Religions of Ancient China

Religions of Ancient China

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Religions of Ancient China

Religions of Ancient China

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Excerpt

So early as the third century B.C., Buddhism seems to have appeared in China, though it was not until the latter part of the first century A.D. that a regular propaganda was established, and not until a century or two later still that this religion began to take a firm hold of the Chinese people. It was bitterly opposed by the Taoists, and only after the lapse of many centuries were the two doctrines able to exist side by side in peace. Each religion began early to borrow from the other. In the words of the philosopher Chu Hsi, of the twelfth century, "Buddhism stole the best features of Taoism; Taoism stole the worst features of Buddhism. It is as though one took a jewel from the other, and the loser recouped the loss with a stone."

From Buddhism the Taoists borrowed their whole scheme of temples, priests, nuns, and ritual. They drew up liturgies to resemble the Buddhist Sûtras , and also prayers for the dead. They adopted the idea of a Trinity, consisting of Lao Tzč, P'an Ku (see p. 7), and the Ruler of the Universe; and they further appropriated the Buddhist Purgatory with all its frightful terrors and tortures after death.

Nowadays it takes an expert to distinguish between the temples and priests of the two re-

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