The Southern Tang
Chapter 4 discusses how the descendants of Yicun and Shibei rose to become the preeminent clerics of the Southern Tang. As clerics from Min assumed control of well-established monastic institutions with large resident populations, rather than transform the character of the region’s normative Buddhist cultures, they embraced and embodied it. The activities of these monks in the capital of the Southern Tang, particularly those gathered around the eminent cleric Fayan Wenyi, suggest that they were able to differentiate themselves from other monks by means of both their distinguished pedigree and their ecumenical approach to teaching and practice. As abbots of major monasteries and advisors to the ruler and his court, these monks promoted a range of regional Buddhist traditions while fulfilling the responsibilities of court clerics. Their teachings thus took on a catholic, literary, and conservative quality that was well suited to the urbane audiences of the capital.
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