The Effect the Spread of Buddhism Had on China
Prior to the European civilization penetration in China in the XIX century, Buddhism have remained the most significant phenomenon of foreign origin, which influenced the country for the entire historical period of its existence. The effect made by Buddhism on the Chinese way of thinking, art and everyday customs may be compared with the impact Christianity had on the Western nations.
Buddhism has existed in China for nearly two millennia. During this time it has changed a lot in the process of adaptation to the Chinese civilization (O’Brien, 2015). However, it had a tremendous impact on the traditional Chinese culture that is most clearly manifested in art, literature and architecture. Many things are related with Buddhism in China, including even those realities that seem to be specifically Chinese. For instance, one may consider the legend about the origin of tea and tea-drinking. Indeed, the art of tea-drinking appeared in Buddhist monasteries where tea was used as pepper-upper, and then tea-drinking became a national custom of the Chinese.
In architecture it is the construction of numerous temples and pagodas, majestic cave and rock complexes; in sculpture – frescoes, bas-reliefs as well as round sculpture, sculpture of a lion which was not known before Buddhism in China. In literature there appears prose. Zen Buddhism with its concept of the Void had great impact on the development of painting (Guang, 2013). Buddhist monasteries have long been a major center of the Chinese culture. It is Buddhist monks who invented the art of woodcut or, in other words, copying text using matrices (boards with hieroglyphs).
There are different reasons that contributed to the Buddhism popularization in China and one of the most important is liberal attitude of mind in both beliefs, namely Confucianism and Buddhism.
Guang, X. (2013). Buddhist Impact on Chinese Culture. Asian Philosophy, 23(4). Retrieved 12 September 2015, from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09552367.2013.831606.
O’Brien, B. (2015). Buddhism in China: A History of the First Thousand Years. About.com. Religion & Spirituality. Retrieved 12 September 2015, from http://buddhism.about.com/od/throughasiaandbeyond/a/chinahistory.htm.