The collapse of the Han Empire led the way for new religions, such as Buddhism to diffuse into China. While there were Chinese people who were supportive of Buddhism, there were also others who had either neutral or negative opinions about the spread of Buddhism in China. The power struggle between the two religions would later lead to the conflict and disunity within the state. As Buddhism increased in China, followers believed that its teachings appealed and accepted all and that it taught of selflessness and the path to Nirvana.
Buddhism spread quickly because the accepting teachings of the religion appealed to all. Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, preaches of The Four Noble and how each truth is a step to stopping sorrow. Buddha preaches The Four Noble Truths as a way to reach spiritual enlightenment and end suffering. Buddha teaches these principles of selflessness because after leaving his palace and life of pleasure he saw the suffering and inequality of. The pain he saw sparked a fire in him to teach others the way to end suffering (Doc #1).
There were also Chinese scholars who believed that Buddhism held the answers to things not answered in Confucian writings, these scholars also elieved that through Buddha you would find happiness and love. [l] (Doc #3) Zhi Dun a Buddhist Chinese scholar and confidant declared that at the end of one’s life, if they had followed the teaching of Buddhism, they will reach total enlightenment or “Nirvana”. All of these scholars believed that Buddhism held the key to end suffering. In order to support the positive opinions of Buddhism, historians would need the diary of an elite Confucian woman.
This would reveal the opinions of a woman that would have more freedoms under Buddhism compared to her submissive relationship under the teachings of Confucianism. The popularity of Buddhism sparked angry responses from the Confucian followers because they believed that Buddhism would destroy the empire. At the Tang Imperial court in 813 C. E. , Han Yu, a Confucian scholar, argued that Buddhism was a foreign idea and should be expelled. Han Yu claimed that Buddhism is foreign and Buddhist followers or so called “barbarians” are different from the Chinese.
Yu also declared that Buddhism would bring only negative things (Doc #4). Han Yu strongly advised the emperor that Buddhism is wrong and preaches of Buddhism’s alien background. Yu advises this because as a Confucian scholar, if Buddhism replaced Confucianism, he would have no valid position and could lose his power and usefulness in the Confucian court. Emperor Wu agreed with Han Yu about the evil Buddhism brought. In 845 C. E. Emperor Wu of the Tang Dynasty declared Buddhism evil and encouraged its eviction from China.
He testified that Buddhism destroyed laws, the relationship between man and woman, and the strength of the people (Doc 6). In order to fully grasp the negative views of Buddhism historians would have to read the Journal ntry of a lower-class commoner who could represent the lower class opinion about the difference of social order between the two religions. The introduction of Buddhism angered and pleased different people in China; however, there were also people who voiced a tolerant opinion of both religions.
An anonymous Chinese scholar in China around 500 C. E. answered the multiple questions to the Chinese one should not only focus on the works of Confucius but also the writings of Buddha. (Doc # 3) Other scholars including Buddhist scholar Zong MI, believed in the tolerance of the religions. In the early 9th century, Zong Mi compared the teachings of Laozi, Confucius and the Buddha. He suggested that all three religions must be respected for their accomplishments even though they are all different. Doc 5) Zong Mi confided that the teachings of Confucius, Laozi and the Buddha despite their differences all teach something with a certain value of importance and should be regarded with respect. Mi expresses his tolerance because he fears that the emperor will choose to persecute or expel Buddhism from China, thus leaving him without an influential position. To show complete understanding of the tolerant pinion of the Chinese people, historians would need the letter of a Daoist commoner describing his opinions of the religions.
This would offer insight to the opinions of someone not influenced by either religion and offer an impartial outside viewpoint. (DOC#5) The spread of Buddhism in China ignited mixed responses from the people. There were those that fully supported the spread and teachings of Buddhism, while there were others that believed the foreign religion would be the downfall of China. Between the two strong opinions there were those that took no stance and preached about the tolerance of the two religions.