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The Non-Chinese rulers of the Tuoba-Wei Dynasty quickly adopted the Non-Chinese religion as their vehicle of state religion, an instrument of imperial power and broad way to Heaven: "Foreign rulers with a foreign religion". Monks served as political advisors, and not all of them were philosophs, but especially the early monks like Fotudeng 佛圖澄 were simple magicians. To solve the problem that monks should not serve any human, the monk advisor Faguo 法果 created the doctrine that the Tuoba ruler was a personification of the Tathāgata Buddha. Other monks engaged in translating the Sanskrit scriptures into Chinese, like Kumārajīva 鳩摩羅什 and his disciple Sengzhao 僧肇. The first had a crucial role in establishing the teaching of mādhyamika "Doctrines of the Middle" (zhonglun 中論 or zhongguan 中觀) with its Three Books (Sanlun 三論) that teach that all things of the phenomenal world are constituted by relations and conditions of each single element, and only the comprehension of these relations can lead to sage wisdom (zhihui 智慧, prajñâ). While the first translators of sutras had been foreigners, during the 4th century, more and more Chinese monks translated the Buddhist books, like Daoan 道安 who promoted the Maitreya cult (Milefo 彌勒佛), Huiyuan 慧遠, the great promotor of the Amitabha cult (Amituofo 阿彌陀佛) and of meditation practice, and his disciple Daosheng 道生. In 399, the monk Faxian 法顯 left China to bring back the original vinaya writings ("Rules of Discipline"; chin. jielü 戒律), among them the Lotus Sutra (Miaofa lianhua jing) 妙法蓮花經, the Vimalakīrti-nirdeśa-sūtra (Weimojing) 維摩經, and the Mahāparinirvāna-sūtra (Da banniepan jing) 大般涅盤經. By the end of Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420), the most important Great Vehicle writings were translated into Chinese. The forged "Sutra on Trapusha and Bhallika" (Tiwei Boli jing 提謂波利經) encouraged a new, gradual classification of the Buddhist teachings, including the short teachings (āgama 聖教), teachings of Higher Subtleness (abhidharma, wubifa 無比法) and the Completion of the Truth (satyasiddhi 法成). Popular works of the Northern Wei time were the Daśabhūmika-sūtra (Shidijing 十地經) "Sutra of the Ten Stages", the Avata.msaka-sūtra (Huayanjing 華嚴經) "Garland Sutra", both encouraged by the translator and commentator Bodhiruci (chin. Daoxi 道希), and the idealistic text Mahāyāna sam.parigraha-śāstra (She Dasheng lun 攝大乘論) "Absorbing the Great Vehicle", the foundation text of the Pure Land sect. The sixth century in north China saw also the begin of the two great sects of Pure Land (Jingtu 淨土) and Chan 禪 (in the West better known with the Japanese pronunciation Zen). Buddhism was not seen as benefit for the state under every ruler. Persecutions of monks took place under emperor Taiwudi whose advisors were more inclined to Confucianism as state doctrine. Some rulers wanted to show themselves as worthy rulers of China by expelling the foreign religion. Other persecutions took place between 574 and 577 under the guidance of Wei Yuansong 衛元嵩.
The Daoists did not rely on a quiet and unpolitical life in northern China. After a debate in 520, Buddhist and Daoist scholars forged Classics and Sutras, both to prove that the founder of their religion was anterior to the other. While the Daoists saw Buddha as a reincarnation of Laozi after he had disappeared in the west (e.g. the Daoist classic Laozi kaitian jing 老子開天經 "Classic of Laozi opening Heaven" or Laozi huahu jing 老子化胡經 "Laozi converted the Barbarians"), Buddhists saw Laozi only as a disciple of Buddha side by side with his foremost disciple Mahākāśyapa (Mohejiaye 摩訶迦葉; with the sutra Qingjing faxing jing 清淨法行經 "Sutra to propagate the Clear and Pure Law" as the true interpretation of the Daoist classic Qingjingjing 清淨經).


October 30, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail

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