History of Chinese Buddhism
Leshan Giant Buddha
Buddhism is China’s oldest foreign religion. It merged with native Daoism and folk religion. Modern Chinese Buddhists are generally also Taoists. Ancient Hindu Buddhism taught by Buddha involved reaching Enlightenment through meditation. How to go about this and what it means is open to interpretation. When early Buddhist scriptures were translated into Chinese, Taoist terminology based on native religion was often used. People interpreted the scripture in their own ways. In contrast, Islamand Christianity both have a main text and a long set interpretive history in the Middle East and Europe. Rites, customs, and interpretations of scripture are finely explained. Though individual beliefs of Chinese Christians and Muslims are colored by Taoist concepts, in contrast to Buddhism, no generally popular Sinofied version of the two religions developed. Buddhism has had a long history in China, and native Buddhist religions developed that are accepted by Chinese Buddhists..
Modern Chinese Buddhism
Mayahana Buddhism is the type of Buddhism in China. It originally developed in the Kushan Empire that the Chinese called Yuezhi. Then various schools sects developed in China and became popular in other countries like Japan. There are no religious polls, but there may be hundreds of millions of people who believe a combination of Buddhism and Taoism in China. One difference of much Chinese Buddhism compared to the original teachings is the belief that Buddha is not just a teacher who taught what to do but is a god to be prayed to for help and salvation. Chinese Buddhists may pray to both Buddha and Taoist gods, and they often also pay homage to ancestors believing that their ancestors want their help. For example, they may burn paper that their ancestors can use as money. People who call themselves Buddhists usually have Taoist beliefs.
Buddha was said to have reached Enlightenment after fasting. It was said that he was extremely skinny and gaunt. In some countries, Buddha was depicted as being very skinny and meditating under a tree. In Mayahana Buddhism in Central Asia and in Buddhas carved along the Silk Road before the end of the Tang Dynasty, he is depicted as being strong and healthy like a Greek god. In modern China, the “Happy Buddha” is most commonly seen. He is depicted as being fat and laughing or smiling. The main goal of life in modern China is said to “be happy.” Maybe that is why Buddha is shown this way. The “Happy Buddha” has been the common popular Buddha in China for hundreds of years.
Buddhism started as a Hindu influenced religion in India. Details about Buddha’s life and original teachings as presented in the first century BC Buddhist scriptures are important for understanding how Chinese Buddhism developed. Guatama Buddha was the founder of the religion. He lived between 600 and 400 BC. Buddha and his followers left no writings, but his rules for monastic life and teachings were memorized and passed down by oral tradition until about the second century BC when the first Buddhist scriptures were written. The oral tradition was corrupted. Shortly after this, the first scriptures were brought to China.
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What was Buddhism's acceptance into Chinese culture?
Buddhism's acceptance into Chinese culture occured in the second century AD, and is the only foreign religion that has been widely accepted in China. It first entered China as a result of the Tang dynasty. !