DBQ: Buddhism in China
After reviewing the given documents, it is clear that the response to Buddhism was positive at earlier time periods in China (220 CE – 570 CE) because there was political instability and disunity and as soon as the imperial structure was restored (570 CE), the responses to Buddhism became generally negative. During the time of instability and disunity Scholars wrote about how they lived by the “Four Noble Truths” and how they accepted Buddhism even though it wasn’t talked about in the Confucian Classics. But when structure was restored Buddhism was described as a cult of barbarians and many believed it should be eradicated altogether. During the unstable period of 220 CE – 570 CE in China, Buddhism was widely accepted by all. The lower class accepted Buddhism because its “rules” suggested that if they live a good life now they will reach nirvana when they . The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism (Document 1) talk about sorrow and the way that leads to the stopping of sorrow. Because the lower class generally didn’t have a lot, they were full of sorrow and they saw Buddhism as a way to stop it. The upper class also accepted Buddhism because it is believed that if you follow the four noble truths, you will Enter Nirvana, which is the extinction of desire (Document 2). The scholar who wrote document 2 was a scholar, author, and confidant of Chinese aristocrats so his views and responses to Buddhism were most likely influenced by the aristocrats and high officials who he worked with. It is brought up in Document 3 that Buddhism was not talked about at all in the Confucian Classics. Early Chinese Buddhists accepted that “all written works need not necessarily be the words of Confucius” and that there is no need for suspicion. After 500CE, the documents reviewed show that the response to Buddhism started to become more and more negative. A Confucian scholar, Han Yu, stated that “Buddhism is a cult of barbarians” (Document 4) because of the Buddhist...
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