硬頸文豪韓愈

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2002 / 11月

文‧蔡文婷


在現行的高中課本裡,韓愈和蘇軾兩人同登文章入選排行榜上的第一。韓愈的〈雜說〉、〈師說〉、〈祭十二郎文〉、〈祭鱷魚文〉等文章,大家耳熟能詳。今年初,佛光山自大陸奉迎佛骨來台,反對人士更一再引據韓愈的〈論佛骨表〉。究竟,一生尊儒辟佛道、倡導古文運動的韓愈,對於中華文化的影響為何?


翻開韓愈的〈論佛骨表〉,偏執激烈的言詞貫穿全文。韓愈認為許多事佛虔誠的帝王反而早夭亡國,「事佛求福,乃更得禍。」建議唐憲宗最好將佛骨「投諸水火,永絕根本。」甚至在〈原道〉一文的結語指出:不禁止佛道,就不能傳聖人之道,最好叫僧尼、道士全還俗,佛經道書都燒毀,寺廟改成民房,那樣或許可以養活弱勢的鰥寡孤獨者。

敬鬼神而遠之

對於韓愈何以如此激烈反對佛、道,「那是他生命的基底特質,」本身是禪宗修行者的佛光人文社會學院藝術學研究所所長林谷芳指出,不僅是韓愈,從魏晉佛教傳入中國後,儒者認為這來自外邦、無君無父的佛教,破壞了中國的倫常,群起加以反對,韓愈又是一個官員,自有其憂心之處。台灣大學中文學系教授柯慶明認為,韓愈之所以辟佛、道,得回到他的時代來看。韓愈出生於唐代宗大曆三年(西元七六八年)的中唐時代,當時佛、道信仰儼然社會主流,和尚與道士備受禮遇,不僅與帝王貴族一般,擁有許多特權,許多僧道甚至佔有大片田產,又不需納稅。作為一個政府官員的韓愈,見政府財政出現危機,而帝王又大事鋪張奉迎佛指。滿朝百官與民間百姓不惜「解衣散財,斷臂鬻身。」於是,在一片供養佛骨的大潮流中,韓愈大聲疾呼地反對佛教,「這需要很大勇氣的,」柯慶明指出。

人間的學問

唐代曾經是一個佛學盛世,有著氣度恢弘的大格局。然而,中唐以後,亂象紛起,「像韓愈這樣反佛道的儒者,自然要大大反對迎鬼神的事,」林谷芳表示。

身處安史亂後,又遭藩鎮割據,土蕃及回紇等外邦屢次侵擾,韓愈並不認為超脫世外的佛教能夠拯救百姓。實際上,他還是個親上戰場,參加平淮西戰役的功臣。「站在官員的立場,韓愈是在發生問題的時候,秉著救弊的胸懷,提出他的解答,」柯慶明表示。站在社會、經濟、政治的立場來看,韓愈提出一套實際解決方法。他在〈原道〉一文中闡述:「聖人之道,相生養之道也。」也就是從世外空談回歸到最基本的現世生活,經世致用的道理。韓愈心中的道,包括仁義道德,包括君臣父子的綱倫,更包括涉及百姓一切日用的生活問題。柯慶明認為韓愈是介於孟子與國父之間,一個以國家百姓出發的學者。

古文新世界

不同於南北朝文人著重引經據典的對仗功夫,韓愈從經典走出,自中下階層出發,將俚俗事物,寫成十分藝術性的美文,並且寓含國家修齊治平的大思想。例如他寫〈圬者王承福傳〉,藉著泥水匠的生活觀察,發現怠惰工作者,即使擁有華屋美廈,終究富貴難守的旨趣。

「韓愈以栩栩如生的描寫,創造出一種既能表達個人情志,卻又包含豐富經驗的文體,那是一種『經驗』的解放,開啟了中國文學的新時代,」柯慶明指出。韓愈所倡導的古文運動,影響不僅於唐代,甚至清末的曾國藩、胡適都深受影響,使得中國文化自此以散文為文學主流,無怪乎蘇東坡要稱他「文起八代之衰」。

包括之後的宋詩,也因為韓愈而跳脫唐詩的秀美、雄渾與瀟灑,將不美的事物寫入詩中,對景象加以分析、推理,形成一種怪誕、滑稽的趣味,猶如現代詩一般。柯慶明不禁讚嘆:「韓愈實在是一個非常有意思的人,他讓文學的道路變得寬廣,將普通經驗化為藝術經驗。他不僅是一個重要的文學運動家,也是一個優秀的文學家。」

對於幼年就失去父母、哥哥,由嫂嫂獨力養大的韓愈,年輕時考運不佳,十九歲到長安求進士,考了四次才上榜。加上直言不諱的個性,當官時還被貶三次。若以世俗的功名利祿來看,韓愈並非一個成功者。

然而他勇於開拓新的文體,在被貶為潮州刺史時,依然將彩色的人生帶到偏遠的南蠻之地,在在顯示了他超越功名之外,維護生命美好價值的性格,這或許更是值得現代學子為他獻上一柱清香的地方。

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儘管仕途不佳,韓愈對潮州文教的開展,使他由廣東潮州到台灣屏東,永享香煙膜拜。(版畫製作黃紫環)

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富有客家建築特色的昌黎祠,曾經是六堆地區重要的書院。

相關文章

近期文章

EN

Divine Patron of Exam Takers: Han Yu

Tsai Wen-ting /photos courtesy of Jimmy Lin /tr. by Bruce Humes

In today's Taiwanese high school textbooks, Han Yu and Su Dongpo rank highest on the scale in terms of texts selected for publication. Essays, On Mentors, In Memory of Shi'er Lang, Funeral Oration for the Crocodile and other writings by Han Yu all have a familiar ring. Earlier this year when Fo Guang Shan Temple in Kaohsiung solemnly hosted an exhibition of Buddha's remains on loan to Taiwan from the mainland, those opposing this event once again cited Han Yu's Memorial on the Bone-Relic of the Buddha. In reality, how great has the influence of Han Yu-who revered Confucian thought while castigating Buddhism throughout his life-been on Chinese culture?


Reading through the Memorial on the Bone-Relic of the Buddha, one finds biased and emotive language throughout. Han Yu believed that many Buddhist devotees among China's emperors died ahead of their time and caused the nation great harm: "They served Buddha to seek happiness, but in the end found only disaster," he wrote, and recommended that the Tang emperor Xianzong "cast the Buddha's remains into the fire, and thereby eliminate the roots of the problem."

In On the Origin of the Way, he writes in his summary: If the Way of the Buddha is not forbidden, the Way of the Sages cannot be propagated, in which case it would be best to require both Buddhist and Taoist monks and nuns to return to lay life, to burn Buddhist and Taoist canons, and refurbish temples for the lay people. By doing so, at least one could help support the disadvantaged such as widowers and widows, and orphans.

As to why Han Yu was so radically opposed to Buddhism, "That is the most basic characteristic of his life," comments Lin Ku-fang, himself a Buddhist practitioner, and head of the Institute for Art Research at Fo Kuang University. He points out that this was not just so for Han Yu; from the introduction of Buddhism during the Wei (220-280) and Jin Dynasties (265-420) and onwards, Confucianists rose up to oppose it-Han Yu among them-because they considered Buddhism a foreign religion that denied the role of the feudal lord and of the father, and thus threatened order in China's hierarchical society. As an official, he too had his own reasons for concern.

According to Professor Ko Ching-ming of the Department of Chinese Literature at National Taiwan University, to comprehend why Han Yu was opposed to Buddhism, one must think back to the era in which he lived. When he was born in mid-Tang times in 768 AD, both Buddhism and Taoism were very much part of the social mainstream. Both Buddhist monks and Taoist priests were treated respectfully, and they not only shared the privileges of the emperor and nobility, but many also possessed huge tracts of land and were exempt from paying taxes.

As a government official, Han Yu perceived that the government's finances were in crisis while the emperor lavishly prepared to host the Buddha's remains, in preparation for which lower-ranking officials and the common people "went unclothed, depleted their savings, and even sacrificed life and limb." Whereupon, in the midst of this great tide of support for hosting the Buddha's relics, Han Yu loudly and sharply denounced Buddhism. "This required great courage," says Ko Ching-ming.

The Tang dynasty saw the flowering of Buddhism, and the atmosphere was one of broad tolerance. But after the mid-Tang years, rebellions flared up, and "Confucianists like Han Yu who opposed Buddhism were bound to vehemently oppose plans to 'host ghosts and gods,'" adds Lin Ku-fang.

As someone who came after the Anlu Shan rebellion (755), the secession of Fanchen, and repeated intrusions by foreign powers such as the Tu Fan and the Hui He, Han Yu was not of the opinion that Buddhism-with its transcendental thought-could save the common people. In reality, he was a minister of merit who had personally done battle, having taken part in the military campaign to supress a rebellion in the region west of the Huai River.

"Looking at things as a government official, when problems occurred Han Yu would come up with his own answer in the hopes of delivering the people from evil," explains Ko Ching-ming. Looking at Han Yu from a social, economic and political point of view, he provided a series of realistic solutions. In On the Origin of the Way he writes: "The Way of the Sage is the way of mutual support." That is, to stop empty talk and focus on the most basic, realistic aspects of life-truths which are tried and practical. Han Yu's "Way" or Tao consists of benevolence, righteousness, morality and virtue, including the father-son relationship, and even more, those aspects impacting the daily lives of the common people. Ko Ching-ming places Han Yu alongside Mencius and Sun Yat-sen as a scholar whose thinking began with concern for the masses.

New-fangled Classical Chinese

Unlike the literati of the Southern and Northern dynasty (420-589) who emphasized classical allusions and symmetrical verses, Han Yu left the world of the classics and instead chose the middle and lower classes as his point of departure. He wrote about mundane things in artistic, truly beautiful writing, and yet managed to indirectly express grander thinking about the governance of the nation. In "Story of Wealthy Mason Wang," Han Yu conveys a moral through his observation of a bricklayer who is revealed as a lazy worker, today the owner of a lovely mansion, but inevitably unable to maintain his riches.

"Han Yu creates a form of writing which, thanks to its lively descriptions, can both convey his personal emotions and include his rich life experience," points out Ko Ching-ming. "This is a kind of liberation of 'experience,' and it inspired a new era of Chinese literature." The classical movement promoted by Han Yu not only impacted the Tang dynasty, but more so thereafter, as even Tseng Kuo-Fan and Hu Shih in the late Qing dynasty were heavily influenced by him. Thanks to Han Yu, after him the prose essay became the literary mainstream in Chinese culture. No wonder that Su Dongpo dubbed him: "He who revitalized Confucianist writing after generations of decline."

Han Yu had the ability to leap beyond the elegant beauty of Tang poetry with its grandeur and carefree attitude, and instead could write the "unbeautiful" into his poems, analyzing scenery, making inferences, creating delight in the bizarre and the droll in a very modern way.

"Han Yu was really a fascinating person. He made the literary path a much broader one, and was able to transform mundane experience into 'artistic experience,'" says Ko Ching-ming, who cannot help singing Han Yu's praises. "He was not only a significant literary activist; he was also a superior man of literature."

Han Yu, who lost his parents and elder brother when very young and was raised just by his sister-in-law, had bad luck at his exams when young as well; at 19 he went to Chang'an to take the jinshi exam, but sat four times before his name appeared on the honor roll. Add to that his penchant for speaking his mind, and three demotions during his official career. When examined from a worldly point of view based on the acquisition of wealth and reputation, Han Yu hardly qualifies as a "success."

A courageous pioneer in literary style, even when he was demoted to governor of Chaozhou Prefecture, Han Yu brought his colorful lifestyle to that far-flung uncivilized southern realm, thereby displaying once again his ability to transcend worldly concerns of fame and fortune, and his characteristic willingness to uphold the values of a life of beauty and goodness. Perhaps this is a better reason for modern scholars to offer a stick of sweet-smelling incense in his memory.

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Despite the setback to his career when demoted, Han Yu's role in developing education in Chaozhou means that today he is the object of incense-burning and prayer from Guangdong's Chaozhou to Taiwan's Pingtung. (print by Huang Tsu-huan)

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Changli Temple: This Hakka-style building was once an important academy for classical Chinese learning in the Liutui area.

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