An Overview of Buddhist Precepts in Taiwan and Mainland China

Tzu-Lung Chiu


In Buddhism, monastic disciplinary texts embody the ideal of how followers should regulate their daily lives, and Buddhist monks and nuns are required to observe Buddhist precepts that were compiled nearly 2,500 years ago in India, a context dramatically different from contemporary monastic conditions. This study explores how Buddhist nuns in two widely divergent Chinese socio-cultural contexts experience the observance of Vinaya precepts that originated in India. The first section summarises female practitioners’ general perceptions of Buddhist precepts. Then certain monastic rules are selected for more in-depth discussion. By juxtaposing the perceptions of nuns from these two Chinese regions, I have identified similarities as well as differences between them, and among the various institutions involved. This research thus provides a detailed overview, based on a cross-regional empirical study, of nuns’ perceptions of whether there is a disjunction between ideal monastic life as regulated by Vinaya and the way nuns in Chinese Mahāyāna Buddhism actually live.

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