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Xinming He
CHIN 3361
Paper 4
Mulian and Miaoshan
The story of Mulian is perhaps one of the greatest tales from medieval China. It tells the story of a girl who disguises herself as a man and goes to war in place of her father. In the story, the main character, Mulian, is a virtuous monk who seeks the help of the Buddha to rescue his mother. Mulian’s mother had been humiliated and condemned to the lowest and most uncomfortable purgatory in Karmic retribution for her sins (Dudbridge 26). However, Mulian’s personal power is inadequate to rescue her mother. As a result, Budha proposes that he give food and gifts to monks and temples on every 15thof each month, which is the date of the Ghost Festivity of the seventh lunar calendar. Drawing on from Mulian’s commitment   to rescue his mother, it is apparent that Buddhism conforms to the filial piety found in Confucianism. This story reveals a lot concerning the Chinese culture. To be more specific, the story emphasizes the Xianbei culture military aspects such as the new emperors adopted the Chinese culture to win the approval of the locals (Dudbridge 47). The bottom line is that Mulian proves she is both an accomplished soldier and a dutiful Chinese daughter while her society is a combination of a couple of traditions. 
Drawing on Dudbridge, Miaoshan was an extremely kind, temperate, and virtuous person with a strong desire to assist anyone in need. Many people believed that she was a holly person because she was born with many birthmarks that were a rare thing in society (Mair 1097). She dressed bluntly and was widely known around her home area as “the maiden with the heart of a Buddha.” Notably, nearly all who came in contact with Miao Shan were amazed by her goodness and grace, which rehabilitated them to a religious life of Buddhism. Nonetheless, her father seemed to be a completely opposed to her ways(Mair 1065). He continued to aggressively seek wealth and power.
As a young girl, Miaoshan’s father arranged for her to get a husband,without her knowledge,so that they could raise children, but she refused and informed the father that she wanted to live a chaste life offering service to the weak and anyone else that in need of help. Her father was infuriated and tried different ways to convince her to accept his suggestions. Even the king and the queen tried to encourage her by sending lady’s maids. However, when the father realized that all was not fruitful, he resorted to cruel treatment. He punished her by demanding that she work in the garden and controlled what she was allowed to drink and eat. Even her sisters pleaded with her to end her pain by submitting to her father’s wishes. It is at this point that she said that she could get married if it would prevent three misfortunes, which include illness, old age, and death (Mair 1097). Thus, there was nothing that could make her get married as per her father’s wishes.
The stories of Mulian and Miaoshan bring out fundamental differences between Confucianism and Buddhism that have conflicting ideas on gender, families, and religion. These two Chinese philosophies recommend moral and ethical requirements that people should live by. Confucianism is a philosophy, tradition, or simply a way of life that is based on the Chinese philosopher Confucius. On the other hand, Buddhism entails a number of traditions, beliefs, and spiritual practices that are based on the teachings of the Buddha (Mair 1040). Consequently, the legend of Mulian aligns to the Buddhism philosophy while the story of Miaoshan is based on Confucianism teachings. While the story of Mulian tends to insinuate superstition, the legend of Miaoshan is based on logical thinking. For instance, when Mulian seeks the help of the monks, she is required to offer sacrifices on a specific day in order to reconcile their old differences. On the contrary, Miaoshan does what she thinks is correct regardless of it conflicting with traditions. To be more specific, she refuses to get married even though her culture requires that when she is of age, she find a husband. 
Nonetheless, there are similarities between the Buddhist and Confucianism teachings as revealed by the two stories. To illustrate these likenesses, both Mulian and Miaoshan believe that being kind and generous to others is their calling in society. This is revealed when Miaoshan refuses to get married and instead devotes her life to helping those that are in need. Mulian also endeavors to rescue her mother in spite of of it not being her duty (Dudbridge 48). In addition, the two stories reveal that gender does not matter in that men and women can be of equal status in society. This is shown by the two main characters of the tales being female who go against all the odds to do things that even men could not. Therefore, the legends of Mulian and Miaoshan expose the fundamental aspects of the Buddhist and Confucianism teachings and philosophies

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