Author Topic: China's Stressed-Out 'millenials' Embrace Buddhism  (Read 4493 times)


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China's Stressed-Out 'millenials' Embrace Buddhism
« on: March 31, 2015, 09:18:20 AM »
More young educated Chinese are renouncing to become Buddhist sangha members despite been taught that religion is superstition.  They are rediscovering their dormant Buddhist traditions after the cultural revolution.  Tibetan Buddhism has a wider appeal and popularity as compared to other Buddhist traditions.  It is interesting to note that the Chinese Government favour Buddhism to other religion.  For whatever reasons that are known to the Chinese, Christainity is seen to be suppressed and discouraged in China.   

Beijing (CNN)Five years ago, Beijinger Robert Zhao went on a trip to Tibet. What he encountered left him confused but intrigued.

A science graduate from China's elite Tsinghua University, he had been taught to mistrust superstition and religion, but in the culture and devotion of the Buddhists he met he found something worth knowing.

Now 25, he is considering giving up his job and becoming a monk.

"It means I will have to give up everything of the ordinary world," he told CNN.

While Buddhism has a long history in China, entering via missionaries from India during the Han dynasty, it was repressed during the Maoist era -- many monasteries and temples were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution and monks actively punished for believing in "superstition."

But now, a growing number of Chinese are rediscovering the country's dormant Buddhist traditions.

Some, like Zhao, are looking for a spiritual anchor in a competitive, fast-changing society. Others take comfort in meditation and enjoy volunteering.

However, it's not always easy to combine Buddhist beliefs with the demands of modern life.

Zhao works as an assistant to the boss of an environmental company. His religion means it's difficult to entertain clients and partners -- a key part of the role.

"Not drinking, smoking or eating meat affects my socializing. So the company has to send someone else to go with me, which creates extra expenses," he says.

Zhao has not told his family about his desire to become a monk yet, fearing that they might oppose it.

Treated more favorably?
Fenggang Yang, the director of the Center on Religion and Chinese Society at Purdue University, Indiana, says it's difficult to explain exactly why so many young people are turning to Buddhism.

Some discover it at university, where Buddhist groups are active and famous monks and lamas give lectures. Others have devout parents and grandparents.

He also says that the Chinese Communist Party policy has "moved toward treating Buddhism more favorably than other religions."

Christianity has also been growing in popularity in recent decades but church leaders say there has been a crackdown on Christians, with authorities demolishing churches and removing crosses from skylines.

READ: Christians in China scramble to save churches

In particular, it's the Tibetan strain of Buddhism, rather than the Chan (also called Zen) tradition once popular in China, that is attracting new converts, particularly students, young professionals and businesspeople, he says.

"It appears that both the chanting and the physical, spiritual practices of Tibetan Buddhism are appealing to some people," Yang added.

Lifestyle choice?
To what extent these new converts are committed to Buddhism as a religion, with its strictures and rituals, is an open question.

A former leader of a university Buddhism group, who didn't want to give his name, told CNN he thought its members were more interested in the religion as a lifestyle choice.

Activities that his group organized focusing on relaxation and stress relief were always more popular than reading groups and lectures that examined Buddhist scriptures, he added.

Yang at Purdue University says that for most people in China, Buddhism is treated more as culture than a religion.

They may visit temples or read Buddhist books, but few people treat it as a religion that requires serious commitment.

"Indeed, people who identify as Buddhists do a lot of non-Buddhist spiritual things, such as believing in feng shui, consulting fortune-tellers, practicing qi gong and sampling books and practices of other religions," he says.

On a recent weekend, more than four hundred people attended the annual gathering of Beijing Ren Ai Foundation, a Buddhist charitable organization, at Longquan Monastery on the mountainous outskirts of the capital.

Zhong Ying, the group's 32-year-old deputy secretary general, said the group's most active volunteers were between 20 and 35 years old. In the past five years their numbers had doubled to 200.

For attendee Geng Hui'er, a 26-year-old who works and lives in Beijing, Buddhism was something she rediscovered after returning from studying abroad in England.

Growing up, her family had raised her Buddhist although she says she never really "felt it."

She now regularly attends meditation activities in monasteries or study groups organized by volunteers.

Geng says Buddhism has given her a fresh outlook on life and past difficulties. It's also helped her establish a network of people she can talk to and socialize with.

"We sit together, sharing things that have happened in our lives and how we dealt with them, which is more helpful than reading books", she says.

For Zhao, the aspiring monk, Buddhism has been a balm while dealing with poor health, as well as work and relationship problems.

"My life has been tough for years. (Buddhism) keeps me away from the negative thoughts, like a reminder that's always there, which has helped me a lot."

Journalist Dou Yiping contributed to this report.

Dondrup Shugden

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Re: China's Stressed-Out 'millenials' Embrace Buddhism
« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2015, 07:17:28 AM »
It had been a real surprise for me when I used to go and work in China that in actual fact the Chinese do have Buddhism as a backdrop to their spiritual beliefs.  However in many instances there is a mixture of taoism which borders on ''superstition''.  This may be the very reason why the young Chinese finds Tibetan Buddhism more appealing.

The other reason why Tibetan Buddhism is more appealing is because the Tibetan Buddhism doctrine is based on education on logical deduction and debates and during the Mao era, basic education was encourage in the country.

In history, the Chinese nation had been Buddhist and many heritage places of fantastic monasteries and buddha statutes have been discovered in the more remote parts of China.

China is becoming a World Leader and she needs to be more than just an economical giant. A leading nation will be more respected with some traditional culture and embracing Buddhist is a good way to go.

Meditation is something Chinese like to do and Tibetan Buddhism has good methods towards this form of mind calming.

I rejoice that China is also taking efforts to restore the old temples and embrace Buddhism.  It is so wonderful if we have 1.3 billion more Buddhist in the world.

Why are Christians being suppressed in China?  I guess the originating school of doctrine is not original Chinese but from the Western World.


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Re: China's Stressed-Out 'millenials' Embrace Buddhism
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2015, 10:40:30 PM »
Buddha's teachings have always been focusing on healing the mind. When there is a need people will seek methods to solve their sufferings. I think as more and more people are 'educated' in secular ways Buddhism appeal will become stronger attraction because it has always stressed on logical thinking not on superstition. I think this is good news in the way that people will think more about life than just simply working, living, entertainment. The lifestyles of modern man is putting the planet into jeopardy with excessive consumption of planet resources.


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Re: China's Stressed-Out 'millenials' Embrace Buddhism
« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2015, 10:29:30 AM »
This is proof of samsara unsatisfactoriness. Too much of the good stuff and the good times either bring more crazing or the realization that these "good stuff" is not happiness that can last. True lasting happiness is in the Dharma and the practice of the Dharma path.
So it is not surprising to read this article and China is a newly rich society that truly need the Dharma and I suspect the Buddhas in the form of the great Masters were already planning for the emergence of Buddhism a few hundreds years ago.


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Re: China's Stressed-Out 'millenials' Embrace Buddhism
« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2015, 02:35:21 PM »
China had its peak of civilization and cultural advance, a golden age of cosmopolitan culture during the Tang dynasty which is around AD 618, it was also during this time that appears Great Buddhist master such as Six Patriarch Huineng and TunHuang’s cave reach the number of thousand it says. Ever since then it was on the decline  as power hungry warlords was waging war against each other, famine takes its toll and the whole country was on the decline. Though Tibetan Buddhism was adopted by the Qing Emperor but only confine  to the imperial court as Tibetan had establish priest-patron relationship with its emperor following Ming foreign policy.
The Chinese had suffered much during the invasion by foreign forces and internal corruption of Qing Dynasty imperial courts following by WW II which brings great humiliation to this once great nation. As the result of poverty and adverse conditions set in spirituality and virtuous and been disregard to make way for filling the belly and others immediate needs. Now when this great nation finally stands back at its two feet and basic necessities was make affordable to its citizen at large as any advance society it inhabitant will feel the emptiness of lagging spiritual needs. Hence, Buddhism something that familiar could take it root and flourish again.
As on why Christianity was adapted? Speak to any Chinese you will find that they still adopt a wary attitude of foreign influence to their culture that their forefather had suffered much from Western power.