Faith, generosity, knowledge and the Buddhist gift: Moral discourses on Chinese patronage of Tibetan Buddhist monasteries

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  • Jane Eluned Caple
Chinese imperial patronage of Tibetan Buddhismhas a long history.However, in recent years, increasing numbers of private Chinese individuals have been making gifts to Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and monks. There is a growing body of scholarship examining reasons for the increasing interest in Tibetan
Buddhism. However, there has been little discussion of how Chinese patronage is perceived ‘back home’ in the monasteries receiving gifts and their local
supporting communities. Scholars have argued that Sino-Tibetan patronage relationships are based on a common understanding of religious sponsorship and operate relatively smoothly. However, as this paper shows, this is not how many local people see them. The insertion of Chinese patronage into the complex local field of religious giving can be delicate and even dangerous for monastics. Examination of local moral discourses to see when and how Sino-Tibetan patronage breaks the ‘rules of the game’ suggests that there are values that underpin the ethics of both Buddhist gifts and remunerations for religious services, despite their conceptual distinction in emic understandings. In particular, the category of faith (dad pa) and its relationship to generosity and knowledge are central to the ethics and efficacy of religious giving to monastics, while the virtue of unsolicited giving is of particular importance for monastic recipients of wealth and goods from the laity.
Original languageEnglish
JournalReligion Compass
Issue number11
Pages (from-to)462-482
Publication statusPublished - 2015

ID: 214465794