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The Impact of Buddhism on Chinese Culture in an Historical Perspective [23]

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Chapter Summary

This chapter discusses the impact of Buddhism on Chinese culture. In general, the spread of Buddhism beyond the confines of its homeland and into other, non-Indianized regions of Asia, gave rise to two different types of diffusion: type A (Buddhism accepted as an integral part of a large complex of cultural borrowing: Indianization or Sinicization), and type B (Buddhism being introduced as such, into a complex and highly developed civilization). The relation between state and saṅgha is a basic theme in the history of Chinese Buddhism. In medieval times, whatever was left of Confucianism was confined to the upper layer of society. Both popular religion and religious Daoism at grass-roots level were localized, fragmented, and organizationally weak. The great tradition of Chinese Buddhism faded away into Confucianism in a way that reminds one of the absorption of Indian Buddhism in its last stage by Hinduism.

Keywords: Asia; Chinese Buddhism; Chinese culture; Confucianism; Daoism; Indian Buddhism; saṅgha



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