June 20, 2009

A brief about Buddhism

China is not a very religious country by the strict view of monotheism. Buddhism might be the most "religious" religion in China. And even this religion is not domestic, it was imported from India longtime ago (around the first century). The original Buddhism was very much of "Indian style" which was ascetic and abstinent. Later, especially at Tang dynasty, Buddhism had adapted some Taoist concepts and became more "Chinese style", which was more "down to the earth", much less formidable.
Generally speaking , in China anything can be divided into northern and southern, same as ideologies. Buddhism, just like art or life styles, also divided in to this 2 different styles: Northern sect focused more on stringent practice and southern sect enjoyed more on suddern enlightment. Zen, as an huge influencial Buddhist sect, was famous on its' artistic "practices" --- reach the truth by following natural path of life itself. Zen went to Japan after Tang dynasty and later came to western world in earlier of last century, through the efforts made by artists, philosophers and psychologists.
I dont' think Buddhism to Chinese people has same impact as Christianity to western world. Especially during culture revolution, Buddhism was limited in a very small community. Now, as more Chinese people started to pick up some ancient religions to fit their spiritual needs, Buddhism seems more popular than decades ago, but still within very limited population.

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