WHAP, Period 3
February 16, 2015
DBQ: Analyze the Responses to the Spread of Buddhism in China
In the 6th Century B.C.E., a man by the name of Siddhartha Gautama spent half of his life trying to learn how to prevent suffering. In this process he founded the religion know as Buddhism. Eventually, with help of the Silk Road, Buddhism spread around Asia and found its way to China. After the Han dynasty collapsed, Buddhism slowly began to grow in China. During a period of political instability after the fall of the Han Empire, scholars favored Buddhism because of its views for preventing sorrow but when China’s imperial structure was restored, Buddhism was considered evil and destabilizing and lastly some thought Buddhism was similar to other religions.
Scholars in China around 350 B.C.E favored Buddhism because of its view on diminishing sorrow through reducing desire. Zhi Dun, a Chinese scholar from 350 C.E., believed that “Whosoever in China, in this era of sensual pleasures, serves the Buddha and correctly observes the commandments, who recites the Buddhist Scriptures, and who furthermore makes a vow to be reborn without ever abandoning his sincere intention, will at the end of his life, when his soul passes away, be miraculously transported thither. (Doc 2)” Zhi Dun felt this way towards Buddhism because he was living in a time of sorrow due to the invasion of nomads and Buddhism helped to relieve his sorrow. In the 5th Century B.C.E., the first sermon preached by Buddha was the “Four Noble Truths.” The Four Noble Truths explained that everything is sorrow, “[sorrow]… it arises from craving, (Doc 1)” and sorrow can be stopped by the prevention of craving by following the “Eight Fold Path.” Buddha felt that in times of sorrow, Buddhism would become helpful by stopping sorrow by preventing desire.
Although some Chinese thought Buddhism was helpful, others thought Buddhism was evil, destabilizing and foreign. When the imperial...
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