AP World History
18 October 2012
As Buddhism spread throughout China during the first century CE, people had a variety of responses, both positive and negative. Many Chinese accepted Buddhism and its beliefs, yet some criticized the religion and how foreign it was, having been originated in India. Documents 1, 2, 3, and 5 are supportive of Buddhism and documents 4 and 6 discourage it.
Documents 1, 2, 3, and 5 all support Buddhism’s beliefs and encourage the practice of this religion. Document 1 is excerpted from Buddha’s first sermon in which he speaks of Buddhism’s most basic beliefs, the four noble truths. The four noble truths describe how to achieve enlightenment and salvation. This appealed to the Chinese lower class, specifically after the collapse of the Han. In document 2, Zhi Dun speaks of more religious practices of Buddhism, such as serving the Buddha and obeying the commandments. He also promotes the faith by speaking about its promise of enlightenment after death. Zhi Dun, who happens to be a scholar and confidant of Chinese aristocrats and officials, is bias in favor of Buddhism. This document was written around 350 CE, a time of distress and invasion in China. The Han Empire had fallen, thus putting China in a time of vulnerability. During this time in China, political leaders, such as Zhi Dun, had to win over all the members of society to restore the Han system of government, even the lower class. Zhi Dun, being a member of the upper class, promoted Buddhism in hope to gain the support of the lower class. Document 3 is trying to explain Buddhism in this question-and-answer formatted document. This anonymous Chinese scholar is also bias in favor of Buddhism because in 500 CE, when this document was written, Buddhism was still gaining political favor in China, as the empire was still in turmoil. Document 5 explains that Buddhism, as well as Daoism and Confucianism, lead to a harmonious society and the Buddha, along with Confucius and Lao...
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