The Decline and Fall of Chinese Buddhism

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如傑優婆塞
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The Decline and Fall of Chinese Buddhism

Post by 如傑優婆塞 » Fri Sep 21, 2018 2:19 am

...How modern politics and fast money corrupted an ancient religion.
China has thousands of Buddhist clerics but no spiritual leader of international standing, say monks and academics. When filmmakers descended on China’s ancient Shaolin Monastery to make the 1986 box office hit Martial Arts of Shaolin starring Jet Li, they were shocked to find no monks.
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Aemilius
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Re: The Decline and Fall of Chinese Buddhism

Post by Aemilius » Sat Sep 22, 2018 9:49 am

I read the article, well... I can't say much about it, because I don't live there, in China. Elsewhere I have read that the monks in Wutaishan (and other monasteries in China) receive regular salaries. I suppose that it is a logical feature of the modern buddhist tradition, practically any wherein the world. Is that so ?
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."
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kirtu
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Re: The Decline and Fall of Chinese Buddhism

Post by kirtu » Sat Sep 22, 2018 10:00 am

Aemilius wrote:
Sat Sep 22, 2018 9:49 am
I read the article, well... I can't say much about it, because I don't live there, in China. Elsewhere I have read that the monks in Wutaishan (and other monasteries in China) receive regular salaries. I suppose that it is a logical feature of the modern buddhist tradition, practically any wherein the world. Is that so ?
I have read that Wutaishan has a mixed group of monks with some who aspire to serious practice and some to don't. Bill Porter in his excellent book "Road to Heaven: Encounters with Chinese Hermits" certainly encountered some good monks (for example, an abbot at Wutaishan gave him some advice that resulted in Porter seeking out the hermits in his book and then writing the book). One of the stories I read over the years that struck me was a novice monk who surreptitiously approached a group of western practitioners and asked them for meditation instruction. :cry:

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Dan74
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Re: The Decline and Fall of Chinese Buddhism

Post by Dan74 » Sat Sep 22, 2018 10:39 am

What about this?

[media] [/media]

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kirtu
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Re: The Decline and Fall of Chinese Buddhism

Post by kirtu » Sat Sep 22, 2018 10:48 am

"Amoungst White Clouds" is like a companion movie to Porter's book.

But the article in the OP was talking about prominent Chinese mainland Buddhist leaders and bemoaning that there really aren't any. The movie also makes that point since most/all of the people in that are relatively unknown people.

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

"Even if you practice only for an hour a day with faith and inspiration, good qualities will steadily increase. Regular practice makes it easy to transform your mind. From seeing only relative truth, you will eventually reach a profound certainty in the meaning of absolute truth."
Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche

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Dan74
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Re: The Decline and Fall of Chinese Buddhism

Post by Dan74 » Sat Sep 22, 2018 11:01 am

kirtu wrote:
Sat Sep 22, 2018 10:48 am
"Amoungst White Clouds" is like a companion movie to Porter's book.

But the article in the OP was talking about prominent Chinese mainland Buddhist leaders and bemoaning that there really aren't any. The movie also makes that point since most/all of the people in that are relatively unknown people.

Kirt
Yes. But the OP title claims much more and most will not go past that.

Perhaps it has never been different. The wisest eschew the limelight.

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Queequeg
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Re: The Decline and Fall of Chinese Buddhism

Post by Queequeg » Sat Sep 22, 2018 12:24 pm

Nothing surprising or ground breaking.

Government. Any time government sticks its tentacles into Buddhist communities, its like glyphosphate to a plant. It just withers and dies. In this case there first was the Communist revolution and the forceful destruction of Buddhist institutions. But the continuing regulation is not permitting what is left to regenerate.

There's logic to it. From the perspective of rulers, Buddhism is a subversive influence in society - not because it endorses resistance or revolution, but because it has a soft power of causing people to pierce the veils of illusion necessary to maintain states, particularly undemocratic ones, and be organized around these principles. Independent organizations of people are dangerous to authoritarians because they don't have control. Even more dangerous when the people are organized around the higher levels of the human mind.

Buddhist institutions, like any perpetual institution, also have a tendency of aggregating wealth, power and influence over time when left to be. They eventually become challenges to the state due to their sheer size.

The Chinese leaders look at their history and see the danger Buddhism poses to the state, particularly the authoritarian structures that they tend to.

Over all, its a common story - whereever Buddhism is coopted by the state, its vitality is snuffed, probably in some direct proportion to the level of control.

Back to the specific of China - as the article tends to get at - there are no leaders because the Chinese government would not allow it.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

I think each human being has things to find out in his own life that are inescapable. They’ll find them out the easy way or the hard way, or whatever.
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ItsRaining
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Re: The Decline and Fall of Chinese Buddhism

Post by ItsRaining » Sat Sep 22, 2018 1:40 pm

Chinese Buddhism 30 years ago was very different to now lol, and the Shaolin temple has already been in a bad state since the Nationalist Republic it wasn’t much to do with the communists though they did worsen the condition it was in.

There’s a lot more academia, monks, temples and many Buddhist academies nowadays so the state is definitely not one of after a “fall”.

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Astus
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Re: The Decline and Fall of Chinese Buddhism

Post by Astus » Sun Sep 23, 2018 11:10 am

Buddhism in China, like practically everywhere else, has always been bound to the political sphere. Albert Welter himself has a nice work on the topic: Monks, Rulers, and Literati: The Political Ascendancy of Chan Buddhism.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Aemilius
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Re: The Decline and Fall of Chinese Buddhism

Post by Aemilius » Mon Sep 24, 2018 12:35 pm

Considering the violent suppression of the Falun Gong movement, it seems futile to expect that another notable spiritual leader would arise in China again. After the brutality that Li Hongzhi and his followers have received from Chinese authorities, complaints about the lack of charismatic Buddhist leaders in China sound vain and superfluous.

svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."
(Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1.)

jmlee369
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Re: The Decline and Fall of Chinese Buddhism

Post by jmlee369 » Mon Sep 24, 2018 3:11 pm

I think it's a bit unfair to say that "in recent years, mainland China has not produced Buddhist spiritual leaders of global stature known for their wisdom, benevolence and compassion." Global stature is a weird standard for measuring Buddhist masters anyway. Of the older generation, we have the likes of Vens. Ben Huan and Meng Can. Of the newer generation, I think Ven. Miao Xiang is definitely one to watch.

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