Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/43543
Title: THE MAKING OF MODERN BUDDHISM: CHINESE BUDDHIST REVITALIZATION IN MALAYSIA
Authors: TAN LEE OOI
Keywords: Mahayana Buddhism, Chinese religions, Tzu Chi, Fo Guang Shan, Buddhist modernism, Buddhist politics
Issue Date: 24-Jan-2013
Source: TAN LEE OOI (2013-01-24). THE MAKING OF MODERN BUDDHISM: CHINESE BUDDHIST REVITALIZATION IN MALAYSIA. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: This thesis documents the religious connection, transformation, and tension within a complex traditional belief system in a multi-religious society. In particular, the thesis revolves around a discussion on the religious revitalization of Chinese Buddhism in modern Malaysia. This Buddhist revitalization movement is intertwined with various forces, such as colonialism, modernity, and global capitalism. Reformist Buddhists have helped to remake Malaysia¿s urban-dwelling Chinese community and have provided another option for Chinese who feel marginalized in a Malay and Muslim majority nation state. As Malaysia modernizes, there are growing concerns by certain segments of the country¿s ethnic Chinese Buddhist population to separate Buddhism from popular Chinese religion. Besides the two Malaysian groups, namely Malaysian Buddhist Association and Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia, this call for a new ethnicized religion is significantly influenced by two Buddhist groups that originated in Taiwan in the late 1980s, the Tzu Chi Merit Society and Fo Guang Shan Malaysia. These Buddhist revitalist movements, have labeled popular Chinese religions as ¿superstition¿. Both local and Taiwanese groups have created a distinctive form of Buddhism by formalizing certain ceremonies, promoting Buddhist education, Buddhicizing Hungry Ghost Festival, popularizing meditation, and mobilizing Chinese Buddhists in volunteer work such as crisis relief, charity and recycling project. This attempt to create a new form of Buddhism in order to modernize the community¿s religious beliefs to more effectively address social dilemmas and moral crises has strengthened Chinese identity in Malaysia. A notable development is the politics of transethnicity that is being led by Tzu Chi to overcome racialized politics. Nevertheless, these reformist groups face counterforces from traditional Chinese religionists to their attempts at revitalization within the context of cultural complexity of Chinese belief system. These counterforces come from both within and beyond the community that force Chinese Buddhist to rethink their religious, ethnic and for some, political affiliations. This thesis tells the story of how a minority community comes to grip with the puzzling drama of modernity, history, globalization, and cultural assertion in an ever changing Malaysia.
URI: http://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/43543
Appears in Collections:Ph.D Theses (Open)

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