© B. Green & L. Brown 2000
||Buddhism did not begin in China. Founded by an Indian Prince, Siddhartha Gautama,
in Nepal about 560 years before the birth of Christ, it first entered China about
30 years after the death of Christ. Today, when most westerners think of religion
in China, Confucianism and Buddhism are the first things that come to mine. Even
before Communism established itself, China could not have been said to have had a
unified religion. Possibly the only binding thread that religiously ties the Chinese
people together is their devotion to their ancestors and an inward identity between
man and his surroundings.
On our first Sunday, we stopped at the Temple of the Jade Buddha. The white jade
Buddha, brought to China from Burma about 200 years ago, is the largest in the country.
It was said that during the "cultural revolution" the monks had to hide
the Jade Buddha and other religious items to keep them from being destroyed. Today
the temple is Shanghai's most active Buddhist site.
Religion is a very personal matter. War in the name of religion has been one of the
major causes of death throughout human history. Little wonder, with four out of five
people on this planet identifying themselves as being religious. However, if you've
ever really known peace through devotion, how can you not respect another who is
devout, even if the religion is not yours.
Photos of the Jade Buddha were not allowed.