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Representations of Animals inContemporary Chinese Essays [复制链接]

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只看楼主 倒序阅读 使用道具 楼主  发表于: 2014-03-14
I. Introduction
ZhangDan, vice chairman of the China Small Animal Protection Association and editorof Animal Essays, has loved animals  for as long as she can remember. In fact, she once broke up with a boyfriend after he refused to help her rescue a trapped cat. “One time we were going for a walk past a construction site” she remembers (Skype interview).[1]“The place was a mess because they were building houses, and I heard a cat crying.” The sound was coming from inside a covered sewage pipe. Her boyfriend urged her to forget about the cat: “He told me that it was just a stray, and that I shouldn’t worry about it, so I said to him ‘Okay then, you can keep walking by yourself, I’m going to go find and rescue it.’” She laughs as she tells me that she dumped the boyfriend shortly thereafter. “I didn’t know at the time that my life’s mission would be to help animals, but when I came across a situation like that, I absolutely couldn’t just stand by.” This tenacious, unwavering compassion for other creatures, even in the face of rapid development and cold-blooded  capitalism, has defined Zhang Dan’s career as she works to establish an animal rights movement in China.
       Zhang Dan’s book 动物记 (Animal Essays)  is a collectionof essays and a celebration of her cause.  The book brings together modern and contemporary writers, novelists, philosophers and environmentalists,  all of whom care deeply about the diversity of life on earth.  The contributing author scome from all corners of China, as well as from England and the United States,and the book features an introduction written by the internationally renowned Taiwanese Buddhist monk Grand Master Xing Yun (discussed in Chapter III. of this thesis). Scattered throughout the book and unifying the various essays are ink paintings by the twentieth century artist and writer Feng Zikai, who remains widely celebrated throughout China for his Buddhist ideas and radical animal rights activism during the Cultural Revolution  (see Chapter II. of this thesis for a discussion of Feng and his connection to animal rights). Ultimately, Animal Essays representsa slowly emerging consciousness in China of the complex relationships between animals and human beings. It forces its readers to confront preconceived notions about animals, and to  respect every animal’s  inherent right to exist.
       Perhaps the biggest ally of China’s animal rights movement is the Buddhist religion.  Practiced in various forms and to various extents by over 100 million people across China (MacLeod),  Buddhism preaches the interconnectedness of all life on earth.  As Zhang Dan explained,“Buddhism’s primary commandment is to reduce killing…so it is one and the same with the ideas of animal protection.”  In all forms of Buddhism, the physical realm exists in samsara, the cycle of birth and death. Every action has a reaction, and on the cosmic scale it is this system of cause and effect—因果关系 or karma—that determines the birth and rebirth of all life on earth. In Buddhist thought, every living creature is connected by this shared experience of existence in samsara.  Humans and animalsare further connected by reincarnation,  and the idea that an animal in a previous lifetime may have been one’s friend or even one’s parent or child. In Mahayana Buddhism, the dominant form of Buddhism throughout most of China, this interconnectedness of all beings goes even deeper.  As Grand Master Xing  Yunexplained  in his introduction to  Animal Essays ,一切众生皆有佛性”: All beings have Buddha Nature.  In Mahayana Buddhism, every living thing carries the innate potential,  called“Buddha Nature,” to achieve enlightenment and become a Buddha or a Bodhisattva(Xing Yun 8).  Not only are all creatures connected by reincarnation, but they also are also identically capable of completing the Buddhist path.  Throughouther interview, Zhang Dan stressed that all creatures, including humans, are 平等的 (equal). The boundaries we draw between humans and animals, and among species of animal, are arbitrary—especially within the Buddhist worldview of reincarnation.  It would be an illusion to consider the human experience to be fundamentally different from the experienceof  any other species,  and Zhang thus believes that  humans and animals are equally  entitled to compassion and nonviolence. Buddhists argue that the principles of animal protection have existed in Chinese Buddhism for  centuries, in the form of releasing animals, abstaining from meat consumption, and preaching compassion for all living things. Despite this, the animal rights movement in China is still relatively recent,  gaining momentum among a minority of Chinese only in recent decades.  Critical animal theory inliterature and philosophy, meanwhile, remains quite obscure and understudied. Perhaps the only comprehensive book on animal discourse in China is 中国当代文学:动物叙事研究 (The Discourse of Animals in Modern and Contemporary Chinese Literature) by 唐克龙 (Tang Kelong),  published in2009.  Tang Kelong relies extensively on Western history and philosophy in his analyses of animal literature in China. Many environmental and animal rights leaders in China are similarly well versed in Western literature on these subjects. It is therefore necessary to begin with a brief introduction to the historical development of animal discourse and philosophy in the West.
InEurope, most discussions of the relationship between humans and animals in the modern era began with the Bible, specifically the Creation when God proclaimed that human beings “have dominion over the fish of the sea,and over the birds of the heavens, and over every living thing that moveth uponthe earth” (Genesis 1:28).Support for such strict domination of animals,whereby human beings are free  to exploit animals for their own needs, has continued among conservative Christian thinkers until the present day. A strictly hierarchical view of animals was proposed by René Descartes(1596-1650), a French philosopher during the Scientific Revolution in Europe. Descartes argued that animals are nothing  more than complex machines,  whose apparent expressions of fear or pain are simply automatic responses,  detached completely from any rational thought process (Garrard 148).  In the eighteen thcentury, criticism of Descartes abounded in Europe. The German philosopher Emmanuel Kant 1724-1804),  while still upholding the belief that animals are not moral beings, nevertheless advocated human kindness towards animals as a way for human beings to uphold their own humanity.  He argued that needlessly killing an animal is no injustice to the animal itself,  since it has nomorality or rational awareness, but for the person, this act would be “inhuman and damages in himself that humanity which it is his duty to show towards mankind” (Gruen).
Even more influential in  modernanimal rights  was the English philosopher Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), who opposed both Descartes and Kant with his Utilitarian view that the ability to suffer, not the power of reason, entitles a being to moral consideration (Garrard 146).  Since animals are capable of feeling pain  and distress, to abuse them while condemning the abuse of human beings is a form of prejudice no different than human slavery.  Bentham argued that if we judged a living being by reason alone, then fully grown animals like dogs and horses should be more entitled to protection of rights than human babies, say, or adult humans with severe cognitive disabilities (Garrard 147).Logically, then, animals must be treated with the same moral consideration as human beings. Perhaps this emphasis on suffering, the defining feature of life on earth in Buddhism, has helped Chinese Buddhists assimilate Western philosophies of animal rights.
In the nineteenth century, German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer was highly influential in bringing the Eastern ideas of Hinduism and Buddhism to Europe (Singer 218).  Citing the respect for life inherent to these philosophies, he continued to argue against the Kantian idea that cruelty towards animals is wrong only insofar as it damages our own human morality. Another nineteenth century figure crucial to the development of the modern animal rights movement was Charles Darwin (1809-1882). Darwin’s heory of evolution radically suggested that human beings are descended from other animals, thus supporting Bentham’s proposal that humans and animals are much more difficult to distinguish than the Bible has led us to believe.Chronologically speaking, Feng Zikai was born shortly after the death of Charles Darwin.
In the twentieth century, Australian animal rights activist Peter Singer relied heavily on Bentham’s Utilitarian philosophies in his 1975 watershed book Animal Liberation. Tang Kelong cites a 1994 Chinese edition of this book in The Discourse of Animals in Modern and Contemporary Chinese Literature.  Singer coined the term “speciesism” to describe Bentham’s theory of animal cruelty as a form of prejudice no different from sexism or racism. Singer also supported strict vegetarianism, and he accused both Bentham and Schopenhauer of hypocrisy in their justification of human meat consumption, while advocating for animal rights in the very next sentence. The publication of Animal Liberation launched a worldwide scholarly interest in animal welfare, and the book remains central to animal welfare movements today. Tom Regan was deeply influenced by Peter Singer, publishing The Case for Animal Rights in 1983 (Tang Kelong cites a 1999 Chinese edition). This book strongly advocates vegetarianism, arguing for the inherent value of all life. All animals are “subjects-of-a-life,” argues Regan,whereby a creature is an individual with a sense of perception and identity,among other criteria (Regan 264). Also influenced by Peter Singer was Zhang Dan, editor of Animal Essays, who cites a lecture by Peter Singer as the catalyst of her own activism, noting that she became a vegetarian shortly after hearing him speak (Skype interview).
Developing parallel to the animal welfare movement in the West was the field of environmental ethics. One of the earliest proponents of environmental ethics was the American writer and ecologist Aldo Leopold (1887-1948).  His book A Sand County Almanac was published posthumously in 1949, and published first in Mainland China in 1996 (Tang Kelong cites a 1997 edition). This book outlines a “land ethic,” in which human beings must maintain a responsible coexistence with the land, water, plants and animals around them.Leopold criticized the notion that the natural world must have economic value before it is worthy of preservation; instead, he asserted that nature is inherently valuable, thus effectively expanding Regan’s “subject-of-a-life”  theory to encompass not only animals, but plants, land, and water as well. Leopold’s work, along with Thoreau’s Walden(1854) and Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring(1962),  paved the way for the environmental movement in the United States andworldwide. These works have also been very popular in China, especially sincethe 1980s; Walden was first translated and published in China in 1949, and Silent Spring in 1979.
Environmental ethics, such as those advocated by Leopold, differ in a crucial way from animal liberation asadvocated by Singer.  Animal liberationists place a great emphasis on the welfare of individual animals; environmentalists, meanwhile, tend to look a tentire populations and natural systems as a whole, accepting that the sufferingof a few individual organisms may be necessary to the health of the ecosystem. This ethical difference can have real-world consequences. Animal liberationists usually oppose hunting, for example, since this necessitates the death of an animal. Environmentalists, meanwhile, will advocate hunting if it prevents aspecies from overpopulation, thereby preventing habitat degradation and other negative repercussions throughout the ecosystem (Garrard 149). Invasive species present a similar problem: animal rights activists oppose the destruction of any living creature, invasive or otherwise, while environmentalists will generally support the eradication of an invasive species if its absence would benefit the native ecosystem as a whole.
When animals appear in literature,their representations tend to reflect the philosophical beliefs of the author,whether these are environmental, Christian fundamentalist, or anything in between. Greg Garrard offers a typological vocabulary to discuss there presentations of animals in literature in Ecocriticism.He provides a schematic explanation of this typology, beginning with a distinction between accepting animals as fundamentally like or unlike humans. Assuming a likeness between humans and animals, animals might be represented in human terms (anthropomorphism), or humans might be represented in animal terms(zoomorphism).  Each of these may be either crude or critical in their representations. If one assumes a fundamental unlikeness between humans and animals, the animals might be represented as inferior—mechanomorphism, the position of Descartes—or as superior—a rare occurrence in literature, often labeled allomorphism or therio-primitivism (Garrard 154).  
Many of the essays analyzed in this thesis, particularly those written from a Buddhist perspective, incorporate anthropomorphic representations of animals. Buddhism takes for granted the fundamental interconnectedness and similarity between humans and animals. What Western critics might consider anthropomorphism, then, would not be considered such to a Buddhist. Rather, because all sentient beings have karma and are united in the world known as samsara, it is accepted that animals would exhibit characteristics and capabilities similar to those of human beings. Except for physical body and circumstance of karmic birth, there is nothing fundamentally different between animals and humans in Buddhist thought.
China lacks the deeply entrenched Christian biblical philosophy that has shaped the West throughout modern history; until very recently, European philosophies and ideologies were rare in China. Indeed, the Western environmental and animal rights movements are very modern ideas, having only gained traction in China during the latter part ofthe twentieth century.[2] At the same time, indigenous Chinese traditions and beliefs have also had a tremendous influence on how animals are treated and discussed by literature and society. In addition to Buddhism, Chinese culture represents a complex medley of Confucianism, Daoism,[3] folk beliefs, Communism,and most recently, secular capitalism. Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism are known in China as the “Three Religions,” and they all emphasize to various extents a harmonious and balanced universe. In Daoism and Buddhism, this includes the interconnectedness of physical phenomena, including humans and animals; in Confucian philosophy, animals were largely irrelevant. Communism,meanwhile, emphasizes socioeconomic reform and human production capacity, while capitalism emphasizes economic profit; both ideologies treat animals as irrelevant and environmental consequences as insignificant externalities.[4] Nevertheless,undercurrents of the Three Religions persist in modern Chinese culture and impact the ways in which people perceive animals, nature, and the ideal role ofhuman beings. Buddhism especially is a prominent and growing religion.Confucianism and Daoism, meanwhile, tend to exist as implicit cultural assumptions, rather than explicit religious practices. Still, perceptions of animals within these two philosophies are still important to consider, and shall be briefly discussed below.
Confucianismas it is generally defined began during the Classical era (first millennium BCE) and remained prominent throughout the Han and Tang dynasties, developinginto Neo-Confucianism between the tenth and twelfth centuries and continuing until the present day. To Confucian philosophers, human beings form one component of a carefully structured and highly interconnected universe. Animals occupy a place within this universe as well, but discussion among the Classical Confucian philosophers focused almost exclusively on the triad formed between Heaven, Earth and Human (Tucker and Berthrong xxxviii).[5]Nevertheless, literal and symbolic animals still played an important role in Confucian culture. The philosopher Xunzi (300-237 BCE) succinctly stated the delineations among in animate objects, plants, animals, and humans in his famous“Ladder of Souls;”
Water and Fire have qi but do not containlife.  Herbs and trees contain life but have no knowledge, birds and beasts haveknowledge but no righteousness.  Man has qi,contains life, has knowledge, and also has righteousness, therefore he is themost valuable being for the universe (Sterckx 19).

Unsurprising given the rigidity of Xunzi’s hierarchy, Confucian portrayals of animals were frequently likened to laziness, immorality and other negative human traits; Mencius argued, for example, that living an idle life without education is equivalent to living like an animal (Sterckx 19). At the same time, animals were also used as positive symbols. In two examples of physiognomy, whereby the behavior of an animal is correlated with qualities valued by human society,cranes were representative of freedom, while roosters were admired for their punctuality (Sterckx 20). Qualities of humans and animals were also combined into mythical animals such as the phoenix, an avian embodiment of the Confucian values of benevolence and righteousness (Ibid), as well as a popular symbol of royalty and femininity in modern China. It is important to note that the term“Confucianism” encompasses a wide range of texts, and formal philosophies, as well as folk beliefs and practices. Most of what survives today of Classical Confucianism are the formal written works of scholars, members of a literaryelite who likely had little access to or interest in folk beliefs. Aspects of Confucianism that suggest the interconnectedness of humans and nature, such asthe phrase 天人合一(heaven and humans as one), most likely had little effect on the way ordinary people perceived animals. The character , today frequently associated with 自然 (nature), carried no such connotations in Confucian society; instead it referred to the proper ethics of Heaven as distinct from human society (Weller 22). Even the word 自然 carried the original meaning of “spontaneously” (as in the phrase 自然而然), but was reappropriated in the late nineteenth century to translate the word “nature” in Western philosophy and social science (Weller 21).
       Adding another perspective to the portrayals of animals in ancient China was Daoism, a philosophy expounded primarily by Laozi (6th century BCE) and Zhuang Zhou (more commonly known as Zhuangzi, 4th century BCE). Laozi’s work Dao De Jing makes little if any reference to animals, but Zhuangzi frequently mentioned animals as embodiments of the natural Way. Criticizing the human tendency to alter nature through the domestication of animals, Zhuangzi stated: “Horses and oxen have four feet—this is what I mean by the celestial. Putting a halter on the horse’s head, piercing the ox’s nose—this is what I mean by the human” (Komjathy).Zhuangzi asserted that human beings could learn something about the true Way by following the example of animals, such as learning to be carefree from watchingbirds, or learning joy from watching fish (Ibid). Above all, Classical Daoism stressed the interconnectedness of all physical phenomena, united by the Way.In one of his most famous passages, Zhuangzi wrote that he was pleasantly dreaming he was a butterfly. When he awoke as a human being, he no longer knew which was the true reality: the man dreaming about being a butterfly, or the butterfly dreaming about being a man. Here, the distinction between animal and human is blurred to the point of being meaningless, suggesting the ultimate interconnectedness of all life, all consciousness, and all conceivablerealities.
       Although explicitly Confucian or Daoist practitioners do exist, including a network of Daoist temples and even monasteries, both traditions persist today primarily as implicit mindsets within Han Chinese culture. This is evident in the Chinese preoccupation with コヘ (harmony), a Confucian and Daoist principlethat pervades Chinese medicine, arts, and politics. China’s high-speed trains are even marked コヘコナ, meaning“harmony.” The interconnectedness and irrelevance of reality exemplified by Zhuangzi has also contributed to the development of modern Chinese Buddhism, especially esoteric traditions like Chan (called Zen in Japanese). With regard to animals, much of Confucian animal symbolism survives today, including the Chinese Zodiac, as well as the prevalence of dragons, phoenixes, and other mythical creatures in popularculture. Daoist reverence of nature and criticism of human interference with natural processes is reflected in the Buddhist principle of nonviolence.






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Despite these cultural influences, there is no doubt that Buddhism’s influence on animal rights and animal literature is much greater than that of either Confucianism or Daoism. This is largely because Buddhist notions of nonviolence have given rise to several practices that actively work to protect animals. Chief among these is vegetarianism, a practice unique to Buddhism since neither Confucianism nor Daoism explicitly condemn the slaughter of animals for food or ritual sacrifice (Komjathy). Even among Buddhists, however, strict vegetarianism is still extremely rare in Mainland China. Zhang Dan, a self-proclaimed vegan, is a member of this tiny minority. She notes that acceptance of vegetarianism is always a long and gradual process, especially in a place like China where meat is ubiquitous, cheap, and a highly valued component of the average diet.
Still, Zhang Dan is pleased to find that as awareness of animal rights grows, many people—including but not limited to Buddhists—are finding it difficult to justify why some animals are acceptable to eat while others, such as companion animals, are not. An argument common among vegetarians is the hypocrisy shown by people who eat animals like cows and pigs, while abstaining from the meat of dogs, cats, rodents, or other less-traditional examples. Zhang Dan notes with frustration the elaborate irrational arguments people make to differentiate edible animals from nonedible, explaining that “This is not a problem for me because I don’t eat any of them” (Skype interview).  Zhang Dan herself followed a gradual path toward her current veganism. She first stopped eating most meat after hearing a lecture by Peter Singer, the Australian animal rights activist and author of Animal Liberation. Many years later, she cut fish out of her diet after discussing Buddhist practices with a devout Tibetan girl in Jiuzhaigou, Sichuan Province. The woman explained a local belief that 鱼万蛙千(“Fish have ten thousand lives and frogs have one thousand”), which means that the karmic weight of killing and eating fish and frogs is very heavy (Ibid). Although vegetarians like Zhang Dan and the Tibetan girl remain a tiny minority in China, even among devout Buddhists, Zhang Dan expressed confidence that vegetarianism would continue to grow in popularity: “[Peter Singer] said that when he started to write his book…most people [in Australia] were not vegetarian, including even the animal activists... but today most Western activists are becoming vegetarian. Our situation in China is therefore not too worrisome, because it will follow a gradual process…one step at a time” (Ibid).
Besides vegetarianism, Buddhist ideologies have also created the practice of 放生(animal release), which rescues captive animals from slaughter by setting them loose. The tradition of releasing animals dates back to the Chinese Pure Land sutras, which were written by the Sixth Patriarch Yanshou in 904-975 CE. These sutras cite earlier Buddhist scripture, including the Brahma Net Sutra, which asserted for the first time that saving animals from slaughter and releasing them into the wild is an act of compassion deserving of karmic merit (Shiu and Stokes 182). Animal release became an extremely popular folk tradition during the Sui and Tang Dynasties, and has continued until today as an easy way for Buddhists to acquire merit (Skype interview).Perhaps not surprisingly, this self-seeking motivation has given rise to a number of misguided attempts to “save” animals, including the release of thousands of non-native snakes into a Hebei village this summer (Wang). Zhang Dan expressed a firm disapproval of such activities:  “Lots of people are confused about the merits of animal release…Take for instance a person who slaughters pigs for a living. He might know that this is bad, so he makes money and has other people go out and release animals, thinking that this will make him free of sin…he should stop altogether, put down the butcher knife, and go repent by seeking a line of work that protects animals instead.” Many of the writers in Animal Essays reiterated that animal release must be practiced in accordance with modern science, and even more importantly, in good conscience. As Zhang Dan said in her interview, “Animal release in and of itself is a wonderful practice…the biggest problems are the self-proclaimed Buddhists who have never seriously studied the sutras.” From an environmental perspective, animal release is dangerous because it introduces a potentially invasive species into a foreign ecosystem. If the released animal does not prove invasive, there is a strong chance that it will be ill-adapted to the new habitat and simply die—in which case its release should be condemned by advocates of animal rights as well!
       Despite the strong overlap between the Buddhism and the animal rights movements in China, Zhang Dan stressed in her interview that Animal Essays is not intended to be a Buddhist collection, nor is one movement necessary for understanding the other. In an email, she explained her standards when choosing which essays to include in the collection: “The works included in this book all express the theme that animals are precious living beings, perceptive and significant and able to feel joy, pain and fear” (Email interview). Zhang Dan expressed her hope that the collection might cause readers to “feel their souls shaken” and “refine their attitudes toward life, both human and nonhuman: their understanding, respect, compassion, goodwill, thankfulness, and reverence.” Her choice to include non-Buddhist and/or non-vegetarian writers like Liu Liangcheng was simply because the works of such authors, while lacking in sentimentality and devoid of overt didacticism, still express a fundamental respect for nonhuman life.  
In her effort to appeal to non-Buddhists, Zhang Dan also intersperses the essays with quotes from philosophers and writers as diverse as Nietzsche, George Bernard Shaw, Gandhi, Leonardo Da Vinci, and numerous Chinese poets and thinkers from throughout history.  Among these is the Ming Dynasty philosopher Wang Yangming, whose quote reads: 仁者以天地万物为一体(Zhang Dan 120)—“The compassionate regard everything on earth and in heaven as one.” Wang Yangming was a neo-Confucian, not a Buddhist; the “one” he referred to was the single principle guiding the structural order of the Confucian universe (Columbia University). It did not refer to Buddha Nature or any other Buddhist concept. Still, the above quote taken out of context might fit well within either tradition, suggesting an underlying equality between humans and nonhuman animals that transcends any single ideology. In this way, Animal Essays avoids alienating any potential readers among the largely secular Chinese population.
       To prove her point, Zhang Dan noted that most of the people reading and discussing Animal Essays do not consider themselves to be Buddhists. “They are mostly just ordinary people” (Skype interview). On the website of the popular online bookstore “Dangdang Wang,” most readers’ comments did not mention religion in any way, which may indicate the beliefs of the commenters, but may also be a result of internet censorship. Typical comments included: “Reading such an informative book will put you in a happy mood if you’re under pressure at work,” or “My daughter likes all animals, and thinks humans are too cruel” (Dangdang Wang). One online reviewer on Life Weekly by the name of Tang Chenghua, expressed praise for the book but criticism for the animal rights movement, stating that “My opinions diverge from those of animal rights activists; for example, violating property rights in the name of rescuing cats and dogs is absolutely not acceptable” (Tang Chenghua).
       The authors who contributed to Animal essays were influenced by China’s complex and rapidly changing fusion of Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism, communism, capitalism, secularism, and environmentalism. Due to the prominence of Buddhism in China, as well as the close overlap between Buddhist philosophy and the central tenets of animal activism, Buddhist concepts and language play a large role throughout the book. But ultimately, each author is simply struggling through this sea of ideologies and terminologies to find an animal discourse that his or her own. Each author is searching for the language to describe a highly personal and unique relationship with animals. Grand Master Xing Yun found common ground between modern science and his own spirituality. Feng Zikai was motivated by the simple joy of animals and children, even in the face of a terrifying and rapidly changing world. Liu Liangcheng, resisting the language of any identifiable ideology, looks into the eyes of a donkey and tries to capture its experience in language.  Zhang Dan was inspired by the pitiful cries of a trapped stray cat. Human beings have been living closely with animals since the birth of our species; we protect each other, feed each other, work for each other, and comfort each other. Regardless of religious belief, scientific expertise, or philosophical proficiency, animals are critical to the survival of the human race. Our lives are utterly interdependent, and yet in the modern world, fewer and fewer people are forced to confront this reality everyday. Around the world, new generations of urban and affluent people have never looked a donkey in the eye. They have never read the twitching ear-language of a horse, or felt the warmth of a fresh-laid egg. If nothing else, Animal Essays forces us to stop and look—really look—at these mysterious beings, incomprehensible and yet so reminiscent of ourselves.

















II. Feng Zikai: Animals in a Changing China
Feng Zikai (1898-1975) was an important artist, illustrator, essayist, translator, and Buddhist thinker of modern China. His paintings of animals are thought provoking in their portrayals of Buddhist themes, especially nonviolence and interconnectedness. Zhang Dan uses his art throughout Animal Essays as a way to compliment the various essays in the collection and link them together into a cohesive whole. She also includes his short essay ー「゚ä(“Kitty”). Feng explores the complex relationship between humans and animals through both his writing and his art. His work plays with the definitions of concepts like ノニ (good) and ネヒオタヨ义÷(humanitarianism), implicitly expanding the well known terms to include nonviolence towards animals. Feng’s work represents some of the first criticism of the relationship between humans and animals in modern China, and he forced his audience to respect the lives of animals, and to reexamine the role of animals in human society. Feng remains extremely popular today both in China and around the world; the house in Shanghai where he lived for part of his life is now a tourist attraction, and Google even created a homepage in his signature artistic style to celebrate his 114th birthday on November 9, 2012.[6]
In the biography An Artistic Exile: The Life of Feng Zikai (1898-1975), Geremie R. Barmé describes in great detail Feng Zikai’s artistic development over the course of his life, paying specific attention to the numerous secular and Buddhist teachers who influenced his personal philosophies. Barmé’s book is the source of much of the biographical information on Feng recounted in the following.
Born in 1898 in the town of Shimenwan in northeast Zhejiang Province, Feng Zikai studied in Hangzhou in his youth under the famous artist and Buddhist monk Dharma Master Hongyi[7] (born Li Shutong, 1880-1942).  Feng initially enrolled in teaching college, while studying painting on the side. As a young student, he deeply admired the crisp realism of Western-style painting. As he grew older, however, Hongyi imparted to his student that “a strong bond existed between the moral and aesthetic worlds of the artist” (Barmé 43), and Feng became gradually more enamored by Eastern-style ink painting. After graduating from college in Hangzhou in 1919, Feng moved to Shanghai to pursue art as his career. In 1921, Feng spent a year studying abroad in Japan. While there, he became captivated by the expressive but understated ink paintings of Japanese artist Yumeji Takehisa. Yumeji’s cartoonish paintings, each accompanied by a powerful and poetic title, belonged to the genre known as ツサュ(manhua, from Japanese “manga”).






Yumeiji Takehisa, 1910. Source: http://ptutoy.over-blog.net/6-categorie-11301529.html
Instantly inspired, Feng began to adopt the style as his own, and he is credited today by the artistic community for bringing manhua to China. Feng was a great lover of poetry, and in his early manhua he reinterpreted classical themes and “translated” well-known poems into visual images. In one early example from 1925, he inscribed a painting with a line by the Song poet An Jidao: ム归猜ヒホエ归(The swallows return but not he).





The image depicts the back of a woman leaning on a balcony, while two silhouetted birds fly by above her head. Feng connects the ancient poem to his own society by including a modern-looking balcony railing (Barmé 102), and he emphasizes the universality of longing by avoiding the woman’s facial features. The woman might be a Song Dynasty mother whose son has left home to seek an administrative position in the capital. She might just as well be a twentieth-century wife whose husband has left home to join the Nationalist Army. In this way, Feng Zikai explored what he called “the literary aspect of art” (Barmé 100), reinterpreting written words as powerful yet accessible visual representations.
As the artist matured, he became increasingly nostalgic for what he believed to be the uncomplicated joy and creativity of children. Feng’s fascination with youth was deeply connected to an admiration of Buddhist philosophy:  Feng observed that his young son Zhanzhan (born in 1924)reacted to all new experiences with joy.  In1926, the Feng family was forced to leave their home during the Nationalist government’s Northern Expedition. While the experience of being a refugee was stressful and unhappy for Feng Zikai, Zhanzhan was overjoyed because they “got to ride in a car and see steamboats” (Barmé 131). Unaware of the judgments imposed by adult society, the child was free to interpret the world as nothing more than a game. In Buddhist teaching, suffering is caused by desire and the objects of desire are only illusions. Adult refugees may be said to suffer because of the desire for a stable home, steady income, and other worldly goods unavailable to them; children in the same situation do not desire these things, and therefore they do not suffer. Feng Zikai saw that children are thus able to experience truth, “cutting asunder the web of cause and effect that ensnares everything in the world” (Barmé 131). This “web” refers to the physical phenomena of the world known as samsara; if only children were able to maintain their simple wisdom, without becoming distracted by desires and illusions as they grew up, then they might be able to escape samsara upon death. Feng Zikai believed that adults should learn to access the unprejudiced joy of children, and he thus strove himself to maintain a “childlike heart” in his art throughout his career (Barmé 139).
Feng’s admiration of Buddhist philosophies such as these continued to develop as his art developed, and in 1927, he officially converted to Buddhism at the age of 30. He preferred Buddhist ideas to Buddhist religious rituals such as visiting famous temples to pray—he saw the participants in these activities as mindless and selfish and acting as if they were “bartering with the Buddha” (Barmé 181). Instead, Feng emphasized the central Buddhist idea of interconnectedness among all sentient beings. Drawing great inspiration from the Brahma Net Sutra, which states that eating meat “cuts off great compassion, kindness, and the seed of the Buddha-nature” (Shakbar.Org). Feng became a strict vegetarian and practiced non-violence toward all living things, including insects (Barmé 185).
In 1937, Feng’s home in Shimenwan was destroyed during the Sino-Japanese war, and he was forced to flee with his family to Guilin, and then to Chongqing. As conflict between the Kuomintang and Communist Party of China continued spread across and country, Feng’s work increasingly attracted criticism from the CPC for its pacifist themes. Nonviolence and interconnectedness directly contradict the central Maoist concept of class struggle, whereby the agrarian peasant majority must constantly question their status and revolt against the ruling classes. To be pacifist is to accept the status quo, which is unacceptable to communists, and was deemed subversive by the Party. Feng Zikai’s artistic output subsequently decreased. During the Cultural Revolution in 1962, he was denounced and subjected to public humiliation. He died of cancer in 1975, just before the end of the insanity of the Cultural Revolution. Nevertheless, Feng continued to paint and publish underground throughout his tumultuous later years, never forgetting his lifelong sources of inspiration: compassion for all living things, youthful imagination, poetry, and the pursuit of “the flavor of life” (ネ、ホカquwei).
Perhaps Feng’s greatest artistic achievement was the six-volume collection of manhua paintings titled Paintings for the Protection of Life (护ノ忞ュシッ). Begun in 1928 shortly after the artist’s conversion to Buddhism, the work was a collaboration with Feng’s lifelong artistic and spiritual mentor, Dharma Master Hongyi. Hongyi contributed prose and poems in his signature calligraphy to accompany Feng Zikai’s manhua paintings in the first two volumes. After Hongyi’s death in 1942, Feng dedicated the third volume to his memory, and vowed to complete six volumes of paintings by Hongyi’s 100th birthday in 1979. With the moral, spiritual, and financial support of Hongyi’s friend Guangqia, Feng completed all six volumes in secret by 1971, ahead of schedule due to the pressure of the Cultural Revolution. The complete work was smuggled into Singapore and published in 1973. Feng Zikai’s paintings, as well as the accompanying writing by Hongyi, all advocate nonviolence, vegetarianism, and the oneness of all beings.
One beautiful and simple painting from Paintings for the Protection of Life shows a person milking a cow, and bears the inscription: ウヤオトハヌイン」ャ挤オトハヌネé (“What it eats is grass, what we get is milk”). The anonymous human figure is proportionally small against the broad flank of the ink-outlined cow. In contrast to the faceless person, the cow glances backward with an expressive face. Her eye, almond-shaped and white with a dark pupil at the center, more closely resembles a human eye than the dark, round eyes of actual cows. Suggestions of grass around both figures ground the composition and support the inscription, emphasizing the interconnectedness of the plant world, the animal world, and the human world: grass provides nourishment to the cow, and the cow provides nourishment to us. This cycle of nutrients, reinforced by the overlapping composition of plant, animal and human, reflects the cyclical nature of karma. Feng thus takes an abstract and esoteric concept—cosmic interconnectedness—and makes it relatable, physical, and simple to comprehend. Not only are all beings interconnected by birth and rebirth in samsara, but our physical bodies are interconnected as well.
Not all of Feng’s animal paintings depict tranquil relations with humans. Many, in fact, are explicitly and dramatically critical of cruelty to animals by showing us that cruelty. One such painting depicts two airborne birds, perhaps doves, one of which has been pierced by an arrow. The inscription reads: 诀别ヨョメô (“The sound of Farewell”).




Compositionally, the painting echoes classical Chinese “Bird-and-flower” paintings, which frequently depict a pair of birds on a blank or simple background. The familiar composition is juxtaposed, however, with the violent appearance of a fatal arrow. As in traditional “Bird-and-flower” paintings, humans are entirely absent from this work. This effectively removes all indication of why the bird has been shot; there are no human figures waiting for their dinner to fall out of the sky. The painting focuses purely on the animals, highlighting that while humans might be enjoying a hunting trip, from the birds’ perspective this is nothing but a random and senseless act of cruelty. Depicted mid-flight, the birds are full of motion; it is easy to imagine the wounded bird tumbling and falling, while the other bird is left suspended in midair, watching helplessly. Feng gives the birds only the loosest suggestions of facial features; nevertheless, the round eyes and open beaks convey recognizable expressions of shock. This suggests that the birds are sentient beings capable of feeling horror and loss—capable of saying farewell. Such a suggestion may well be interpreted as anthropomorphism. And yet within the context of Buddhist philosophy, anthropomorphism is nothing more than an expression of the truth that all living creatures are essentially one. Birds may be incapable of expressing themselves in a way recognizable to human beings, but to a Buddhist, the life of the bird is equally complex and valid as that of any human. By portraying his birds as sentient beings with anthropomorphized emotional reactions, Feng makes the concept of Buddhist interconnectedness much more accessible and understandable to viewers.
Besides showing moments of tranquility and moments of violence, Feng’s paintings also depict scenes of tension and potential violence between humans and animals. One such painting portrays a small child protecting a fluttering chicken, while a faceless adult male figure advances with a knife. The inscription reads: ネヒヨョウャミヤアセノニ (“People are born good”). By showing us in this painting what he did not in “The sound of Farewell”—people—Feng faces the reality of animal slaughter head on: we kill to eat. The knife-wielding man in this painting is not a cold-blooded killer; he is dressed in a butcher’s apron, hoping only to feed his family. The child, however, overlooks this common-sense rationale for killing, and instead relies on an innate respect for life in defending the tiny chicken. This reflects Feng’s deeply held belief that a “childlike heart” is essential to being a good person:  “Only children are truly innocent and romantic; they are fully developed; only they are real people” (Barmé 138).  The belief that rescuing an animal constitutes a “good” nature was not widespread then (nor is it now), and its depiction in this painting could thus be considered radical. The painting’s inscription, taken from a popular children’s primer called Three-Character Classic, would have been familiar to readers. The character ノニ (“good”), is associated in traditional Chinese texts with Confucian values such as benevolence and virtue (Baidu). By re-appropriating the character to encompass nonviolence towards animals, Feng asserts that killing animals is wrong (the opposite ofノニ), just as we all know that hurting human beings is wrong. Feng further asserts that since a child is demonstrating nonviolence, and since the nature of children is good, then nonviolence toward animals is in fact innate to all people. Violence is learned through exposure to rules and conventions of adult society—traditions like the unnecessary consumption of animal flesh— that go against the child’s instinctive sense of right and wrong. Feng believed that adults could still access this childlike understanding of morality; in order to truly advance society, adults should strive to be “possessed of the qualities of a true person that we find in children” (Barmé 144).
This notion of universal and innate compassion among adults is reflected in another painting from Paintings for the Protection of Life, which depicts a shop where live chickens are tied upside-down, while a customer allows his recently purchased chicken to stand upright on his arm. The caption reads ネヒオタヨ义゚ (“The Humanitarian”). This painting reflects the Buddhist practice of キナノú, or releasing life, whereby compassionate people buy animals sold for slaughter and release them (or in the case of chickens, perhaps simply care for them as pets). As in the previous painting, Feng Zikai appropriates a well-known term and implicitly re-defines it so that it encompasses non-violence toward animals. A “humanitarian,” is typically defined as “commending the value of people, defending the dignity of people, raising the position of people…” (Translated from Baidu). In other words, a humanitarian is one who promotes the wellbeing of humans. In this painting, however, the term is applied to the wellbeing of an animal. Feng Zikai thus references the Buddhist idea of interconnectedness, and asserts that the chicken, like a human being, is a living creature worthy of compassion and protection.
All four of these paintings reflect ideas that remain controversial today, including animal sentience, vegetarianism, and the interconnectedness of all living things. Looking into an animal’s eyes, we can never definitively prove that animals share a similar perception of the world, that they are fundamentally equal to human beings, or that killing them for food is wrong. Even Feng Zikai himself was occasionally flexible on his principles, suggesting he was not entirely convinced of their absolute truth. Despite the clear messages of his paintings, Feng “certainly did not encourage others to give up meat-eating” (Barmé 185). He was “alarmed” (Barmé 185) that increasing numbers of people were forced to stop eating meat due to poverty and a scarce supply, following the drought of 1933-34. Feng revealed further flexibility in his essay “Releasing Life,” in which he tells a story about accompanying a boating trip with a friend and some young children. The boatman caught an enormous fish, and the children all begged for him to throw it back in. The boatman reluctantly complied, but Feng realized that saving the life of the fish was costing this man his income. He reassured the boatman, promising karmic retribution for his good deed, and the boatman’s good humor was restored. Although Feng maintained his devotion to non-killing, he did so without sacrificing human sympathy. He realized that his own principles might apply differently to different people in different circumstances, and that the “truth” of his principles was relative.
Regardless of his personal opinion, Feng’s collection Paintings for the Protection of Life sternly advocated for nonviolence and vegetarianism, on no uncertain terms. It is no wonder then, that Paintings for the Protection of Life was specifically condemned during the Cultural Revolution. In 1966, Feng was warned to stop distributing the work, because it conflicted with official policy to “eradicate the Four Pests” (mosquitoes, flies, rats, and bedbugs). In advocating non-killing, Feng Zikai was accused of trying to “anesthetize the people’s revolutionary will to fight” (Barmé 331). He was publically humiliated in 1968, and like many members of the artistic community, forced to renounce his life’s work. His paintings were denounced in big-character posters plastered on the sides of buildings, he was paraded through the streets with a placard around his neck, and he was forced to participate in street sweeping and other manual labor as punishment. Underlying the frenzied insanity of the Cultural Revolution were the core principles of Marxism, which state that human nature is epitomized by the desire to create and produce beyond what is necessary to meet basic physical needs like hunger, fear etc. (Wilde).  Within the context of the China’s Communist Revolution, any impediments to human productivity—like animal pests—would thus be interpreted as enemies of human nature, and as obstacles to be overcome. Accepting a system of imperfect human production by protecting the lives of animal pests was seen as fundamentally contrary to communism, similar to accepting classism or accepting the economic status quo. Human rights were viewed as “expressions of a bourgeois society that is on the verge of collapse” (Kolakowski 84)—how could such an ideology even conceive of animals having rights? Besides being a time of irrational hysteria, the Cultural Revolution also represented a clash between the harmonious ideals of the old society, and the utopian communist ideals of the new society.
Adding to the controversy surrounding Feng Zikai’s Paintings for the Protection of Life was a simple essay written by Feng a few years earlier, that contributed significantly to the artist’s persecution. The essay “Kitty,” written in 1962  (and translated in Appendix #1 of this thesis), describes the endearing artlessness of the various cats Feng has owned, beginning with his newest white cat named Kitty (ー「゚ä). His cats distract visitors, entertain children who come to the house, and interrupt the formalities exchanged between host and guest, undermining these social niceties that establish boundaries and ultimately bringing people closer together. Why the controversy? Communist Party members interpreted Feng’s descriptions of cats (ティmāo) as an attack on Mao Zedong (テォMáo). Particularly objectionable was the passage in which Feng explains the name of his old cat Uncle Cat: “In my hometown, ‘uncle’ is not necessarily a term of respect. We call ghosts ‘Uncle Ghost,’ and thieves ‘Uncle Thief.’ There is no reason a cat shouldn’t be called ‘Uncle Cat.’” (Feng 187). Most believe today that the accusation against Feng Zikai was unjustified and purposefully misinterpreted for political reasons (Barmé 324). Perhaps the authorities believed his immense popularity among the well-educated community would undermine the revolution; perhaps Feng was merely a victim of the finger-pointing frenzy of the time.  Nevertheless, the essay does implicitly advocate pacifism, portraying the cats as mediators in tense social situations. At one point, when the author describes losing patience with a particularly boring guest, he writes that the cat suddenly leapt up in front of the guest’s face (Feng 187). Instead of becoming angry, the guest is forced to smile and the relationship between host and guest becomes much more comfortable for both parties. Anecdotes such as this suggest that conflict avoidance is desirable at all times, even in tense situations. Such an attitude is directly contrary to communist themes of class struggle and rejection of the societal status quo, and could thus be interpreted as a threat to Maoism.
Accompanying the essay is a simple illustration titled “Kitty,” showing the face of a small cat peeking up from behind the head of an unsuspecting tea-drinker. The man’s face is calm and contented, unperturbed, while the cat appears curious with wide eyes and pricked ears.




As in Feng’s painting of the milking cow discussed above, the animal betrays much more alertness and emotion than the human. This contradicts the expectation that human beings will be portrayed as perceptive and dynamic, while animals are included only as props, serving some purpose such as food, labor or entertainment. Here, the roles are reversed; the human being is simply providing entertainment for the cat, forming with his back  “A mountain slope that would be easy to climb” (Feng 187).  The cat is the active character in this painting. He is recognizably alert and curious, and he thus confronts viewers with the sentience and sensitivity of animals, forcing us to recognize our similarities and interconnectedness.
       Although Chinese culture and society have changed dramatically in the nearly forty years since Feng Zikai’s death, the artist remains extremely popular and well known today. In the laudatory words of Zhang Dan, Feng Zikai’s Paintings for the Protection of Life remains “A precious work within the traditional Chinese culture of protecting life; it is a classic within the treasure house of Chinese and international manhua, an exotic flower of Chinese art history… [it] has influenced several entire generations of Chinese people, and will without a doubt continue to exert a deep and lasting influence” (Email interview).
       And yet to some modern animal rights activists, such as Tang Kelong (author of The Discourse of Animals in Modern and Contemporary Chinese Literature), Feng Zikai’s philosophies are criticized for remaining fundamentally anthropocentric. Rather than demonstrating benevolence toward animals purely in respect for the animals themselves, Tang Kelong interprets Feng Zikai’s animal activism as merely one step along the path towards human self-improvement.  He argues that for Feng, the purpose of protecting animals is in fact “the improvement of humanity and the promotion of peace on earth…[and animal protection] is just a tool for achieving the goal of more wide-spread benevolence” (trans. from Tang 20).  Such criticism is not unfounded; In Animal Essays, Zhang Dan quotes Feng Zikai in an introduction to another essay, expressing a similar sentiment in his own words: ホメ们ヒ�ト」ャニ涫�サハヌヌン兽鱼ウ豬トアセノ惞ィミ。节」ゥ」ャカヌラヤシコオトミト」ィエå) (Zhang Dan 259)—“What we love in fact aren’t the birds, animals, fish and insects themselves (specifically), but our own hearts (generally).” Feng Zikai saw violence towards animals as the first step down a slippery slope that leads to violence towards human beings and the destruction of our humane society. After hearing his daughter tell about a little boy who tortured ants by dousing them with boiling water, Feng lamented, “imagine if such a child were to become a leader; he would doubtless be able to dispatch with people just as thoughtlessly!” (Barmé 189).
Some animal rights activists might see this as a misguided and anthropocentric motivation for practicing nonviolence. Feng Zikai’s position on animal rights as a means to an anthropocentric end reflects the work of German philosopher Emmanuel Kant (1724-1804), who suggested that cruelty towards animals is wrong only insofar as it degrades humanity (Gruen). Since then, numerous Western proponents of animal rights have criticized Kant for ignoring an animal’s inherent right to exist peacefully, regardless of human notions of reason and morality. As English philosopher Jeremy Bentham argued in 1789, violence towards animals and violence towards humans should be treated as equally repugnant behaviors. He asserted that a full-grown dog is far more intelligent and rational than an infant human child, suggesting that “the boundary between human and animal is arbitrary” (Garrard 147). Since both humans and animals are capable of perceiving fear and suffering, cruelty towards either one must carry equal ethical consequences. To believe otherwise can have “no moral justification” (Ibid.). The highly influential 20th century animal rights activists Peter Singer and Tom Regan have similarly argued that Kant’s anthropocentric justification of human rights is a form of prejudice. Tang Kelong, who frequently references Singer and Regan, levels a similar accusation against Feng Zikai.
       Despite the criticism of Feng Zikai’s motivation, the artist has nevertheless contributed to the protection of countless animals, as well as influenced untold numbers of artists, writers, activists, and Buddhists in China and abroad. Feng Zikai lived during a very different China, where pacifism and humanitarianism were at odds with the revolutionary spirit of the times. Many consider his humanitarian and nonviolent ideals to have represented “the first sprouting of true modern ethics” (trans. from Tang 19). His simple yet powerful manhua paintings bring to life core Buddhist and animal protectionist values with a clarity that had never been seen before. Feng Zikai’s entire life and value system were denounced during the Cultural Revolution, but his work has since been rediscovered by activists like Zhang Dan, and revived as a symbol of the movement. Whether depicting violent slaughter, peaceful coexistence, or the innocent curiosity of a family cat, Feng Zikai’s work asserts that animals are fundamentally worthy of our respect. We may never understand how animals truly perceive their worlds, but the simple truth is that we are all alive together. We are all taught from birth that injuring another human being is wrong—why should animals be any different?








III. Grand Master Xing Yun and Humanistic Buddhism

Grand Master Xing Yun wrote an introduction to Animal Essays titled “Insects, Fish, Birds and Beasts all have the Heart[8] of a Buddha.” This cohesive and engaging introductory essay provides a thorough overview of the arguments for animal protection by interweaving Buddhist philosophies with historical context, scientific facts, and personal anecdotes. While this introduction reflects Xing Yun’s own Buddhist beliefs, the inclusiveness and optimism of his arguments appeal to a much wider spectrum of readers as well. In the words of Zhang Dan, Grand Master Xing Yun “uses the perspectives of Buddhism, ecology, biology, the art of literature, and everyday life to demonstrate compelling support for the Buddhist teachings of protecting life and protecting the heart” (Skype interview).  His essay illustrates the involvement of Buddhism in China’s modern animal rights movement, but at the same time emphasizes that the key to living a productive and compassionate life is not adherence to a specific ideology, but rather holding a basic respect for the diversity of life.
Grand Master Xing Yun (also transliterated as Hsing Yun), was born Li Guoshen in Jiangsu Province in 1927. He became a monk at the age of 12, and in 1949 moved to Taiwan to escape the civil war. There he devoted his life to the promotion of Humanistic Buddhism (ネヒ间キフ), and founded the Fo Guang Shan (キ篷ス) International Buddhist Order. Translated as Buddha’s Light International Association (BLIA), the movement is one of the largest Buddhist organizations in the world, with temples and educational programs in the US, Australia, South Africa and many other countries (Buddha’s Light International Association).
Humanistic Buddhism or “Buddhism of the human realm” (a literal translation ofネヒ间キフ) developed in the twentieth century, and has become especially popular in mainland China, Taiwan, and abroad since the 1980s. The Chinese monk Venerable Taixu (1889-1947) is generally credited with beginning the reformation of modern Buddhism. His student Yinshun (1906-2004) continued to promote Taixu’s humanistic ideals, and today Grand Master Xing Yun is the most prominent leader of the movement (Long p. 67). Humanistic Buddhism is grounded in the knowledge that the original Buddha was a human being who lived and died like any other person. The movement therefore seeks spirituality within the real world, fitting Buddhist practice into everyday life and making Buddhism accessible to everybody.
To look at the role of animals within this tradition, it is necessary to go back to the early Chan Buddhist teachings from which Humanistic Buddhism later emerged, and specifically to the Tang Dynasty Chinese monk Linji Yixuan (临济义玄), who died in 866 CE and founded the Linji school of Chan Buddhism (or the Rinzai school of Zen Buddhism, in Japanese). The Chan tradition in China first began when the monk Bodhidharma (ca. 500 CE) transmitted new meditation techniques from India to China, and became known as the first Chinese Patriarch. He was succeeded by his disciple, the Second Patriarch Huike, and this lineage of teachers and disciples has continued all the way to the present, with Grand Master Xing Yun himself as the 48th Patriarch. In the seventh century, the Chan tradition broke into several schools emphasizing slightly different aspects of the Buddhist philosophy; of these schools, the teachings of Linji Yixuan remain among the most prominent today. The Linji School emphasized sudden awakening through unorthodox teaching methods, including the use of gongan (or koan, in Japanese): short, paradoxical riddles that defy logic and reasoning, stimulating enlightenment[9]. Linji Yixuan himself was notorious for his brusque manner and shocking, iconoclastic lessons, frequently shouting and hitting his students with sticks (Rinzai-Obaku Zen). Linji’s most famous words of wisdom were: “If you meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha” (Raz).
Such severe and counterintuitive language was meant to shock the student into a new, sudden understanding of the physical world, producing insight and awakening the student to the true meanings of such concepts as emptiness, nonattachment and anātman (non-self). The Buddha is a wonderful role model for students just beginning to embark on the path to enlightenment; but ultimately, one must abandon all attachment to the self, the scriptures, and even to the Buddha himself before enlightenment can be reached. In the words of Thich Nhat Hanh (1926-), a prominent Vietnamese monk and teacher of Chan, “The Buddha outside ourselves was a human being who was born, lived, and died. For us to seek such a Buddha would be to seek a shadow, a ghost Buddha, and at some point our idea of Buddha would become an obstacle for us” (Thich Nhat Hanh). “Killing the Buddha” therefore represents freeing the mind from abstract ideas outside of the self. Linji Yixuan feared that students of Buddhism had become overly devoted to words and rituals, while losing touch with the true concepts beneath the surface. Among modern Chan practitioners like Thich Nhat Hanh and Grand Master Xing Yun, Linji’s teaching methods are often interpreted as a form of humanism, circumventing traditional methods of practice by encouraging disciples to simply live as themselves. Students of Chan need not adopt new titles or mannerisms or lifestyles; they should never play a part, and they must never strive to be anything other than what they are. Chan Buddhism is not an easy path; it requires strict physical and mental discipline, and devout meditative practice—but it can be practiced anywhere, and by anyone. As Linji Yixuan said, “Be sovereign wherever you are and use that place as your seat of awakening” (Thich Nhat Hanh).
Upon this philosophical base, Grand Master Xing Yun has worked to develop and promote the humanist ideals of inclusion, practicality, and simplicity among Buddhist practitioners; he has taken up the mantle of his predecessor Venerable Taixu, and continued to reform Buddhism to fit within our modern, global society. Xing Yun is widely celebrated today for his contributions to Humanistic Buddhist theory, and for successfully reviving Buddhism for the modern world; he is even considered by many to be the “Martin Luther” (Long p.54) of modern Buddhism. Grand Master Xing Yun interprets Humanistic Buddhism using the following six terms: humanity, human life, altruism, delight, time frame, and universality. He describes Humanistic Buddhism as giving people “confidence, joy, hope and convenience” (Long p. 70). The movement embodies a “middle way”[10] between monasticism and secularism, between the esoteric and the mundane, and between society and the individual. Organizations like Fo Guang Shan emphasize activism and social services such as healthcare and education, and seek to spread Buddhism throughout the world.
Protection of animal welfare is a natural extension of the secular activism promoted by this movement. But where do animals fit within the scheme of Humanistic Buddhism? On one hand, only human beings are capable of studying Buddhism and thus attaining wisdom, merit, and eventually enlightenment. A human birth is considered precious, and birth as an animal is therefore undeniably inferior. On the other hand, as believers of Mahayana Buddhism, Humanistic Buddhists believe that all sentient beings, human and animal, have a Buddha Nature. All living things, regardless of ability or karma, share the potential to become a Buddha in some future lifetime. Within the worldly cycle of samsara, humans and animals are thus fundamentally equal. The principles of Humanistic Buddhism encourage activism and compassionate behavior towards all living things—right now, in this lifetime. In his introduction to Animal Essays, Grand Master Xing Yun examines animal rights within the context of Buddhism. Although he does not explicitly mention Humanistic Buddhism, the central tenets of altruism and universality nevertheless play an important role throughout this essay. He even steps away from traditional Buddhist philosophy with the proposition that animals possess wisdom and compassion beyond our own, and that we as human beings can learn from them; the subtitle of this essay is “Animals are mentors for the education of human life.”
       Occurring midway through this essay and central to its message is the retelling of a story from the エニホ蚣Ç (Records of the Western Regions of the Great Tang Empire). In the beginning, this story frames humans and animals (in this case deer) as enemies with opposing goals; the human king selfishly wants to hunt as many deer as he can for food, while the deer king selfishly wants to protect every single one of his kind.  The two eventually reach a tenuous truce, whereby the human king still asserts his superiority by demanding the life of one deer a day. When the mother deer displays a startlingly deep capacity to love her fawn, the human king is forced to confront the fact that animals are capable of love, just as human mothers love their own children. The deer king’s initial unwillingness to allow hunting no longer seems so unreasonable; animals, just like people, have the desire—and the right—to preserve the lives of those they love. Then in a surprising move, upon seeing the anguish of the doe, the deer king demonstrates pure altruism and offers to sacrifice himself instead. The human king is forced to admit that not only are the deer capable of feeling emotions like love, they are even capable of comprehending selfless virtue and goodness—and their goodness may in fact be superior to that of the human king himself. With all barriers between man and beast down, the human king recognizes that he can no longer justify killing. He spares the deer king’s life, and vows never to hunt again.
This story demonstrates the Humanist Buddhist idea of universality, in which every sentient being is equally subject to the laws of karma, has equal potential to become enlightened, and is thus equally deserving of life. The story strays, however, from the strict humanist belief that only human beings are capable of virtue and selfless compassion. Instead, the story asserts that animals have equal—if not greater—altruistic potential. The animals in this story are certainly anthropomorphized; they possess human language and kinship relationships comparable to our own, and they even have a system of government implied by the existence of a deer king.  Although such a portrayal of deer might appear overly sentimental, Grand Master Xing Yun avoids shallow romanticism by balancing this metaphorical story with biological evidence and personal anecdotes throughout the essay, staying firmly grounded in observation and reality. The essay is bursting with real scientific discoveries to suggest that something akin to “compassion” exists among animals: penguins sacrifice personal health and safety in order to care for their young, sharing the work and responsibility equally between mother and father; African badgers, Siberian cranes, and many other animals demonstrate mourning behavior when one of their fellows dies; dogs exhibit selfless loyalty to their masters.
Xing Yun’s reliance on modern science reflects one of the crucial themes of Humanistic Buddhism: “time frame,” or the ability of religion to adapt to modern society. Today, the accepted boundaries between humans and animals are frequently called into question by modern science: In mentioning that we share over 98% of our DNA with apes (Xing Yun 4), Xing Yun references our inability to accurately and completely define what it means to be human. It is impossible to write a single definition that includes all human beings, while excluding all animals. As argued by the eighteenth century English philosopher Jeremy Bentham, a full-grown dog or chimpanzee is far more intelligent and self-aware than a newborn human baby, or an adult human with developmental disabilities (Garrard 147). Charles Darwin also suggested with his theory of evolution that all living species are closely related to one another; human beings share similar DNA to apes not by a random coincidence, but because we are in fact not-so-distant relatives. By recognizing the physical genetics we share with the apes, Xing Yun is thus suggesting that interconnectedness among species is a physical, provable reality, and not merely a philosophical Buddhist idea.
Xing Yun also recognizes the need for flexibility of Buddhist practice within our changing modern world. He critiques the practice of キナノú (animal release), for example, because self-proclaimed Buddhists living in increasingly crowded and affluent places have been known to pay hunters or fishermen to catch animals just so that they can be released. In doing so they hope to accrue merit for themselves, but in fact they are only causing undo stress and injury to the animals in question (Xing Yun 7).  Xing Yun thus entreats Buddhists to モ胧�憬ø—keep up with the times. Criticism of animal release is growing among modern Buddhist leaders who recognize the potential ethical and ecological consequences of the practice, including the fear that releasing foreign and potentially invasive species into a new place may cause damage to the native ecosystem. Zhang Dan expresses a position similar to that of Grand Master Xing Yun, noting that “Animal release has become too materialistic and too trendy,” and many of its practitioners do not truly understand the purpose of releasing animals in order to protect life (Skype interview).
Although modern science suggests the interconnectedness of all species, Xing Yun accepts that human beings are not identical to animals. The differences between human and animal are difficult to articulate; on one hand they appear capable of emotional reactions and intelligent thought; on the other hand, lacking language, their perceptions of the world remain a mystery to us. This mystery—this undeniable otherness—is deeply entrenched in the culture and language of China (as well as here in the United States[11]). The end of the aforementioned anecdote about the deer king exemplifies the struggle to depict animals as both familiar and other: “I am of human form, but I am as cruel as any wild animal; you may have a deer’s body, but you have as much noble virtue as any human” (Xing Yun 3). Even though the human king humbly acknowledges the deer’s virtue as well as his own greediness, he still refers to wild animals as “cruel,” and to human beings as having “noble virtue.” The compassion shown by the deer king, then, is nothing more than an exception to the rule. Although this story teaches readers not to underestimate the capabilities of animals, it does not suggest any true, universal connections between humans and animals. It still firmly upholds the convention that unless proven otherwise in a specific example, humans are moral creatures while animals are wild and cruel.

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只看该作者 板凳  发表于: 2014-03-14

In Humanistic Buddhism, animals are similarly regarded as lacking introspective capabilities equal to those of human beings, although they are still worthy of respect and protection. As with all forms of Buddhism, birth as a human being is considered extremely advantageous, since only humans possess the capability to advance along the path to enlightenment. Humanistic Buddhism further emphasizes the advantageousness of human birth by calling attention the fact that Sakyamuni Buddha himself was a human being, and attained enlightenment as a human being. His human life remains our only model for how to develop our minds and conduct ourselves in this world. As Grand Master Xing Yun said in a speech in 1989, “The Buddha's very life as a human being has given us all an inspiration and a model for the spiritual path and for making our own lives a spiritual practice. The Buddhism that the Buddha gave us is humanistic” (Xing Yun, Buddha’s Light International Organization). For Grand Master Xing Yun, then, Buddhism essentially exists solely for humanity.
How then does Xing Yun reconcile this focus on humanity with his belief in animal rights? How does this attention on the here and now fit within with the Buddhist emphasis on the ideal realm, beyond the illusion of physical desires in the physical world? The simple answer lies in the title of his essay: “All have the heart of a Buddha.” The defining feature of Mahayana Buddhism, Humanistic or otherwise, is that all sentient beings have a Buddha Nature. Although animals and human beings have different appearances, behaviors, and perhaps even moral capabilities and karmic wealth, they all possess an equal potential to awaken and become a Buddha. This may happen now or in the next lifetime, or it may not happen for a thousand lifetimes, but all creatures from slugs to deer to monks all carry the latent ability to achieve enlightenment. In the introduction to Animal Essays, Xing Yun asserts that the potential Buddha Nature alone is reason enough to treat animals with compassion and respect. Every being is in a different place along the spiritual journey. Some humans can devote their lives to meditation, but for most of us, compassion and activism in this life is enough to propel us further along the path. Ultimately, this introductory essay is not a Buddhist treatise, but a comprehensive and optimistic call to demonstrate kindness towards the non-human creatures whose lives are so closely intertwined with our own. Like the other essays featured in Animal Essays and discussed in this thesis, Xing Yun simply emphasizes that “Every animal has the value of existing” (Xing Yun 8).


IV. Zhang Wei and Environmental Consciousness

Zhang Wei is a very popular writer on issues of nature and the interactions between society and the environment in China. Zhang Dan’s Animal Essays features two of his essays (including the first piece in the book), and his work is discussed in depth by Tang Kelong in The Discourse of Animals in Modern and Contemporary Chinese Literature. Zhang Wei is celebrated for his love and respect for 大自然—Nature. While the writers and activists discussed previously (Zhang Dan, Feng Zikai and Grand Master Xing Yun) depict animals from the Buddhist point of view, Zhang Wei’s writing is less overtly ideological. His occasional use of Buddhist terminology is tempered by allusions to environmental and secular culture, thus making his case for animal rights accessible to a broad range of people among the largely secular Chinese population. His writing, like that of all authors featured in Animal Essays, respects the inherent right of all life forms to exist in peace.
Born in 1956, Zhang was raised in the port city of Longkou in Shandong Province, in a relatively isolated cabin. His essays hint at a difficult childhood; his father, who may have been abusive, was involved in a political scandal and placed under house arrest. Zhang’s mother, meanwhile, spent all day working in an orchard, leaving Zhang alone to explore the orchards and beaches near and around the family cabin (Chung). These experiences outdoors left a deep impression on Zhang, who has written about the relationship between humans and the landscape throughout his career. After leaving home, Zhang spent several years wandering through the forested, mountainous, and coastal areas of the Shandong peninsula, exploring and writing. In 1979 at the age of 23, He enrolled in the Yantai Normal Institute of Shandong to study creative writing. Since then, he has published over seventy volumes of fiction, essays and poetry, and received over thirty national and international prizes for his writing (Words Without Borders).
Among Zhang’s most famous works are the novels September Allegory (1993), and The Song of Hedgehog (2007). Both of these novels focus on allegorical isolated villages, whose residents live closely with nature and even share characteristics with the animals around them. Some of his characters are human/animal hybrids, and Zhang sometimes switches the perspective of narration to that of the animal (Chung). Zhang Wei’s writing has been widely circulated and well-received in China. He is known as a “committed environmental romanticist” (Chung) with a “near mystical affection for nature” (Words Without Borders).
Zhang Wei contributed two pieces to the book Animal Essays. The first essay, titled テタノ愠é (“Beautiful Beings”), meditates on the peaceful existence of a flock of sheep. Zhang reflects upon the interconnectedness of the plant, animal, human, and inanimate worlds, illustrating how the bodies of sheep are “stored full of sunlight,” whereupon they “present this gift of warmth and heat to humans” (Zhang Wei 4)[12]. His use of imagery throughout the essay notes the connection between sunlight and the warmth of a sheep’s wool, beginning with the sun setting behind the silhouetted flock, and ending when the bodies of the sheep “carry back the last thread of sunlight.” Ecologically, this reflects the fundamental principle that all energy on earth, living or decomposed, comes originally from the sun. The sunlight feeds the grass, which feeds the sheep, whereupon the sheep grow their wool and produce milk for their lambs. Ultimately, they “surrender their flesh” to us. All life on earth is thus confined within a complex and highly interconnected system of energy transfer. This is not the only time Zhang Wei makes the connection between sunlight and the interconnected system of life on earth. Tang Kelong quotes Zhang’s 1997 essay calledネマë (“Think Thrice”) in which he observed that “The ground lets all living things stand, and the sun gives them their warmth. Of all the things on earth, if you remove any single entity, every other thing would cease to exist” (trans. from Tang 236). ZhangWei thus views the interconnectedness of life on earth as a physical, observable reality. Every piece of the complex ecological puzzle is necessary for our own survival, right now in this life.
After examining the interconnected system of energy transfer in “Beautiful Beings”, Zhang Wei goes on to describe how human beings are abusing this system by taking wool and meat from the sheep, without giving anything in return. Such an unbalanced relationship, he argues, will ultimately lead to the downfall of humanity: “Every day that human beings get blood on their hands is a day on which they fail to earn the ultimate happiness” (Zhang Wei 2). Although Zhang Wei never mentions Buddhism outright, his broad-reaching conclusions about the consequences of human violence suggest the concept of karma. Every action has a reaction, and in Buddhism, human cruelty towards animals will result in an unfavorable rebirth, thus prolonging suffering within the cycle of samsara. Zhang increases the Buddhist tinge to this essay with the word アヒーカ, meaning “Other Shore” (Ibid). This is a common euphemism for enlightenment that dates back to early Buddhism in India. The physical world of illusion is likened to a river that must be crossed to attain awakening. The Buddhist Eight-Fold Path is the raft one might use to cross the river, but the raft must be left behind upon reaching the other bank (Horner). This metaphor is very popular in Chinese Buddhism; it featured prominently in the 16th century novel ホホ记 (Journey to the West, also translated as “Monkey”) by Wu Cheng’en, one of China’s earliest and most celebrated works of literature.Near the climax of the novel, the fictionalized monk Tripitaka crosses a river in a bottomless boat. His mortal body falls away and washes down the river, and when he reaches the other shore, he is enlightened (Wu 281).
These Buddhist references to karma and the Other Shore are brief, however, compared to the Buddhist themes utilized in the work of Zhang Dan, Feng Zikai, or Grand Master Xing Yun. Zhang Wei does not discuss his own religious beliefs. In this essay, he may have merely resorted to the familiar Buddhist trope as a tool for expressing his belief that actions have reactions. Perhaps he alluded to the Other Shore simply because this was the best term to describe a perfect world where humans do not harm animals. He may have alluded to karma simply because these were the best words to express how human beings cannot continue abusing animals without facing moral, social, or environmental consequences; in searching for the Chinese words to express animal welfare, Zhang Wei stumbled upon Buddhist words. In fact, his allusion to karmic retribution might be interpreted ecologically, without reference to religion at all: abuse of the system of energy transfer, such as humans over-harvesting sheep resources, will put too much strain on the sheep population and eventually deplete those resources. Whether the reader of this essay is a Buddhist or a non-Buddhist environmentalist, the message is still clear that the abuse of animals will result in human unhappiness.
Zhang similarly mentions but does not advocate Buddhism in his second essay in Animal Essays, titled 对イサニÇ(“Unworthy of Them”). After describing the inhumane conditions of bears farmed for medicinal bile and caged laying hens, Zhang muses about vegetarianism, asking, “If humans could one day extricate themselves completely from the practice of eating animals, would we be able to enter a new state of perfection?” (Zhang Wei 87). He goes on to assert that, “This proposition would not only coincide perfectly with the teachings of Buddhism, but would also embody the consciousness of secular culture (Ibid).” Just as he did in “Beautiful Beings,” Zhang acknowledges the similarities between animal welfare activism and Buddhism. Traditionally in China, vegetarianism existed exclusively among devoted Buddhist practitioners, and to a large extent this association remains—most vegetarian restaurants one encounters in China are owned and run by Buddhists, and many are connected to a working temple or monastery. Zhang recognizes this association, but asserts that vegetarianism would be suitable for secular society as well, on the basis of preventing animal cruelty such as that endured by farmed bears and laying hens. He thus manages to advocate the typically Buddhist practice of vegetarianism, without alienating secular readers, and without divulging his own beliefs either.
Both of these essays reflect a very small but slowly growing environmental consciousness in China. When Zhang Wei was publishing some of his most famous novels, including Ancient Ship (1986) and September Allegory (1993), the Western environmental movement was just gaining attention in China. Environmental issues first appeared on the Chinese government’s agenda as early as 1970, when ecological disasters such as coastal pollution were increasing in frequency and severity following the growth of the economy (Economy 97). China participated in the United Nations’ first international environmental conference in 1972, The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (UNCHE), which forced the Chinese government to acknowledge environmental problems and begin to search for solutions. (Ibid). Since then, however, government leadership proved largely inadequate to the task of fixing China’s ever-growing environmental problems (Economy 132). Nongovernmental organizations and grassroots movements, meanwhile, have been slightly more effective at raising environmental awareness. China’s first environmental NGO, Friends of Nature (ラヤネサヨョモム), was founded in 1994, just a year after the publication of Zhang Wei’s September Allegory. Today there are approximately 2000 official environmental NGOs, plus countless numbers of unofficial groups and organizations (Stalley and Yang 333). In recent years, citizens, workers, and local groups have protested factory pollution, water contamination, dam projects, and other local issues, sometimes with policy results (Stalley and Yang 336). Although both government and grassroots efforts are still largely unable to provide sufficient environmental protection, consciousness of environmental concepts is increasing among the general population; terms like 环ア」 (environmental protection) andソノウヨ续 (sustainable) are widely known in China and even considered trendy. The primary reason behind this slowly emerging movement is not Buddhist; among China’s primarily non-religious population, environmental motivation is secular. People want to protect human health, conserve resources like fuel and fresh water, and ensure the continued existence of beautiful natural places.
This last motivation has had a profound effect on Zhang Wei’s writing and personal philosophy. Zhang Wei holds a deep respect for エヤネサ or “Nature,” defined concretely as “the extensive primitive fields and jungles, the mountains not yet sculptured nor adorned, and the ocean, as well as the endless shrubs and wildflowers on the shore” (Chung). Even if such places no longer exist, especially in Zhang’s heavily populated home province of Shandong, he still holds the firm belief that access to nature—a tree, a beach, anything—is vital to a healthy and creative human life. He maintains that nature is “the foundation of all art” (Tang 232) and that “every writer should have ‘his own tree’” from which to cultivate inspiration (Tang 234). In a November 2012 interview, Zhang lamented that “As urban places grow, our perspective is becoming increasingly obstructed by buildings; civilization becomes less visionary, causing the infertility of imagination and the superficiality of thought” (Zhongguo Zuojia Wang). Zhang’s romantic love of nature is evident in his description of the “unforgettable impression” (Zhang Wei 87) of an animal’s gaze in “Unworthy of Them,” or in his images of sheep whose “wrinkled muzzles make us understand the pure lovability of life” (Zhang Wei 2) in Beautiful Beings.
In The Discourse of Animals in Modern and Contemporary Chinese Literature, Tang Kelong critiques Zhang Wei’s romantic love of nature as being anthropocentrically motivated, rather than ecologically motivated. Both of Zhang Wei’s essays in Animal Essays reflect upon the unbalanced relationship between humans and animals. “Beautiful Beings”asserts that humans abuse the ecological system of energy transfer, taking wool and meat from sheep without offering a fair exchange. “Unworthy of Them” suggests imbalance in the very title (对イサニÇ), by raising animals above the level of humans.[13] The title references a line introduced in the first paragraph of the essay: “ヨサモミネヒ对イサニキ」ャテサモミケキ对イサニヒ”(People wrong dogs, but dogs never wrong people). Similar to humans exploiting wool and meat from sheep in “Beautiful Beings,” this line suggests an unequal relationship between humans and animals: people ruthlessly take resources from animals, exploiting their loyalty and trust, while the animals ask nothing and harm no one in return. By calling attention to this unbalance, Zhang Wei suggests that human beings, unlike animals, are able to change their moral behavior. In describing our duty to act kindly toward animals, he actually highlights the differences between us. Our own unique intelligence and self-awareness burdens us with the ability and the responsibility to check our own behavior. Animals acting “cruelly” toward humans, such as dogs biting or wild predators attacking, are presumably acting on instinct alone; they can’t help it. We, on the other hand, must constantly evaluate and improve our treatment toward animals; we have the responsibility to protect them, while animals lack the awareness to change themselves.
       Tang Kelong is critical of Zhang’s suggestion that only humans possess the mental capacity to evaluate and improve their behavior. He argues that because Zhang’s love of nature is rooted in its effect on human happiness and artistic production, Zhang’s views on animals are no less shallow or misguided than those of Emmanuel Kant (Tang 238).  As discussed previously with regard to criticism of Feng Zikai, the eighteenth century German philosopher Kant believed that humans have only indirect duties to animals; we must act kindly to them not for their own benefit, since they lack moral judgment, but for the betterment of our own humanity. Tang Kelong believes that Zhang’s romantic and anthropocentric view of nature ultimately does nothing to advance environmental ethics.
Indeed, within the context of modern ecology and environmentalism, Zhang’s sentimental affection for animals might be perceived as an overly simplistic representation of the relationships among species. In “Beautiful Beings,” Zhang laments that sheep provide human beings with unlimited wool and meat, but people “treat this precious gift without a hint of thanks.” Certainly even a staunch vegetarian would acknowledge that human beings provide sheep with food, shelter, and protection. Our two species have evolved together after generations of domesticity, developing a complex relationship of codependence that goes largely unnoticed by Zhang. Unlike Liu Liangcheng, who examines both sides of the relationship between humans and domestic animals,[14] Zhang instead treats human beings as an intrusion upon the peaceful and separate affairs of animals. Ecology teaches that all life on earth is part of a highly complex and interdependent system; excluding humans from the system paints an unrealistically simplistic picture of the interdependence between humans and domesticated animals like sheep or donkeys.
Despite these criticisms, Zhang Wei’s writing represents an important bridge between animal rights and China’s secular population. Despite occasional sentimental descriptions and Buddhist terms, he relies primarily on secular language to express his love of animals and the natural world. In this way he is able to appeal to a broad Chinese audience without alienating the non-religious, emphasizing simply the respectful treatment of all living creatures. This allows China’s vast and growing urban population to experience, vicariously through his writing, the natural world he loves so dearly.
V. Liu Liangcheng: Individualized Representations of Animals
Up until this point, every author discussed has been an animal rights activist of some kind. Zhang Dan has cared about the fate of stray animals since childhood, and later in life found Buddhism as a way to express her love of non-human life. Feng Zikai and Grand Master Xing Yun both consider compassion toward animals to be a natural extension of their Buddhist beliefs. Zhang Wei holds a profound love for the non-human world, including landscapes, plants and animals. All four of these writers explicitly advocate against violence towards animals. Liu Liangcheng, born in 1962 in the northwest province of Xinjiang, is different from these other writers. He subscribes to no conventional doctrine, and his writing is devoid of explicit ideology. Liu Liangcheng writes about animals not to highlight our interconnected natures, or to advocate for their protection, but simply to observe and respect their otherness. His work is featured three times in Animal Essays, and all three pieces use startlingly sparse language and dark humor to probe the complex relationships between animals and people. His representations of the nonhuman world suggest that although we as humans rely heavily upon animals, and can even communicate with them to some extent, their minds remain fundamentally unknowable to us.
Liu Liangcheng was raised in Xinjiang, a vast and predominantly rural province in China’s northwest corner. This harsh, dry and rugged terrain is home to the Uyghur people and other Central Asian ethnic minorities, as well as Han Chinese like Liu. Although he is today a highly esteemed writer and vice-president of the Xinjiang Writers Association, Liu Liangcheng once worked as a farmer, planting crops and herding sheep (Yang). His 1998 essay collection One Man’s Village (メサクヒオトエ袮ッ), his most well known publication, examines the rural lifestyle, reflecting on the importance of the homeland and the theme of loneliness, which Liu claims is a part of human nature (Ibid). Liu does not subscribe to a major established religion, but instead describes himself as an animist. Animism (キコチ槁Û or 万物有神) is the belief that everything in the universe has a spirit and a consciousness, including plants and inanimate objects. As Liu explains, “I can talk to flowers, speak with grass, and I can understand what the wind means when it blows past my ears…animism should be a writer’s foundational belief system” (trans. from Yang). Historically, animistic and shamanistic beliefs were prevalent throughout pre-Islamic Central Asia (including Xinjiang), and were also found within various folk traditions of the Han Chinese (Zarcone). Buddhism, too, has influenced animistic beliefs in Central Asia, when the concept of reincarnation combined with mystical Islam and local traditions to create a belief in the “transmigration of souls” (Ibid).
Today, animism primarily exists implicitly among small segments of the population, underlying the more established and organized belief systems of Islam and Buddhism. Liu Liancheng’s “religion” is therefore a personal and individualistic choice, rather than adherence to an established doctrine. This independent streak is evident in his unique, honest, and memorable descriptions of animals. Sometimes Liu’s writing echoes his animist beliefs, as in the anecdote about the rapacious dragon in “The Qiuci Donkey Annals,” which reflects the concept of “transmigration of souls” as the dragon transforms and mates with various species.[15] Most of the time, however, Liu’s representations of animals resist classification into any identifiable ideology. Liu’s representations of animals reflect the familiarity of someone who has grown up working with farm animals, but show not a trace of sentimentality. He is not a vegetarian, nor has he participated in the animal welfare movement. His writing about animals betrays no political or ideological agenda, but instead observes reality with a wry and cynical wit, drawing humor from situations of harshness and cruelty.
In the essay 龟兹驴ヨセ(“The Qiuci Donkey Annals”), Liu suggests that working animals—namely the donkeys used famously and extensively by the Uyghur people of Xinjiang—operate within a parallel society, coexisting with humans but remaining essentially separate. He describes in great detail the bustling confusion of the weekly bazaar, where the humans busy themselves bargaining over wares, during which the donkeys “primarily watch the other donkeys” (Liu 22). While the humans are engaged in their business, the donkeys are engaged in a separate business all their own, communicating amongst themselves. Liu even raises the question, do the people bring donkeys to the market as helpers, or do the donkeys bring the people? After all, the money earned from selling goods at the bazaar goes primarily to buying food and necessities for the donkeys themselves: “Maybe donkeys knew all along that by working themselves to the bone, they were also earning themselves money” (Liu 21).
The suggestion that people work for the donkeys as much as donkeys work for the people continues in the description of Gayiti, a ninety-five-year-old blind blacksmith who has spent a lifetime in his tiny village shop, crafting and fitting shoes for the local donkeys. Just as the donkeys work until they die, carrying loads and pulling carts for the humans who feed them, so does Gayiti work for the donkeys, hammering shoes even as his body succumbs to age. The relationship between these humans and donkeys is not one of dominance or ownership; instead, the two species serve each other and rely on each other equally. The people live in one society, shoeing and feeding the donkeys in exchange for the donkeys’ labor, which in turn provides the people with money.  The donkeys, meanwhile, operate within a society of their own, working for the people in exchange for food and shoes. Each society is equally valid.
The essay ケキ这メサ辈ラモ(“This Dog’s Life”) similarly establishes the rural guard dog as living a life that is at once connected to and separate from that of its human owners. Although the guard dog is required to “bestow all of its love and loyalty” on its master, and not “on another dog” (Liu 118), the dog expresses its independence at night, after the people have gone to sleep. Throughout the shadowy village, the dogs all bark in “dog language” (ケキ语), which is “a type of sound completely different from that of humanity, drifting away; a mystery” (Ibid). The dogs thus communicate amongst themselves, maintaining an existence separate from our human society and utterly incomprehensible to us.
In the essay メーヘテオトツキ (“The Hare Path”), Liu similarly establishes wild hares as living mysterious lives, similar to our own and yet just beyond our comprehension. The author sees evidence of the hares everywhere, and he follows literally in their footsteps, crushing their little clawed indents in the ground with his own heavy steps—but he never sees a single living hare. Like the donkeys and the dogs, Liu respects the independence and mystery of other animals. In this essay, he further asserts that the hare’s absence is purposeful: “The day [a hare] lets a person catch a glimpse just might cost it its life” (Liu 192). Such a straightforward look at the predatory relationship between humans and hares is typical of Liu’s style, which neither romanticizes nor condemns death, poverty, and the cruelty that humans can show towards other living things.
In “The Qiuci Donkey Annals,” for example, Liu equates the death of an old donkey to a “thatched house collapsing” (Liu 23). Just as a house stands upright throughout its existence, so has the donkey worked tirelessly for a lifetime on its four little feet. Eventually, the support beams rot through, the bones grow weary, and the entire structure falls. This is not tragic; it is inevitable. Liu further emphasizes the unavoidable nature of death by depicting the donkey’s corpse underground, supplying the soil with fertile nutrients and helping the crops to thrive. The donkey’s death is not only inescapable, but is in fact necessary to the continued survival of both humans and donkeys in dry, inhospitable Xinjiang.
In “This Dog’s Life,” Liu similarly depicts the death of the guard dog with calm indifference, neither glorifying nor degrading its brief life on earth: “When a dog gets old, nobody goes inquiring after its balding hide…the world can no longer hold onto it, so it had best just let go” (Liu 117). Liu admits readily that the life of a rural dog is harsh and short, and if the dog is not careful, its owners will “skin it and cook it” (Liu 117). Liu presents these statements matter-of-factly, with a touch of dark, wry humor and not a hint of sentimentality. After all, the situation he describes is reality. Humans and animals living in rural and impoverished places all encounter the same hardships of hunger, cold, and disease. Dogs die and are quietly forgotten as life moves on.
This calm, objective view of death resists anthropomorphism by refusing to project the human concept of tragedy onto the animals. The minds of animals, however communicative and familiar they might seem to us, nevertheless remain fundamentally unknowable. Liu attempts to represent this mystery as accurately as possible. In “The Qiuci Donkey Annals,” Liu states that the donkeys of Kuqa “appear to be happy”—ヒ�エノマネ・ハヌソ炖�ト (Liu 23). The word “appear” (ソエノマネ・) here is crucial, acknowledging that although in our eyes the donkeys are displaying behavior resembling expressions of human happiness, this may in fact not be the case. Liu respects the donkey’s autonomy, acknowledging that its behavior, although in many ways mysterious to us, is no less valid than our own. This occurs again in “The Hare Path”, when Liu asks, rather than states: “Wouldn’t a hare find it interesting when, in the middle of hopping about, it spots its own droppings from the previous afternoon, still on the path and emitting fresh hot steam?” (Liu 192).
While anthropomorphism in China might frequently be equated with Buddhism and the karmic interconnectedness of all sentient beings, anthropomorphism in the West is usually a pejorative term, associated with unscientific and overly sentimental representations of animals like Mickey Mouse (Garrard 154). In the West, numerous writers have struggled to represent animals without filtering them through human assumptions of emotion, communication, and self-awareness. Among the Western writers resisting anthropomorphism was the English novelist and poet D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930). In writing about animals, Lawrence strove to find a middle ground between cold representations as soulless machines, and sentimental representations as human puppets. In the poem “Fish,” Lawrence begins by describing an anthropomorphic pike in a “grey-striped suit.” Later, however, the speaker injects a criticism of this representation:
I had made a mistake, I didn’t know him,
This grey, monotonous soul in the water,
This intense individual in shadow,
Fish-alive.
I didn’t know his God.
I didn’t know his God (Garrard 167).

Lawrence respects the mysterious alterity of animals, while at the same time acknowledging the human tendency to anthropomorphize them. Liu Liangcheng, similarly, uses the word “appear” to neither affirm nor deny the possibility that donkeys can feel emotions like happiness; he asks questions to neither assert nor reject the possibility that hares find things interesting. Garrard calls this “allomorphism” in Ecocriticism, meaning “the avowal of the wonderful strangeness of animals” (Garrard 167). Anthropomorphized representations of animals might make false assumptions about the animal’s nature—but without using our human vocabulary, how can we represent animals at all? Both Liu and Lawrence find a solution by using familiar language like “happy” and “grey-striped suit,” while explicitly recognizing that these are nothing more than subjective, human descriptions. They leave the animals’ mystery intact, neither affirming nor denying their similarities to people.
Although Liu Liangcheng avoids overt didacticism in his essays, his writing nevertheless betrays criticism of excessive human interference with the animal world. In The Hare Path, the author feels guilt for having disturbed the hares’ tracks by walking on top of them: “My deep footprints made the road bumpier for the hares, and I have felt embarrassed about that for a long time” (Liu 193). By ending the essay on that sentence, and by ending the sentence with  イサコテメ簍シ (“embarrassed”), guilt becomes the dominant theme of this short essay; it is the motif that will ring in the reader’s head long after he or she has closed the book. Liu thus suggests a guilt that goes beyond merely trampling some rabbit prints. There is guilt for taking part in the conventions of human behavior that force small animals to hide out of sight, fearing for their lives; and perhaps most of all, there is guilt for having trespassed upon the autonomous and mysterious world of the hares.
In “This Dog’s Life,” Liu similarly criticizes human treatment of animals through his use of dark, wry humor. He describes the treatment of dogs without a hint of sugarcoating, noting that “Dogs getting beaten and scolded is a frequent thing, if a dog starts pouting for being wrongly accused by the owner…well that dog’s life won’t last very long” (Liu 118).  This description is dark and cruel, but it is also humorous in its frank honesty. The subject of mating is also treated with similarly amusing, matter-of-fact descriptions: “Once the owners of the two dogs have talked it over, they lead the male and female together and supervise from the side. When it’s over, it’s over” (Ibid). Such a dry account of mating is unexpected and funny, but critical of the humans as well for trespassing upon the dogs’ most intimate act. Liu describes in the following passage how the dog is not permitted to form any attachment to its mate, and must instead demonstrate loyalty to the human master alone. He uses the strong word アリ须 (“must”), to suggest that this is not the dog’s choice. If the dog did not fear punishment, perhaps it would choose a life with its mate rather than a life with its human owners.
In “The Qiuci Donkey Annals,” Liu uses much more explicit language to express a critique of human interference with animals, describing two “disasters” inflicted upon the donkeys. The first was during the Communist Revolution, when the People’s Liberation Army used donkeys to transport food and gear to and from the harsh climate and deathly cold of the Kunlun Mountains in southern Xinjiang. The second disaster occurred during the 1950s and 60s, when the government attempted to create a new breed of donkey with larger height and stature. These new donkeys were big, but “they were unable to adapt to the arid and scorching hot climate” of Xinjiang, and the experiment failed (Liu 20). Although Liu sees nothing wrong with slaughtering animals locally for food, he regards large-scale government manipulation of the animals’ wellbeing as crossing a line.
In all three essays, Liu avoids overt discussion of religion, politics and social activism, topics that so thoroughly inform the work of animal rights advocates like Feng Zikai or Zhang Dan. This absence of human problems is most evident in “The Qiuci Donkey Annals,” since this essay is so closely tied to a specific human culture (Uyghur) living in a specific place (Xinjiang).Ethnic relations are a very sensitive topic in Xinjiang, but Liu does not call attention to the fact that he is a Han Chinese person writing about the animals integral to Uyghur culture. He mentions cultural differences only in brief, passing comments, such as “Uyghur people have a taboo against eating donkey meat” (Liu 21) or “Kazakhs chose horses, Han Chinese chose cattle, and Uyghurs chose donkeys” (Liu 23). Liu mentions ethnicity only insofar as it relates to the livelihood of his main interest, the donkeys themselves. He treats religion the same way, depicting donkeys as the stable anchors of human culture in Xinjiang, standing firm while waves of first Buddhism and then later Islam sweep the region: “That little black donkey never changed, and the man on the donkey never changed; only the scripture in his hands changed” (Liu 24). Liu recognizes that ethnicity and religion are influential in our understanding of animals—especially when he suggests that “The individuality and destiny of an ethnic people is perhaps directly related to the animals they choose” (Liu 23). Nevertheless, Liu views these cultural constructs as irrelevant to the animals themselves. The donkeys will keep plodding back and forth across the desert, their backs laden with baggage, regardless of whether the bags contain Buddhist scriptures, the Quran, or any other human doctrine.
The essays of Liu Liangcheng thus suggest a very different way of looking at animals from the tender portrayals of Zhang Dan, Grand Master Xing Yun, Feng Zikai, and Zhang Wei. These latter writers all express the belief that as sentient beings, animals are fundamentally no different from ourselves, and we should treat them as such. This interconnectedness is further bolstered by the Buddhist belief that animals and humans are both living in the same cycle of birth and rebirth, meaning that animals might have been our own parents, friends, or children in a previous lifetime. Liu Liangcheng does not hold this worldview. In his writing, animals are still sentient beings, intelligent and communicative. We look into their eyes, and they return our gaze—but they are not identical to us. The true nature of their experience is mysterious and fundamentally unknowable, just like the true nature of flowers, grass, and wind according to Liu’s animistic beliefs. We must respect the autonomy of animals, but we cannot presume to know how they perceive the world; we cannot presume to know how to “save them.”




VI. Conclusion

My family has two dogs, a seven-year-old lab mix named Josie, and a ten-month-old mixed-breed puppy called Nola. Every time they sit inside for too long without a walk, a familiar scene begins to unfold: first, Nola starts gnawing voraciously on one of the rawhide bones strewn about our kitchen floor. Next, Josie rouses herself from her L.L. Bean dog-couch, stretches her back in a perfect downward-dog yoga pose, then wanders over to where Nola is contentedly grinding her teeth against the hard white surface of her dry and twisted cow skin. Calmly and deliberately, Josie steals the rawhide from Nola’s mouth, carries it back to her dog-couch, and sets to work on it herself. Nola is left bewildered, standing crestfallen in the kitchen and emitting a high, soft squeak that we call “crying.”
Before Nola entered our household this summer, Josie showed no interest in rawhide bones at all. If offered, she would sniff and look up at us as if to say, what would I want with that thing? I am too old for such nonsense[TEM1] . But when another dog arrived on the scene, a bouncing wagging melee of legs and teeth and wiggling wet nose, rawhide bones took on a new appeal. Sometimes to keep the peace, we will give Josie her own bone in the hope that she will leave Nola alone. This quickly proves ineffective. Josie does not want her own bone, because she does not like to chew rawhide. She wants Nola’s bone.
       I remember fighting over toys with my brother when we were little. He never really cared which Beanie Baby or action figure he got, as long as it was the one that I wanted. Is this not the founding principle of consumer culture? Ten years ago, nobody thought they needed a pocket-sized digital all-in-one music player, telephone, and personal computer. Thanks to aggressive advertising campaigns suggesting that all the smartest, trendiest, and most successful people were already using these devices, nearly everybody today owns a smartphone. Are my dogs consumerists at heart? Are they capable of feeling that complex emotion, that fundamentally human Deadly Sin called envy?
       The truth is, [TEM2] I do not know.
       My dogs communicate with each other, certainly, but they do not speak a verbal language[TEM3]  recognizable to us. Dogs have never built skyscrapers or organized protests or fought wars. They would be incapable of using a smartphone, except perhaps as a metal-flavored chew toy. Dogs can tell us when they are hungry or tired or restless, but they cannot discuss the weather, or speculate about life after death.
They cannot communicate these things in human language; but how do we know that they cannot communicate complex ideas [TEM4] to each other? For all I know, Josie and Nola have wordless [TEM5] body-language conversations about the neighborhood politics of territory-marking, or muse together over the subjectivity of smells. Why does a dog chase a tennis ball? She might find genuine joy and satisfaction in the chase, the catch, and the successful return. She might run only because she knows it pleases us to watch her. She might not think at all, but instead react mechanically by following the moving object. She might believe wholeheartedly and irrevocably that the tennis ball is an ambassador of the Moon Spirit, and if she lets it touch the ground she will be personally responsible for the destruction of life on earth.[TEM6]
       We can never be sure. When my dogs chew rawhide, they display behavior that appears similar to the interactions of human children. And yet, this may very well be nothing but a human projection.
All we can ever know for sure is that we share the planet with millions of non-human living beings, from dogs and horses to fish and insects. We breathe the same oxygen and consume the same nutrients; our lives are inextricably interconnected. The essential natures of animals, however, their perceptions and emotions and innermost ideas, remain a mystery.
       Representing animals in writing becomes a way to explain and explore the depths of this mystery. Depictions of animals in literature vary widely, because each writer approaches the subject from a different angle based upon his or her subjective beliefs and personal experiences. Many writers rely upon the ideological framework of a religion or philosophical belief system when searching for the words to describe animals; others strive to create a conceptual language all their own. In China, literature that explicitly seeks to represent the animal experience is a very recent phenomenon, developing only in the twentieth century and relying heavily upon the philosophy and terminology of Buddhism. Although Zhang Dan’s book Animal Essays represents a wide range of styles and philosophies, many of the contributing writers identify with the language of Buddhism—especially Mahayana Buddhism[TEM7] .
Central to Mahayana Buddhism is the concept ofキヤ—Buddha Nature. Every living thing has a Buddha Nature, from ants to donkeys to human beings. Every creature possesses the innate potential to become a Buddha, through the karmic accomplishments of many lifetimes. The boundary between Human and Animal is blurred as all beings cycle through samsara, dying and being reborn in new forms. Buddhism thus offers a concrete explanation of the relationship between humans and animals, giving writers a clear framework within which to work. Buddhism leaves no questions unanswered: protecting animals is fundamentally good, killing animals is fundamentally bad, and our lives are unquestionably interconnected through the karmic cycle. Writing within this framework can quickly turn into animal rights activism, since writers arguing for the Buddhist worldview will at the same time advocate compassion, non-killing and the protection of life. Writers like Feng Zikai and Grand Master Xing Yun were Buddhists first, who turned later to animal rights as a natural extension of their belief in nonviolence and the interconnectedness of all life on earth.
This situation also works in reverse, where the animal rights movement uses Buddhism as a tool for the promotion of non-violence, vegetarianism, and animal conservation among broader audiences.[16] Zhang Dan cared about animals first, and then stumbled upon Buddhism as a way to express her love of animals and delve deeper into the philosophical implications of that love. Zhang Wei does not mention his own religion in his essays, but he uses Buddhist terminology to give structure to his ideas about the environmental consequences of human behavior.  By uniting the two ideologies of animal welfare and Buddhism, animal lovers and devout Buddhists alike can find a common language through which to pursue their shared goal of halting violence towards animals. Buddhism thus becomes a lens through which writers, activists, and the public can comfortably view animals and ecology. At the same time, animal rights activism becomes a practical way for Buddhists to demonstrate compassion for all life.
Animal Essays is not a Buddhist collection, however, nor is its purpose specifically to advocate for animal welfare or animal rights. In his essays “The Record of Qiuci Donkeys,” “The Hare Path,” and “This Dog’s Life,” Liu Liangcheng writes about animals without fitting his ideas into Buddhism, environmentalism, or any other established ideological system. Eliminating descriptive language and overt didacticism from his essays, Liu Liangcheng attempts to capture the fundamental mystery of animals without human judgment. Even the devout Buddhist Feng Zikai refrains from using overtly Buddhist description in his essay “Kitty,” focusing objectively instead on the interactions he has observed between humans and housecats. The essays of Liu and Feng both pursue the simple goal of description, observing life without criticism of animal or human.  These essays do not even advocate for animal welfare or protection, per se; they merely draw attention to the unique and often overlooked behavior of the animals with whom we interact every day, demonstrating a basic respect for their right to exist.
The question remains, or course: since animals are impossible to truly understand, why do writers focus on them at all?  The German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1024) wrote that cruelty toward animals was wrong not because it injured the body or spirit of the animal itself—which Kant believed lacked all moral and rational capability—but because acting cruelly would have moral consequences for the human actor. Critics of Kant such as the animal rights activists Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) and Peter Singer (1946- ) asserted that Kant’s attitude towards animals demonstrates no respect for the animals as living creatures, but instead focuses selfishly on the human, and on the social and religious benefits of acting “kindly.” A very similar criticism was applied to both Feng Zikai and Zhang Wei by Tang Kelong in中国当代文学:动物叙事研究 (The Discourse of Animals in Modern and Contemporary Chinese Literature). Feng Zikai believed that protecting animals is important because it leads to the development of the human heart and mind.[17] Zhang Wei believed that protecting animals and natural spaces is necessary to human health, happiness, and creativity. Tang asserts that this position is too anthropocentric to fit within the modern animal rights movement, as it ignores the inherent value of the animals themselves and focuses instead on selfish human gain.
Something similar may be said of Grand Master Xing Yun. The Humanist school of Buddhism that he leads emphasizes the human life of the Buddha, and seeks to empower human beings to follow the Buddhist path through ordinary living. He (like most Buddhists) believes that acting with compassion towards all living things will accrue karmic merit in the next life—is this not a selfish motivation for practicing animal protection? But as religion professor Elizabeth Morrison explains, the Buddhist worldview spans many lifetimes; all life both human and animal is defined by suffering, and this shared experience of suffering is more important than the brief, temporary lifetimes spent in one form or another (Morrison). A Buddhist might say that although Grand Master Xing Yun advocates humanism in this lifetime, this does not negate or invalidate the kindness he shows animals, who are simply at different stages along the same Buddhist path.
Why do non-Buddhists write about animals? For one, all humans rely on animals for survival, and if we mistreat or eliminate a given species, we will lose that valuable resource. Like coal or rice or any other natural resource, responsible production and use of animal resources are necessary to their continued availability. When the Communist Party of China established the first nature reserve in 1956,[18] it was motivated by economics, rather than by environmentalism or animal rights. The CPC hoped to gain a deeper understanding about the natural environment, so that they might maximize the production of resources (Weller 76).
If industry-driven Communism is on one end of the spectrum of animal representations, and the animal rights movement is on the other, then environmentalism falls somewhere in the middle. Environmentalism is not necessarily concerned with discussions of sentience or morality, but instead regards animals, like humans, as units within the large, complex puzzle of earth’s natural systems. Animal rights activists (Buddhist or otherwise) advocate nonviolence towards every individual animal, while environmentalism emphasizes the health of the ecosystem as a whole, acknowledging that the suffering of a few animals might be necessary to maintain balance.[19]
Still, environmentalism and animal rights share much in common. Chief among these is the inherent right of all species to exist. As Zhang Dan reiterated to me in her email and Skype interviews, she chose essays to include in Animal Essays based not on religion or ideology, but on the basis of just one prerequisite: 对ノ愑・トラリ——respect for life. In development and profit-obsessed China, as in the United States, those who practice and advocate respect for life are a small minority. More and more people live out their entire lives in concrete cities; fewer and fewer people live with animals. The only access these urban people have to earth’s non-human populations is through thoughtfully written representations such as those in Animal Essays. There is no perfect discourse for the representation of animals; they will always remain a mystery. But by filtering animals through the lenses of religion and philosophy, we can approach a deeper understanding of life on earth, including ourselves. Only by genuinely respecting all forms of life can we ever hope to mitigate problems of pollution, resource depletion, and human over-population. Only by loving all forms of life can we do so joyfully.
       To some extent, all writing about animals is anthropocentric. After all, we are human beings with human eyes and human minds. Only human beings will ever read this writing. To the animals themselves, our discussions of ethics and religion and symbolism are completely irrelevant; Buddhism, communism, animal welfare, environmentalism—all are created by humans, followed by humans, critiqued and applied and opposed by humans. My dogs do not care about human-language discussions about a human God or human politics or the scriptures of a human called Gautama Buddha. My dogs care about running off-leash through the snow, licking the dirty dishes, and snuggling up next to each other on their oversized L.L. Bean dog-couch. Their eyes are not human eyes, but they are alive, and they meet my gaze.


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[1] On January 8th 2013, I conducted an interview with Zhang Dan in Chinese via Skype. I recorded this interview and transcribed it; quotations are translated from the transcriptions.
[2] See Chapter IV for a more thorough discussion of the environmental movement in China
[3]Although oftenromanized as “Taoism,” I use the pinyin “Daoism” instead for consistency.
[4] It is interesting to note, however, that human rights and animal rights movements tend only to appear under capitalism. Perhaps this is a byproduct of increased wealth, and a larger middle class with time and money to spend on charity.
[5]See Confucianism and Ecology by Mary Evelyn Tucker and John H. Berthrong for a more thorough account of nature and animal representations in Confucian literature.
[6] See http://www.google.com/doodles/feng-zikais-114th-birthday
[7]コ・サ is sometimes Romanized as “Hong Yi.” I have instead followed Barmé in using the Romanization “Hongyi.”
[8]In Chinese, ミトis equivalent to both the English words “heart,” and “mind.”
[9]For example, the Sixth Patriarch Huineng asked a disciple: “Not thinking of good, not thinking of evil, just at this moment, what is your original face before your mother and father were born?” The disciple was immediately awakened (Source: James, Simon P. Zen Buddhism and Environmental Ethics. Ashgate Publishing Company, 2004)
[10] Middle Way: A central concept in Buddhism, whereby extreme actions or beliefs (on either end of the spectrum) are counterproductive and harmful. The body, for example, should be neither stuffed with food nor excessively starved.
[11] As evidenced by our love of cheap, factory-farmed meat; our comfort with animal experimentation in scientific research; our abundance of animal-related insults like “beast” and “pig” and “chicken” etc.
[12] See my full translation of “Beautiful Beings”in Appendix #3
[13]对イサニð literally means something like “cannot stand up in front of.”
[14]See Chapter V. for further discussion of Liu Liangcheng
[15] See my translation of “The Qiuci Donkey Annals”in Appendix #? for this complete anecdote.
[16]See for instanceBuddhism and Ecology (1998), edited by Mary Evelyn Tucker and Duncan Ryuken Williams
[17]“ホメ们ヒ爱ト」ャニ实茣サハヌヌン兽鱼ウ豬トアセノ惞ィミ。节」ゥ」ャカヌラヤシコオトミト」ィエå)” (Zhang ed. 259). Also see Chapter 2 of this thesis.
[18]Dinghu Mountain (カヲコノス) in Guangdong Province
[19] E.g. in the case of hunting to keep the population of a certain species in check
[TEM1]Perhaps you have already done what I am going to suggest (but I won’t know until I read more). I suggest that towards the end of this and go back and take a look at, think about, and comment on  your own strategies for making sense of these animals. Consider the language you use to describe them and to imagine your way inside their heads. Do our strategies for understanding/writing about animals obscure them or reveal them or both. How might you think about and describe and imagine your way into your animals in other fahsion?
[TEM2]Need this?
[TEM3]What is a language? If they don’t communicate in language, what do we call the system they use to communicate. (These are open-ended questions.)
[TEM4]If they can, do they then have language?
[TEM5]Do we have to have words to have language?
[TEM6]Beautiful! I love this. Nice writing.
[TEM7]You have two things going on here. Each writer “to some extent” creating his/her own language, and several writers all using a language created by history and culture (the language of Buddhism in this instance).
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只看该作者 地板  发表于: 2014-03-14
早就收到过,但是一直懒得没有抽时间好好读。
我能想到最浪漫的事,就是与你一起宣传动保!
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只看该作者 4楼 发表于: 2014-03-15
这个读起来 是要花点时间的
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