THE FLOWER OF CHINESE BUDDHISM

Daisaku Ikeda & Burton Watson, Translator

The Flower of Chinese Buddhism illuminates the development and role of Buddhism in Chinese society, with the introduction of Buddhism into China by traders and monks traveling along the Silk Route. The author examines the career and achievements of Kumarajiva, famed for his philosophical treaties and translations that form the core of much Buddhist literature. Special emphasis is given to faith in the Lotus Sutra, affording the uninitiated reader a useful and accessible introduction to the school of Buddhism that was to become influential in Japan and the inspiration for the teachings of the 13th-century Buddhist reformer Nichiren.

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The Flower of Chinese Buddhism illuminates the development and role of Buddhism in Chinese society, with the introduction of Buddhism into China by traders and monks traveling along the Silk Route. The author examines the career and achievements of Kumarajiva, famed for his philosophical treaties and translations that form the core of much Buddhist literature. Special emphasis is given to faith in the Lotus Sutra, affording the uninitiated reader a useful and accessible introduction to the school of Buddhism that was to become influential in Japan and the inspiration for the teachings of the 13th-century Buddhist reformer Nichiren.

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  • Middleway Press
  • Paperback
  • November 2009
  • 176 Pages
  • 9780977924547

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$14.95

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About Daisaku Ikeda & Burton Watson, Translator

Daisaku Ikeda is the author and coauthor of more than 60 books on a wide range of topics, including the history of Buddhism, Buddhist philosophy, dialogues with world leaders, poetry, novels and children’s stories. He is the founding president and leader of the Soka Gakkai International, one of the largest lay Buddhist organizations in the world today. He is the recipient of the United Nations Peace Award, the Rosa Parks Humanitarian Award and the International Tolerance Award of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Discussion Questions

The author, Daisaku Ikeda, maintains that many aspects of the Buddhist religion facilitated its spread to different civilizations. Discuss what makes Buddhism uniquely acceptable throughout the world.

 

What were the obstacles to the spread of Buddhism in China? How were these overcome?

 

Kumarajiva is held to be the most famous translator of the Buddhist scriptures. What were his particular strengths, and why was he more successful than those who preceded him?

 

In early China, Buddhism was split between the northern and southern schools. How did this happen? Was this schism resolved?

 

In the beginning, the Buddhist faith was carried to China by people traveling from west to east along the Silk Road. This book relates the stories of those Chinese thinkers who made the opposite journey from China to India. What was their contribution to the spread of Buddhism in China? 

 

The monk, Huisi, and his more famous disciple, Zhiyi (also known as The Great Teacher Tiantai), spent their lives in the study of the basic principles of the Lotus Sutra which constitute the core of Mahayana teaching. Discuss the importance of their writings.

 

In writing about the monk Xuanzang the author claims “. . . the teachings that Xuanzang espoused represent a doctrinal  regression in the overall development of Buddhism in China.”  What leads the author to this conclusion?

 

Zhanran, one of the great foundational figures of Chinese Buddhism, lived during the Tang dynasty, a glorious era in Chinese culture. He became known as the restorer of the Tiantai school. What was the influence of his writings on the further spread of Buddhism across the Orient?

 

The author recounts the history of the persecution of Buddhism in Central Asia and China remarking that government oppression that forces people to abandon their faith sometimes awakens believers to value their faith more. Do you think that this is true?  Can you see examples of this in today’s world?

 

Buddhism evolved into a distinctive Chinese religion, influenced by older religions, which then spread to Korea and Japan. Has Chinese Buddhism influenced Buddhism in other parts of the world? Explain how.