New Confucianism

Also called “Contemporary Neo-Confucianism.” The philosophy of the New Confucians, the twentieth and twenty-first century Confucian thinkers who inherited or adopted the intellectual tradition of Neo-Confucianism but who are also concerned with Western philosophical traditions. A brief description of the movement follows: “The New Confucian Movement was born in the 920s. Its program has been to reclaim for Confucian thought a leading role in Chinese society, to rebuild the Confucian value system, and on the foundation of it to absorb and master, and finally amalgamate Western Learning, in order to pursue the modernization of Chinese culture and society.” (Citation from Bresciani 2001, iii–iv, which takes and translates this definition from Fang 1997, 453.) For more on New Confucianism, see Bresciani 2001 and Makeham 2003.


Literally, ‘link,’ one of the twelve that constitute the twelve links of conditioned arising, a paradigm of samsara, the cycle of birth and death.


A term used in this book to label more respectfully what Mahāyāna texts traditionally called Hīnayāna. Nikāya here is used as an adjective and describes forms of Buddhism which are centered on those early sūtras which were organized into collections called nikāyas or āgamas. Translating Hīnayāna “Nikāya Buddhism” is becoming increasingly common due to concerns about offending people. See for example Strong 1995, 86–87, and Pittman 2001, 317.


Total extinction of desire and suffering, the state of liberation through Full Enlightenment.

Noble One

A Buddhist “saint,” spoken of in contrast to the ordinary person. In early Buddhism, anyone who has attained one of the four fruits qualifies as a noble one, while in Mahāyāna Buddhism, those who have entered the first ground, the forty-first of the fifty-two stages to Buddhahood, qualify as noble ones. But note that in the Tiāntái 天台 school’s formulation of the bodhisattva path according to the Perfect Teachings, the stage when one is considered a noble one differs (see entry 4.4). (In a Chinese Buddhist context, also translated “sage.”)