Buddhism is one of the major religions in the world, and it is now practiced in various countries including China and Japan. This religion spread in China during the first centuries B.C.E. and became widely practiced in the sixth century (Heine xii). It entered China through trade relations with people from India (now contemporary Afghanistan). Buddhism became rather popular among the Chinese as it was similar to Taoism that was the dominant religion at that period. Buddhism led to the development of arts and religious teaching as many Buddhist texts were translated from Indian to the Chinese language.
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The response of the rulers of China was not consistent as some rulers (such as the Tang dynasty) favored the religion, but others tried to stop the spread of the religion (Heine 34). It is noteworthy that Confucian scholars mainly had a negative attitude towards Buddhism because it was associated with self-centeredness and meditation with little focus on the community (Heine 36). This approach could hardly be accepted in the Confucian society where duty and hard work were some of the highest priorities.
Buddhism was transmitted to Japan in the twelfth century when Chinese rulers and monks propagated the benefits of this religion to Japanese rulers (Heine 44). Unlike the situation in China, Buddhism was favorably accepted by the Japanese people due to its focus on harmony, which was central to the cultural paradigm of this country. Heine also noted that Japanese rulers used this religious practice to establish their power that was based on military force (44). Confucianism was not widely spread in Japan, and Japanese people concentrated on harmony rather than duty. They strived to harmonize personal and social aspects of people’s lives, so Buddhism became popular in that country.
Heine, Steven. From Chinese Chan to Japanese Zen: A Remarkable Century of Transmission and Transformation. Oxford University Press, 2018.