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Buddhism In China Essay

1086 words - 4 pages

Buddhism in China

        Undoubtedly, many Chinese people are Buddhists. What this number may be we have
no means of finding out, but in every town and village a Buddhist temple or temples can be seen with
numerous worshipers.
        In my paper, I will explore Chinese Buddism's history, phenomalism,
and practices.

        It was the period from the dawn of the Han dynasty (25-220 CE) to the fall of the
Western Chin dynasty (265-317 CE) to the Huns that Buddhism was introduced into China by
two buddhist missionaries from India. Chinese emperors also sent missions to India to collect original
texts and ordered the translation from Sanskrit to Chinese.(Edkins 6)

        Buddhism arrived in China at a fortunate time where its core values and beliefs
paralleled with the will of many. The conquered North was occupied and divided between
various sinicized peoples, who soon were warring with one another. In the South, the upper
classes who devoted their lives to academics and literature began to explore Buddhism.
Buddhism was adopted and promoted by many of the occupying dynasties in the North, where
it eventually would achieve a popularity nearing the status of a state religion. For a time,
Buddhism had asserted its own independent identity and drew more attention from native
Chinese followers. During 424-451, Chinese Buddists experienced persecution under
Emperor Wu or Shih-tusu. However, during the short-lived Sui dynasty (581-618), the North
and South traditions of Buddhism were united. The T'ang Dynasty (618-907) was the Golden
Age of Chinese Buddhism. At the end of the Sui and during the opening years of the Tang Dynasty
(618-907), a series of Chinese Buddhists emerged to establish the major sects and schools. All
of these schools and others enjoyed a period of state religion status under the first couple
centuries of the T'ang dynasty. This period closed with the catatrophic persecutions and the
collapse of the Tang dynasty. During the reign of Emperor Wu-tsung (841-847), the
persecution of 845 took place and an order came to the effect that all Buddhist establishments
should be destroyed, initiating a decline in Chinese Buddhism. About a quarter of a million
monks and nuns returned to normal life. After the mortal blows of two extensive persecutions
and the general anarchy and warfare at the end of the Tang dynasty, Chinese Buddhism would
never recover the vitality and creativity it enjoyed at the height of the T'ang dynasty. (Beal 31)

        There is a large proportion of people in China that are professedly Buddist but there are
various reasons as to how they came to call it their religion. Buddhism's moral teachings attracted
various people, the rich and poor and the educated and the uneducated, as they found meaning in
Buddhism's reincarnation: they believed that those who suffered from a low station in life did so
because of misdeeds in their former life. Buddhism offers the Chinese more than the...

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