Chinese tradition, ceremony,culture

Discussion in 'Members' Club Room' started by Hendrik_2000, Aug 9, 2016.

  1. Hendrik_2000
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    Hendrik_2000 Brigadier

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    (cont)
    While Mr. Xi’s government has tightened restrictions on Christianity and Islam, it has allowed Fo Guang Shan to open cultural centers in four cities, including Beijing and Shanghai. The organization’s students include government officials, who don gray tunics and trousers and live like monks or nuns for several days, reciting the sutras and learning about Master Hsing Yun’s philosophy.

    But unlike in Taiwan, where it held special services during national crises and encouraged members to participate in public affairs, Fo Guang Shan avoids politics in China. There is no mention of civic activism, and it never criticizes the party.

    “We can keep the religion secondary but introduce the ideas of Buddhism into society,” said Venerable Miaoyuan, the nun who runs the library in Yangzhou. She describes the group’s work as “cultural exchange.”

    “The mainland continues the ideology of ancient emperors — you can only operate there when you are firmly under its control,” said Chiang Tsan-teng, a professor at Taipei City University of Science and Technology who studies Buddhism in the region. “Fo Guang Shan can never be its own boss in the mainland.”

    Photo[​IMG]Nuns singing during a class at the Temple of Great Awakening. CreditGilles Sabrié for The New York Times

    That limits its influence, but many Chinese express understanding given the reality of one-party rule.

    “It certainly cannot promote social service and create associations,” said Hu Jia, a prominent dissident who is Buddhist. “The party certainly would not allow it, so Fo Guang Shan makes compromises. But it is still promoting Buddhism.”

    A ‘Moral Standard’

    Carved into two valleys of lush bamboo forest, the temple on the outskirts of Yixing features giant friezes that tell the story of Buddha, a 15-story pagoda and a gargantuan 68,000 square-foot worship hall.

    Since construction started in 2006, Fo Guang Shan has spent more than $150 million on the facility, known as the Temple of Great Awakening. On a nearby hill, track hoes hack away at trees to make way for a new lecture hall and a shrine to the goddess of mercy, Guanyin. There, the group plans to feature a moving, talking, three-dimensional hologram of the deity.

    Unlike most temples in China, it bans hawkers and fortunetellers, and it does not charge an entrance fee. The atmosphere is reflective and solemn, with quiet reading rooms offering books, newspapers, spaces to practice calligraphy, and tea. A stream of visitors from Yixing come for lectures, meals and camaraderie.

    Last autumn, Fo Guang Shan welcomed 2,000 pilgrims at the temple to celebrate China’s National Day. Over the course of a long afternoon, they walked along a road to the temple in a slow, dignified procession: taking three steps and kowtowing, three steps and kowtowing, on and on for about two hours.

    Photo[​IMG]The National Day procession along a road to the temple, a two-hour event. CreditGilles Sabrié for The New York Times

    Mrs. Shen said that when she took over the tea shop she had a hard time understanding what being a good Buddhist meant. At first, she admitted, she wanted to make more money for the temple by using low-grade cooking oil.

    But her husband objected. China is rife with scandals about restaurants using unsafe or cheap ingredients, and he argued that good Buddhists should set a better example.

    “This made me realize that faith gives you a minimum moral standard,” Ms. Shen told me. “It helps you treat others as your equals.”

    Many followers say they want a cleaner, fairer society and believe they can make a difference by changing their own lives.

    Yang Jianwei, 44, a kitchenware exporter who embraced Fo Guang Shan, said he stopped attending the boozy late-night dinners that seem an unavoidable part of doing business in China. “I realize that you might lose some business this way, but it’s a better way to live,” he said.

    This idealism is why the authorities support Fo Guang Shan, said Jin Xinhua, an official who helped the group secure the land for the new temple.

    “Through its work, Fo Guang Shan is helping the masses,” he said. “We need that sort of thing today.”Continue reading the main storyPhoto[​IMG]A nun beating a drum to announce the beginning of a morning class at the temple.CreditGilles Sabrie for The New York Times
     
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  2. Equation
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    Equation Lieutenant General

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    ALL ignorant self righteous "American" wants to see China regime changing. They just can't accept that the CPC are doing better than their own church or government. I'm sorry but that is a fact.

    No Christianity does get involved in politics these days. Just go ask the many oppressed LGBT community and women rights to an abortion.
     
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  3. AssassinsMace
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    The irony of that title to the NY Times article... Is there something wrong when they make Jesus Christ out to a blond European man? If Jesus Christ were alive today he would most likely be labeled a communist by many in the right. So does Christianity influence politics or do politics influence Christianity. Remember how they say Beijing denies Christians in China from declaring loyalty to the Pope. Remember how people like Sarah Palin criticizes the present Pope and his policies as if she knows better than the Pope? Does that mean Chinese Christians must declare their allegiance to Sarah Palin since she seems to think she has authority above the Pope? See how they get to question and ignore the Pope any time they wish but not any Chinese even if they're not Christian.

    And the West gets to interpret what Buddhism is? Maybe Myanmar's Nazi-like Buddhism has it correct since the West doesn't criticize it. Just because Buddhists in China don't hate everything Chinese like the West does, there must be something wrong with them. Do we get to declare Christianity a failure since Americans are devoid of values, materialistic, and petty? Just listen to Christian evangelists when China is no where in the discussion. So they get to dictate to the Chinese when they haven't figured it out themselves?
     
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  4. siegecrossbow
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    siegecrossbow Brigadier
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    Many Buddhists in China don't strictly practice the Buddhist religion. Some also pray to Taoist, Shamanist, or even Christian deities when the situation demands it. They are similar to the pre-Christian Romans in that particular regard.
     
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  5. PanAsian
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    PanAsian Major

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    "Doesn't matter if a cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice" applies to religions and deities as well, practical and inclusive. Let's not forget folk religion and ancestor worship.
     
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  6. solarz
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    I've read that ancestor worship is the only real religion in China. Indeed, Chinese can claim to be atheist or belong to this or that religion, but we will all practice ancestor worship in one form or another.
     
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  7. Lethe
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    Lethe Senior Member

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    While on the subject of religion and culture, I would be interested to hear East Asian responses to Martin Scorcese's recent film Silence, particularly concerning the adaptability of religion to other cultural contexts.

    Trailer for those who haven't seen it:

     
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  8. PanAsian
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    PanAsian Major

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    Note that this is fiction set in Japan.
     
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  9. Hendrik_2000
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    Hendrik_2000 Brigadier

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    I know and read the prosecution of Japanese Catholic under Tokugawa It is cruel and savages prosecution. But the community survives to this day there is catholic villages in small island off the Nagasaki

    But having said that the irony is Japan maintain their culture and prosper until today Were the conversion successful Japan will become another fail state like Philippine
     
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  10. Lethe
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    Lethe Senior Member

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    There is also a brief scene set in Macau, where the Jesuit priests secure transport to Japan.

    The most interesting scenes in the film, from my perspective, occur when Andrew Garfield's character meets Liam Neeson's. The latter has renounced his Christian faith and now lives as a Japanese. He argues with Garfield's character that his efforts to teach Christianity are misguided because Japan is an alien culture, and that the Japanese who have converted to Christianity have done so not by understanding Jesus and the word of God as Garfield's character understands them, but by interpreting Garfield's teachings in the context of their pre-existing, culturally Japanese beliefs. Essentially, Neeson's character argues that what Garfield is teaching is not what his Japanese converts have been learning.

    Do you really think that Christianity is the source of problems in the Philippines, and the lack of it the reason for the success of Japan? I suspect that the differences in histories of religious assimilation, differences in histories of colonisation, and differences in modern development paths, are all shaped by internal characteristics, e.g. degree of political and cultural unity prior to contact with European civilisations.
     
    #70 Lethe, Jun 26, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2017
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