【英语中国】中国中产阶级的新“鸦片” The new opium of a stressed people

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所属分类:双语中国

2014-5-9 07:11

小艾摘要: Yesterday was Buddha’s birthday. Who knew? Certainly not most of the materialistic masses who trod the streets of Shanghai – that least spiritual of cities – on the big day. Even Hong Kong took it ...
The new opium of a stressed people
Yesterday was Buddha’s birthday. Who knew? Certainly not most of the materialistic masses who trod the streets of Shanghai – that least spiritual of cities – on the big day. Even Hong Kong took it as a public holiday; Shanghai hardly noticed.

But not 100km away at Chongyuan Temple, on the shores of Lake Yangcheng, the young monk Miaoci was up by 4:30am, eager to begin celebrating the Buddhist equivalent of Christmas. He and 100 fellow monks were about halfway through their pre-dawn devotions when a group of men in suits and women in office attire hastily took up their places at the back of the temple.

They hardly fitted the stereotype of temple devotees in this part of China, many of whom are old, female and more rural than urban. Elderly ladies in traditional areas near here will sometimes hire a bus to take them off for a spot of temple tourism, hitting five or six local temples on the same day.

But these people were not members of a travelling “taitaituan”, or Buddhist wives’ group. They were staff of one of China’s largest insurance companies, on an office outing to celebrate the birth of baby Buddha. “The boss is a Buddhist,” says the monk Miaoci with a shrug. He points out that, these days, more and more of China’s rich and famous are taking to Buddhism.

Almost a third of the mainland’s wealthiest people now claim to be Buddhist, according to the Hurun Report, chronicler of all things rich and Chinesehttp://up.hurun.net/Humaz/201312/20131218155026428.pdf. And Global Times, controlled by the Communist party mouthpiece People’s Daily, said last month that there was nothing more trendy these days than proclaiming oneself a Buddhist – especially of the Tibetan variety.

Under the headline “Young Han Chinese turn to Tibetan Buddhism amid worldly frustration”, the paper quoted a young Beijing white-collar worker saying “everyone is talking about Tibetan Buddhism now. Pop stars are talking about it, my friends are talking about it, it’s cool. It’s even cooler to sing Tibetan prayers in hip-hop!” http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90882/8607798.html Academics quoted by the paper say that as many young Chinese lead “very stressed and uptight” lives they are turning to religion in search of balance.

Miaoci is not a Tibetan Buddhist. The Chongyuan Temple belongs to a different sect, Pureland Buddhism. But he too is cool and trying to start a trend. He says he wants to change stereotypes of monks as being dour, cut off from the world, and people who are somehow damaged emotionally. He embodies the new face of Chinese monkdom. “I am a happy monk,” he says, adding “I want to demonstrate a more lively, cheerful and energetic kind of Buddhism,” so that the religion can attract more younger followers. Miaoci asked for my mobile phone so that he could scan the QR matrix barcode on my WeChat app – the most popular group messaging software in China. And his favourite television show is The Big Bang Theory. He’s that kind of cleric.

Miaoci became a monk almost by accident. As a very naughty teenager his father gave him a choice: the People’s Liberation Army or Buddhism. He chose the latter and says it helps him “find his heart” (a quest that the PLA might not have seen as central to its mission).

Most of the 300-odd Buddhists who came to Chongyuan Temple yesterday to bathe baby Buddha in rosewater were not in their 20s like Miaoci, but in their 60s or above. And they were not exactly the new face of Chinese Buddhism. Apart from one young woman dressed in white platform heels and a shocking pink minidress, most were old ladies, with some dressed in the traditional blue tunic and quilted headscarf of local fishing villages.

That may not mean much, since it was a workday and anyone whose boss is not a Buddhist presumably had to turn up at the office. Besides, bathing baby Buddha may not be what young Chinese want from religion. Even Miaoci, a wonderful advert for the joys of temple life, says he is not that keen on the formalism of these ceremonies. He is aiming for a more modern image.

There are no reliable statistics to show how that is going. But at the back of the procession carrying the newly cleansed Buddha stood a group of young Buddhists clad in the uniform of the new Chinese middle class: fleeces and sweatpants, jeans and running shoes. They are the second generation of China’s wealth – and like heirs the world over, they often hanker for more than just money. Heaven knows, China needs something to ease its middle-class stress levels. Surely Buddhism is better than Benzodiazepine.

本周二是佛祖释迦牟尼诞辰日。有谁知道这一点?很显然,在这个重要的日子里,上海街头那些信奉物质主义的芸芸众生当中,知道这一点的肯定不是大多数。上海是个精神追求极弱的城市。就连香港都把这天定为了公共假日;上海却基本没有注意到这个日子。

但在距上海不到100公里的、位于阳澄湖畔的重元寺,年轻的妙慈和尚凌晨4:30就起床了,急切地开始庆祝这个相当于圣诞节的佛教节日。他和同寺100名僧人在日出前的虔诚诵经刚刚进行了一半,就有一群身穿西服的男士和身穿办公室套装的女士急匆匆地占据了大殿后面他们所待的位置。

这些人几乎完全不符合中国这一地区寺院信徒的典型形象,那些信徒有许多是老年人、女性,而且农村人的比例高于城市人。住在该地附近较为传统的地区的老大妈,有时会租用一辆巴士来场寺院特色游,在一天之内逛五六座当地寺院。

但周二涌入大殿的这群人可不是什么前来旅游的“太太团”(即信奉佛教的大妈组成的团)。他们是中国一家大型保险公司的职员,正在参加一项庆祝释迦摩尼诞辰的公司短途旅行。妙慈耸了耸肩说:“他们的老板是佛教徒。”他表示,近段时间,中国有越来越多的富人和名人开始信奉佛教。

胡润百富榜(Hurun Report,该榜单是一部记录中国富豪的编年史)的数据显示,目前中国内地有将近三分之一的顶级富豪自称是佛教徒。中共喉舌《人民日报》(People's Daily)下属的《环球时报》(Global Times)上月指出,如今没有什么事情比自称信奉佛教、特别是藏传佛教更加时髦了。

在这篇题为《汉族青年遭遇世俗挫折后转向藏传佛教》(Young Han Chinese turn to Tibetan Buddhism amid worldly frustration)的文章中,《环球时报》援引北京一名年轻白领的话称:“现在每个人都在谈论藏传佛教。流行歌星在谈,我的朋友们也在谈。它很酷。如果用嘻哈风格来吟唱藏语的祷文,就更酷了!”该报还援引学者的话称,由于很多中国年轻人过着“非常有压力和紧张的”生活,他们正在转向宗教以寻求心灵的平衡。

妙慈不是藏传佛教徒。重元寺属于佛教中的另一派,即净土宗。但他同样是一个很酷的人,并且正在尝试开启一股新潮流。他表示,自己想改变和尚的典型形象——和尚常被看成是一群闷闷不乐、与世隔绝、在感情上受过某种创伤的人。妙慈代表了中国僧人的新形象。他说,“我是一个开心的和尚”,然后又说,“我想展现一种更加活泼开朗、充满活力的佛教”,使它能够吸引到更多年轻的信徒。妙慈要了我的手机,来扫我的微信(WeChat)应用中的二维码——微信是中国最受欢迎的聊天应用。他最喜欢的电视节目是《生活大爆炸》(The Big Bang Theory)。他就是这种类型的宗教人士。

妙慈成为一名和尚基本上是出自偶然。少年时的他非常顽皮,于是父亲给了他一个选择:要么加入中国人民解放军,要么去当和尚。他选择了后者,并称佛教帮助他“找到了自己的本心”(中国人民解放军或许不会把这种追求视作核心使命)。

周二那天,有300多名佛教徒来到重元寺,举行用玫瑰花水浴佛的仪式,但其中的大多数人都不是妙慈这样的20多岁的青年,而是年届六旬或更加年长的老者。这些人并不代表中国佛教的新形象——当中绝大多数人是老大妈,部分穿着当地渔村传统的蓝色短上衣、戴着绗缝的头巾,只有一名穿着白色厚底高跟鞋和扎眼的粉色超短连衣裙的年轻女子。

这或许说明不了什么问题,因为那天是个工作日,任何老板不是佛教徒的人想必都得待在办公室里。此外,浴佛仪式或许并不是中国年轻人想从宗教中得到的东西。虽然妙慈可以算得上是寺院生活之乐的绝佳广告代言人,但即便是他也表示,自己不是很喜欢这些仪式的形式主义。他的目标是展现更加现代的形象。

没有什么可靠的统计数据表明这种转变目前进展如何。不过,在那支抬着刚刚沐浴过的佛像缓缓走过的队伍的背后,站着一群年轻的佛教徒,身穿中国新兴中产阶级的标志性“制服”:抓绒衣加运动裤,牛仔裤加跑鞋。他们是中国的富二代——而且和世界各地的继承人一样,他们渴望的往往不止是金钱。毋庸置疑,中国需要某种东西来舒缓本国中产阶级承受的压力。佛教无疑比苯二氮平类药物(Benzodiazepine,常作镇静催眠药使用——译者注)要好。

译者/马拉

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