Organized Religions in China

February 19, 2014

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Conner once said, “Those who would renegotiate the boundaries between church and state must therefore answer difficult questions: why would we trade a system that has served us so well for one that has served others so poorly?” Source: Theocracy Watch

The answer to Justice O’Conner’s question may be the reason why China’s government keeps such a close watch on religions and decides which ones may practice there. In fact, there’s plenty of historical evidence that China’s restrictions on religions may be justified.

For instance, Roman Catholic Popes influenced the kings of Europe leading to the Crusades (1095 – 1291) with 1 to 3 million dead; the persecution and eradication of the Cathars, and the Medieval, Spanish, Portuguese and Roman inquisitions.

Then there were the Protestant-Catholic Wars: the Thirty Year’s War (1618 – 1648) with 3 to 11.5 million dead and the French Wars of Religion (1562 – 1598) with 2 to 4 million dead.

Next there are the major modern Islamic-Christian wars: The Nigerian Civil War (1967 – 1970) with 1 to 3 million dead; Second Sudanese Civil War (1983 – 2005) with 1 to 2 million dead, and the Lebanese Civil War (1975 – 1990) with 120 – 250 thousand dead.

Last there’s China’s Taiping Rebellion (1850 – 1864) led by converted Chinese Christians against the Qing Dynasty with 30 to 100 million dead.

You may have noticed from the few examples that religions with too much political influence and power do not have a good track record.

Then consider how many major religions there are. Why does it have to be so complicated? After all, there’s only one God—I think.

As it is, “China is a country with a great diversity of religious beliefs. The main religions are Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism… According to incomplete statistics, there are over 100 million followers of various religious faiths, more than 85,000 sites for religious activities, some 300,000 clergy and over 3,000 religious organizations throughout China. In addition, there are 74 religious schools and colleges run by religious organizations for training clerical personnel.” Source: Chinese Culture

If you visited the previous link, you discovered that China does allow people to worship God and join a few approved closely watched religions.

Reuters.com reports: “About half of China’s estimated 100 million religious followers are Christians or Muslims, with the rest Buddhists or Taoists, the government says, though it thinks the real number of believers is probably much higher.”

_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


Understanding the importance of harmony in China

January 7, 2014

Most Chinese do not like anarchy—but who does except the libertarian anarchist.

The Chinese have had their fill of anarchy. Every time a dynasty collapsed, decades or centuries of anarchy would be ushered in and chaos ruled. For instance, when Mao died in 1976, Deng Xiaoping put a stop to the madness of the Cultural Revolution and ushered in an era of harmony and prosperity that continues to this day.

In fact, Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism all place a heavy emphasis on harmony and because of this, harmony is probably the most cherished ideal in Chinese culture from the leader to the poorest peasant.

While some claim that Confucianism is promoted by the Chinese Communist Party as a way to maintain order, these same critics often miss the Taoist message of living in harmony with the Tao. The term Tao means “way”, “path” or “principle” and may also be found in Chinese philosophies and religions other than Taoism. 

Taoism in general tends to emphasize wu-wie—action through non-action—and the Three Treasures: compassion, moderation, and humility. In addition, Buddhism, for instance, has six rules of harmony taught by the Buddha to his followers in order to bring about unity and harmony.

And that explains why most Chinese—even today—do not like talking about the “white elephant” in the family or country to strangers.

With that in mind, it should not be surprising that when Google was complaining about being hacked by China’s government and refused to censor their search engine in China (eventually they did so they could keep doing business there), many Chinese turned to Baidu, which operates China’s most popular Internet search engine.

Because of Google’s behavior in 2010, Baidu now controls 65.74% [up more than 20% from 2010] of China’s search engine market compared to Google’s 3% share. Source: Search Engine Watch.com

It would seem that Google became the “white elephant” in the room by complaining publicly. It is also a mistake to think that because China cracks down on the few democracy advocates who speak out publicly criticizing the CCP, that most Chinese citizens support these advocates who often end up living in the United States after China kicks them out. The truth is that most Chinese probably think these outspoken few are fools.

In China, instead of shouting “give me liberty or death”, most Chinese would say, “Give me harmony and life,” because of several thousand years of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism that are all much older and maybe much wiser than Christianity or Islam.

_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


Ancient Treasures from a Silk Road Oasis

December 17, 2013

The first time I heard about Dunhuang in China’s Gobi desert, I was attending a seminar conducted by Dr. Vincent Yip. Dr. Yip is an accomplished photojournalist who taught a Silk Road course at Stanford in addition to his courses about Marketing to more than 1.3 Billion Customers in China and Asia.

The June 2010 issue of National Geographic had a piece about the history of the Mogao caves near Dunhuang, a Silk Road oasis in northwestern China.

 

The Buddhist art found in almost 800 hand carved caves are considered among the world’s finest. There is nearly a half-million square feet of wall space decorated with these murals and more than 2,000 sculptures.


Between the fourth and 14th centuries AD—over a thousand years of history was documented on scrolls, sculptures and wall paintings revealing a multicultural world more vibrant than anyone imagined.

 

Contrary to popular belief and the Dalai Lama’s soft-spoken words of peace, Buddhism, like all large religious movements, has had a bloody and violent history depicted in the picture on page 145 of the National Geographic that shows an eighth-century heavenly armored guard with bulging eyes trampling a foreign demon.

_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


The Chinese version of Halloween

October 30, 2013

Although this festival is not celebrated in mainland China as it once was, the Festival of the Hungry Ghost originated more than twenty-five-hundred years ago when it was believed by many Chinese that ghosts cannot rest and had to be appeased so they would not turn from wondering ghosts to malevolent demons. By remembering dead family members and paying tribute to them, it is believed that they will not intrude on the lives of the living or cause misfortunes or bad luck.

One legend says that Mu Lian [also known as Maudgalyāyana—568 BCE] told his mother he wanted to be a Buddhist monk and left home.

Years later, he returned to discover that she had died. He knew that his mother had done bad things in her life and was probably in hell.  Since his mother had no one to feed her, she had to be hungry so he offered food to her hungry ghost but the food didn’t reach her.

To solve the problem, Mu Lian was told by his Buddhist master to become a vegetarian and perform spiritual deeds. After following this advice, on the 14th day of the seventh lunar month [August], he saved his mother from hell and she was no longer a hungry ghost.

The history of the Chinese Festival of the Hungry Ghost is much older than the tradition of trick-or-treating on Halloween night in the United States—Halloween History.org says that the practice of trick-o- treating spread from the western United States and moved east starting in 1942 during World War Two when sugar was rationed  and the practice then became an American tradition.

And according to Time Magazine, Americans spend about $7 Billion annually on Halloween candy, costumes and parties. Time Magazine says, “Modern-day Halloween [October] traditions are said to derive from ancient rituals intended to protect people from ghosts, harsh winters and crop failures.”

_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


Politically Correct in the West but Historically Wrong

October 22, 2013

In the “Contra Costa Times”, I read Tibetan leaders seek East Bay help by Doug  Oakley, May 27, 2010. This was a politically correct news piece that was partially accurate because Oakley only shared part of the history between China and Tibet—the part that favors Tibet’s so-called government in exile, which represents about 1% of all Tibetans—the rest still live in China.

Oakley writes that, “Tibet was invaded by the Chinese army in 1950. After the Tibetan army was defeated, both sides signed a 17-point agreement in 1951 recognizing China’s sovereignty over Tibet.”

These facts were correct, but they did not tell the whole story.

Any historian who checks primary-source material that does exist outside of Communist China will discover that Tibet was ruled by three Chinese dynasties: The Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties from 1277 – 1911.  Even after Sun Yat-Sen’s so-called Republic replaced the Qing Dynasty in 1911, Tibet was considered part of China.

Primary sources like the October 1912 issue of The National Geographic Magazine—with a piece written by a Chinese doctor who was sent to Tibet by China’s emperor in 1907— and more than fifty letters written by Sir Robert Hart during the 19th century support the fact that Tibet was part of China for more than six centuries prior to 1913 when the British Empire convinced Tibet to break free for political reasons. [Note: I have an original copy of that issue of NGM, and copies of Hart's letters]

The so-called Tibetan government in exile says they are seeking autonomy within China. In fact, China does offer a form of autonomy to the 56 minorities that live in China, but this isn’t the level of autonomy that the Dalai Lama demands, which is a return to the old Tibetan ways described in that 1912 issue of National Geographic, which is unacceptable to China.

Tibet has never been a democracy or a republic. And the average life expectancy for Tibetans increased from 35 years in 1950 to over 65 years by the 2000s while China has ruled the region, and going to school is mandatory for children. Source for life expectancy facts: Tibet from the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.

Between 1913 and 1950, life expectancy in Tibet did not improve during the few decades that the Dalai Lama ruled the region. In fact, little to nothing changed and most Tibetans were mostly illiterate serfs/slaves of wealthy and powerful landowners. In fact, every family had to send a son/s to become Tibetan Buddhist lamas. There was no choice and there was no educational system for children. The Tibetan people have more freedom of choice today—even under CCP leadership—than at any time in recorded history.

_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,835 other followers