Spread of Buddhism

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Keith Secon
AP World
Spread of Buddhism DBQ

Responses to the Spread of Buddhism

Following Buddhism’s introduction into China in the first and second centuries, C.E., the religion was received in different ways, reflecting the progression of China’s history. Chinese scholars, Confucian Government Officials, and Buddhists viewed Buddhism through their unique perspectives, sometimes agreeing and sometimes disagreeing on the role it played in Chinese life. Chinese scholars generally saw Buddhism as a positive influence because it provided hope for an afterlife. Buddhists naturally embraced the rise of Buddhism and saw it as salvation. Confucian government officials were suspicious of Buddhism and saw it as a negative influence that challenged their already proven authority from Confucianism. Ultimately, the groups response to Buddhism differed depending on how tightly centralized the established Confucian dynasty was at the time, and by how much each group’s position in society would be benefitted or harmed. Chinese Scholars viewed Buddhism from an intellectual standpoint which lead them to receive it as ultimately positive because they had no special interest, as did the religious or government leaders. As stated by Zhi Dun, “whosoever in China […] serves the Buddha and correctly observes the commandments […] he will behold the Buddha and be enlightened in his spirit, and then he will enter Nirvana.”(Doc 2) This shows that Zhi Dun supported Buddhism and saw it as a way to achieve the highest state of spiritual being because reaching Nirvana meant that one could escape the terrible cycle of reincarnation. This document is biased due to the fact that where Zhi Dun was living at this time, in Northern China was being invaded by barbaric nomads which led him to need something to believe in and Buddhism filled that void. A document that would have been helpful in reputing Zhi Dun’s statement would have been a diary entry from a scholar in...
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