Buddhism is currently practiced throughout multiple countriesand cultures. ‘Mahayana Buddhism’ played a substantial role within China and Chinese culture in a wide variety of areasincluding art, politics, philosophy, medicine, and materialculture. (1)Thefounder of Buddhism was Buddha Shakyamuni, they lived and taught within Indiaover two and a half thousand years ago. Buddhism is said to be a religion that focuseson ‘personal spiritual development’, they strive for a deeper insight into thetrue meaning and nature of life and unlike other religions they do not worship anygods or deities.
Buddhism is ranked the fourth-largest practiced religion inthe world, with approximately 520 million followers (7% of the population) (7),known as Buddhists. The word ‘Buddha’ derives from the language Sanskrit and itmeans ‘The Enlightened one’, someone who has awakened from the sleep ofignorance and can see things that others are still blind to. A Buddha is saidto be a “person who is completely free from all faults and mental obstructions”During Buddhism’s two thousand five hundredassent, multiple thriving types of Buddhism have emerged, with each a differentyet unique take on the teachings of Buddha. Mahayana Buddhism is one of the twomajor practises of Buddhism.
The Mahayana Buddhism tradition emergedaround the 1st century AD as a more accessibleinterpretation of Buddhism, Mahayana derivesfrom the language Sanskrit and means “GreatVehicle”, still to this day the origins of Mahayana are yet to becompletely understood. Mahayana Buddhism is the primary form of Buddhism inNorth and for this reason it is sometimes referred to as Northern Buddhism.AnEstimation of five hundred years after the passing of BuddhaShakyamuni,His teachings were passed through generations of the monastic community by wordof mouth, and in the late first century AD they were written down for the firsttime in a collection known as the ‘Pali Canon’.
TheMahayana Buddhism is the largest major tradition type of Buddhism existingwithin todays Buddhism followers, approximately 53.2% practice MahayanaBuddhism, whereas only 35.8% for Theravada Buddhism and 5.7% for VajrayanaBuddhism. (2)Chinais one of the most ancient civilizations on earth, A report taken in 2015,showed that 90% of Chinese citizens identify themselves as atheists.
(8) In thebeginning of the twentieth-century, a group of officials and ‘intellectuals’attacked religions calling them “superstitious,” and since 1949,China has been governed by the Communist Party, an atheist group thatprohibited its party members from practicing religion. The Chinese CommunistParty stance on religion is based on Marxist-Leninist-Maoist atheism. Theirshared belief that religion would eventually die out when and if socialconditions could sufficiently develop. The government then placed religiousmovements and institutions under government control during the CulturalRevolution between 1966 and 1976. WangZuoan; the director of the state administration for religious affairs, hestated that “religion undermined communism”.The Chinesegovernment has added a ban for retired Communist Party members from having orpracticing in a religion or religious activities, current serving CommunistParty members are not likely to be religious as it would undermine the entirecampaign.
China officially is an atheist country, but it guarantees religiousfreedom for its citizens. Chinesemedia quoted an official stating what the new regulations would be: “Thereare clear rules that retired cadres and party members cannot believe inreligion, cannot take part in religious activities, and must resolutely fightagainst cults.” (11)TheGreat Proletarian Cultural Revolution, was a socio-political movement that occurredin China during the 1966 up until 1976. This movement was started by emperor Maoand the Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party. Their end game was to preservewhat they perceived to be the ‘true’ Communist ideology within the country, bypurging remnants of capitalism from china, and to re-enforce Maoist.
In the late1960s, Mao thought that the party leader in his time was more directed towards revisionistideas, who relied solely on expertise rather than on ideology of purity. After Mao’sfailure of his “Great Leap Forward” that caused an economic crisis, he gathereda group of radicals, which including his wife Jiang Qing and defence minister,to help him attack current party leadership so to reassert his authority. Toencourage the ‘personality cult’ , Defence Minister distributed millions ofMao’s quotations known as the “LittleRed Book” throughout China.Today,Chinese religion is a complex mix of Chinese folk religion, Taoism, Buddhism,Confucianism and Communist anti-religious sentiment. Religious practices inancient China go back over 7,000 years, Divination practices evolved over theShang Dynasty (1600 BC – 1046 BC), it’s the first documented historical Chinesedynasty. Religion then continue to grow and flourish throughout china.
Buddhismwas brought to China via Buddhist monks originally from India along the SilkRoad circa 150AD during the latter part of the Han dynasty. Once introducedtook more than a century to become fully integrated into Chinese culture andreligion.