With the development of education and the popularization of culture in the Song Dynasty, the education level of the Buddhist monks and Taoists generally improved. The discussion of their education level and the number of literates among them is conducive to a deeper understanding of the social culture and religious connotation of the Song Dynasty. In this dynasty, there were explicit benchmarks for the education level in both the profession itself and its official management. The law stipulated that anyone who wanted to be a monk or Taoist must pass a rigorous examination conducted by the government and must be able to read 500 pages of Buddhist scriptures. The examination was presided by five officials including the state general judge. After being a monk or Taoist, he needed to study Buddhism and other fields of knowledge all his life, as it was the foundation and an important part of the practice. The government also strengthened the monitoring of the education of monks and Taoists in temples, usually in the form of assessment in the promotion of monks. At least in terms of system, monks and Taoists in the Song Dynasty were all literate, which resulted in a higher overall education level than those of the past and made outstanding historical contributions in the religious and spiritual fields. The most historically significant religious academic achievements in the Song Dynasty such as the numerous Quotations in Buddhism, especially the Lamp Record, were beyond the reach of the Sui and Tang Dynasties. As one of the most important works on alchemy theory and practice, Ziyang Zhenren Wuzhen Pian written by Zhang Boduan had a great influence on Taoism in later generations. In the Song Dynasty, the Linji School started the two influential schools of ″Huanglong″ and ″Yangqi″, giving the Zen and even Buddhism an entirely new look. One of the signs indicating the development of Taoist culture is the creation of new schools. For example, the Zhengyi School had the branch school of Tianxin, the Fuzhuan School had the branch of Shenxiao, the Lingbao School had the branch of Jingming Taoism, and the Neidan School was divided into the Southern School and the Northern School. All these marked the high education level of monks and Taoists in the Song Dynasty. Versatile and erudite, they actively participated in worldly affairs, making many contributions in science and technology, literature and art, etc. Chen Deyi, a Taoist priest, had a good command of calendar. Monk Huaibing was an outstanding expert in architecture. The elderly monk, Fengxiang, was skillful at metallurgy, and many more monks were well-versed in medicine. The monks and Taoists who were excellent in Chinese calligraphy and painting created a lot of rare literary and artistic pieces 8 people were listed in Xuanhe Shupu and Xuanhe Huapu. There were many top musicians among monks and Taoists. Unique in the history of Chinese literature, monks and Taoists were enthusiastically involved in literary endeavors, particularly in the Song Dynasty because of the existence of a large team of writers. In particular, they incorporated Zen and Buddhism into poetry, contributing to the innovation and development of poetry and became a miracle in the history of Chinese literature. These were without dispute marks of their higher education level. Poetry anthologies written by Taoist priests are still read and appreciated now. As a center for book publishing, collection and reading, Buddhist and Taoist temples served as places for storing and disseminating large numbers of documents, and they were open to the public. The temples also set up primary schools and enrolled children for elementary education. Monks and Taoists in the Song Dynasty attracted scholar-bureaucrats with their high education level and versatility. Their extensive contacts were of great significance to the integration and development of Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism and the development of literary creation. It is estimated that at the end of the Northern the Song Dynasty, there were about 600,000 literates among all monks and Taoists, constituting a huge part of intellectual class. Therefore, it is no exaggeration to say that Buddhist and Taoist literacy is equal to scholar-bureaucratic literacy, and the two dominated the country, representing the thought quintessence at that time. The history of the Song Dynasty shows that Confucianism was mainly at the political level and Buddhism and Taoism the life level; Confucianism played a major role in the upper class, while Buddhism and Taoism in the lower class. Buddhism and Taoism were no less influential than scholar-bureaucrats in people's life, and penetrated even deeper into people's daily life and the ideas. The philosophical aspect of Buddhism and the scientific aspect of Taoism were not found in Confucianism. The education level and the cultural influence of Buddhism and Taoism, though far from competing with Confucianism, played a role of balance, which was conducive to the diversified development of the dynasty.
程民生. 论宋代僧道的文化水平[J]. 浙江大学学报(人文社会科学版), 2019, 5(3): 28-.
Cheng Minsheng. A Study on the Education Level of Monks and Taoists in the Song Dynasty. JOURNAL OF ZHEJIANG UNIVERSITY, 2019, 5(3): 28-.