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Explores the milieu of Taiwan’s Buddhist nuns, who have the greatest numbers in the Buddhist world and a prominent place in their own country.
Taiwan’s Buddhist nuns are as unique as they are noteworthy. Boasting the greatest number of Buddhist nuns of any country, Taiwan has a much larger number of nuns than monks. These women are well known and well regarded as dharma teachers and for the social service work that has made them a central part of Taiwan’s civil society. In this, the first English-language book exclusively devoted to the subject of Taiwanese women and Buddhism, Elise Anne DeVido introduces readers to Taiwan’s Buddhist nuns, but also looks at the larger question of how Taiwan’s Buddhism shapes and is shaped by women—mainly nuns but also laywomen, who, like their clerical sisters, flourish in that country. Providing a historical overview of Buddhist women in China and Taiwan, DeVido discusses various reasons for the vibrancy of Taiwan’s nuns’ orders. She introduces us to the nuns of the Buddhist Compassion–Relief Foundation (Ciji), as well as those of the Luminary Buddhist Institute. Discussing “Buddhism for the Human Realm,” DeVido asks whether this popular philosophy has encouraged and supported the singular strength of Taiwan’s Buddhist women.
"Taiwan’s Buddhist Nuns is a welcome addition to scholarship on women in Buddhism. This volume will be of interest to both Buddhist scholars and the general reader.” — Journal of Buddhist Ethics “…DeVido … has brought a depth of experience and a basic feel for the topic that give her work the ring of truth … this book makes a very worthwhile contribution to the study of women and religion, Buddhism in Taiwan, and the slowly growing body of literature on Buddhist nuns.” — Journal of Global Buddhism
“DeVido shows an intimate familiarity with both her book’s subjects and the social and cultural context in which they live and practice.” — Beata Grant, author of Eminent Nuns: Women Chan Masters of Seventeenth-Century China
Elise Anne DeVido is Assistant Professor of History at St. Bonaventure University.
Table of Contents
List of Maps and Illustrations
Credits and Acknowledgments
Note on Romanizations and Names
1. The Infinite Worlds of Taiwan’s Buddhist Nuns
2. An Audience with Master Zhengyan
3. “Project Hope”: The Ciji Foundation’s Post-‘9.21. Earthquake’ School Reconstruction Plan in Taiwan
4. The Women of Ciji: Nuns, Laypeople, and the Bodhisattva Guanyin
5. Jueshu renhua—“Cultivating Buddhist Leaders, Awakening Humanity’s Essence through Education”: The Nuns of Luminary Buddhist Institute
6. “Buddhism for the Human Realm” and Women
Buddhism, Women, and Civil Society in Taiwan
Glossary of Selected Chinese Characters