The Complex History of Buddhism

November 1, 2016

Siddhartha Gautama, the historical Buddha, lived in the 5th or 6th Century B.C. He was born in Nepal and his father was the king of the Sakya people.  After he attained enlightenment at the age of thirty-five, Buddha preached the Dharma in an effort to help others reach enlightenment too.

Unlike the other major religions, Buddhism does not have a god like the Christian, Jewish or Islamic God.  Buddha is not a deity or supreme being. The Buddha believed that religious ideas and especially the god concept have their origin in fear.

Several centuries later during the Han Dynasty in the first century B.C., trade with Central Asia introduced Buddhism to China.  Over the centuries, interest in Buddhism grew.  However, due to Confucianism and Taoism, the Chinese adapted Buddhist scripture to fit the Chinese culture creating the Mahayana sect that spread to Korea and Japan.

Like most major religions, there are subdivisions within Buddhism but most may be classified into three. This is why Southeast Asian Buddhists differ from the Chinese.  The Theravada form of Buddhism is found in Southeast Asia in countries like Burma, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos.

Tibetan Buddhism incorporates other beliefs, and there are four principal schools or types of Tibetan Buddhism. The Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of one of the four, the Yellow Hat sect.

Buddhism in China reached its high point during the Tang Dynasty, 618 to 907. However, in 845 AD, the Tang emperor suppressed Buddhism and destroyed thousands of monasteries, temples and shrines.

Soon after Mao and the Communists won China’s Civil War with the Nationalists under Chiang Kai-shek, Buddhism flourished for a time but was repressed during the Cultural Revolution (1966 – ‘76) along with all other religions. Many monasteries and Buddhist texts were destroyed. After Mao died in 1976, many of the major monasteries were rebuilt under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping.

In 2012, the Pew Research Center reported there were about 488 million Buddhists worldwide, and about 244 million, half, are in China.

Discover Wu Zetian, China’s only female emperor

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 unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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China’s water race to beat Disaster

July 26, 2016

A man or woman can survive for weeks without food but only a few days without water. Knowing that, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Tibet will stay in China for some time and water is one of the most important reasons why.

The Yellow River and Yangtze start in Tibet serving more than a third of China’s population—more than 400 million people. It’s possible that Mao realized the importance of water from Tibet when he sent 40,000 PRC troops to reoccupy the former troublesome province/tributary that at the urging of the British Empire’s broke from China in 1913 and declared its independence as a theocracy ruled by a Dalai Lama known as a living god.

Tibet has an area of about 1.3 million square kilometers (about 5 million square miles) and it is estimated that there are less than 3 million people living in Tibet. China, on the other hand, serves more than 1.3 billion people, so who benefits the most from water that starts its journey in Tibet?

Rajendra K. Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, said, “At least 500 million people in Asia and 250 million people in China are at risk from declining glacial flows on the Tibetan Plateau.” – Circle of Blue Waternews

If Tibet’s water were in the hands of anyone else like a free Tibet that might favor other nations over China, China’s future would be dim at best and dire in a worst-case scenario. As it is, China is one of the earth’s driest areas and the challenge to supply more than 1.3 billion people with water is a daunting task. In fact, China is racing to beat a disaster, and the end of that race will be reached in a few decades.

Today, water and waste pollution is the single most serious issue facing China.

While replacing thousands of older, coal-burning power plants with cleaner technologies, building more hydroelectric dams, and constructing nuclear reactors, China is also adding desalinations plants to ease the growing water crises. In 2005, a desalination facility south of Shanghai started producing about 375,000 gallons of fresh water an hour, with a goal to build more plants and produce 250 million gallons of water per day by 2010. – Environmental News Network

In fact, to achieve this, China contracted with IDE Technologies in Kadima, Israel to build four new desalination units and the first went on line near Beijing in 2010. These plants are designed to provide desalinated seawater for a power plant’s steam boilers as well as drinking water for local residents.

Bloomberg reports, “Home to 20 percent of the world’s population but only 7 percent of its fresh water, China has embraced desalination. The central government’s Special Plan for Seawater Utilization calls for producing 3 million tons (807 million gallons) a day of purified seawater by 2020—roughly quadruple the country’s current capacity. Of China’s 668 largest cities, at least 400 already suffer from water scarcity.”

And this isn’t all that China is doing to deal with its water woes. China is building an aqueduct—some of it running underground and it is known as the South-North Water Transfer Project—that may rival China’s Great Wall as a construction project that will cost twice as much as the Three Gorges Dam. The completed aqueduct will be slightly over 716 miles long.

China also plans to build 100 dams in Tibet—not only to generate electricity but to store much needed water for its more than 1.3 billion people. Both projects are controversial, but can China afford to do nothing?

Meanwhile, the United States with the 3rd largest population in the world is facing its own challenges with water. Business Insider reports, “Americans tend to take it for granted that when we open a tap, water will come out. … (but) Many states — 40 out of 50 according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office — have at least one region that’s expected to face some kind of water shortage in the next 10 years.”

In addition, India, with the 2nd largest population in the world, has an even larger challenge than China or the U.S. when it comes to water. The Water Project reports, “India’s water crisis is often attributed to lack of government planning, increased corporate privatization, industrial and human waste and government corruption. In addition, water scarcity in India is expected to worsen as the overall population is expected to increase to 1.6 billion by year 2050. To that end, global water scarcity is expected to become a leading cause of national political conflict in the future, and the prognosis for India is no different.”

Discover China’s First Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi, the man that unified China more than 2,000 years ago.

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 unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Does water reveal how a country takes care of its citizens – China versus India

February 3, 2016

This post explores which country is doing a better job of supplying water to its people—China or India.  When you finish reading and watching the two videos, you decide which country you would rather live in if you had to make a choice between them.

Is freedom of expression and of religion more important than water—what would be your answer if you had to make a choice?

The choices of world religions are many. According to Religious Tolerance.org, “There are 19 major world religions which are subdivided into a total of 270 large religious groups, and many smaller ones. 34,000 separate Christian groups have been identified in the world.”

One of the most common complains outside China is that its citizens do not have the abstract freedom of expression and all of those religions to choose from, because China only offers seven approved religions to choose from and freedom of public political expression is severely limited.

The National Geographic special issue, “Water, Our Thirsty World” (April 2007) compared the world’s largest democracy, India, with China. In “The Big Melt” by Brook Larmer, we see a convincing reason why China’s mix of socialism and capitalism may be the world’s answer to avoid future calamities. Where Western style democracies fail to act due to partisanship, special interests, religious beliefs and political agendas, China’s government, ruled by engineers and scientists, appears to be planning decades ahead.

The claims of Tibetan separatists—the 1% that lives in voluntary exile in India—and their supporters that China rules over Tibet with an iron fist also appears to be wrong when Larmer visits a family of Tibetan nomads. He writes, “There is no sign of human life on the 14,000 foot high prairie that seems to extend to the end of the world.” Larmer sees “the NOMADS’ tent as a pinprick of white against a canvas of brown.”

We meet Ba O, a Tibetan nomad. In Ba O’s tent, “there is a small Buddhist Shrine: a red prayer wheel and a couple of smudged Tibetan texts…” A few years earlier, Ba O had several hundred sheep and the grass was plentiful. Now the Tibetan nomad has about a hundred left and fears this way of life is ending.

Ba O says, “This is the way we’ve always done things. And we don’t want that to change.”

But no matter what Ba O wants, change is coming, and there is nothing he can do to stop it. The change is not from China’s government. It is coming from global warming. Because of drought, the Tibetan grasslands are dying and a way of life that has existed for thousands of years may be dying too.

To insure that the Tibetan nomads will have a place to live, China’s government has been building resettlement villages. The “solid built” houses are subsidized. When the Tibetan nomads can no longer survive on the open Tibetan prairie, it is the nomad’s choice to move into the new villages. The government does not force them to give up their old way of life. Nature does that.

Along with the house comes a small annual stipend for each family so they can eat as they find another way to earn a living. The home Larmer visited in one of these resettlement villages had a Buddhist shrine and a free satellite dish for a TV and maybe an Internet connection. In addition, the one child policy does not apply to the Tibetan people since they are a minority in China.

To make sure there will continue to be water to drink, China is planning to build 59 reservoirs in Tibet to capture and save glacial runoff.

In India, by comparison, the young wife of a fortuneteller spends hours each day searching for water. She lives with her husband and five children in Delhi, India‘s capital. There are fights over water. In a nearby slum, a teenage boy was beaten to death for cutting into a water line. The demand for water in Delhi exceeds the supply by more than 300 million gallons a day.

Here are a few other factors that reveal how a country treats its citizens.

China – Population 1.357 billion (2013) with one political party

  • 27.24% or 369.6 million live on less than $3.10 a day
  • illiteracy = 3.6% or 48.8 million
  • life expectancy = 75 today. It was 35 in 1949.
  • According to worldhunger.org, “Progress in poverty reduction has been concentrated in Asia, and especially, East Asia, with the major improvement occurring in China.”
  • Transparency.org ranks China #27 on the bribe payers index.

The Bribe Payers Index ranks the world’s wealthiest and most economically influential countries according to the likelihood of their firms to bribe abroad, and the United States is ranked #10.

India – Population 1.252 billion (2013) with six national political parties and 49 state parties

  • 58.1% or 727.4 million live on less than $3.10 a day
  • illiteracy = 27.9% or 338 million
  • life expectancy = 66 today. It was 36 in 1949.
  • According to bhookh.com, “Over 7000 Indians die of hunger every day.”
  • Transparency.org list ranks India #19 on its bribe payers index.

Patrick Henry (1736 – 1799), one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, is credited with saying “Give me liberty, or give me death!”

What happens to the pursuit of life, liberty, freedom of expression—the right to publicly complain about the government but nothing changes anyway—and the exploration of spiritual beliefs when there isn’t enough food to eat or safe water to drink?

______________________________

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 unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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The India-China Connection

February 2, 2016

There is an obsession in the West that India, since it is labeled a democracy, is the country to counter China’s economic and military growth in Asia.

The thinking has been, “If the United States and India can together rediscover and revive the Indian military’s expeditionary tradition, they will have a solid basis for strategic cooperation not only between themselves but also with the rest of the world’s democracies.” For instance, in A Himalayan rivalry, The Economist focused on the 1962 conflict between India and China saying, “Memoires of a war between India and China are still vivid in the Tawang valley.”

But memoires aren’t everything. There is also knowledge, economics and culture, and, compared to India, China is not the same country it was in 1962, because unlike India, China’s one party political system allows for quick decisions that often benefit the country and the people.

Another important factor to remember is that China is a collectivist culture just like India, and according to healthypsych.com “Culture influences behavior.”

​“Collectivism is the political theory that people should be interdependent on others and all conform to the same ideas and worship the goals of group than that of the individual. It’s a broad term that expands to many different topics and politics. Collectivists believe in order to form the more common good that the people should be united as a whole live their lives for the community, nation, or society.”  – Science Leadership Academy

Due to these facts, China and India have more in common than India and the United States.

Another factor is that China and India both have ancient civilizations more than 5,000 years old, and they are next-door neighbors that are also linked by economics—both are members of BRIC: Brazil, Russia, India and China.

The Institute of Development Studies says, “Globally and politically, the influence of the BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and since 2011, South Africa – is rapidly increasing. They have been engaged in official and non-official development cooperation for decades, but their role as development actors has only recently been acknowledged by the development community.”

______________________________

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 unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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What is this thing called Enlightenment?

September 15, 2015

Santhip Kanholy, on TED, said, “Enlightenment is an actual experience which changes the perspective and perception of the individual, which has been touted in all the ancient religious scriptures spanning all global cultures. Buddha is considered to be enlightened. So is Jesus. Thus all major religions have sprung from individuals who have experienced enlightenment.”

I admit that I was surprised when I saw the embedded video in this post of a group of Americans searching for and finding their own form of enlightenment in China.

The popular stereotype about someone searching for change and enlightenment fits the plot we find in Eat, Pray, Love, a best seller that was made into a movie with Julia Roberts, where Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir takes her to Italy for pleasure, India for enlightenment and Indonesia where she discovers love again—repeatedly, it seems.

In the following video, we follow a group of Kung Fu and Tai Chi students from the U.S. in search of Kung Fu wisdom in China.

While in China, they visit Chinese families, schools, temples and universities. They travel through both ancient and modern China visiting Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai.

They also climbed two of the five major mountains of China, Songshan and Yellow Mountain.

After surviving personal conflicts and emotional struggles, the group returns to America as Elizabeth Gilbert did in her journey—to be compassionate and harmonious with others and the environment.

Of course, finding harmony might not have worked out for Gilbert because  in a 2015 article for The New York Times titled “Confessions of a Seduction Addict,” Gilbert wrote that she “careened from one intimate entanglement to the next—dozens of them—without so much as a day off between romances.” She acknowledged, “Seduction was never a casual sport for me; it was more like a heist, adrenalizing and urgent. I would plan the heist for months, scouting out the target, looking for unguarded entries. Then I would break into his deepest vault, steal all his emotional currency and spend it on myself.” After reading what Gilbert wrote for the NY Times, I think it is arguable that Gilbert never found the enlightenment she was searching for, but her memoir did make her famous and wealthy.

However, in three weeks, the group that went to China for enlighten went places few foreigners have seen and maybe that adventure and discovery was a form of enlightenment all by itself.

______________________________

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 lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

IMAGE with Blurbs and Awards to use on Twitter

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Who has the bloodiest hands—China, the United States or India?

September 2, 2015

Back in 2006, China was crucified in the Western media due to one unarmed Tibetan being shot dead attempting to illegally cross the border into India. It was called the Nangpa La Pass Shooting Incident. If you Google it, you’ll find a lot of anger and allegations about what happened.

USA Today reported, “China said Thursday that soldiers posted near its border with Nepal clashed with some 70 people attempting to flee the country, killing one person on the spot and injuring two others, including one who died later of altitude sickness.” io9.com says, “Altitude sickness is relatively unstudied because of how quickly and unpredictably it goes from nausea to coughing up blood to death.”

Another headline shouted: “International Anger Grows Over Tibet Shooting. Human Rights groups are calling for a UN Investigation into the killing of a nun by Chinese border patrol guards, writes Jonathan Watts in Beijing.”

Then I read another story I’d never heard of before that the U.S. media has ignored.  I read this in The Economist, a publication in the UK, of another border where similar killings happen often, but I couldn’t find any demand of a UN Investigation in the Western media or from human rights groups for those killings. Even The Economist, that reported the story, didn’t call for an investigation.

Maybe the difference is that the border killings reported by The Economist took place between two democracies—India and Bangladesh. After all democracies are special, aren’t they?


I couldn’t find a report of this India-Bangladesh incident in English on YouTube

The Economist reported, “On January 7th India’s Border Security Force (BSF) shot dead Mr. Nur Islam’s 15-year-old (daughter) Felani, at an illegal crossing into Bangladesh from the Indian state of West Bengal. Felani’s body hung from the barbed-wired fence for five hours. Then the Indians took her down, tied her hands and feet to a bamboo pole, and carried her away. Her body was handed over the next day and buried in the yard at home.”

“The BSF (India’s Border Security Force) kills with such impunity along India’s 4,100-kilometer (2,550-mile) border with Bangladesh that one local journalist wonders what the story is about. According to Human Rights Watch, India’s force has killed almost 1,000 Bangladeshis over the past ten years.”

Should we conclude from this that the one Tibetan killed attempting to illegally cross China’s border is worth more than the 1,000 who were shot dead attempting to illegally cross the border from Bangladesh to India?

What about deaths along the US border?

According to Rodolfo Acuña, Professor Emeritus of Chicano Studies at California State University, “Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported 117 cases of human rights abuses by US officials against migrants from 1988 to 1990, including fourteen deaths. During the 1980s, Border Patrol agents shot dozens of people, killing eleven and permanently disabling ten.”

On May 28, 2010, Anastasio Rojas, a 42-year-old Mexican migrant worker, was tased and beaten at the San Ysidro border crossing by more than a dozen U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers. According to the witnesses, he was face down on the ground and handcuffed.

On June 2010, a 15-year-old Mexican citizen was shot to death on the Mexican side of the border near El Paso, Texas. The U.S Border Patrol reported that the officers responded to a group of suspected illegal immigrants who were throwing rocks at them.

Hey, China, did you get that? China’s border guards are not allowed to shoot anyone who is illegally crossing its borders, but the United States and India can kill as many as they want—sort of like the fictional character James Bond, who has a license to kill from another democracy.

______________________________

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 lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

IMAGE with Blurbs and Awards to use on Twitter

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Comparing Economic Growth: China versus India

May 13, 2014

Chris Devonshire-Ellis wrote a convincing piece at China Briefing back in October 2010 that India‘s economic growth would speed past China in the near future.  It seems that many in the West are convinced that democracies are superior to countries ruled by authoritarian governments.

Chris said, “It (India’s) growth rate could overtake China’s by 2013… Some economists think India will grow faster than any other large country over the next 25 years.”

However, several years later, we discover that Chris was wrong. In February 2014, the BBC reported, “India’s economy growth slower than expected.” During the four years starting with 2010 through 2013, China’s GDP grew from $4.99 Trillion to $8.23 Trillion compared to India’s growth from $1.365 Trillion in 2010 to $1.8417 Trillion by the end of 2013.

The foundation of this prediction was based on India being a democracy “where entrepreneurs are all furiously doing their own thing” while China is a culture of secrecy and censorship. Chris mentions a few of China’s other flaws too, which China is working to overcome.

What Chris doesn’t mention is the fact that economic development in India follows socialist policies including state-ownership of many sectors—something China learned long ago doesn’t work, and then there’s the difference in poverty and illiteracy between India and China.

India and China both became independent about the same time—China in 1949 and India in 1947 and due to Chairman Mao’s policies, China suffered horribly from 1949 to 1976 and progress was slow. Than Mao died and China changed dramatically.

India, on the other hand, has had more than 60 years to solve its problems and hasn’t made much progress primarily because it is a democracy often mired in political partisanship and corruption. India is actually rated more corrupt than China but we don’t hear much about that.

Let’s see what each has accomplished in reducing illiteracy and poverty.

The World Bank says, “That China’s record of poverty reduction and growth is enviable. Between 1981 and 2004 the fraction of the population consuming less than a dollar-a-day fell from 65% to 10% and more than half a billion people were lifted out of poverty.”

For India, the World Bank reports: “poverty remains a major challenge. According to the revised official poverty line, 37.2% of the population (about 410 million people remains poor, making India home to one-third of the World’s poor people.” UNICEF shows the poverty in India to be 42%.

World Bank studies also established the direct and functional relationship between literacy and productivity on the one hand and literacy and the overall quality of human life on the other.

India’s literacy rate was about 12% when the British left in 1947. Today, literacy is 68%.

When Mao died in 1976 after a decade of suffering through twenty-seven years of mostly wrong-headed reforms ending with the Cultural Revolution, less than 20% of the people were literate, but today literacy is more than 93% with a goal to reach 99% soon.

As for India succeeding, MeriNews.com says, “At a time when we (India) are poised on the threshold of becoming a superpower, the rampant malnutrition and prevalence of anemic children and women to the extent of 48 per cent of the population is a definitive indicator that we have failed as a democracy in ensuring the fundamental requirements of our citizens.”

It appears that China—with censorship, secrecy and its one party government with a capitalist, market, consumer driven economy—has done a much better job of taking care of its people. India, on the other hand, has six national political parties and 54 political parties at the state level. Considering that America has two national political parties that can’t agree on much of anything, it’s a wonder that India gets anything accomplished.

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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.

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