Weiter zum Inhalt

Max Weber’s Work and the Study of Buddhism today

DOI https://doi.org/10.15543/MWS/2018/1/4

Richard Gombrich


Weber’s work on early Buddhism relied on such poor information that it is almost worthless. But the concepts he used for his analysis of religion in its social aspects were so well devised that many of them are still valuable for guiding our research and understanding. And the very fact that most of them came initially from his analysis of Christianity creates a basis for comparative study, as we examine where they fit other religions and where they do not. I hope to illustrate this point by introducing some recent research by Dr. Yu-Shuang Yao and myself into contemporary Buddhism in Taiwan. After contrasting the social structure of Buddhism as a whole with that of Christianity, I introduce the new Buddhist movement Fo Guang Shan, created in Taiwan in the 1960s, and show that if one uses the typology of religious movements initiated by Weber and elaborated by his followers, it fits the definition of a denomination (not a sect); I then discuss how and why it is modelled not so much on Protestantism as on Roman Catholicism.

1 Bechert, Heinz. 1997. ‘Mahāyāna literature in Sri Lanka: the Early Phase’, in L. Lancaster (ed.), Prajñāpāramitā and Related Systems, pp. 361-68. Berkeley: University of California Press.

2 Chandler, Stuart. 2004. Establishing a Pure Land on Earth: The Foguang Buddhist Perspective on Modernization and Globalization. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.

3 FGS 20th Yearbook. 1987. Edited by the Religious Affairs Committee, headed by Shi Xin Ping, FGS Kaohsiung.

4 FGS Yearbook 31. 1998. Published by Fo Guang Culture, Kaohsiung.

5 Fo, Zhi Yin. 1995. Chuan Din: Biography of Hsing Yun. Taipei: Tian-Xia.

6 Gombrich, Richard F. 2006.Theravāda Buddhism: a Social History from Ancient Benares to Modern Colombo. London and New York: Routledge, 2nd edn. [Crossref]

7 Gombrich, Richard, and Gananath, Obeyesekere. 1988. Buddhism Transformed: Religious Change in Sri Lanka. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

8 Gombrich, Richard and Yu-Shuang, Yao. 2013. ‘A Radical Buddhism for Modern Confucians: Tzu Chi in Socio-Historical Perspective’. Buddhist Studies Review 30.2: 237-59.

9 Gombrich, Richard. 2012. Review of Yao, Yu-Shuang 2012. Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies 2: 248-56.

10 Johnstone, Ronald L. 1997. Religion in Society: A Sociology of Religion. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 5th edn.

11 Long, Darui. 2000. ‘Humanistic Buddhism from Venerable Tai Xu to Grand Master Hsing Yun’. Hsi Lai Journal of Humanistic Buddhism 1: 53-84.

12 Long, Darui. 2000. ‘An Interfaith Dialogue between the Chinese Buddhist Leader Taixu and Christians’. Buddhist Christian Studies 20: 167-89. [Crossref]

13 Madsen, Richard. 2007. Democracy’s Dharma: Religious Renaissance and Political Development in Taiwan. Berkeley: University of California Press.

14 Malalgoda, Kitsiri. 1976. Buddhism in Sinhalese Society 1750–1900. Berkeley: University of California Press.

15 Welch, Holmes. 1967. The Practice of Chinese Buddhism 1900–1950. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.

16 Welch, Holmes. 1983. The Buddhist Revival in China. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

17 Wikipedia article: ‘Religious denomination’. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_denomination

18 Wikipedia article: ‘Classification of religious movements’. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sociological_classifications_of_religious_movements

19 Yao, Yu-Shuang. 2012. Taiwan’s Tzu Chi as Engaged Buddhism. Leiden: Global Oriental / Brill. [Crossref]

20 Yao, Yu-Shuang. 2014. ‘Japanese Influence on Buddhism in Taiwan’. Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies 6: 141-56.

Empfehlen


Export Citation