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Gabriela C.

Rodrguez Lebrn
Prof. Blanca Facundo
AP World History
January 16, 2015
DBQ: The Responses to the Spread of Buddhism in China

Commonly, during times of political disunity and anarchy, humans tend


to look for a deity to believe in. Buddhism emerged during times of instability,
when the White Huns invaded India around the sixth century B.C.E., Buddhas
teachings encouraged the search of Enlightment to reach the perfect state of
mind, the Nirvana. This religion, along with its peaceful practices, appealed
Indian people and gained success easily until it reached China. Buddhism
gained followers quickly in China during the first century C.E., when the Han
Empire was collapsing. However, scholars responses changed when stability
was restored. The documents provided suggest that Chinese scholars
reactions to the expansion of Buddhism are determined by the time period
they lived in. For instance, Chinese scholars that lived in the period of
instability had a positive reaction to Buddhism, whereas Chinese scholars that
lived during imperial structure had a negative reaction to it. Also, some ______
acknowledged that time periods affected belief systems.
Religion is a concept that societies adopt with the purpose of searching
tranquility. Buddhism developed in India during times of instability. That is
why, Buddhisms philosophy is based on The Four Noble Truths, these
statements relate to the stopping of human suffering and sorrow (doc #1).
This suggests that Buddha was affected by the imperial instability and

understood that beliefs provided comfort to its followers during tough


times. Also, Zong Mi, a Buddhist scholar living around 350 C.E.,
acknowledged that the time period affects the peoples beliefs. He thought
that prophets such as Laozi and Confucious established their teachings
corresponding the periods stability. This suggests that Chinese scholars
even during stable times had respect towards other religions (doc #5). Zong
Mis perspective of religions was completely different than other leaders
during that era because he was a minority being Buddhist and he had to
defend other ideologies and protect himself (P.o.V).
During times of political stability, Buddhism was perceived as an evil
cult of the foreigners. For instance, Han Yu, a Confucian scholar referred to
Buddhism as a cult of the barbarians and urged the emperor to get rid of
Buddhists because of their gory practices. This implies the intolerance of
Chinese scholars toward Buddhists during imperial disunity (doc #4). Also,
Tang Emperor Wu saw Buddhism as a poison. Buddhism was perceived as
evil because of the Buddhists that lived in monasteries. These believers were
despised by leaders because they did not have to pay taxes and lived praying
and not working on the fields (doc #6). Emperor Wu had this perspective
because as an emperor it is not convenient to have persons living on the land
and not producing income or paying taxes (P.o.V).
Scholars that lived during the period of instability had a positive
response to Buddhism and encouraged its beneficial aspects. For instance, an
anonimous Chinese scholar who wrote The Disposition of Error around 500
C.E., encouraged Buddhism. He thought that Confucian classics lacked
information because of its antiquity. Even though he respected Confucianism,

this suggests how it was perceived as incomplete philosophy during times of


instability, and how the Chinese had a positive response to Buddhism (doc
#3). In addition, Zhi Dun, a Chinese scholar living during times of invasion in
China, acknowledges that the complete peace of mind, the Nirvana is
reached by following Buddhist practices. This demonstrates the positive
response to Buddhism and how it was viewed as a religion that if practiced,
one could achieve the perfect state (doc #2).
An extra document that would help me analyze the extent of
Buddhisms appeal in China would be a chart written by Chinese imperial
scribe living from 320 to in _________, China that recorded the
Buddhism entered China when it was in a vulnerable state, during the
collapse of the Han Empire. This situation was influential in the responses of
the spread of Buddhism because it gained many followers. Then, when
stability was restored, Buddhism was not convenient for leaders because of
its many followers, its monasteries and that it did not establish order like
Confucianism. Chinese rulers during times of stability were against it because
it was an additional source of power that was not related to governmental
institutions.