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Abstract

In 2001, during an academic conference on Humanistic Buddhism in Taipei, Venerable Shi Zhaohui, accompanied by a few Buddhist clergy and laypeople, tore apart a copy of the Eight Garudhammas (Eight Heavy Rules), regulations that govern the behavior of Buddhist nuns. Zhaohui's symbolic act created instant controversy as Taiwan's Buddhist community argued about the rules' authenticity and other issues within Buddhist monastic affairs. This paper examines the debate over the Eight Garudhammas and situates the debate within Taiwan's cultural terrain as well as the worldwide Buddhist feminist movement. I argue that while Zhaohui's call resulted in the abolishment of the rules neither at home nor abroad, it profoundly affected nuns' position in Buddhism and contributed to broader discussions on women and religion. In making this argument, I revisit the impact of Western feminism (and Western Buddhist feminists) on Eastern religions and reconsider the tensions this relationship encompasses.

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