Religion in Chinese life

Discussion in 'China' started by ajtr, Sep 17, 2010.

  1. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    RELIGION IN CHINESE LIFE

    IT HAS often been observed that the Chinese people are not interested in what the Christians understand as religious life. It has even been said that the Chinese people are not religious.

    It is true that the Chinese are not so religious as the Hindus, or even as the Japanese; and they are certainly not so religious as the Christian missionaries desire them to be. Practically all the prominent leaders of thought in China today are openly agnostics and even atheists. And the young men are even openly anti-religious. Although the fierce anti-religious movements of a few years ago have now subsided, it cannot be denied that the educated people in China are indifferent to religion and that the whole intellectual tendency there is not favorable to any religious movement or revival.

    But I wish to point out that it is entirely wrong to say that the Chinese are not religious. No people is really incapable of religious life or experience. But there is always a difference in the definitions. And there is always a vast difference in the degree of religiosity or piety, varying from the modern churchgoer to the medieval saint. In the eyes of the medieval saint no one in this audience who listens patiently to a "heathen" lecturing on comparative religion can be said to be religious! Similarly, a people who may not have cultivated such habits as church-going, grace-saying, hymn-singing, and praying, and who may take no interest in the problems of the second person in the trinity, of transubstantiation, of the proper degree of submergence in baptism-such a people may have their own religion which may not necessarily be worse than that of any other people.

    The Chinese word for "religion" is chiao which means teaching or a system of teaching. To teach people to believe in a particular deity is a chiao; but to teach them how to behave toward other men is also a chiao. The ancients did say that "the sages founded religions (chiao) on the ways of the gods." But it is not always necessary to make use of such supernatural expedients. And the Chinese people make no distinction between the theistic religions and the purely moral teachings of their sages. Therefore, the term chiao is applied to Buddhism, Taoism, Mohammedanism, Christianity, as well as Confucianism. They are all systems of moral teaching. Teaching a moral life is the essential thing; and "the ways of the gods" are merely one of the possible means of sanctioning that teaching. That is in substance the Chinese conception of religion.

    The other factor, the degree of piety, which is in reality a degree of religious fanaticism, is always a result of historical circumstances. It is as accidental as the number of gods worshiped or the color of the vestments of the priests. -In the life of every people with a long history there are always periods of varied intensity in religious experience. The Greek philosophers calmly discussed their gods, and some ridiculed them; the Romans tolerated them and the Christians destroyed them all in favor of their one God; the medieval saints lived and had their whole being in God; the modern Christian peoples fought long and bloody wars over their religious differences and burned witches and heretics in the name of their God; and the present age seems to be again returning to the attitude of the Greek sophists.

    The Chinese people, too, went through all kinds of vicissitudes in their religious development. There were long periods in Chinese history when this people also became so fanatically religious that a pious monk would burn a finger, or an arm, or the whole body, willingly and devoutly, as the supreme form of devotion to his Buddhist faith. There were times when every fourth man in the population would be a Buddhist monk or a Taoist priest. There were times when the court and the people spent millions of ounces of silver yearly to build grand temples and monasteries, and millions of acres of land were donated to the monasteries as voluntary offerings to the gods. No student of Chinese history can say that the Chinese are incapable of religious experience, even when judged by the standards of medieval Europe or pious India.

    But there were a series of historical factors of very great importance which tended to make the Chinese people less other-worldly than the other historical races of the earth. One of these was the fact that our civilization began in the north-temperate zone where the bounty of nature was never abundant and the struggle for existence was always hard. This produced a hard working, simply living, but never wildly imaginative people. They had no time to indulge in speculating about the ways of the gods, or in effusive praises of the wonderful benevolence of heaven which they never enjoyed. They had a very simple religion consisting chiefly in a worship of their own ancestors, a belief in the spirits and the powers of the natural forces, a worship of a supreme God or heaven (which was probably evolved out of the worship of natural objects), and a belief in divination. To these they added a belief in the idea of retribution of good and evil. There was neither Hell nor Paradise; no life after death, only a firm belief in the importance of the perpetuation of the family line, probably primarily for economic reasons. This was the original religion of the Chinese. The extreme simplicity of this racial religion was the most remarkable in the history of mankind. There was little mythology, and little elaborate ritualism. It never had a generic name, and I have elsewhere proposed to call it "Siniticism." [1]

    Another important historical factor is the fact that this already very simple religion was further simplified and purified by the early philosophers of ancient China. Our first great philosopher was a founder of naturalism; and our second great philosopher was an agnostic. Laotze taught that heaven and earth were unkind: they treated all beings like dogs and grass. He revolted against the anthropomorphic conception of a supreme God. There was only a natural process which he called the "Tao," or way. Everything becomes such of itself. The Tao does nothing; and yet it achieves everything. It was this naturalistic conception of the universe which in later ages always came up to serve as an effective weapon against superstition and anthropomorphic religion.

    Confucius was a humanist and an agnostic. When asked about death and the proper duties to the spirits and the gods, he replied: "We know not about life, how can we know death? And we have not learned how to serve men, how can we serve the gods?" Life and human society are the chief concern of Confucianism and, through it, the chief concern of the Chinese people. Confucius also said: "To say that you know a thing when you know it, and to say that you do not know when you know it not, that is knowledge." That is his formulation of agnosticism.

    A historically minded man, Confucius did not openly repudiate the spirits and the gods of the people. But he told one of his disciples: "Revere the gods, but be aloof from them." And in the Analects, this rule was laid down: "Worship as if something were present; worship a god as if he were present." This is no hypocrisy, but the psychology of religious reverence. As his followers have put it, "When you have purified yourself for the worship and put on the grand sacrificial robes, the solemnity of the occasion naturally makes you feel as if the objects of worship were really above you, and on the right and left of you." And it is not uncommon today to find written on the village shrines in big characters the Confucian motto: "As if he were above you" (ju tsai ch'i shang [pinyin: ru zai chi shang])!

    Laotze and Confucius were teachers of a naturalistic attitude toward religion. The former taught us to follow the course of nature; the latter, to abide by fate. "Life and death are ordained, and wealth and honor are determined in Heaven." This deterministic attitude, while quite religious in itself, was not favorable to the older belief in the efficacy of appeasing the gods for favors or for averting misfortunes. "A gentleman," says Confucius, "sorrows not, nor fears. As long as he finds no inward guilt, why should he sorrow, and what should he fear?"

    And the Confucianists actually tried to found a new religion of filial piety without the benefit of the gods. This religion centers around the idea that the human body is the sacred inheritance from the parents, and must always be regarded as such. "There are three forms of filial piety: the highest is to glorify one's parents; next, not to degrade them; and lastly, to support them." "This body is inherited from our parents. How dare we act irreverently with this inheritance? Therefore, to live carelessly is a sin against filial duty; so is disloyalty to our princes; so is dishonesty in office; so is faithlessness to friends; and so is lack of courage on the battlefield. Failure in any one of these five duties will disgrace one's parents. Dare we act without reverence?" "The dutiful son never moves a step without thinking of his parents; nor utters a word without thinking of his parents." The parents thus take the place of God or the gods as a new moral sanction of human action.

    But all these rationalistic simplifications were of course F~ too sophisticated for the general populace. The people carried on their Sinitic religion as of old, and from time to time they added to it the new increments acquired by contact with other races. And from time to time, great religious movements arose under the leadership of men more pious and inspired than Laotze and Confucius.

    Thus there arose the great religion of Moism in the fifth century B.C. under the great religious reformer Mo Ti who was dissatisfied with the rationalist tendencies of the age and who tried to revive the old Sinitic religion by purifying it and giving it a new and more inspiring meaning. He taught a personal god who wills and knows and has the power to reward and punish, and whose will is love-unlimited love for all men without distinction.

    Thus again there arose the great religious movement in the second century B.C. under the Confucianist leader Tung Chung-shu, who tried to found a state religion of Siniticism under the disguise of Confucianism. The heart of this new religion of the Han Dynasty was the old Sinitic idea of a teleological god and of retribution for good and evil. He taught that "the action of man, when it reaches the highest level of goodness or evil, all flows into the universal course of Heaven and Earth, and causes responsive reverberations in their manifestations." When the government has done an evil act, God will give warning in the form of such catastrophes as fire, floods, famines, earthquakes, and mountain slides. And when the warnings are not heeded, then heaven will cause strange anomalies to appear on earth to terrify the rulers into repentance. The class of "anomalies" include such things as comets, sun eclipses, the growing of beards on women, etc. And it is only when these anomalies fail to check misgovernment that final ruin and destruction shall befall the empire. For God is always kind to the rulers of man. This religion, which apparently had the political motive of attempting to check the unlimited power of the despots, was zealously perpetuated by the scholars throughout the later centuries.

    Then, about the first century B.C., there came the great cultural invasion from India, the introduction of Buddhism. No one really knows how this came about. By 65 A.D. it had already been embraced by a prince of the imperial family; by 165 it was accepted by an emperor who worshiped Buddha together with Laotze. By 200 it was defended by one of the Chinese intellectuals in Southern China. By 300 it was talked about by all educated Chinese and was becoming the most popular religion of the people. China had never seen so elaborate and spectacular a religion. The very simple faith of Siniticism was overwhelmed, and it was speedily conquered. The Chinese people were dazzled, baffled, and carried away by this marvelous religion of rich imagery, beautiful and captivating ""ritualism, and wonderfully ingenious metaphysics. There was not only a heaven, but thousands of heavens; not only a hell, but 18 hells of ever increasing severity and horror. The religious imagination of the Indian people seemed so inexhaustible and always of such marvelous architectonic structure. China readily acknowledged her crushing defeat.

    China was so completely Buddhist that everything that came from the Buddhist country of India was readily accepted and became a fashion. Even the worst features of Mahayana Buddhism were blindly taken up by Chinese believers. The practice of burning one's body as a sacrifice was frequently encouraged by the extreme fanatics; the lives of monks who burned themselves to death were recorded in the Buddhist biographies in a special section as exemplary achievements of supreme devotion and piety. Under the T'ang dynasty, some strange monk from India would bring a piece of human bone and call it a sacred relic of the Buddha; and he would be so devoutly believed that the imperial court and the whole population would suspend all business and march in solemn processions to greet the Buddha relic. Truly had humanist China lost her head and gone completely mad under the powerful enchantment of this imported religion from India!

    But the native rationalistic mentality of the Chinese intelligentsia gradually reasserted itself and revolted against this humiliating domination of the whole nation by a foreign religion which was opposed to all the best traditions of the native civilization. Its celibacy was fundamentally opposed to the Chinese society which emphasized the importance of continuation of the ancestral lineage. Its mendicant system was distasteful to the Chinese social and political thinker who was naturally alarmed by the presence of millions of monks and nuns living as parasites on society. Its austere forms of asceticism and self-sacrifice and suicide were fundamentally against the idea of filial piety which regarded the human body as a sacred inheritance from one's parents. And its wonderfully abstruse mythology and metaphysics, never ending in the most ingenious inventions of new gods and new titles of the gods, and never failing in the most hair-splitting differentiations and sub-differentiations, were most foreign to the simple and straightforward ways of thinking of the native tradition. And, most important of all, the whole scheme of salvation as taught in Buddhism seemed to the Chinese thinker as most selfish and anti-social. Each man endeavors to become an arahat, a bodhisattva, or a buddha. But, the Chinese began to ask, for what end? What value is there in a salvation which must require the forsaking of the family and the desertion of all one's duties to the family and the state?

    The Chinese revolt against Buddhism took many forms. At first it was an attempt to replace it by some native imitation of the imported institution. The native religion of Taoism, which rose in the centuries after the gradual invasion of Buddhism, was a revival of the old Sinitic religion of the people under the influence of the impact of Buddhist ideas and practices. First unconsciously, and then fully consciously, Taoism undertook to kill its foreign rival imitating every feature of it. It invented a founder by superimposing this popular Sinitic religion on Laotze who was then elevated to the position of a supreme god. A Taoist trinity was modeled after the Buddhist. A Taoist canon was gradually but consciously forged after the model of the Buddhist sutras. Heavens and hells were taken over from the Indian religion, and given Chinese names, and they were presided over by Chinese gods deified from the historical heroes of the race. Orders of priests and priestesses were formed in imitation of the Buddhist monasteries and nunneries.

    Then they began to persecute the foreign religion of Buddhism. Several great and nation-wide persecutions took place in 446, in 574, in 845, and in 955. In each case, the motive was clearly one of a nationalistic attack on an alien faith.

    In the meantime, the Chinese Buddhists themselves had started their revolt against Buddhism. They could not long swallow the whole output of the wonderful ingenuity of Indian metaphysical obscurantism and religious imagination. They began to simplify it to two essential elements: meditation and insight. Then they began to see that even meditation was not quite necessary. So they threw overboard all that complicated machinery of meditation, beginning with breath-control and ending in the attainment of supreme stages of quietude and the mastery of supernatural powers. Soon they began to preach that all the ritualism and verbalism, and all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, all the sutras and charms and spells were useless and must be discarded. The Buddhahood is within you; the law is within you; and salvation is within you. And salvation must be sought through the ripe awakening of one's own understanding, through intellectual enlightenment, for which no external assistance could avail, and which must be the result of the individual's patient seeking and traveling and coming into contact with the best minds of the age. This was the meaning of the development of Dhyana or Ch'an or Zen Buddhism in China.[2]

    Then the Chinese Confucianist scholars arose in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, and dealt the fatal blow to this already much-battered Buddhist religion. The Confucianists began to understand the religion of Buddhism as simplified by the Zennists, and they proceeded to reinterpret the classical literature of Confucianism in the light of what they had learned from the medieval religions. To their delight and surprise, they could find afl the problems of the Zen schools in the philosophers of the classical period. There was the ideal of the perfection of the individual through intellectual training. But the perfection of the individual was never an end in itself, nor was it merely for the sake of individual salvation in which the Chinese philosophers were never interested. The perfection of the individual was only the necessary step for the ordering of the family, the state, and the world. The whole aim must be the improvement of society. The ideal was to be a social one.

    All this they found in a little book of post-Confucian origin, called the Great Learning, a booklet of 1,700 words, which had been a part of the Li Ki ["The Book of Rites"] and had attracted very little attention from the scholars for hundreds of years until the Sung scholars began to dig it out of its long oblivion. From this little book, the neo-Confucian philosophers slowly built up a secular philosophy .which became the orthodox moral and social teaching for more than seven centuries. The new philosophy appealed to the humanist tradition of the Chinese, and began to have the sanction of the government and the public. After this philosophy had attained official recognition and was taught in all Chinese schools, the medieval religions began to fade away and die out without another persecution. The best minds of the nation no longer patronized their teachings, and even the Zen schools no longer produced first-rate leaders. Their vitality had been sapped away by the vogue of the more humane and social and more intelligible native systems of thought. The revolt of China against the religion of India had succeeded. The development of critical and scientific scholarship from the seventeenth century down has tended to make the new Confucianist thought drift still farther and farther away from the influence of the medieval religions. The new intellectual life, which was characterized by the development of the humanistic and historical studies, was a continuation of the tendency traceable back to the early days of the Chinese revolt against Buddhism. But, with the contact of the various religious sects of Christianity, there began in the last decades of the nineteenth century a new movement to give China a native religion. It was thought by some leaders of the reforms that probably at least one of China's weaknesses was the lack of a national religion which could uplift the morals of the people and unite the feelings and sentiments of the whole nation. The outstanding leader of this line of thought was K'ang Yu-wei, the reformer of 1898, and the religion he proposed to establish as the national religion of China was Confucianism. He wrote and preached in favor of this political establishment of Confucianism. He initiated the practice of dating Chinese history from the birth of Confucius (551 B.C.), after the fashion in the West of dating history in terms of the Christian era.

    But he belonged to a school of classical scholarship which believed that a large portion of the classics, the portion that was originally written in the so-called "ancient script," was a forgery made in the Han dynasty. He tried to prove, with copious evidences, and with audacity and critical methodology, that these texts were forged by a clever scholar, of the beginning of the Christian era, by name Liu Hsin, who fabricated them as a moral support to the usurper-emperor Wang Mang. His arguments were quite convincing to many scholars, and this new critical school has a large following even to this day. But his ardent advocacy of a political establishment of Confucianism as a state religion was received with little or no enthusiasm. Even his great disciple, Liang Ch'i-ch'ao, was opposed to it. The explanation was quite simple. The few classics he had tried to dethrone were the most readable and the most influential of all the classics. If they were to be condemned as forgeries, very little would be left of Confucianism. The remaining texts were difficult to understand and contained little moral teaching. The new interpretations which K'ang's school had tried to read into them were quite as abstruse as the texts themselves. To establish Confucianism after such a radical expurgation would be as ridiculous as to see Hamlet with the Prince of Denmark left out.

    As late as 1915 and 1916, K'ang Yu-wei and his followers tried to influence Yuan Shih-kai and the Constitutional Convention to incorporate a clause in the new Constitution of the Republic, establishing the teaching of the Confucian school as the basic system of moral education in China. Under the influence of Yuan Shih-kai, this clause was accepted by the framers of the draft Constitution. But the new leaders of the intellectual class, notably Ts'ai Yuen-p'ei, Wu Chih-hui, and Ch'en Tu-shiu, fought hard against its adoption in the final text of the Constitution. The words of Mr. Ch'en Tu-shiu are worth quoting as indicating the new temper of the age. He said: "All religions are useless as instruments of government and education. They are to be classed with the other discarded idols of a past age. Even if we may concede that a religion may be needed by an uneducated people, are we justified in disregarding all the teachings of the other religions? We shall be guilty of encroaching upon the religious liberty of the people, if the other religions are ignored and Confucianism alone is constitutionally recognized." And he went on to show that Confucianism was the very system of thought which had justified and rationalized the political institution of despotic rule throughout all these centuries, and which must go with the final disappearance of the unlimited monarchy. "The morals taught by Confucius and his school, belonged to the age of feudalism, and are mostly unsuited to an age of democracy." The anti-Confucianists won their fight in the end. Mr. Yuan Shih-kai, who supported this Confu-cianist establishment, tried to make himself an emperor, and failed. Mr. K'ang Yu-wei, who led this movement, took part in the abortive movement in 1917 to restore the Manchu Monarchy with the aid of a reactionary general. The restoration lasted 12 days and then failed completely. These political intrigues greatly discredited the new Confucianist movement, which, as the radical thinkers had predicted, was proved to be in league with the reactionary and monarchist movements.

    It is interesting to note that the leaders of anti-religious thought in the first decade of the Republic were largely men of mature age and old scholarship. Ts'ai Yuen-p'ei and Wu Chih-hui were both outstanding figures of the older generation. Ts'ai was a Hanlin, that is, a member of the old literary Academy, and was then Chancellor of the National Peking University. In 1917 he gave a public lecture in which he frankly expressed his conviction that the religions of the world were obstacles to human progress and that the Chinese mentality was not favorable to religious attitudes. He proposed a peculiar substitute for religion. He thought that religion was essentially a product of the instinctive love for beauty and sublimity, and that it might be replaced by a universal education in aesthetics, a training which should lead men to love the beautiful and the sublime in human conduct as well as in nature.

    In 1923 there arose in the Chinese periodicals a long controversy over the relationship between science and the outlook on life. The post-war pessimism of Europe had by that time made itself felt in Chinese circles through the writings of Mr. Liang Ch'i-ch'ao and his friends, who were telling the country that science had proved itself bankrupt as the new savior of mankind, and that the solution of the riddle of life could not be found through the channels of science. The defenders of science hastened to reply to these attacks, and the controversy lasted more than a year. When a part of the controversial literature was collected, it amounted to over 250,000 words. With the exception of a few conservative scholars trained in German philosophy through the Japanese schools, the majority of those who took part in this debate were on the side of science which they held to be capable of dealing with all problems of human life and conduct.

    The most significant event of this controversy was a long essay of 70,000 words by the veteran thinker Mr. Wu Chih-hui. It had this title: "A New Conception of the Universe and of Life, Based upon a New Belief." In this essay the old scholar unreservedly accepted the mechanistic conception of the universe, and built up a philosophy of life which, in his own words, "ruled out the term 'God' and banished the soul or the spirit." He defined man as the animal with two hands and a big brain which enable him to make tools. This tool-making animal has been able to create a wonderful civilization merely through the accumulation of tools with which he subdues nature and betters his own living. The greatest achievement of man is science together with all its applications which greatly multiply the power of man to do work and to produce things for his enjoyment and betterment. Mr. Wu holds that the moral life of mankind has greatly improved with the advancement of science and technology; and that man has never achieved a moral life anywhere or at any other time in history which can be proved to be higher than that of the age of science and its machines.

    He maintains that no religion, but science alone, will be needed to make mankind even better and more moral. He tries to prove that all the moral sentiments expressed in the old religious systems and moral philosophies were merely empty words without the ability or the tools to realize them in actual life. It is science alone which has given man not only the new sympathy, but the new capability to do good which the mendicant saints of medieval times could never possess. Man must therefore rely upon himself, and himself alone, in his ceaseless endeavor to increase his tools, to extend his knowledge and power to the utmost, and thereby to make himself more and more moral by being in possession of greater power to solve the perplexities and difficulties of life. "I firmly believe that men of this age are far superior to those of any previous age; and I believe that men of the coming ages will be even better than ourselves. And I firmly believe that the more material progress is achieved, the more goods will be produced, the more needs will be met, and the more easily will man be in a position to solve all the most perplexing problems of the world."

    Mr. Wu Chih-hui is now sixty-eight years old. In him we see the intellectualistic and rationalistic philosophy of life, which is not merely the result of scientific influence from the West, but is the happy combination of that influence with the whole naturalistic and rationalistic tradition of the Chinese people. It is that combination which makes us feel completely at home in this world; and it is that which has led some of us better to appreciate the intellectual and moral significance inherent in Western civilization which the Western philosopher, because of the tremendous weight of a religious tradition, has not always been willing to recognize. [3]

    [1] Hu Shih, "Religion and Philosophy in Chinese History," in A Symposium on Chinese Culture (ed. Mrs. Sophia Chen Zen), Shanghai, 1931.

    [2] Hu Shih, "Development of Zen Buddhism in China," in Chinese Social and Political Science Review, January, 1931.

    [3] Cf. Hu Shih, "My Credo and Its Evolution," in Living Philosophies, New York, 1931.
     
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  3. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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  4. amoy

    amoy Senior Member Senior Member

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    Actually this is a typical misquotation and misunderstanding of that ancient Chinese sentence, of Laozi (Laotze)'s teaching.

    In Chinese the word KIND has the same pronunciation as HUMAN. In Ancient Chinese the 2 words mixed up.

    It shall be interpreted as " Heaven and earth are unlike (us) human beings. They treat all beings indiscriminately just like they treat dogs and grass equally." Laotze regards the almighty God as a 'fair' deity.

    Chinese students have to learn a course "Ancient Chinese" throughout school years. foreign 'scholars' who count on 2nd-hand 'translation' are certainly not a reliable guide to our culture.
     
  5. neo29

    neo29 Senior Member Senior Member

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    Communism and Religion dont go hand it hand. The PLA destroyed many Buddhist monasteries in Tibet over years and slaughtering Tibetan monks.

    Rise of religion in China will bring up a change in ideology which the communist will never want.
     
  6. tony4562

    tony4562 Tihar Jail Banned

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    Some facts about religions in China:

    1. Chinese have never been overtly religious, not in the past, not in the present, nor in the future. Religion generally equals superstition in chinese minds, and is a tool that is potentially useful for bettering life, this life that is, not the life after.

    2. Ancestor-worship, confucianism, buddism and taosim have coexisted for thousands of years in China, they generally complement each other, not competing with each other.

    3. Among the fore-mentiond so-called religions it is definitely confucianism that has influenced chinese culture and chinese way of thinking the most. It is more a philosophy or school of ethics than religion, it is without doubt the soul of chinese culture.

    4. It is completely for a chinese to be a believer in both buddism and taosim. It is never a life-or-death issue in China.

    5. Chinese accept foreign religions easily, but just like chinese food in the western world, they are often altered to the extent that they become very different from their original forms.
     
  7. tony4562

    tony4562 Tihar Jail Banned

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    Indians like to take credit for being the original buddhists. But the truth is buddhism is not born in India, it is born in present Nepal. Also, buddhism is all but vanished in the present-day india, less than one percent of indians today are buddhists, there are in fact 3 times more christians in india than there are buddhists. So obviously india and buddhism, like ancient egypt and present day muslim egyptians, don't have much to do with each other.
     
  8. Iamanidiot

    Iamanidiot Elite Member Elite Member

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    Nepal is a part of ancient india ,indian sub-continent and Indian is a place where the genesis of a lot of faiths took place.Buddhism is nothing but a export version of hinduism .Buddhism is nothing but one of the many heterodox sects in Hinduism which recieved better PR.So cut the crap about being an authoruty on indian affairs.Buddhism is nothing but a sub-sect of hindu heterodox thought

    PS:If Chinese are not that overtly religious why did 50-60 million perish in the taipeng rebellion .May be many disagreed with jesus little brother.Forgot that idiots name
     
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  9. tony4562

    tony4562 Tihar Jail Banned

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    Nepal is not India, if you don't believe me ask a nepalese for confirmation. Furthermore india never existed as a unified, coherent country until the british gave birth to India in 1947. By your reasoning any pakistani can say india is part of ancient pakistan, would you accept that?
     
  10. tony4562

    tony4562 Tihar Jail Banned

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    Taiping rebellion is not a religious war, otherwise the western powers would have sided with the rebels instead of the imperial court. Poverty and hunger drive the persants to rebel during difficult times, a repeating pattern throughout chinese history. It is not about ideology.
     
  11. tony4562

    tony4562 Tihar Jail Banned

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  12. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Buddha achieved Nirvana in Bodh Gaya, which is in India.

    Historians estimate that the founder of Buddhism, Siddhartha Gautama, lived from 566(?) to 480(?) B.C. The son of an Indian warrior-king, (Gautama's father was the king of Kapilavastu in Magadha) and Gautama was born a prince, destined to a life of luxury. Gautama led an extravagant life through early adulthood, reveling in the privileges of his social caste. But when he bored of the indulgences of royal life, Gautama wandered into the world in search of understanding. After encountering an old man, an ill man, a corpse and an ascetic, Gautama was convinced that suffering lay at the end of all existence. He renounced his princely title and became a monk, depriving himself of worldly possessions in the hope of comprehending the truth of the world around him. The culmination of his search came while meditating beneath a tree, where he finally understood how to be free from suffering, and ultimately, to achieve salvation. Following this epiphany, Gautama was known as the Buddha, meaning the "Enlightened One." The Buddha spent the remainder of his life journeying about India, teaching others what he had come to understand.
     
  13. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Tony,

    Have a look here:

    The Buddha

    It may help you to understand the subtleties of existence and of the Buddha.
     
  14. jatkshatriya

    jatkshatriya Regular Member

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    Well my dear friend...in certain definitions of a nation india didnt exist as an entity but in other definitions india did exist...if u talk abt it as a single state then many great kshatriya kings united the indian subcontinent more than once,, Ashoka, Harshwardhan, Chandragupta to name a few...as a cultural and a religious entity Bharatvarsha existed with the above mentioned term thousands of years before britishers came, and nepal today is an independent country but it was a part of bharatvarsha in the ancient times....Lord Buddha was a hindu kshatriya...i hope u got my point
     
  15. jatkshatriya

    jatkshatriya Regular Member

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    yes it will not be proper to call Buddhism an export version of hinduism , but u can definitely call it as a religion that is based on the basic principles of hinduism, well all the religions of the land buddhism, jainism , sikhism and hinduism are very similar in basic concepts..hope u will agree with that
     
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  16. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    It would be odd if Pakistan claimed India to be a part of Pakistan.

    Rather illogical a contention since India existed till 13 Aug 1947, but not Pakistan!!!!
     
  17. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    The Taiping Rebellion

    During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries Chinese culture began to move away from the traditional beliefs of the past. Western culture and beliefs moved slowly into the foreground in China, especially the Christian doctrine spread by missionaries which found itself at the center of the Taiping ideology.

    The leader of the Taipings, Hung Hsiu-Ch'uan, shaped the entire rebellion and thus much of modern China. He took an interest in politics and the government after he was converted to Christianity. His translation of the Christian doctrine formed the beliefs and ideology of the Taiping Rebellion.

    Hung was struck suddenly by sickness, and was unconscious for about four days. During the time he was in a coma, he had a vision to the effect that he was the younger brother of Jesus, and had been taken up to Heaven to see him.

    For the next ten years, Hung joined Leang-afa as a street preacher. With several close friends, he founded the Society of God Worshippers and remained the head of that organization until the March of 1847, when he returned to Canton to study with Isaachar T. Roberts. Roberts was an American Southern Baptist missionary, who adopted Hung as a special student and encouraged his ideas of rebellion. Later, the missionary was to change his mind, calling Hung and his fellow revolutionists "coolie kings" who were "crazy and unfit to rule".
     
  18. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Seeking an elusive harmony


    [​IMG]
    Once a beacon of faith: The Golden Lamp Church in Linfen

    Across China, millions quietly gather every Sunday morning in apartments and farms that serve as “house churches.” With 50 to 70 million followers, Christianity is China's fastest-growing religion, but still faces an uncertain future.

    For long, the villagers of Dingxinxian, in China's central Hubei province, regarded the weekly Sunday morning gathering with a mixture of curiosity and condescension. The sight of six farmers, quietly kneeling down in prayer and reading from a book, made little sense to them; it was a sight that was out of place in this small farming community. “They thought we all had some strange mental illness,” said Zhang Xin*, a soft-spoken farmer in her fifties. “They would come and stare at us, and wonder what we were doing. Some farmers thought we were part of some strange cult that performed magic!”

    When Christianity first came to Dingxinxian more than a decade ago, the small weekly congregation that gathered in the courtyard in front of the local pastor's home aroused suspicions. The local government, under orders from the ruling Communist Party, had spent much of the past decade waging a relentless war on the Falun Gong, a movement of millions that had spread rapidly across rural and urban China and was known for its breathing exercises. Since then, “cults” were on every official's blacklist. “Uneducated officials did not know about Christianity,” Zhang explained. “So they thought we were Falun Gong.” Zhang likes to tell the story of how Dingxinxian slowly changed its mind about Christianity. Congcong, a boy in his twenties who was autistic, had lost both his parents in an accident. With no family left to care for him, the church took him in. Zhang says within months, Congcong's autism faded away. As the story spread, curious villagers joined the small Sunday gathering. Slowly, the congregation grew. “It was a miracle,” she said.

    Tales of wonders

    Across China's cities and villages, stories of miracles seem to abound. Around 900 km north of Dingxinxian lies Zhouzhuang, a small village in eastern Shandong province. There, a farmer in his sixties has a similar tale to tell. He speaks of how his faith cured a debilitating illness; other farmers too, he said, had similar experiences. Last month, the weekly congregation at Zhouzhuang moved into a brand new church, built on the village's outskirts. The size of the congregation had expanded so fast that the old meeting place had become too crowded to host the Sunday sermon.

    This proliferation of faith in today's China isn't just happening in the countryside. In Beijing, hundreds of thousands quietly gather every week, in apartments and homes that serve as makeshift “house churches.” Tian Mei* is among them. She speaks of how her house church brought her back from the brink of committing suicide, when the death of her husband and an abusive second marriage left her alone and penniless. For millions, like Tian, churches have become an unlikely refuge, a source of support for those displaced in today's China. Yet, for many, their faith is still a matter that is too sensitive to openly embrace, in an officially atheist country that is still wary of those on society's margins. “In the history of China, and in the history of Christianity itself, the spread of house churches is a miracle,” says Fan Yafeng, an activist, lawyer and leader of a Beijing house church, who is at the forefront of China's house church movement. Christianity has a long history in China, with missionaries from the West establishing themselves across China's east after the end of the Opium War in 1842.

    Following the founding of the People's Republic by the Communist Party in 1949, churches have had an awkward relationship with the ruling party. Particularly during Mao Zedong's decade-long Cultural Revolution (1966-76), dozens of churches were closed down, and hundreds of pastors imprisoned and forced to renounce their faith. Since the “reform and opening up”, restrictions on religion somewhat eased, and millions across China began turning to faith as the older ideals of the early Communist movement began losing their relevance. But the Communist Party has been particularly wary of Christianity, fearing Western influence could become a source of internal instability. The party has also restricted Vatican influence on China's Catholic churches. To strike a balance, the party set up the “Three Self Patriotic Movement” of churches in 1954, which was reopened after the reforms in 1979. Under this banner, churches would be registered by the government and run without any Western involvement - they would be self-financed, self-organised and self-propagating.

    Church leaders like Fan, however, say the State-run churches lack credibility among some of the faithful, and are far from adequate to cater to the millions of Chinese Christians. In Beijing, for instance, the government has set up six Three Self churches, which can, at maximum, accommodate 20,000 believers. And this is a city of at least 500,000 Christians, by some estimates. Three Self Churches have to have their pastors approved by the Communist Party, and all sermons have to stick to the officially approved script. The churches also do not allow Bible study for children, which keeps some people away.

    Surveys by government-run think-tanks estimate there are more than 20 million Protestants and less than 10 million Catholics in China, though scholars like Fan say the number is far higher. (There is no census for religion in officially atheist China.) There are single house churches in some Chinese cities with congregations of 30,000 people. On a recent trip through Shandong's villages, I found churches in almost every village and town – most of these were unofficial churches. In truth, it is difficult to estimate how many Christians there actually are in China, given that many Chinese choose to keep their faith private, though estimates range from 50 to 70 million.

    The Party is wary of the growing influence of house churches. Last year, two prominent house churches were closed down by the government – the Linfen church in Shanxi province and Beijing's Shouwang church. In the early hours of September 13 last year, the congregation at Linfen found bulldozers outside the doors of their church.

    As the church was razed to the ground, thugs attacked members of the congregation. The pastor, and some other members, were arrested on the charge of “illegally using farmland” (a regulation rarely invoked). The case went to trial in September, and the pastor was sentenced in November. “The Linfen case is an important and influential case for the development of house churches in China,” Fan, the church leader, tells me. Fan, who has a background in constitutional law, is advising lawyers who are involved in the Linfen case. Up until last November, Fan was a scholar at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences – the country's most respected and influential think-tank. Following his increasing involvement with the house church movement and the Linfen case, he was fired from his position at CASS. Fan thinks 2009 was a turning point for the development of Christianity in China. Following the Linfen case, the government also cracked down on members of the popular Shouwang house church in Beijing, by forcing them out of their temporary residence. In a show of strength that attracted international attention right before Barack Obama's State visit last November, the several thousand members of the church held a service in a public park, in defiance of government orders and amid heavy snowfall.

    Urban setting

    It is in the thousands of house churches in non-descript apartment complexes in urban sprawls, and in farms in remote provinces, that the future of China's Christians lies. The Linfen church, which was set up 26 years ago with 25 members, now has a following of more than 50,000. In Hangzhou in China's east, the Shouxian house church has 100,000 members. Fan's hometown Wenzhou has a 15 per cent Christian population out of 7.5 million people, he estimates.

    Fan says the movement has become too big for the government to suppress, and a compromise is the likeliest solution for a ruling party that is wary of unrest. With its actions in the international spotlight, the government this year allowed Shouwang to rent its own property. I visited the Shouwang church a few Sundays ago, during a worship service that was held in a meeting hall at the basement of a café in a northern Beijing suburb. This was to be their last service at the café before they moved into their expansive new surrounds. The mood was one of defiance. “We cannot be ignored,” the pastor told the congregation of at least 500. “The Lord has already come to China. And He is here to stay.” Fan's own house church is far more modest. It is hard to find, hidden in an apartment complex in another Beijing suburb. The only hint of its presence when I visit one Sunday afternoon is the melodic hymns that fill the apartment block. Fan led the small congregation of less than 50 people, as they passionately affirmed their faith. “Christianity is destined to come to this ancient country,” the congregation sang in perfect harmony. “On your guard against the forces that are against Christianity, for preaching has never been easy. Let us take our gospel to the world. And let us wake China up.”

    Names have been changed on request.

    With contributions from Li Boya
     
  19. Tshering22

    Tshering22 Sikkimese Saber Senior Member

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    False and fake nationalist Nepali claims trying to be different. When Gautam Buddha was born, he was born in what was a part of India's empire. Nepal was existing as a part of 15 mahajanapadas that has nothing to do with Nepal existing as a separate country. Same religion, same culture and similar concept, Nepal came into being first time as a country under King Prithvi Narayan Veer Vikram Shah which was around 500 years ago. Attempting to alter history for political gain doesn't undo the truth. This is something silly over-zealous and relation-ruining fake nationalists in Nepal won't realize.

    You see, India's empire was not formed on the basis of guards, structures, military logistics etc... the size of India and her borders throughout history was marked by the limit till where Hinduism/Buddhism etc were existing. The Western concepts of fenced borders etc are alien to our general system. Why do you think that we didn't have fenced border with Tibet ever even before Communism was exported from Marx in Germany to China?
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2010
  20. Tshering22

    Tshering22 Sikkimese Saber Senior Member

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    I am a Buddhist and I am not offended at all. The person didn't mean to be offensive in his speech. Do you know that the Buddha is also worshipped by mainstream Hindus? In fact, the dude is quite right. For example, take a look at Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia and Laos; the country technically follows Buddhism but all its ancestral art, architecture shares common grounds with mainstream Hinduism. Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej is Buddhist but every new royal high priest is a Hindu that crowns the next royal in the Vaishnav sect traditions. The reason why Buddhism formed a branch of Dharma was because there were too many wars and mindless killings in those days by kings who were greedy for land and which resulted in too many wars and mob violence. The Buddha taught people how to live an immaterial life and to be one with Nature; to give up material desires for peace and balance and attain Godhood oneself... a principle that is core to mainstream Hindu philosophy.

    Unlike the limited politico-religious package that has dogmatic Abrahamic religions in Middle East being rigid, intolerant and expansionist, the core of eastern faiths is very different. You shall find it difficult to understand now but you will eventually. The rituals that your Communist leaders taunt are man-made and don't entail any of its mention in any holy scriptures except mainstream Vedas that has ancient sciences behind it. The key to understanding this deep mystery is to attain knowledge which you can even without becoming on of us. That's the difference between our branch of Dharma and dogmatic Abrahmic faiths.
     
  21. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    China's Underground Christians
    The continued plight of unregistered house churches.


    China's constitution states that citizens "enjoy freedom of religious belief," but the experience of Buddhists in Tibet, Muslims in Xinjiang and members of Falun Gong across the country suggests otherwise. Christians can also attest to the bullying that the faithful in China must endure.

    Last week more than 200 Chinese Christians were barred from leaving the country to attend a religious conference in South Africa. The delegation represented China's "house churches," or unregistered private assemblies. A Foreign Ministry spokesman said the conference's organizers had subverted the official Chinese church by only inviting the underground leaders, calling this "a flagrant interference in China's religious affairs."

    It's hard to see how this is true, given that China bans proselytizing only in public places and not in the private homes where these congregants meet. What officials more likely object to is the church's threat to the Communist Party's authority. According to the Pew Research Center, 20 million Chinese Protestants and more than five million Catholics attend government-sanctioned services. But between 50 million and 70 million Christians now worship in the more popular house churches. The Communist Party has only some 60 million members.

    Before the 2008 Beijing Olympics, many of the city's estimated 2,000 house churches reported harassment from authorities telling them not to meet during the games. But most of the persecution happens under the public's radar, in cases where, for instance, a priest is jailed without fair trial. None of that deterred the 200 Christians last week from trying to live their faith. As they put it in an open letter, "We earnestly long for a China that is founded on love, justice and peace."


    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304023804575565583028631598.html?mod=asia_opinion
     

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