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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The Twentieth-Century Lotus Society : the ideology and practice of the Jingzong Xuehui, the Pure Land Learning Centre, led by Buddhist Master Jingkong Ngai, Mary May Ying

Abstract

It is because of the popularity of Lianshe, the Lotus Society, that Pure Land Buddhism became the most prevalent and influential Buddhist school among ordinary Chinese people. However, since the downfall of the Qing Empire in 1911, the Chinese society has experienced drastic social and cultural changes. To carry on this tradition into the age of globalization and computerization, a modernized international Lotus Society, the Jingzong xuehui (ching-tsung-hsueh-hui), the Pure Land Learning Center, emerged to teach people integrated Pure Land teachings and the nianfo practice with the help of updated information technology. In order to better understand the underlying reasons behind the success of these transformations, this pilot study intends to focus on the historical link, Dharma lineage, teaching, scriptural base, and ways of practice of the Learning Center and its leader, Jingkong (1927- ; Ching-k'ung), a Buddhist master who has been teaching Buddhism for more than forty years. In other words, this thesis interprets the Learning Center's ideas in terms of the Master's teachings, complemented by the comparison of his teachings with 1) beliefs and ritual traditions of selected Pure Land predecessors and 2) doctrines and principles mentioned in some Māhāyāna Sūtras. Discussions include histories of the Lotus Society, the Pure Land Learning Center, and the Buddhist education of Master Jingkong, the connection between the Master's and his predecessors' teachings, and the purpose and significance of three types of recitation methods. Methodologically speaking, apart from analyzing literature and contextual materials, this thesis also involves the study of audio and video materials distributed by the Pure Land Learning Center. In conclusion, this research provides substantial evidence showing how a traditional heritage reforms to cope with the needs of contemporary people, and argue that, by focusing on Master Jingkong as the pivotal figure in this contemporary development, the Master's efforts are similar to those predecessors who enlivened and sustained the traditions of their own times, and that the present teachings and practices are essentially inherited from those of the past, revealing the Learning Center's historical position as a modernized 20th century Lotus Society.

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