Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM the OXFORD RESEARCH ENCYCLOPEDIA, RELIGION (religion.oxfordre.com). (c) Oxford University Press USA, 2016. All Rights Reserved. Personal use only; commercial use is strictly prohibited. Please see applicable Privacy Policy and Legal Notice (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 20 April 2018

Filial Piety in Chinese Buddhism

Summary and Keywords

Many people, even scholars like Kenneth Ch’en, thought that filial piety is a special feature of Chinese Buddhism because it has been influenced by Confucianism, which considers filial piety as the foundation of its ethics and the root of moral teaching. In fact, we find in the early Buddhist textual sources that filial piety is not only taught and practiced in Indian Buddhism but also considered an essential moral good deed although it is never taken as the foundation of Buddhist moral teaching. One of the most important sutta-s related to this issue in early Buddhist resources is the Pāli Kataññu Sutta, which teaches children to pay their debts to the parents who gave them birth and brought them up with much difficulty and hardship. When Buddhism was introduced in China during the Eastern Han dynasty (25–220), Confucianism already occupied the central position in Chinese philosophical thought, and it continued until the end of imperial rule in the beginning of the early 20th century, although its position was challenged by Buddhism and Daoism from time to time. In response to Confucian criticism of Buddhists being unfilial, the learned Chinese Buddhists retorted in theoretical argumentation in the following four ways: (1) translations of and references to Buddhist sutra-s that teach filial behavior; (2) writing scholarly refutations of the charges of unfilial practices, such as Mouzi’s Lihuolun and Qisong’s Xiaolun; (3) interpreting Buddhist precepts as equal to the Confucian concept of filial piety; and (4) teaching people to pay four debts to four groups of people: parents, all sentient beings, kings, and Buddhists. Ordinary Chinese Buddhists replied to the criticism by (1) composing apocryphal scriptures, such as the Fumu Enzhong Jing (Sūtra on the Great Kindness of Parents), to teach filial piety and (2) popularizing such stories and parables as the Śyama Jātaka and the Ullambana Sūtra by way of public lectures, painted illustrations called Banxiang or tableaus on walls and silk, and annual celebration of the Yulanpen festival, popularly known as the ghost festival. Chinese Buddhism has become a religion that emphasizes the teaching and practice of filial piety with rich resources through such exchange and interaction with Confucianism and Daoism for the last two thousand years. Even today, ordinary Chinese Buddhists still teach and read the Fumu Enzhong Jing and celebrate the Yulanpen festival every year. This influenced Daoism such that they also created a similar text teaching filial piety and celebrate the festival on the same day and perform same activities of feeding the hungry ghosts, but they call it Zhongyuan.

Keywords: filial piety, Chinese Buddhism, Confucianism, criticism, Ullambana festival, Fumu Enzhong Jing, Xiaolun, Lihuolun

Brief Review of Scholarly Studies on the Topic

Many people, even scholars like Kenneth Ch’en, thought that filial piety is a special feature of Chinese Buddhism as it has been influenced by Confucianism, which considers filial piety as the foundation of its ethics and the root of moral teaching.1 Later scholars such as Gregory Schopen and John Strong demonstrated in their studies that Indian Buddhists also practiced filial piety. But Gregory Schopen, who mainly used epigraphical material in his research, pointed out that he could not find definitive support from the early Buddhist textual sources, while John Strong used mainly Jātaka stories for his research. In fact, we find much evidence in the early Buddhist textual sources of both the Pāli Nikāya and Chinese Āgama that filial piety is not only taught and practiced in Indian Buddhism but also considered an essential moral good deed, although it is never taken as the foundation of Buddhist moral teaching. One of the most important sutta-s directly related to this issue in the early Buddhist resources in Pāli is the Kataññu Sutta., which teaches children to pay their debts to the parents who gave them birth and brought them up with much difficulty and hardship. When Buddhism was introduced in China during the Eastern Han dynasty (25–220), Confucianism already occupied the central position in Chinese philosophical thought, and it continued until the end of imperial rule in the beginning of the early 20th century, although its position was challenged by Buddhism and Daoism from time to time. In response to Confucian criticism of Buddhists being unfilial, the learned Chinese Buddhists retorted in theoretical argumentation in the following four ways: (1) translations of and references to Buddhist sutra-s that teach filial behavior; (2) writing scholarly refutations of the charges of unfilial practices, such as Mouzi’s Lihuolun also known as Mouzi Lihuolun and Qisong’s Xiaolun; (3) interpreting Buddhist precepts as equal to the Confucian concept of filial piety; and (4) teaching people to pay debts to four group of people, that is, parents, sentient beings, kings, and Buddhists.2 Ordinary Chinese Buddhists replied to the criticism by practice in (1) composing apocryphal scriptures, such as the Fumu Enzhong Jing, to teach filial piety and (2) popularizing such stories and parables as the Pusa Shanzi Jing (Śyama Jātaka) and the Yulanpen Jing (Ullambana Sūtra) by way of public lectures, painted illustrations called Banxiang or tableaus on walls and silk, and the annual celebration of the Yulanpen festival, popularly known as the ghost festival. Chinese Buddhism has become a religion that emphasizes the teaching and practice of filial piety with rich resources through such exchange and interaction with Confucianism and Daoism for the last two thousand years.

Filial Piety in Early Buddhism

Many people have a misconception about Buddhist teaching of filial piety and thinking that Buddhist monks or Buddhists in general should reject all family ties and social relationships in order to pursue nirvāṇa. This misunderstanding of Buddhist practice is quite common. In fact, filial piety is a very important moral teaching in early Buddhism, and children are advised to respect and support their parents in their old age according to many early Buddhist scriptures.3 First, filial piety is taught and practiced as the way to repay debts to parents. The Kataññu Sutta teaches children that they owe a great debt to the parents who gave them birth and have brought them up with many difficulties and introduced them into this world.4 The counterpart of this sutta is found in the Chinese translation as the Fumuen Nanbao Jing (The Discourse on the Difficulty in Repaying the Debts to Parents) and according to which the apocryphal text Fumu Enzhong Jing (The Discourse on the Great Compassion of Parents) was created in China.5 In the Sabrahma Sutta (Brahmā), the Buddha addresses the monks, saying that mother and father should be worshipped and venerated as Brahmā, first teachers, first deities, and that they are worthy of offering.6 It is quite clear that according to the early Buddhist teaching, parents should be respected with the greatest honor just like Brahmā, the god of creation in Hinduism. This is important because according to Confucianism, respect and veneration of parents are considered foremost in the practice of filial piety. The Mahāyañña Sutta (Great Sacrifice) addresses to a Brahmin of fire worshipper who asks the Buddha how to conduct a good sacrifice for his welfare and happiness for a long time.7 The Buddha advices the fire Brahmin that instead of killing animals for sacrifice, he should happily maintain three fires: the first fire is mother and father, which is the fire of those worthy of gifts; the second is wife and children, which is the householder’s fire; and the third is religious people, which is the fire of those worthy of offering. It will bring happiness to him for a long time when these three fires are maintained, esteemed, revered, venerated, and respected. In these three sutta-s, the audiences are different and include ordinary people, a fire Brahmin, and even monks who have left their parents for a homeless life, but the idea of respecting and supporting parents is articulated without ambiguity.

Second, filial piety is also taught as an important meritorious deed in early Buddhism. The Mātuposaka Sutta informs us that a Brahmin asks the Buddha whether it is proper for him to support his mother and father by begging for alms food in a righteous way.8 The Buddha replies affirmatively to the Brahmin that it is not only proper but also a great meritorious deed if one can support his parents by seeking alms food after the normal manner of a mendicant. According to Indian tradition, people normally think that alms food obtained from begging by a mendicant is only for the mendicant himself or his fellow mendicants to consume. However, the Buddha is quite open-minded and praises those mendicants who support their parents with alms food. The Devā (sattavatapada) Sutta tells us that supporting one’s parents is the first of the seven ethical meritorious deeds performed by Sakka when he was a human being, and as a result, he was born in the heaven of Brahmā world and become the king of all gods.9 The other good deeds are respecting elders, good words, no harsh words, no slandering talk, speaking the truth, and being generous. In the Chinese Ekottarāgama, it says that the merits of making offerings to parents is equal to that of making offerings to the bodhisattva, who has one more birth to bodhi.10 The Parābhava Sutta of the Suttanipāta says that if one who is able does not support his mother or his father when they have grown old, their youth gone, that is a cause of downfall.11 On the other hand, according to the Buddhist teaching, there are five kinds of the gravest bad karma with immediate rebirth in hell: taking the lives of one’s mother and father are the first two, and others are taking the life of an arahant, shedding the Tathāgata’s blood hatefully, and creating a schism in the Saṅgha.12 So when Ajātasattu became his disciple, the Buddha said that he was done for, with his fate sealed as he had killed his father.13 Buddhaghosa further explained in his commentary to the Dighanikāya that no good karma can avert such a rebirth in the next life.14 These sutta-s and passages from both the positive and negative aspects clearly demonstrate that filial piety is considered important ethical good conduct in early Buddhism.

Third, filial piety is also seen as Dharma, the way things should be or the social order in early Buddhism. It is believed that the society and the world will be in peace and harmony if parents are respected and yet that there will be more bad things (e.g., fighting) if parents are not respected. According to the Aṅguttaranikāya, the Four Great Heavenly Kings observe the conduct of people in the world three times every half month.15 The Four Great Heavenly Kings send their ministers and assembly members to the world to inspect whether many folk among men pay reverence to mother and father, to recluses and Brahmins, and show deference to the elders of the clan, and do good work on the eighth day of every half month. Then they send their sons to the world to make the same inspection on the fourteenth day of every half month, and at last they themselves come to the world and make the same inspection on the fifteenth day of every half month. The Four Great Heavenly Kings report the matter to Sakka, the ruler of the gods of the Thirty-Three as they sit in the hall of righteousness. The gods of the Thirty-Three are displeased and say the company of gods will decline but the company of asura-s will flourish when they hear that people in the world do not respect mother and father, recluses, and Brahmins and do not do good deeds. But on the other hand, the gods of the Thirty-Three are pleased and say the company of gods will flourish, but the company of the asura-s will decline, when they hear that people in the world do respect mother and father, recluses, and Brahmins and do good deeds.

Asura-s are known for their fighting with gods in the Buddhist scriptures while gods represent righteousness. According to the Pali-English Dictionary of the Pali Text Society, “the fight between Gods & Asuras is also reflected in the oldest books of the Pāli Canon and occurs in identical description under the title of devāsura—sangāma” in many places.16 So the above passage implies that if many folk do not pay reverence to mother and father, to recluses and Brahmins, there will be increasing of fighting since asura-s love fighting while gods maintain peace. So according to this passage, whether human folk respect parents is the source of the ethical practices that directly affect the peace of the world.

It is clear from the above discussions that filial piety is indeed presented as an important ethical teaching in early Buddhism and includes all the important aspects of filial piety taught in Confucianism such as supporting and respecting parents.17

Chinese Buddhism

When Buddhism was introduced in China during the Eastern Han dynasty (25–220), Confucianism already occupied the central position in Chinese philosophical thought, and the idea of “ruling the state by using filial piety” was conceived of and implemented by the state in this dynasty and continued until the end of the imperial rule in 19th century because loyalty to the emperor was also considered the same as filial practice to father. In response to Confucian criticism of Buddhists being unfilial, the learned Chinese Buddhists retorted in theoretical argumentation in the following four ways: (1) translations of and references to Buddhist sutra-s that teach filial behavior; (2) writing scholarly refutations of the charges of unfilial practices, such as Mouzi’s Lihuolun and Qisong’s Xiaolun; (3) interpreting Buddhist precepts as equal to the Confucian concept of filial piety; and (4) teaching people to pay debts for four groups of people: parents, sentient beings, kings, and Buddhists. Ordinary Chinese Buddhists replied to the criticism through the (1) composition of apocryphal scriptures, such as the Fumu Enzhong Jing, to teach filial piety, and (2) popularizing such stories and parables as the Śyama Jātaka and the Ullambana Sūtra by way of public lectures, painted illustrations called Banxiang or tableaus on walls and silk, and annual celebration of the Yulanpen festival, popularly known as the ghost festival. Chinese Buddhism has become a religion that emphasizes the teaching and practice of filial piety with rich resources through such exchange and interaction with Confucianism and Daoism for the last two thousand years. Even today, ordinary Chinese Buddhists still teach and read the Fumu Enzhong Jing and celebrate the Yulanpen festival every year. This influenced Daoism such that they also created a similar text teaching filial piety and celebrate the festival on the same day and perform same activities of feeding the hungry ghosts, but they call it Zhongyuan.

Translations of Buddhist Sutras Related to Filial Piety

The translation of Buddhist texts that directly teach filial piety was an important way to respond to criticism of Confucians. At least fourteen texts that focused on filial piety and thirty-one related texts were translated between the Han and Tang dynasties for nine centuries. After the Song dynasty, Buddhist translation virtually stopped so there was no new text that appeared after 13th century. The Chinese translation of Buddhist scriptures related to the issue of filial piety can be divided into two groups. The first group of scriptures teaches either directly or indirectly the theory of filial piety and discusses how and why filial piety should be practiced. The second group of scriptures tells stories of how Buddhists practiced filial piety.

The first group of Chinese translation started at the very beginning when Buddhism was introduced in China during the Eastern Han dynasty. Two important texts were introduced and translated by An Shigao in 148–170. The first is the Fumuen nanbao jing (The Discourse on the Difficulties in Repaying the Parents’ Great Compassion), whose title could be restored as Kṛtajña Sūtra, same as the Pāli version of the Kataññu Sutta from the Aṅguttaranikāya as discussed above. This short text is quite important because it entirely focuses on the great compassion of the parents toward their children and how the children repay their debts.18 The translator must have taken it from the Ekottarāgama and translated it independently for Chinese readers. Even today the sutra is still found in Gautama Saṅghadeva’s Chinese translation of the Zengyi ahan jing (Ekottarāgama).19 This text was translated on the demand of the Chinese readers, or the translator himself selected the text in order to show the Buddhist teaching of filial piety since he faced a challenging situation. This, of course, is already testified by the Mouzi Lihuolun, a text written in the 2nd century ce to refute the charges of Buddhists being unfilial. It is on the bases of this sutra that the popular text of the Fumu Enzhong Jing (The Discoure on the Great Compassion of Parents) was written by Chinese Buddhists in the late 7th century.

The second text translated by An Shigao is the Shijialuoyue liufangli jing (Śṛgāla’s Worship of the Six Directions). This is an important text in which the Buddha advises a layperson named Śṛgāla to pay his reverence to six groups of people in five ways instead of the six directions: the first group is his parents, and others are his teachers, wife, relatives, servants, and religious people. In general, it is a teaching on the importance of the proper observance of societal principles. This text is quite appropriate to the situation in the Han dynasty as the government started to implement the policy of selecting officials by looking into the person’s practice of filial piety as well as good behaviors.20 So we can infer that the text was translated because of the demand of the situation in China. This text in the Pāli version, entitled Sigālaka Sutta, is regarded as the ethics for laypeople in Theravāda tradition even today.

The Dacheng bensheng xindi guan jing (Mahāyāna Discourse on the Concentration of Mind Ground) translated by Prajña in 790 has a special chapter on “Repaying Debts.” There is a long discussion on paying debts to four groups of people including parents, sentient beings, kings, and Buddhism, and this became a standard list and spread not only in China but also in other East Asian countries for teaching in monasteries. Here we can see a development in the theory of practice of filial piety from paying debts to parents to paying debts to four groups of people.

The second group of scriptures that tells the stories of the Buddhist practices of filial piety can be divided into three subgroups: (1) the stories of the Buddha who practiced filial piety in the present life, (2) the stories of the Buddha who practiced filial piety in his previous lives as a bodhisattva, and (3) the stories of his disciples who practiced filial piety.

The stories related to the Buddha who practiced filial piety in this life include the following texts: the Fosheng daolitian weimu shuofa jing 《佛昇忉利天為母說法經》‎ (The Sūtra of the Buddha’s Ascension to the Trāyastriṃśa Heaven to Preach the Dharma to His Mother) also known as the Mohe moye jing 《摩訶摩耶經》‎ (Mahāmāyā Sūtra) translated by Tanjing in 479–502 is a perfect texts to show that the Buddha not only taught but also did practice filial piety. According to the Buddhist tradition, Mahāmāyā, the mother of the Buddha, died and was reborn in heaven after giving birth to the Bodhisattva. The Buddha ascended to the heaven and preached to his mother a few years after his enlightenment, and as a result she attained Srotāpanna, the stage of stream-enterer. This story is referred to in the Chinese translation of the Saṃyuktāgama (sūtra no. 506) and the Ekottarāgama (section 36, sūtra no. 5). This text is included in Daoshi’s Fayuan Zhulin 《法苑珠林》‎ (compiled during the 7th century) under the section on “Repaying Debts” to show the Buddha’s practice of filial piety.

The second text is the Jinfanwang banniepan jing (Suddhodana’s Parinirvāṇa Sūtra) translated by Zhuqu Jingsheng in 455. The text tells the story of Suddhodana, the Buddha’s father who was about to die and asked to see his son, and the Buddha came back and attended the funeral as a way of practicing filial piety. This story is also found in the Theravāda tradition and according to which, in the fifth year after Gotama’s enlightenment, Suddhodana died, having realized arahantship, and the Buddha flew through the air, from the Kūtāgārasālā in Vesāli where he was staying, to preach to his father on his death bed.21

The third text is the Foshuo Daaidao bannianhuan Jing (Mahāpajāpatī Gotami Parinirvāṇa Sūtra) translated twice, first by Bai Fazhu in Western Jin Dynasty (290–307 ce) and a second time by Huijian in 457. The story is also found in the Chinese translation of the Ekottaraāgama.22 According to Buddhist tradition, Mahāpajāpatī Gotami was the younger sister of Mahāmāyā, and they both married King Suddhodana together. Mahāpajāpatī Gotami nursed Siddhartha Gautama when Māyā died after giving birth. The text describes how Mahāpajāpatī Gotami died and the Buddha came and collected her ashes. However, in the Therāvada Vinaya, we find that the Buddha had a great love for Pajāpatī, and when she lay ill, as there were no monks to visit her and preach to her because it was prohibited, the Buddha went himself to preach to her and also amended the rule that a monk should not preach to a nun.23

The stories related to the Buddha practicing filial piety in his previous lives as a bodhisattva are found in many large collections. The first and most important story is the Foshuo pusa shanzi jing (Śyāmakajātaka Sūtra), which is the same as the Sāma Jātaka (no. 540) in the Theravāda tradition. This short sutra tells the story of the Buddha in his former life as a filial son supporting his blind parents in their old age. In order to fulfill his objectives, Bodhisattva Śyāma led a bachelor’s life and single mindedly served his parents without any complaints. The sutra was twice translated into Chinese, and the extant version was translated by Shengjian in 388–409. This is a suitable text to teach filial piety, and there have been many versions with the Taisho edition of the Tripiṭaka containing four. This story became so popular in China that it was even included in the Confucian tradition of the twenty-four stories of filial piety. The Zabaozang jing (Saṃyuktāratna Sūtra) translated by Kekaya and Tanyao in 472 contains ten stories related to the teaching of filial piety, and they all tell the stories of the Buddha practicing filial piety in his previous lives as a bodhisattva in different appearances, that is, that of ordinary people, animals such as birds, and so forth.

The third group of texts is the Buddha’s disciples who practiced filial piety. The Foshuo yulanpen jing (Ullambana Sūtra) translated by Dharmarakṣa in the 3rd century has influenced Chinese Buddhism tremendously.24 It tells the story of how the Buddha’s disciple Maudgalyāyana saves his mother from hell. According to this narrative, the mother of Maudgalyāyana was reborn into hell after death due to her bad deeds. Maudgalyāyana saw his mother suffering in hell through his magic power and tried to save her but failed. So he asked the Buddha to help, and the latter told him that it was only through collective merit of Sangha that his mother could be saved. Thus, Maudgalyāyana made a great offering to the Sangha just after the raining retreat, and his mother was saved.

There is another Mahāyāna text named the Dizang pusa benyuan jing (Sūtra on the Past Vows of Kṣitigarbha Bodhisattva) translated by Śikṣananda in 695–700. This text tells the story of the previous life of Dizang (Kṣitigarbha), a daughter of a Brahmin woman who saved her father from hell. This text is widely circulated and considered a sutra teaching filial piety by the East Asian Buddhists. Apart from the above scriptures related to either the Buddha or his disciples, there are also texts containing passages teaching filial piety such as Zhi Qian’s translation of the Foshuo weishengyuan jing (Sūtra of King Ajātasatru) in 222–280.

From the above survey of Chinese translations of Buddhist scriptures related to the issue of filial piety, we may come to a tentative conclusion that with such a large number of Buddhist texts either directly teaching or indirectly related to filial piety, Chinese Buddhists were able to (1) show the Confucian and Daoist scholars that Buddhists also taught and practiced filial piety and (2) refute unreasonable criticism by references to the above sutra-s.

Writing Scholarly Refutations

Learned Chinese Buddhists also wrote scholarly refutations to the Confucian criticism of Buddhists being unfilial. These scholarly refutations underwent three stages of development and finally reached a stage arguing that the Buddhist practice of filial piety is superior to that of Confucianism. The first stage is the explanation of Buddhist standpoints such as the Mouzi Lihuolun and the teachings of master Huiyuan 慧遠‎ (334–416). The second stage is more direct refutation by many Chinese Buddhists, both monks and laypeople. The third is comparing both Buddhist and Confucian concepts and practices of filial piety.

The first stage of refutation is from Mouzi 牟子‎ in the 2nd century, to master Huiyuan in the beginning of the 5th century, where the questions asked by critics remained the same, but the answers given by the Chinese Buddhists got more refined and detailed with specific references to Buddhist texts and practices as more and more Buddhist scriptures had been translated into Chinese. During these two hundred years, Buddhism developed rapidly, and the differences between Buddhism and Confucianism and Daoism became clearer as people learned more Buddhist teachings, and the conflict between the former and the latter also became intense. Chinese Buddhists made great effort in explaining the Buddhist standpoint when criticisms on the practice of filial piety became more refined.

We find in the Mouzi Lihuolun that critics questioned three aspects on the issue of filial piety. Mouzi refuted the critics by quoting many historical precedents and references from both Confucian and Daoist classics and traditions arguing that all kinds of practices similar to those of the Buddhists were also found in China where they were not condemned by Confucius and other people, but in fact praised as virtuous behavior.

The first criticism is that monks’ cutting of their hair is an unfilial practice because the Confucian Xiaojing says that since body, limbs, hair, and skin are received from parents, one should not harm them. Mouzi refuted the critics by saying that virtue was more important than skin and hair, and he also quoted from the same Confucian classic that Confucius praised Taibo 泰伯‎ as a sage but also cut his hair. The second criticism is about monks’ celibacy without posterity. Mouzi refuted this by giving examples that Confucius praised these Chinese Xu You 許由‎, Bo Yi 伯夷‎, and Shu Qi 叔齊‎ as sages but did not blame them for not having posterity. Of course, celibacy was not a recognized way of life in ancient China, and this is particularly true of Confucians, thus Confucian scholars would never be satisfied with the answers or reasons given by Chinese Buddhists. The third criticism concerns Buddhist customs as Buddhist monks from India wore one piece of red color cloth that was considered by Chinese people as uncivilized, as the ancient Chinese wore cloth that fully covered one’s body called li 禮‎, rites or propriety. They also were critical that Buddhist monks did not observe the proper obeisance to some personages, as monks do not bow to officers. Mouzi answered from two points of view. First, Mouzi argued that in the ancient time of the Three Emperors of sages, people even wore animal skins, but they were praised as having virtue. Second, Mouzi argued that Chinese and Buddhists led two different ways of life. The Chinese sages of Yao 堯‎, Shun 舜‎, Zhou 周‎, and Confucius 孔‎ practiced worldly affairs, while the Buddha and Laozi 老子set their minds on nonaction. These arguments are quite weak without the support of Buddhist teachings, and it was only Sun Chuo who gave a better answer.

Sun Chuo’s 孫綽‎ (314–371) essay “Yu Dao Lun” 〈喻道論〉‎ is another important work after the Mouzi Lihuolun in defense of Buddhism.25 We find only one question on filial piety, but it covers two of the three aspects found in the Mouzi Lihuolun: posterity and harming of physical appearance by cutting hair. Sun Chuo refuted the critics by referring to the highest form of filial piety according to the Confucian books of the Xiaojing and the Li Ji 《禮記》‎. According to the Xiaojing, the highest form of filial piety is to make the family name famous in future ages and glorify one’s parents. While according to the Li Ji, the greatest filial piety is seen in widely disseminating the teaching of virtue to people and providing them with all things necessary. Sun Chuo argued that judging by Confucian standard, the Buddha was a good example of the highest fulfillment of filial piety, because he made his father’s name known to the world and also saved numerous people from suffering by tirelessly teaching virtue and morality. Sun Chuo’s argument is better than Mouzi’s because he used the Confucian theory of filial piety to argue that Buddhist monks also practiced it by establishing themselves in virtue and working for the good of society in promoting virtue.

The questions discussed in the above two essays later became the central points of contention in the form of issues such as “monks not paying homage to the ruler” and “Chinese and Barbarian,” from the Wei and Jin, up to the Southern and Northern dynasties. In the Eastern Jin 東晉‎, there was a debate over whether monks should pay respect to rulers. Although the real issue behind it is a political power struggle between the two clans, it also demonstrates the tension between the authority and Buddhist Sangha.

After sixty years, when Huan Xuan came into power, he renewed the same argument and asked Buddhist monks to pay homage to the emperor. There were many officials as well as monks who rose against Huan Xuan. Among them, Wang Mi 王謐‎ represented the officials, and Huiyuan represented the clergy. As a Buddhist leader, Huiyuan explained in his letter to Huan Xuan that Buddhism supported imperial rule, and its doctrine was similar to Confucian teachings. Buddhist monks had different customs from secular people: it was only different in formality yet the same in essence. Therefore, Buddhist monks did not discard their practice of filial piety and respect to the emperor; instead they supported imperial rule by way of promoting virtues. The debate came to a stop with Huiyuan’s convincing arguments.

The debate on monks’ not paying homage to the ruler is a precursor to the debate on “Chinese and Barbarians,” which is also the second stage of refutation. During the Southern and Northern dynasties (420–577), Buddhism developed in China at amazing speed. The conflict among Buddhism and Confucianism and Daoism took different forms in the Southern and Northern dynasties. In the north, it took the violent form of persecution: The first occurred in the time of the emperor Tai Wudi 太武帝‎ in the Northern Wei (386–534), and the second in the time of the emperor Zhou Wudi 周武帝‎ of the Northern Zhou (557–581). In the south it took on a milder form, through debate by writing essays that are recorded in books such as Sengyou’s 僧祐‎ Hongming ji 《弘明集》‎.26 According to the Chinese scholar Tang Yongtong 湯用彤‎, these scholarly writings can be classified into two main areas: (1) the Chinese and the barbarian, and (2) form and spirit.27 The former concerns the cultural differences between China and Central Asia, for instance, differences in filial piety, way of life, and rituals, whereas the latter focuses on philosophical discussions of the “imperishable spirit.”

Our concern is the first kind of debate since it relates to filial piety. The entire debate was started by Gu Huan 顧歡‎, a Daoist, who wrote an essay Yixia Lun 〈夷夏論〉‎ (Barbarian and Chinese). There is nothing new in his essay, as the criticisms were already found in previous essays such as the Mouzi Lihuolun. But it represents a group of people who had the superior feeling of Chinese culture and despised other cultures. Although Gu Huan wrote the essay with an aim to conciliate the conflict between Daoism and Buddhism, he treated Buddhism as barbarian culture from the traditional Chinese stand point of view. Gu Huan’s Yixia Lun caused a huge reaction from the Buddhists, and at least six essays written by both Buddhist monks and laypeople to refute the charges are preserved in Sengyou’s Hongming Ji.28 First, the Chinese Buddhists refuted Gu Huan’s idea of superiority of Chinese and uncivilized barbarians (Buddhists) saying that we (Chinese people) should have an open-minded attitude toward foreign people and their customs. Second, Chinese Buddhists argued that people should appreciate the value of the Buddhist theory and teaching rather than the custom and tradition of a religion or culture. Third, Chinese Buddhists distinguished philosophical Daoism from religious Daoism and praised the former, particularly Laozi’s thought, as a teaching for self-cultivation and governing the state, and criticized the latter as a doctrine for longevity that could never be obtained.

Apart from Gu Huan, another Daoist wrote Sanpo Lun 〈三破論〉‎ (On Three Destructions) in the name of Zhang Rong 張融‎, a well-known person in the Southern and Northern dynasties (420–577). The author of the book attacks Buddhism from Confucian moral grounds as a teaching of destruction (1) to the nation, (2) to the family, and (3) to the person who believed in it, because the Confucian teaching is on state governing, family regulation, and personal cultivation. Liu Xie replied that it was not because of Buddhism that the state declined, and in fact the state became prosperous after the introduction of Buddhism.29 Sengshun argued that Buddhism contributed to imperial rule by way of teaching people to cultivate virtue.30 Concerning the second point, Liu Xie refuted that lay Buddhists practiced the Confucian teaching and performed filial piety accordingly, while Buddhist monks cultivated themselves in virtue and also performed filial piety by saving their departed relatives. With regard to the third point of cutting hairs, Liu Xie replied by saying that filial piety was not found in the hairs but in the mind. Buddhist monks practice great filial piety by abandoning minor filial acts because they worked to save their ancestors forever. Of course, the criticism on posterity was still not answered since Buddhist and Confucian ways of life are different.

The third stage of refutation is during the Tang and Song dynasties. Zongmi 宗密‎ in the Tang dynasty compared the Confucian and Buddhist concepts and practices of filial piety and came to the conclusion that both religions have filial piety as their foundation, in his commentary to the Ullambana Sūtra. He first quoted the Confucian Xiao Jing and said that filial piety is “a perfect virtue and all-embracing rule of conduct.” And then he quoted the Buddhist Fan Wang Jing 《梵網經》‎ to show that filial piety is a teaching of the ultimate way to attain enlightenment and is same as Buddhist precepts.31

Later in the Song dynasty, Qisong 契嵩‎ in his Xiao Lun argued that Buddhist teaching on filial piety was even better than that of Confucianism. Qisong said that according Buddhist sūtra, filial piety was called precepts. This meant that filial piety was the beginning of precepts because filial piety should be practiced before precepts and all virtues come from precepts. The five precepts of abstaining from killing, stealing, adultery, lying, and intoxicating drinks were the components of filial piety in Buddhism, and these were the same as the Confucian five virtues of benevolence, righteousness, propriety, fidelity, and wisdom. Qisong’s Xiaolun discusses the concept and practice of filial piety from the following five points. (1) Filial piety is the source of human life and human nature. The greatest filial piety is in serving one’s parents with sincerity as parents give one life. (2) Filial piety is the beginning of Buddhist precepts, and the five precepts are the components in the practice of filial piety. (3) The Buddhist concept of filial piety is greater than that of Confucianism because Buddhism advocates compassion to all sentient beings including animals, as they could be our past parents with the first of the five precepts of nonkilling. (4) Buddhism advocates the repaying the debts to parents by leading a virtuous life and teaching the same virtue to all people because supporting and serving parents alone as advocated by Confucianism cannot repay their debts. (5) Buddhist monks should also participate in parents’ funeral ceremonies and perform mourning rituals with an expression of deep remorse of loss in their hearts and minds. After its publication, Qisong’s Xiaolun won the admiration from and influenced not only Buddhists but also Confucian scholars.

Reinterpreting Buddhist Precepts as Equal to the Confucian Concept of Filial Piety

The Fanwang Jing 《梵網經》‎ is a very important text in Chinese Buddhism as it is though to lay a foundation for the Mahāyāna bodhisattva precepts tradition. Many eminent Buddhist scholarly monks such as Zhiyi and Fazang wrote commentaries. In the second fascicle of the text, it says, “filial piety is called precepts,” which is to say that filial piety and precepts are the same. It is based on this understanding that the Chinese scholarly Buddhists further developed the Buddhist concept of filial piety and reinterpreted it same as the precepts. Many modern Japanese and Chinese scholars think that the Fanwang Jing is an apocryphal work compiled in China through a selection of passages from other Buddhist scriptures in Chinese translations such as the Bodhisattvabhūmi Sūtra 《菩薩地持經》‎, the Upāsakaśīla Sūtra 《優婆塞戒經》‎, the Mahāparinirvāṇa Sutra 《涅槃經》‎, and the Renwang Bore Boluomi Jing (The Human King Perfection Wisdom Sūtra) 《仁王般若波羅蜜經》‎, while only a few modern scholars think that it is a true translation of an Indian Buddhist text. However, the Fanwang Jing occupies an important place in the history of Chinese Buddhism and has deeply influenced Chinese Buddhists, as it is the text for bodhisattva precepts in bodhisattva ordination. Zhiyi (538–597), the founder of the Tiantai Buddhist School, explained and disseminated the teaching of the Fanwang Jing to his students, and Guanding, according to his teacher’s lectures, compiled the Commentary on the Meaning of the Bodhisattva Precepts 《菩薩戒義疏》‎, which is still in extant.32 As a result, the Fanwang Jing was and is still considered an important text for Mahāyāna precepts and has become the authoritative text for Mahāyāna ordination in Chinese Buddhist circles for all Chinese Buddhist schools. This text became so popular due to its teaching that “filial piety is called precepts,” which is suited to Chinese society. Thus Chinese scholarly monks accepted the idea that “filial piety is called precepts” and further explained it.

Zhiyi believed that Buddhist precepts are the same as Confucian filial piety. He compared the Buddhist five precepts with Confucian five constants as follows:

Table 1. Comparison Between Confucian Five Constants and Buddhist Five Precepts33

Confucianism: five constants 五常‎

Buddhism: five precepts 五戒‎

benevolence 仁‎

not to kill or harm any living being 不殺生‎

righteousness 義‎

not to steal anything from others 不偷盜‎

propriety 禮‎

not to commit adultery 不邪婬‎

honesty 信‎

not to tell lies 不妄語‎

wisdom 智‎

not to take intoxicating drinks 不飲酒‎

Chinese Buddhists accepted Zhiyi’s explanation and upheld the idea that Buddhist precepts and Confucian filial piety are the same. Zhongmi (780–841), the Tang-dynasty scholarly monk and also a patriarch of Huayan School, stated that both Buddhism and Confucianism have filial piety as their foundation because although the Buddhist precepts cover all wholesome practices, filial piety is fundamental in his commentary to the Ullanbana Sūtra.34 It is on this basis that Qisong (1007–1072) in his Treatise on Filial Piety 《孝論》‎ further explained that filial piety precedes precepts and the five precepts are the constituents of filial piety. In other words, filial piety should be practiced before the observation of precepts, and the observation of the five precepts are the actual practices of filial piety.35 Qisong further stated that the Buddhist practice of filial piety is greater than that of Confucian.

Teaching People to Pay Debts to Four Groups of People

Paying debts to four groups of people is a special teaching in Chinese and East Asian Buddhism, as we do not have any reference to Indian Buddhist practice of it. Although the Zhengfa Nianchu Jing 《正法念處經》‎ (Saddharmasmṛtyupasthāna Sūtra) mentions paying debts to a group of four (mother, father, Tathāgata, and the Dharma teacher) without further explanation, this list never became popular. The Dacheng ben shengxin di guan jing 《大乘本生心地觀經》‎ (Mahāyāna Discourse on the Concentration of Mind Ground) translated into Chinese by Prajñā in 790 mentions paying debts to four groups of people (parents, sentient beings, rulers, and Buddhists) and devotes the entire second chapter to the detailed explanation of the four debts.36 This list has become very popular, and the great Buddhist masters taught their disciples and lay devotees the teaching of paying debts to the four kinds of people. Thus it became a regular practice in monasteries throughout China in the Tang dynasty. The Chinese Buddhists since then started to recite a verse of dedication of merits at the end of the morning and evening chanting and also every ceremony wishing, “May this merit and virtue adorn the Buddhas’ Pure Lands, repay the four debts above, and rescue those in the three suffering realms below.” As a consequence, in later dynasties there was no such a debate as to whether the monks should pay homage to the emperor.

Chinese Creation of Apocryphal Texts

As discussed above, there is a Chinese translation of the Fumuen nanbao jing (The Discourse on the Difficulties in Repaying the Debts to Parents) by An Shigao, which is same as the Pāli version of the Kataññu Sutta. However, the text mentions that one can repay parents’ kindness by doing five things: establishing parents in faith, morality, knowledge, generosity, and wisdom. This idea opposes the Confucian way of practicing filial piety, particularly the idea of establishing immoral parents in morality. According to the Confucian concept of filial piety, a child can never disobey his parents even if they are wrong. The only thing children can do to their parents is to serve them and do whatever they ask for without any complaint. This is because the Confucians emphasize respect and reverence toward parents in the practice of filial piety as taught in the Lunyu 《論語》‎ (2.7). On the other hand, unfiliality was considered in antiquity the first of the five grave crimes to be punished. The idea of punishing the unfilial son started quite early, and it was implemented through law in the Han dynasty. This became a tradition and was inherited by the Southern and Northern dynasties and Sui and Tang dynasties until Ming and Qing. In such an environment, the Buddhist principle of repaying parents’ kindness, especially to establish the immoral parents in morality as told in the Fumuen Nanbao Jing, could not be preached to Chinese audiences, particularly to the ordinary masses, without modification since it is in contradiction with the Confucian concept of filial piety, which emphasizes respect and reverence to parents. This probably also explains why the Fumuen Nanbao Jing has never been widely spread in China after its translation, and many people especially ordinary masses do not even know of its existence. As a result, the Chinese Buddhists created the apocryphal text entitled Fumu Enzhong Jing (The Discourse on the Great Compassion of Parents) by imitating the Fumuen Nanbao Jing probably in late 8th century in order to teaching filial piety. It enjoyed such popularity among the common people that it was expressed in various ways and means such as popular preaching and lectures, mural and cave paintings, and stone carvings. By the early 9th century, the apocryphal text was even accepted by Buddhist scholarly monks such as Zongmi, who quoted from it in his commentary to the Ullambana Sūtra. This text was and is still quite popular in Buddhist monasteries in China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam, and it is printed for free distribution to everyone who comes to a monastery. The stories about parents bringing up their children discussed in the text are also presented in painting illustrations. We find six illustrations of the above text in Dunhuang: four mural paintings in caves numbers 156, 170, 238, and 449 and two silk paintings stored in the British and Gansu Museums, respectively.

Popularization of Stories and Parables that Teach Filial Piety

The popularization of Buddhist stories related to the teaching of filial piety such as the Pusa Shanzi Jing (Śyāma Jātaka), the Yulanpen Jing (Ullambana Sūtra), and the Fumu Enzhong Jing among ordinary people in Chinese Society took many different ways such as establishing a festival, popular preaching and public lectures in monasteries, mural and cave paintings in temples such as Dunhuang, stone carvings in Dazu and Shandong, copying and printing of the sūtras, and Mulian operas of saving his mother and precious scrolls of Dizang and Guanyin.

First, Chinese Buddhists established the so-called ghost festival according to the Ullambana Sūtra to practice filial piety. According to the sutra, Maudagalyāyana, a disciple of the Buddha, rescues his mother from hell by making offering to monks on the fifteenth day of seventh lunar month, the day on which the raining retreat ends. Chinese people celebrate it with ancestor worship, so it is seen as a filial practice. And this festival is still celebrated in the Chinese communities in mainland China and among overseas Chinese to this day.

Second, in the Dunhuang caves, many transformation texts 變文‎ are found and were written on the basis of Buddhist sutra-s for preaching and public lectures with an aim to disseminate the Buddhist teachings. Many of these transformation texts are related to the theme of filial piety such as the transformation texts of the Fumu Enzhong Jing and the ten kindnesses (of the mother) 《十恩德》‎. These transformation texts show the great effort of Buddhists in antiquity to promote the Buddhist teaching of filial piety and also served as texts for popular lectures in monasteries in the Tang dynasty.

Third, illustrations of the sutra-s, called Bianxiang 變相‎ or tableaus to teach ordinary people Buddhism, are found in Dunhuang and other places in China, and most of them were created in Tang and Song dynasties. Filial piety is one of the popular themes in these illustrations. The central theme in these illustrations is the Buddha’s preaching, and the contents of the Fumu Enzhong Jing are painted around the central figure Buddha.

Fourth is the hand copying and printing related scriptures to disseminate the teaching of filial piety. According to Ma Shicheng 馬世長‎, there are more than sixty hand-copied Dunhuang texts of the apocryphal Fumu Enzhong Jing found in libraries in Beijing, Paris, and London.37 The text has even been transmitted to Korea and Japan and has been widely circulated there. After the invention of printing technology, the printing of Buddhist scriptures became one of the national events in China. So the Fumu Enzhong Jing was printed easily for mass distribution. Today, the title of this text is Foshuo Fumu Enzhong Nanbao Jing 《佛說父母恩重難報經》‎ (Discourse on the Great Compassion of Parents and the Difficulties in Repaying their Debts), a combination of both An Shigao’s translation of the Fumuen Nanbao Jing and the apocryphal text Fumu Enzhong Jing. Other sutra-s on the theme of filial piety such as the Ullambana Sūtra have also been copied and printed in monasteries for free distribution.

Fifth, the story of Mulian (Maudgalyāyana) saving his mother was also put on stage as an opera as it is an appropriate topic for teaching filial piety and became popular in China from the Southern and Northern dynasties through the Yulanpen festival. The earliest record of the Mulian opera is found in Song-dynasty Men Yuanliao’s 孟元老‎ Dongjing Menhua Lu 《東京夢華錄》‎ in which it says that during the Yulanpen festival, Mulian opera was put on stage from seventh to fifteenth day of the seventh month Chinese lunar calendar, and many people came to watch it. Later the Mulian opera was expanded with additions in Ming and Qing dynasties. Today the Mulian opera is still a favorite drama in the countryside in China. It becomes a living fossil in the history of Chinese opera and occupies an important place.

Review of the Literature

Most of the basic primary sources dealing with the teaching and practices of filial piety in Chinese Buddhism have been introduced and discussed in this paper already as they are vital for the study of this topic. The secondary sources and studies on the issue of filial piety in Buddhism in Western languages are not many, so I have listed nearly all of them in the further reading. There are many scholarly studies of this topic in Japanese, and they are not listed in the further reading.

Further Reading

Ch’en, Kenneth. “Filial Piety in Chinese Buddhism.” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 28 (1968): 81–97.Find this resource:

Ch’en, Kenneth. Chinese Transformation of Buddhism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2015.Find this resource:

Guang, Xing. “Filial Piety in Early Buddhism.” Journal of Buddhist Ethics 12 (2005): 82–106.Find this resource:

Guang, Xing. “A Study of the Apocryphal Sūtra: Fumu Enzhong Jing.” International Journal of Buddhist Thought and Culture 11 (2008): 105–146.Find this resource:

Guang, Xing. “A Buddhist-Confucian Controversy on Filial Piety.” Journal of Chinese Philosophy 37, no. 2 (2010): 248–260.Find this resource:

Guang, Xing. “Popularization of Stories and Parables on Filial Piety in China.” Journal of Buddhist Studies 8 (2010): 129–137.Find this resource:

Guang, Xing. “Chinese Translation of Buddhist Sutras Related to Filial Piety as a Response to Confucian Criticism of Buddhists Being Unfilial.” In Buddhism in East Asia: Aspects of History’s First Universal Religion Presented in the Modern Context. Edited by Anita Sharma, 75–85. New Delhi: Vidyanidhi Prakashan Press, 2012.Find this resource:

Guang, Xing. “Early Buddhist and Confucian Concepts of Filial Piety: A Comparative Study.” Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies 4 (2013): 846.Find this resource:

Guang, Xing. “Buddhist and Confucian Attitudes toward Life: A Comparative Study.” International Journal of Buddhist Thought and Culture 23 (2014): 7–48.Find this resource:

Guang, Xing. “The Teaching and Practice of Filial Piety in Buddhism.” Journal of Law and Religion 31, no. 2 (2016): 212–226.Find this resource:

Hu, Wenho. “A Re-study of the Stone Carving of Parental Love at Paoding, Dazu.” Chung-Hwa Buddhist Journal 15 (2002): 115–140.Find this resource:

Jan, Yunhua. “The Role of Filial Piety in Chinese Buddhism.” In Buddhist Ethics and Modern Society: An International Symposium. Edited by Charles Wei-hsun Fu and Sandra A. Wawrytko, 27–39. Contributions to the Study of Religion. Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1991.Find this resource:

Ohnuma, Reiko. “Debt to the Mother: A Neglected Aspect of the Founding of the Buddhist Nuns’ Order.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 74, no. 4 (2006): 861–901.Find this resource:

Schopen, Gregory. “Filial Piety and the Monks in the Practices of Indian Buddhism: A Question of ‘Sincization’ Viewed from the Other Side.” T’oung Pao 70, no. 1/3 (1984): 110–126.Find this resource:

Schopen, Gregory. “The Buddhist Bhikṣu’s Obligation to Support His Parents in Two Vinaya Traditions.” Journal of the Pali Text Society 29 (2007): 107–136.Find this resource:

Strong, John. “Filial Piety and Buddhism: The Indian Antecedents to a ‘Chinese’ Problem.” In Traditions in Contact and Change. Edited by Peter Slater and Donald Wiebe, 171–186. Waterloo: Wilfred Laurier University Press, 1983.Find this resource:

Teiser, Stephen. The Ghost Festival in Medieval China. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1988.Find this resource:

Notes:

(1.) Kenneth Ch’en. “Filial Piety in Chinese Buddhism.” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 28 (1968): 81–97.

(2.) Hajjhime Nakamura mentions the Confucian criticism of Buddhist being unfilial in his book The Ways of Thinking of Eastern People (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1964), 269–270.

(3.) The term “Early Buddhism” refers to the teachings found in the Pāli Nikāya and Chinese Āgama. These writings are considered by all modern Buddhist scholars to be the earliest Buddhist resources.

(4.) Anguttaranikāya, I, ed. R. Morris (Oxford: Pali Text Society, 1989), 61–62 (AN 2.33).

(5.) For detailed discussion read Guang Xing, “A Study of the Apocryphal Sutra: Fumu Enzhong Jing,” in International Journal of Buddhist Thought and Culture 11 (2008): 105–146.

(6.) The sutta is found in the Aṅguttaranikāya twice: I, 132 (AN 3.31); II, 70 (AN 4.63).

(7.) Aṅguttaranikāya IV, ed. E. Hardy (Oxford: Pali Text Society, 1979), 44 (AN 7.47).

(8.) Saṃyuttanikāya I, ed. L. Feer (Oxford: Pali Text Society, 2006), 181–182 (SN 7.19).

(9.) Saṃyuttanikāya I, 228 (SN 11.11).

(10.) Taishō Shinshū Daizōkyō [《大正新脩大藏經》‎], eds. Takakusu Junjirō [高楠順次郎‎] and Watanabe Kaigyoku [渡邊海旭‎], 100 vols. (Tokyo: Taishō Issaikyō Kankōkai, 1924–1932), vol. 2, no. 125 (20.11), 600c. (hereafter references to the works within the Taishō Shinshū Daizōkyō [Taishō Tripitaka] will be in the standard abbreviated form of T[volume], no. [sutra number], [page and column], e.g., the Dīrghāgama, T1, no. 1 [27], 107a).

(11.) Suttanipāta, eds. Dines Andersen and Helmer Smith (Oxford: Pali Text Society, 1990), no. 97.

(12.) Aṅguttaranikāya III. 146 (AN 5.129). Vibhaṅga, ed. C. A. F. Rhys Davids (Oxford: Pali Text Society, 1978), 378.

(13.) Dīghanikāya I, eds. T. W. Rhys Davids and J. E. Carpenter (Oxford: Pali Text Society, 2007), 85 (DN, 2).

(14.) Aṭṭhasālinī, ed. E. Müller (1897, revised reprint with indexes by L. S. Cousins (Oxford: Pali Text Society, 1979), 358.

(15.) Aṅguttaranikāya I. 142 (A.3.37).

(16.) PTS Pali-English Dictionary (p. 89); the fighting of gods with asuras is mentioned in the following passages: Dīghanikāya II. 285; Saṃyuttanikāya I. 222, IV. 201, V. 447; Majjhimanikāya I. 253; Aṅguttaranikāya IV. 432.

(17.) See Guang Xing, “Early Buddhist and Confucian Concepts of Filial Piety: A Comparative Study,” Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies 4 (2013): 8–46.

(18.) An Shigao’s translation is found in Taisho edition of Tripiṭaka as no. 684.

(19.) It is found as the eleventh sutra in the eleventh Juan of the Chinese Ekottarāgama (CBETA, T02, no. 125, 600c–601a).

(20.) The text was again translated twice by Dharmarakṣa (active in China during 266–313) and Zhi Fadu, in 301 respectively.

(21.) Cited from the entry “Gotama” in the Dictionary of Pali Proper Names, ed. G. P. Malalasekera (1899–1973) (Oxford: Pali Text Society, 1960). The story is found in the Therīgāthā Commentary, ed. William Pruitt (Oxford: Pali Text Society, 1997), 141.

(22.) The first sutra of the 52th vagga or chapter of the Ekottaraāgama is about Mahāpajāpatī Gotami’s Parinirvāṇa.

(23.) The Book of Discipline, trans. I. B. Horner, vol. 2 (Oxford: Pali Text Society, 1997), 277.

(24.) According to The Korean Buddhist Canon, ed. Lewis R. Lancaster in collaboration with Sung-bae Park (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979), the Ullambana Sūtra was translated between the second year of Tai Shi and the first year of Jian Xing, Western Jin dynasty (266–313).

(25.) Sengyou’s Hong Ming Ji, Fascicle three. T52, no. 2102, 16b–17c.

(26.) Other books in which these scholarly writings are preserved are Daoxuan’s 道宣‎ Guang Hongming ji 《廣弘明集》‎ and Ji gujin fodao lunheng 《集古今佛道論衡》‎, and Zhisheng’s 智昇‎ Xuji gujin fodao lunheng 《續集古今佛道論衡》‎.

(27.) Tang Yongtong, Hanwei liang Jin Nanbeichao fojiao shi 《漢魏兩晉南北朝佛教史》‎ (Beijing: Konglun Publication, 2006), vol. 1, 407.

(28.) T52, no. 2102.

(29.) T52, no. 2102, 50.

(30.) T52, no. 2102, 52.

(31.) T24, no. 1484, 1004.

(32.) T40, no. 1811.

(33.) T46, no. 1911, 77b. This table is created according to Master Zhiyi’s discussion and comparison of Confucian Five Constants and Buddhist Five Precepts in his Mohezhiguan 《摩訶止觀》‎ in the 6th century.

(34.) T39, no. 1792, 505b.

(35.) T52, no. 2115, 660a–662c.

(36.) T3, no. 159, 297a.

(37.) Ma Shichang, “Fumu Enzhong Jing xianben yu bianxiang” 〈《父母恩重經》寫本與變相〉‎, in Zhongguo fojiao shiku kaogu wenji 《中國佛教石窟考古文集》‎ (Taiwan: Jue Feng Buddhist Art and Culture Foundation, 2001), 467–480.