Last time we talked about communities— communities exist only insofar as there are rituals in which the members of the community participate. So we're going to be starting by looking at Buddhist rituals and then Daoist rituals. The "Buddhist Rituals" chapter is written by Sylvie Hureau who is a professor at the École Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris. Daoist communities were built around the transmission of secrets from master to disciple; Buddhism was a missionary religion open to all, desirous of saving all "sentient beings"; it's said <i>pudu zhongsheng</i> 普度眾生 in Chinese. Lay participation was therefore a key component of its rituals, starting with the entry-level rites of "taking refuge," it's called <i>guiyi</i> 皈依, in the "the Buddha, his teachings, and the religious order." These three—the Buddha, his teachings, and the religious order —are called in Chinese the <i>sanbao</i> 三寶 or the three treasures. So that is what you are taking refuge in when you enter into Buddhism, because this is the very lowest level of entry. You take refuge in the Buddha, his teachings, and the religious order, that is to say the monastic community, the <i>sangha</i> 僧迦. And you say to each of five commandments, "not to kill, steal, lie, commit adultery, or drink alcohol," you say to each of those: "I can," I can respect those five commandments. So that's how a layperson entered into the Buddhist community, whose core was the monastic community. Lay persons "were expected to attend fasting ceremonies six days a month," in every fortnight, "the 8th, 14th, and 15th days of each fortnight," when the so-called four <i>deva</i> kings, or <i>tianwang</i> 天王, "observe human beings' deeds and make a report to Sakra, the supreme god in the world of desire" —we're not going to unpack all of those terms: the key idea here is that there are these four kings of the four directions who are observing specifically on those six days each month, who are observing the people who belong to this community to see whether they are doing good or bad work and, of course, part of their good work is to be present at the rituals. By fasting and observing other forms of abstinence, making confession, and listening to the scriptures and sermons, lay persons could "acquire merit which will then allow them to be reborn in a good state of existence." Each such fast—these six fasts per month —also "provided the opportunity for participants and sponsors to make offerings," of food for the participants, but also much grander gifts —gold and silver— on special fast days like the eighth day of the fourth month, the Buddha's birthday. Financing statues also produced merit, and "the expectation that the amount of merit would be proportional to the degree of expense" —in other words, the more you spend, the more merit you get —"encouraged donors to commission the building of [large] statues." Indigenous Chinese Buddhist scriptures, that is to say Buddhist scriptures which were produced directly in Chinese, were not translated from the Sanskrit or some Central Asian language: So these indigenous Chinese Buddhist scriptures in particular urge lay persons to invite monks to recite scriptures after the death of a family member. So here we see that link between Buddhism and death ritual. Why? "In order to provide happiness to the deceased, help him to see the Buddha, and be reborn as a human or [even] a god." It's obvious that the gods here are a lower level than to say the bodhisattvas and of course the Buddha on top. Merit could also accrue to the state. There's a sutra called the <i>Sutra of Golden Radiance</i>, <i>Jinguangming</i> 金光明, which was translated at the beginning of the fifth century and it "says that if the king listens to recitations of the sutra, receives, praises, and honors it, these same four <i>deva</i> kings will protect him and the population of his country. They will avert disasters and protect the country from invasion." So in this way Buddhism provided rituals which took care of the dead of the family and also could protect the state. So those were the basic rituals, but there are also festival times. A kind of "all souls day" was "celebrated on the 15th day of the seventh month," which is called in Chinese <i>guiyue</i> 鬼月, the month of the ghosts, when they all come back, and particularly on the 15th day, of course, which is the day of the full moon. This is "a day which coincides with the end of the three months summer retreat [of the monks] and the beginning of a new Buddhist year. On this day, lay believers are urged to make offerings to the <i>sangha</i>" —to the Buddhist monastic community—[again] "in order to earn merit [which can] be transferred to their ancestors and improve their chances of favorable rebirth." I insist on this, on the importance of this ritual aspect of Buddhism —the transfer of merit to the ancestors —because we talked before about how by the Han dynasty and the <i>Taiping jing</i>, how there was this emergence of ancestors as a source of anxiety, litigating in the underworld and causing suffering and even illness and disease to their descendants. So here we have a solution to this problem of ancestors as a source of anxiety. The <i>Mulian bianwen</i> 目連變文 and opera: Mulian is perhaps one of the most important Buddhist stories to Chinese culture and it is found all through China today—still today. In many communities the performance of Mulian opera —which could go on for as many as ten days in a long long story composed of different skits —this Mulian opera and the <i>bianwen</i> —which is a form of narrative literature which was produced during the Tang dynasty, so it goes back quite a ways, at least to the eighth century —so the story of Mulian is that he uses the "power of the monks" acquired by this three-month retreat. So for three months they're closed up in the height of summer and they emerge in the mid-, well, the 15th day of the seventh month is pretty close to the end of August. So they emerge basically at the end of the summer after three months of intense meditation, confession, recitations and so on, and it's this cumulative power acquired by the community which can then be used by Mulian to do what? To go down into the deepest hell to save not his father but his mother. And this story resonates in a way that perhaps no other Buddhist story resonates with the needs of Chinese culture and shows us something that I believe we've already referred to, but if not, here we go, and that is a concept of a uterine family, that is to say a family which is composed of the mother and the son. This is a concept which was first proposed by an American anthropologist called Margery Wolf when she was working on—doing fieldwork—in Taiwan, the idea that Chinese filial piety is not really so much about patriarchy as it is about matriarchy, that is to say not about relations between fathers and sons but mothers and sons, that this is the closest relationship in a way in the Chinese family, so she called this the uterine family. And I would suggest that in the popularity of the Mulian story, we see something of that interest in the mother-son relationship being reflected. So this extravagance that we see in the putting on of major festivals and rituals, the Buddhists very early acquired the secret: there is a "profusion of cultic implements," contrasting radically with what we saw of Lu Xiujing and the Daoist oratory last time. There are these "monumental statues," think Bamiyan, but there are many of them in China as well, the Lefoshan 樂佛山, for example, in Sichuan province. And then the idea of "84,000 stupas being built in one night throughout the world." The Buddha's birthday itself became a time for "great festivities and processions of statues in cities such as [the capital] Luoyang [or in] Chengdu in Sichuan. And "the crowd of spectators coming to see the performances of sword eaters, fire spitters, and flagstaff climbers going along with the procession" —so a kind of circus— "was often so frenzied that casualties would result." In short, Buddhism was a public, "popular" religion. So we've just seen how important the idea of the acquisition of merit is and we've seen that this is inseparable from the act of giving. This is called in Buddhism "the perfection of giving." Both confession and preaching were public events, as were "public suicides during fasting assemblies": "In 451, Huishao 慧紹"— a monk, 27 years old—" organized his suicide on a fasting day in the presence of a large crowd of onlookers and faithful bringing gold and precious goods… Huishao burned incense and, when it had burned out, he set fire to the pyre, sat on it chanting the chapter of the <i>Lotus sutra</i>" which is about the <i>Yaowang</i> 藥王, that is to say the King of Medicine. It tells a "story of a bodhisattva in a royal family and who, in his new life, burned his arm as an offering to the relics of the Buddha." Such radical self-sacrifice was considered "the perfection of giving." It explains why the Emperor Wu of the Liang —Liang Wudi, that we've talked about before —gave away his person symbolically. It's called <i>sheshen</i> 捨身 in Chinese. Gave away his person symbolically to the Buddhist community, to the <i>sangha</i>, several times, and then had to be "redeemed by his ministers," with what? "Large sums of [real] money." So symbolic giving of himself to the community, real money going to that community to buy him back, to redeem him back. So central was this gift of self to the acquisition of merit that we can best describe Buddhism as a gift economy. If the public character and the sense of the spectacular clearly contributed to Buddhism's popularity, so also no doubt did its preaching and music. I quote from Hureau's chapter: "Chanting ability was raised to the level of an art as prestigious as the oratorical art of guides and teachers." Guides and teachers refers to precisely those people who are doing the preaching, so you have chanting on the one hand and rhetoric on the other hand as a part of this public expression of Buddhism, ritual expression of Buddhism. She goes on: "In Luoyang a certain convent—nunnery— was renowned for the beauty of the music, songs, and dances performed during 'great fasts'."