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Living Bodhisattvas— Historical and Textual Sources of Practitioner Identity in the Tzu Chi School of Buddhism

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Title:Living Bodhisattvas— Historical and Textual Sources of Practitioner Identity in the Tzu Chi School of Buddhism
Authors:Freese, Allen Courtland
Contributors:Pettit, Jonathan (advisor)
Religion (department)
Asian studies
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Tzu Chi
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Date Issued:2019
Publisher:University of Hawai'i at Manoa
Abstract:Taiwan’s Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation is a charitable organization founded on the teachings of Humanistic Buddhism, which traces its history most directly to the Chinese Chan tradition. For practitioners of the Tzu Chi school of Buddhism, spiritual practice most often takes the form of regular participation in a variety of charitable activities. To advance the aims of her organization, Tzu Chi’s founder, Dharma Master Cheng Yen, makes use of traditional Buddhist teachings to inspire and mobilize her massive international network of volunteers. These volunteers, whom she calls Living Bodhisattvas, are encouraged to adopt the values she emphasizes through her teachings and to integrate them into their identity as Tzu Chi practitioners. This thesis provides an examination of the construction of this practitioner identity, from its historical roots to the implications it holds for the lives of the everyday followers of Tzu Chi in Taiwan. A range of moral values are identified, followed by an analysis of how they are adapted to form the cohesive religious identity of Tzu Chi’s Living Bodhisattva-practitioners. In the final analysis, this examination is intended to suggest how this form of practitioner identity contributes to the spirit and success of the organization as a whole. Chapter I begins with a history of Humanistic Buddhism, followed by an analysis of Cheng Yen’s interpretation of Buddhist doctrine in Chapter II, and a survey in Chapter III of biographical narratives from Tzu Chi’s publications, through which the organization’s values are projected onto the lives of real practitioners.
Description:M.A. Thesis. Ph.D. Thesis. University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa 2019
Pages/Duration:105 pages
Rights:All UHM dissertations and theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Appears in Collections: M.A. - Religion

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