The Symbiosis between State and Church in Text and Practice of Esoteric Buddhism in 8th Century China

The spread of Buddhism brought to encounter Indic and Sinitic cultural systems, the two of most disparate civilizations in the world. After hundreds of years of continuous contact and communication, a Buddhist sect that is most characteristically Indian and most alien to the Chinese flourished in China, which came to be known as Esoteric Buddhism or Buddhist tantra. More remarkably, it realized the closest cooperation between the state and church that has ever seen throughout Chinese history. So far, scholarly efforts remain general and speculative to understand that phenomenon, and, although yielding some insights, the scholarship awaits verification and reassessment with historically empirical studies. In view that the primary sources have never been fully exploited and that it happened around a turning point of Chinese history, when momentous changes happened in almost every aspects of the society, the proposed project would be based on chronological examination of various primary sources and their interpretations in the specific historical context. The study extends from my doctoral research and would supplement it in discussion on related critical issues.

Zeng Yang
Faculty Supervisor: 
Jinhua Chen
Project Year: 
British Columbia
Partner University: 
Tsinghua University