Chinas Buddhist Culture

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Say no to China's Dalai Lama

Many believers do not follow organized religion and are said to practice traditional folk religion. One of the higher estimates comes from the U. In practice, however, monitoring and crackdowns often target peaceful activities that are protected under international law, say human rights watchdogs. China is home to one of the largest populations of religious prisoners, likely numbering in the tens of thousands; while in custody, some are tortured or killed, rights groups say.

Instances of arbitrary detentions and violence carried out with impunity have led the U. The party prohibits its nearly ninety million party members from holding religious beliefs, and it has demanded the expulsion of party members who belong to religious organizations. Officials have said that party membership and religious beliefs are incompatible, and they discourage families of CCP members from publicly participating in religious ceremonies.

Although these regulations are not always strictly enforced, the party periodically takes steps to draw a clearer line on religion. Chinese folk religions have no rigid organizational structure, blend practices from Buddhism and Daoism, and are manifest in the worship of ancestors, spirits, or other local deities.

Though the number of traditional Chinese religious adherents is difficult to measure accurately, the building of new temples and the restoration of old temples signals the growth of Buddhism and folk beliefs in China. Since Xi has come to power, experts have noted an apparent easing of tough rhetoric against, and even a promotion of, traditional beliefs in China.

Buddhism in China

The Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of one of the main schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Since , he and his exiled government in India have played a prominent role in garnering international support for Tibetan autonomy. Experts say that discontent among Tibetan Buddhists stems in part from economic disparities between ethnic Tibetans and Han Chinese, as well as from religious and political repression.

To quell dissent, the CCP restricts religious activity in Tibet and Tibetan communities outside of the autonomous region. There are three state-regulated Christian organizations and many underground house churches of widely varying size.

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In recent years, China has witnessed a spike in state repression against both house churches and state-sanctioned Christian organizations, including campaigns to remove hundreds of rooftop crosses from churches, forced demolitions of churches, and harassment and imprisonment of Christian pastors and priests. Chinese claims that "Tibet is and has always been part of China" have little basis in fact; but Chinese intentions toward Tibet are obvious if unfulfilled until recently.

The greatest threat to the survival of Tibetan culture came with the Chinese "liberation" in and the flight of the Dalai Lama to India in Although committed by the 17 Point Agreement of to preserve the political and cultural autonomy of Tibet, the Chinese in their attempts to impose policies of "socialization" left little to the authority of the Tibetan government.

China's control of religion in Tibet | Free Tibet

Gaining a free hand by the departure of the Dalai Lama and collapse of the traditional Tibetan government in , the Chinese intensified their attempts to transform Tibetan society according to the doctrines and techniques of socialism. Throughout the s and s, traditional Tibetan culture was subjected to tremendous reform pressure. Traditional organization of society was intentionally fragmented and an economic class basis artificially implemented in a society, which with one obvious exception - the major division between the aristocracy and commoners - had indistinct class divisions.

Tibetan language was simplified, by elimination of honorifics and the introduction of "proletarian" terminology, and de-emphasized in schools in favor of Chinese. Buddhism was eradicated as far as possible both in its physical and spiritual forms. In the new Chinese government recognized the failure of its social and economic policies in Tibet. It admitted that the economic condition of the Tibetans was worse than in when the Chinese intervened. Hopes of gaining great wealth by the exploitation of minerals had fallen victim to investment and logistics difficulties.

China found itself in the typical colonialists' dilemma that the economic exploitation of the colony did not pay the costs of occupation. The policy of liberalization since has opened up a new potential for an economic benefit from Tibet in the form of tourism. With tourism, both foreign and domestic, however, comes the usual detrimental effects, compounded in this case by the Chinese permitting certain aspects of Tibetan culture which are politically innocuous and attractive to tourists, while prohibiting other aspects. Simultaneous with tourism have come the new forms of social entertainment, especially film and television.

Yet Tibetan family life has suffered the same disruptions that any society experiences with the introduction of modern communications media. Still, when the situation changed somewhat for the better for Tibetans in , it was remarkable that any aspect of traditional Tibetan culture had even survived.

When certain aspects of the individual practice of religion were again allowed, observers, especially the Chinese themselves, were amazed that the religious fervor of the Tibetans, both young and old, seemed undiminished. On the basis of their personal beliefs - organized religion being still prohibited - the Tibetans began to revive and rebuild their cultural heritage. The remarkable degree to which Tibetans have been able to preserve their culture is largely due to the depth and breadth of the philosophical basis of their culture.

The intentional preservation of as many aspects as possible of their culture by the refugee community in India has also been an important factor.

The Influence of Buddhism in Chinese Culture

Modern Tibetans both in India and in Chinese Tibet are questioning the validity and applicability of all aspects of their culture in the present situations. Tibetans in India and Nepal are forced to exist in an economic and social milieu in which some characteristics of traditional Tibetan culture, such as their business and trading acumen, are valuable, while others are not.


Recently, archaeologists discovered detailed paintings in a 1,year-old tomb in China. China has invested large amounts of money in science advancements and currently challenges the United States in scientific research.

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One recent development in Chinese science is teleportation. Chinese researchers sent a packet of information from Tibet to a satellite in orbit, up to miles 1, kilometers above the Earth's surface, which is a new record for quantum teleportation distance. Another advancement is the development of new bullet trains.

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Dubbed "Fuxing," which means "rejuvenation," these trains are high-speed transportation systems that run between Beijing and Shanghai. It falls between mid-January and mid-February and is a time to honor ancestors. During the day celebration, the Chinese do something every day to welcome the new year, such as eat rice congee and mustard greens to cleanse the body, according to the University of Victoria.

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The holiday is marked with fireworks and parades featuring dancers dressed as dragons. Many people make pilgrimages to Confucius' birthplace in Shandong Province on his birthday, Sept. The birthday of Guanyin, the goddess of mercy, is observed by visiting Taoist temples.

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It falls between late March and late April. Similar celebrations mark the birthday of Mazu, the goddess of the sea also known as Tianhou , in May or June. The Moon Festival is celebrated in September or October with fireworks, paper lanterns and moon gazing. Live Science. Image credit: Philip Lange Shutterstock.

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