A Study of Qisong’s Concept of Filial Piety

Principle investigator (PI): Dr. Guang Xing
End date: 2016 Dec
Fund source: UGC seed fund
Research Output:
“A Study of Qisong’s Xiaolun”, Studies in Humanistic Buddhism, (CUHK Press) Volume (2016) 11-78.
Link: https://www.academia.edu/30890651/契嵩_孝論_的研究_pdf

Qisong (1007-1072) is an eminent scholar monk lived in the early Song dynasty when Confucian scholars began to revive the Confucian tradition which was started with Han Yu in Tang dynasty. These Confucian scholars such as Ouyang Xiu and Li Gou, imitating Han Yu, criticized Buddhism from economical, cultural and ethical aspects. Under such circumstances, Qisong wrote the Xiaolun (Treatise on Filial Piety) in order to refute the Confucian scholars’ criticism from ethical point of view. The Xiaolun is an important work that synthesized the teaching of filial piety in Chinese Buddhism and further developed it. Qisong not only summarized the ideas of filial piety discussed in the previous scholarly works, but also developed his own theory with reference to both Buddhist and Confucian scriptures. Qisong asserted that the greatest filial piety is found in Buddhism. Qisong’s Xiaolun discusses the concept and practice of filial piety from the following five points. (1) Filial piety is the root source of human life and human nature. The greatest filial piety is in serving one’s parents with sincerity as parents give one’s life. (2) Filial piety is the beginning of Buddhist precepts and the five precepts are the components in the practice of filial piety. (3) The Buddhist concept of filial piety is greater than that of Confucianism because Buddhism advocates compassion to all sentient beings including animals with the first of the five precepts of non-killing as they could be our past parents. (4) Buddhism advocates the repaying the debts to parents by leading a virtuous life and teaching the same virtue to all people because supporting and serving parents alone as advocated by Confucianism cannot repay their debts. (5) Buddhist monks should also participate in parents’ funeral ceremonies and perform mourning rituals with an expression of deep remorse of loss in their hearts and minds. After its publication, Qisong’s Xiaolun won the admiration from and influenced not only Buddhists but also Confucian scholars.

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