Buddhism and Taoism
The Dominant Religions in Ancient China - Buddhism and Taoism.
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China has been a multi-ethnic country since ancient times. It is not surprising, therefore, that there was an extensive range of objects of worship in ancient China. In remote antiquity, these included the worship of ghosts and gods, as well as totems, ancestors and nature. From the Qin and Han dynasties, Buddhism, Taoism, Nestorianism, Manichaeism, Zoroastrianism, and Islam grew up in China or were introduced from abroad. Among minority ethnic groups Shamanism, Bonism and the Dongba Doctrine were popular. During the Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties, the Mingjiao(Illumination Teaching), the White Lotus Doctrine, the Yellow Heaven Donctrine, the Eight-Trigram Doctrine, etc. were widespread. There are no detailed statistics in the historical records of the number of ancient religions, but we can roughly estimate there may be more than 100 classifications. Among them, Buddhism and Taoism were the two dominant religions of ancient China, which have prevailed for the longest time and over the widest area, and have been of the greatest ideological and cultural significance.
Buddhism was first founded in India, advocating the “four great voids” (of earth, water, fire, and wind), and believing that humanity is born into suffering. Its supreme goal is, therefore, to pursue spiritual release or “enlightenment” from the illusory state in the mortal world. Buddhism was introduced into China from India via Central Asia at the end of the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-25 AD). In 2 BC, the King of Dayuezhi sent an emissary to teach Qin Jingxian (or Jing Lu), a National University student of the Han Dynasty, the Buddhist scriptures. This is a fairly reliable account of how Buddhism was first introduced into China. One night in 64 AD, Emperor Mingdi of the Eastern Hart Dynasty dreamed of a Golden Man who was identified as being the Buddha. He then sent a delegation to India to seek the Buddhadharma. In 67 AD, the Emperor invited two monks named Kasyapa Matanga and Dharmaraksa from Central India to visit Luoyang. They became riding on a white horse, bringing with them a picture of the Buddha and The 42-Chapter Sutra, and the White Horse Temple was built outside Luoyang, where the monks lived and translated the scriptures. Thus began the construction of Buddhist temples, the making of Buddha images and the translation of Buddhist scriptures in China. It is said that the Emperor allowed Liu Jun, the Marquis of Yangcheng, to become a monk and several women, including A Pan, of Luoyang to become nuns. They became the first group of monks and nuns in China.
Buddhism was also introduced into what is now the Xinjiang region from India around the first century AD. The king of the Yutian Kingdom built a Buddhist temple. Following this, Buddhism was introduced from India to Guizi, Shule, Shache and Gaochang and Buddhist temples were erected. At the same time, Indian-style grottoes and statutes of the Gandhara style and frescos and Buddhist buildings and arts were developed around Guizi and Yutian.
This shows that Buddhism was introduced into the hinterland and the western frontier areas of China during the period between the Western Han and Eastern Han dynasties. This was the beginning of Sino-foreign cultural communications centered on the exchange of Chinese and foreign Buddhist cultures.
The following points characterize the exchange of Chinese and foreign Buddhist cultures:
First a long history such exchanges covered a great span of time from the period between the Western Han and Eastern I tan dynasties, up to the Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties lasting nearly 2,000 years. Most of the monks studied and preached the Buddhist scriptures for several years, or even decades.
The introduction of Buddhism into China resulted in a great many people traveling abroad to seek knowledge of and preach the Buddhist scriptures. They did not travel to seek wealth or out of curiosity, but were seeking Sanskrit versions of the scriptures, or wished to solve difficult questions in the scriptures and to realize Buddhist ideals. During this period, Chinese and foreign Buddhist scholars traveled to each other's countries through the snow-covered Pamirs, over mountains and across deserts or boundless seas, suffering untold hardships. For example, Fa Xian, a monk of the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420), was the first to go on a pilgrimage to India to learn the scriptures and his trip proved a great success. He set off from Chang'an in 399 and after six years he arrived in Central India where he stayed for another six years. His journey home, via the present-day Sri Lanka and other countries, took three years. Over a total of 15 years, he had visited about 30 countries. On his way to India, he trekked through the sand and moraine areas for 17 days, guided only by the skeletons of previous pioneers. He traveled through the desert for another 35 days. By the time he had climbed over one mountain, one of his companions had frozen to death.
In 411, the monk Fa Xian was returning home from Sri Lanka by a mercantile ship, together with about 200 other passengers, when they were suddenly hit by a storm. The boat drifted for 90 days before it reached Java. He stayed on the island for five months. In 412, he continued his journey to Guangzhou on another mercantile ship, expecting to arrive there in 50 days. However, after a month at sea, another storm blew up. The passengers aboard suspected that the monk had brought evil luck to them and attempted to leave him alone on an island. He was spared this fate only because some alms givers on the ship spoke out for him out of a sense of justice.
During the 15 years, some of his companions were unable to continue and gave up. Others died on the way. Only Fa Xian survived all the difficulties and hardships and completed his study, bringing Buddhist classics to China, for the first time ever. He also wrote Records of My Journey to India, giving a full and detailed account of his experience on the pilgrimage to the West. This was the first travelogue m ancient China to describe India, Sri Lanka and other countries from personal experience, and served as a guide for future pilgrims. His records also preserved many valuable historical and geographical materials about the states in the Western Regions. English and French versions of his book were later produced, and it has frequently been cited with acclaim by scholars of Oriental studies and archeologists.
In 629, another monk, Xuan Zang of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), left Chang'an for India. After suffering untold hard ships on his arduous journey, he arrived at last in India, where, he studied in the famous Nalanda Temple for five years and traveled around conducting research for another four years. In 645, he returned to Chang'an, his journey to and from India having taken eight years. After returning home, he worked on translations in the Greater Wild Goose Pagoda. Apart from the many Buddhist classics that he brought back to China, he wrote Records on the Western Regions of the Great Tang Empire, telling of the geography, history, religion, culture, communications, folk customs and ways of life, as well as a great deal of myths, legends and stories of the 100 or so countries and regions he had visited, including Central Asia, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, and Myanmar. This is an important document for the study of history, Buddhist doctrine and Buddhist relics. In recent years, the ruins of the Nalanda Temple, the site of the ancient capital city Rajagrha, the ancient temple Mrgadava and the Ajanta Grottoes in India have all recovered their brilliance, thanks to Xuan Zang's book. It has been translated into English, French, and Japanese. Later, the monk Yi Jing also went to India and studied in the Nalanda Temple for 11 years, and the monk Hui Ri travelled around India and other countries studying Buddhist classics for 13 years.
Here we have to say a few words about the monk Jian Zhen who introduced the Lu (Vinaya) Sect of Chinese Buddhism to Japan. Against all opposition, he vowed that “for the sake of this religious mission, I am willing to lay down my life.” He and his disciples sailed east for Japan in five unsuccessful voyages, in which two of his companions, Rong Rui, a Japanese monk scholar, and Xiang Yah, his favorite disciple, lost their lives. He himself lost his eyesight, becoming blind. But nothing could stop him and at last, at the age of 66, he succeeded in arriving in Japan. His endeavor took him 12 years.
Scholar monks, being sent from Korea and Japan to study in China, usually stayed there for about 10 years. Thanks to their and their like's long-lasting, arduous, and even life-sacrificing pursuit and propagation of Buddhist doctrines, the quality of Buddhist cultural exchanges between China and other countries was guar anteed and exceptional willpower and unwavering spirit became the cornerstone of the exchanges.
Secondly, the far-reaching influence. Buddhist cultural exchanges between China and other countries involved the import and export of culture on a large scale. The influence on the cultures of China, East Asia, Southeast Asia and the South Asian Sub-continent and even Persia was inestimable. The Chinese monk scholars who introduced Buddhist culture into China were able to do so without bias. With the emergence of Buddhism in India, factional strife arose resulting in continual splitting and reorganization of religious communities. Finally, many sects were founded including Mahayana (or Great Vehicle, a doctrine believing it can save all living creatures) and Hinayana (or Little Vehicle, a doctrine that Mahayana believes it cannot save all the living creatures because its doctrine is over-elaborated.) Voluminous Mahayana and Hinayana scriptures, statutes and theories were also established. As the Chinese monk scholars introduced Indian Buddhism into China, they tried their best to do so in a precise, systematic and complete way without being influenced by their individual prejudice and likes or dislikes.
During the Southern and Northern Dynasties (420-589), a geographical division arose of “Yi in the South and Chan in the north.” Due to the difference of routes from abroad by which Buddhism had entered the country, and to regional cultural differences, theory and analysis was stressed in the south, while there was an emphasis on asceticism and meditation in the north. However, the different styles of learning in the south and the north both exerted an influence on each other, and their differences were not absolutely clear and definite. In the north, a noted master of the Chan Sect would also be familiar with a certain Buddhist classic as his theoretical principle. In the south, Yi monk scholars who studied the Three Sastras, including the Madhyamaka-sastra (On the Mean), the Sata-sastra (The Hundred Verses) and the Dvadasanikaya-sastra (On the Twelve Points) did not refuse the practices of the Chan Sect.
After the reunification of China under the Sui Dynasty (581-618), this difference in Buddhist style between south and north gradually went out of the picture. The various sects of Buddhism founded by scholars in the Southern and Northern Dynasties, and those set up in later dynasties involved almost all the doctrines of Indian Buddhism. Even the Venerable Xuan' Zang of the Tang Dynasty, who was specially devoted to the study of the Mahayana doctrine, also studied the doctrines of many other sects after he arrived in India. He also linked up the divergence between the theories of the sect of Yoga (phenomenal and noumenal) and the sect of Madhyamapratipad (the Mean, or “The Sunya Sect” which makes the unreality of the ego and things their fundamental tenet), demonstrating that the doctrines of various sects of Buddhism were identical to each other in their fundamental tenets. This was praised and appreciated by many Indian masters and renowned monks. Chinese monk scholars introduced and developed the whole of Indian Buddhism into China, not merely a part of it. Thus, by the early 13th century, when Buddhism had declined in India, the original records of many of its sects and classics could be found in China. This is an achievement made by Chinese monk scholars in their introduce and straightening out of Indian Buddhist culture and a great contribution to the Oriental and world culture as well.
Along with the introduction of Indian Buddhist culture, China also absorbed other cultural products from India, including language, Buddhist arts, medical science, astronomy, mathematics and philosophy. Mutual translations in both the Chinese and Indian languages could be traced back to the period between the Western Han and Eastern Han dynasties. During the Wei, Jin and the Southern and Northern Dynasties (220-589), well-known works of translation included the Shi Si Yin Xun Xu by Hui Rui. This denoted all the phonetics and meanings of the texts of the scriptures in both Sanskrit and Chinese to facilitate their reading. The Chinese work The E.xplanatfon of the Great Vehicle was also translated by a monk from southern India named Bodhidruci (Dharmaruci) into Sanskrit. It was the first Buddhist work translated from Chinese into Sanskrit. Xuan Zang of the Tang Dynasty not only translated a great many Sanskrit Buddhist scriptures into Chinese, but he also translated The Book of Lao Zi and The Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana into Sanskrit and took them to India. These were all important events in the history of cultural exchanges between India and China.
Chinese monks also learned to carve Buddhist statues and cut grottoes from India. The monks Le Zun and Fa Liang of the Former Qin Dynasty (352-394) carved Buddhist statues out of stone in the caves at Mt. Mingsha in Dunhuang. These were the first statues to be made in Dunhuang's Mogao Caves and marked the start of large-scale construction of statues in caves in China. Later, more grottoes were cut in Dunhuang as well as Yungang and Longrnen. There are also stone-cut scriptures to be found in Fangshan where caves were cut into cliffs, their walls polished, and scriptures engraved. Inside the caves, there are texts of scriptures engraved on separate stones. All these are treasures of Buddhist art. In the year 645, a sculpture and painting artisan returned home from a visit to Magadha to make copies of the relics of Buddha and statues. Monks and lay people in Chang'an went to imitate and duplicate all these things, which were later copied and displayed in the newly built temples and pagodas in the city.
During the Tang Dynasty there were Indian astronomers working at the Directorate of Astronomy In 718, one of these, Gautama Cida, was assigned to translate into Chinese the Indian calendar book “The Nine Graha” which later became a part of The Kaiyuan Great Calendar Book. Thus, Indian culture not only brought Buddhist scholars, but also architects, astronomers and calendar calculators.
Among the thinkers influenced by Indian philosophy, particularly worth mentioning is Lü Cai, a chamberlain for ceremonials During the reign of Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty. After Xuan Zang had completed his translation of Hetuvidya science (a theory of logic) from Sanskrit into Chinese in Chang'an, his disciples considered it to be a secret treasure and vied with each other in making annotations and interpretations of the text. Lü Cai also studied the translation and proposed an interpretation of his own, triggering a fierce debate with the monks. L6 demonstrated the relationship between “wholeness” (yi, or primal fluid, primary elements that form Heaven and Earth) and “multiplicity” (everything in nature) by integrating the “atomism” of the theory of “Paramartha-satya-sastra” in Indian philosophy with the Chinese doctrine of The Book of Changes. He believed that the principle in The Book of Changes that “the supreme ultimate produced two opposites, two opposites produced four symbols, four symbols produced the eight trigrams, and the eight trigrams produced everything” was identical to the theory of atomism in Paramartha-satya-sastra. While the words might have been different, in essence they were the same. Paramartha-satya-sastra is one of the six schools of Indian philosophy. Its principle is based on the duality system consisting of ancient atomism, elementals and logic. Most viewpoints of its naturalism and logic are atheistic. By “extra minimum” it means material elements. Lü Cai used “atomism” to explain the material attributes of qi in The Book of Changes and the premise that “qi makes everything in the world” to denote the birth and development of the world. This attempt to integrate outstanding achievements in Indian philosophy with Chinese philosophy opened a new path for the development of traditional Chinese culture.
Regarding the export of culture, after Indian Buddhism was introduced into China, it was digested, assimilated and remolded by Chinese monks, and very soon disseminated to various countries in East and Southeast Asia, producing a significant impact on the cultural development of those countries. China, at that time, served as a base relaying Buddhism to other countries. Vietnam, Korea and Japan introduced Buddhism directly from China, while Buddhism in Cambodia, Myanmar, Indonesia and Thailand became more popular because of the influence of Chinese Buddhism.
Vietnam borders China with easy access to traffic. At the end of the second century, Mou Rong, a noted Chinese scholar, wrote the Buddhist work entitled On Truth and Uncertainty in Jiaozhi (now Hanoi in Vietnam) to propagate Buddhism. During the third century, several monks went to Vietnam to preach Dharma by way of or from China. Thus, Buddhist scriptures printed in Chinese have long been used in Vienamese Buddhism. The mid-seventh century marked the peak of Chinese Buddhism entering Vietnam. Many Tang Dynasty monks, including Ming Yuan, went to Vietnam to preach Dharma, which led to a number of Vienarmese monks traveling with them to India and other places to pursue Dharma. It was around this time that many sects of Vietnamese Buddhism were established on the basis of Chinese Buddhism. Of them, the latter sect of the Chan school was founded by the Tang Dynasty Chart master Wu Yan Tong in Vietnam. His sect flourished in the country, and now, most of Chan Buddhism in Vietnam is derived from his school.
The Buddhist relationship between China and Korea began in the fourth century, or During the era of the Three Kingdoms (Gaogouli, Xinluo and Baiji) in Korea. In 372, an envoy of the Former Qin Dynasty together with a monk named Shun Dao was sent to Korea to present a portrait of the Buddha and scriptures and tenets to the country. Two years later, another monk named Ah Dao arrived in the country. In 375, two temples were built in Korea for Shun Dao and Ah Dao to live in. This marked the dawn of Korean Buddhism. Buddhism was also introduced to Baiji in the southwest of Korea and the Xinluo area in the southeast.
By the time of the Tang Dynasty, major sects of Chinese Buddhism had passed over to Korea. The monk Da Xian from Xinluo, who had come to China to learn Dharma, returned to his country to establish the Ci'en Sect of Xinluo. Another monk named Yi Xiang, also from Xinluo, built the Flowing Stone Temple when he returned home from China and was honored as the primary ancestor of the Haidong Huayan Sect. Monks like Ming Lang and others from Xinluo built up the Temple of Golden Light after they returned home from China, becoming the primary ancestors of the Esoteric Haidong Shenyin Sect. The monk Fa Lang of Xinluo returned home from China and became the founder of the Xinluo Nine Mount Sect of the Chan school. Essentially, the doctrines of most sects of Korean Buddhism were introduced from China.
In around the sixth century, Buddhism was disseminated into Japan from China. According to historical records, the earliest monks and nuns in Japan were Chinese and the earliest Buddhist temples there were also built by Chinese. By that time, Buddhism had already been introduced into Korea. So it was introduced to Japan either through Korea or directly from China, thus starting a new stage of Buddhism in Japan.
During the Sui Dynasty (581-618) and the Tang Dynasty (618-907), Chinese Buddhism was introduced into Japan on a large scale. During the Tang Dynasty, envoys were sent to China from Japan 19 times, on each occasion being accompanied by four or five hundred student and scholar monks. With the return of these students to Japan, and preaching there by Chinese monks, various Buddhist sects were gradually established in Japan. The first to be established was the Japanese Three Sastras School, or Madhyamika or Middle School (one of the Chinese Buddhist sects, originating in the Madhyamika of the Indian Great Vehicle). It was jointly founded by Hui Guan, a Korean monk, Zhi Zang, a Japanese-Chinese monk, and Dao Ci, a Japanese monk. Dao Ci built the Great Peace Temple in Japan, modeled on the Xi Ming Temple at Huayan and Chang'an in China, which became the most magnificent temple in ancient Japan. Later, the Faxiang and Vinaya sects were established in Japan respectively by the Japanese monk scholar Dao Zhao, the Xinluo monk Shen Xiang, and the Chinese monk Jian Zhen. In 757, the Japanese Mikado (emperor) granted treasures to the monk Jian Zhen for building a Buddhist temple. Jian Zhen had his disciples build the temple, a task which took two years to complete. This temple, named Toshodaiji, is the base from which present-day Japanese monks of the Vinaya school preach Dharma in the country. Japanese monk scholars Kong Hai and Zui Cheng, having completed their study in China, returned home and founded Japan's Esoteric Zhenyan and Tiantai sects. During the periods of Nara (710-784) and Heian (794-1192), the nationwide new Buddhist cultural movement had direct or indirect links with Chinese Buddhist sects, which continued until the later stage of the Qing Dynasty of China.
Together with the introduction of Chinese Buddhist culture into the above-mentioned countries, Chinese linguistics, literature, arts, medical science, mathematics, classics and history and many other productive skills were also introduced to promote their relative disciplines. We may say that Buddhist cultural exchange served as a “channel” or “window” for other forms of cultural exchange between China and other countries. The part that Buddhism played in these other cultural ties are worthy of further attention and study.
Thirdly, the perfect assimilation. After the introduction of Buddhism into China, it began to communicate and merge with the traditional native culture, gradually becoming an important part of Chinese culture. Since Buddhism was among the first of the religions to be introduced from abroad and the first to merge with Chinese culture, its influence on Chinese thinking and culture has also lasted the longest.
By Chinese Buddhism, we mean the blend of Buddhism and traditional Chinese culture on the one hand, and on the other the merging of various seats and schools within Buddhism. The first merging of Buddhism and Chinese culture can be dated back to the period between the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-25 AD) and the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220). It had evolved over seven or eight centuries before it entered on the stage of maturity in the Sui and Tang dynasties. The sinicization of Buddhism can be roughly, divided into three stages of development. During the period from the Han Dynasty to the Three Kingdoms (220-280) and the Western Jin and Eastern Jin dynasties (265-420), when Buddhism was first introduced into China, in order to overcome linguistic and conceptual barriers, Chinese Buddhist scholars at the time usually adopted analogies to translate or explain a Buddhist idea or term, by using a corresponding or similar term or idea from traditional Chinese philosophy. Although this approach helped to popularize Buddhism, the analogies were often forced, or even gave wrong interpretations of the scriptures. During the Southern and Northern Dynasties, therefore, Buddhist scholars tried their best to change from merely using analogies of tenets to paraphrasing their true meanings. At that time, the Xuanxue, or Dark Learning (a metaphysical sect based on Taoist teachings mixed with traditional Confucianism) was very popular. As a result, Buddhism was gradually absorbed into metaphysics, and this became known as the historical stage of “Buddhism and Xuanxue.” As Xuanxue began to decline, Buddhism had to change its form. During the Sui and Tang dynasties, pushed forward by the Neo-Confucian ideological trend, a succession of sects and schools of Buddhism were founded, and Chinese Buddhism came into being. This was the merging process of Buddhism and Confucianism.
In this process, Buddhism blended with Confucianism both in form and in essence, each becoming an integral part of the other. Specifically, in theory, Chinese Buddhism is mainly characteristic of changing the Buddhagotrasastra (the nature of Buddha) of the Indian Buddhism into the “nature of mind” of Confucianism. That is to say, it turns an external idol of the Buddha into an internal belief of mind. In particular, Chan Buddhism (a school of Chinese Buddhism, introduced from India, advocating meditation and silent chanting as the way of self-cultivation) stresses that there is no Buddha outside the self, regarding oneself on an equal footing with Buddha. The sect of phenomenal and noumenal of the Great Vehicle of Indian Buddhism dared not advocate this, nor could the Sunya sect of the Great Vehicle. All the sects of the Great Vehicle advocating Sunya dared not recognize the emptiness of the Buddha and Dharma, though they might talk about the emptiness of other things, in theft view, if they declared the emptiness of Buddha and Dharma, monks whose existence relied upon Buddha and Dharma would vanish into the void at the same time. Obviously it would be harmful to the development of Buddhism. However, Chan Buddhism, according to the idea of “Buddha only works in one's own mind,” overthrew two of the Triratna of Buddhism, the Buddha and the Dharma, while protecting the existence of the Sangha (ego). Chinese Buddhism, represented by Chan, in comparison with Indian Buddhism, gives prominence to individual consciousness. It transplants the belief in the Buddha into the nature of the human mind to illustrate the intrinsic quality of man through self-discovery and personal development. This human-centricism reflects the essence of Confucianism because Confucianism, in essence, is “humanism.” So the basic difference between Chinese Buddhism and Indian Buddhism lies in whether one attaches importance to the Buddha or to man. The shift of the importance of the Buddha to that of man marks the maturity of the Chinese Buddhism.
The doctrine of Chan Buddhism maintains that “the Buddha only works in man's own mind.” And its way is to prepare for “sudden enlightenment.” According to its doctrine, since “all Dharma resides in one's own mind,” one should “realize all at once the nature of unchangeable reality in one's own mind.” When man cannot “perceive mind and nature,” it is simply because he is “muddle-headed” in belief. If he accepts the basic principles of Chan Buddhism, he can “perceive the nature and become a Buddha at once,” just as clouds disappear in the wind. This is different from becoming a Buddha through Dasabhumi (the ten stages in the 52 sections of the development of a Bodhisattva into a Buddha) advocated by Indian Buddhism. But it is very close to the “committing to memory everything one sees and hears silently,” the retrospective way of experience of Confucianism.
As to its values, traditional Chinese ideology was heavily tinted with politics. Various schools and sects were closely linked with the kingly way of politics through different forms. In particular, Confucianism upheld the practice of “practical administration.” Indian Buddhism, however, was marked by its aim of deliverance “from the earthly world.” After Buddhism was introduced into China, therefore, Chinese Buddhism was gradually influenced by Confucian values, developing from a pursuit of deliverance “from the earthly world” to a way of living “in the earthly world.”
For instance, Master Ji Zang, the founder of the Chinese SanLun (Three Sastras) Sect, stated clearly that it would run against” the primary truth of Buddhism” if the proper rules governing the behavior of a sovereign, a subject, a father and a son and loyahy and filial piety could not be implemented. When the primary truth of Buddhism was lost, one could not be liberated from existence (Nirvana). Here, to practice the programs and teachings of Confucianism was taken as a necessary condition to attain the goal of deliverance. The Huayan Sect taught that Sakyamuni and his disciple Mahamaudgalyayana, who left home to become a monk, were in pursuit of a way of filiality and it worshiped the “Ullambanapatra Sutra” as its filial classic. The Chan Sect broke down the obstacles, in the practice of self-cultivation, between “from the earthly world” and “in the earthly world,” believing that cultivation could be practiced in one's own home without going to live in a temple. It preached the ideal of becoming a Buddha in daily life, totally forgetting the admonishments in the “Will of the Buddha Sutra” about having no involvement in secular affairs.
As to its artistic aspects, the sculpting and painting of images of the Buddha, and the construction of pagodas were introduced from India into China. During the Wei, Jin and the Southern and Northern dynasties, although influenced by India's Gandhara and Upagupta skills in statue modeling, the modeled statues in China were yet produced with a flavor of its own, such as the earlier statues in the Longmen Grottoes, which is characterized by a scholarly and pompous style.
By the Sui and Tang dynasties, Chinese Buddhist art had completed its process of sinification, Many Buddhist statues were produced with the bearing of a dignified scholar. Typical of these is the Buddha Rocana in the Fengxian Temple at Longmen. This large statue of Buddha, dressed in Chinese-style kasaya with a round neck, looks dignified and kind-hearted and has an elegant and plump face with eyes expressing calm and insight. This fully expresses the Confucian aesthetic ideal of seeking a unity of internal and external qualities and virtue and beauty.
To match the spirit promoted by society at the time of developing careers aggressively and a government working hard for prosperity, many reliefs were made with a taste expressing the spirit of working hard for the prosperity of the country and of vigor and strength. In particular, paintings of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, the devas, and men of strength in the various creatures of Sukahavati all embodied images of health and beauty. This is the reviviscence of the beauty of virility esteemed in The Book of Changes in a new form. Other forms of art, such as clay sculptures of the Buddha, and embroidered and wooden carvings of the Buddha and figurines made of butter mixed up with various pigments (art works produced in Tibet) were all domestically made in China. Chinese Buddhist art is “liable to plasticity, not to the nature of the Buddha.” This viewpoint of art of “being liable to plasticity” is identical to the theory of “the Buddha works only in one's own mind,” as advocated by Chan Buddhism.
The merger of various sects and schools of Buddhism also constituted a part of Chinese Buddhism. This is because the merger embodied the ethos of “absorption and assimilation” in traditional Chinese culture. This is called in Buddhism “the judgement of religious sects” (a judgement made by various Buddhist sects and schools on each other's doctrine and a rating of all the sects thus produced). The general tendency was the merging of various sects and schools with Chan Buddhism.
In principles, Chinese Buddhism advocated “the unification of sects and Chan,” and “the unification of Jingtu and Chan.” The sects means the Tiantai and Huayan sects and Chan means Chan Buddhism. The monk scholar Zong Mi of the Huayan Sect through his judgement of religious sects compiled a collection of Chan teachings about the theory of Buddhism and its roots. He believed that a sudden enlightenment was the final product of progressivc self-cultivation over a long period of time. All the teachings of master monks were in line with the purposes of the Buddhist texts. He declared that in the whole collection of the Buddhist texts there were only three schools and Chan Buddhism included only three sects. These three schools and three sects (the Tiantai, Huayan and Chan sects) are identical with each other, which is called “a unified Dharma.” Since the Tiantai and Huayan sects were merged with Chan Buddhism, a Huayan-Chan Sect was prevalent During the Tang and Song dynasties.
The “unification of Jingtu and Chan” means the unification of the Jingtu (pure land) and Chan sects. The latter, while attaching no importance to the written words of texts and tenets, stresses the importance of man's mind, which corresponds closely to chanting the name of Buddha to attain the Western Paradise and “regarding one mind as a sect,” as upheld by the Jingtu Sect. So in the Song Dynasty, many monks of the Jingtu Sect held that they should practice both the way of the Jingtu and Chan sects, resulting in the emergence of a host of monks who believed in Chan, while at the same time chanting the name of the Buddha, a practice parallel with the Huayan-Chan Sect.
As to the way, all sects were in favor of the simple and easy Dharmaparyaya (or the doctrines or wisdom of Buddha regarded as the gateway to enlightenment) of the Chan Sect, which could be readily followed by everyone. This easy and simple way had been attacked in India, but it was followed in China by the Tiantai, Huayan, Jingtu and Lu sects, in opposition to the practice of Indian Buddhist monks and justifying the typical character of the Chinese Chan school. As a result, since the time of the Tang and Song dynasties, Buddhist monks in China were usually called Chan monks and the Chan Sect was almost synonymous with Buddhism. Because it was deeply implanted in the hearts of literati and ordinary people as a religious belief, the Confucian-style Chan Sect has developed without interruption and it is still very popular in the present time.
The exchanges between Chinese and foreign Buddhist cultures demonstrate that for a foreign culture to be implanted into the soil of China, it must comply with the basic ethos of Chinese culture. At the same time, it is not a dreadful thing for traditional Chinese culture to digest and assimilate a foreign culture. It can serve as an impetus for the development of Chinese culture while eliminating what is false and retaining what is true.
Buddhism and Taoism have accumulated vast quantities of classics and documents, and left over numerous historical relics and treasures. They have influenced, to varying degrees, both the ancient and modern culture in ideology, science and imagery.
Chinese Buddhism has produced the greatest influence in traditional Chinese ideological culture. Buddhism was part of the mare stream of social thought During the Sui and Tang dynasties, becoming an indispensable link between the past and future in the history of Chinese thought. Buddhism enriched Chinese philosophy. During the Tang and Song periods, Chinese philosophy was far more diverse than in earlier periods because of the influence of Buddhism. Buddhism had raised the subject consciousness theory in Chinese philosophy to a new height. It explained the functions of subject consciousness from the viewpoints of noumenon, theory of knowledge, theory of morality, and theory of time and space. It offered a great number of ideological materials on antagonistic opposites such as false and true, real and unreal, life and death, sudden enlightenment and gradual enlightenment, relative and absolute, finite and infinite, whole and part, temporary and eternal, enriching the categories of Chinese philosophy. A number of new schools of thought arose, such as the School of Principles (Neo-Confucianism) in the Song and Ming dynasties. Buddhism influenced many thinkers in the early Qing Dynasty, who enriched theft academic thought by absorbing its rational factors while adapting and remolding them.
In traditional Chinese culture, Taoism has the closest relationship with scientific and technological culture. In medicine, chemistry, and pharmacology, Taoism combined its Nei Dan and WaiDan theories with traditional Chinese medicinal theories and introduced its health preservation methods such as the regulation of breathing, massage, Daoyin and the Qi-promoting method into medical skills and treatment. Alchemy was used to produce medicines. The essences of the methods have made great contributions to Chinese medicine.
The techniques of Wai Dan are an important part of Taoist medicine. The development of these skills has provided much knowledge for the medical and medicinal industry and promoted the understanding of the origin, properties and use of many mineral products such as lead, white lead, lime, and cinnabar. And it also developed an easy and simple testing method for distinguishing natratite and mirabilite from other similar mineral products. The combination of alchemy and traditional Chinese medical practice brought about the development of ancient chemical skills in the production of medicine and accordingly enriched the content of Chinese pharmacology. No literature has been found on chemical medicines or plaster in the medical documents produced before the Western and Eastern Han dynasties. From the Jin Dynasty (265-420), more and more plasters and medicinal extracts produced by way of alchemy and chemistry were used. They gradually became principal medicines for traditional surgery. Hongshengdan and Baijiangdan extracts, now widely used, were derived from the secret preparations of Taoist physicians. Along with the development of Taoist "diet" practice, herbal medicines were gradually produced together with alchemic medicines. And the varieties of medicines were expanded from mineral medicines to herbal medicines, which promoted the development of the science of herbal medicine. Few of the herbal medicines noted in the Works of Master Bao Pu, written by Ge Hong, the Collective Notes to the Canon of Materia Medica, by Tao Hongjing, and A Supplement to the Essential Prescriptions Worth a Tbousand Pieces of Gold by Sun Simiao can be found in the collective books of herbal medicines compiled before the Tang Dynasty. It was on the basis of these books that traditional Chinese physicians compiled their herbal medicinal books.
Nei Dan principles were also an important part of Taoist medicine. Alchemists and Taoist priests followed the practice through self-cultivation as an approach to rise above worldly considerations and achieve longevity. From a religious viewpoint, it explains that the feeling of light with the eyes closed, the feeling of heat in the abdomen when Qi (breath) is promoted, and the feeling of flowing in the air when one sits quietly in meditation are the "internal fire" burning inside to produce "Dan" (elixir) and the signs of ascending to become an immortal. Voluminous works on Nei Dan explored the law of changes of Qi, functional activity of Qi, Qi and blood, channels and collaterals in the body, enriching traditional Chinese medical science and therapeutics. During the Sui and Tang dynasties, the Imperial Medical Office appointed masters of massage to teach Daoyin. In his Treatise on the Causes and Symptoms of Diseases, Chao Yuanfan, an imperial physician of the Sui Dynasty, listed methods of Daoyin treatment including Qi-promoting self-practice. The Taoist internal practice and nourishing methods are mostly based on the law of nature. The way of Daoyin for promoting long life is based on the imitation of the natural state of growth of tortoises and cranes and for eating no grain food on the imitation of their way of respiration. Qi-promoting can bring about a state of harmony in the body and exercises can make the body flexible. Respiration can rid the body of that which is stale and draw in that which is fresh. Practice proceeds from easy to difficult together with many other ways. Traditional Chinese medicine follows the laws of nature and regulating Yin and Yang flow in the channels and collaterals, and Qi-promoting, and promoting blood circulation.
Buddhism and Taoism promoted the development of imagery in traditional Chinese culture. First of all, in traditional Chinese painting, a new variety of Buddhist and Taoist painting made by literati appeared. Most painters were worldly people and the theme of their works was stories about Buddha and Taoism. They pur sued the Buddhist and Taoist styles of expression and skills. Among them, the most famous are Gu Kaizhi (c. 345-406) of the Eastern Jin Dynasty, Cao Zhongda of the Northern Qi (550-577) and Wu Daozi (c. 685-758) of the Tang Dynasty. Gu was the founder of literary Buddhist and Taoist paintings, putting emphasis on the "spirit" of his objects and introducing the role of notion stressed by Buddhism and Taoism into paintings. His Buddhist paintings are mostly about people. According to the record in a book, he painted a fresco for a temple. When he was going to add his final touch to the fresco, the temple invited benefactors to view his work for the particular occasion. Within only three days, the temple received a donation of "hundreds of thousands of coins." Through this we can See the value of his Buddhist paintings. His Taoist paintings mostly depicted clouds and dragons because the legendary Lao Zi was a dragon by birth. Since then, clouds and dragons have become one of the characters of Chinese paintings.
Cao Zhongda introduced Indian Gandhara sculpture into Chinese painting. It features the characters in strained clothes. The clothes look as if they are wet and sticking to the body. Though Cao's painting techniques were not passed down to the present time, the standing portrait of Sakaymuni now preserved in the Mrgadava Buddhist ruins in India can provide a glimpse of his style.
Wu Daozi was also a noted Buddhist and Taoist painter. Before the Tang period, Chinese paintings stressed the drawings with lines. Wu began to introduce the Indian concave and convex method into Chinese figure painting and adopted the Taoist concept by letting the people in his works wear a loose and broad garment and belts, moving just like an immortal in the sky. His style of works can be found in the frescos in the Dunhuang Caves. The paintings of these three men brought an entirely new look to Chinese painting. During the Song and Yuan periods, this kind of paintings began to combine with the skills of landscape and flower-and-bird paintings, enhancing the expressiveness of Chinese painting. For example, on a scroll painting, an album or a fan, painters intentionally pursued a state of “inaction” and “ultimate serenity” through the drawing of landscapes, flowers and birds in the paintings, forming a style of art of transcendence, dignity and indifference to worldly concerns, a style which still exists in the present-day painting community. The contemporary painter Zhang Daqian had lived in Mt. Qingcheng in Sichuan Province for many years. He produced a number of Taoist figure paintings which are carved on mountain rocks and regarded as treasures of Buddhist and Taoist paintings.
Secondly, a number of renowned works with a Buddhist or Taoist theme appeared in traditional literature. These works brought with them a novelty of artistic conception, a new style, and a new way of wording. Li Bai, the famous Tang Dynasty poet, was one of the best in his time. He wrote such lines as "Motionless as I sit in meditation/The whole world penetrates my hair." Many of his other poems are full of thoughts of immortals with a feeling of a natural grace. For instance, in his poem “On Mount Taishan,” he described his life and self-cultivation experience in his quiet studio like this: "Quiet and serene for as long as three thousand days/On white cloth I wrote the Taoist tenet/When I am enlightened by chanting the text/All the gods come to protect my form/Sailing on the clouds like wind/I flap away as if I had wings." In another poem called "The Antique Style," he again fully expressed his yearning for becoming a hermit and immortal: "One meal is enough to survive ten thousand years/Then I needn't return to my hometown/I'll go with the high wind forever/Roaming beyond the sky as I like." Tang Buddhist poems had a direct impact on poets of the Song Dynasty. The production of Song Ci-lyrics was at its peak with most derived from the stories of Taoism. In addition, many Buddhist scriptures and texts also promoted the creation of novels in the J in and Tang dynasties. Literary stories and the librettos of ballads adapted from Buddhist sutras had a consequential relationship with the formation of later Chinese popular literature. The quotations from the doctrine of the Chan Sect were not only followed by thinkers of the School of Principles in the Song and Ming dynasties, but also had some in flounce on the literary works of later popular literature.
In the field of architecture, since most Taoist constructions adopted the traditional courtyard style, closely resembling secular constructions, they have accumulated and provided a great deal of novel designs, layout patterns, techniques, and other unique executions of building for secular constructions. Their architectural design, techniques, and style together with architectural art and philosophy still serve as typical references for modern Chinese architecture.