Sie sind auf Seite 1von 3

Sebastian Grant

Buddhism and China’s Reaction

Buddhism is one of the few prevalent religions in China with Confucianism and

Daoism, but when it was first introduced, did the Chinese accept it as a religion? These

six historical documents explain that the Chinese first accepted Buddhism, but they then

started to view it as a curse destroying Chinese religion and culture. Most of these

documents come from high-class Chinese scholars and officials, who show bias for

Chinese culture. It would be more helpful if there were a document from a Chinese,

Buddhist monk, who could explain his or her view on Buddhist influence in China, and

can answer the question whether the religion tried to replace Confucianism.

Document 1 and 2 show an explanation for the reason Buddhism became popular

in China. In document 1, the Buddha explains the Four Noble Truths, and points out that

life is suffering, but there is a salvation to escape the suffering. By the time of document

2, there is a need for that salvation in China during the period of invasion by nomadic

groups. Zhi Dun, a scholar for aristocrats, shows his belief that Buddhism could save the

scared aristocrats in a time a trouble by praising the religion, and he tries to spread it

throughout China with the promise of any person gaining a chance to “enter Nirvana”.

After all, Buddhism is a salvation religion and it works best when there is a time of strife.

Yet, later in China, Buddhism starts to be seen as a problem that is replacing

Confucianism and Chinese culture. Documents 3,4,5, and 6 show the debate between the

two religions. Document 3 starts showing the doubt by questioning Buddhist practices

versus Confucian practices. The anonymous scholar wonders the reasons why sages and

Confucian scholars do not practice the religion. Han Yu in document 4 answers the
scholar’s question degrading Buddhism as a barbarian cult. The religion is primarily

hated by Confucians because it is not an original Chinese religion. The Chinese are a

people proud of their culture, and Confucians probably don’t want to be influenced by

“barbarians who did not speak Chinese and who wore clothes of a different fashion”.

Another reason for their dislike of Buddhism is because of the fear of a loss of power.

Buddha, who was once a high-class prince in India, shows his followers that there is no

need for materials and claims his enlightenment to living the life of a poor man than one

who’s rich. These high-class scholars have a very different view, and they see poverty as

a disgrace. But if the poor are the ones who have a better chance at salvation than the

rich, more people will support the poor peasants than the rich scholars.

In document 6, Emperor Wu also sees Buddhism as an omen. Firstly, this is

because he was an Emperor of the Tang Dynasty, who was a big supporter of

Confucianism. Secondly, since he was the emperor and leader of all the peasants, he

probably has the same power struggle as the Confucian scholars. When all the lower-

class peasants become monks and “abandon their lords”, they can anytime rebel against

the government and over throw the Emperor. Zong Mi in document 5 negates this by

claiming that Buddha, like Confucian and Laozi, only created Buddhism for “the creation

of an orderly society”, but Zong Mi was primarily a Buddhist scholar, and his statement

could be a bias to save Buddhism. But no matter what argument could be posed to save

Buddhism, Chinese high-class officials saw the religion as a curse on China.

Buddhism was first introduced to China as a salvation religion that came to save a

troubled China, but it later became seen as a religion that could replace Chinese culture

and change power. These documents show the animosity between Confucianism and
Buddhism, when high-class Confucian scholars and emperor degrade the barbaric

Buddhism, as it continues to influence China.