Spread of Buddhism in China

During the spread of Buddhism in china, three popular views were that the spreading of Buddhism should be stopped, society benefited from it, and it was the way of salvation (afterlife). One of the responses to the spread of Buddhism was that it should be stopped. Many officials believed that Buddhism was harmful to china because Buddhism was discordant with the already established Chinese traditions, culture, and aristocracy.
The leading scholar and official at the Tang imperial court, Han Yu, writes to his leader (document ) “Your servant begs leave to say that Buddhism is no more than a cult of the barbarian people spread to china… The Buddha was a man of the barbarians who did not speak Chinese… your servant is deeply ashamed and begs that this bone from the Buddha be given to the proper authorities to be cast into fire and water, that this evil be rooted out, and later generations spared this delusion. Han Yu was a Confucian scholar, so it is no surprise that he is opposed to Buddhism which clashes with Confucianism in many aspects including how Confucianism promotes one fulfilling his duties to his lord and country, where as Buddhism promotes detachment to avoid sorrow.
The Tang Emperor Wu wrote (document 6) “Buddhism has transmitted its strange ways and has spread like a luxuriant vine until it has poisoned the customs of our nation… Buddhism wears out the people’s strength, pilfers their wealth, causes people to abandon their lords and parents for the company of teachers, and severs man and wife with its monastic decrees… Having thoroughly examined all earlier reports and consulted public opinion on all sides, there no longer remains the slightest doubt in our mind that this evil should be eradicated. . Emperor Wu did not want the spread of Buddhism to continue because it advocates one to focus on reaching nirvana, and in order to reach nirvana people would join monasteries and “abandon their lords and parents for the company of teachers. ” Obviously any leader such as Wu would not want his subjects to stop contributing to the country and focus on reaching enlightenment. This explains why he would write in opposition of the spread of Buddhism. Another response was that the spread of Buddhism was good for both the community and society.

A leading Buddhist scholar, Zong Mi, wrote (document 5) “Confucius, Laozi, and the Buddha were perfect sages… All three teachings lead to the creation of an orderly society and for this they must be observed with respect. ” This scholar and many others agree that Buddhism is good and that it contributes to an orderly society. One reason for this belief is that Buddhist try to achieve self-peace, and then become bodhisattvas and help others achieve nirvana.
This document also shows us that Buddhism is in perfect harmony with the already existent philosophies, and that the three (Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism) come together to supplement each other and together create a peaceful society. Zong Mi wrote in favor of Buddhism because of the fact that he is a Buddhist scholar and wanted others to see that Buddhism is good for the people as a whole. An Anonymous Chinese scholar wrote (document 3) “To compare the sages to the Buddha would be like comparing a white deer to a unicorn or a swallow to a phoenix… The [Buddhist] monk practices the Way and substitutes that for worldly pleasures.
He accumulates goodness. ” Through the tone of the anonymous scholar, it seems evident that he reveres the Buddhist to be peaceful and of good-natured. The author wrote this in response to a few proposed problems, and he showed that the supposed “negatives” are not bad at all, but simply misunderstandings of the goods of Buddhism. The third response was that because of the spread of Buddhism many more people would be able to reach nirvana and get away from sorrow.
In the first sermon preached, Buddha said (document 1) “The first Noble Truth is the truth of sorrow. Birth is sorrow, age is sorrow, disease is sorrow, death is sorrow, contact with the unpleasant is sorrow, separation from the pleasant is sorrow, and every wish unfilled is sorrow. The second Noble Truth is the Noble Truth of the Arising of Sorrow: it arises from craving, which leads to rebirth, which brings delight and passion, and seeks pleasure. The third Noble Truth is the Noble Truth of Sorrow.
It is the complete stopping of that craving, so that no passion remains, leaving it, being emancipated from it, being released from it, giving no place to it. The fourth Noble Truth is the Noble Truth of the Way that Leads to the Stopping of Sorrow. ” By acknowledging the four noble truths and then following the eightfold path, one is able to reach nirvana. Because these are the words of the creator of the Buddhism philosophy, it is clear to see that he is trying to show that through Buddhism, one can find peace from within.
A Chinese scholar, Zhi Dun, wrote (document 2) “whosoever serves the Buddha and correctly observes the commandments, recites the Buddhist scriptures, and furthermore makes a vow to be reborn without ever abandoning his sincere intention, will at the end of his life be miraculously transported thither. He will behold the Buddha and be enlightened in his spirit, and then he will enter nirvana. ” The Author wrote this when northern china was invaded by central Asian steppe nomads, and his tone is very optimistic.
A possible reason for this him writing this with such hope is that during a time of unrest he was able to achieve partial or complete peace through Buddhism, and thus he is writing this to encourage others to follow Buddhism and obtain peace as he did. It would have been helpful for a map of how Buddhism spread into/around china or a map of the percentage of Buddhist every 10 years. This would have helped because one would have been able to see what areas were affected first and what areas were affected the most. From that, one would better be able to better comprehend the differences in responses to the spread of Buddhism.

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