Buddhism in Chinese History

Buddhism in Chinese History

Language: English

Pages: 184

ISBN: 0804705488

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


One of the great themes in the history of Eastern Asia is the transformation of Chinese culture by Buddhism. This process can be traced across nearly two millennia and can be seen at work in almost every aspect of Chinese life and thought. This study was undertaken with the object of showing how Buddhism has influenced Chinese culture, and in the hope that it may provide some insight into the role of the religion as a carrier of elements from one great civilization into another. It also deals with the interesting question of the nature of Buddhism as a world religion, and of the ways in which it resembles or differs from the other great faiths.

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and more accentuated isolation of the social classes one from another. Buddhism, in developing its fol­ lowings, had adapted itself to the old structures. T heir ruin had a dissolving effect on a religious phenomenon which drew its strength from its universality.11 Garnet, Aspects cconemiquts . . . t p. 298. T h e Period o f Independent Growth 85 Still more im portant, perhaps, was the revival—under the impact of the historical forces ju st described—of the native tradition of Confucianism by

of Confucian­ ism, Buddhism, and Taoism, 66-695 Confucian revival in, 86-87 Sun, E-tu Zen, 19*, 20», 94* Sung dynasty: Confucian revival in, 8 8 -9 2 ; Buddhist influence in Sung society, 92 -9 5 Sunyata, 63 Suzuki, Daisetz, T ., 136, 137 84; culture, Buddhist ele­ ments in, 70-725 society, Bud­ dhist influence on, 74-76; sects and schools of Buddhism, 7 6 -8 0 T 'ang Chang-ju, 45a T ’ang Yung-t’ung, 34*. 38a Tao: philosophic concept, 79; as equivalent of tzu-jan, “ natural­ ness,” 28; as

a continuous hold on power had become politically entrenched, and their landed wealth had steadily grown until they controlled vast areas and thousands of tenants and slaves. Families which amassed fortunes in trade bought rights to office and acquired larger and larger landed estates. Other powerful families were founded by relatives of eunuchs or of imperial consorts who used their proximity to the throne for ruthless aggrandize­ ment. Great families, old and new, fastened an evertighter hold

to rally the disaffected to the literati cause. T he struggle among the four groups—the entrenched great families, the eunuchs, the nouveaux riches, and the intelligentsia—broke into violence in a .d . 166 when the eunuchs moved against the intelligentsia. The sordid se­ quence of slander, massacre, and assassination which fol­ lowed weakened the whole upper stratum of Chinese so- 24 The Period of Preparation dety. Split by conflicting power interests, by violent ha­ treds and vendettas, by

restoring the strength of the state. Wang Fu (ca. 90-165) was led to this view by his searching critique of the society from which he had withdrawn in protest. Ts’ui Shih (ca. 110-?), from his intense practical activity within the decaying political structure, developed a dislike of Confucian homilies equaled only by his hatred of the idle and extravagant holders of capital sinecures. His ex­ perience led him to feel that only strong and uniform laws could rebuild state and society, that

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