Self in Buddhism Hinduism and Taoism
All branches of Buddhism and Hinduism came out of India, regardless of whether they ended up in Tibet, Southeast Asia or even Africa. Both religions carried the Indian perspectives on reincarnation and the idea that relationships between the individual and the collective soul or consciousness are linked completely and inextricably.
Taoism is uniquely Chinese.
India: Easy to Access for 2, 500 Years
Westerners know so much more about the Indian perspectives of Buddhism and Hinduism in all their variations because they had the ability to go to India since the time of Alexander the Great, either over land, following the military routes of Alexander or by boat from Alexandria to Southern India. Trade between the West and India was established from those early times and was accelerated when the British occupied India many hundreds of years ago.
From that time some Europeans completely immersed themselves in what was for them a “new” spiritual culture. They learned written and spoken forms of the Indian languages, including Sanskrit and especially Hindi, and sought out spiritual and cultural leaders to teach them about these religions in their purest, clearest and most authentic—rather than distorted—forms.
When these travelers returned to their European homes, they could spread this knowledge in ways that made sense inside their own culture. They also brought over spiritual leaders who helped these religions flourish in fertile new soil.
This cross-fertilization occurred for many hundreds of years and continues strongly today.
China: Difficult to Reach, Hard Language and No British Empire
China was a different story. Before the 1800s, few people traveled regularly to China and were mainly Muslim traders, either traveling by boat or via the Silk Road between the Middle East and China. They went only for trade and profit and brought little back that would not bring them money. Translating texts of Buddhist and Hindu religious doctrines was not considered a high priority in Muslim countries.
This is why the travels of Marco Polo during the time of Kublai Khan in the thirteenth century had a great impact on Europe.
Even so, the Chinese exerted little or no effort to share their cultural or spiritual knowledge with outsiders, a quality that contrasted directly with Christian, Buddhist and Muslim missionaries worldwide, who would inform and convert anyone they could to their religion.
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