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The Buddhism in China

The Briefing of China Buddhism

Buddhism is the only foreign religion that has been widely accepted in China. It is also the most important religion in China. It was first brought to China from India by missionaries and traders along the Silk Road that connected China with Europe in the late Han Dynasty. It has played an enormous role in shaping the mindset of the Chinese people, affecting their aesthetics, politics, literature, philosophy and medicine. Zen, with its meditative techniques, and Pure Land with its stress on faith in the Amitabha Buddha as the way to salvation, became the dominant forms of Chinese Buddhism. During its development in China, it has a profound influence on traditional Chinese culture and thoughts, and has become one of the most important religions in China at that time.

The Origin of Buddhism in China

Buddhism, a cultural system of beliefs and practices based on principles of compassion and non-attachment, originated in the sixth century BCE in what is today Nepal. It was brought to China by Buddhist monks from India during the latter part of the Han dynasty and took over a century to become assimilated into Chinese culture. The first period of Buddhism is in Han Dynasty when it was just introduced into China. During this period of time, many Buddhist scriptures were translated and explained. The second period is in Northern and Southern Dynasties, when more Buddhist scriptures were translated and Buddhist writings came out, and Chinese Buddhism has entered its prosperous time. During this Dynasty, the number of Buddhists was on increase. The third period is the Sui and Tang Dynasties when Buddhism welcomed its heyday and got unprecedented development. During this period, many new Buddhist denominations were founded. The emperors of the Sui Dynasty believed in Buddhism, and though Tang's emperors believed in Taoism, they showed a protective and tolerant attitude toward the development of other religions. So during this time, Buddhism got a great development in China.

The Competition with Daoism

When Buddhism was first introduced, it faced competition from followers of Daoism. While Daoism is as old as Buddhism, Daoism was indigenous to China. Daoists do not view life as suffering. They believe in an ordered society and strict morality, but they also hold strong mystical beliefs such as ultimate transformation, where the soul lives after death and travels to the world of the immortals. Because the two beliefs were so competitive, many teachers from both sides borrowed from the other. Today many Chinese believe in elements from both schools of thought.

The Buddhism in Present China:

In the late of feudal society, because of the social unrest, Chinese Buddhism was slow in development. After the founding of People's Republic of China and the implementing of the policy of freedom in religion belief, Chinese Buddhism embraced its new growing age. Buddhism today continues as an important force in some parts of the country. The extent of its influence is unclear, but it remains a key component in village religion. Temples and monasteries are reopening in many places and new monks and nuns are in training. Today there are an estimated 100 million followers of Buddhism in China and over 20,000 Buddhist temples. It is the largest religion in China.