Skip to main content

Imperfect Accomplishment: The Fo Guang Shan Short-Term Monastic Retreat and Ethical Pedagogy in Humanistic Buddhism

Laidlaw, James, Mair, Jonathan (2019) Imperfect Accomplishment: The Fo Guang Shan Short-Term Monastic Retreat and Ethical Pedagogy in Humanistic Buddhism. Cultural Anthropology, 34 (3). pp. 328-358. ISSN 0886-7356. E-ISSN 1548-1360. (doi:10.14506/ca34.3.02) (KAR id:72897)

PDF Publisher pdf
Language: English
Download this file
[thumbnail of document (2).pdf]
Request a format suitable for use with assistive technology e.g. a screenreader
PDF (Accepted version, after peer review, before proofreading and editing) Author's Accepted Manuscript
Language: English

Restricted to Repository staff only
Contact us about this Publication
[thumbnail of Accepted version, after peer review, before proofreading and editing]
Official URL:


Fo Guang Shan (佛光山, Buddha’s Light Mountain), an international Buddhist movement headquartered in Taiwan, runs a regular ‘Short-Term Monastic Cultivation Retreat’, a week-long residential program designed to provide lay members with an opportunity for intensive cultivation (修養, xiuyang). Contributions to the anthropology of ethics have recently drawn sharp distinctions between ordered, systematic ethics associated especially with religious traditions, and the compromise and accommodation that result from the exigencies of everyday life. This retreat, we argue, shows instead that the experience of ethical shortcoming can be a positive instrument and aspect of religious striving. While much debate in the anthropology of ethics assumes on all sides an a priori conceptual framework that opposes ‘ordinary’ or ‘everyday’ exigency to ordered transcendence, exigency and order in the Fo Guang Shan Retreat are instead mutually constitutive and dynamically related. And failing and being corrected are not imperfections in, but central and indeed ritually scripted elements of its ethical pedagogy.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.14506/ca34.3.02
Uncontrolled keywords: Ethics, self-cultivation, virtue, pedagogy, character, Buddhism, Taiwan, Fo Guang Shan
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BQ Buddhism
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Depositing User: Jonathan Mair
Date Deposited: 07 Mar 2019 10:48 UTC
Last Modified: 04 Jul 2023 12:57 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

  • Depositors only (login required):

Total unique views for this document in KAR since July 2020. For more details click on the image.