How damaging was the Cultural Revolution for Buddhism and Taoism?

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AkashicBrother
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How damaging was the Cultural Revolution for Buddhism and Taoism?

Post by AkashicBrother » Sun May 12, 2019 4:46 am

I was reading that there was some damage to religion during the maoist times in china, during the cultural revolution. But i was interested in knowing more concrete things. What was the material damage regarding not only buddhism (both han chinese buddhism and tibetan) but also to the taoist orders and chinese folk believers ? is this over in modern china?

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Re: How damagin was the Cultural Revolution for Buddhism and Taoism?

Post by mikenz66 » Sun May 12, 2019 8:28 am

I've been in China irregularly over the past few decades, and have visited a number of monasteries, most recently in and around Fuzhou, and mostly Buddhist, but there are some Tao things mixed in, and I have visited a cool Tao temple in the hills around Chongqing, near one of the Universities. The difficulty, as an outsider, is to figure out what the monks and lay people are really thinking, but it's been nice to be around during late-afternoon chanting in a coupe of places.

My impression is that the Chinese government is keen to maintain temples, mountains, gardens, and so on as far as they fit in with the idea of Chinese cultural heritage. And it gives for the Chinese to visit, in the same way many would see the preservation of European churches - as nice historic places to visit.

As far as what the average person thinks, my sampling is poor. I do know a few professional (University) people, and a few non-professional people well enough to have a reasonable idea of their views. Of those, I've only come across a handful who are somewhat serious, in that their idea of an inspiring outing is visiting a monastery (as opposed to others who are happy to accompany me in a touristic capacity).

I emphasise that I'm an outsider, and I only offer the above as a possible stimulus for some more informed discussion!

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Dorje Shedrub
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Re: How damaging was the Cultural Revolution for Buddhism and Taoism?

Post by Dorje Shedrub » Mon May 13, 2019 12:05 am

It was devastating in Cambodia where monks were forced to flee or disrobe.

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humble.student
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Re: How damaging was the Cultural Revolution for Buddhism and Taoism?

Post by humble.student » Mon May 13, 2019 2:24 am

Read "Buddhism under Mao" by Holmes Welch for the gory details. Bill Porter's travelogues also give some insight into the whole thing, for example, 'Road to Heaven' and 'Zen Baggage.'

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Re: How damaging was the Cultural Revolution for Buddhism and Taoism?

Post by Wayfarer » Mon May 13, 2019 4:25 am

I saw a very interesting recent documentary, part of a series called Asia: Secret Lives, Hidden Places, which is streamed on Curiosity Stream. The second episode was about a remote Buddhist monastic community in southern China, wholly female (Episode 2: China: Mountain of the Gods). It was a really fascinating fly-on-the-wall look at life inside this monastery. The Abbess said that, during the Cultural Revolution, a senior CCP official recognised the historical value of their monastery and actively protected it; had it not been for this, she said, it undoubtedly would have been destroyed like so many other great cultural artefacts and places in China.
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humble.student
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Re: How damaging was the Cultural Revolution for Buddhism and Taoism?

Post by humble.student » Mon May 13, 2019 7:36 am

Wayfarer wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 4:25 am
The Abbess said that, during the Cultural Revolution, a senior CCP official recognised the historical value of their monastery and actively protected it; had it not been for this, she said, it undoubtedly would have been destroyed like so many other great cultural artefacts and places in China.
I've heard this type of story many times, Liao Yiwu's 100 year old abbot had a similar story too (in his Corpse Walker book, https://thebamboosea.wordpress.com/2014 ... %E6%AD%A6/.)
But the sad fact of the matter was that almost everything was destroyed, and the bits that weren't were regularly trotted out in a sheer display of cynicism, for instance when the king of Cambodia came to visit. Moreover, Zhou Enlai's seemingly benevolent record as far as cultural treasures are concerned is also in need of some serious correcting.

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AkashicBrother
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Re: How damaging was the Cultural Revolution for Buddhism and Taoism?

Post by AkashicBrother » Mon May 13, 2019 4:25 pm

I dont want to be unjust to modern china, as i know that the ccp is not like the times of mao. but i read that xi jinping made the religious control worse, which was being reduced by the former recent ccp leaders. hopefully china in the future will be more democratic, even if the ccp continues. i just dont understand why the need for state atheism and forbidding people from the ccp having religious affiliation. In vietnam and laos (which has buddhismn as state religion) , the communist parties have no problem with religious and there are even "patriotic religious organizations " endorsed by the communist parties. in china though, the state atheism thing is far stronger for some reason.

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Re: How damaging was the Cultural Revolution for Buddhism and Taoism?

Post by humble.student » Tue May 14, 2019 12:57 am

AkashicBrother wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 4:25 pm
I dont want to be unjust to modern china, as i know that the ccp is not like the times of mao. but i read that xi jinping made the religious control worse, which was being reduced by the former recent ccp leaders. hopefully china in the future will be more democratic, even if the ccp continues. i just dont understand why the need for state atheism and forbidding people from the ccp having religious affiliation. In vietnam and laos (which has buddhismn as state religion) , the communist parties have no problem with religious and there are even "patriotic religious organizations " endorsed by the communist parties. in china though, the state atheism thing is far stronger for some reason.
Buddhism is in fact one of the "5 Official Religions" of China, and there are indeed patriotic religious associations, i.e. the main religious bodies. It is just that party members are required to be atheist.

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AkashicBrother
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Re: How damaging was the Cultural Revolution for Buddhism and Taoism?

Post by AkashicBrother » Wed May 15, 2019 11:50 am

not really. buddhism is one of the 5 ALLOWED religions in china. if a religion is not one of the five (buddhism, shenism, confucianism, christianity and islam) its subject to being harassed and banned and is not counted in the government polls. the state control and ideological atheism in china is also way more strict than in vietnam and laos.

humble.student
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Re: How damaging was the Cultural Revolution for Buddhism and Taoism?

Post by humble.student » Wed May 15, 2019 3:53 pm

AkashicBrother wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 11:50 am
not really. buddhism is one of the 5 ALLOWED religions in china. if a religion is not one of the five (buddhism, shenism, confucianism, christianity and islam) its subject to being harassed and banned and is not counted in the government polls. the state control and ideological atheism in china is also way more strict than in vietnam and laos.
The 5 religions are in fact Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestant Christianity. Confucianism does not figure on this list.

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Re: How damaging was the Cultural Revolution for Buddhism and Taoism?

Post by Nemo » Wed May 15, 2019 6:38 pm

If you want to know visit Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong. There you can see China untouched by Mao's madness.

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