Buddhism in Two Countries Like Essay

Download this Essay in word format (.doc)

Note: Sample below may appear distorted but all corresponding word document files contain proper formatting

Excerpt from Essay:

Very few lay people were exclusively Buddhist- that is, felt a commitment to Buddhism over against China's other religions" (Welch 1976, p.164).

Moreover, Buddhism in China was largely an individual affair. The monastaries were not held together any type of hierarchy. "In China the largest unit was the monastery and the highest office was the abbotship. This meant that there was no mechanism for maintaining standards" (Welch 1976, p.175). As a result, there was a tremendous amount of variation in how people practiced Buddhism and the standards found in temples and monasteries. "Generally speaking, the small hereditary temples were unable to maintain as high standards as the large, rich public monasteries. Yet the latter too periodically fell into decay because of the malfunction of the merit system of electing abbots" (Welch 1976, p. 165). This contributed to a cyclical pattern of decay and renewal, particularly in famous monasteries, with monks intervening and bringing outside support into failing monasteries.

Moreover, Buddhist monks were not responsible for preaching to the laity, even before religion became prohibited in China. "Monks were not expected to be moral leaders or to preach the doctrine to the populace. The only preached to other monks or to the small number of committed lay Buddhists" (Welch 1976, p.166). However, these monks were expected to do some things for the people in the community. "What the populace did expect was the performance of rites to assist the dead and to avert natural disaster. This required knowledge of liturgy and a store of transferable merit that had been accumulated by devotions, meditation, and abstinence from meat and sex" (Welch 1976, p.166). This provided a way for monks to obtain support from the community and for the community to get the experience of a monk, without having to engage in the stern lifestyle expected of monks (Welch 1976, p.166).

It is also important to recognize the cultural role that monasteries played in China. They were not simply places of religious worship, although they were places for worship. "They also served as amusement parks (near cities), hostels (in remote areas), and sanatoria (for city dwellers in need of rest" (Welch 1976, p.166). This use of monasteries for secular purposes set a precedent for a takeover of those monasteries. As European powers and Japan threatened China, China wanted to establish a new school system. However, the government did not have sufficient funds to pay for the buildings necessary for those schools. "Since the government lacked funds, it authorized local officials to use monastery buildings for classrooms and monastery farm lands to defray teachers' salaries" (Welch 1976, p.167). However, Buddhists came together to protect themselves against this government encroachment.

Despite efforts to keep the government from using Buddhism as a means of propaganda, there has been some overlap between Buddhist practices and governmental interests. Prior to the Communist Revolution in China, Buddhism was actually considered an important element of international relations for China. While this is no longer true, there has been an effort to bend some of the elements of traditional practice to align with communist ideals. These efforts have not been met with the expected resistance. "After all, doctrinal unity and consistent doctrinal reform have never been matters of the first moment to the Buddhist priesthood" (Watson 1974, p.331). However, the overlap between the government and religion has not resulted in a further spread of Buddhism in China. On the contrary, "the vast majority of people, especially among the Han Chinese, have not taken the Triple Refuge and know little, if anything, of Buddhist teachings" (Chandler 2006, p.171).

The modern era is resulting in some changes in the worldwide practice of Buddhism. In many instances, these changes impact people from all schools of Buddhism. This is referred to as socially engaged Buddhism. Socially engaged Buddhism became prominent under the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh, who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Dr. Martin Luther King (Prebish & Keown 2006, p.208). This began in Vietnam and reflected ideals that, at that time, were very Vietnamese. Those ideals were: 1) awareness in daily life, 2) social service, and 3) social activism" (Prebish & Keown 2006, p.209). These ideals could be used for political and civil rights issues, but they could also be applied in people's personal lives.

What is interesting is how the two countries selected have incorporated are linked to this socially engaged Buddhism. Both China and Sri Lanka have been the subject of human rights questions in recent time, both as perpetrators. "The Chinese invasion of Tibet, the bitter ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka, and the experience of dictatorship in countries such as Burma have all provided Buddhism with first-hand experience of human rights violations" (Prebish & Keown 2006, p.217). This brings the idea of social justice to the forefront of what it is to be Buddhist in today's world, regardless of location and regardless of the branch of Buddhism practiced. While traditional Buddhist texts have generally concentrated on duties rather than rights, the idea of basic human rights is certainly not incompatible with Buddhism. How this changing world emphasis on the idea of inalienable human rights will impact the practice of Buddhism around the world, especially in these two already-diverse countries, will be revealed by time.

References

Berkwitz, S 2006, Buddhism in Sri Lanka: practice, protest, and preservation, Buddhism in world cultures: comparative perspectives, ABC-CLIO, Santa Barbara, pp. 45-72.

Chandler S. 2006, Buddhism in China and Taiwan: the dimensions of contemporary Chinese

Buddhism, in S. Berkwitz, ed. Buddhism in world cultures: comparative perspectives,

ABC-CLIO, Santa Barbara, pp.169-194.

Harvey, P 1990, Early developments in Buddhism, an introduction to Buddhism, Cambridge

University Press, Cambridge, pp.73-94.

Prebish, C. & Keown, D 2006, Socially engaged Buddhism, Introducing Buddhism, Routledge,

New York, pp.208-224.

Robinson, R, Johnson, W, Bhikku, T 2005, Buddhism in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia, Buddhist

religions: a historical introduction,…[continue]

Cite This Essay:

"Buddhism In Two Countries Like" (2013, July 07) Retrieved December 7, 2016, from http://www.paperdue.com/essay/buddhism-in-two-countries-like-92934

"Buddhism In Two Countries Like" 07 July 2013. Web.7 December. 2016. <http://www.paperdue.com/essay/buddhism-in-two-countries-like-92934>

"Buddhism In Two Countries Like", 07 July 2013, Accessed.7 December. 2016, http://www.paperdue.com/essay/buddhism-in-two-countries-like-92934

Other Documents Pertaining To This Topic

  • Buddhism I Have Admittedly Led a Pretty

    Buddhism I have admittedly led a pretty sheltered life in terms of interactions with people from other cultures. I am not a Buddhist and so I do not have any first-hand experiences with the religious practices associated with Buddhism. Before this course, and before my experience, I knew some things about Buddhism, but only as much as most people know. For example, I knew that Buddhism is primarily associated with Asian

  • Countries Spain Has a Long

    Traditionally, Italians are very proud of their cooking, and eat their main meal at midday. These meals generally included pasta with either meat or fish. This is often preceded by an appetizer known as antipasto, which would include cold meats and vegetables. Like Spain, Italian food also differs by region. The north for example features flat, ribbon-shaped pasta, while southern citizens favor macaroni with tomato sauces. Recreation and religion are both

  • Buddhism and Human Rights One

    3. There is the cessation of suffering (duhkha-nirodha); and 4. There is a path leading to the cessation of suffering (duhkha-nirodha-marga)." (Willis) In Buddha's opinion, suffering (duhka) can be represented through any kind of pain and regardless of its form. The best representation of suffering can be presumably felt when a change from a state of happiness to a state of unhappiness occurs. The cause of suffering (duhka-samudaya) states that most of

  • Buddhism and Judaism Conservative and

    Early Judaic religion also has a long extensive history. The ancient beginnings of Judaism come from the sands of the Syro-Arabian desert. Ancient ancestors of the later Hebrew people moved from the Mesopotamian desert towards the coast, moving into what is now known as Jerusalem and Palestine. Abraham was born into a family which still practiced early forms of animism. Through a religious epiphany, he began to worship only one

  • Buddhism The Concept of Life

    It is through the process of death and rebirth that the knowledge is gained which will finally liberate the individual being from the central cause of all suffering itself - the cycle of death and birth. Essentially, it is only through knowledge that this can be achieved in most Buddhist schools of thought. The rationale behind the importance of reincarnation as a process that is required to escape the centrality

  • Buddhism as a Religion Occupies

    An examination of the many issues like the left-right divisions in the monastic order, Buddhist social activism, the rise of organized lay movements as well as the Buddhist founded and inspired forms of political activity indicates that indeed politics has a great influence on Buddhism (Harris 1). How cultural and social forces shaped Buddhism in China A review of literature indicates that cultural and social forces shaped Buddhism in China. The

  • Buddhism Annotated Bibliography Adam J

    Through a period of persecution and assimilation, however, much of the Buddhist traditions and writings were translated into Taoist terminology -- incorporating such elements as vegetarianism, banning alcohol, meditation, and the path toward enlightenment. Since the relaxation of bans on religion, most surveys believe that about 50% of Chinese identify themselves with Buddhism, and many with both Buddhism and Taoism, seeing both as part of their cultural heritage. Esposito, et.al.


Read Full Essay
Copyright 2016 . All Rights Reserved