Book Reviews 291

Dan Smyer Yü The Spread of in : Charisma, Money, Enlightenment. Oxon: Routledge, 2012. xi + 222 pages. Hardcover. isbn 978-0-415-57532-4. us$54.95.

The spread of in the West has received considerable attention both within scholarly and popular literature. While a small number of scholars have focused on Tibetan Buddhist developments within society in the Republican period, very little attention has been given to the spread of Tibetan Buddhism among Han Chinese from the 1980s onward (one exception being Tibetan Buddhism’s relation to the “qigong fever” of the same period) and particularly in the first decade of the 2000s. Further, while most scholarly work on Sino-Tibetan relations has been concerned with the “ Question,” very little discussion has been dedicated to grassroots interaction between Han dis- ciples and Tibetan . This is unfortunate, as an exclusively political focus further perpetuates essentialist thinking among Westerners who regard the Chinese as “atheists” oppressing the “hyper-spiritual” Tibetans. Evidently the ongoing of Tibetans by the Chinese state is of great concern, yet it is not the only Sino-Tibetan narrative to be told in modern China. As an increasing number of China’s citizens become disillusioned with the ideologies of capitalism, a number are turning to Tibetan Buddhism for salva- tion. They find in Tibetan Buddhism the authenticity they seek in order to obtain genuine salvation, as opposed to what some consider the inauthenticity of Chinese traditions that have been corrupted by greed, power, and politics. Tibetan reincarnate lamas () in particular are seen as the holders of this authenticity, as their lineages are believed to stretch back to the Buddha him- self. In this respect, the current search for authenticity in Tibetan Buddhism is a continuation of the efforts of Chinese monks during the Republican era to revitalize by traveling to Tibet and learning from Tibetan masters. On the other hand, the current spread of Tibetan Buddhism in mod- ern China is, as Smyer Yü points out, thoroughly connected to the globalization of Tibetan Buddhism and the market economy—and is being adopted primar- ily by middle-class Han Chinese rather than by Chinese monastics. Smyer Yü’s work examines this spread of Tibetan Buddhism by focusing pri- marily on the outreach of students of the late —who established the Larung Buddhist Academy in Sertar, Province, in the 1980s—and how Han Chinese are receiving and practicing Tibetan Buddhism accordingly. This Buddhist academy has become the largest in the world, and despite state oppression of the academy in 2001, it continues to grow, in con- junction with other institutions in the Tibetan regions, and through the

© koninklijke brill nv, leiden, 2015 | doi 10.1163/22143955-00202014

292 Book Reviews

Internet, multimedia, and other avenues. Unlike Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok’s more traditional ways of disseminating Tibetan Buddhist teachings, his disci- ples are fluent in Chinese and are well acquainted with the use of modern technologies, as well as the discourses of Marxism, science, and globalized forms of Tibetan Buddhism. In a study that stems from the contact Han pil- grims have with Tibetan teachers at Larung Buddhist Academy and elsewhere in the Tibetan regions of Sichuan and Provinces, Smyer Yü examines the “intricate entanglements of the [Tibetan] Buddhist revivals with cultural identity, state ideology, and popular imagination of Tibetan Buddhist spiritual- ity” (abstract). He examines these themes in respective chapters by focusing on the cha- risma of tulkus and the communal aspect of this charisma; the Tibetan land- scape, believed to be animated with numerous deities and spirits, imbued with a charisma that it both emanates and shares with that of tulkus; Han pilgrim- age to the Tibetan areas; the place of money in the spread of Tibetan Buddhism; Tibetan Buddhism within and in juxtaposition to the discourse of scientism (particularly Marxism); and the ethnic reclamation of “Tibetanness” among Tibetans, propagated through cyberspace. Smyer Yü’s work thus offers a rich tapestry of the forces and discourses involved in the spread of Tibetan Buddhism in modern China. Further, he pro- vides fairly nuanced accounts of these topics, rather than simplistic observa- tions. For example, rather than simply equating Han interest in the “potency” of Tibetan Buddhism for the sake of wealth accumulation with crass material- ism, he demonstrates how some business-oriented practitioners may seek wealth for its own sake, while others see the accumulation of wealth as a means to create more leisure time and therefore gain access to Tibetan masters and their teachings—i.e., for the purpose of seeking liberation from suffering and cyclic existence (121). He further demonstrates how some charlatan Tibetan monks may cheat Chinese of their money, while genuine masters denounce this practice severely and even give away all the wealth that they accumulate from Han donations. Similarly, he explores how some of Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok’s disciples are employing the discourse of Marxism and other dis- courses of modernity to demonstrate how Tibetan Buddhism is not “supersti- tious” as claimed by the state, even while they reclaim their Tibetan identity through this process, by questioning the assumptions inherent in this dis- course upon which stereotypes of Tibet, Tibetans, and Tibetan Buddhism have been formulated. In these and other cases throughout the book, Smyer Yü suc- cessfully provides nuanced accounts of Tibetan and Han hybrid identities, showing how Tibetans in particular are not only subject to the forces that are changing the way in which their religious culture is perceived and acted upon,

review of and chinese society 2 (2015) 265-294