You Zhibiao 尤智表

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Yóu Zhìbiǎo 尤智表 (b.1901)
  • Born 1901
  • Died 19??
Notable Associates:
  • Article editor: Erik Hammerstrom

Yóu Zhìbiǎo 尤智表 (b.1901) was a Harvard-trained engineer and a lay Buddhist. He was the author of two important books on science and Buddhism, which were published in the 1940s.



Yóu was from Sūzhōu 蘇州. His mother died when he was 5, and his father died when he was 7. His family were devout Buddhists and recited sūtras. At age 12, during the first year of the Republic, he began attending elementary school. As a youth he bought a copy of the early Buddhist periodical Buddhist Miscellany 佛學叢報 at a local bookstore. At 15 he went to Shànghǎi 上海 and passed into Fùdān University 復旦大學 but did not go, instead enrolled in the Communications Department at Nányáng 南洋 Engineering Vocational School. He graduated from the school four years later, at which point he went to college to study electrical engineering. He graduated from college in 1924.

After graduation, Yóu got a job translating encyclopedia entries (at the Commercial Press?) on engineering and science at the rate of two to three thousand words per day. He impressed his boss, and as a result was able to get a side job as a private tutor. He worked at these jobs for six years. In his spare time he wrote scientific commentaries and published half a dozen books. It was also during these yeas that he began to believe in Buddhism, due mostly to the influence of his uncle, Yóu Jǐngxī 尤景溪 with whom he lived. Sometime between 1924 and 1930, he took refuge under Yìnguāng 印光.

Around 1930, Yóu was sent by the army to Harvard to study radio technology. He returned in 1932 or 1933 and went to work as an instructor and the Central Aviation School in Hángzhōu 杭州, during which time he also served as a professor at Zhèjiāng Univeristy 浙江大學. He also attended lectures given by Yuányīng 圓瑛.

In the spring of 1937, Yóu became head of radio instruction for the Nánchāng 南昌 Air Force’s 3rd Division. With the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese war later that year, he moved to Chéngdū 成都. He worked there for two years, then quit to go into private enterprise, making a small fortune for himself.

In the spring of 1946, he studied Buddhism with Huìjué 會覺 at the Right Faith Society 正信會 in Hànkǒu 漢口. In July of that year, he published his series Yī ge kēxuézhe yánjiū fójīngde bàogào 一個科學者硏究佛經的報告 (Report of a Scientist Studying the Buddhists Sūtras) in the magazine Right Faith 正信. Later that same year, this work was published as a separate book, making it widely available to the Buddhist world. Not long after it was first published a few laypeople got together money to republish it on a larger scale, and an English translation (which was eventually made) was discussed. In preparation for the republishing, Yóu gave the book to Wáng Xiǎoxú 王小徐 to edit.

In 1948, Yóu left Húběi 湖北 and went back to Sūzhōu. Back home, all his old friends had either left or had died. He set up a Buddhist altar in his home and chanted. The following year, he briefly went to Shànghǎi to participate in the 佛教青年會. There, he gave a talk on the radio titled The Buddha-dharma and Science (佛法與科學),after which he returned to Sūzhōu. This talk was not recorded, but it is likely that the talk he gave on the radio in Shànghǎi in 1949 was his Fójiào kēxué guān 佛教科學觀, which he wrote between the publishing of his first article and then.

A revised version of Yī ge kēxuézhe yánjiū fójīngde bàogào was published in November 1954. Yóu wrote his own preface for the work, but because he wrote it too late it did not appear in the reprint. Instead, it was published in December of that year in Juexun yuekan 覺訊月刊. He was living in Hànkǒu at the time.[1]

It is unclear what Yóu did after 1954, where he lived, or when he died.

Important Works

  • Yī ge kēxuézhe yánjiū fójīngde bàogào 一個科學者硏究佛經的報告 (Report of a Scientist Studying the Buddhists Sūtras), 1946.
  • Fójiào kēxué guān 佛教科學觀 (The Scientific Outlook of Buddhism), first serialized in 1949.


  1. Yóu Zhìbiǎo 尤智表, “Yī ge kēxuézhe yánjiū fójīngde bàogào zìxù 一個科學者硏究佛經的報告自序 (Self Preface to a Report of a Scientist Studying the Buddhists Sūtras),” Juéxùn yuèkān 覺訊月刊, vol. 95 (1954), MFQ 103.456.


  • Shì Dōngchū 釋東初. Zhōngguó Fójiào jìndài shǐ 中國佛教近代史 (A History of Early Contemporary Chinese Buddhism), in Dōngchū lǎorén quánjí 東初老人全集 (Complete Collection of Old Man Dongchu), vols. 1-2. Taipei: Dongchu, 1974 Pp. 2.591-592.
  • Yú Língbō 于凌波. Zhōngguó jìnxiàndài fójiào rénwù zhì 中國近現代佛教人物志. Běijīng 北京: Zōngjiào wénhuà chūbǎnshè 宗教文化出版社, 1995. Pp. 619-628.
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