Foundations and Transformations of Buddhism: An Overview
John M. Koller

Buddhism in China

Buddhism arrived in China during the first century, but its main development began in the fourth century, and its full flowering occurred during the Sui (581-618 CE) and Tang (618-906 CE) dynasties. Indeed, Buddhism proved so attractive to the Chinese that it became the dominant Chinese way of thought in the Sui and Tang Dynasties, temporarily eclipsing both Confucianism and Taoism. The highly successful Pure Land (Qingtu), Huayen, Tiantai, and Chan (which is known as Zen in Japan ) schools of Mahayana Buddhism were developed in China .

The Chinese acceptance of Buddhism from the fourth century onwards occurred at a time of political and military disarray, the near collapse of traditional Confucian norms and virtues, and the Neo-Taoist attitude of retreat and seclusion from public life. The Mahayana Buddhism that attracted the Chinese glorified the ideal of Buddha-hood, assuring the faithful that they already possessed the beginnings of this perfected condition of being. Furthermore, by accepting the help of innumerable celestial and heavenly Bodhisattvas, who for countless eons have been working tirelessly in all the regions of this vast universe, they too could attain Buddha-hood.


See also:

A Visual Sourcebook of Chinese Civilization, by Patricia Buckley Ebrey ( University of Washington)

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