Response To Buddhism

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In the sixth century B.C.E., Buddhism’s foundation was laid in India, and through rampant travel and trade, in which goods and ideas were exchanged between multiple groups, the religion spread farther into foreign lands such as China. China incorporated Buddhism into their society by the first century B.C.E., and this syncretism of Buddhism into Chinese society allowed for the religion to rapidly gain converts, many in the lower class, who strived to fulfill the appealing teachings of the Buddha, rather than those detailed in Confucianism. As Buddhism’s hold grew stronger within China and the religion was assimilated further into society, many different viewpoints of Buddhism became apparent. The responses to Buddhism ranged from positive to …show more content…
Buddhism’s teachings, advocated and put forth by Buddha himself, placed an importance on rejecting secular pleasures and suppressing that desire in order to seek enlightenment and Nirvana (1). These teachings strictly opposed Confucian teachings, which stressed the importance of order and structure within this secular world. However, Buddhism appealed to the lower class due to its rejection of any typical hierarchy, placing importance on the equal goal of reaching enlightenment, and therefore the religion won many converts in that manner. Zhi Dun, a Chinese scholar and confidant of the aristocracy that existed during a chaotic period of invasion, acknowledged the benefits which Buddhism provided when one followed the religion’s teachings (2). This shows that the religion’s promotion of peace was appealing to the masses who sought solace in a time of invasion. It is surprising that Zhi Dun, a confidant of an aristocracy leaning towards Confucianism, would lean towards Buddhism, however it is not surprising that Zhi Dun acknowledged the benefits of following Buddhist teachings during a time of chaos and uncertainty because the religion itself advocated peace. Though many scholarly voices in Chinese society advocated for the promotion of Buddhism, some scholars placed an …show more content…
The rejection of a hierarchy system as advocated by Buddhism posed as a grave threat to the aristocracy and their power, and the teachings of Buddha were distinct from those of Confucius, which troubled many belonging to the upper class. In the words of Han Yu, a Confucian scholar and imperial court official, Buddhism was “a cult of the barbarian peoples” that had no place in the Confucian-ruled lands of China. Yu dismissed Buddhism as a foreign concept with a foreign creator that neither addressed the history of the Chinese people nor correlated with the teachings of Confucian, and rather conflicted with them (4). This negativity showed by Yu occurred in 819 C.E., after the reign of Empress Wu. During Empress Wu’s reign, the ruler attempted to assimilate Buddhism farther into Chinese society by attempting to implement Buddhism as a state religion. These attempts were met with severe backlash once Empress Wu’s reign ended, and many negative views arose and challenged the attempted assimilation. Yu’s negative view of Buddhism is just one of many that arose after the attempts at assimilation by previous emperors. It is not surprising that Yu viewed Buddhism so negatively, as he himself was a Confucian scholar who supported Confucian ideals. Not only did Confucian scholars feel

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