Author Topic: Xi Jinping hopes traditional faiths can fill moral void in China: sources  (Read 7584 times)

WisdomBeing

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I thought this was an interesting development in that President Xi Jinping is going to encourage Buddhism. How this pans out with the freedom of religion, enshrined in China's constitution but not practiced, as evidenced in the Falun Gung crackdown, remains to be seen. The action against Falun Gung may be due to the authorities' declaration of that practice as a cult, but it is of concern how one defines a cult.

According to Merriam-Webster, a cult is "a small religious group that is not part of a larger and more accepted religion and that has beliefs regarded by many people as extreme or dangerous." Actually this can be applied to any Tibetan Buddhist tantric practice, probably most of all Dorje Shugden. I bring this up because I am concerned that China may promote mainstream Buddhism but if China decides to declare Dorje Shugden practice as a cult and clamp down like it did on Falun Gung, Dorje Shugden practitioners will be facing a bigger obstacle than the CTA! However, since the Dalai Lama has very skillfully positioned Dorje Shugden as a threat to Tibetan independence and his own life, China is more likely to see Dorje Shugden as an ally. As a result, I have read articles on this site that Dorje Shugden is freely practiced in Tibet right now. I personally find it very interesting. And they say that religion and politics do not mix!



Xi Jinping hopes traditional faiths can fill moral void in China: sources
http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/09/29/us-china-politics-vacuum-idUSBRE98S0GS20130929

By Benjamin Kang Lim and Ben Blanchard
BEIJING | Sun Sep 29, 2013 5:30pm EDT

(Reuters) - President Xi Jinping believes China is losing its moral compass and he wants the ruling Communist Party to be more tolerant of traditional faiths in the hope these will help fill a vacuum created by the country's breakneck growth and rush to get rich, sources said.

Xi, who grew up in Mao's puritan China, is troubled by what he sees as the country's moral decline and obsession with money, said three independent sources with ties to the leadership.

He hopes China's "traditional cultures" or faiths - Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism - will help fill a void that has allowed corruption to flourish, the sources said.

Skeptics see it as a cynical move to try to curb rising social unrest and perpetuate one-party rule.

During the early years under Communism, China's crime rate was low and corruption rare. By contrast, between 2008 and 2012 about 143,000 government officials - or an average of 78 a day - were convicted of graft or dereliction of duty, according to a Supreme Court report to parliament in March.

Xi intensified an anti-corruption campaign when he became party and military chief in November, but experts say only deep and difficult political reforms will make a difference.

Meanwhile, barely a day goes by without soul-searching on the Internet over what some see as a moral numbness in China - whether it's over graft, the rampant sale of adulterated food or incidents such as when a woman gouged out the eyes of her six-year-old nephew this month for unknown reasons.

"Xi understands that the anti-corruption (drive) can only cure symptoms and that reform of the political system and faiths are needed to cure the disease of corruption," one of the sources told Reuters, requesting anonymity to avoid repercussions for discussing elite politics.

Government agencies would moderate policies towards Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism in the hope these faiths would also help placate the disaffected who cannot afford homes, education and medical treatment, the sources said.

"The influence of religions will expand, albeit subtly," a second source said, also speaking on condition of anonymity.

"Traditional cultures will not be comprehensively popularized, but attacks on them will be avoided."

Skeptics described such tactics as a ploy to divert blame away from the party for the many problems that anger ordinary Chinese, from corruption to land grabs.

"Buddhists accept their destiny and blame their predicament on the bad deeds they did in their previous lives," said Hu Jia, an AIDS activist and Buddhist who has been intermittently under house arrest since his release in 2011 after serving 42 months in prison for subversion.

GENUINE RELIGIOUS FREEDOM?

Religious freedom is enshrined in the constitution but the officially atheist Communist Party has no qualms about crushing those who challenge its rule. The party is paranoid and would remain vigilant against cults and feudal superstition, the sources added.

China banned Falun Gong as a cult and has jailed hundreds, if not thousands, of adherents since 1999. Former president Jiang Zemin also defrocked and put under house arrest a six-year-old boy anointed by the Dalai Lama as the second holiest figure in Tibetan Buddhism in 1995.

"Relaxation and suppression go hand in hand," said Nicholas Bequelin, of New York-based Human Rights Watch.

"In China, religion must serve the state," Bequelin said. "There is greater religious freedom in China ... but to what extent is the party ready to allow genuine religious freedom?"

Washington will also need convincing.

In its 2012 report on international religious freedom, the U.S. State Department said Chinese officials and security organs scrutinized and restricted the activities of registered and unregistered religious and spiritual groups.

The government harassed, detained, arrested or sentenced to prison a number of adherents for activities reportedly related to their religious beliefs and practice, it said.

Indeed, conservatives in the party still frown on what they see as "religious infiltration". Zhu Weiqun, a vice chairman of the top advisory body to parliament, warned in an interview with China Newsweek magazine in June that party members should not even practice any religion.

Others think change is in the air.

"This is for real," Lin Chong-Pin, a Taipei-based veteran China watcher and former government policymaker, said by telephone. "To save the party and the state from the current crises, Xi must fill the spiritual void."

A "SPIRITUAL CIVILISATION"

In a sign of the changes Xi wants, Zhang Lebin, deputy director of the Bureau of Religious Affairs, wrote a commentary in July in the party's mouthpiece, the People's Daily, that said "treating religions well should become a common consensus ... and the right to practice religions should be protected".

The following month, Xi called for building both a "material and spiritual civilization" - Communist jargon for growth and morality.

Back in February, Xi met Taiwan's top Buddhist monk, Hsing Yun, in Beijing along with a delegation of dignitaries from the self-ruled island which Beijing claims as its own.

Meetings between top Chinese and religious leaders are rare.

Hsing Yun was banned from China in the early 1990s for giving sanctuary to a senior Chinese official at his temple in the United States after the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown. He is now a bestselling author in China.

"President Xi and his family have feelings for Buddhism," said Xiao Wunan, executive vice chairman of the Asia Pacific Exchange and Cooperation Foundation, a Beijing-backed non-governmental organization.

In yet another sign, Yu Zhengsheng, ranked fourth in the Communist hierarchy, visited five temples in Tibetan areas in July and August and a mosque in western Xinjiang province in May - unprecedented for such a senior leader in terms of frequency.

MAO PURGED CONFUCIUS, POSTHUMOUSLY

China estimates it has 50 million practitioners of Buddhism and Taoism, 23 million Protestants, 21 million Muslims and 5.5 million Catholics,

Independent experts put the number of practitioners of Buddhism, Taoism and folk religions at between 100-300 million.

Chinese emperors embraced Confucianism for centuries, encouraging the philosopher's teachings of filial piety and respect for teachers and authority. Mao then posthumously purged Confucius in the early 1970s.

Confucianism has since made a comeback, although not a smooth one.

A 9.5-metre (30-foot), 17-tonne statue of Confucius was erected in 2011 outside a Beijing museum adjacent to Tiananmen Square, not far from a portrait of Mao which overlooks the area. It vanished weeks later with no official reason given. Conservatives celebrated its removal, which came on the heels of an online uproar about the statue's location.

Buddhism was virtually wiped out during the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution when temples were shut and Buddhist statues smashed.

It has crept back although China maintains tight control in Tibet where monks and nuns have been jailed for their loyalty to the Dalai Lama, who fled into exile in India in 1959 after an abortive uprising against Communist rule.

About 120 Tibetans have set themselves alight in protest against Chinese rule since 2009. Most have died.

Taoism, or Daoism, a philosophy-turned-religion preaches living in harmony with nature and simplicity.

Nevertheless, despite the emphasis on fostering more openness for traditional faiths, one thing in the world's second biggest economy will remain the same.

"Economic development is still the No. 1 (priority). Moral development is No. 2," the third source said.

(Editing by Dean Yates)
Kate Walker - a wannabe wisdom Being

icy

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Re: Xi Jinping hopes traditional faiths can fill moral void in China: sources
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2013, 12:22:16 PM »
"President Xi and his family have feelings for Buddhism," said Xiao Wunan, executive vice chairman of the Asia Pacific Exchange and Cooperation Foundation, a Beijing-backed non-governmental organization.

I am not surprised that President Xi and his family have feelings for Buddhism.  It is believed that the 14th Dalai Lama gifted a watch to President Xi's father who passed away in 2002.  This watch has been passed down to President Xi and since he has high regard to the Dalai Lama, the watch has been in his safe keeping even to today.

hope rainbow

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Re: Xi Jinping hopes traditional faiths can fill moral void in China: sources
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2013, 03:31:41 PM »
And here comes the big question of course, can ethical conduit prevail in a world without spirituality?

Can we point as the cause to the decline of ethics in China the decline of the spirituality?
Perhaps we should also factor in that there was a tighter grip in the hard years of communism combined with less temptations and little or no opportunity for making big money and drive expensive cars?
In any case, the situation that China faces today calls for a rise of ethics and a successful mean to achieve that is spirituality indeed.

If only, the refraining from the 10 Buddhist non-virtues in themselves is enough to create a safe civil world.

But the question remains: does a civil society need the guidance of religion to ensure the minimum of ethics that guarantees an acceptable level of civil safety within a society?
I would be tempted to say NO.

I take the example of countries that have ruled out religion from their schools and from their civil society, leaving religion as an optional "extra-curriculum" activity that is considered merely as much as a hobby for some or as a social convenience for events such as funerals.
France is such a country, and they are not "off the chart" in terms of criminality, neither can we say that ethic is missing from French citizens in a relative comparison with other countries.

But the twist is here:
One can live in a safe and ethical country and still get abused, robbed, tortured, cheated and killed.
And one can live in a dangerous country and still get help, get care, and be safe.

The real safe, genuine way to experience ethical conduit all around us is to live an ethical lifestyle right now and create the karma to experience it as an effect in the future.

Thus one can live in France and suffer terribly, or one can live in a country inhabited by terrible persons and experience them as angels.

kris

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Re: Xi Jinping hopes traditional faiths can fill moral void in China: sources
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2013, 04:33:21 PM »
@WisdomBeing, I think it is normal to have worry about Dorje Shugden being treated the same as Fa Lung Gong, and indeed, if China is taking similar action towards Dorje Shugden practitioners, it will be a big setback to spread the lineage.

However, Dorje Shugden promotes peace, law abiding and unity. Just go to Dorje Shugden Chinese site: http://www.xiongdeng.com, and check out their mission on the right column in main page.

DharmaSpace

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Re: Xi Jinping hopes traditional faiths can fill moral void in China: sources
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2013, 10:31:06 PM »
I think the move is an encouraging sign for more the spread of spirituality and ethics in China.

I do wish more Chinese leaders would embrace dorje shugden not just because I believe in dorje shugden, as if there is anything that will benefit the chinese leaders it would be the all powerful dorje shugden. Dorje Shugden is potent and powerful enough to sway and change how things work in China.

icy

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It is indeed the moral values in China is a growing concern.  This concern is also expressed by the general population in China who does not condone to unethical practices and believes traditional faiths will do go in China to restore strong moral values.  Without Dharma China will become a heartless, cold, materialistic and 'dog eat dog' society.  Perhaps it is timely Dorje Shugden infiltrate into the hard core Chinese now and bring wisdom for their benefit.

Pilgrim

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There are mixed sentiments on "the streets" in China (at least from my own observations and those of fellow Buddhists).

View 1: Traditional faiths or religions are for people who have no worries for their basic needs like food and housing. They have the time and financial freedom to "study and practice". Their dharma practice is an attempt to "buy conscience".

View 2: Only the desperate turn to traditional faiths or religions for they have nowhere else to go to for help.

View 3: The government is only doing this to show that they embrace "freedom".

View 4: ......

To risk generalising, I think the Chinese people themselves are struggling with what it means to get re-acquinted with traditional faiths. Buddhistic principles have never really been purged during the horrific years, just "repackaged". There are also many Chinese proverbs which are still used everyday with contextual roots leading back to Buddhism or Dharma practice. But it's precisely these contextual roots that have been misplaced in the "modern education" of China. To relearn all that, means they'll need to start with how they want to educate the young but the government needs to rethink what they will allow into the educational syllabus.

Perhaps that's how President Xi could introduce a Cultural Re-discovery in China. 

vajrastorm

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it is good and timely that the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, is expressing concern for what he perceives as China's moral decline. There is greed and obsession with money. Rampant corruption and the spate of sale of food products, which are adulterated ,are a manifestation of this. Buddhism and Taoism are the faiths of at least 50 million Chinese if not more.So this moral decline is a worrying concern.

Let us hope that Shugden practice will grow and spread and bring Dharma to these people.  I also agree that values and ethics should be taught in school.

icy

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Chinese President Xi Jinping appears to have relaxed the hard-line policies of his two predecessors towards Tibet and the Falungong movement. There have been some encouraging signs.

On June 27, the Free Tibet group reported that Chinese officials have lifted a 1996 ban on the display of the Dalai Lama's photos at Ganden Monastery near Tibet's capital Lhasa. China has long accused the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader of fomenting separatism in the western region.

Last month, a report in the Falungong newspaper Epoch Times noted that the number of Falungong practitioners imprisoned or sent to labour camps in the past few months has fallen sharply while many already incarcerated have been released. The newspaper, citing data from minghui.org which tracks and reports on the persecution of Falungong members, said the total number of new arrests this year up to early September was 1,727, compared with an average of 6,000 annually in the past five years. Also, at least five detention centres have released a huge number of Falungong members this year.

The softening of an erstwhile hard line cannot be coincidental and most likely signals Xi's desire to end the highly repressive religious policies of his predecessor Hu Jintao and before Hu, Jiang Zemin.

Xi's late father Xi Zhongxun, a former vice-premier, is remembered as being sympathetic towards Tibet and had also known the Dalai Lama.

The lifting of the photo ban in Tibet, though fiercely denied by the local authorities, came just days after Jin Wei, director of Ethnic and Religious Studies at the Communist Party's Central Party School, proposed an entirely new approach to resolving the Tibetan issue.

In her interview with the Hong Kong-based Asiaweek on June 9, Jin put the blame squarely on "past Tibetan party leaders" whose tough policies have led to 119 cases of self-immolation by Tibetan monks since 2011. "The policies of several previous Tibet party leaders had gone wrong, sowing the seeds of present-day ethnic grievances," she said.

One of the leaders Jin was alluding to is Hu, who adopted tough policies during his tenure as Tibet party secretary. In early 1989, he ordered a bloody crackdown on rioters in Lhasa. His handling of the unrest earned him praise from then patriarch Deng Xiaoping who later anointed him as Jiang's successor.

Subsequent Tibet party chiefs also maintained a tough policy, aggravating the already tense relations between Beijing and Tibetans. Zhang Qingli, the region's party boss from 2006 to 2011, even called the Dalai Lama "a wolf in monk's robes".

Given Jin's position, she would not have voiced her criticism publicly unless she had received tacit approval to do so.

She proposed that existing policies be reversed to resolve the longstanding issue of Tibet.

She said that "as the ruling party, the CCP ought to appreciate the fact that the Tibetans are highly religious people who value spiritual matters more than material ones, and place the next generation above the current ones".

"Failure to appreciate this would doom all policies towards Tibet to failure," she added. She was alluding to Beijing's policy of promoting economic development in Tibet while restricting Tibetans' religious freedom, a policy that has not worked.

The succession issue is also the subject of much controversy given that the Dalai Lama is already 78 years old.

On this matter, Jin noted that when the Dalai Lama eventually dies, it could mark the start of a nightmare for Beijing. The CCP may wish to believe that the Tibetan issue would fade with the Dalai Lama's passing, she said. However, young Tibetans, no longer restrained by his personal authority and insistence on non-violence, could resort to more aggressive behaviour.

Rather than let this scenario turn into reality, Jin suggested that Beijing should try to work out with the Dalai Lama a mutually agreed way to determine the next Tibetan spiritual leader.

She also urged Beijing to resume stalled talks with the Dalai Lama on Tibet's future.

She proposed that the Dalai Lama, who has lived in exile in the Indian town of Dharamsala for more than 50 years, be invited to live on Chinese soil, such as Hong Kong or Macau, instead. Eventually, he could be allowed to return to Tibet.

This more rational and realistic approach towards Tibet will have a better chance of success with Hu out of the political scene.

Similarly, the more tolerant approach towards the Falungong is possible only after Jiang's political clout has diminished.

The main executor of the anti-Falungong policy was Zhou Yongkang, Mr Jiang's protege and former security czar. Zhou's retirement last November made it possible to reverse the highly repressive policy. If the softening of China's stance is sustained, Xi would be making a significant contribution to his country.

Could this be the beginning of a Free Tibet and China embracing religious practice for the moral health of the country?

vajratruth

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Chinese President Xi Jinping appears to have relaxed the hard-line policies of his two predecessors towards Tibet and the Falungong movement. There have been some encouraging signs.



This appears to be the case as reported in the straitstimes.com http://www.straitstimes.com/the-big-story/asia-report/china/story/xi-relaxing-stance-tibet-falungong-20131004). One of the key indications of a maturing society (and for that matter, government) is 'tolerance' especially in terms of beliefs and religious practice. And the new Chinese President's readiness to soften the government's stance of non-mainstream religious practices is a positive sign that China is making strides to become a more open and liberal nation.

In this post Wisdom Being had voiced some concern over whether China may view Dorje Shugden to be a cult (quote: "Actually this can be applied to any Tibetan Buddhist tantric practice, probably most of all Dorje Shugden. I bring this up because I am concerned that China may promote mainstream Buddhism but if China decides to declare Dorje Shugden practice as a cult and clamp down like it did on Falun Gung, Dorje Shugden practitioners will be facing a bigger obstacle than the CTA..."). I would like to point out that until the Dalai Lama and CTA decided to politicize the practice of Dorje Shugden, it was till then a mainstream practice of the Gelugpas and in essence it still is given the fact the the largest Tibetan Buddhist centres in the world today practice Dorje Shugden. As a matter of fact, this Protector practice is inseparable from the Je Tsongkhapa's practice. Dorje Shugden exists not to glorify itself but purely to protect the precious teachings of Je Tsongkhapa. The Protector practice is inextricably linked to Je Tsongkhapa's practice.

The practice has never been regarded as a cult until the label was forced onto it by a very dishonest and politically motivated Tibetan government in exile. Wisdom Being cited the Merriam Webster dictionary's definition of a cult as "a small religious group that is not part of a larger and more accepted religion and that has beliefs regarded by many people as extreme or dangerous." In the case of Dorje Shugden, it being labeled a cult is in fact an opposite to the dictionary's definition, that is,  only a small, albeit powerful section of the Tibetan community regard or rather claim to regard the practice as dangerous. If it appears that the majority of the Tibetan people seem to oppose the practice it would be due to the fact that the CTA institutionalized the persecution of the Shugden practice, threatening anyone who is not opposed to this ancient belief, with the label of 'traitor' and 'terrorist'. Left on their own, I doubt very much if the average Tibetan would think of doing anything that would split their already small and gravely afflicted community. Most are more concerned with making ends meet and moving ahead with their lives in exile after the CTA continues to fail to engage the Chinese in meaningful dialogue that could yield some good results.

That China sees religion (traditional faiths) as a means of filling a moral vacuum in the society augurs well for the growth of Buddhism and in the last decade China has definitely done more for the growth of the religion. No doubt the Chinese government used to oppose all forms of religion, but clearly times have changed. As China becomes more tolerant towards Buddhism, the CTA has become more oppressive.When was the last time anyone heard news of the CTA promoting Buddhism or encouraging tolerance? The Dalai Lama trots the world preaching religious tolerance but at the same time his government in Dharamsala is still sending Shugden worshippers into hiding for fear of their lives.

If this trend continues, very soon the Tibetans in exile will come to see that they are better off just packing up and returning to Tibet instead of waiting for the CTA to cease their internal political maneuverings and actually do something for the community. In essence and since Lobsang Sangay officially stated in Washington recently that the CTA will accept Communist rule for Tibet (see:http://www.phayul.com/news/tools/print.aspx?id=33551&t=1)  Tibetans in exile should realize that the Tibetan Cause is finished, killed by the CTA themselves and not Dorje Shugden. Look at the link and see the Sikyong state before an international community that the CTA will accept Communist rule. If that does not spell the end of Tibetan independence, the what does? And yet, one of the reasons the Dalai Lama gave for the ban is that the practice harms the Tibetan cause. If truly there is any demon that is opposed to the Tibetan cause, it should just kick back and relax because the CTA is doing a very good job at that, without any help.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2013, 04:42:37 PM by vajratruth »

Dondrup Shugden

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Recently it was reported that President Xi met with the 11th Panchen Lama and advised the young Panchen Lama to study hard to have strong religious acumen and lead the Tibetans and be loved by both the monastic and secular population.

Such actions is truly that of a great leader who seeks to preserve Tibetan Buddhism and culture and yet bringing Tibet into the 21st century.

Would be a great way for the Panchen Lama to uphold the doctrines of Tibetan Buddhism and not be bothered by the mundane political issues.