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The Buddhist Critique of Christianity in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1661)

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  • 虚空と天主 : 中国・明末仏教のキリスト教批判
  • コクウ ト テンシュ チュウゴク ミンマツ ブッキョウ ノ キリストキョウ ヒハン

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Abstract

This paper discusses the disputes between Buddhists and Christians in the Ming Dynasty, China. Specifically, it examines the ways in which Buddhists responded to the Christian concept of monotheism. In the seventeenth century, Matteo Ricci (1552-1610), the Jesuit missionary, in his doctrinal treatise Tianzhu shiyi (The meaning of "God"), defined Tianzhu (God) as the existence of the universal and the creator of all things. In response, Yunqi Zhuhong (1535-1615) argued that Tianzhu means only one of myriad gods in the universe, moreover, it was just the abstract principle which never changes any real things. Secondly, Miyun Yuanwu (1566-1642) argued the internal truth of "the Great Way" (Dadao) in all phenomena as a representative of the Chan monks of the Linji school. Thirdly, Feiyin Tongrong (1593-1662) further discussed their view of the world depending on Dadao. He thought that Dadao bears a close resemblance to empty space in that it contains and penetrates all things, and the human-self is originally integrated with the universe whether or not one attains Buddhahood. Their critiques showed the process by which Buddhists became conscious of their original universality through their encounter with the religion of Christianity.

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