Buddhism

People pray at Hongfa Temple in Shenzhen.

More Chinese youths volunteering at temples as Buddhist culture gains popularity in China

Lianhe Zaobao journalist Daryl Lim dives into a new trend among Chinese youths: volunteering at Buddhist temples. This new wave of young volunteers do not have a religious purpose in helping at temples but are seeking a different way of life, or even an escape from the pains of the current social and economic realities.
K C Low (left) and Teo Han Wue at the talk on the art of Kaii Higashiyama. (Photo: Terence Tan)

Kaii Higashiyama’s art as tribute to Chinese monk Jianzhen

Attending a recent talk by veteran Singapore writer K C Low recently on the life of Japanese artist Kaii Higashiyama, Teo Han Wue hears about a series of temple murals Higashiyama painted in tribute to Jianzhen, a Tang dynasty monk who had spread Buddhist teachings and promoted the learning of Chinese culture in Japan.
The rich historical tradition of the Chinese tea ceremony must not be forgotten. (iStock)

More than one road to ‘the way of tea’

Cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai asserts that it is erroneous and even arrogant to think that the Japanese way is the only true “way of tea”. Those that do forget that the Japanese tea ceremony originated from China and that different historical traditions make up varied but no less authentic paths to the way of tea.
The Xuanzang Temple in Nanjing. (Internet)

Corruption in China seeps into the Buddhist world

Amid the controversy over honouring Japanese war criminals, Xuanzang Temple in Nanjing has found itself in more hot water as its former abbot Chuanzhen was exposed for his connections in the business and official circles. Zaobao correspondent Yang Danxu gives a profile of this senior monk and what his secular activities mean for the temple and for Buddhism.
A screen displays a CCTV state media news broadcast showing Chinese President Xi Jinping addressing world leaders at the G20 meeting in Rome via video link at a shopping mall in Beijing, China, 31 October 2021. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

Xi Jinping's misguided return to ideology

East Asian Institute senior research fellow Lance Gore argues that two contexts made Xi’s resurrection of ideological orthodoxy almost inevitable — Leninist party rule and China’s rise on the global stage. But Xi’s return to ideology may be to China’s detriment, as it could reverse achievements of the reform and opening up era, and also set China on a collision course with Western liberal democracies.
Uzbekistan, Central Asia, early 20th century. A Mongolian yurt stands amid the wide grasslands, as people gather in front of the yurt. A fire for cooking has gone out, and guests are getting on their horses to leave as the host family comes out to see them off. The men on horseback are wearing long robes with slits on the side, with black sheepskin hats. Nomadic men like wearing clothes that are convenient for riding and keeping warm.

[Picture story] China’s western frontier and beyond

Taiwanese historical photo collector Hsu Chung-mao considers China's historical engagements with its western frontier and the lands beyond it, and takes note of what the Chinese have documented and popularised in their version of the history of cultural exchanges with civilisations across Asia and Europe. With photos and drawings by young artist Brian Hsu, he brings us through history for a peek at those times.
Renowned Chinese philosopher Li Zehou. (Weibo)

Growing up (and old) with Chinese philosopher Li Zehou

Think of how the switching between languages, cultures and epistemologies can itself be an integral part of reading and writing, and extend this to a thinker’s broadest philosophical opus, in concepts, articulations and communications — that is the work of Chinese philosophy great Li Zehou (1930-2021), says former Singapore Art Museum director, Kwok Kian Chow.
Thousands of supporters of former US President Donald Trump listen to local and state politicians speak during a "Save America" rally at York Family Farms on 21 August 2021 in Cullman, Alabama, US. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP)

Pandemic diary (Chapter 6): When democracy is despotic

Like many of us experiencing pandemic days, cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai spent the last two years living quietly. But that is just the outward appearance of calm. Inside, he seethes with indignation as he rues the politics of life and greed, the democracy that politicians tout and the world that will be changed yet oddly stay the same after Covid-19. Have we come to a stage where not even a pandemic can teach us the lessons we need to learn?
A man (left) offers incense sticks to his ancestors at a temple in Hong Kong on 21 August 2021, marking the Hungry Ghost Festival. (Bertha Wang/AFP)

Questions concerning mortality in early China [3 of 3]: The netherworld and the state machine

What did the ancient Chinese think of the netherworld? Why did they take it for granted that there was an afterlife? In this three-part series, academic Poo Mu-chou takes a closer look at the myths and beliefs of death and after-death in Chinese culture. In this third article of the series, he teases out the difference in Chinese notions of happiness compared to other cultures. Rather than a moral code, bureaucracy and social mores have ruled people’s lives. Thus, the living leave practical objects in tombs for the deceased’s sustenance in the Underground, and magic spells to ward off harm against their living kin. In death, one is finally freed from the shackles of life.