During the sixth century in India, an Indian prince named Siddhartha Gautama renounced his status and wealth in order to become enlightened. After becoming enlightened he announced the principals of what he believed was going to be the new way of life, Buddhism. Some many years later, Buddhism found its way into China. And while many peasants saw a positive impact in the incoming way of life, many people with higher statuses did not.
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Many peasants and people of lower class supported this new teaching because it gave them something more to believe in, like an afterlife, rather than Confucianism which was stricter and did not have an afterlife. According to tradition, the Four Noble Truths explain how in ones life you can take the suffering you are born with and make something out of it. This is a positive outlook because it teaches people that there is a way to end the sorrow in ones life. (doc. 1) Along with peasants, many Chinese scholars believed in Buddhism. When asked their opinion on Buddhism, some of them replied with the opinion that Buddhism exceeded any other teachings like Confucianism. In document 3 a scholar says “To compare the sages to Buddha is like comparing a white deer to a unicorn.”
This comparison made is clearly a positive outlook in that compared to an ordinary deer, a unicorn, which is representing Buddhism, is so marvelous and exotic. This same scholar also shows in his response that Buddhism is a simple way of life, and to some (mostly monks) things like wives and property are the luxuries of the world not needed to complete ones life. This proves that Buddhism is an easy-going, simple way of living that could appeal to many. (doc. 3) In the early 9th century, a Buddhist scholar by the name of Zong Mi expressed his opinion that all of the sages (Confucius, Laozi, and Buddha) were all perfect teachings for the time being. In his opinion all3 teachings led to an orderly society. I agree with Zong Mi in saying that each time period has different needs and demands, so a new teaching for each time period is wise in that they each meet the specific demands of that time period. (doc. 5)
Although many lower class people supported Buddhism, many of the higher people did not because the fear that people would break away from Confucianism was present. Rulers want to be in complete power, and a new teaching that is severing that order could cause chaos in the rulers mind. Also, Buddhism compared to Confucianism is very laid back and easy-going. Confucianism’s a lot stricter and if people do not live in fear of this strict code what is going to prevent them from revolting? An official in the Tang imperial court by the name of Han Yu expressed his opinion on Buddhism to be very negative. He demands that Buddhism is to be “rooted out, and late generations spared this delusion.” He also views Buddhism as being no more than a cult of barbarians, because it was not here in ancient times. I do not agree with his statement in that many things were not here in the past but are here today.
For example, the cell phone. The cell phone was not here 50 years ago, but is here today and can be used for emergencies and better our safety in this world. Just because something is new does not mean it is evil or barbaric. However I do agree with the statement made that says “The Buddha…who did not speak Chinese and who wore clothes of a different fashion…and the Buddhas manner of dress did not conform to our laws.” I agree with this because Buddhism is a way of life, these new teachings would impact peoples lives daily. So if this Buddha is an alien, a person who is not from here how could he possibly understand our laws and fit our needs?
Although its not bad to try new things, I understand the hesitance of people to believe in something so foreign. (doc. 4) Supporting an earlier statement that rulers did not want a change, Emperor Wu, in the edict of Buddhism explains how Buddhism has “Injured mankind”. He states that “Buddhism wears out the peoples strengths, pilfers their wealth, causes people to abandon their lords and parents for the company of teachers, and severs man and wife with its monastic decrees. In destroying law and injuring humankind indeed nothing surpasses this doctrine!” This shows that he thinks Buddhism has many negative impacts on everyone’s lives and this evil should be eradicated. (doc. 6)
An additional document that would help me prove positive and negative points in this essay would most likely be something in the point of view of a peasant. Seeing a view of a peasant in this time period would help support my theory that peasants liked Buddhism, or help prove me wrong in that they did not. Seeing a document like this would also help me understand why people would choose a rough and strict teaching like Confucianism over an easy way of life like Buddhism.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, neither is wrong nor right. However in the sixth century China when Buddhism was first introduced there was a split mindset of how things should be run. Most people of lower class appealed to this new teaching of Buddhism while many people of higher classes believed that Buddhism should be eradicated because of its true barbaric and evilness. Neither opinion is right, yet neither opinion is wrong.
Change Over Time
Courtney Morelli Mrs. McCaffrey period 3
Between the years 10,000 and 3,000 BCE many changes occurred. The way of life was altered for many people with new ideas, technologies and ways of life. But along with these changes some things remained the same through this time period. Just like todays society, it is changing in many ways but still keeping in touch with old ways or traditions.
Before the Neolithic Age occurred, there was a time period called the Paleolithic Age. During the Paleolithic Age (2500000 BCE – 8,000 BCE) the way of life was hunting and gathering. People relied on hunting and gathering as their food source, therefore they moved from place to place never really settling in one spot. The men usually had the job of hunting for food, and the women had the role of gathering plants and berries and taking care of the children. Therefore, the women had an equal role to the men and were treated just the same. The people of the Paleolithic age expressed their life in not words, but art. They painted along the walls of caves showing things like hunting, or different animals that were around.
After a long period of time the climate of places all over the world changed drastically, allowing the change from Paleolithic to Neolithic happen. The Neolithic age lasted from 10,000 BCE to 3,000 BCE, and many changes occurred. The Neolithic man started to plant crops now that the climate was warmer and therefore they settled instead of moving from place to place. Now that the people were planting crops they were able to have a good amount of food, and never go hungry through the winter thanks to wheat. Since the people of the Neolithic era no longer needed women to gather foods, they lost their role in society.
They were no longer considered equal to men and usually stayed home caring for the children. One of the biggest changes between these time periods is the change from hunting to domesticating animals. Instead of hunting down your next meal people domesticated and raised their own animals like goats and pigs. Keeping these animals close by made it easier for people to eat. Although, the agricultural way of life was much more complicated than hunting and gathering. Farmers had a much harder lifestyle because they had to work all day as to a hunter would only work until he got what he needed.
Along with the many changes over this time period there were also many things that remained the same. One thing that remained the same was in both time periods people relied on animals as their main food source. Hunting was a very important part of the peoples meal, and is still a big part in our diet today. Also, although people in the Neolithic age had more food, the nutritional value was still as low as it was during the Paleolithic age. The men in the Paleolithic age had the job of hunting the animals and providing food for their families which was a big responsibility. Even during the Neolithic age this responsibility for men never changed because they still worked in the fields or domesticated and slaughtered animals for their food.
Eventually, over many years every society and culture evolves. Some things change for the better of the people, and come along with new technologies and ways of life just like today’s culture and people. But along with these new things are also the same values or ways that have been going on for years and years. The Neolithic revolution was one of the biggest turning points in history, because of the many things that changed a way of life for many people. But even though so many things changed, some of the values and traditions always remained the same.