Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Passionate Endorsement and Refusal

             Scholars, Commoners and Ruling Elites all sought to follow the Buddha’s eightfold path to Nirvana by recognizing The Four Noble Truths described in Buddha’s first sermon, “The Four Noble Truths” (doc 1). Those who accepted the Buddhist religion had a single objective in life-to achieve Nirvana in death (doc 2). The spread of Buddhism was due to an overall endorsement of the religion in all classes, though some refused to accept the “newfangled” religion.
            The positive replies of the scholars were an important part of Buddhism’s expansion. They showed the people that worldly pleasures were not to be valued above following The Way (doc 3) as faithful monks did, who forsook wives and children to accumulate “goodness and wisdom” (doc 3). Scholars such as Zhi Dun (doc 2) wholeheartedly accepted Buddhism. He defined perfect Buddhist actions for people to follow, showing how sensual pleasures were to be avoided (doc 2). These passionately positive responses were an intricate part of Buddhism’s appeal to the Chinese.
            Some Scholars and Emperors refused it as a threat to the Chinese heritage while others said it was simply “another” good religion. One such Emperor (doc 6) said, “In destroying law and injuring humankind indeed nothing surpasses this doctrine!” This Emperor Wu passionately wished to eradicate this religion. But, no matter how many rules she made, the people still sought follow this appealing and adaptable religion. Zong Mi was one of these scholars who did not escalate Buddhism above Laozi or Confucionism, but at the same time did not lower it below(doc 4). It was simply another good religion and that should be respected. These varying responses show how Buddhism was often hindered by those who did not see the personal profit in practicing it.
            Some of Emperor Wu’s (doc 6) points as well as an Anonymous Chinese Scholar (doc 3) raise crucial problems with Buddhism. Emperor Wu’s Edict on Buddism (doc 6) shows how Buddhist Monks, though seemingly good hearted and religious, were a burden on the public. While “The Disposition of Error” (doc 3) is meant to refute and answer questions against Buddhism, it also tells us a great deal about some of the common questions anti-Buddhists had around 500 A.D. These documents as well as others demonstrate some of the problems Buddhism had. Nevertheless, it appealed to many.
            To complete this analyzation some additional documents would be exceedingly helpful. The documents discussed above have demonstrated what scholars and rulers thought of Buddhism, but to evaluate the true extent of Buddhism’s appeal in China, one must consider the majority of people, which are the common folk. Thus some documents from everyday merchants, and commoners would be beneficial. Some documents that take captive the opinions of the Monks and Nuns would be greatly helpful to get the full picture.  Additionally some documents that give light to Buddhism’s adaptability would prove supportive of how Buddhism was able to appeal to so vast a populous.

            While most of ancient China accepted and enacted Buddhism into their daily lives, some did not for various reasons. Confucians saw it as a threat (doc 4) as well as did some elite rulers (doc 6). Others viewed it as simply another religion.  While still others, the majority, viewed it as a wonderful way to let go of craving or desire which causes all loss according to Buddha (doc 1).