Buddhism Growing in China!

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Buddhism Growing in China!

Postby sraddha » Wed Jul 08, 2009 1:11 am

http://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index.php?id=46,8342,0,0,1,0

WUTAISHAN, China -- Temples thrive, monks travel far and wide in search of enlightenment, the faithful fill the halls of worship -- after decades of atheist policies, Buddhism is making a huge comeback in China.

<< A buddhist nun performs her morning chore of sweeping the floor at Wutaishan, literally "Five Plateau Mountain"

Nowhere is this revival more apparent than at Wutaishan, the most important of China's four holy mountains and home to a sprawling complex of temples, 300 kilometres (180 miles) southwest of Beijing.

"I have come to study at Wutaishan because Zen Buddhism, Han Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, all the different schools from different places, are represented here and mixed together," itinerant monk Master Shi told AFP.

"This is the Buddhist holy land. Buddhist monks and nuns from all over China want to come here to study."


Shi, sporting a shaved head and wearing a grey robe, has visited temples throughout China in search of Buddhist knowledge, repeating a pilgrimage undertaken by generations of monks before him.

Besides studying Tibetan Buddhism in Lhasa, he has visited the Hongfa Temple in Guangdong, south China, and been to the White Horse Temple -- China's oldest Buddhist place of worship -- in Henan province in the center of the country.

Interest in Buddhism has grown dramatically since the 1966-1976 Cultural Revolution, a period when religion was largely banned, the clergy persecuted and many temples and monasteries destroyed.

In stark contrast to this era, during the opening and reform era of the last 30 years, the state has largely allowed religion to develop, albeit within strict parameters.

For decades, the communist-run State Administration for Religious Affairs has said there were only about 100 million religious believers in China, but state press reports have recently said that number has grown to 300 million.

In late June, Wutaishan was named a World Heritage Site by the United Nation's cultural arm UNESCO, a move expected to bring more visitors to this holy shrine that houses some of China's oldest Buddhist manuscripts.

Currently 53 temples house monks and nuns, while the ruins of more than 150 temples are scattered around hillside terraces or isolated on remote mountain tops.

The earliest temples date back to the first century when Buddhism first arrived to China from India.

"Twenty years ago, as we started recovering from the Cultural Revolution, the total number of monks here was just a few hundred," said Yi Bo, spokesman for the Wutaishan Buddhist Association.

"Since then Buddhism has not stopped developing. More and more monks have come. The numbers hit 1,000, then 2,000, then 3,000. Three years ago we hit 5,000."

At that time the government stepped in and began restricting the number of monks who could study here, he said.

Meanwhile, 2.8 million visitors came to Wutaishan in 2008, bringing in 1.4 billion yuan (206 million dollars) in tourist revenues, according to government figures. This year more than 3.1 million visitors are expected.

"The government supports us mainly with policy, but funding for our growth mainly comes from donations from the Buddhist faithful," said Miao Yi, a nun at the Buddhist Institute at the Pushou Temple, China's largest convent.

More than 600 nuns are studying in the Buddhist Institute which has received generous funding from Buddhists in Hong Kong and Taiwan, she said.

Still the government remains wary over religion and monks here refused to discuss Tibetan Buddhism or its spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who once asked communist leaders if he could make a pilgrimage to Wutaishan's 10 Lama temples.

"We must work to support patriotism and national unity. We must embrace the leaders of the Communist Party and the socialist system," Gen Tong, a senior Buddhist leader said on the occasion of 50th anniversary of the Wutaishan Buddhist Association in late 2007.

"In the past, (the rulers) of different dynasties were all impressive emperors and were all devout Buddhists," said association spokesman Yi Bo.

If Chinese communist leaders were allowed to publicly adhere to Buddhism, he said, "for sure it would bring a huge benefit to us," he said.


Wonderful news here! One more fantastic thing I noticed was the mention of "BUDDHIST NUNS!!" -- yes, the 4 legs of Buddhist practitioners (Bhikkus, Bhikkunis, Upasaka and Upasika) are still to be found in the Mahayana school only!! The only Buddhist country Buddhist nuns can administer the dharma!!! :woohoo: :applause:
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Re: Buddhism Growing in China!

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu Jul 09, 2009 4:46 pm

Thanks for posting that! Demographics is my hobby, especially counting Buddhists. :stirthepot:

I have a list of the number of Buddhists by country and region and over several years, some of the ideas actually got incorporated and accepted by Wikipedia:

http://thedhamma.com/buddhists_in_the_world.htm
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Re: Buddhism Growing in China!

Postby Ngawang Drolma » Thu Jul 09, 2009 5:13 pm

TheDhamma, I've read a couple of your websites and I think they're awesome.
Thanks for making them. They're very good resources.

:namaste:
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Re: Buddhism Growing in China!

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu Jul 09, 2009 7:15 pm

Ngawang Drolma wrote:TheDhamma, I've read a couple of your websites and I think they're awesome.
Thanks for making them. They're very good resources.


:thanks:

Thank you!! Image
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Re: Buddhism Growing in China!

Postby sraddha » Fri Jul 10, 2009 12:49 am

Hi Dhamma,


If you liked that article for your demographics studies, you will like this one also! :smile:


Armies of the Enlightened
Throughout Asia, Buddhism is growing fast, playing an increasingly political—and, in some spots, militant—role.

http://www.newsweek.com/id/117810/page/1

In recent years, massive groups of fervent believers have taken to the streets of Asia with angry political demands. They've railed against government corruption, condemned the onslaught of Western values and decried the erosion of traditional morals. Having built an extensive network of grass-roots aid groups, their numbers are exploding. Some have even picked up arms to defend their beliefs. Sound familiar? It should—only the faithful in question aren't Islamic fundamentalists or conservative Christians. They're Buddhists: members of what used to be Asia's quietest religion, one usually associated with pacifism and contemplation.

No more. In this era of religious fervor, an Asia-wide resurgence of Buddhism is spawning activists and increasingly assertive political movements, some of which even act like fundamentalists of other faiths. True, many Buddhist groups, like Taiwan's massive Tzu Chi movement, still practice nonviolence and antimaterialism; indeed, this meditative side is helping Buddhism make inroads among alienated urban professionals in India, China and elsewhere.


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Re: Buddhism Growing in China!

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Jul 10, 2009 1:44 am

Thanks! That's a great article too. 35 million in India, wow, that has increased!
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Re: Buddhism Growing in China!

Postby sraddha » Fri Jul 10, 2009 10:58 pm

Hi Dhamma,

Actually, in India most people talk about the Dalit Buddhist movement, and the 2001 census has the estimate upto 170million-- and I'm sure the highest numbers of converts are among them --however, there is also a resurgence of Buddhism in India's urban elite.


http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1822787,00.html

Of course, that makes it difficult to know exactly how widespread Buddhist practice has become. About 1.7% of India's population, or 170 million people, were counted as Buddhist in the 2001 census, but the vast majority are the descendants of Dalits, who converted to Buddhism en masse in the 1950s as a reaction against their low status in the Hindu caste hierarchy. It was an inspiring political revolution, led by the great Dalit activist B.R. Ambedkar, but its success gave contemporary Buddhism in India the stigma of a lower-caste movement.

That's changed with this recent move toward the faith among the élite. Sarao estimates that urban, affluent followers of Buddhism in India may number about 1 million.

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Re: Buddhism Growing in China!

Postby Ngawang Drolma » Sat Jul 11, 2009 8:33 am

sraddha wrote:Wonderful news here! One more fantastic thing I noticed was the mention of "BUDDHIST NUNS!!" -- yes, the 4 legs of Buddhist practitioners (Bhikkus, Bhikkunis, Upasaka and Upasika) are still to be found in the Mahayana school only!! The only Buddhist country Buddhist nuns can administer the dharma!!! :woohoo: :applause:


I agree, wonderful news! :namaste:
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Re: Buddhism Growing in China!

Postby sraddha » Sun Jul 12, 2009 9:08 pm

I'm not sure that "Time" magazine has another typo, but 1.7% of 1 billion is not 170 million, it's 17 million --however, that census is from 2001!

I'm not sure how accurate the census numbers are in India!


:smile:
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Re: Buddhism Growing in China!

Postby sraddha » Sun Jul 12, 2009 9:10 pm

Ngawang Drolma wrote:
sraddha wrote:Wonderful news here! One more fantastic thing I noticed was the mention of "BUDDHIST NUNS!!" -- yes, the 4 legs of Buddhist practitioners (Bhikkus, Bhikkunis, Upasaka and Upasika) are still to be found in the Mahayana school only!! The only Buddhist country Buddhist nuns can administer the dharma!!! :woohoo: :applause:


I agree, wonderful news! :namaste:


Let's hope all the nun traditions in all schools are re-seeded!
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Re: Buddhism Growing in China!

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Jul 15, 2009 3:30 pm

sraddha wrote:I'm not sure that "Time" magazine has another typo, but 1.7% of 1 billion is not 170 million, it's 17 million --however, that census is from 2001!

I'm not sure how accurate the census numbers are in India!


1.7% would be 17 million as you say, it was a typo in that report. But the other report shows that Buddhism has rapidly increased since the dating of this report. In 2008 the report is that there are 35 million Buddhists in India.

Buddhism is coming home. :woohoo:
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Re: Buddhism Growing in China!

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Jul 15, 2009 3:33 pm

sraddha wrote:Let's hope all the nun traditions in all schools are re-seeded!


Yes. The Mahayana nuns played an instrumental role in re-establishing the Theravada bhikkhuni line. To please the hard-liners in Theravada, a quorum of monks and nuns were used to ordain nuns in Theravada. For the first ceremonies, there were no more Theravada nuns, so we had to 'borrow' some of the Mahayana nuns to act as preceptors. Theravada owes great appreciation to the Mahayana for helping out in this regard.

:group:
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Re: Buddhism Growing in China!

Postby sraddha » Wed Jul 15, 2009 11:04 pm

TheDhamma wrote:1.7% would be 17 million as you say, it was a typo in that report. But the other report shows that Buddhism has rapidly increased since the dating of this report. In 2008 the report is that there are 35 million Buddhists in India.

Buddhism is coming home. :woohoo:


Definately good news in terms of growth -- and the growth is happening from both ends, the poorest of the poor(dalits) as well as the middle class and wealthy!

So Buddhism in India is now, in terms of population, on par with Sikhism and Jains.

There's a movie coming out about Buddha from some bollywood director, maybe that'll help even more -- depending on the movie of course! :D
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Re: Buddhism Growing in China!

Postby sraddha » Wed Jul 15, 2009 11:07 pm

TheDhamma wrote:
sraddha wrote:Let's hope all the nun traditions in all schools are re-seeded!


Yes. The Mahayana nuns played an instrumental role in re-establishing the Theravada bhikkhuni line. To please the hard-liners in Theravada, a quorum of monks and nuns were used to ordain nuns in Theravada. For the first ceremonies, there were no more Theravada nuns, so we had to 'borrow' some of the Mahayana nuns to act as preceptors. Theravada owes great appreciation to the Mahayana for helping out in this regard.

:group:


Hi Dhamma,

So is the Theravada bhikkuni tradition re-seeded? I thought the orthodox countries (Thailand and Sri Lanka) were still objecting and not allowing the full ordination of the nuns, and rejected the ordination of nuns who were ordained in the Mahayana tradition?

Would love to get an update on that! :anjali:
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Re: Buddhism Growing in China!

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu Jul 16, 2009 3:25 pm

Hi sraddha,

There was a small ceremony in Sarnath, India in 1996. Since about year 2002, there have been several ceremonies and now I would estimate that there are at least 300 fully ordained bhikkhunis (nuns) in Theravada.

Here is some of the history:

http://dhammawiki.com/index.php?title=B ... ordination

The hard-liners still reject these ordinations, but in Thailand there are a few fully ordained nuns, such as Ven. Dhammananda, Ph.D.: http://dhammawiki.com/index.php?title=D ... _Bhikkhuni

The hard-liners who reject the ordinations (mostly monks, but some lay people too) are mostly from Thailand, Burma, Laos, and Cambodia.

In Sri Lanka, the UK, the U.S., Australia, and Europe, the women have full equal rights and can ordain as full nuns, not just the 8 precept type (wearing white).

The Buddha wanted and had a fully ordained Sangha of women, so I fully support the nuns and their efforts and all those who support them.
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Re: Buddhism Growing in China!

Postby sraddha » Thu Jul 16, 2009 10:32 pm

Hi Dhamma!

That's great news! I thought these nuns were struggling even now, but good to know that some are accepted and Thailand has a temple where the nun is the abbot! :woohoo:

It takes just 1, as more women become aware of the opportunity, the bhikkuni sangha will definately grow!

In the Tibetan tradition, the reseeded nun tradition is growing by leaps and bounds:

http://www.indiaenews.com/religion/20090420/192568.htm
A growing number of women are taking to Buddhism in India like in the West where two-thirds of the practitioners of the faith are women, Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, the first Tibetan Buddhist woman master, said.


Let's hope it catches on in Theravada countries as well! :smile:
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Beijing Finds Common Cause With Chinese Buddhists

Postby Mr. G » Sat Aug 07, 2010 1:51 pm

Four years ago, eight senior monks, clad in scarlet-and-saffron-robes, filed in front of a golden Buddha and began chanting on stage in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou. It marked an important turning point in China's attitude toward religion.

This was the first World Buddhist Forum, attended by more than 1,000 monks, and held in China. Never before had the officially atheist country sponsored such a large religious conference.

The moment signaled Beijing's new proactive approach to religion and, in particular, its support for Buddhism, possibly as a counterweight to the explosion of Christianity in China.

Tensions still remain in Beijing's relationship to Tibetan Buddhism, particularly given believers' loyalty to their exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. He is viewed by the Chinese government as a "splittist," with the aim of dividing China.

But Chinese Buddhism is not seen to be politically problematic in this way.

Some academics estimate there are 20 million Buddhists in China, and Buddhism has been at the forefront of the changing role of religious institutions, particularly when it comes to charity.


Read More Here, with NPR audio:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/stor ... =128691021
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