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Forum LockedWhy is Buddism so successful in China?

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    Posted: 20-Oct-2007 at 07:48

I know that Buddism was at the height of its power during Noth-south dynasties(at one point, the number of Monks and Nuns occupies 1/4 of the population in Northern Wei dynasty) as well as Sui(Empiror Wen Di, the founder of Shui dynasty, grew up in the monastery) and Tang dynasties(emperor Tai Zong actually claimed himself to be a descendent of Laozi, but despite of his effort in trying to promote Taoism's status, Buddism still became dominant in Tang dynasty), in fact, several emperors are actually faithful believers themself(Empiror Wu Di of southern Liang dynasty made three attempts in becoming a monk himself, he failed appearantly his family refuse to gave him up)

So the question is, what made Buddism so special that it could replace the local Taoism and become the dominating religion? Even spread to other surrounding countries such as Korea, Japan, Burma, Vietnam........?


Edited by Siege Tower - 20-Oct-2007 at 07:49
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Omar al Hashim Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Oct-2007 at 08:22
I think the fact that Buddhism in china has been heavily sinocised has to be taken into account. Buddhism adapted to China just as much as China adapted to Buddhism.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Siege Tower Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Oct-2007 at 08:49
hmm...but it still doesn't explain how Buddism managed to replace the local Taoism, how did it adapted to become more suitable to the Chinese?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pekau Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Oct-2007 at 22:07
It's similar to how Christianity took over Paganism in Europe and Islam in Middle East. Everyone, including the poors, now had the chance to be successful and have meaningful life without threatening the power of the higher class.
     
   
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Oct-2007 at 22:52

First of all, Buddhism never complitely replaced Taoism. Chinese popular religion is not simply Buddhist, but rather a sincretism between the Taoism and Buddhism.

And after all, the most important Chinese religion is not Buddhism but the worship of the ancestors.
 
Secondly, the history of adoption of Buddhism in China, was quite a painful experience which took several centuries.
 
I believe that the success of Buddhism is mainly connected to the desire of the first Tang dinasty emperors, who where not compliterly ethic Chinese but a special ethnicity a mixture of Chinese with Turkic tribes which is called Tabgach in some sources, to create a subdstantial source to support their dinasty in China.
 
Taoism was not that good for that as an inherently Chinese religion. The good solution was the introduction of Buddhism, which eventually became the dominant religion during the earlier years of Tang.
 
However, we should also remember that Buddhism complitely reshaped itself to make itself more suitable for Chinese not vice versa.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote The Charioteer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Oct-2007 at 23:06

among "imported" religions, you dont have to go 'holy war" or 'jihad" with buddhism.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pekau Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Oct-2007 at 18:46
Originally posted by The Charioteer The Charioteer wrote:

among "imported" religions, you dont have to go 'holy war" or 'jihad" with buddhism.

 
No, indeed. Buddism discouraged the usage of violence, even for the greater good. I cannot imagine the Buddist monks armed for revolution...
     
   
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Oct-2007 at 19:02
Originally posted by pekau pekau wrote:

 
No, indeed. Buddism discouraged the usage of violence, even for the greater good. I cannot imagine the Buddist monks armed for revolution...
 
Smile
 
About the armed monks. We all know what Shaolin monastery is famous for...
 
Just another few examples:
 
Mongolian Yuan dinasty was overthrown by Buddhist "Lotos" sect, the main fighting force of which consisted of the armed Buddhist monks.
 
Buddhist monks played important role in the guerilla resistance during Imjin war.
 
Oirat mongols before decimating muslim Kazakhs recieved the blessing from Tibetian Buddhist Lamas.
 
And I can go with this list for a long time...
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pekau Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Oct-2007 at 19:08
Originally posted by Sarmat12 Sarmat12 wrote:

Originally posted by pekau pekau wrote:

 
No, indeed. Buddism discouraged the usage of violence, even for the greater good. I cannot imagine the Buddist monks armed for revolution...
 
Smile
 
About the armed monks. We all know what Shaolin monastery is famous for...
 
Just another few examples:
 
Mongolian Yuan dinasty was overthrown by Buddhist "Lotos" sect, the main fighting force of which consisted of the armed Buddhist monks.
 
Buddhist monks played important role in the guerilla resistance during Imjin war.
 
Oirat mongols before decimating muslim Kazakhs recieved the blessing from Tibetian Buddhist Lamas.
 
And I can go with this list for a long time...
 
 
 
Just about to edit that post, but you got me before that could happen...Cry
 
Point taken. I was thinking about Burma at that time. Score for Sarmat12.
     
   
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Oct-2007 at 19:09
Here is an article about the holy war concept in Tibetian Buddhism
 
 


Edited by Sarmat12 - 21-Oct-2007 at 19:10
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pekau Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Oct-2007 at 19:12

I've seen Batman Return, ok? Kick me when I am down.. jeeze..Embarrassed

     
   
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Oct-2007 at 19:16
No, no, no. Never meant this, my friend. Smile
 
Buddhism indeed seems very peacful at the first glance. But it's not that easy as it may seem Disapprove
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote The Charioteer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Oct-2007 at 02:57

ok. lets put it this way, im a somewhat "violent" person, the first time i ever encountered Christianity was when a Chinese believer who tried to convert me by "purifying" my mind, by telling me that Chinese dragon is a symbol of evil, it is Satan.

as she was a friend of my parent i couldnt argue with her face to face, but i said in my heart "bugger off".
 
no such reaction to Taiwanese buddist missionary when they invited me to their private house where i spend half an hour kneeling before the statue of buddha.
 
and according to them i was baptized as a "buddhist" through the ceremony.
 
well, i never considered myself a believer of any religion including buddhism, i only believe in truth, which itself is not and should not be dictated by religion.
 
but buddhism is the only major religion could ease a "violent" person like me, i dont know why atheist like me could ever kneel before any gods which i consider them nothing more than "artificial creation" by human.
 
but there was moment of peace for me when facing buddhist missionary as compared to Christian missionary.
 
i ever wonder how the difference in that could reflect the difference in nature of belief itself.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Siege Tower Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Oct-2007 at 03:26
Mongolian Yuan dinasty was overthrown by Buddhist "Lotos" sect, the main fighting force of which consisted of the armed Buddhist monks.
 
the so call "Buddhist "Lotos" sect" was in fact created after a sculpture of a single eyed man was found in a work site. Han shantong(the leader of the rebellion, and possiblly the one who buried the sculpture) spread the word that this discovery will mark the downfall of Yuan dynasty. "Lotos" sect"got a little bit of everything, such as prophecy from some local religion. The most clever part is that they used Buddism as their cause to justify themself against the Mongols, but nevertheless, they can not represent the mainstream Buddism. 

 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Oct-2007 at 03:32
The fact is that there were historical examples when armed Buddhist monks fought for some cause and tried to justify that cause using their religion.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Siege Tower Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Oct-2007 at 03:54
Taiwanese buddist missionary
 
I didn't know Buddism have missionaries, but Charioteer, that was very.......
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Siege Tower Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Oct-2007 at 04:06
Originally posted by Sarmat12 Sarmat12 wrote:

The fact is that there were historical examples when armed Buddhist monks fought for some cause and tried to justify that cause using their religion.
 
No buddhist monk actually involved in the rebellion, maybe some made fiancial support, and there were several leaders who were fromer buddhist monks, but again, no buddhist monk was involved in the rebellion. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sarmat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Oct-2007 at 22:36
Another article about the sectarian violence in Buddhist history.
 

A glance at history, however, reveals that not all the many and widely varying forms of Buddhism have been free of doctrinal fanaticism, nor free of the violent and exploitative pursuits so characteristic of other religions. In Sri Lanka there is a legendary and almost sacred recorded history about the triumphant battles waged by Buddhist kings of yore. During the twentieth century, Buddhists clashed violently with each other and with non-Buddhists in Thailand, Burma, Korea, Japan, India, and elsewhere. In Sri Lanka, armed battles between Buddhist Sinhalese and Hindu Tamils have taken many lives on both sides.

In South Korea, in 1998, thousands of monks of the Chogye Buddhist order fought each other with fists, rocks, fire-bombs, and clubs, in pitched battles that went on for weeks. They were vying for control of the order, the largest in South Korea, with its annual budget of $9.2 million, its millions of dollars worth of property, and the privilege of appointing 1,700 monks to various offices.

As with any religion, squabbles between or within Buddhist sects are often fueled by the material corruption and personal deficiencies of the leadership. For example, in Nagano, Japan, at Zenkoji, the prestigious complex of temples that has hosted Buddhist sects for more than 1,400 years, a nasty battle arose between Komatsu the chief priest and the Tacchu, a group of temples nominally under the chief priests sway.

But what of Tibetan Buddhism? Is it not an exception to this sort of strife? And what of the society it helped to create? Many Buddhists maintain that, before the Chinese crackdown in 1959, old Tibet was a spiritually oriented kingdom free from the egotistical lifestyles, empty materialism, and corrupting vices that beset modern industrialized society. Western news media, travel books, novels, and Hollywood films have portrayed the Tibetan theocracy as a veritable Shangri-La.

A reading of Tibets history suggests a somewhat different pictureIn the thirteenth century, Emperor Kublai Khan created the first Grand Lama, who was to preside over all the other lamas as might a pope over his bishops. Several centuries later, the Emperor of China sent an army into Tibet to support the Grand Lama, an ambitious 25-year-old man, who then gave himself the title of Dalai (Ocean) Lama, ruler of all Tibet. Here is a historical irony: the first Dalai Lama was installed by a Chinese army.

Within 170 years, despite their recognized divine status, five Dalai Lamas were killed by their high priests or other courtiers.

In 1660, the 5th Dalai Lama was faced with a rebellion in Tsang province, the stronghold of the rival Kagyu sect with its high lama known as the Karmapa. The 5th Dalai Lama called for harsh retribution against the rebels, directing the Mongol army to obliterate the male and female lines, and the offspring too like eggs smashed against rocks. In short, annihilate any traces of them, even their names.

An eighteenth-century memoir of a Tibetan general depicts sectarian strife among Buddhists that is as brutal and bloody as any religious conflict might be.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote The Charioteer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Oct-2007 at 00:34

Shaolin monks are famous because of their martial art practice, but in reality practicing moral teachings occupies most of their monastery life.

and on top of that, their martial practice is not for religious fundamentalism like the crusaders would arm themselves "in the name of god", or that of Jihadist's.
 
Quote A glance at history, however, reveals that not all the many and widely varying forms of Buddhism have been free of doctrinal fanaticism, nor free of the violent and exploitative pursuits so characteristic of other religions.
 
first of all, this obviously doesnt include Shaolin monks martial art practice.
which was used previously under the notion of " something contrary to buddhist's 'non-violent' history", not to mention the factor of religious fundamentalism involved
 
then, we have this saying "An error the breadth of a single hair can lead you a thousand miles astray"(差之毫厘, 谬以千里), as much as this citation would prove buddhism is not a "non-violent" religion, it would also prove "violent" history which is "so characteristic of other religions", i have the impression if one compare "violent history" of buddhist with that of Christianity and Islam, who would score for "non-violent" religion in comparison?
 
as much as there are many examples to prove buddhism is also "violent", there are examples to prove others only more "violent" in that regard, thats precisely why in this quote it says buddhism is not free of.. , but others as "so characteristic", thats where i say ""(差之毫厘, 谬以千里) "
 
As the saying goes "(one would) choosing the lesser of two evils"(两害相权取其轻), would that explain the relative success of buddhism in China in some way?
 
even more important, would that explain buddhism was so successfully absorbed into Chinese culture in the first place?
 
in comparison its relatively more "compatible" with native Chinese philosophoes, such as Confucianism and Daoism etc, which even after the adoption of buddhism still make up the basis of Chinese culture.
 
with that respect, whether "imported religion" is or will successfully preach to Chinese culture, depends fundamentally on how much it will adapt to the core elements of Chinese culture than vice versa.
 
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pekau Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Oct-2007 at 02:07
Originally posted by The Charioteer The Charioteer wrote:

Shaolin monks are famous because of their martial art practice, but in reality practicing moral teachings occupies most of their monastery life.

and on top of that, their martial practice is not for religious fundamentalism like the crusaders would arm themselves "in the name of god", or that of Jihadist's.
 
 
 
 
Just because Buddist monks don't have singlar God to use as excuse for violence does not mean that they are necessarily peaceful compare to other religions. In theory, very few religions literally encourage violence, since religions often are used to maintain order... not to create violence.
 
During Imjin war, the 2 infamous Buddists were famous for terrorizing the Japanese invaders. I am deciding what's right and wrong, but how is this different from Taliban fighters in Afghanistan now?
     
   
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