Mothers and Sons in Chinese Buddhism 0804731527, 9780804731522

Taking a new approach to the history of Buddhism, this book describes how Buddhist authors reorganized family values in

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Mothers and Sons in Chinese Buddhism
 0804731527, 9780804731522

Table of contents :
Copyright
Contents
Ch.1 Buddhist Propaganda
Ch.2 Confucian Complexes
Ch.3 Nascent Buddhist Filial Piety
Ch. 4 Mothers and Sons in the Beginning
Ch. 5 Mothers and Sons in theGhost Festival
Ch. 6 The Buddhist Elite Talk About Mothers and Sons
Ch. 7 'The Sutra on the Profound Kindness of Parents'
Ch. 8 Mu Lian and the Ten Kindnesses of the Mother
Ch. 9 Buddhist Biology
Ch. 10 Bifurcated Mothers and Other Conclusions
Notes
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Bibliography

Citation preview

Mothers and Sons in Chinese Buddhism Alan Cole

Stanford University Press Stanford, California 1998

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Stanford University Press Stanford, California ©1998 by the Board ofTrustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University Printed in the United States of America CIP data appear at the end of the book

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For B.Z.

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Acknowledgments

Midway through graduate school I began to suspect that Chinese Buddhist literature on the family was far more interesting and complex than had been previously recognized. It seemed to me that Buddhist discussions of family matters, which appeared so frequently in medieval texts, were part of a long-term propaganda effort dedicated toward locking the family and the Buddhist monasteries into a symbiotic relationship. In particular, Buddhist authors disseminated unsettling theories of reproduction and death that revolved around new concepts of sin, debt, and female pollution. This was done, apparently, to convince all that life was doomed without the buoying beneficence available at the monasteries. Making sense of these texts and their contexts became my dissertation topic and led to the writing of this book. To situate this study, and to own up to a set of ethical dilemmas, I feel obliged to say that I believe that the writing of this kind of critical history is, by its very trans-temporal perspective, inherently aggressive. By creating an overarching historical narrative, completely unavailable to the actors considered and based on the illusory possibility of seeing everything-at-once from a God's-eye point of view, the archivist implies a kind of dominance over his or her subjects. To construct this vision of the past, with its pretensions to objectivity, the historian also insinuates for her- or himself a degree of freedom from historical situatedness-even as particular modes of historical situatedness are precisely what is being investigated. The historian is the privileged one who can, with the flip of a page, leave one century for another and then stand back to judge their dif-

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viii Acknowledgments ferences. Seeming to play above and beyond the juggernaut of historical determinism, the historian's project tries to trade the wisdom of the joke that "time exists so everything doesn' t happen at once" for the seductive claim that "history exists so that everything can be seen at once." Charged in this way, I would plead guilty on all counts. Grounds for leniency might be found in considering that for the last hundred and fifty years Occidental academics have been obsessed with writing critical histories and that therefore I am, like my Buddhist counterparts, producing the documents that the times dictate. This admission, while not particularly uplifting, at least avoids the bad form of denying the larger nexus of causality behind my own writing moment, a moment shaped by both institutional and familial imperatives. In my dissertation defense, I tried to address the irony of paying off my own filial debts by writing about Chinese sons paying off their filial debts, but no one seemed to think it was very funny. Perhaps this ki'nd of reflexivity is too close to home. Besides this interesting fusion of filial imperatives, I should mention several other hermen eutical conund rums. Thoug h it goes agains l my ra-

ther. ingrained reductionist tendencies, I believe all that I can assert is that this book presents another way to look at Chinese Buddhism. I sometimes have the irrepressible urge to assume that this is the best way to read Chinese Buddhism, but I have tried to take to heart Brook Ziporyn's rather sensible if annoying refrain, "Yes, Alan, that's very interesting, but how can you claim that that is all this text is about?" This question of depths and levels gets to the heart of the hermeneutical issues. In the fluid world of metaphor, duplication, and transposition, I agree that we cannot assume that any particular reading is the bottom line. To say "it's all about money," or "it's all about sex and power," and so on, is to work with a rather blunt instrument. Nonetheless, it seems that once the economic and familial issues documented here are put on the table, we ought not go back to thinking about basic Buddhist concepts like merit, purity, and authority without reference to the way these ideas are often couched in language that is connected to reproductive matters. In essence, then, I am arguing for a future hermeneutical circle whose circumference regu-

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Acknowledgments ix larly passes through consideration of the "family romance," as Sigmund Freud so nicely put it. It would be disingenuous of me to deny the impact that Freud has had on this project. I began to read Freud in high school and have yet to tire of his perspectives, finding in them a style of analysis ·that is provocative if not always easy to stomach. Admitting this in print risks a loss of face, but I have been encouraged by scholars like Peter Gay and Lynn Hunt who have argued for responsible neo-Freudian histories. In particular, they have shown the value of using Freudian suppositions to make sense of the way public icons work to fuse personal narratives to larger cultural programs run by religious or political organizations. Freud, when used with care, allows us to look carefully at patterns of cathexis offered to readers of propagandizing documents and public art. This style of inquiry need not be burdened by Freud's less defendable claims aboutlhe universality of the Oedipus complex or his dubious hydraulic models of desire and aggression. As many since Michel Foucault have argued, the Oedipus complex may be less a theory leading to a cure and more a symptom of a particular Western consciousness caught up in· the webs of power and practice that define our twentieth century. However this debate develops, it is my hope that the evidence presented here on the family in Chinese Buddhism furthers the discussion of the family romance in religion and politics. Like all sentient beings, my debts are numerous. I am particularly grateful to T. Griffith Foulk and Luis 0. Gomez, my advisors at the University of Michigan, who seemed to know the right dose of concern and encouragement to offer me as I worked on the dissertation version of this study. Zeff Bjerken and Brook Ziporyn were essential friends and unofficial advisors through the cold and grey Ann Arbor winters, and CorinnaBarbara Francis helped in many ways during especially turbulent moments in the early stages of research. For quite some time, Stephen (Buzzy) Teiser has been an invaluable resource and all-around friend. It would be no exaggeration to say that I could not have written this without his help and the careful scholarship he brought to the field with his The

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x Acknowledgments Ghost Festival in Medieval China. A generous grant from the American Council of Learned Societies allowed me to spend the fall of 1993 in Paris perusing Dun Huang documents at the Equipe de Dunhuang, where I benefited from the patient assistance of Professor Jean-Pierre Drege. Earlier, I had the good fortune of winning a Rackham graduate fellowship and a predoctoral writing grant from the University of Michigan. Since taking a job at Lewis & Clark College I have learned much from interactions with my students, many of whom have offered trenchant critiques of my writing and methodology. Discussions with colleagues in history and anthropology have also been fruitful-Susan Glosser and Diane Nelson gave me much to think about as I sought to finalize this manuscript. David Savage, Dean of Arts and Humanities, has been particularly supportive, especially in his decision to procure the Chinese Buddhist canon for our library. Numerous friends, family members, and scholars have read versions of this book, and I would like to thank them for their comments, many of which I incorporated: Zeff Bjerken, Hank Glassman, Karen Kelsky, John Kieschnick, Elizabeth Morrison, Erin Odell, Buzzy Teiser, Brook Ziporyn, and my mother, who seems to enjoy reading my attempts to make sense of mothers and sons. Last, but certainly not least, I would like to thank Victoria Scott for her thoughtful editing, the staff at SUP for their help in bringing this book through the press, and Jenna Rice for her helpful proofreading. A.C.

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Contents . .. Note on Transliterations and Abbreviations

Xlll

Texts Analyzed in This Volume

xv

1. Buddhi st Propag anda

1

2. Confucian Complexes

14

3. Nascen t Buddhist Filial Piety

41

4. Mothers and Sons in the Beginning

56

5. Mothers and Sons in the Ghost Festival

80

6. The Buddhi st Elite Talk About Mothers and Sons

103

7. The Sutra on the Profound Kindness ofParents

132

8. Mu Lian and the Ten Kindnesses of the Mother

159

9. Buddhi st Biology

192

10. Bifurcated Mother s and Other Conclusions

Notes

226 . 239

Bibliography

280

Character List

293

Index

295

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Note on Transliterations and Abbreviations

In this book, though I used the standard pin yin system of transliteration for Chinese words, I decided not to follow the norm of running characters together. This is for one simple reason: non-Chinese speakers often are left without a clue about where to divide a binome. For example, how would one know that yunan was to be broken after the u or after the first n? Both are phonetic possibilities, and the reader likely will be left in a quandary. Writing binomes as a unit is usually defended on the basis that since characters are paired into binomic units in spoken Chinese, orthography should follow suit. This argument, while valid for the transliteration of prose or dialogue (that is, language in use), does not seem equally applicable to the transliteration of Chinese characters embedded in English text. In the latter, the purpose is simply to identify technical terms in the clearest manner possible-a purpose best served, in my opinion, by separating characters. There are three source abbreviations in this book: T

Taisho shinshu daizokyo. 100 vols. Takakusu Junjiro and Watanabe Kaigyoku, eds. (Tokyo: Daizokyokai, 1924-34}. This modern Japanese edition of the Chinese Buddhist canon contains sutras, commentaries, histories, hymns, genealogical charts, and artwork. I cite it by volume number, page number, folio, and line when appropriate. Thus "T.54.328a.5" refers to Taisho vol. 54, p. 328, fol. a (the first out of three), fifth line from the right. Except for the list

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xiv Transliterations and Abbreviations of primary sources in the Bibliography, I have not included the Taisho numbers for texts, as the serial numbering of the texts is not so helpful for locating passages in the canon. Pelliot Pelliot collection of Dun Huang texts held in the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris. Stein

Stein collection of Dun Huang texts held in the British Museum, London.

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Texts Analyzed in This Volume

Texts are listed in the order in which they appear in the text.

The Sutra on the Difficulty of Repaying the Kindness of Parents (Fu mu en nan bao jing), apocryphal, prior to the early sixth century; listed in Seng You's catalogue of 518 C.E. with the note that it is a work extracted from the Madhyamiigama (Chapter 3) The Sutra on Bathing [a Buddha Image} and Making Offerings (Guan la jing [Ban ni yuan hou guan la jing}), apocryphal, prior to the early sixth century (Chapter 3) "The Story of Na She" (Na She yin yuan), apocryphal, prior to the early sixth century; included in Chapter 11 of a collection of texts known as The Consecration Sutra (Guan ding jing), which Michel Strickmann dates to 457 (Chapter 3) Uttara 's Mother Falls int.a the Ghost Realm (You Duo Luo mu duo e gui yuan), number 46 in the One Hundred Avadiinas (Avadiinasataka), a collection of stories translated into Chinese (as Zhuan ji bai yuan jing) in the fourth century (Chapter 3) Bao Chang's version of Uttara 's Mother Falls into the Ghost Realm, in Bao Chang's compendium of 516 entitled Details on Sutras and Vinaya (Jing Iii yi xiang) (Chapter 4) The Buddha Goes to Heaven to Teach Dharma to His Mother (generic title Fo sheng Dao Li Tian wei mu shuo fa); there are various versions of this text some translations, some adaptations (Chapter 4) · . ' The Sutra on the Filial Son (Xiao zi Jing), apocryphal, pre-sixth century (Chapter 4)

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xvi

Texts Analyzed

The Sutra on Repaying the Kindness by Making Offerings (Bao en Jeng pen jing), apocryphal, early sixth century (Chapter 5) The Ghost Festival Sutra (Yu Ian pen Jing), apocryphal, middle to late sixth century; an expanded version of the Bao en Jeng pen Jing, written about 80 years after that work is known to have been in circulation (Chapter 5) The Pure Land Ghost Festiva/ Sutra (Jing tu yu Ian pen Jing), apocryphal, seventh century, probably in circulation by 664 (Chapter 5) Eulogy on the Ghost Festival Sutra (Yu Ian pen Jing zan shu), by Hui Jing (578-ca. 645), written sometime between 630 and 640 (Chapter 6) The Dharma Treasure Grove (Fa yuan zhu /in), by Dao Shi (d. 683), seventh century; an encyclopedic source book (Chapter 6) Essentials of the Various Sutras (Zhu Jing yao Ji), by Dao Shi (d. 683), seventh century; Dao Shi's other encyclopedia (Chapter 6) Commentary on the Sutra on Contemplating the Buddha ofLimitless Life (Guan wu liang shou Jo Jing shu), by Shan Dao (613-681), seventh century; a commentary on the Pure Land classic, the Guan wu /iang shou Jo Jing (Chapter 6) The Sutra on the Profound Kindness of Parents (Fu mu en zhong Jing), seventh century; first mentioned in the catalogue Da zhou kan ding zhongjin g mu lu of 695 (Chapter 7) Comment ary on the Ghost Festival Sutra (Yu Ian pen Jing shu), by Zong Mi, mid-ninth century (Chapter 7) · The Story of Mu Lian (Mu Lian yuan qi), apocryphal, ninth- or tenthcentury text discovered at Dun Huang (Chapter 8) The lllustrate d Tale ofMu Lian Saving His Mother from the Netherworld (Da Mu Jian Lian ming jian jiu mu bian wen), apocryphal, ninth- or tenth-century text discovered at Dun Huang (Chapter 8) The Ten Kindnesses (Shi en de), ninth- or tenth-century text discovered at Dun Huang; simple list only (Chapter 8) Repaying the Ten Kindnesses ofthe Loving Mother (Bao ci mu shi en de), apocryphal, ninth-tenth century text discovered at Dun Huang; a fuller version of the list of ten kindnesses (Chapter 8) The Sutra [Explaining That} the Kindness of Parents is Profound and

,

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Texts Analyzed xvn Difficult to Repay (Fu mu en zhong nan bao jing), apocryphal, a composite work probably put together in the Song period (960-1279) or slightly later; contains Tang-period passages and remains a favorite statement of Buddhist family values today in Taiwan (Chapters 8 and 9) "Homily on the Profound Kindness of Parents" (Fu mu en zhong zan wen), by Fa Zhao (d. 772), a middle-Tang-period hymn (Chapter 9) The Public Teachings of{Hui} Yuan ofMt. Lu (Lu Shan Yuan gong hua), a late-Tang-period text found at Dun Huang; purports to be a discourse by the famous monk-scholar Hui Yuan (334-416) (Chapter 9) The Blood Bowl Sutra (Xue pen jing), apocryphal, probably a twelfthcentury Song-period text; printed by 1437 in the imperial canon and imbedded in Chinese culture by the Ming period (1347-1644) (Chapter 9) Titles of the Tang-period lecture-note texts (jiang Jing wen) discussed in Chapters 8 and 9 are lost and disputed, and thus they are not included here. For their locations, see the Bibliography, p. 289.

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MOTHERS AND SONS IN CHINESE BUDDHISM

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CHAPTER ONE

Buddhist Propaganda

family propaganda as it evolved in medieval China from the fourth to the thirteenth century. This propaganda, written primarily in apocryphal sutras, scripted new norms for the family and, in particular, sought to bind the family to the monastery in a symbiotic relationship. I refer to these texts as propaganda because "propaganda," with its root in the Latin propages ("offspring"), hints at the parallel between the{;production of ideologies and biological reproductio~ both of which propel definitive modes of life forward i11. time. This connection is particularly germane because Buddhist propagandists became intensely interested in reproduction in all its aspects. At the core of Buddhist family propaganda are the notions of.sin and the threat of other-worldly punishment-concepts not prominent in Chinese literature prior to the arrival of Buddhism. Although pre-Buddhist texts suggest vague beliefs in post-mortem retribution, there was no precisely punitive moral system, as is found in Buddhist cosmology: China also lacked a monastic tradition and the correlate ethic of supporting a public religious institution. Thus for Buddhism to take root in China, the Chinese had to be convinced of a circle of meaning based on the reality of sin, its tortuous effects, and the monasteries' claim to be the only avenue available for overcoming those sins. What has not been noted thus far is that much of the Buddhist literature on sin came to focus on the family and its principal function- reproduction. Buddhist authors drew on nearly all aspects of reproduction-includ;;~• in~ conception, pregnancy, childbirth, breast-feeding, and child care-to

T

H Is Is A s TU Dy . of Buddhist

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2 Buddhist Propaganda construct theories of reproduction that sought to problematize and even demonize biology for Buddhist ends. These intrusive family ideologies, like bandit sluice-gates on an irrigation canal, cut into traditional societal patterns of exchange to draw off life-giving waters for use in the new "fields of Buddhism.•t2 From the outset, Buddhist authors sought to shift the meaning of filial ~ (xiao ), which was the essential moral dictum of traditional China. The traditional version of filial piety, as found in the Confucian canon, took the father-son dyad as the primary relationship in the family. While the son owed a debt of care and respect to both parents, his identity and his primary allegiances were to be formed around his father. Thus, for the Confucians, a son's sense of self-origin was tied to his father and his patrilineal ancestors, with little mention of his connection to his mother. Buddhist writers challenged this arrangement by redefining filial piety so that it reflected the importance of the mother-son relationship. Extended textual discussions stressed the deep emotional ties between mother and son and identified the mnther not the father, as the primacy SQHfCC of a, ' son's being. This Buddhist version of filial piety also introduced a new complex of sin, guilt, and indebtedness into the family. Buddhist texts increasingly asked sons to feel indebted to their mothers for a range of kiodne&&H-(en) received in infancy,3 including the kindness of giving birtb (huoi ea) and the kindness of breast-feeding (ru bu zhi en).r Sons were also threatened with the possibility that their mothers, presented as such loving souls, were actually sinners who would languish in a hell or purgatory after death.• Thus the Buddhist mother-son discourse, as it took form in the fifth and sixth centuries, first intensified the son's anxiety about repaying his mother and then raised the stakes by suggesting that she was snffering miserably in a hell realm for as-yet-unspecified sinful condu_g. This meant, in essence, that the mother had been kidnapped and that the son was asked to either pay her ransom or face the guilt of reneging on the relationship ~t ha~ given h~ his very being. In every case, paying i l e ransom-or repaying the kindness" (bao en), as it was formally known- included making donations to the Buddhist establishment for rit-

.



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Buddhist Propaganda 3 ual services, the main one being the recitation of Buddhist texts, a practice believed to produce the merit that would counteract the effects of sin. Put schematically, the Buddhist version of filial piety describes a threestep circuit that moves from the private to the public and then back to the private again. At ~e beginning there iW) the son's sense of indebtedness to the mother, which needs to be repaiJG; (2) the son patronizing the Buddhist establishment, which claims to have (3) the means to save mothers from hel~ and res_olve th~ "debt-crisiS.:' in the famii'3While the motivation, or debt side of this equation, was constructed purely from the private world of the family, the repayment side led the son to support the public Buddhist establishment- i.e., the monasteries. Thus the Buddhist organization of family values was set up so that the situation could be resolved only by joining these two spheres, public and private. In other words, Buddhists gradually won support for the belief that men could be good sons only by being good Buddhists- that is, by supporting Buddhist monasteries in the hope of bettering their mothers' fates. In this three-step loop, the son's emotions are pivotal. The degree to which he can be made to feel indebted to his mother determines the extent to which he will be inclined to patronize Buddhist monasteries. While the son's retroactive gratitude for his mother's love is especially crucial to the working of the system, in fact all three steps must be fortified with Buddhist texts written to legitimize the arrangement. It is these texts that I examine in trying to understand the role that family ideologies played in the development of Buddhism in China. Finding abundant evidence that Buddhists scripted a new discourse on the family that was determined to mine the feelings between mother and son, I asked, .why? Why did the Buddhists choose to seize upon this relationship in an apparent effort to secure regular benefits for themselves in the life cycle of Chinese families? To lay the groundwork for addressing this question, Chapter 2 takes up two routes of investigation that shed light on the structure of Chinese families. The first route leads through a reading of the Confucian classics. Contrary to the common assumption that Confucian family values were airtight and unbeleaguered, careful reading reveals fault lines in the Confu-

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4

Buddhist Propaganda

cian version ·o f filial piety that suggest systemic weaknesses. These fault lines- and the tensions they indicate-are of particular importance because they are found in the very areas later targeted by the architects of Buddhist family values. Pointing out the fissures and contradictions in the Confucian discussion thus allows• us to better imagine what prompted Buddhist authors to build their family ideology as they did. The second route considers modem ethnography on Chinese families. Using modem ethnogi-aphy to imagine· medi~yal family situations is defensible because over 'tiiis long period of history several key parameters of Chinese family life seem to have remained fairly constant, such as exogamous marriage, patrilineal inheritance, and restrictions on female jural rights. More convincing is the fact that medieval 'Buddhist texts offer rather explicit depictions of family dynamics that jibe well with anthropoof traditional. Chinese family life in the - logical accounts . ~.• . twentieth century. Thus there is reason to suspect a kind of "family resemblance:• b~tween the modern and medieval periods. Drawing on modem anthropology to write about the history of Chinese Buddhism is particularly appropriate in this case because many of the medieval texts that I analyze are still published and read in more traditional Chinese communities. In fact, it was after finding a number of these texts offered free of charge in Taiwanese monasteries and bus stations that I first considered writing a history of Buddhist family values. Clearly, the evolution of Buddhist family ideology was gradual and multivocal. As evidence of this tangled history, Chapters 3 and 4 consider six pre-sixth-century Buddhist texts on the family to show the range of experimentation in this early period. These pilot texts give the impression that it was only with the success of the ghost festival (yu /an pen hui) in the late fifth and sixth centuries that Buddhist family ideology took a decisive turn toward a mother-son focus. It seems to have been at this t~e that Buddhist .authors became convinced that drawing on the mother-son connection was the best way to tap into the powerful emotions nested in Chinese families. Chapter 5 analyzes three versions of the ghost festival to draw out the implications of the very popular "Mu Lian saves his moth~

...

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,

Buddhi st Propag anda 5 er" motif and to situate this burgeoning mythology within the triangular economy of mother, son, and monastery. The next level of analysis moves from asking why the Buddhists developed a mother-son form of filial piety to trying to understand how these doctrines affected Chinese notions of selfhood. Nearly all my readings question the form and structure of Buddhist selfhood in China, but Chapter 6 brings these concerns to the surface with an analysis of the writings of Hui Jing, Dao Shi, and Shan Dao, ~ee elite Buddhists from the seventh century. Their comments on a son's debts to his mother demonstrate a trend in defining selfhood quite new to the Chinese cultural landscape. Chapter 7 extends this exploration into Buddhist structures of selfhood with a close reading of the nostalgia evoked by a popular seventh-century text, The Sutra on the Profound Kindness of Parents, which, despite its title, is primarily about debts to the mother. This chapter concludes with a discussion of the c~mplicated remarks made by the famous ninth-century monk-scholar Zong Mi (780-841), who explicitly defined Buddhist conceptions of self as mother-based, even as he made other statements that reasserted the Confucian structure of patrilineal descent. Zong Mi's vision of Buddhist sonship, like that found in The Sutra on the Profound Kindness of Parents, draws heavily on mother-son feelings but, surprisingly, ends up using these emotions to support the patrilineal model, albeit via a circuitous route that requires support for the Buddhist monasteries. By this period it is clear that the Buddhists had found an ideological formation that drew adroitly on the mother-son connection to buttress the family and the monastery, linking them in a symbiotic relationship. Chapter 8 considers evidence from texts taken from the Dun Huang caves, texts that had been sealed in the oasis monasteries of western China in the late tenth century or shortly thereafter. In this cache of manuscripts, excavated at the beginning of the twentieth century, there is abundant evidence.from several genres of Buddhist writings that allows for a thicker description ~fhow mother-focused Buddhist family ideology was constructed during this period. This stratum of texts is particularly in-

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6 Buddhist Propaganda

tent on explaining the sinfulness of the mother, dramatizing her nefarious deeds and lingering over the sadistic details of her post-mortem punishments. Chapter 9 analyzes two Song-period (960-1279) texts that were particularly influential in defining a son's debt to his sinful mother: The Sutra [Explaining That] the Kindness of Parents is Profound and Difficult to Repay (Fu mu en zhong nan bao Jing), and The Blood Bowl Sutra (Xue pen Jing). While the latter is particularly important because it explicitly damns all women for their role in reproduction, both texts can be seen as the culmination of the centuries of writing that went into elaborating a Buddhist theory of reproduction. These "mature" statements appear to have been quit~ successful in defining monastic-family arrangements, and they have remained part of the Buddhist tradition up to the present day. After a detailed genealogy of the ideas in these · texts, I take issue with several anthropologists who have not appreciated how Buddhist theories of reproduction fit into the history of Chinese Buddhism. This study of Buddhist family values follows a recent trend in Buddhist studies which seeks to add a richer societal dimension to our reconstructions of Buddhism. Valuable monographs by Bernard Faure, Richard Gombrich, Helen Hardacre, Gregory Schopen; Melford Spiro, Stanley Tambiah, and Stephen F. Teiser on topics of Buddhism and society have done much to breathe life into descriptions of Buddhism. This approach moves away from the uncontextualized studies of Buddhist philosophy that were characteristic of the field until the 1980's, and dovetails nicely with recent cultural histories of Christianity that track the evolution of key concepts such as sin, guilt, and purgatory in the West. From precedents in both fields I have learned much. I am especially indebted to historians such as Philippe Aries, Jean Louis Flandrin, and Philip Greven who have worked to make the investigation of family topics acceptable in academia. . My reading of these Chinese texts on the family assumes that religion is a form of ideology; thus my interpretations focus on how the texts are constructing motivation for action in this world. In particular, what I con-

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Buddhist Propaganda 7 sider most important are the statements that encourage and legitimize ex5 changes between family and monastery. With Buddhist selfhood occupying a central place in my analysis, I try to explain the connections between a particular form of ideology and the way it "hails" the subje ctthe way the text induces the subject to see itself in a certain manner and then calls that newly emerging subject to action. For this perspective on ideology and religion, I am indebted to a tradition of social critics that includes Feuerbach, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, and Foucault. For discussion of self formation, I am particularly indebted to Louis Althusser's essay, 6 "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses." The evolution of Buddhist family values in China took place within the broader outlines of Buddhist monastic ideology, an ideology that can best be described as a kind of metaphoric farming. According to Buddhist rules (vinaya), monastics were forbidden to farm, so to secure a food source professional Buddhists had to find other means of entering the agrarian economies where Buddhism took hold. One tried-and-true technique for accessing the world of real food lay in convincing farmers that the crops coming out of the ground were actually derivative of past moral actions, and that the future availability of food (and happiness, for that matter) could be secured only by exchanging a portion of this food for Buddhist merit- that invisible and rather magical product that the Buddhists specialized in. Thus Buddhists made merit appear to be the underlying currency, or "gold standard," that floated the various economies of the world: All felicity and fertility would dry up should one's stock .of merit collapse. To naturalize the logic of this arrangement; the Buddhists regularly claimed to be "fields of merit," which, when sown with the seed of gifts, 7 would bear rich yields for their donors both here and in the next world. By calling donations "seeds," Buddhist discourse added a step to the normal cycle of production. Buddhists argued that the production of usable items such as food and clothing was not an endpoint; indeed, because such goods ultimately derived from prior merit, they ought to be in some measure reinserted into the larger cycle of merit-fertility that arced into those unseen realms where donations to Buddhist monasteries served as

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8 Buddhist Propaganda

the germinating force that would usher in subsequent cycles of production. In a word, the Buddhists made it appear that they were in control of food production, thus making it logical for farmers to enter into a "rationalized economy" based on exchanging food and goods for merit.8 The irony here is that the Buddhists "farmed" the farmers by convincing them that farmers needed to farm the Buddhists. This analysis may seem overly cynical to those used to more rarefied accounts of Buddhist thought and practice, but it is in fact simply an attempt to portray how Buddhism 's theological claims connected to the economic order, so as to show more clearly what was being transacted and on what grounds. If we think of Buddhist propaganda as a kind of farming based on textual dissemination, then the ideological seed that set this cycle in motion is a Buddhist sense of sin (zui). Sin appears in these texts as regularly as does the borrowed Confucian dictate to repay one's parents, and sin, as the problem at hand, is what holds the discourse together. These sins fall into three categories: (1) the sins of the mother, and of women in general, (2) the sins of the son who fails in his filial duties, and (3) the sins of not supportin g the Buddhists. All sins brought with them the specter of terrifying punishments. Though Western discussions of Buddhism tend to ignore the role of sin in Buddhist culture; it seems that notions of sin are central to Buddhism in most of its manifestations. Sin terrified Chinese audiences because, in the Buddhist worldview, death did not bring nothingness or the gradual dispersion of the soul(s) but retribution in a rebirth that reflected one's balance of sins and merits. The potential for terror increased as standards of Buddhist morality expanded the category of evil conduct to include even pedestrian acts such as slaughtering farm animals, acts which were deemed serious enough to warrant hellish punishments that could last for eons. Thus Buddhist discussions of sin not only threatened everyone with a multitude of unsavory fates but also made Buddhist "subjects" dependent on Buddhist ritual intercession, which was obtainable only at the monasteries. This Buddhist notion of sin, with its attendant threat of future punishment, necessitates an expanded view of the self. Contrary to what modem

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Budd hist Prop agan da 9

Buddhist enthusiasts repeat about the importance of "no self' in Buddhist I' doctrine, the logic of the Buddhist karma system requires a strong sense of self in which one takes oneself as an object of ethical evaluation and then projects that evaluation onto one's future existences in an unbroken stream of culpability. Although self~reflective moral evaluation had been part of the earlier Confucian tradition, the Buddhist version is much more is disturbing. Nothing is taken for granted, and until one is a buddha there a permanent downward pull- :a kind of Buddhist gravity that can suck the unwary under in an unguarded moment. Although one's family could transfer merit to the deceased in the beyond, the threat of personal damnation loomed large in the Buddhist worldview in a way that was incon 9 ceivable in pre-Buddhist China. Buddhism's expansion of the bounds of culpability, accompanied by the new insistence on individual responsibility, invites comparison with is the Christian conversion of Europe. What has impeded this comparison an odd Western pride in supposedly being the culture especially sensitive a to the anxieties of sin. For example, in Sin and Fear: The Emergence of Western Guilt Culture, Jean Delumeau writes that during the eighteenth century, "more than ever before, did the West's religion of 'anxi ety' differ 10 A from the Eastern religions of 'tranquility': Hinduism and Buddhism ." ty closer look at the historical record shows that Buddhism without anxie would not be Buddhism. While coming to believe in hell is not that unusual, what is striking is In the way many Buddhist authors sent their mothers to these new hells. alassessing the import of this development, it must be emphasized that her though the mother is sent to hell, she is always released from hell by loving son. Therein lies the heart of the complex: Hell for mothers is only a precursor to the salvation provided by their loving sons and the Buddydhist establishment. By understanding, text by text, how these two a namics of damnation and salvation feed off each other, we will fashion skeleton key for understanding the Buddhist discourse on the family. The appeal of the "son saves mother from hell" motif relies on a disoltinct polarity in the Buddhist worldview. In standard Buddhist cosm hs ogy, there is a basic divide between good and bad rebirths. Bad rebirt

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10 Buddhist Propaganda place one in the lower three realms: the animal world, the hungry-ghost realm, and, at rock bottom, the truly Dantean hell realms. Good rebirths place one in the cleaner and more orderly spaces of the human and divine realms. In Chinese Buddhism, the cleavage between good and bad rebirths often follows a gender divide: sin and its consequences are foisted onto mothers and women in general, with particular emphasis put on the sins of sex and reproduction. On a basic level, texts making these claims about sin and gender ask men (their primary readers) to enter into a twostep maneuver: (1) identify themselves as pure and their mothers as impure, and (2) engage professional Buddhists, who occupy the highest stations of purity, to render their mothers' "female evil" innocuous. This professional moral cleansing of one's mother also produces for the son the cosmic status granted to "good" men. Complicating matters are texts in which the mother is simultaneously characterized as the only woman without sin and as the most sinful of women. These discussions urge that she .be loved for her pure mothering but despised for her sinful sexuality. Without jumping to conclusions about a madonna/whore complex in China, let me add that the texts that employ this dynamic tension make it clear that, on a deeper level, the mother's contradictory identities are interlocked: Her goodness is a result of her mothering, which is itself soaked in dubious desires and polluting fluids. How this tension is resolved varies from text to text, but the ambivalent feelings for the mother are always resolved with the son's devotion winning out, leading him to arrange for her redemption with Buddhist rituals. Arguably, this triangle of relationship articulates something like original sin. For the Buddhists, reproduction automatically begets debts for the son and sins for the mother. These two conditions of uncomfortable incompletion then need restitution and absolution through Buddhist ritual. In trying to understand why this mythic complex was so successful in China, I can only suspect that each player in this triangle of relationship-son, mother, and Buddhist establishment- was engaged and satisfied in some enduring way. Mothers, though saddled with the complex roles of nurturer and sinner, secured their sons' devotion and the promise

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Buddhist Propaganda

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of post-mortem Buddhist care to alleviate that sinful condition. Sons, though burdened with the responsibility of repaying their mothers, would have been happy to see themselves in the role of Buddhist saints, pure and powerful, with a clear way to resolve feelings of indebtedness to their mothers. Finally, the Buddhist establishment found in this arrangement a reliable source of income as adult men paid for services dedicated to . saving their mothers. Crucial for convincing the populace of these interlocking economies of sin, sex, and donations was a sustained literary campaign. For the first time in the history of China, religious propaganda circulated in short pamphlets written in simple, direct terms and aimed at all who could read. Unlike Confucian literature, which maintained a certain exclusivity, these Buddhist tracts were intended to reach as wide an audience as possible as part of a class-blind effort to maximize support. In fact, the Buddhist program to gain popular support can accurately be described as an advertising campaign. 11 Authors qua advertisers tried to create seductive scenarios that would speak to the contents of their patrons' lives, even as they repackaged those contents so as to lead consumers' desires toward specific economic actions. Thus, like a history of twentieth-century advertisement, one can read these Buddhist familyvalue texts as symptoms-symptoms that reveal much about the development of medieval notions of the family, gender, purity, and culpability, notions which persist, to some degree, in Chinese culture today. In thinking about Chinese Buddhism as an ideology purveyed ·in a manner akin to advertisement, special attention must be paid to levels of self-awareness in the authors. Can we convict the Buddhist propagandizers of bad faith? I think not. Successful ideologies draw all levels of participants under their sway, so it is likely that most, if not all, of the Buddhist authors of such tracts were as convinced of their message as their readers were. On balance, it seems that ideologies can be crafted, over time, in particularly exploitative forms without a clearly defined oppressor standing cynically behind the scenes, writing the script and acting as a master puppeteer. 12 As always, confusion over agency enters when the dialectical nature of social processes is obscured. Ideologies produc_e ide-

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-Buddhist Propaganda 11 of post-mortem Buddhist care to alleviate that sinful condition. Sons, though burdened with the responsibility of repaying their mothers, would have been happy to see themselves in the role of Buddhist saints, pure and powerful, with a clear way to resolve feelings of indebtedness to their mothers. Finally, the Buddhist establishment found in this arrangem ent a reliable source of income as adult men paid for services dedicated to saving their mothers. Crucial for convincing the populace of these interlocking economies of sin, sex, and donations was a sustained literary campaign. For the first

time in the history of China, religious propaganda circulated in short pamphlets written in simple, direct terms and aimed at all who could read. Unlike Confucian literature, which maintained a certain exclusivity, these Buddhist tracts were intended to reach as wide an audience as possible as part of a class-blind effort to maximize support. In fact, the Buddhist program to gain popular support can accurately 11 be described as an advertising campaign. Authors qua advertisers tried to create seductive scenarios that would speak to the contents of their patrons' lives, even as they repackaged those contents so as to lead consumers' desires toward specific economic actions. Thus, like a history of twentieth-century advertisement, one can read these Buddhist familyvalue texts as symptom s-sympto ms that reveal much about the development of medieval notions of the family, gender, purity, and culpability, notions which persist, to some degree, in Chinese culture today. In thinking about Chinese Buddhism as an ideology purveyed in a manner akin to advertisement, special attention must be paid to levels of self-awareness in the authors. Can we convict the Buddhist propagan dizers of bad faith? I think not. Successful ideologies draw all levels of participants under their sway, so it is likely that most, if not all, of the Buddhist authors of such tracts were as convinced of their message as their readers were. On balance, it seems that ideologies can be crafted, over time, in particularly exploitative forms without a clearly defined oppressor standing cynically behind the scenes, writing the script and acting as a master puppeteer. 12 As always, confusion over agency enters when the dialectical nature of social processes is obscured. Ideologies produc~ ide-

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12 Buddhist Propaganda

ologues, who, not surprisingly, produce more ideology. Thus it does n_ot make sense to seek an unfettered individual- the proverbial "bad apple"-who is responsible for these historical developments. 13 Though I do not believe that the authors of these texts saw their program as a hoax, it should not be forgotten that quite a few Buddhist authors felt no compunction about forging texts and covertly inventing new doctrines. 14 Crafting original works in the guise of teachings given by the Buddha, they knowingly wrote lies, but their deeper motivations remain unknown. Did they see their works as pious fictions or as simple propaganda for the masses, to keep them keen on Buddhist models of servitude? While there is evidence suggesting that elite Buddhists could distance themselves from the Buddhist values they endorsed, especially when dealing with their slaves and serfs, 15 I must conclude that seeking "final motivations" is a lost cause, especially since we lack intimate literature like diaries. In deciding on an approach to this materia~, I gleaned much about writing the history of a religious organization from Mayer Zald's intriguing Organizational Change: The Political Economy ofthe YMCA. In this work, Zald shows how flexible the YMCA was in adapting its ideology and practices to suit the changing economic, cultural, and political environments in which it found itself. He details how the YMCA consistently evolved in an effort to maintain a niche for itself in American culture. Most striking was the shift away from the spiritual activities of evangelical Christianity toward a new focus after the 1870's on physical activities, like swimming and basketball. Like monastic Buddhism in China, the YMCA was a religious organization highly successful in adapting to new conditions in order to secure and maintain its institutional viability. Unlike Buddhism, however, the YMCA did not have the cultural clout to mold the desires and demands of the public. Its ideological maneuvering was adaptive in the limited sense of being responsive to the changing cultural climes- the YMCA's ideology never reached the level of power necessary to create new demands for its own functions. The Buddhist discourse on mothers and sons, in contrast, succeeded in reshaping public demands by sculpting new perso-

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Buddhist Propaganda

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nae for 1nothers and sons that contained kernels of dependency calling for Buddhist intervention. It is Buddhism's success in this higher level of adaptation that makes the history of Buddhist family values in China particularly fascinating. Despite this crucial difference between the YMCA and Chinese Buddhism, the political-economy perspective offers two advantages: (1) it remains sensitive to the adaptability of institutions, and (2) it wisely locates the history of that adaptation on a wider field of competitive interaction with other institutions. This perspective urges us to remember that, whatever else Budd_hism was in China, it was an institutional presence. Buddhism in China relied on the existence of a large number of monasteries that functioned as a loose group of independent economic entities which owned property, solicited donations, and established themselves as cultural and religious centers. Thus Buddhist monasteries found themselves competing with other elements of Chinese society in the struggle to control a share of the cultural, economic, and political pie. In this competitive milieu, Buddhism had to continue to change and sharpen its competitiveness if it wanted to survive. Thus we can profitably look at the fluctuation in Buddhist ideology legitimating the exchanges between the monastery and the family as reflecting the ongoing need for Buddhism to reposition itself in Chinese society. It is my hope that this history will balance other accounts of Chinese Buddhism that have glossed over the economic and reproductive aspects of Buddhist ideology. I pursue this tack because these issues. clearly concerned Buddhists in China, and because the history of a religion is hollow as long as its position on food and family remains obscure.

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CHAPTER TWO

Confucian Complexes Now, filial piety is the root of virtue and [the stem] out of which grows [all moral] teaching. Sit down again, and I will explain the subject to you. Our bodies-to every hair and bit of skin-are received by us from our parents, and we must not presume to injure or wound them: this is the beginning of filial piety. Establishing our character by the practice of the [filial] course, so as to make our name famous in future ages, and thereby glorify our parents: this is the end of filial piety. Filial piety commences with the service of parents; it proceeds to the service of the ruler; it is completed by the establishment of the character. - The Classic ofFilial Piety (Xiao ji11g)

F

o R M u c H o F the twentieth century, research on Confucianism

sought to present Confucian thought in a bright and attractive manner. Key words in the Confucian lexicon, like benevolence (r en) and righteousness (yi), were accepted without suspicion, as though it was fair to assume that textual ideals were realities. In these gentle studies, little thought was given to Confucianism as an ideology, and as such, a system struggling to organize life practices for specific goals. It is the task of this chapter to reconsider Confucianism-to uncover some of its insecurities and to clarify the structures of time, selfhood, and reproduction on which it relied in defining permissible attitudes and actions. As an overview, and as an introduction to issues in the Chinese family, this discussion is necessarily general and somewhat ahistorical in a way that later chapters will, however, support with details and more careful analysis. Confucian texts were written by men for men. When modem academics write that the Confucian view of human nature is "x," they often forget to qualify that statement by adding that the whole Confucian discus-

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Confucian Complexes 15 sion is focused on men, so that "male nature" is a more appropriate translation than "human nature."• Women were not the expected readers · of these texts and in most cases could not have read them had they wanted to. Confucian texts give us the idealized male world-the world that men wished for and sought to deliver to their male descendants. Even granting this one-sided presentation of Chinese life, there is a striking absence of women in the discussion. Most of the Confucian discussion is about male-male relations; with respect to the world of women, and the complex world of men and women, the texts are surprisingly mute. The fact that, until recently, Western scholars glided over this steep gradient in Confucian textuality has stunted research on a number of key issues. In her 1972 monograph, Women and the Family in Rural Taiwan, -~,fargery Wolf clearly identified this un~ven treatment of China: When the topic is China, the perspective has nearly always been male. When the other half of Chinese life is the focus, the "reality" of Chinese social life looks different. ... In summary, my thesis contends ... that because we have heretofore focused on men when examining the Chinese family-a reasonable approach to a patrilineal system-we have missed not only some of the system's subtleties but also its near-fatal weaknesses. 2 Paying attention to the "subtleties" of the Chinese family system and its "weaknesses" yields a very different picture of Confucianism. In particular, Margery Wolf's study points to the tensions surrounding the Confucian practice of taking an out-group wife into the in-group patriline. This style of "wife-taking" produces a weak bulge in the lineage that Wolf terms the "uterine family." The uterine family is defined by that nexus of feelings and devotions which results from the newly included wife's protracted attempt to make her children loyal primarily to her, rather than to the members of her husband's family, so that she can secure for herself a sympathetic group in the new and often hostile environment of that family. Margery Wolf argues, and many concur, that the structurally "troubled" reality of the Chinese family is due to this friction between patrilineal interests and the uterine family's. 3

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16 Confucian Complexes

These tensions have been discussed at length in modem ethnographic studies, but this complex also seems to have a long history trailing behind it- a history that shows up clearly in the Confucian and Buddhist debates over filial piety. To begin charting these debates, I first outline the se~ mantic space that the term "filial piety" (xiao) occupied in pre-Buddhist China with reference to three root thematics: (1) repayment, (2) obedience, and (3) the merging of familial and political authority. Then I consider filial piety in terms of the basic facts of Chinese family practice, to the extent that it is known to us. Finally, I consider how this style of filial piety served as a seedbed for the Buddhists' mother-son- focused discourse, and the alternative visions of time and identity that the Buddhists cultivated therein. Several facts need to be kept at the forefront of this analysis. First, the data are all textual, which brings with it the anxiety of being unable to secure the always-elusive links between nonnative doctrines and actual practices. This usual gap between doctrine and practice is acceptable as long as arguments remain at the level of analyzing what was said and never slip into assuming that ideological statements are descriptive. A related concern is the fact that these texts were the mouthpieces of the privileged and the few, whose· ways of life likely were radically different from those of their more average compatriots. This concern needs to be treated with care because there is evidence that ancestral practices often originated at the elite level and only slowly trickled down to the masses. However, the elite bias may not be as obstructing as it first appears because when Buddhism came to China, interaction with this elite literary level appears to have been particularly important for China as a whole. In other words, it is precisely this elite formation of pre-Buddhist Chinese family values that needs to be considered as we try to imagine the early sinification of Buddhism.4 In trying to describe pre-Buddhist filial piety, any analytical framework will be overly rigid because most of the thematics surrounding filial piety (repayment, obedience, etc.) are found not in isolation but wrapped completely around one another. Also, it would be a mistake to assume that there is one unitary style of filial piety that stands behind all the vari-

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Confucian Complexes 17 ous statements about it in the Confucian classics. It is more useful to imagine that each writer had his own vision of filial piety and identified it in a potentially idiosyncratic manner. The point is that there was flexibility in assigning meanings to the term and that there were changes in its semantic import over time. As a point of textual history, the Confucian classics referred to hereThe Analects, The Classic of Filial Piety, the Mencius, and The Book of Rites- all have complicated and in most cases unknowable pasts. Here I treat these texts as products of Han editing, with no concern for whether or not they refle.ct Confucius's views or the beliefs of any other, earlier strata of Chinese thought. The texts as we have them can only be read as statements of Han editors, redactors and compilers.

Repayment/Service As several scholars have noticed, the concept of repayment (bao) is essential for understanding Chinese culture.s Indeed, if Marcel Mauss is right, practices of repayment may be linchpins in all cultural systems, whether or not they display a logic and terminology as transparent as those the Chinese came to use. 6 In The Classic of Filial Piety it appears that filial piety is construed as the son's responsibility to serve his parents and maintain their well-being in this life and the next. For instance, the following passage lists a set of services due to parents: Confucius said, ''The service which a filial son does to his parents is as follows: In his general conduct to them, he manifests the utmost reverence; in bis nourishing of them, his endeavor is to give them the utmost pleasure; when they are ill, he feels the greatest anxiety; in mourning for them, he. exhibits every demonstration of grief; in sacrificing to them, he displays the utmost solemnity. When a son is complete in these five things, [he may be pronounced] able to serve his parents." 7 The demands of Confucian filial piety require a son to engage in a lifetime of service for his parents-service which is, of course, to be undertaken with an attitude of reverence. A son is to keep his parents fed and

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18 Co11.fucia11 Complexes happy in this life as well as satisfied in the next through the solemn perfonnance of memorial sacrifices. Thus the requirement to feed parents is apparently central in both this-worldly and other-worldly care. In fact, several passages in The Classic of Filial Piety claim that filial piety means to feed your parents. Food is to be supplied to them forever: they are not to want or to suffer in this life, nor should they go hungry in the next world. In Book Two of The Analects there is a similar statement about c01tjoining reverence with concern for parents' physical well-being: Zi You asked what filial piety was. The master said, "Nowadays, filial piety is known as the support [of one's parents]. But even dogs and horses are all [likewise] cared for-so if [humans perform this task] without showing respect [to their elders], what is the difference [between caring for parents and animals]?" Zi Xia asked what filial piety was. The master said, "The difficulty is with the countenance. If, when their elders have any troublesome affairs, the young take up the burden of the labor, and if when the young have wine and food, they set them before their elders, is this not filial piety?"8 \Vith this passage attempting to extend filial piety beyond mere nutritional care for parents, it is likely that the baseline or vulgar form of filial piety was conceived of as an insurance policy: sons were produced, in part, with the simple expectation that they would feed their parents later on. Parents wanted sons so that in their old age, or when they were "having troublesome affairs," there would be help on hand. On occasion the tradition was nearly explicit in explaining filial piety in this manner. For instance, in the earliest surviving dictionary, the second-century Shuo Wen, the character for filial piety (xiao) is etymologized as "a son bearing up an old man." 9 Presumably, in the context of starvation, the Confucian concern with "countenance" would have been decidedly secondary. Still, we must see it as an attempt to encourage a perforrnative · morality that would both "civilize" the exchange and introduce grounds for the parents' further domination of the son. A parent could demand not just food but displays of respect as well. In these filial imperatives, there is no threat of hell for the unfilial. The

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focus of filial practice and its effects remain rooted in this world. Although it is clear that the Confucians, and the Chinese in general, accepted the continuity of the individual after death, the post-mortem locale of the dead remained obscure. Even less clear is a notion of definitive retribution. As implied in the passage just quoted from The Analects, failure to be filial only amounted to the loss of one's humanity, i.e., the distinctive marker _o f not being an animal. Other passages in the Confucian canon (considered below) threaten early death and exclusion from the group, but nothing like eons of suffering in a tortuous hell. Apparently at this stage Chinese moralizers had very few ideological weapons with which to browbeat sons into serving their elders. This changed radically when the Buddhists entered the discussion in the next few centuries. Incidentally, Confucius's requirement that the young care for their elders represents an inversion of biological time. In fact, it could be argued that filial piety is unnatural not because it involves altruistic care for others but because it is care and nutrition directed backward in biological time (i.e., to those who have already reproduced) instead of forward to those who have yet to reproduce, which is the usual direction in the animal kingdom. The character translated as "support" (yang) in the passage from The Analects quoted above has the basic meaning of raising children and domesticated animals. Using this term to mean caring for parents implies that children are to learn to "parent their parents"-a theme that the Buddhists picked up on in the centuries that followed. Confucius's allusion to caring for animals like dogs and horses, then, is particularly interesting because he seems to acknowledge the normal semantic field of this term even as he insists that it needs to be extended. In the two passages just cited, and in the numerous others that identify feeding parents as central to Confucian filial piety, we do not find explicit terms for repayment, such as bao or baa en. These terms show up later, but their scarcity in this Han stratum of literature is noteworthy. 10 Though short on this terminology, it is clear that there is a repayment motif at work in justifying care for parents. Evidence of this can be seen in the opening passage of The Classic of Filial Piety that appears as the epigraph to this chapter. This passage explains that a son's body and being

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Confucian Complexes

are given to him by his parlnts, and that he should therefore embark on a life of filial practice using this body to serve and glorify them. Another passage reminds a son that he must treat his father like a sovereign because the father gave the son life "and no greater gift could possibly be transmitted." 11 Defining the son's existence as a kind gift from his parents, and prescribing a life course for him designed to glorify them, certai.nly implies that filial piety relies on the perception that sons live to repay what their parents have given them. The Book of Rites puts this debt to the past in no uncertain terms: The superior man, going back to his ancient fathers, and returning to the authors of his being, does not forget those to whom he owes his life, and therefore he calls forth all his reverence, gives free vent to his feelings, and exhausts his strength in discharging the above services-as a tribute of gratitude to his parents he dares not but do his utmost. 12 Elsewhere in The Book of Rites, themes of repayment appear closely connected with dictates for mourning. The Book ofRites argues that sons should want to mourn their fathers for three years out of a sense of gratitude (en) for the three years of care received in their infancy. 13 In this three-year period of mourning, the son is to deny himself all pleasures (such as good food, clothing, and music) while performing a schedule of oblations and offerings, apparently in the hope that the offered items will satisfy the hunger of his father in the beyond. This required mourning period is also discussed in a passage in The Analects in which Confucius explains why filial sons ought to perform the three years of mourning for their fathers, and why a questioner named You was unfilial when, a moment earlier, he had claim~d that one year of mourning was enough: [Confucius said,] "This shows You's want of virtue. It is not until a child is three years old that he is allowed to leave the bosom of his parents (Ju mu zhi huaz). And the three years' mourning is universally observed through the empire. Did You enjoy the three years of love of his parents (you san nian zhi ai yu qifu mu hu)?"14 Confucius seems to be saying that if you received three years of care as an infant, you must be prepared to return the favor when your caregivers

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Confucian Complexes 21 are in need. I have revised Legge's translation by replacing "arms" with "bosom," which is what the character huai more likely means-and besides, what does a baby do in his first three years of life if not suckle? This passage is critical both because it is oft-cited and therefore arguably central to the Confucian agenda, and because it contains the tension that Buddhist writers picked up on and attempted to overcome. Note that since child care in the first three years is mainly the mother's job, her contribution to the son's life is being co-opted by the father, who is demanding to be repaid based on her efforts rather than his own. 15 Further evidence of a mismatch in the repayment equation can be seen in the fact that the father is always to receive three years of mourning, whereas the . mother receives them only if she dies after the father-and then only at a secondary grade. 16 Thus it would seem that, in Confucian filial piety, the father arrogates to himself the repayment for giving birth to and nurturing a son. The mother's contribution is not fully recognized, and the "collection" of her repayment may not take place should she die before the father. This passage also sets a precedent for connecting obligations for mortuary rites with debts incurred at birth. A cycle of obligation encompasses the turnover of generations to such an extent that one can only die properly after having produced an heir, who can only live properly by burying and mourning his parents properly. Put another way, one's birth begets half of the equation that needs to be repaid with three years of mourning to the "birth-giver," who, more likely than not, is identified as the father. As the last line of The Classic of Filial Piety puts it, "The services of love and reverence to parents when alive, and those of grief and sorrow to them when dead-these completely discharge the fundamental duty of living men. The righteous claims of life and death are all satisfied, and the filial son's service to his parents is completed." 17 There are several other places in the Confucian classics that lean toward explaining biological reproduction in a male-centered way. A passage from The Book of Songs (Shi Jing) declares that fathers produce (sheng) children and mothers nurture them. 18 While both parents are identified as necessary causes, the father is declared to be the primary

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cause of life, with the mother's contribution counted as secondary in time and importance. This overvaluation of the father's role in reproduction is n1irrored in the belief that only women could be infertile. A wife who did not produce children within three years could be legally returned to her natal family, since it was believed that she alone could be culpable for the failure of conception. Apparently it was inconceivable that fathers could fail in this regard. This weighty evaluation of the male contribution to conception appears, too, in the standard practice of not mourning divor.ced mothers. A son owes his mother the mourning repayment only provided that she ren1ains his father's wife. 19 Should she break this allegiance, she can expect nothing from her son. Her contribution to her son's being is nullified when she breaks with the father, who is recognized as the source of the son's being no matter what, and who is therefore unquestionably owed the three years of mourning as recompense.

Obedience Closely related to the attempt to bind birth and death with the bonds of filial responsibility is the Confucian call for obedience. Obedience, it turns out, has several layers of meaning in the Confucian classics. On the most basic level, obedience is the foundation of filial pi,ety simply because, to be filial, a son must serve and submit to his parents' wishes, especially his father's. In fact, several passages verge on making obedience the keystone of filial piety. In Book Two of The Analects, Confucius explains how filial piety is about submission to parents and the fulfillment of the rites owed to them both. when they are alive and when dead: Meng Yi asked what filial piety was. The master said, "It is not disobeying." Soon after, as Fan Chi was driving him, the master told him, saying, "Meng Sun asked me what filial piety was, and I answered him, 'Not being disobedient."' Fan Chi said, "What did you mean?" The master replied, "That parents, when alive, should be served according to propriety (Ii); when dead, should be buried according to propriety and sacrificed to according to propriety."20

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Confucian Complexes 23 Besides the simple filial obedience that requires the son to satisfy his parents' needs, a deeper layer of obedience is required. This is contained in the expression of the son "carrying out the father's will," which is usually explained as his continuing whatever projects the father had underway. For an elite family this could refor to specific activities, but for more ordinary households it more likely meant following basic Confucian decorum and morality so as not to disgrace the father's name or his other ancestors. In either case, by making good sonship dependent on submission to paternal authority, there is no question of the son becoming a man apart from his father. On the contrary, he becomes a man precisely by accepting his father's dictates, whatever they may be. This submission to the father's will is of particular concern after the father's death, when, presumably, the father is unable to enforce his demands. In The Analects the son is judged to be filial or unfilial based on his acceptance of his father's will during his life and on his unswerving allegiance to that will after his father has passed on: The master said, "While a man's father is alive, look at his will (zhi), when the father is dead, look at his actions, and if after three years there is no change in the way of the father, then you can call that man filial. " 21 . Perhaps the most salient and inviolable of the dictates handed down from father to son is that the son become a father himself. As Mencius put it, ..Of the three unfilial acts, to die without descendants is the worst."22 In other words, to be a good son one must become a father. Sonship is predicated on being a filial servant to one's father, but also on the reenactment of this relationship, with one's own son. Thus, on a deep level, the logic underlying obedience is one of replication. In the Confucian system, reproduction as replication is seen as the way to maintain the status quo, as the patriline seeks to keep abreast of the flux of time by extending itself forward, generation by generation. Despite its forward motion, this impetus to reproduce is profoundly conservative in the sense that the new is created only to maintain the old. Ironically, personal iden-

tity is generated only by relinquishing one's uniqueness: one can be oneself only by being one's father's son. At each link in the chain of being,

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Co11fucia11 Complexes

every man is no more or less than the son of his father and the father of his son. To seek grounds of identity beyond this lineal progression is to 23 slight the beings who gave you being. The role of obedience in this fusion of biological and cultural reproduction is even more vividly displayed in the way marriage is discussed. A son was apparently not free to choose his mate. 24 His biological destiny was in the hands of his parents, who selected a wife for him based on their calculations about the prospective bride's family status, ability to work, and, of course, potential to produce sons. The Book of Rites is explicit in explaining marriage not as a love affair between two persons or as the fulfillment of desire, but rather as a family affair. While the opening phrase of the following passage mentions love, this is not given as the reason for the marriage: [MarriageJ is the union of two different surnames in friendship and love, in order to continue the posterity of the former sages, and to furnish those who shall preside at the sacrifices to heaven and earth, at those in the ancestral temple, and at those at the altars to the spirits of the land and grain. . . . If there were not the united action of heaven and earth, the world of things would not grow. By means of the grand rite of marriage, the generations of men are continued through myriads of ages. 25 This passage is a clear statement of the utility of marriage: Marriage exists to continue the lineage of ancestral sages who require that there be someone to perform sacrifices for them. Another statement in The Book of Rites verifies that the institution of marriage and the expected lawful reproduction of sons was the joint where past and future were fused-the place where the past was secured by the promise of the future, and the future secured by the dictates of the past: The ceremony of marriage was intended to be a bond of love between two [families of different] surnames, with a view, in its retrospective character, to secure the services in the ancestral temple, and in its prospective character, to secure the continuance of the family line. 26 Theoretically, the son's desire for a particular marriage partner was irrele-

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Confucian Complexes 25 vant to the greater concerns of the patriline. His potential for reproduction was to be controlled and directed toward assuring the patriline's goals of continuity and aggrandi zement. His manhood was to be a tool, quite literally, of their agnatic enterprise. In spatial terms, though marriage is ostensibly a horizontal affair, focused as it is on a bride _and groom who belong to the same generation, in the view of Confucian filial piety, marriage is actually about vertical relations. The son's marriage was defined as the means to beget the next son in order to satisfy those forefathers who had preceded him. The potential for love and satisfaction on the horizontal plane, defined by the son and his wife, was to be squelched under the staid control of the vertical. A son was not to fall for a romantic situation that might take him away from the ancestral axis and nullify the whole purpose of marriage, which was a matter of reproduc ing, not of love. The wife's situation in the marriage can appear bleak as well. She is brought (one could argue that she is "bought") into the family for her productivity and can be sent back to her family if she does not produce children.27 In fact, marriage is so much a question of pleasing the parents and not the son that one of the grounds for divorce is that the parents are not satisfied with her. 28 The metaphor suggested in The Book of Rites for this kind of reproduction is that of a tree. The son's being is nothing but an extension of his parents and all his other ancestors. His selfhood and the basis for his selfrespect are defined entirely in reference to his predecessors: He is in his person a branch from his parents; can any son but have this self-respect? If he is not able to respect his own person, he is wounding his parents. If he wounds his parents, he is wounding his own root; and 29 when the root is wounded the branches will follow it in the dying. With this sketch and brief analysis of the role of obedience in the Confucian discourse on filial piety, the depth of submission required by the ancestral system and its potential costs to the individual son's psychology begin to stand out as a demanding form family practice.

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26 Confucian Complexes

The Merging ofFamilial and Political Realms A corollary to the depth of obedience required by Confucian filial pi. ety is the fusion of familial and political realms. The Confucian classics declare on many occasions that the rigorous protocol required between male superiors and their inferiors within the family is to be extended to the political realm, where filial piety is to serve as the defining metaphor for all hierarchical encounters. As Confucius says in The Classic ofFilial Piety, "The filial piety with which the superior man serves his parents may be transferred as loyalty to 'the ruler; the fraternal duty with which he serves his elder brother may be transferred as submissive deference to el• ders. " 30 This merger of the two spheres, well noted in most modern dis• cussions of Confucian state ideology, meant that there was an analogic relationship imagined between the familial and the jural/political. Many passages make it clear that the stack of male dyads was to extend without break from the highest level of government down to the family level. Not surprisingly, each of these male dyads is defined by the submis• sion of the younger to the elder, who is rightful in demanding the services of his underling. Though these dyads form a vertical series ascending the social ladder, it appears that a son owes loyalty first to his father and sec• ond to those in the political realm. A passage from Book One of The Analects suggests this prioritization of submission: 31 "If a man withdraws his mind from the love of the sensual and serves his father and mother with all his might and then serves his prince with all his being.. .." Not only is there a movement from the familial to the political, but in each case the son's service is predicated on the renunciation of his private de• stres. The implications of setting the familial and the political in analogic relation extend in several directions. After drawing such explicit connections between the two spheres, one might expect there to be a tendency to allow the two to collapse into each other, at least rhetorically-i.e., for emperors to become as fathers, and fathers as emperors. Indeed, quotes attesting to this borrowing of identities are abundant: the emperor is regularly called the father of the people, and the father is regularly given

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Confucian Complexes 27 regal, imperial, and heavenly authority. The Classic of Filial Piety says: Of all the actions of man, there is none greater than filial piety. In filial piety, there is nothing greater than the reverential awe shown to one's father. In the reverential awe shown to one's father, there is nothing greater than making him the correlate ofheaven.32 In this passage filial piety is, ideally, a relationship based on fear and awe, analogous to one's response to heaven, the ultimate ruler. The passage also shows a marked tendency in the Confucian discourse to focus exclusively on the father-son dyad. The passages which claim that filial piety is due to both parents are regularly overshadowed by counter-claims that the father-son unit is the central and defining relationship. In the focus on the father-son unit, daughters are almost entirely ignored, presumably because daughters leave their natal families at marriage and are inconsequential to the continuity of their natal family lines. Daughters only come to the attention of the reproduction-conscious patrilines when they become wives and potential son-bearers in their husbands' families. As daughters in their natal families, they draw little literary attention to themselves. Although there are numerous passages stating that sons are required to be filial to their fathers and their mothers, there is an observable tendency to move from mentioning both parents to speaking only of the father, his authority and his expectations. For instance, in The Classic of Filial Piety, though the word "parent" appears in the passage below, the main focus is clearly on the father: The relation and duties between father and son [thus belonging to] the heaven-conferred nature [contain in them the principle of] righteousness between ruler and subject. The son derives his life from his parents, and no greater gift could possibly be transmitted; his ruler and parent [in one], his father deals with him accordingly, and no generosity could be greater than this. 33 In addition to passages like this, which seem to slide over into a fatherfocus, others differentiate the exact quality of filial piety due to each par-

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28 Confucian Complexes

ent, making it clear that the father is considered the more important parent. For example, in the following passage from The Classic of Filial Piety, the father-son model is taken to define the services rendered both to the mother and to the ruler, emphasizing the template-nature of the fatherson relationship. The passage concludes by spelling out the dues owed to each of the three: the mother is to get love from the son; the ruler is to get reverence; and the father is to get both: As they serve their fathers, so they serve their mothers, and they love them equally. As they serve their fathers, so they serve their rulers, and they reverence them equally. Hence love is what is chiefly rendered to the mother, and reverence is what is chiefly rendered to the ruler, while both of these things are given to the father. 34 While the simplicity of using the father-son unit to define the familial and political realms did offer a certain coherency, it ended ·up generating a male discourse so thoroughly involved with power relations and hierarchical structures that it must have left much unaddressed in the lives of men. Certainly, a man had recourse to his friends, and there are many indications that male friendship was expected to play a crucial role in the life of the Confucian gentleman. Still, given the nearly ubiquitous ordering of men into hierarchical relations defined in terms of filial obligation-biological or cultural-there was little room for "communitas" in the Victor Turner sense of the word. Ideally, men were ordered and always in place, with fear of shame and punishment never far away. Their relationships with sisters, wives, daughters or daughters-in-law appear to have been valued little, if at all, in the official ideology.

Conclusions About Confucian Filial Piety This sketch of Confucian filial piety portrays Confucianism as preoccupied with securing male power and extending it forward in time. This effort to secure and transmit male prerogatives involved several spheres-ontic, nuptial, biological, and political. The world as it appears in the dictates of Confucian filial piety is almost completely male and is,

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Confucian Complexes 29

accordingly, packed with a preponderance of male-oriented topics that regulate male behavior. Although it is male power that is to be extended and expanded upon through time, individual men seem never to escape their subservient status: regardless of how powerful they become, there are always other men above them in time and status. Thus the system as a whole glorifies maleness but ends up shackling each man to his superiors by exalting the authority of tradition. Before addressing the noticeable absence of the mother in Confucian filial piety, let me rep~at that there are numerous passages from the classics claiming that she, too, is to be served with filial piety. The catch is that she appears only as an adjunct to the father (i.e., she is almost always mentioned as the other half of the parental unit, as in the common binome Ju mu). Certainly she is included in some discussions of filial piety, but never as a unique figure, much less as the central player.35 When specific practices are mentioned, there is a similar devaluation of her status. For instance, in addition to being granted three years of mourning only under certain circumstances, The Book of Rites explains that .the funeral gear worn during this period is to be of a lighter grade, emphasizing that mourning for the mother is less significant than mourning for the father. Another point that suggests her peripheral status is the frequency with which Confucian disciples ask what etiquette and propriety are required in funerals for mothers, indicating that the topic was not deemed important enough to warrant a traditional legislation, even if some sons wished to have instruction on the matter. In The Book of Rites there are at least two dialogues in which the discussants try to determine which procedures 36 for mothers' funerals are in accordance with the rites. ·When a woman is spoken of in her specific capacity as a mother, how37 ever, she is identified as the loving parent. In the passage quoted above from The Classic of Filial Piety which explains the emotions to be directed toward each parent, the mother is the one who can be loved without fear entering into the relationship. The passage specifies that the father is to be loved as well as reverenced, but while it is possible to love and revere the same person, there is every likelihood that the filial submission required of the son would generate conflicting emotions toward

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30 Confucian Complexes the father, with a strong component of hostility likely present. At every tum the son must submit to his father's wishes, which restrict and define his own. This is most striking in wife selection, when the son's desires are overridden by family concerns.'' Whether or not the "hostility hypothesis" holds water, many passages note that the reverence demanded by filial piety is to include fear of the father. How a son is to love and be emotionally attached to his lifelong disciplinarian remains unaddressed in the texts. It appears that, in an effort to maintain the father's authority, some stock was put in keeping the father-son relationship distant. For instance, in The Analects Chen Kang says,39 "I have also heard that the superior man maintains a distant reserve toward his son." Chen Kang makes this comment after Confucius's son, Bo Yu, tells Chen Kang that Confucius would not talk to him until he had read and learned the classics. Besides the chill of etiquette recounted in this passage, it would seem that a son is not to be seen as a son until he has been tempered by the submission learned from studying the classics. Judging by the way The Analects depicts Bo Yu slinking around the compound, scurrying to avoid his father, this added inculcation may well have amounted to overkill.40 Thus, although the son is required to love both his father and mother, he has more reason to love his mother. Confucian filial piety wants the father to be the focal point of the son's life, but the extent to which the father has control over his son impedes the development of an affectionate bond between them. Evidence of the father's failure to secure his son's love is displayed in the crucial period of generational transition. As already noted, the son's three-year mourning for his father is justified by recalling the three years of love "that he received at his parents' bosom." The problem is that, though serving to explain a repayment to the father, these first three years of life in all likelihood draw on kindness shown by the mother. Thus there is a certain irony in the way Confucian filial piety, which is so intent on defining a male world for itself, must turn to the love of the mother-son connection to provide the affective force to carry a son through the crisis that occurs when the center of that male world-his

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Confucian Complexes 31 father-passes on. Confucian filial piety seems to work only insofar as it can somehow expand or redirect the son's love for his mother to include his father, whose death might otherwise be a joyous liberation for the son. The co-opting and redirection of mother-son love for the use of the male lineage is not overtly admitted but is nevertheless detectable in the crucial passage from The Analects justifying three years' repayment for the father.

Daoist Perspectives on Filial Piety In the Confucian texts, mother-son love in Chinese culture just·peeks around the "skirts" of a discourse that is focused on fathers and sons. For a more boldly articulated discussion of mother-son love, one can tum to contemporaneous Daoist texts. A full treatment of the mother image in early Daoism is beyond the scope of this book, but even a casual reading of the Dao de Jing turns up the following points. For Lao Zi, the putative author of this work, the great Dao that precedes all existence is feminine. The Dao is the mother of the ten thousand things who continues to nurture the beings she has produced.41 For Lao Zi, perfection is achieved through the harmonious relationship between the child and the motherDao, a relationship that ultimately leads to their union. Since we must assume that Lao Zi was writing for an all-male audience-and his abundant advice for running a government leaves little doubt about this- Daoist perfection is envisioned as the consummation, or reconsummation, of the mother-son relationship. Furthermore, Lao Zi makes it clear that male perfection is regressive in nature. In other words, one becomes complete through a return to the Dao, which is characterized as a return to the mother and to one's "baby days." For instance, in Chapter 20, after exalting his childlike ignorance, Lao Zi writes: Formless am I! Like the ocean; Shapeless am I! As though I have nothing in which I can rest. The masses have their reasons [for acting]; I alone am stupid and obstinate like a rustic.

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32 Confucian Complexes But my desires alone differ from those of othersFor I value drawing sustenance from the Mother [lit., "cherish eating the mother"]. 42 In assessing this passage and others like it, it is important to note that nowhere is rejoining the Dao considered under a copulative metaphor, i.e., in reference to two adult lovers. Rather, descent into the Dao appears as the sloughing off of manhood in the hope of regaining the childlike state, innocent of adult male identity.43 This passage further suggests that the reunion with the Dao is akin to returning to feeding at the mother's breast More than anything, return to the Dao is marked by an escape from the male world of Confucian ethics and an embrace of the precultural, whether in the form of pure nature, the mother, or Lao Zi's romanticized view of the stupid but contented peasant. Four themes appear central for Lao Zi's program. The first is a general nostalgia for childhood: there is a retrograde impulse in the text that moves from current male adulthood back to the complete satisfaction of childhood. Second, motherhood comes to stand against and outside of culture: culture is male, political, historical, and linguistic, whereas the Dao is feminine, anti-culture, faceless, timeless, and prelinguistic. Third, a man finds his resting place in womanhood, which is defined exclusively in terms of motherhood and a woman's maternal capabilities. Fourth, this mother-son reunion occurs apart from the patriline: the Daoist man-child finds his roots in the mother, completely away from his lineage identity and the corresponding strictures of linear male time. Though Lao Zi claims in several passages that filial piety and benevolence, as well as the other Confucian ethics, are only truly attainable via this return to the Dao,44 his text is rather free of patrilineal concerns. This set of images is not idiosyncratic to the author of the Dao de Jing, for similar tropes appear in the Zhuang Zi as well. Zhuang Zi, the paradigmatic iconoclast of China, has the anti-Confucian Robber Zhi evoke an idyllic time of human perfection, when humans lived naturally and in harmony with one another and all living creatures. What stands out in this description is the line that asserts that in this paradise one is free of the

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Confucian Complexes 33 father. Robber Zhi describes it as .follows: In the age of Shen Nong, the people lay down in simple innocence and rose up in quiet security. They knew their mothers but did not know their fathers. They dwelt among the elk and deer. They ploughed and ate; they wove and made clothes; they had no idea of injuring one another: this was the grand time of perfect virtue. 45 Finding in Daoist works this utopian imagery of father-free times suggests that the Confucian system was judged to be overly demanding. It also implies that, long before Buddhism arrived, Chinese men had begun pining for a mother-world in response to the world of male-dominated Confucian family values. A more detailed account of familial metaphors in Daoism is beyond the scope of this work, but a fruitful avenue to explore is the parallelism between Daoist and Buddhist responses to the patrilineal structure, as officially fonnulated in the Confucian classics. For now, it suffices to say that the four Daoist themes just mentioned reappear in Buddhist writings on a massive scale. Thus far I have portrayed the contents and intents of Confucian filial piety without reference to the realities of family practice, even though the family arena is their primary field of application. Yet consideration of the actual application of patrilineal family values supports the literary interpretations presented above and, more importantly, reveals that the son's relationships with his mother and father were constructed under the influence of widely differing impulses. Clarifying these divergent paternal and maternal structures goes a long way toward explaining Daoist and Buddhist responses to the Confucian/traditional system.

Patrilocal Marriage and Other Elements of Chinese Family Practice In reconstructing an image of Chinese family life in the Han period, the most important element is patrilocal marriage. If wives were normally brought into the family from beyond the village, then Confucian filial piety most likely faced many of the same problematic dynamics during the

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34 Confucian Complexes Han that it does in the modem context. The place of tension regularly pointed to in the modern Chinese family is associated with what Margery Wolf calls "the uterine family," that pocket of resistance which the "outsider wife" musters in an attempt to wrest control of her economic wellbeing from the family lineage structure. If a general correspondence between modern and ancient family practice obtains, then we can with some limitations apply to Han China insights about this inner-family struggle documented in twentieth-century ethnography. I make this assumption fully aware of Patricia Ebrey's critique of the maneuver. In her 1981 article, "Women and the Kinship System of the Southern Song Upper Class," Ebrey argues that modern family structures are likely more oppressive for women and more fully dominated by patrilineal ideology than at other times in Chinese history. 46 Yet her argument is not that there are not significant parallels, but rather that restraint needs to be exercised in making the leap back in history. I feel well within the bounds of "the likely" in interpolating a basic parallelism between modern and Han marriage practices as long as the discussion sticks to general "structures of interest" that were in all probability present. To offer another slice of confidence to the wary reader, I should add that the basic dynamic between mothers and sons that I am seeking in the Han family appears in apocryphal Buddhist texts dating to the seventh century-which is admittedly four hundred years after the Han, but which nevertheless mitigates to some degree the pitfalls of glossing over two thousand years ofhistory.47 Fortunately, there are numerous passages from the Confucian classics that clearly describe a woman leaving her natal home to marry into her husband's family. 48 Of course, the fact that patrilocal marriage is described as the ideal pattern in a ritual text does not preclude the possibility that uxorilocal or other forms of marriage were more common than was admitted in the official discourse. Still, we must assume that a significant portion of the population practiced patrilocal marriage and faced the complex of problems inherent in that situation. Of these problems, the first was that women in traditional China were, from birth, somewhat homeless. Because they married out of their natal

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Confucian Complexes 35 homes upon reaching maturity, they were not counted as kin by their blood relatives or included in their fathers' ancestral groups. Moreover, a woman's status in her new family was secured only by producing a child, preferably a son. Should she fail to have children, her membership in the family could be canceled and she could be asked to leave. To gain a secure identity in any lineage, she thus had to pass a trial by sex. Only through intercourse and successful reproduction could she achieve the "belongingness" that males inherited as a birthright. In other words, only by satisfying the male requirements for progeny/family could a woman gain admittance to any family at all. Given these conditions, it would seem that a woman would want sons just as badly as her husband and his family, albeit for different reasons. A husband and his family wanted a son to perpetuate their agnatic identity and secure their economic future; his wife was not likely to have strong feelings about her new lineage, and most likely cared about the arrival of a son only as the ticket to her own economic and emotional well-being, with little thought for the metatemporal concerns of the men of the family.49 Thus a mother's economic interest in a son was identical to that of her husband's family, in that both hoped he would grow up strong and productive so as to support them in their old age. But his mother had other interests in him, both due to her outsider status and because, as a woman, she probably had little voice in family matters. Her position of weakness was compounded by traditional Chinese law, which by and large does not allow women to own or inherit their husbands' property directly: property is to be divided by sons. Should her husband die before her, a woman needs a son if she is to gain control over any property or wealth her husband had. Adding urgency to a woman's wishes for a son is the likelihood that she will have only a modicum of success in controlling her husband, who for the time being is her only available family spokesperson. Her route to influence over family affairs through her husband is tenuous; living under the roof of his watchful parents, and perhaps grandparents, he is under great pressure to prove his allegiance to them, not to his wife. Thus, given that she needs an "inside man" to speak and act for her, a woman can

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36 Confucian Complexes only hope to bear a son and then bind him to her so that he will be loyal to her interests when he comes of age and can adjudicate family matters in her favor. It is precisely because both the mother and her husband's family look to the new son as the condition for their future happiness that there is the fear that, if the mother can split her new husband from the clan, she will have unobstructed access to the expected productivity of the son. But to steal her son away from her husband's family, she must steal her husband, too. If successful in this coup, then the family who thought they were "hiring" the young woman to add to their prosperity, spiritual and economic, will lose all: their son (the husband), his future children, and the bride price they paid for their son's wife. Looked at from another perspective, moving the family line forward in time is complicated by the need to turn a son into a father who still acts like a son. The system seeks to generate men who, though they father descendants, are still primarily sons themselves, and hence obedient to their fathers and mothers. The two roles of father and son are not to be seen as exclusive, since they need to be held concurrently. The difficulty lies in the fact that, in order to generate these two merged identities, a nonfamily woman is needed, and the desires and passions of a nonvertical relationship must be relied on. That the vertical must rely on the horizontal in this manner creates the crucible of the Chinese family. The weak link in the system is the possibility that the son will fail his parents and be "captured" by his wife and taken out of the orbit of his family line. While the son's whole family worries about this, the son's mother, who has been counting on his assistance ever since he was born, is particularly vulnerable to this type of coup by her son's new wife. When we back up a generation to look at how the son's marriage looks to his own mother, it is even clearer how endemic this anxiety over losing the son must have been. If a mother loses her son to his new wife, she loses the one chance she has to really possess a man. Her own marriage may have amounted to little ·in the way of love and security in her "for-

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Confucian Complexes 37 eign family." But she has biological grounds for claiming a son, regardless of how Confucian ideology wants to portray conception, and she has him for all his most tender years, during which she works to secure his love and devotion. Thus, for a woman to lose her son amounts to an economic and emotional disaster. With the son's marriage, not only does he have a new intimate female in his life, but this new female has every reason to try to take him away from his mother and the plans she has for him. It is these tense struggles for the loyalty of the son that breed the animosity between generations of women so characteristic of Chinese culture. As adjuncts to th_e male power axis, women have no way to construct or reproduce a lineage and must suffer being inserted like vertebrae along the spine of the lineage, rubbing and chafing against the vertebrae above and below. Never herself becoming a jural adult, a mother can only jealously guard her son against the encroaching aspirations of his new wife, who can in turn only have identical intentions when she becomes a mother-in-law and stands to lose the son who is her main support. Arthur Wolf clearly describes the deleterious effects this system has on intergenerational relations between women: The source of the tension between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law is a competition for the loyalty and affection of the young man who is the older woman's son and the younger woman's husband. The Chinese ideal of a distant and unemotional relationship between husband and wife recognizes the danger ofa mother's jealously .. ... A woman's son is too important in Chinese society for her to accept an intimacy from which she is excluded. Mothers do resent a son's relationship with his wife and express this resentment by abusing their authority over the daughter-in-law. Criticized, scolded, and not uncommonly beaten by her husband's mother, the daughter-in-law responds in the only way she can. She tries to win over her husband in the hope of talking him into leaving the extended family, thereby freeing her forever of her mother-in-law.... The result is a conflagration fed on its own flames. 50 Another passage from Arthur Wolf sums up this agony of Chinese women:

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38 Confucian Complexes To bear sons is a woman's first great trial in life; to maintain their loyalty and affection is the second and more difficult trial. As one village mother put it to me, "you raise your children and then when they grow up they are always someone else's. Your daughter belongs to her husband, and your son belongs to his wife. Especially those men who always listen to what their wives say. If you say more than two words to your daughter-in-law, they'll get mad and move out of the family, 'you can give birth to a son's body, but you can never know a son's heart.' " 51 With this problematic underlying reproduction in the Chinese family, it is not surprising that alternatives such as child marriages were sought to avoid the strife expected in moving the family line over generational humps. In the child marriage, the wife is brought in as an infant or child and raised by the family as a daughter. Then, when she and her brother/husband come of age, they are forcibly married. Despite the couple's usual reluctance to this somewhat incestuous union, the family requires it as a strategic means for overcoming its most critical weakness. By mak. ing the son's partner his sibling, there is little chance that she will draw his interests away from his vertical family because she too counts herself as a member of that vertical axis. In fact, she likely has no other sense of self apart from her adoptive family. Thus the threat of losing the son to temptations located on the plane of the horizontal is nullified. In sum, the family line is always in need of women to serve as sonproducers. But to gain access to the biological reproduction they so desire, the boy's family must take the risk of inviting a strange woman into their confines. The implications of this fight over the son(s) and the potential for failing to tum a foreign woman into a putative daughter are many. Besides economic concerns, this fight between the wife and the son's family is based on differing visions of time. Margery Wolf points this out in an evocative way: With a male focus we see the Chinese family as a line of descent, bulging to encompass all the members of a man's household and spreading o~t through his descendants. With a female focus, however, we see the Chinese family not as a continuous line stretching between vague horizons of

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Confucian Complexes 39 past and future, but as a contemporary group that comes into existence insofar as she has the strength to do so, or for that matter, the need to do so. After her death the uterine family survives only in the mind of her son and is symbolized by the special attention he gives her earthly remains and her ancestral tablet. The rites themselves are demanded by the ideology of the patriliny, but the meaning they hold for most sons is formed in the uterine family. The uterine family has no ideology, no formal structure, and no public existence. It is built out of sentiments and loyalties that die with its members, but it is no less real for all that. The descent lines of men are born and nourished in the uterine families of women, and it is here that a male ideology that excludes women makes its accommodation with reality.s2 According to Confucian filial piety, the son is to see that his identity is gained and confirmed through belonging to a lineage of men. In contrast, his mother's view of time, which she will likely try to impress upon him, is essentially dyadic, romantic, and nonrepeating. As a stranger to the lineage, the mother's connection with the future is mainly through her son, and this relationship is exclusive and owes nothing to any other larger group. I call it "romantic" in tlfe~ ense that it reflects the wishes of individual persons over corporate e \ ies: Key to this romantic time fram ~~e obvious need for collusion between mother and son. It would seem h _ in Chinese society, romantic time is most likely to ~ -velop betweeh \m e, ~ d son because. the husband/wife dyad is so ca efully policed by{ he lin~a ;·Extramarital affairs could provide a similar s~ e ~or this anti-ltneage' s~nse of time and self, but it is not simply a matt\ ~ finding a space away'f~ m the male lineage where romantic vision~ ~an___blossom; -Rath~ the pressures endemic to the Confucian lineage syst'e~" f