Essay: Buddhism in China

Pages: 5 (1395 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion  ·  Buy This Paper

Buddhism as a religion occupies a very central place in the very history of the Chinese society and thought.As a system, Buddhism had attracted some of the greatest minds between the Song and Han (2nd and 3rd centuries) periods (Lai 7).Buddhism is arguably the most influential religion in China .It is worth noting that at Buddhism was never an indigenous religion in the region. In this paper, we present an analysis of the history of Buddhism in China and its influence on the Chinese culture. We focus on how political, cultural and social forces shaped Buddhism in China.

Buddhism in China

As noted earlier, Buddhism was never an indigenous religion in the Chinese society. Buddhism was founded by Gautama in India in the 6th century B.C. After some centuries, the religion found its way into China via Central Asia.. According to the accounts of Chinese Historians, Buddhism was recognized, officially in China in 67 a.D (Hodous 4). Buddhism is basically an Indian thought system that got transmitted to the Chinese region by the Buddhist monks and Central Asian traders as early as the 1st century a.D. The system was later passed into the Korean region in the 4th century and to Japan by the 6th century. The influence of Buddhism on the culture of these three regions is great. Records exist to indicate that Buddhism was already active in the Chinese region as early as 50 a.D. Its influence however, was never felt in the region until the leadership as well as patronage of the very early Six Dynasties Neo-Daoists. This is when they brought it into the limelight and attention of the literate Chinese elite. From that time onwards, Buddhism as a religion and system of thought has had a sweeping force in the Chinese society.

Chinese tradition or folk lore states that as early as the periods of 142 B.C, a Chinese dynasty ambassador named Chang Ch'ien named Wu Ti regularly visited the Central Asian countries. During his visits, he learnt of a new religion which was so popular and making headways and promptly reported his discovery to his master. After a more few years, his generals captured a golden image of Buddha which was later set up by the emperor in his palace and then worshipped.

How political forces shaped Buddhism in China

Buddhism has for along time been a source of great political influence in China and other regions. In China for instance, the Buddhist clergy are noted to have fought for all sorts of favor in the Chinese royal court. Buddhist sects are also noted to be involved in a tag-of-war among them for the very control of bureaucratic power (Campion 1).

Buddhism has no doubt had a positive impact on the political as well as governmental system in China. For instance, during the Tang dynasty, the Chinese benefitted from the good political administration that allowed people to enjoy a lot of religious freedom due to the widespread adoption of Buddhism. This led the common people to live in so much peace, harmony and safety.This led the neighboring countries to come and pay tribute to the Chinese imperial courts.

During the Song dynasty, different Buddhist sects and specifically Zen saw a great evolution on a local basis. In the practice of Buddhism became assimilated into the operations of the imperial courts. It became a common practice for the common people and the common courts to respects, effectively respect as well as believe in the teachings of Buddhism. The practice of Buddhism had a profound influence on the Chinese officials and governance structures.zen permiated their thoughts. The prime ministers in the feudal China as well as Military Affairs Commissioners and assistant administrators in the then powerful Song Dynasty like Mengzheng, Zhaott, Fubi Fanzhongyan, Zhangfanoping, Wangsui Wanganshi and Ligang were heavily influenced by the Zen teachings.All these officials had a very strong connection with Zen and Buddhism. Traditionally, the main role of Buddhist clergy and monastics was very limited to just advising the rules on the appropriate and proper application of the Buddhist teachings to the society and government (Hwa 8). However, the last few years have seen an increase in the level of… [END OF PREVIEW]

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