From the Han dynasty to the Song Dynasty, there were several different views of Buddhism in China. You can see the different reactions through the documents given showing that there are those that oppose it, those that accept it, and those that believe in religious purism. From the 1st century to the 9th century, the diffusion of Buddhism to China provoked a harsh reaction by high ranking Confucian scholars. The Rejection of Buddhism stems from the foreign nature of Buddhism.
Han Yu, a leading Confucian scholar stated that Buddhism is “no more than a cult of Barbarian peoples” (Document 4). Furthermore, Yu describes the Buddha as “a man of barbarians who did not speak Chinese and who wore clothes of a different fashion” (Document 4). In addition, the Tang Emperor Wu states that Buddhism had spread like a “vine until it has poisoned the customs of our nation” (Document 6) Wu’s view of Buddhism could be attributed to the rising tide of Neo-Confucianism. At 350 C.
E. when the Asian steppe nomads invaded China, people lower than the aristocrats needed a sense of comfort so they turned to Buddhism. The acceptance of Buddhism turns to the tradition of the religion as the Chinese scholar, Zhi Dun states that whoever will behold the Buddha and be enlightened in his spirit, will then enter Nirvana” (Document 2). “The Four Noble Truths” preaches the truth of sorrow, arising of sorrow, stopping of sorrow, the way that leads to the stopping of sorrow.
The stopping of sorrow seems to be the main point as it is the “complete stopping of that craving, so that no passion remains, leaving it, being emancipated from it, being released from it, giving no place to it” (Document 1). It is teaching the followers to be pure so that they become closer to their destination of Nirvana. There were also scholars who were neutral to the dispute. They believed that the religion could coexist with the Confucian believers causing religious purism. And anonymous Chinese scholar answers questions and states that “records and teaching of the Confucian classics do not contain everything.
Even if the Buddha is not mentioned in them, what occasion is there for suspicion” (Document 3). (??? ) A leading Buddhist scholar named Zong Mi compares the teachings of Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism and says “all three teachings lead to the creation of an orderly society and for this they must be observed with respect” (Document 5). In conclusion during the 1st century to the 9th, the views of Buddhism’s diffusion in China consist of those who accept it, oppose it, and believe in religious purism.
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