The Spread of Buddhism in China Dbq

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AP World History

8/5/2012

Question: Analyze the responses to the spread of Buddhism in China.

Buddhism was started in India in the 16th century B.C.E., eventually came to China in the first century C.E., and people gradually began to convert to it. Many people in China at that time felt differently about the new religion. Some felt that Buddhism was good for their society, and they encouraged the practice of it. Others felt that it was negative thing, and that it should be stopped.

Documents 1, 2, 3, and 5 can be grouped together because they all point out the positive things about Buddhism. The Buddha, who was the founder of Buddhism, said in his first sermon “The Four Noble Truths” in the fifth century B.C.E. that all things in life are driven by sorrow and passion. Being the founder of the religion, he of course would say good things about Buddhism. If he didn’t, there would probably be many people that would stop following it. The Chinese scholar, Zhi Dun in document 2, makes the statement that whoever follows and obeys the rules of Buddhism, at the end of their life will enter nirvana (the extinction of desire and individual consciousness). The anonymous Chinese scholar in document 3 defends Buddhism, when it was being compared to Confucianism. The scholar makes the argument that the two cannot be compared and that they are completely different. They say “To compare the sages of the Buddha would be like comparing a white deer to a unicorn, or a swallow to a phoenix”. In his essay “On the Nature of Man”, Zong Mi also says that the religions should not be compared. He says they both have different teachings and approaches. According to him, neither is better than the other and they should both be observed with respect. Zong Mi was a leading Buddhist scholar and was favored by the Tang imperial household. He followed Buddhism but the Tang imperial court seemed against the religion. Maybe he is writing this from a neutral point of view for fear of...
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