Buddhism in China illustrates cultural integration

Xinhuanet, Oct 20, 2004

BEIJING, China -- The spread of Buddhism from India to Japan and Korea after the religion's development in China exemplifies the compatibility of Chinese and foreign cultures.

"The spread of the religion instilled new energy to the culture of these countries and also brought regeneration to the religion itself," said Professor Xu Jialu, director of the College of Chinese Language and Culture of Beijing Normal University.

He said this Monday during a speech at City University. The talk, under the City University Distinguished Lecture Series, was delivered to students, academics and guests.

Xu, who is also vice-chairman of the 10th Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, said the teachings of Zen Buddhism embody the true wisdom of China and the true meaning of life. .

"When Buddhism was introduced into China, some of the basic principles appealed to the Chinese, making it popular in that culture. The Chinese modified Indian Buddhism to make forms of Buddhism that were distinctly Chinese," he explained.

The Chinese religion of Taoism had greatly affected Buddhism. Early Chinese translations of Buddhist texts explained Buddhist concepts using Taoist terms, he said.

"In the interaction between Buddhism and China, the culture of China had experienced great changes. During a period of disunity and conflict in Chinese history, Buddhism appealed to the Chinese as a way to be freed from suffering," he said.

"While the introspective nature of Buddhism seemed to be in conflict with the family-oriented ideals and values of Confucianism, the Mahayana form of Buddhism agreed with the social aspects of Confucianism, as with mystical aspects of Taoism."