-confinement. Unable to come out to greet Sun, Taixu composed two poems to Sun, who in return wrote an inscription for Taixu's poem collection. Taixu, Taixu dashi zizhuan, 4 1. Meanwhile, Taixu was already well known among Chinese clergy at the time, including Langqjng, the abbot of Xuedou Si (Taixu, Taixu dashi zizhuan (Autobiography of Taixu; Taibei:~ Fuzhi chiseng.- 1996), 21-2).
In 1928 Jiang provided 3000 yuan for Taixu to tour Europe and America and authorized him to form the Chinese Buddhist Study Society in Nanjing. In January 1932; Jiang Jieshi again returned to Xuedao Si after he resigned from the leadership of the Nationalist government in Nanjing as the result of political struggles, and Taixu paid a visit to him, consoling Jiang about his temporary political setback. On this occasion, Taixu presented a four-line poem to Jiang: "[I see] flying snow in Xuedao for the first tirne after four visits; yet it is a pity that the plum has not blossomed. It may wait for the coldest moment; so that its cool fragrance will rush into one's nostrils. The plum is the only flower that can sustain the cold and blossom in winter. Taixu told Jiang to be patient that his resignation is only temporary and a brighter future awaits him. Jiang would survive and eventually come to power again after he underwent severe political ordeals. Yingshun highly praised the significance of their first meeting on this night and claimed, "The fact that Buddhism in the Republic of China could safely survive the storm and hurricane was indeed related to the friendly meeting of the two this night." Yingshun, Tailufashi nianpu (Chronological Biography of Taixu; Beijing: Zongjiao wenhua chubanshe, 1995): 130.
In November 1932, Jiang JipShi invited Taixu to be the abbot of Xuedao Si and presided over the inauguration ceremony. On Jiang's fiftieth birthday in September 1936, Taixu proposed that all Buddhist temples in China hold a religious ceremony and recite the Medicine King Satra to transfer merit to him. In December, when Jiang Jieshi was forcibly held by Zhang Xueliang in Xi'an, Taixu again called upon Chinese monks and nuns to conduct religious rituals and pray for his safe return (Taixu, Taixu quanshu, vol. 26: 299).
From the early 1930s, Taixu became unequivocal in supporting the Nationalist government and showed more interest in political affairs, both domestic and international. He praised the Nationalists' effort in unifying the country in 1928 and condemned Japan for the Jinan Incident. When the conflict between China and Japan worsened in 1931 Taixu supported the Nationalis t call for unified responses to Japan. Shortly after the Anti Japanese War began on July 7, 1937, Taixu urged Buddhist clergy to defend the nation under the united leadership of the government; he demonstrated his nationalism in his unyielding support for the government's policy on Japan throughout the war. In "Populist Politics and Buddhist Monasticism", written in 1943, Taixu believed that at this time of the war all Chinese should study and embrace the nationalism laid down in Sun Yat-sen's Three People's Principles. Although Buddhism was a religion that had no narrow idea of nationhood, Buddhists and Buddhist institutions should stand by their nation when it experienced conflict with other nations. During peacetime the welfare of humankind as a whole should be the priority, but nationalism had to reign supreme during war (Taixu, "Peacefull World after the United Nations Win the War," Taim quanshu, vol. 24: 286. The article was first published in 1943).
All Buddhists, and especially monks and nuns, must rally behind the government and use military force to defend the nation Taixu's nationalism can also be seen in his restraint in criticizing the government's policy on Buddhism during the war. Once the war broke out,Taixu expressed his unconditional support. for the war policies and provided Buddhist service to the national liberation. He believed that only when the nation was freed of the foreign occupation could Buddhism survive and thrive. On many occasions he attempted to refute the Japanese accusation that the Chinese government had carried out a policy of expropriating Buddhist properties. During his tour to the Asian countries in 1940, when asked how the Chinese government treated Buddhism, Taixu never uttered a single word criticizing the government.
Only one occasion did Taixu reportedly fail to restrain his dissatisfaction with the government's decision. In 1942, Taixu presented to the Executive Yuan with five proposals to reform Buddhist temples; one of them was to allocate 20 percent of temple properties for education and charity as Buddhist contributions to the resistance war. However, the internal Affairs Ministry imposed a 50 percent tax on large temples. This profoundly disturbed Buddhist society in the unoccupied areas that clergy accused Taixu for being responsible for the government's order, Filled with grief and indignation, Taixu appealed to Jiang Jieshi, incapable of responding to social and political changes in China. Temples and temple lands had been appropriated by various governments beginning in the later nineteenth century. But, Since the establishment of the Nationalist government in Nanjing, Buddhism has been developing in China and Buddhist leaders in Tibet and Mongolia are highly respected. Recently, the government has drafted regulations for the Chinese Buddhist Society to reform Buddhist institutions and to establish new Buddhism in China. Therefore,., Buddhism has turned to the track of revival from decline.
In May 1946, in his speech, "Buddhism in the Atomic Age" (Yuanzi shidai defojiao delivered at Jing'an Si, Taixu asserted that the Chinese people suffered even more after the victory than they had during it. The hope of peace and enthusiasm for rebuilding the nation was gradually waning as the struggle between the Communists and Nationalists intensified and people became more frustrated.
Taixu was generally considered anti-Communist-, he criticized the Communists for not cooperating with the Nationalist government before and during the war. Yet, unlike Leguan who was a member of the Nationalist party and always advocated eliminating the Communists by force, Taixu recognized that the massive public support for the Communist movement resulted from widespread poverty and the inefficiency of the government's policies and that the Communists should not be unconditionally blamed for the unrest in China. Early in 1935, Taixu had expressed his views on the government's military and political policies toward the Communists:
Ordinary people with shallow ideas may think nothing but military means can be effective in the efforts of pacifying the insider [communists] and expelling the outsiders [Japanesel....However, only when there are suitable and improved political ways, can civil war be brought to end, national defense be reinforced, and the strength of the nation bc boosted. According to Taixu, the rising, popularity of Communists in China at the end of the war had to be viewed as a response to the incapability and corruptness of the Nationalists. Chinese who had lost confidence on the Nationalist government were following the Communists in desperation and as a way to escape suppression and destitution. Taixu's idea of nationalism was further demonstrated in his efforts to bring Buddhism into social and political life so that Buddhists, especially monks and nuns could make their contributions to the nation in serving society. Soon after the war, Taixu suggested forming a Buddhist party to run in the National Assembly election scheduled to be held in February 1946. In July 1946, Taixu modified this plan and put forward guidelines for the political activities of the sangha: "Be concerned with politics but not involved in administration:
Monks and nuns are indisputably the citizens of China and entitled to discuss the administration of the masses. [To do this], the clergy have to take part in lawful assemblies at local and national levels to discuss the concerns of the masses (Taixu, "Sangha and Politics" in Taixu quanshu, vol. 18: 18 1. This article was first published in Juequn zhoubao vol. 1 n. 1 (1946). Juequn zhou bao was a Buddhist journal discontinued during the war and started again for the first edition on July 15 1946.)
Taixu believed that the clergy should not seek posts in civil or military administration, but only serve in the assemblies of the people. Such service to the nation and people accorded with bodhisattva's ideal of saving. the world with great wisdom and compassion. The clergy, once elected as representatives, would work for the benefit of the nation and of Buddhism; they would not become politically corrupted because they would exercise not executive powers, but simply the rights of legislation and supervision. In February 1947, about one month before his death, Taixu finally decided not to organize a Buddhist party, but urged his fellow Buddhists to actively take part in election.
Because of his close association with politicians, his deep involvement in politics and nationalism during and after the war, Taixu earned the title of "a political monk," and was attacked by conservatives both inside and outside Buddhist circles. He accepted the title with a sense of humor and stated that only real bodhisattva-monks could sincerely, selflessly, and fearlessly serve the nation and people and fulfill a political mission.
In October 1939, Taixu delivered a speech "Buddhism and the Significance of Counter-Invasion" at a tea party organized by the China Branch of the Anti-Invasion Societyin Chonkmg, In the speech, he said that in the middle of the front hall inside temple,there usually stands an image of General Weituo holding a Vajra or diamond stick, together with the other Four Great Heavenly Kings, all of whom have robust bodies and ferocious faces and are fully armored and equipped with awesome weapons; they are always prepared to protect the temple by punishing trespassers. These deities sijgnify the variety of Buddhist "functions" in dealing with evil and show "powers" of self-defense. Yet in every temple, there is also the Laughing Buddha (Maitriya) and ~akyaniuni Buddha with their glow of compassion, majestically sitting, and calmly receiving all people without discrimination. Taixu then suggested that if the Four Heavenly Kings and Weituo symbolized Buddhist skilful means and "function" of dealing with the war of invasion, then the Buddhas represented the Buddhist "essence" of achieving peace and harmony. Although vajras can subdue the powers of evils temporarily, only the Buddhas can provide the final solution to all conflicts and preserve peace in the human world.
According to Taixu, the Buddhist law of cause and effect the moral pillar of the Buddhist e6fice, can also deter those who dared to wage war. When the warlord Sun Quanfang was the military commander of five provinces in the north, he ordered the death of thousands of people, one of whom was the father of Shi Jianqao. Later, Shi killed Sun out of revenge at a Buddhist temple in Tianjin in 1935. According to Taixu, the incident proved the infallibility of the Buddhist law of cause and effect. Sun Quanfang, formerly a powerful warlord accused of randomly killing people in the past, could not escape his own death even though he took refugf, in Buddhism. Taixu warned that retribution could fall upon the Japanese at any moment (Taixu, "Wake up? It's Time to Wake up." in Taim quanshu, vol.. 24: 140-5. The article was first published in Hai chao yin vol. 17 n. I (1936), because the collective negative karma accumulated by Japanese militarists would surely result in the punishment of the~ Japanese as a whole.
At the end of the war, Taixu supported by the government and backed by the Buddhist community and general society, prepared to carry out reform in hopes of reinforcing the Buddhist awakening movement in China. Before the war, the efforts of reformists were repeatedly set back by powerful conservative monks based in large and rich monasteries in the south. Buddhist participation in the war, led by the reformers in the Nationalist controlled areas, eventually won public and overcame the force of the conservatives, who had remained in the Japanese-occupied areas. The hope was high that Buddhist temples would be rehabilitated and that Buddhism would revive in China after the war.
The most serious danger institutional Buddhism faced after the Anti-Japanese War was the Civil War between the Communists and the Nationalists. During the war, the Nationalist army began to conscript young monks, many of whom, after briefly fighting against the Communists, followed the Nationalist government to Taiwan. As the Communists rapidly took over the mainland, a number of other monks and nuns also fled to Hong Kong or Taiwan. As a result, Buddhists had to abandon their dream of reorganizing the Chinese Buddhist Society, and the modem Buddhist awakening was eventually aborted.
In his last address to trainees in August 1946, Taixu revealed the purpose of training many monks together.-" According to Taixu's plan, the monks, after training, would be assigned to the county or provincial branches of the Chinese Buddhist Society. They would have executive power over temples within each area and would be able to carry out a unified program of Buddhist reform nationwide. Taixu announced that Buddhist organizations in China would follow the practice of the Catholic Church in that each county would be a small parish, and each province would be a middle one, while the whole country would constitute one large parish under the collective leadership of the Chinese Buddhist Society.
Everything, was prepared for the opening, of the conference of Buddhist representatives, which was scheduled to be held on May 27, 1947; at this conference Taixu would formally receive a mandate from Chinese Buddhists to lead the new Buddhism. Yet Taixu passed away in Jade Buddha Temple in Shanghai on March 17, 1947.