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Buddhism' s Success in China - Essay Example

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The numerous belief systems in China followed a generalized pattern, in that they advocated the balance of all things, such as good opposing evil and right against wrong. In addition, these systems usually proposed determinative sets of principles, based on reward or penalty: if one did something wrong, something wrong would happen, whereas abstaining from wrongdoing, one would be rewarded…
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Buddhism s Success in China
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Download file to see previous pages To support this answer, this paper will compare and contrast Buddhism to Confucianism/Legalism and Daoism.
Buddhism was originated in northern India, near the Himalayan Mountains, by Prince Gautama, during the sixth century B.C. Stearns summarized that the system advocated by the prince taught that enlightenment - and therefore contentment and peace in life - was achievable only through abstinence from things that promoted misery, such as sensations, perceptions, thinking, reasoning and desire for things which men find agreeable - anything that appealed to the delight of men (75-77). Because of this abstinence and its reflection on Buddhist priests and adherents, Buddhism at its early stages could be seen as emblematic of the simplicity of the Four Truths, and how each and every individual, from the lowly workers to the exalted royals, could hold to its precepts.
According to Stearns, the 'Divine Sage' Confucius (Kong Fuzi) proposed a system of harmony and keeping to the Way as "a social and political ethos derived from idealized values of the past" (36). As a system it was rooted in morality and ethics, providing reason and regulations, down to the smallest measure of a 'gentleman's' conduct in a very systematic, measured and precise way. Comparing Confucianism to Buddhism puts two things into perspective: one, Confucianism focused on conduct and propriety, a worldlier set of functions, whereas Buddhism focused on abstaining from worldly matters in general. Two, Confucianism was seen as something of an appointment, an elevation to and reward of power above the rest, and therefore not suited to the common people. This level of classism was not apparent in Buddhism.
Legalism
The primary advocate of Legalism was Han Feizi, who advanced Confucianism into a more pragmatic viewpoint. As Stearns stated, "this harsh but effective solution for resolving the chaotic conditions that plagued the Zhou dynasty included the introduction of new managerial techniques, improved bureaucracy, enhanced communication, land reforms and standardization of weights, measures and coinage" (43). Legalism was a law-driven approach to government, and as such dealt mostly with an ancient notion of cause and effect and consequently dealing effectively with the criteria that drove and defined such polarities. Again, in the contrast of Legalism with Buddhism, we draw the conclusion that Legalism was a more restrictive approach to government, focusing on controlling and compelling the masses rather than catering to the individual's needs. Legalism can be equated to a top-down method, whereas Buddhism could be seen as a bottom-up method; individual contentment begets collective contentment, as opposed to informed manipulation by a few to drive the collective towards restrictive unity. Legalism was more a political system rather than a religious one.
Daoism
Like Confucianism, Daoism proposed adherence to a 'Way', holding a similarity to Confucianism in this. Proposed by ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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