Many people will choose Confucianism as the most important factor in understating East Asian culture. Confucianism, indeed, is crucial in understanding the culture. However, one should not overlook the influence of Buddhism on Confucianism and many areas of East Asian culture. Buddhism, one of the world’s oldest religions and a philosophy, is shared by East Asian countries, thus in order to fully appreciate the East Asian culture, one should learn about Buddhism and its significant influence on the culture. This paper will discuss Buddhism shared by East Asian culture and how the religion played an enormous role in shaping the mindset of people affecting their culture. Buddhism started approximately in the 6th century BCE, starting with the birth of the Buddha in India. The religion then spread through Central Asia, East Asia, and Southeast Asia (Keown). Among many branches of Buddhism, Mahayana has been diffused from first west, north, and east throughout East Asia (Skilton). The fundamental principles of Mahayana are liberation from suffering and the belief in the existence of Bodhisattva. Bodhisattva is someone who achieved Nirvana, the state of being free from both suffering and the cycle of rebirth (Keown). One can find a carved wood elongated figure of Bodhisattva Guanyin (1999.13.0003) from Spurlok Museum, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL . In this wooden figure, Guanyin is barefoot with hair wrapped in knot, wears ornate robes and holds a basket with flowers (Spurlock Museum). One can also find a photo of Bronze Seated Buddha in National Museum at Kyongbok-Kung, Seoul, South Korea (1986.27.0017) in Spurlock Museum . These are an important artifact and a photo because one can easily find very similar artifacts of Guanyin or Buddha in China, Korea, and Japan. It shows one how Buddhism was shared by East Asian countries (Yü). Upon first encountering Buddhism, many Chinese scholars regarded it as merely a foreign religion. This caused Buddhism...
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Keown, Damien. A Dictionary of Buddhism. Oxford Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 2003.
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Spurlock Museum. 2007. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. September 12, 2008
Yü, Chün-Fang. Kuan-Yin. New York: Columbia University Press, 2001.
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