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Chinese Buddhism or Han Buddhism (
Traditional Chinese A tradition is a belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the case, or that some proposition about the world is truth, true. In epistemology, philosophers use the term "belief" to refer to attitudes about the wo ...
: 漢傳佛教;
Simplified Chinese Simplified Chinese characters are standardized Chinese characters Chinese characters, also called ''Hanzi'' (), are logograms developed for the writing of Chinese. They have been adapted to write other East-Asian languages, and rem ...
: 汉传佛教;
pinyin ''Hanyu Pinyin'' (), often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese, Standard Mandarin Chinese in mainland China, Taiwan (ROC), and Singapore. It is often used to teach Standard Chinese, Standard Mandari ...

pinyin
: ''Hànchuán Fójiào'') is a Chinese form of
Mahayana Buddhism Mahāyāna (; "Great Vehicle") is a term for a broad group of Buddhist traditions, texts, philosophies, and practices. Mahāyāna is considered one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism (the other being Theravada). Mahāyāna Buddhism de ...
which has shaped
Chinese culture Chinese culture () is one of the world's oldest cultures, originating thousands of years ago. The culture prevails across a large geographical region in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's large ...
in a wide variety of areas including
art Art is a diverse range of (products of) human activities involving creative imagination to express technical proficiency, beauty, emotional power, or conceptual ideas. There is no generally agreed definition of what constitutes art, and i ...
, politics,
literature Literature broadly is any collection of Writing, written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an art form, especially prose fiction, drama, and poetry. In recent centuries, the definition has expand ...
,
philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosophy of language, language. Such ques ...
,
medicine Medicine is the science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and Taxonomy (general), organizes knowledge in the form of Testability, testable explanations ...
and material culture. Chinese Buddhism is the largest institutionalized religion in
Mainland China Mainland China, also known as the Chinese mainland, China mainland, or the Mainland Area of the Republic of China is the geopolitics, geopolitical area under the direct jurisdiction of the People's Republic of China (PRC) since Proclamation of ...

Mainland China
.Cook, Sarah (2017).
The Battle for China's Spirit: Religious Revival, Repression, and Resistance under Xi Jinping.
' Freedom House Report. Rowman & Littlefield.
Currently, there are an estimated 185 to 250 million Chinese Buddhists in the
People's Republic of China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, most populous country, with a Population of China, population of more than 1.4 billion ...
It is also a major religion in
Taiwan Taiwan (), officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia. Neighbouring countries include the China, People's Republic of China (PRC) to the northwest, Japan to the northeast, and the Philippines to the south. The main islan ...

Taiwan
and among the
Chinese Diaspora Overseas Chinese () are people of ethnic Chinese birth who reside outside the territories of the People's Republic of China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and ...

Chinese Diaspora
. Buddhism was first introduced to China during the
Han Dynasty#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynas ...

Han Dynasty
(202 BCE–220 CE). The translation of a large body of Indian Buddhist scriptures into
Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populous country, with a populat ...
and the inclusion of these translations (along with
Taoist Taoism (), or Daoism (), is a philosophical tradition of Chinese origin which emphasizes living in harmony with the ''Tao'' (, or ''Dao''). In Taosim the ''Tao'' is the source, pattern and substance of everything that exists. Taoism teaches ...
and
Confucian , Shanxi Confucianism, also known as Ruism, is a system of thought and behavior originating in ancient China. Variously described as tradition, a philosophy, a religion, a humanistic or rationalistic religion, a way of governing, or simply a ...
works) into a
Chinese Buddhist canon The Chinese Buddhist canon refers to the total body of Buddhist literature deemed canonical in Chinese, Japanese, Korean Korean may refer to: People and culture * Koreans, an ethnic group originating in the Korean Peninsula * Korean cuisin ...
had far-reaching implications for the dissemination of
Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the Major religious groups#Largest religions, world's fourth-largest religion with over 520 million followers, or over 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists. Buddhism encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and ...
throughout the
East Asian cultural sphere The East Asian cultural sphere, Chinese cultural sphere or Sinosphere (also Sinic/Sinitic world) encompasses the countries within East and Southeast Asia that were historically influenced by Chinese culture. Although similar concepts, the r ...

East Asian cultural sphere
, including
Korea Korea (officially the "Korean Peninsula") is a region in East Asia. Since 1945 it has been Division of Korea, divided into the two parts which soon became the two sovereign states: North Korea (officially the "Democratic People's Republic of ...

Korea
,
Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white rectangle , image_coat = Imperial Seal of Japan.svg , alt_coat = Golden circle subdiv ...

Japan
and
Vietnam , image_map = , map_caption = , capital = Hanoi , coordinates = , largest_city = Ho Chi Minh City , languages_type = National language , languages ...

Vietnam
. Chinese Buddhism also developed various unique traditions of Buddhist thought and practice, including
Tiantai Tiantai or T'ien-t'ai () is an East Asian Buddhism, East Asian Buddhist school of Mahayana Buddhism, Mahayana that developed in Sui dynasty, sixth century China. The school emphasizes the ''Lotus Sutra's'' doctrine of the "One Vehicle" (''Ekay ...
,
Huayan The Huayan or Flower Garland school of Buddhism (, from sa, script=Latn, Avataṃsaka) is a tradition of Mahayana Buddhist philosophy that first flourished in China during the Tang dynasty. The Huayan worldview is based primarily on the ''Avatams ...

Huayan
,
Chan Buddhism Chan (; of ), from Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-Europe ...
and Pure Land Buddhism. From its inception, Chinese Buddhism has been influenced by native
Chinese religions China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populous country, with a population of around 1.4 billion. Covering ap ...

Chinese religions
and
philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosophy of language, language. Such ques ...
, especially
Confucianism , Shanxi Shanxi (; ; Chinese postal romanization, formerly romanised as Shansi) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China and is part of the North China region. The capital and largest city of th ...
and
Taoism Taoism (), or Daoism (), is a philosophical and spiritual tradition of China, Chinese origin which emphasizes living in harmony with the ''Tao'' (, Taoism#Spelling and pronunciation, or ''Dao''). In Taoism, the ''Tao'' is the source, pattern a ...
, but also Chinese folk religion.


History


Han Dynasty (206 BCE–220 CE)

Various legends tell of the presence of Buddhism in Chinese soil in very ancient times. While the scholarly consensus is that Buddhism first came to China in the first century CE during the
Han dynasty#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynas ...

Han dynasty
, through missionaries from
India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous country, the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest ...

India
, it is not known precisely when Buddhism entered China. Generations of scholars have debated whether Buddhist missionaries first reached Han China via the maritime or overland routes of the
Silk Road The Silk Road () was and is a network of trade route A trade route is a logistical network identified as a series of pathways and stoppages used for the commercial transport of cargo. The term can also be used to refer to trade over bodies of ...

Silk Road
. The maritime route hypothesis, favored by
Liang Qichao Liang Qichao (23 February 1873 – 19 January 1929) was a Chinese social and political activist, journalist, and intellectual who lived during the late Qing dynasty and the early Republic of China (1912–1949), Republic of China. His thought ha ...
and
Paul Pelliot Paul Eugène Pelliot (28 May 187826 October 1945) was a French Sinologist Sinology or Chinese studies, is an academic discipline that focuses on the study of China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East ...
, proposed that Buddhism was originally practiced in southern China, the
Yangtze River The Yangtze or Yangzi ( or ) is the longest river in Asia, the third-longest in the world and the longest in the world to flow entirely within one country. It rises at Jari Hill in the Tanggula Mountains (Tibetan Plateau) and flows in a ...
and
Huai River The Huai River (), formerly romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying ...
region. On the other hand, it must have entered from the northwest via the Gansu corridor to the Yellow River basin and the North China Plain in the course of the first century CE. The scene becomes clearer from the middle of the second century onward, when the first known missionaries started their translation activities in the capital, Luoyang. The ''
Book of the Later Han The ''Book of the Later Han'', also known as the ''History of the Later Han'' and by its Chinese name ''Hòu Hànshū'' (), is one of the Twenty-Four Histories The ''Twenty-Four Histories'' (), also known as the ''Orthodox Histories'' (), are ...
'' records that in 65 CE, prince Liu Ying of
Chu Chu or CHU may refer to: Chinese history * Chu (state) (c. 1030 BC–223 BC), a state during the Zhou dynasty * Western Chu (206 BC–202 BC), a state founded and ruled by Xiang Yu * Chu Kingdom (Han dynasty) (201 BC–70 AD), a kingdom of the Han ...
(present day
Jiangsu Jiangsu (; ; Postal romanization, formerly romanized Kiangsu) is an eastern-central coastal Provinces of the People's Republic of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China. It is one of the leading provinces in finance, education, ...

Jiangsu
) "delighted in the practices of Huang-Lao Daoism" and had both Buddhist monks and laypeople at his court who presided over Buddhist ceremonies. The overland route hypothesis, favored by Tang Yongtong, proposed that Buddhism disseminated through Central Asia – in particular, the
Kushan Empire The Kushan Empire ( grc, Βασιλεία Κοσσανῶν; xbc, Κυϸανο, ; Late Brahmi Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia b ...

Kushan Empire
, which was often known in ancient Chinese sources as ''Da Yuezhi'' ("Great Yuezhi"), after the founding tribe. According to this hypothesis, Buddhism was first practiced in China in the
Western Regions The Western Regions or Xiyu (Hsi-yu; ) was a historical name specified in the Chinese chronicles between the 3rd century BC to the 8th century AD that referred to the regions west of Yumen Pass, most often Central Asia Central Asia is a r ...
and the Han capital
Luoyang Luoyang is a city located in the confluence area of Luo River (Henan), Luo River and Yellow River in the west of Henan province. Governed as a prefecture-level city, it borders the provincial capital of Zhengzhou to the east, Pingdingshan to t ...

Luoyang
(present day
Henan Henan (; ; alternatively Honan) is a landlocked province of China Provincial-level administrative divisions () or first-level administrative divisions (), are the highest-level Chinese administrative divisions. There are 34 such divisio ...

Henan
), where
Emperor Ming of Han Emperor Ming of Han (15June 28– 5September 75), born and also known as and as , was the second emperor of China Emperor of China, or ''Huángdì'' (), was the Chinese sovereign, monarch of China during the History of China#Imperial China ...
established the
White Horse Temple White Horse Temple () is Buddhist temple in Luoyang, Henan Henan (; Chinese postal romanization, alternatively Honan) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of China, in the Central China, central part of the country. Henan is often ...
in 68 CE. In 2004, Rong Xinjiang, a history professor at
Peking University Peking University (Chinese: 北京大学, informally Beida 北大, PKU; lit. "Beijing University"), is a major research university A research university is a university A university ( la, universitas, 'a whole') is an educational institutio ...

Peking University
, reexamined the overland and maritime hypotheses through a multi-disciplinary review of recent discoveries and research, including the
Gandhāran Buddhist Texts The Gandhāran Buddhist texts are the oldest Buddhist Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious behaviour, behaviors and practices, morality, moral ...
, and concluded: The French sinologist
Henri Maspero Henri Paul Gaston Maspero (15 December 188317 March 1945) was a French sinologist Sinology or Chinese studies, is an academic discipline that focuses on the study of China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country ...
says it is a "very curious fact" that, throughout the entire Han dynasty, Daoism and Buddhism were "constantly confused and appeared as single religion". A century after prince Liu Ying's court supported both Daoists and Buddhists, in 166
Emperor Huan of Han Emperor Huan of Han (; 132 – 25 January 168) was the 27th emperor An emperor (from la, imperator, via fro, empereor) is a monarch, and usually the sovereignty, sovereign ruler of an empire or another type of imperial realm. Empress, the ...
made offerings to the Buddha and sacrifices to the Huang-Lao gods
Yellow Emperor The Yellow Emperor, also known as the Yellow Thearch, or by his Chinese name Huangdi (), is a deity A deity or god is a supernatural being considered divinity, divine or sacred. The ''Oxford Dictionary of English'' defines deity as "a God (m ...

Yellow Emperor
and
Laozi Lao Tzu ("Lao Zi"
''
.Maspero 1981, p. 406. The first Chinese
apologist Apologetics (from Greek language, Greek , "speaking in defense") is the religious discipline of defending religious doctrines through systematic argumentation and discourse. List of early Christian writers, Early Christian writers (c. 120–220) w ...
for Buddhism, a late second-century layman named Mouzi, said it was through Daoism that he was led to Buddhism—which he calls ''dàdào'' (, the "Great Dao").
I too, when I had not yet understood the Great Way (Buddhism), had studied Taoist practises. Hundreds and thousands of recipes are there for longevity through abstention from cereals. I practised them, but without success; I saw them put to use, but without result. That is why I abandoned them.
Early Chinese Buddhism was conflated and mixed with Daoism, and it was within Daoist circles that it found its first adepts. Traces are evident in Han period Chinese translations of Buddhist scriptures, which hardly differentiated between Buddhist nirvana and Daoist immortality. '' Wuwei'', the Daoist concept of non-interference, was the normal term for translating
Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia ...

Sanskrit
''nirvana'', which is transcribed as ''nièpán'' () in modern Chinese usage.


Traditional accounts

A number of popular accounts in historical Chinese literature have led to the popularity of certain legends regarding the introduction of Buddhism into China. According to the most popular one,
Emperor Ming of Han Emperor Ming of Han (15June 28– 5September 75), born and also known as and as , was the second emperor of China Emperor of China, or ''Huángdì'' (), was the Chinese sovereign, monarch of China during the History of China#Imperial China ...
(28–75 CE) precipitated the introduction of Buddhist teachings into China. The (early third to early fifth century) ''
Mouzi Lihuolun The ''Mouzi Lihoulun'' () is a classic Chinese Buddhist text. It comprises a purportedly autobiographical preface by Master Mou, a late 2nd-century Confucian scholar-official who converted to Buddhism, and an imaginary dialogue of questions and ...
'' first records this legend: The emperor then sent an envoy to Tianzhu (Southern India) to inquire about the teachings of the Buddha. Buddhist scriptures were said to have been returned to China on the backs of white horses, after which
White Horse Temple White Horse Temple () is Buddhist temple in Luoyang, Henan Henan (; Chinese postal romanization, alternatively Honan) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of China, in the Central China, central part of the country. Henan is often ...
was named. Two Indian monks also returned with them, named and . An eighth-century Chinese fresco at
Mogao Caves The Mogao Caves, also known as the Thousand Buddha Grottoes or Caves of the Thousand Buddhas, form a system of 500 temples southeast of the center of Dunhuang, an oasis located at a religious and cultural crossroads on the Silk Road The Sil ...

Mogao Caves
near
Dunhuang Dunhuang () is a county-level city A county-level municipality (), county-level city or county city, formerly known as prefecture-controlled city (1949–1970: ; 1970–1983: ), is a Administrative divisions of China#County level ( ...
in
Gansu Gansu (, ; Chinese postal romanization, alternately romanized as Kansu) is a landlocked provinces of China, province in Northwest China. Its capital and largest city is Lanzhou, in the southeast part of the province. The seventh-largest administ ...

Gansu
portrays
Emperor Wu of Han Emperor Wu of Han (30 July 157BC29 March 87BC), formally posthumous name, enshrined as Emperor Wu the filial piety, Filial (), born Liu Che (劉徹) and courtesy name Tong (通), was the seventh emperor of China, emperor of the Han dynasty of imp ...

Emperor Wu of Han
(r. 141–87 BCE) worshiping statues of a golden man; "golden men brought in 121 BCE by a great Han general in his campaigns against the nomads". However, neither the ''
Shiji The ''Records of the Grand Historian'', also known by its Chinese language, Chinese name ''Shiji'', is a monumental Chinese historiography, history of ancient China and the world finished around 94 BC by the Han dynasty, Western Han Dynasty offic ...

Shiji
'' nor ''
Book of Han The ''Book of Han'' or ''History of the Former Han'' is a history of China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BC), during the king Wu Ding's re ...
'' histories of Emperor Wu mentions a golden Buddhist statue (compare Emperor Ming).


The first translations

The first documented translation of Buddhist scriptures from various Indian languages into Chinese occurs in 148 CE with the arrival of the prince-turned-monk
An Shigao An Shigao (, Korean: An Sego, Japanese: An Seikō, Vietnamese: An Thế Cao) (fl. c. 148-180 CE) was an early Buddhist missionary to China, and the earliest known translator of Indian Buddhist texts into Chinese. According to legend, he was a prin ...
(Ch. ). He worked to establish Buddhist temples in
Luoyang Luoyang is a city located in the confluence area of Luo River (Henan), Luo River and Yellow River in the west of Henan province. Governed as a prefecture-level city, it borders the provincial capital of Zhengzhou to the east, Pingdingshan to t ...

Luoyang
and organized the translation of Buddhist scriptures into Chinese, testifying to the beginning of a wave of Central Asian Buddhist proselytism that was to last several centuries. An Shigao translated Buddhist texts on basic doctrines,
meditation Meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness, or focusing the mind on a particular object, thought, or activity – to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and ...
, and
abhidharma Abhidharma (Sanskrit) or Abhidhamma (Pali) are ancient (3rd century BCE and later) Buddhism, Buddhist texts which contain detailed scholastic presentations of doctrinal material appearing in the Buddhist sutras. It also refers to the scholastic m ...
.
An Xuan An Xuan () was a Parthia Parthia ( peo, 𐎱𐎼𐎰𐎺 ''Parθava''; xpr, 𐭐𐭓𐭕𐭅 ''Parθaw''; pal, 𐭯𐭫𐭮𐭥𐭡𐭥 ''Pahlaw'') is a historical region located in north-eastern Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also ...
(Ch. ), a Parthian layman who worked alongside An Shigao, also translated an early Mahāyāna Buddhist text on the
bodhisattva In Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the Major religious groups#Largest religions, world's fourth-largest religion with over 520 million followers, or over 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists. Buddhism encompasses a variety of tradition ...
path.
Mahāyāna Mahāyāna (; "Great Vehicle") is a term for a broad group of Buddhist traditions, texts, philosophies, and practices. Mahāyāna is considered one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the Major religious groups#L ...
Buddhism was first widely propagated in China by the Kushan monk Lokakṣema (Ch. , active c. 164–186 CE), who came from the ancient Buddhist kingdom of Gandhāra. Lokakṣema translated important
Mahāyāna sūtras The Mahāyāna Sūtras are a broad genre of Buddhist Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious behaviour, behaviors and practices, morality, morals ...
such as the ''Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra'', as well as rare, early Mahāyāna sūtras on topics such as
samādhi ''Samādhi'' ( sa, समाधी, also called '' samāpatti''), in Hinduism Hinduism () is an Indian religion and ''dharma'', or way of life. It is the Major religious groups, world's third-largest religion, with over 1.25 billion f ...
, and meditation on the buddha . These translations from Lokakṣema continue to give insight into the early period of Mahāyāna Buddhism. This corpus of texts often includes emphasizes ascetic practices and forest dwelling, and absorption in states of meditative concentration:


Early Buddhist schools

During the early period of Chinese Buddhism, the Indian
early Buddhist schools The early Buddhist schools are those schools into which the Buddhist monasticism, monastic Sangha (Buddhism), saṅgha split early in the history of Buddhism. The divisions were originally due to differences in Vinaya and later also due to doctr ...
recognized as important, and whose texts were studied, were the
Dharmaguptaka teaching a Chinese monk. Bezeklik Caves, 9th-10th century; although Albert von Le Coq (1913) assumed the blue eyes, blue-eyed, red hair, red-haired monk was a Tocharians, Tocharian, modern scholarship has identified similar Caucasian race, Caucasoid ...
s,
Mahīśāsaka upGandhāran Mahīśāsakas are associated with the Pure Land Buddhism, Pure Land teachings of Amitābha Buddhahood, Buddha Mahīśāsaka () is one of the early Buddhist schools according to some records. Its origins may go back to the dispute in ...
s, Kāśyapīyas, Sarvāstivādins, and the
Mahāsāṃghika The Mahāsāṃghika (Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European l ...
s. The Dharmaguptakas made more efforts than any other sect to spread Buddhism outside India, to areas such as
Afghanistan Afghanistan (; Pashto/Dari language, Dari: , Pashto: , Dari: ), officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country at the crossroads of Central Asia, Central and South Asia. Afghanistan is bordered by Pakistan to the eas ...
,
Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the east, and from Afghanistan and Iran in the south to Russia in the north, including the former Soviet Union, Soviet republics of the Sovi ...

Central Asia
, and China, and they had great success in doing so. Therefore, most countries which adopted Buddhism from China, also adopted the Dharmaguptaka
vinaya The Vinaya (Pali Pali () is a Middle Indo-Aryan liturgical language native to the Indian subcontinent. It is widely studied because it is the language of the '' Pāli Canon'' or '' Tipiṭaka'' and is the sacred language of '' Theravā ...

vinaya
and ordination lineage for bhikṣus and bhikṣuṇīs. According to A.K. Warder, in some ways in those East Asian countries, the Dharmaguptaka sect can be considered to have survived to the present. Warder further writes that the Dharmaguptakas can be credited with effectively establishing Chinese Buddhism during the early period:


Six Dynasties (220–589)


Early translation methods

Initially, Buddhism in China faced a number of difficulties in becoming established. The concept of
monasticism Monasticism (from Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods ...
and the aversion to social affairs seemed to contradict the long-established norms and standards established in Chinese society. Some even declared that Buddhism was harmful to the authority of the state, that Buddhist monasteries contributed nothing to the economic prosperity of China, that Buddhism was barbaric and undeserving of Chinese cultural traditions. However, Buddhism was often associated with
Taoism Taoism (), or Daoism (), is a philosophical and spiritual tradition of China, Chinese origin which emphasizes living in harmony with the ''Tao'' (, Taoism#Spelling and pronunciation, or ''Dao''). In Taoism, the ''Tao'' is the source, pattern a ...
in its ascetic meditative tradition, and for this reason a concept-matching system was used by some early Indian translators, to adapt native Buddhist ideas onto Daoist ideas and terminology. Buddhism appealed to Chinese intellectuals and elites and the development of gentry Buddhism was sought as an alternative to Confucianism and Daoism, since Buddhism's emphasis on morality and ritual appealed to Confucianists and the desire to cultivate inner wisdom appealed to Daoists. Gentry Buddhism was a medium of introduction for the beginning of Buddhism in China, it gained imperial and courtly support. By the early fifth century Buddhism was established in south China. During this time, Indian monks continued to travel along the Silk Road to teach Buddhism, and translation work was primarily done by foreign monks rather than Chinese.


The arrival of Kumārajīva (334–413 CE)

When the famous monk
Kumārajīva Kumārajīva ( sa, कुमारजीव, , 344–413 CE) was a Buddhist monk A monk (, from el, μοναχός, ''monachos'', "single, solitary" via Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic language ...
was captured during the Chinese conquest of the Buddhist kingdom of
Kucha 250px, Location of Kucha within Aksu in yellow Kucha or Kuche (also: ''Kuçar'', ''Kuchar''; ug, كۇچار, Кучар; zh, t=wikt:龜茲, 龜茲, p=Qiūcí also zh, t=wikt:库车, 库车, p=Kùchē; sa, Kucina), was an ancient Buddhist ki ...
, he was imprisoned for many years. When he was released in AD 401, he immediately took a high place in Chinese Buddhism and was appraised as a great master from the West. He was especially valued by Emperor
Yao Xing Yao Xing (; 366–416), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the Sinosphere, including China, Japan, Korea, and ...
of the state of
Later Qin The Later Qin (; 384–417), also known as Yao Qin (), was a Sovereign state, state ruled by the Qiang (historical people), Qiang ethnicity of the Sixteen Kingdoms during the Jin dynasty (265–420) in China. The Later Qin is entirely distinct from ...
, who gave him an honorific title and treated him like a god. Kumārajīva revolutionized Chinese Buddhism with his high quality translations (from AD 402–413), which are still praised for their flowing smoothness, clarity of meaning, subtlety, and literary skill. Due to the efforts of Kumārajīva, Buddhism in China became not only recognized for its practice methods, but also as high philosophy and religion. The arrival of Kumārajīva also set a standard for Chinese translations of Buddhist texts, effectively doing away with previous concept-matching systems. The translations of Kumārajīva have often remained more popular than those of other translators. Among the most well-known are his translations of the ''
Diamond Sutra The ''Diamond Sūtra'' (Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-Europ ...

Diamond Sutra
'', the '' Amitabha Sutra'', the ''
Lotus Sutra The Lotus Sūtra () is one of the most influential and venerated Buddhist Mahayana sutras, sourcing the basis on which the Tiantai, Tendai, Cheontae, and Nichiren Nichiren (日 蓮; born as , Dharma name: ''Rencho'', 16 February 1222 – ...
'', the '' Vimalakīrti Nirdeśa Sūtra'', the ''
Mūlamadhyamakakārikā The ''Mūlamadhyamakakārikā'' (''Root Verses on the Middle Way The Middle Way ( pi, ; sa, ) as well as "teaching the Dhamma by the middle" (''majjhena dhammaṃ deseti'') are common Buddhist Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-larg ...
'', and the ''''.


A completed Sūtra Piṭaka

Around the time of Kumārajīva, the four major Sanskrit āgamas were also translated into Chinese. Each of the āgamas was translated independently by a different Indian monk. These āgamas comprise the only other complete surviving Sūtra Piṭaka, which is generally comparable to the
Pali Pali () is a Middle Indo-Aryan liturgical language native to the Indian subcontinent. It is widely studied because it is the language of the '' Pāli Canon'' or '' Tipiṭaka'' and is the sacred language of '' Theravāda'' Buddhism ...
Sutta Pitaka Sutta may refer to: *The Pali version of the Sanskrit term Sutra *In Buddhism, a discourse of the Buddha: see Sutra and List of suttas {{disambiguation ...
of
Theravada Theravāda (; Pali, Pāli, lit. "School of the Thero, Elders", borrowed from Sanskrit स्थविरवाद (sthaviravāda, literally “doctrine of the elders”) is the most commonly accepted name of Buddhism's oldest existing school. Th ...
Buddhism. The teachings of the Sūtra Piṭaka are usually considered to be one of the earliest teachings on Buddhism and a core text of the
Early Buddhist Schools The early Buddhist schools are those schools into which the Buddhist monasticism, monastic Sangha (Buddhism), saṅgha split early in the history of Buddhism. The divisions were originally due to differences in Vinaya and later also due to doctr ...
in China. It is noteworthy that before the modern period, these āgama were seldom if ever used by Buddhist communities, due to their Hīnayāna attribution, as Chinese Buddhism was already avowedly
Mahāyāna Mahāyāna (; "Great Vehicle") is a term for a broad group of Buddhist traditions, texts, philosophies, and practices. Mahāyāna is considered one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the Major religious groups#L ...
in persuasion.


Early Chinese Buddhist traditions

Due to the wide proliferation of Buddhist texts available in Chinese and the large number of foreign monks who came to teach Buddhism in China, much like new branches growing from a main tree trunk, various specific focus traditions emerged. Among the most influential of these was the practice of
Pure Land Buddhism Pure Land Buddhism (; ja, 浄土仏教, translit=Jōdo bukkyō; ; vi, Tịnh Độ Tông), also referred to as Amidism in English, is a broad branch of Mahayana Buddhism Mahāyāna (; "Great Vehicle") is a term for a broad group of Buddhist ...
established by Hui Yuan, which focused on
Amitābha Amitābha (), also known as Amida or Amitāyus, is a celestial buddha according to the scriptures of Mahayana Buddhism. Amitābha is the principal buddha in Pure Land Buddhism Pure Land Buddhism (; ja, 浄土仏教, translit=Jōdo bukkyō; ...
Buddha and his western of
Sukhāvatī ''Sukhāvatī'', or the Western Paradise, refers to the western pure land of Amitābha in Mahayana, Mahayana Buddhism. The Sanskrit ''sukhavatī'' (''sukhāvatī'') is the grammatical gender, feminine form of ''sukhāvat'' ("full of joy; blissful ...
. Other early traditions were the
Tiantai Tiantai or T'ien-t'ai () is an East Asian Buddhism, East Asian Buddhist school of Mahayana Buddhism, Mahayana that developed in Sui dynasty, sixth century China. The school emphasizes the ''Lotus Sutra's'' doctrine of the "One Vehicle" (''Ekay ...
,
Huayan The Huayan or Flower Garland school of Buddhism (, from sa, script=Latn, Avataṃsaka) is a tradition of Mahayana Buddhist philosophy that first flourished in China during the Tang dynasty. The Huayan worldview is based primarily on the ''Avatams ...
and the Vinaya school. Such schools were based upon the primacy of the '' Lotus Sūtra'', the '' Avataṃsaka Sūtra'', and the ''Dharmaguptaka Vinaya'', respectively, along with supplementary sūtras and commentaries. The Tiantai founder
Zhiyi Zhiyi (; 538–597 CE) also Chen De'an (陈德安), is the founder of the Tiantai Tiantai or T'ien-t'ai () is a school of Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the Major religious groups#Largest religions, world's fourth-largest religion with over ...

Zhiyi
wrote several works that became important and widely read meditation manuals in China such as the "Concise samatha-vipasyana", and the " Great samatha-vipasyana".


Daily life of nuns

An important aspect of a nun was the practice of a vegetarian as it was heavily emphasized in the Buddhist religion to not harm any living creature for the purpose of them to consume. There were also some nuns who did not eat regularly, as an attempt of fasting. Another dietary practice of nuns was their practice of consuming fragrant oil or incense as a "preparation for self-immolation by fire". Some daily activities of nuns include the reading, memorizing, and reciting of Buddhist scriptures and religious text. Another was meditation as it is seen as the "heart of Buddhist monastic life". There are biographers explaining when nuns meditate they enter a state where their body of becomes hard, rigid, and stone-like where they are often mistaken as lifeless.Kathryn Ann Tsai, Lives Of The Nuns., pp. 11.


Southern and Northern Dynasties (420–589) and Sui Dynasty (589–618 CE)


Chan: pointing directly to the mind

In the fifth century, the
Chan Chan may refer to: Places *Chan (commune), Cambodia *Chan Lake, by Chan Lake Territorial Park in Northwest Territories, Canada People *Chan (surname), romanisation of various Chinese surnames (including 陳, 曾, 詹, 戰, and 田) *Chan Caldwell ...

Chan
(Zen) teachings began in China, traditionally attributed to the Buddhist monk
Bodhidharma Bodhidharma was a semi-legendary Buddhist monk A monk (, from el, μοναχός, ''monachos'', "single, solitary" via Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-Europe ...
, a legendary figure. The school heavily utilized the principles found in the ''
Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra The ''Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra'' ( sa, लंकावतारसूत्र, bo, ལང་ཀར་བཤེགས་པའི་མདོ་) is a prominent Mahayana sutras, Mahayana Buddhist sūtra. This sūtra recounts a teaching primarily ...
'', a sūtra utilizing the teachings of
Yogācāra Yogachara (IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation of Brahmic family, Indic scripts as employed by Sanskrit and related Indic languages. It is based ...
and those of
Tathāgatagarbha Buddha-nature refers to several related terms, most notably ''tathāgatagarbha'' and ''buddhadhātu''. ''Tathāgatagarbha'' means "the womb" or "embryo" (''garbha'') of the "thus-gone" (''tathagata''), or "containing a tathagata", while ''buddh ...
, and which teaches the One Vehicle (Skt. Ekayāna) to
buddhahood In Buddhism, Buddha (), "awakened one," is a title for someone who is Enlightenment in Buddhism, awake, and has attained Nirvana (Buddhism), nirvana and Buddhahood. The title is most commonly used for Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, wh ...
. In the early years, the teachings of Chan were therefore referred to as the "One Vehicle School". The earliest masters of the Chan school were called "Laṅkāvatāra Masters", for their mastery of practice according to the principles of the ''Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra''. The principal teachings of Chan were later often known for the use of so-called ''encounter stories'' and
koan A (; , ; ko, 화두, ''hwadu''; vi, công án) is a story Story or stories may refer to: Common uses * Story, a narrative (an account of imaginary or real people and events) ** Short story, a piece of prose fiction that typically can be r ...
s, and the teaching methods used in them.
Nan Huai-Chin Nan Huai-Chin () (March 18, 1918 – September 29, 2012) was a spiritual teacher of contemporary China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies b ...
identifies the ''Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra'' and the ''Diamond Sūtra'' (''Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra'') as the principle texts of the Chan school, and summarizes the principles succinctly:


Tang Dynasty (618–907 CE)


Xuanzang's journey to the west

During the early
Tang dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an interregnum between 690 and 705. It was preceded by the Sui dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. H ...
, between 629 and 645, the monk
Xuanzang Xuanzang (; fl. 602 – 664), born Chen Hui / Chen Yi (), was a Chinese Buddhist monk A monk (, from el, μοναχός, ''monachos'', "single, solitary" via Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic lan ...

Xuanzang
journeyed to India and visited over one hundred kingdoms, and wrote extensive and detailed reports of his findings, which have subsequently become important for the study of India during this period. During his travels he visited holy sites, learned the lore of his faith, and studied with many famous Buddhist masters, especially at the famous center of Buddhist learning at . When he returned, he brought with him some 657
Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia ...

Sanskrit
texts. Xuanzang also returned with relics, statues, and Buddhist paraphernalia loaded onto twenty-two horses. With the emperor's support, he set up a large translation bureau in
Chang'an Chang'an (; ) was an ancient capital of more than ten dynasties in Chinese history, today known as Xi'an in Shaanxi Shaanxi (, ; Chinese postal romanization, alternately Shensi) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of the Ch ...
(present-day
Xi'an Xi'an ( , ; Chinese: ), also known as Sian, is the list of capitals in China, capital of Shaanxi, Shaanxi Province. A Sub-provincial division#Sub-provincial municipalities, sub-provincial city on the Guanzhong, Guanzhong Plain in Northwest ...
), drawing students and collaborators from all over
East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and Northern Hemisphere, Northern Hemisphere of the Earth, Hemispheres. It shares the ...
. He is credited with the translation of some 1,330 fascicles of scriptures into Chinese. His strongest personal interest in Buddhism was in the field of
Yogācāra Yogachara (IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation of Brahmic family, Indic scripts as employed by Sanskrit and related Indic languages. It is based ...
, or "Consciousness-only". The force of his own study, translation and commentary of the texts of these traditions initiated the development of the Faxiang school in East Asia. Although the school itself did not thrive for a long time, its theories regarding
perception Perception (from the Latin ''perceptio'', meaning gathering or receiving) is the organization, identification, and interpretation of Sense, sensory information in order to represent and understand the presented information or environment. ...

perception
,
consciousness , an English Paracelsian Paracelsianism (also Paracelsism; German: ') was an early modern History of medicine, medical movement based on the theories and therapies of Paracelsus. It developed in the second half of the 16th century, during the ...
,
karma Karma (; sa, कर्म}, ; pi, kamma, italic=yes) means action, work, or deed. The term also refers to the spiritual principle of cause and effect, often descriptively called the principle of karma, wherein intent and actions of an indi ...

karma
,
rebirth Rebirth may refer to: Religion * Reincarnation, the migration of a deceased person's spirit or consciousness to a newborn body ** Rebirth (Buddhism), Rebirth in Buddhism ** Reincarnation#Hinduism, Rebirth in Hinduism * Regeneration (theology), a ...
, etc. found their way into the doctrines of other more successful schools. Xuanzang's closest and most eminent student was
Kuiji Kuījī (; 632–682), also known as Ji (), an exponent of Yogācāra, was a Chinese monk and a prominent disciple of Xuanzang.Lusthaus, Dan (undated). ''Quick Overview of the Faxiang School'' (). Source(accessed: December 12, 2007) His posthumous ...
who became recognized as the first patriarch of the Faxiang school. Xuanzang's logic, as described by Kuiji, was often misunderstood by scholars of Chinese Buddhism because they lack the necessary background in
Indian logicThe development of Indian logic dates back to the '' anviksiki'' of Medhatithi Gautama (c. 6th century BCE); the Sanskrit grammar rules of Pāṇini , era = ;;;6th–5th century BCE , region = Northwest Indian subconti ...
. Another important disciple was the Korean monk Woncheuk. Xuanzang's translations were especially important for the transmission of Indian texts related to the
Yogācāra Yogachara (IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation of Brahmic family, Indic scripts as employed by Sanskrit and related Indic languages. It is based ...
school. He translated central Yogācāra texts such as the '' Saṃdhinirmocana Sūtra'' and the '' Yogācārabhūmi Śāstra'', as well as important texts such as the '' Mahāprajñāpāramitā Sūtra'' and the '' Bhaiṣajyaguruvaidūryaprabharāja Sūtra'' (Medicine Buddha Sūtra). He is credited with writing or compiling the ''
Cheng Weishi Lun ''Cheng Weishi Lun'' () or ''Discourse on the Perfection of Consciousness-only'', is a comprehensive discourse on the central teachings of Yogacara framed around Vasubandhu Vasubandhu ( sa, वसुबन्धु; ; Tibetan: དབྱིག ...
'' (''Vijñaptimātratāsiddhi Śāstra'') as composed from multiple commentaries on
Vasubandhu Vasubandhu ( sa, वसुबन्धु; ; Tibetan: དབྱིག་གཉེན་ ; fl. 4th to 5th century CE) was an influential Buddhist monk and scholar from Gandhara Gandhāra ( sa, गन्धार, link=no) was an ancient re ...

Vasubandhu
's '' Triṃśikā-vijñaptimātratā''. His translation of the '' Heart Sūtra'' became and remains the standard in all East Asian Buddhist sects. The proliferation of these texts expanded the Chinese Buddhist canon significantly with high quality translations of some of the most important Indian Buddhist texts.


Caves, art, and technology

The popularization of Buddhism in this period is evident in the many scripture-filled caves and structures surviving from this period. The
Mogao Caves The Mogao Caves, also known as the Thousand Buddha Grottoes or Caves of the Thousand Buddhas, form a system of 500 temples southeast of the center of Dunhuang, an oasis located at a religious and cultural crossroads on the Silk Road The Sil ...

Mogao Caves
near
Dunhuang Dunhuang () is a county-level city A county-level municipality (), county-level city or county city, formerly known as prefecture-controlled city (1949–1970: ; 1970–1983: ), is a Administrative divisions of China#County level ( ...
in
Gansu Gansu (, ; Chinese postal romanization, alternately romanized as Kansu) is a landlocked provinces of China, province in Northwest China. Its capital and largest city is Lanzhou, in the southeast part of the province. The seventh-largest administ ...

Gansu
province, the
Longmen Grottoes The Longmen Grottoes () or Longmen Caves are some of the finest examples of Chinese Buddhist art. Housing tens of thousands of statues of Shakyamuni Buddha The Buddha (also known as Siddhattha Gotama or Siddhārtha Gautama or Buddha S ...

Longmen Grottoes
near
Luoyang Luoyang is a city located in the confluence area of Luo River (Henan), Luo River and Yellow River in the west of Henan province. Governed as a prefecture-level city, it borders the provincial capital of Zhengzhou to the east, Pingdingshan to t ...

Luoyang
in
Henan Henan (; ; alternatively Honan) is a landlocked province of China Provincial-level administrative divisions () or first-level administrative divisions (), are the highest-level Chinese administrative divisions. There are 34 such divisio ...

Henan
and the
Yungang Grottoes The Yungang Grottoes, formerly the Wuzhoushan Grottoes (Wuzhou Shan 武州山 / 武周山), are ancient Chinese Buddhist temple grottoes near the city of Datong in the province of Shanxi Shanxi (; Postal romanization, formerly romanised as ...

Yungang Grottoes
near
Datong Datong is a prefecture-level city Image:Yangxin-renmin-huanyin-ni-0022.jpg, A road sign shows distance to the "Huangshi urban area" () rather than simply "Huangshi" (). This is a useful distinction, because the sign is located ''already'' wit ...
in
Shanxi Shanxi (; ; Chinese postal romanization, formerly romanised as Shansi) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China and is part of the North China region. The capital and largest city of the province is T ...

Shanxi
are the most renowned examples from the
Northern Wei Maitreya Maitreya (Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-Euro ...
, Sui and Tang Dynasties. The
Leshan Giant Buddha The Leshan Giant Buddha () is a tall stone statue, built between 713 and 803 (during the Tang dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an interregnum between 69 ...

Leshan Giant Buddha
, carved out of a hillside in the eighth century during the
Tang dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an interregnum between 690 and 705. It was preceded by the Sui dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. H ...
and looking down on the confluence of three rivers, is still the largest stone Buddha statue in the world. At the Longmen cave complex,
Wu Zetian Wu Zhao, commonly known as Wu Zetian (17 February 624 – 26 November 705), alternatively Wu Hou, and during the later Tang dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, ...
(r. 690-705) –– a notable proponent of Buddhism during the Tang dynasty (reigned as Zhou)–– directed mammoth stone sculptures of Vaircōcana Buddha with
Bodhisattva In Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the Major religious groups#Largest religions, world's fourth-largest religion with over 520 million followers, or over 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists. Buddhism encompasses a variety of tradition ...
s. As the first self-seated woman emperor, these sculptures served multiple purposes, including the projection of Buddhist ideas that would validate her mandate of power. Monks and pious laymen spread Buddhist concepts through story-telling and preaching from sutra texts. These oral presentations were written down as
bianwen ''Bianwen'' () is a technical term referring to a literary form that is believed to be some of the earliest examples of vernacular and prosimetric narratives in Chinese literature The history of Chinese literature extends thousands of years, ...
(transformation stories) which influenced the writing of fiction by their new ways of telling stories combining prose and poetry. Popular legends in this style included
Mulian Rescues His Mother ''Mulian Rescues His Mother'' or ''Mulian Saves His Mother From Hell'' is a popular Chinese Buddhist tale first attested in a Dunhuang manuscript dating to the early 9th century CE. It is an elaboration of the canonical Yulanpen Sutra which wa ...
, in which a monk descends into hell in a show of filial piety in Buddhism, filial piety. Making duplications of Buddhist texts was considered to bring meritorious
karma Karma (; sa, कर्म}, ; pi, kamma, italic=yes) means action, work, or deed. The term also refers to the spiritual principle of cause and effect, often descriptively called the principle of karma, wherein intent and actions of an indi ...

karma
. Printing from individually carved wooden blocks and from clay or metal movable type proved much more efficient than hand copying and eventually eclipsed it. The ''Diamond Sūtra'' (''Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra'') of 868 CE, a Buddhist scripture discovered in 1907 inside the Mogao Caves, is the first dated example of block printing.


Arrival of Esoteric Buddhism

The Kaiyuan's Three Great Enlightened Masters, Subhakarasimha, Śubhakarasiṃha, Vajrabodhi, and Amoghavajra, established Esoteric Buddhism in China from AD 716 to 720 during the reign of emperor Emperor Xuanzong of Tang, Xuanzong. They came to Daxing Shansi (, ''Great Propagating Goodness Temple''), which was the predecessor of Temple of the Great Enlightener Mahavairocana. Daxing Shansi was established in the ancient capital Chang'an, today's Xi'an, and became one of the four great centers of scripture translation supported by the imperial court. They had translated many Buddhist scriptures, sutra and tantra, from Sanskrit to Chinese. They had also assimilated the prevailing teachings of China:
Taoism Taoism (), or Daoism (), is a philosophical and spiritual tradition of China, Chinese origin which emphasizes living in harmony with the ''Tao'' (, Taoism#Spelling and pronunciation, or ''Dao''). In Taoism, the ''Tao'' is the source, pattern a ...
and
Confucianism , Shanxi Shanxi (; ; Chinese postal romanization, formerly romanised as Shansi) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China and is part of the North China region. The capital and largest city of th ...
, with Buddhism, and had further evolved the practice of the Chinese Esoteric Buddhism, Chinese Esoteric Buddhist tradition. They brought to the Chinese a mysterious, dynamic, and magical teaching, which included mantra formula and detailed rituals to protect a person or an empire, to affect a person's fate after death, and, particularly popular, to bring rain in times of drought. It is not surprising, then, that all three masters were well received by the emperor Tang Xuanzong, and their teachings were quickly taken up at the Tang court and among the elite. Mantrayana altars were installed in temples in the capital, and by the time of emperor Emperor Daizong of Tang, Tang Daizong (r. 762–779) its influence among the upper classes outstripped that of Daoism. However, relations between Amoghavajra and Daizong were especially good. In life the emperor favored Amoghavajra with titles and gifts, and when the master died in 774, he honored his memory with a stupa, or funeral monument. Master Huiguo, a disciple of Amoghavajra, imparted some esoteric Buddhist teachings to Kūkai, one of the many Japanese monks who came to Tang China to study Buddhism, including the Mandala of the Two Realms, the Womb Realm and the Diamond Realm. Master Kukai went back to Japan to establish the Japanese Esoteric school of Buddhism, later known as Shingon Buddhism. The Esoteric Buddhist lineages transmitted to
Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white rectangle , image_coat = Imperial Seal of Japan.svg , alt_coat = Golden circle subdiv ...

Japan
under the auspices of the monks Kūkai and Saicho, later formulated the teachings transmitted to them to create the Shingon Buddhism, Shingon sect and the Tendai, Tendai sect. Unlike in Japan, Esoteric Buddhism in China was not seen as a separate and distinct "school" of Buddhism but rather understood as a set of associated practices and teachings that could be integrated together with the other Chinese Buddhist traditions such as Chan Buddhism, Chan. Hence, the other schools of Chinese Buddhism such as Chan Buddhism, Chan and
Tiantai Tiantai or T'ien-t'ai () is an East Asian Buddhism, East Asian Buddhist school of Mahayana Buddhism, Mahayana that developed in Sui dynasty, sixth century China. The school emphasizes the ''Lotus Sutra's'' doctrine of the "One Vehicle" (''Ekay ...
began to adopt esoteric practices such as deity visualization and dharani chanting.


Tang state repression of 845

Opposition to Buddhism accumulated over time during the Tang dynasty, culminating in the Great Anti-Buddhist Persecution under Emperor Emperor Wuzong of Tang, Tang Wuzong. There were several components that led to opposition of Buddhism. One factor is the foreign origins of Buddhism, unlike
Taoism Taoism (), or Daoism (), is a philosophical and spiritual tradition of China, Chinese origin which emphasizes living in harmony with the ''Tao'' (, Taoism#Spelling and pronunciation, or ''Dao''). In Taoism, the ''Tao'' is the source, pattern a ...
and
Confucianism , Shanxi Shanxi (; ; Chinese postal romanization, formerly romanised as Shansi) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China and is part of the North China region. The capital and largest city of th ...
. Han Yu wrote, "Buddha was a man of the barbarians who did not speak the language of China and wore clothes of a different fashion. His sayings did not concern the ways of our ancient kings, nor did his manner of dress conform to their laws. He understood neither the duties that bind sovereign and subject, nor the affections of father and son." Other components included the Buddhists' withdrawal from society, since the Chinese believed that Chinese people should be involved with family life. Wealth, tax-exemption status and power of the Buddhist temples and monasteries also annoyed many critics. As mentioned earlier, persecution came during the reign of Emperor Wuzong of Tang, Emperor Wuzong in the Tang dynasty. Wuzong was said to hate the sight of Buddhist monks, who he thought were tax-evaders. In 845, he ordered the destruction of 4,600 Buddhist monasteries and 40,000 temples. More than 400,000 Buddhist monks and nuns then became peasants liable to the Two Taxes (grain and cloth).Gernet, Jacques. Verellen, Franciscus. ''Buddhism in Chinese Society''. 1998. pp. 318-319 Wuzong cited that Buddhism was an alien religion, which is the reason he also persecuted the Christians in China. David Graeber argues that Buddhist institutions had accumulated so much precious metals which the government needed to secure the money supply.


Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period (907–960/979)

The Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period () was an era of political upheaval in China, between the fall of the
Tang dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an interregnum between 690 and 705. It was preceded by the Sui dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. H ...
and the founding of the Song dynasty. During this period, five dynasties quickly succeeded one another in the north, and more than 12 independent states were established, mainly in the south. However, only ten are traditionally listed, hence the era's name, "Ten Kingdoms". Some historians, such as Bo Yang, count eleven, including Yan (Ten Kingdoms), Yan and Qi (Five Dynasties), Qi, but not Northern Han, viewing it as simply a continuation of Later Han. This era also led to the founding of the Liao dynasty. After the fall of the
Tang dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an interregnum between 690 and 705. It was preceded by the Sui dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. H ...
, China was without effective central control during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. China was divided into several autonomous regions. Support for Buddhism was limited to a few areas. The Huayan and Tiantai schools survived, but they still suffered from the changing circumstances, since they had depended on imperial support. The collapse of Tang society also deprived the aristocratic classes of wealth and influence, which meant a further drawback for Buddhism. Shenxiu's Northern Chan School and Henshui's Southern Chan School didn't survive the changing circumstances. Nevertheless, Chan emerged as the most popular tradition within Chinese Buddhism, but with various schools developing various emphasises in their teachings, due to the regional orientation of the period. The Fayan school, named after Fayan Wenyi (885–958), became the dominant school in the southern kingdoms of Nan-Tang (Jiangxi, Chiang-hsi) and Wuyue (Che-chiang).


Song Dynasty (960–1279)

The Song dynasty is divided into two distinct periods: the Northern Song and Southern Song. During the Northern Song (, 960–1127), the Song capital was in the northern city of Bianjing (now Kaifeng) and the dynasty controlled most of China Proper, inner China. The Southern Song (, 1127–1279) refers to the period after the Song lost control of Northern and southern China, northern China to the Jin dynasty (1115–1234), Jin dynasty. During this time, the Song court retreated south of the Yangtze, Yangtze River and established their capital at Lin'an (now Hangzhou). Although the Song Dynasty had lost control of the traditional birthplace of Chinese civilization along the Yellow River, the Song economy was not in ruins, as the Southern Song Empire contained 60 percent of China's population and a majority of the most productive agricultural land. During the Song dynasty, Chan () was used by the government to strengthen its control over the country, and Chan grew to become the largest sect in Chinese Buddhism. An ideal picture of the Chan of the Tang period was produced, which served the legacy of this newly acquired status. During the early Song dynasty, Chan and Pure Land practices became especially popular. Buddhist ideology began to merge with Confucianism and Daoism, due in part to the use of existing Chinese philosophical terms in the translation of Buddhist scriptures. Various Confucian scholars of the Song dynasty, including Zhu Xi (Wade-Giles, wg: Chu Hsi), sought to redefine Confucianism as Neo-Confucianism. During the Song dynasty, in 1021 CE, it is recorded that there were 458,855 Buddhist monks and nuns actively living in monasteries. The total number of monks was 397,615, while the total number of nuns was recorded as 61,240.


Mongol Yuan rule (1279–1368)

During the Yuan dynasty, Mongol Yuan domination, the Mongolia, Mongol emperors made Esoteric Buddhism an official religion of their empire which China was a part of, and Tibetan lamas were given patronage at the court.Nan Huai-Chin. ''Basic Buddhism: Exploring Buddhism and Zen''. York Beach: Samuel Weiser. 1997. p. 99. A common perception was that this patronage of lamas caused corrupt forms of tantra to become widespread. When the Mongol Yuan dynasty was overthrown and the Ming dynasty was established, the Tibetan lamas were expelled from the court, and this form of Buddhism was denounced as not being an orthodox path.


Ming dynasty (1368–1644)

During the Ming dynasty, there was a significant revival of
Tiantai Tiantai or T'ien-t'ai () is an East Asian Buddhism, East Asian Buddhist school of Mahayana Buddhism, Mahayana that developed in Sui dynasty, sixth century China. The school emphasizes the ''Lotus Sutra's'' doctrine of the "One Vehicle" (''Ekay ...
,
Huayan The Huayan or Flower Garland school of Buddhism (, from sa, script=Latn, Avataṃsaka) is a tradition of Mahayana Buddhist philosophy that first flourished in China during the Tang dynasty. The Huayan worldview is based primarily on the ''Avatams ...

Huayan
and Yogachara, Yogacara traditions, as well as ordination ceremonies. While there were sometimes disagreements between certain lineage holders of the various Buddhist schools on doctrines, mixed practice of rituals and traditions from all the different schools remained the norm among monastics and lay people as opposed to strict sectarian divides. According to Weinstein, by the Ming dynasty, the Chan school became especially popular such that, at one point, most monks were affiliated with either the Linji school or the Sōtō, Caodong school.


Eminent Monks

During the Ming dynasty, Hanshan Deqing was one of the great reformers of Chinese Buddhism.Keown, Damien. ''A Dictionary of Buddhism''. 2003. p. 104 Like many of his contemporaries, he advocated the dual practice of the Chan and Pure Land methods, and advocated the use of the ''nianfo'' ("Mindfulness of the Buddha") technique to purify the mind for the attainment of self-realization. He also directed practitioners in the use of mantras as well as scripture reading. He was also renowned as a lecturer and commentator and admired for his strict adherence to the precepts. According to Jiang Wu, for Chan masters in this period such as Hanshan Deqing, training through self-cultivation was encouraged, and clichéd or formulaic instructions were despised.Jiang Wu. ''Enlightenment in Dispute''. 2008. p. 41 Eminent monks who practiced meditation and asceticism without proper Dharma transmission were acclaimed for having acquiring "wisdom without a teacher". Another eminent monastic in this era was the monk Youxi Chuandeng (1554-1628), who spearheaded the revival of the Tiantai teachings and lineage. While revitalizing Tiantai, he made an effort to harmonize rather than criticize other Buddhist schools. For instance, he incorporated the important intellectual themes of the late Ming, especially those found in the Śūraṃgama Sūtra, with traditional Tiantai thought; by drawing upon the notions of pure mind and the seven elements found in the Śūraṃgama Sūtra, he reinterpreted nature-inclusion and the Dharma-gate of inherent evil emphasizing inherent evil as pure rather than defiled.


Eminent Nuns

During the Ming Dynasty, women of different ages were able to enter the monastic life from as young as five or six years old to seventy years old.Kathryn Ann Tsai, Lives Of The Nuns. (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press), pp. 6. There were various reasons why a Ming woman entered the religious life of becoming a nun. Some women had fallen ill and believed by entering the religious life they were able to relieve their sufferings. There were other women, who had become widowed due to the death of her husband or betrothed so out of choice chose to join a convent. Many women who were left widowed were affected financially as they often had to support their in-laws, and parents, therefore, joining a convent was not a bad option. By devoting themselves to religion, they received less social criticism from society because during the Ming time women were expected to remain faithful to their husband. An example of this is Xia Shuji. Xia's husband Hou Xun, (1591-1645), had led a resistance in Jiading which arrested the Qing troops who later on beheaded him. Xia Shuji who secluded herself from the outside life to devote herself to religion and took on the religious name of Shengyin. During the time of late Ming, a period of social upheaval, the monastery or convent provided shelter for these women who no longer had protection from a male in their family: husband, son or father due to death, financial constraint and other situations. However, in most circumstances, a woman who wanted to join a nunnery was because they wanted to escape a marriage or they felt isolated as her husband has died- she also had to overcome many difficulties that arose socially from this decision. For most of these women, a convent was seen as a haven to escape their family or an unwanted marriage. Such difficulties were due to the social expectation of the women as it was considered unfilial to leave their duty as a wife, daughter, mother or daughter in law. There were also some cases where some individuals were sold by their family to earn money in a convent by reciting sutras, and performing Buddhist services because they weren't able to financially support them. Jixing entered into a religious life as a young girl due to the fact that her family had no money to raise her. Lastly, there were some who became part of the Buddhist convent because of a spiritual calling where they found comfort to the religious life, an example would be Zhang Ruyu. Zhang took the religious name, Miaohui, and just before she entered the religious life she wrote the poem below: Drinking at Rain and Flowers Terrace, I Compose a Description the Falling Leaves For viewing the vista, a 1000-''chi'' terrace. For discussing the mind, a goblet of wine. A pure frost laces the tips of the trees, Bronze leaves flirt with the river village. Following the wave, I float with the oars; Glory and decay, why sigh over them? This day, I’ve happily returned to the source. Through her poetry, Miaohui (Zhang Ruyu) she conveys the emotions of fully understanding and concluding the difference in the life outside without devotion to religion and the life in a monastery, known as the Buddhist terms between "form and emptiness". Women like Miaohui, Zhang, had found happiness and fulfillment in the convent that they could not seek in the outside world. Despite the many reasons for entering the religious life, most women had to obtain permission from a male in their life (father, husband, or son). Most of the nuns who have entered the religious life seclude themselves from the outside life away from their family and relatives. Most nuns participated in religious practices with devotions to many different bodhisattva and Buddha. Some examples of bodhisattvas are Guanyin, Amita Buddha, Amitabha Buddha, Maitreya, and Pindola. One of the most prominent bodhisattvas in Chinese Buddhism is Guanyin, known as Goddess of Compassion, Mercy and Love is also a protector and savior for those who worship and needs Guanyin's aid.


Qing dynasty (1644–1911)

The Qing Dynasty, Qing court endorsed the Gelukpa School of Tibetan Buddhism.Mullin 2001, p. 358 Early in the Taiping rebellion, the Taiping rebels targeted Buddhism. In the Battle of Nanjing (1853), the Taiping army butchered thousands of monks in Nanjing. But from the middle of the Taiping rebellion, Taiping leaders took a more moderate approach, demanding that monks should have licences. Around 1900, Buddhists from other Asian countries showed a growing interest in Chinese Buddhism. Anagarika Dharmapala visited Shanghai in 1893,Lewis Hodus (1923), ''Buddhism and Buddhists in China''. "Chapter IX: Present-Day Buddhism"
/ref> intending "to make a tour of China, to arouse the Chinese Buddhists to send missionaries to India to restore Buddhism there, and then to start a propaganda throughout the whole world", but eventually limiting his stay to Shanghai. Japanese Buddhist missionaries were active in China in the beginning of the twentieth century.


Republic of China (established 1912)


Pre-Communist Revolution

The modernisation of China led to the end of the Chinese Empire, and the installation of the Republic of China, which lasted on the mainland until the Chinese Civil War, Communist Revolution and the installation of the People's Republic of China in 1949 which also led to the ROC government's exodus to
Taiwan Taiwan (), officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia. Neighbouring countries include the China, People's Republic of China (PRC) to the northwest, Japan to the northeast, and the Philippines to the south. The main islan ...

Taiwan
. Under influence of the western culture, attempts were being made to revitalize Chinese Buddhism. Most notable were the Humanistic Buddhism of Taixu and Yin Shun, and the revival of Chinese Chán, Chinese Chan by Hsu Yun. Hsu Yun is generally regarded as one of the most influential Buddhist teachers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Other Buddhist traditions were similarly revitalized as well. In 1914, Huayan University, the first modern Buddhist monastic school, was founded in Shanghai to further systemize Huayan teachings to monastics and helped to expand the Huayan tradition. The university managed to foster a network of educated monks who focused on Huayan Buddhism during the twentieth century. Through this network, the lineage of the Huayan tradition was transmitted to many monks, which helped to preserve the lineage down to the modern day via new Huayan-centred organizations that these monks would later found. For Tiantai Buddhism, the tradition's lineage (specifically the Lingfeng lineage) was carried from the late Qing into the twentieth century by the monk Dixian. His student, the monk Tanxu (1875 – 1963), is known for having rebuilt various temples during the Republican era (such as Zhanshan Temple, Zhanshan temple in Qingdao) and for preserving the Tiantai lineage into the China, PRC era. Other influential teachers in the early twentieth century included Pure land Buddhist master Yin Guang () and Vinaya master Hong Yi. Upasaka Zhao Puchu had worked very hard on the revival. Until 1949, monasteries were built in the Southeast Asian countries, for example by monks of Guanghua Monastery, to spread Chinese Buddhism. Presently, Guanghua Monastery has seven branch monasteries in the Malay Peninsula and Indonesia. Several Chinese Buddhist teachers left mainland China during the Communist Revolution, and settled in Hong Kong and
Taiwan Taiwan (), officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia. Neighbouring countries include the China, People's Republic of China (PRC) to the northwest, Japan to the northeast, and the Philippines to the south. The main islan ...

Taiwan
.


Post-Communist Revolution

After the communist takeover of Mainland China, many monastics followed the ROC's exodus to Taiwan. In the latter half of the twentieth century, many new Buddhist temples and organizations were set up by these monastics, which would later come to become influential back in
Mainland China Mainland China, also known as the Chinese mainland, China mainland, or the Mainland Area of the Republic of China is the geopolitics, geopolitical area under the direct jurisdiction of the People's Republic of China (PRC) since Proclamation of ...

Mainland China
after the end of the Cultural Revolution.


= Four Heavenly Kings (Taiwan), Four Heavenly Kings

= Master Hsing Yun (1927–present) is the founder of Fo Guang Shan monastic order and the Buddha's Light International Association lay organization. Born in Jiangsu Province in mainland China, he entered the Sangha (Buddhism), Sangha at the age of 12, and came to Taiwan in 1949. He founded Fo Guang Shan monastery in 1967, and the Buddha's Light International Association in 1992. These are among the largest monastic and lay Buddhist organizations in Taiwan from the late twentieth to early twenty-first centuries. He advocates Humanistic Buddhism, which the broad modern Chinese Buddhist progressive attitude towards the religion. Master Sheng Yen (1930–2009) was the founder of the Dharma Drum Mountain, a Buddhist organization based in Republic of China, Taiwan which mainly advocates for Chan Buddhism, Chan and Pure Land Buddhism, Pure Land Buddhism. During his time in Taiwan, Sheng Yen was well known as one of the progressive Buddhist teachers who sought to teach Buddhism in a modern and Western-influenced world. Master Cheng Yen (born 14 May 1937) is a
Taiwan Taiwan (), officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia. Neighbouring countries include the China, People's Republic of China (PRC) to the northwest, Japan to the northeast, and the Philippines to the south. The main islan ...

Taiwan
ese Buddhism, Buddhist nun (bhikkhuni), teacher, and Philanthropy, philanthropist. She was a direct student of Master Yin Shun, Ying Shun, a major figure in the early development of Humanistic Buddhism in Taiwan. She founded the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation, ordinarily referred to as Tzu Chi in 1966. The organization later became one of the largest humanitarian organizations in the world, and the largest Buddhist organization in
Taiwan Taiwan (), officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia. Neighbouring countries include the China, People's Republic of China (PRC) to the northwest, Japan to the northeast, and the Philippines to the south. The main islan ...

Taiwan
. Master Wei Chueh was born in 1928 in Sichuan, mainland China, and ordained in Taiwan. In 1982, he founded Lin Quan Temple in Taipei County and became known for his teaching on Ch'an, Chan practices by conducting many lectures and seven-day Chan meditation retreats, and eventually founded the Chung Tai Shan Buddhist order. The order has established more than 90 meditation centers and branches in Taiwan and abroad, including branches in Australia, Hong Kong,
Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white rectangle , image_coat = Imperial Seal of Japan.svg , alt_coat = Golden circle subdiv ...

Japan
, Philippines, and Thailand.


= Huayan

= Several new Huayan-centred Buddhist organizations have been established since the latter half of the twentieth century. In contemporary times, the largest and oldest of the Huayan-centered organizations in Taiwan is th
Huayan Lotus Society
(Huayan Lianshe 華嚴蓮社), which was founded in 1952 by the monk Zhiguang and his disciple Nanting, who were both part of the network fostered by the Huayan University. Since its founding, the Huayan Lotus Society has been centered on the study and practice of the Huayan Sutra. It hosts a full recitation of the sutra twice each year, during the third and tenth months of the lunar calendar. Each year during the eleventh lunar month, the society also hosts a seven-day Huayan Buddha retreat (Huayan foqi 華嚴佛七), during which participants chant the names of the buddhas and bodhisattvas in the text. The society emphasizes the study of the Huayan Sutra by hosting regular lectures on it. In recent decades, these lectures have occurred on a weekly basis. Like other Taiwanese Buddhist organization's, the Society has also diversified its propagation and educational activities over the years. It produces its own periodical and runs its own press. It also now runs a variety of educational programs, including a kindergarten, a vocational college, and short-term courses in Buddhism for college and primary-school students, and offers scholarships. One example is their founding of th
Huayan Buddhist College
(Huayan Zhuanzong Xueyuan 華嚴專宗學院) in 1975. They have also established branch temples overseas, most notably in California’s San Francisco Bay Area. In 1989, they expanded their outreach to the United States of America by formally establishing th
Huayan Lotus Society of the United States
(Meiguo Huayan Lianshe 美國華嚴蓮社). Like the parent organization in Taiwan, this branch holds weekly lectures on the Huayan Sutra and several annual Huayan Dharma Assemblies where it is chanted. It also holds monthly memorial services for the society’s spiritual forebears. Another Huayan-focused organization is th

(Huayan Xuehui 華嚴學會) which was founded in Taipei in 1996 by the monk Jimeng (繼夢), also known as Haiyun (海雲). This was followed in 1999 by the founding of the large
Caotangshan Great Huayan Temple
(Caotangshan Da Huayansi 草堂山大華嚴寺). This temple hosts many Huayan-related activities, including a weekly Huayan Assembly. Since 2000, the association has grown internationally, with branches in Australia, Canada, and the United States.


= Tangmi

= Chinese Esoteric Buddhism is also subject to a revitalization in both
Taiwan Taiwan (), officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia. Neighbouring countries include the China, People's Republic of China (PRC) to the northwest, Japan to the northeast, and the Philippines to the south. The main islan ...

Taiwan
and China, largely through connections and support from Kongōbu-ji, the head temple of the Kōyasan Shingon-shū (the school of Shingon Buddhism of Mount Kōya) and its affiliate temples. The revival is mainly propagated by Chinese Buddhist monks who travel to Mount Kōya to be initiated and receive dharma transmission as acharyas in the Shingon tradition and who bring the esoteric teachings and practices back to Taiwan after their training has ended. While some of these Chinese acharyas have chosen to officially remain under the oversight of Kōyasan Shingon-shū and minister as Chinese branches of Japanese Shingon, many other acharyas have chosen to distinguish themselves from Shingon by establishing their own Chinese lineages after their return from Japan. Members from the latter group, while deriving their orthodoxy and legitimacy from Shingon, view themselves as re-establishing a distinctly Chinese tradition of Esoteric Buddhism rather than merely acting as emissaries of Japanese Shingon, in the same way that Kūkai started his own Japanese sect of Esoteric Buddhism after learning it from Chinese teachers. One pertinent example is Master Wuguang (悟光上師), who was initiated as a Shingon acharya in Japan in 1971.  He established the Mantra School Bright Lineage the following year in Taiwan, which recognizes itself as a resurrection of the Chinese Esoteric Buddhist transmission rather than a branch of Shingon. Some Tangmi organizations in Taiwan that have resulted from the revival are:
Mantra School Bright Lineage
(真言宗光明流), which has branches in Taiwan and Hong Kong. * Zhenyan Samantabhadra Lineage (真言宗普賢流), which is mainly located in Taiwan. * Malaysian Mahā Praṇidhāna Parvata Mantrayāna (马来西亚佛教 真言宗大願山), an offshoot organization of the Mantra School Bright Lineage which is located in Malaysia.
Mahavairocana Temple
(大毘盧寺), which has branches in Taiwan an
America
* Mount Qinglong Acala Monastery (青龍山不動寺), located in Taiwan.


People's Republic of China (1949—present)


Chinese Buddhist Association

Unlike Catholicism and other branches of Christianity, there was no organization in China that embraced all monastics in China, nor even all monastics within the same sect. Traditionally each monastery was autonomous, with authority resting on each respective abbot. In 1953, the Chinese Buddhist Association was established at a meeting with 121 delegates in Beijing. The meeting also elected a chairman, 4 honorary chairmen, 7 vice-chairmen, a secretary general, 3 deputy secretaries-general, 18 members of a standing committee, and 93 directors. The 4 elected honorary chairmen were the Tenzin Gyatso, Dalai Lama, the 10th Panchen Lama, Panchen Lama, the Grand Lama of Inner Mongolia, and Venerable Master Hsu Yun.


Persecution during the Cultural Revolution

Chinese Buddhism suffered extensive repression, persecution and destruction during the Cultural Revolution (from 1966 until Mao Zedong's death in 1976). Maoist propaganda depicted
Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the Major religious groups#Largest religions, world's fourth-largest religion with over 520 million followers, or over 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists. Buddhism encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and ...
as one of the Four Olds, four olds, as a Superstition, superstitious instrument of the ruling class and as counter-revolutionary.Yu, Dan Smyer. "Delayed contention with the Chinese Marxist scapegoat complex: re-membering Tibetan Buddhism in the PRC". ''The Tibet Journal'', 32.1 (2007) Buddhist Clergy were attacked, disrobed, arrested and sent to camps. Buddhist writings were burned. Buddhist temples, monasteries and art were systematically destroyed and Buddhist lay believers ceased any public displays of their religion.


Reform and opening up – Second Buddhist Revival

Since the implementation of Boluan Fanzheng by Deng Xiaoping, a new revival of Chinese Buddhism began to take place in 1982. Some of the ancient Buddhist temples that were damaged during the Cultural Revolution were allowed to be restored, mainly with the monetary support from oversea Chinese Buddhist groups. Monastic ordination were finally approved but with certain requirements from the government and new Buddhist temples are being built. Monastics who had been imprisoned or driven underground during the revolution were freed and allowed to return to their temples to propagate Buddhist teachings. For example, the monks Zhenchan (真禪) and Mengcan (夢參), who were trained in the Chan and Huayan traditions, travelled widely throughout China as well as other countries such as the United States and lectured on both Chan and Huayan teachings. Haiyun, the monk who founded the Huayan Studies Association in Taiwan, was a tonsured disciple of Mengcan. Monks who had fled the mainland to Taiwan, Hong Kong or other overseas Chinese communities after the establishment of the People's Republic of China also began to be welcome back onto the mainland. Buddhist organizations who had been founded by these monks thus began to gain influence, revitalizing the various Buddhist traditions on the mainland. Recently, some Buddhist temples, administrated by local governments, became Commercialization, commercialized by sales of tickets, incense, or other religious items; soliciting donations. In response, the State Administration for Religious Affairs announced a crackdown on religious profiteering in October 2012. Many sites have done enough repairs and have already cancelled ticket fares and are receiving voluntary donation instead. In April 2006 China organized the World Buddhist Forum, an event now held every two years, and in March 2007 the government banned mining on Buddhist sacred mountains. In May of the same year, in Changzhou, the world's tallest pagoda was built and opened. Currently, there are about 1.3 billion Chinese living in the People's Republic. Surveys have found that around 18.2% to 20% of this population adheres to Buddhism. Furthermore, PEW found that another 21% of the Chinese population followed Chinese folk religions that incorporated elements of Buddhism.


= Revival of Buddhist traditions

= One example of the revitalization of Buddhist traditions on the Mainland is the expansion of Tiantai, Tiantai Buddhism. The monk Dixian was a lineage holder in Tiantai Buddhism during the early twentieth century. During the Chinese Civil War, various dharma heirs of Dixian moved to Hong Kong, including Tanxu and Baojing. They helped establish the Tiantai tradition in Hong Kong, where it remains a strong living tradition today, being preserved by their dharma heirs. After the reforms in Mainland China, Baojing's dharma heir, Jueguang, helped to transmit the lineage back to Mainland China, as well as other countries including Korea, Indonesia, Singapore and Taiwan. The monk Yixing (益行), a dharma heir of Dixian who was the forty-seventh generation lineage holder of Tiantai, Tiantai Buddhism, was appointed as the acting abbot of Guoqing Temple and helped to restore Guanzong Temple, both of which remain major centres of Tiantai Buddhism in China. Chinese Esoteric Buddhism was also revived on the mainland, similar to the situation in Taiwan. Organizations and temples propagating this tradition in China include Daxingshan Temple in
Xi'an Xi'an ( , ; Chinese: ), also known as Sian, is the list of capitals in China, capital of Shaanxi, Shaanxi Province. A Sub-provincial division#Sub-provincial municipalities, sub-provincial city on the Guanzhong, Guanzhong Plain in Northwest ...
, Qinglong Temple (Xi'an), Qinglong Temple in
Xi'an Xi'an ( , ; Chinese: ), also known as Sian, is the list of capitals in China, capital of Shaanxi, Shaanxi Province. A Sub-provincial division#Sub-provincial municipalities, sub-provincial city on the Guanzhong, Guanzhong Plain in Northwest ...

Yuanrong Buddhist Academy
(圓融佛學院) in Hong Kong as well a
Xiu Ming Society
(修明堂), which is located primarily in Hong Kong, but also has branches i
Mainland China
an
Taiwan
Over the years, more and more Buddhist organizations have been approved to operate in the mainland. One example is the
Taiwan Taiwan (), officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia. Neighbouring countries include the China, People's Republic of China (PRC) to the northwest, Japan to the northeast, and the Philippines to the south. The main islan ...

Taiwan
-based organizations Tzu Chi Foundation and Fo Guang Shan, which were approved to open a branch in mainland China in March 2008.


Chinese Buddhism in Southeast Asia

Chinese Buddhism is mainly practiced by Overseas Chinese communities in Southeast Asia.


Chinese Buddhism in the West

The first Chinese master to teach Westerners in North America was Hsuan Hua, who taught Chan and other traditions of Chinese Buddhism in San Francisco during the early 1960s. He went on to found the City Of Ten Thousand Buddhas, a monastery and retreat center located on a 237-acre (959,000 m2) property near Ukiah, California. Chuang Yen Monastery and Hsi Lai Temple are also large centers. Sheng Yen also founded dharma centers in the US. With the rapid increase of immigrants from mainland China to Western countries in the 1980s, the landscape of the Chinese Buddhism in local societies has also changed over time. Based on fieldwork research conducted in France, some scholars categorize three patterns in the collective Buddhism practice among Chinese Buddhists in France: An ethnolinguistic immigrant group, a transnational organizational system, and information technology. These distinctions are made according to the linkages of globalization. In the first pattern, religious globalization is a product of immigrants’ transplantation of local cultural traditions. For example, people of similar immigration experiences establish a Buddha hall (佛堂) within the framework of their associations for collective religious activities. The second pattern features the transnational expansion of a large institutionalized organization centered on a charismatic leader, such as Fo Guang Shan (佛光山), Tzu Chi (慈濟) and Dharma Drum Mountain (法鼓山). In the third pattern, religious globalization features the use of information technology such as websites, blogs, Emails and social media to ensure direct interaction between members in different places and between members and their leader. The Buddhist organization led by Jun Hong Lu is a typical example of this kind of group.


Sects


Unrecognised sects

There are many sects and organisations proclaiming a Buddhist identity and pursuit (''fo'' or ''fu'': "awakening", "enlightenment") that are not recognised as legitimate Buddhism by the Chinese Buddhist Association and the government of the People's Republic of China. This group includes: * Guanyin Buddhism [Awakening Teaching] ( ''Guānyīn Fójiào'') or Guanyin Church ( ''Guānyīn Huì'') * True Buddha School ( ''Zhēnfó Zōng'') *Buddhism [Awakening Teaching] of the Lord of Heaven of Infinite Thriving of the Mountain of Longevity ( ''Shòushān Wànlóng Tiānzhǔ Fójiào'') *Wulian Jingang Dadao ("Great Way of the Innumerable Attendants of Awakening")


Teachings


Basic concepts

Chinese Buddhism incorporates elements of
Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the Major religious groups#Largest religions, world's fourth-largest religion with over 520 million followers, or over 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists. Buddhism encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and ...
,
Confucianism , Shanxi Shanxi (; ; Chinese postal romanization, formerly romanised as Shansi) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China and is part of the North China region. The capital and largest city of th ...
and
Taoism Taoism (), or Daoism (), is a philosophical and spiritual tradition of China, Chinese origin which emphasizes living in harmony with the ''Tao'' (, Taoism#Spelling and pronunciation, or ''Dao''). In Taoism, the ''Tao'' is the source, pattern a ...
. Common practices include * paying homage to Triple Gems * veneration of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas * through offerings of incense, flowers, food, etc. * offerings to Deva (Buddhism), Devas who reside in the heavenly realm * paying respect to one's own ancestors during Qingming Festival, Qingming and Zhong Yuan Festival * conducting or participate religious services to pray for one's own ancestors and the souls of deceased to attain peace and liberation () * creating positive affinities with other people, through gifts of Dharma books and acts of charity or social service () * Buddhist vegetarianism, vegetarianism: monastics are required to be vegetarian, devout laity are also often vegetarian on certain sacred days or festivals. * compassion towards all living beings through activities such as "life release" Common beliefs include * existence of gods, ghosts and hell realm * reincarnation (), or more technically, rebirth, according to one's
karma Karma (; sa, कर्म}, ; pi, kamma, italic=yes) means action, work, or deed. The term also refers to the spiritual principle of cause and effect, often descriptively called the principle of karma, wherein intent and actions of an indi ...

karma
* karmic retribution (), ethically cause and effect


Incense burning

Burning incense, translated to "shaoxiang" in Chinese, is a traditional and ubiquitous religious practice for almost all prayers, and other forms of worship. During the Zhou dynasty, Chinese believed that smoke resulting from burning of sandalwood would act as a bridge between the human world and the spirits. The philosophy behind incense burning is to sacrifice oneself for the benefit of others, the true spirit of Buddhism. The specific knowledge of incense as a healing tool was assimilated into the religious practices of the time from traditional Chinese medicine. It can be seen that incense burning as it is known today is a merger between Chinese folk religious, Taoist, Confucian, ancestral worship and Chinese Buddhist practice and traditions.


Laypeople in Chinese Buddhism

In Chinese Buddhism, Upāsaka and Upāsikā, lay Buddhist practitioners have traditionally played an important role, and lay practice of Buddhism has had similar tendencies to those of monastic Buddhism in China.Twitchett, Denis, and Fairbank, John. ''The Cambridge History of China, Volume 8, Part 2''. 1998. p. 949 Many historical biographies of lay Buddhists are available, which give a clear picture of their practices and role in Chinese Buddhism. In addition to these numerous biographies, there are accounts from Jesuit missionaries such as Matteo Ricci which provide extensive and revealing accounts to the degree Buddhism penetrated elite and popular culture in China. Traditional practices such as meditation, mantra recitation, mindfulness of Amitābha Buddha, asceticism, and vegetarianism were all integrated into the belief systems of ordinary people. It is known from accounts in the Ming Dynasty that lay practitioners often engaged in practices from both the Pure Land and Chan traditions, as well as the study of the Buddhist sūtras. The ''Heart Sūtra'' and the ''Diamond Sūtra'' were the most popular, followed by the ''Lotus Sūtra'' and the ''Avatamsaka Sutra, ''. Laypeople are also commonly Buddhist devotion, devoted to the practice of mantras, and mantras such as the Nīlakantha dhāranī, Mahā Karuṇā Dhāraṇī and the Cundi (Buddhism), Cundī Dhāraṇī are very popular. Robert Gimello has also observed that in Chinese Buddhist communities, the esoteric practices of Cundī enjoyed popularity among both the populace and the elite. Mahāyāna figures such as Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva, Ksitigarbha, Kṣitigarbha Bodhisattva,
Amitābha Amitābha (), also known as Amida or Amitāyus, is a celestial buddha according to the scriptures of Mahayana Buddhism. Amitābha is the principal buddha in Pure Land Buddhism Pure Land Buddhism (; ja, 浄土仏教, translit=Jōdo bukkyō; ...
Buddha, and the Medicine Buddha, are all widely known and revered. Beliefs in karma and rebirth are held at all levels of Chinese society, and pilgrimages to well-known monasteries and the four holy mountains of China are undertaken by monastics and lay practitioners alike.


Festivals

These are the holy days that Chinese Buddhists celebrate by visiting temples to make offerings of prayers, incense, fruits, flowers and donations. On such days they observe the moral precepts very strictly as well as a full day's vegetarian diet, a practice originally from China. The dates given are based on the Chinese calendar system so that 8.4 means the ''Eighth day of the fourth month in Chinese calendar'' and so on. *8.12 — Enlightenment Day of Sakyamuni, Śākyamuni Buddha *1.1 — Birthday of Maitreya Buddha *9.1 — Birthday of Śakra (Buddhism), Śakra, Lord of the deva (Buddhism), Devas *8.2 — Renunciation Day of Śākyamuni Buddha *15.2 — Parinirvana, Mahāparinirvāṇa Day of Śākyamuni Buddha *19.2 — Birthday of Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara (Guan Yin) *21.2 — Birthday of Bodhisattva Samantabhadra Bodhisattva, Samantabhadra *4.4 — Birthday of Bodhisattva Manjusri, Mañjuśrī *8.4 — Birthday of Śākyamuni Buddha *15.4 — Vesak, Vesak Day *13.5 — Birthday of Bodhisattva Sangharama (Qie Lan) *3.6 — Birthday of Skanda (Buddhism), Skanda (Wei Tuo) *19.6 — Enlightenment Day of Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara *13.7 — Birthday of Bodhisattva Mahasthamaprapta, Mahāsthāmaprāpta *15.7 — Ullambana Festival Ghost Festival *24.7 — Birthday of Bodhisattva Nagarjuna *30.7 — Birthday of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha, Kṣitigarbha *22.8 — Birthday of Dipankara, Dīpaṃkara Buddha (an ancient buddha) *19.9 — Renunciation Day of Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara *30.9 — Birthday of Bhaisajyaguru, Bhaiṣajyaguru Buddha (Medicine Buddha) *5.10 — Anniversary of the death of
Bodhidharma Bodhidharma was a semi-legendary Buddhist monk A monk (, from el, μοναχός, ''monachos'', "single, solitary" via Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-Europe ...
*17.11 — Birthday of
Amitābha Amitābha (), also known as Amida or Amitāyus, is a celestial buddha according to the scriptures of Mahayana Buddhism. Amitābha is the principal buddha in Pure Land Buddhism Pure Land Buddhism (; ja, 浄土仏教, translit=Jōdo bukkyō; ...
Buddha


See also

* Avalokitesvara (Guanyin) * Budai (Maitreya) * Buddhism in East Asia * Buddhism in Southeast Asia * Buddhism in Hong Kong * Buddhism in Taiwan * Buddhist Association of China * Buddhism and Eastern religions *
Chan Buddhism Chan (; of ), from Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-Europe ...
*
Chinese Buddhist canon The Chinese Buddhist canon refers to the total body of Buddhist literature deemed canonical in Chinese, Japanese, Korean Korean may refer to: People and culture * Koreans, an ethnic group originating in the Korean Peninsula * Korean cuisin ...
* Chinese Buddhist cuisine * Chinese Esoteric Buddhism * Chinese folk religion * Dharma Drum Mountain * Fo Guang Shan * Huayan school * Kṣitigarbha (Di Zang) * List of Buddhist architecture in China * List of converts to Buddhism * Manjusri (Wen Shu) * Nianfo * Samantabhadra (Bodhisattva), Samantabhadra (Pu Xian) * Silk Road transmission of Buddhism *
Tiantai Tiantai or T'ien-t'ai () is an East Asian Buddhism, East Asian Buddhist school of Mahayana Buddhism, Mahayana that developed in Sui dynasty, sixth century China. The school emphasizes the ''Lotus Sutra's'' doctrine of the "One Vehicle" (''Ekay ...
* Three Disasters of Wu * Persecution of Buddhists#China, Persecution of Buddhists in the People's Republic of China * Timeline of Buddhism


Notes


References


Citations


Sources

* * Chen, Kenneth Kuan Sheng. ''Buddhism in China: A Historical Survey''. Princeton, N.J., Princeton University Press, 1964. * * Han Yu. ''Sources of Chinese Tradition''. c. 800. * * * Hill, John E. (2009) ''Through the Jade Gate to Rome: A Study of the Silk Routes during the Later Han Dynasty, 1st to 2nd Centuries CE''. John E. Hill. BookSurge, Charleston, South Carolina. . * * * * * Liebenthal, Walter. ''Chao Lun - The Treatises of Seng-Chao'' Hong Kong, China, Hong Kong University Press, 1968. * Liebenthal, Walter. ''Was ist chinesischer Buddhismus'' Asiatische Studien: Zeitschrift der Schweizerischen Asiengesellschaft, 1952 http://data.datacite.org/10.5169/seals-145467 * * * Mullin, Glenn H. ''The Fourteen Dalai Lamas: A Sacred Legacy of Reincarnations'' (2001) Clear Light Publishers. . * Saunders, Kenneth J. (1923). "Buddhism in China: A Historical Sketch", ''The Journal of Religion'', Vol. 3.2, pp. 157–169; Vol. 3.3, pp. 256–275. * Welch, Holmes. ''The Practice of Chinese Buddhism''. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1967. * Welch, Holmes. ''The Buddhist Revival in China''. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1968. * Welch, Holmes. ''Buddhism under Mao''. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1972. * * * *


Further reading


History

* * * * Shinko Mochizuki, Leo M. Pruden, Trans. (1999). Pure Land Buddhism in China: A Doctrinal History, Chapter 1: A General Survey. In: Pacific World Journal, Third Series, Number 1, 91–103. Archived from th
original
* Shinko Mochizuki, Leo M. Pruden, Trans. (2001). Pure Land Buddhism in China: A Doctrinal History, Chapter 2: The Earliest Period; Chapter 3: Hui-yuan of Mt.Lu; and Chapter 4: The Translation of Texts-Spurious Scriptures. In: Pacific World Journal, Third Series, Number 3, 241–275. Archived from th
original
* Shinko Mochizuki, Leo M. Pruden, Trans. (2002). Pure Land Buddhism in China: A Doctrinal History, Chapter Five: The Early Pure Land Faith: Southern China, and Chapter Six: The Early Pure Land Faith: Northern China. In: Pacific World Journal, Third Series, Number 4, 259–279. Archived from th
original
* Shinko Mochizuki, Leo M. Pruden, Trans. (2000). Pure Land Buddhism in China: A Doctrinal History, Chapter 7: T'an-luan. In: Pacific World Journal, Third Series, Number 2, 149–165. Archived from th
original


First Buddhist revival

* * *


Contemporary Chinese Buddhism

* * * * * ** List first published in:


External links


China Buddhist AssociationBuddhist Studies netWisdom embodied: Chinese Buddhist and Daoist sculpture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art
a collection catalog from The Metropolitan Museum of Art Libraries (fully available online as PDF)

{{Chinese Buddhist Pantheon Buddhism in China, Buddhism by country, China History of Buddhism in Asia