Libmonster ID: U.S.-1216
Author(s) of the publication: V. S. KUZNETSOV


Doctor of Historical Sciences

Hong Kong (Hong Kong) - the southern gate of China, in a sense, the business card of the country too. China is a country where the influence of Buddhism is strong, as clearly evidenced by the giant statue of Buddha that stands on the picturesque Lantou Island in the south-west of Hong Kong.

Erected in 1993, this 34-meter-high statue is the world's largest outdoor statue of a Shakya Muni. The Buddha sits on a lotus throne atop an altar of three platforms. It is surrounded by eight bronze statues representing the immortal gods.

Unlike most Buddha statues, which face south, this Buddha faces north, in the direction of the Chinese mainland. The statue is called Tiantang Buddha, as its pedestal is copied from the Tiantang altar, the Temple of Heaven in Beijing.


The white bulk of the Bayta (White Pagoda) rose high above Beijing. The ancient building, which stands on the shore of Lake Beihai (North Sea), for more than one century clearly demonstrates how firm the foundations of Buddhism are on Chinese soil.

"Beijing," says an old friend of mine, " is a Buddhist city. Look at all the Buddhist symbols around you. Yes, there, "he points to a passing car," it has a Buddhist wheel (with seven hubs. - V. K.).

The pagoda is always crowded. Externally, the Byte impresses with its size. You need to raise your head high to see it for sure. Beyond the walls of the pagoda is a complex world of Buddhist spirituality and practice. It opens if you go through narrow passages through the inner halls of the pagoda, from top to bottom. Each tier contains a specific topic: chronological tables, commandments, and practice. The stone statue of the male deity sits impassively and majestically, as if it does not see or feel the divine woman clinging tightly to it. The esoteric spirit of Buddhism is clearly reflected in this silent scene. The mentors ' thoughts and words materialized in a pair of majestic statues.

This pagoda in the center of Beijing seems to symbolize the victorious promotion of Buddhism in China. Relatively speaking, this is a kind of monument to the triumph of Buddhism-a religion that came to China from India. The primordial ruler of Chinese souls, Confucius, cannot compare with the Buddha in terms of expressing universal veneration. Yes, this is understandable, because, unlike Buddha, Confucius is not the founder of religion. It does not really remind you of itself in the form of monuments and sculptures. The statue of Confucius can be seen, for example, in the historical complex Guozits-zian, which, apparently, due to a combination of circumstances, is located near the Buddhist Lamaist Yonghegong temple.

Long before the Baita rose above Beijing, demonstrating the establishment of the Buddha cult here, Buddhism marked its spread in the surrounding lands with the Hongliusi Monastery (Red Snail Temple). It is separated from Beijing by a considerable distance-almost 50 km, but it does not deter people from visiting this memorable place.

On a slope overgrown with trees and shrubs, unknown sculptors placed the disciples of the Buddha, those who preached his commandments by deeds and words. In appearance, they are all the same-a monotonous bluish-gray color. So the sculptor conveyed their stay in another, unearthly world. Their flesh is lifeless, not knowing the sun's rays warming the body. But you get the impression that you see specific people, with their own character, with their own attitude to the world around them, to people. This one shows a desire to heal ailments, another-holds out a purse and is ready to share his condition with his neighbor, the third-is completely immersed in thoughts, looking for answers to life's questions. And everyone is different in their facial expressions and demeanor. I'm tempted to go over and touch it, but something holds me back. Such familiarity (as if someone suggests) is inappropriate. It is no good showing idle curiosity when the thoughts of these sages are focused on understanding the meaning of life.

The motionless gazes of the statues and the inaudible exclamations create a whole range of impressions that do not disappear when all these figures are already left behind. And the further you go from the slope, the more you expect to see something. And indeed, what is revealed to the eye, inexorably attracts him.

You can feel the presence of the motionless and voiceless statues behind you, even though you can no longer see them. And the feeling is enhanced when the eye is attracted to the unusually clear, like crystal, water in one of the reservoirs where the lotus floats, reminding of the unclouded foul consciousness, which every person should always strive for.

When Shakya Muni, the future Buddha, who was sitting under a bodhi tree, had an epiphany about the meaning of life, he was filled with compassion for the future.

page 25

to your fellow human beings. He saw them, tradition says, like the stems and buds of a lotus in a lake. Some were submerged in the mud, others were emerging from it or had just appeared on the surface of the water, and others were just beginning to bloom. Seeing this, Sakya Muni decided to encourage them all to blossom and bear fruit. In other words, he became convinced of the possibility of extending the communication of truth-seekers (tathagata) to all sentient beings, who in turn would become "tathagata"in the future. All earthly vanity, lowly and sinful thoughts - all this is the dirt of everyday existence, but it can also be overcome if a person is determined to improve spiritually, which has made it easier for him to bear the everyday hardships of everyday life.

There is no Buddhist temple or monastery in China where a lotus does not grow in different waters. And its flower, white or pink, on the surface of muddy or dark water from dirt attracts the attention of even indifferent to the samples of the kingdom of flora. It is because of the color contrast that turbidity and light intensity catch the eye. The contrast between the source and the derived text is striking.

And the pond in Hunlyusi is striking precisely for its unusual nature: crystal-clear water and a virgin flower in it. This has never been seen in any of the Buddhist temples in Beijing and other cities where I managed to visit - Xi'an, Anshan, Kunming, Fuzhou, Shanghai, Guangzhou...


The sight of the lotus brings back to mind the motionless and voiceless statues of the Buddha's disciples that remained on the hillside. By its appearance, the lotus brings them all back to mind's eye. This is not just a flower, but the personification of the everyday philosophy of the great teacher of faith, it is the quintessence of the Buddhist worldview. The lotus, from the point of view of the Buddhist perception of existence, is a symbol of purity and perfection, since it grows out of dirt, but is not polluted, just as the Buddha was born in the world, but lives above it. And because its fruit, they say, ripens when the flower blooms, just as the truth preached by the Buddha immediately bears the fruit of enlightenment.

The Buddha's disciples are gathered on a hillside near the Hongliusa buildings, a man-made work. But in the Xishan Mountains in the vicinity of Beijing, there is also a particle, as they say, of the Buddha himself. It's his tooth. In terms of its size, the pagoda building in which it is enclosed is incommensurable with a piece of bone. And this greatness of the structure erected to store the tooth is a clear evidence of honoring the memory of the great teacher of the faith. Among those who climb the ribbed slope that leads to the foot of the Phoyata (Tooth of the Buddha Pagoda), there are also those who sit in wheelchairs. There are no words to convey the feelings that can be read on the faces of the maimed. One thing is clear: they are happy that they are approaching the shrine. In an effort to protect her from the ravages of time and the elements, unknown people sheltered her in a majestic building. By the hands of countless builders, the pagoda rose to a height beyond the reach of trees, encouraging people to attain high spiritual perfection, as set by Shakya Muni Buddha.

The basics of his teaching are described in the books displayed on the shelves in the shop at the temple. Those who prefer the living word listen to the conversations of a nun from a local monastery.

The Guangjisu Temple is not only the most important in Beijing, but also in the whole country in terms of its hierarchical significance. The Chinese Buddhist Society (CBO) is located here. He is responsible for the entire life of Buddhists in China.

The traditional lions at the gate of the temple, surrounded by a red wall, seem more impressive than they have ever been seen anywhere else. They are by no means uncommon: you can see them at the entrance to a hotel or office. Here, the kings of animals seem to say that they are guarding the orderly routine outside the walls of the temple. After all, this is not just a cult event-

page 26

It is a center for guiding the multifaceted life of the Chinese Sangha, a Buddhist community. Here, in Guangjixi, important religious events are held, celebrations on the occasion of memorable events. Here they receive foreign guests, delegations of foreign co-religionists.

In the reception area for guests, over a traditional cup of green tea, we are having a conversation with responsible officials of the BWC.

"The main task of our organization," the hosts answer the question, "is to ensure that believers strictly observe the principle of" ai guo, ai jiao "in their daily life, that is,"love your state, love your religion." In other words, to be patriotic, to be devoted to the original commandments of the faith, not to perceive heresy.

The latter, for its part, manifests itself in the emergence of sectarianism. Falun Gong is one of the most numerous and influential Buddhist sects. Hundreds of thousands of people, including high-ranking state and party officials, took part in the activities of this sect. And the founder of the sect lived abroad. The CCP Central Committee considered that Falun Gong was becoming a force that undermined the party's authority and banned the organization. Many members of the sect were arrested. Like the authorities, the sect was condemned by the BWC. It consistently takes care of the ideological level of not only current but also future spiritual pastors. The Chinese Spiritual Academy admission notice (for 2007) specified the requirements that applicants must meet. The first was: "to love the state, to love religion."


To be a Buddhist priest means to be not just an expert in the canon and ritual, and not to go beyond the purely religious limits in your affairs. This is a constant reminder to all those who intend to cross the threshold of a Buddhist educational institution.

The 2008 recruitment notice for a Buddhist school in Fujian Province stated that applicants must meet the following requirements: love the fatherland and love religion, observe order and observe the law, support the party leadership and the socialist system1.

The recruitment announcement for the Famenxi Buddhist School in Shaanxi Province stated that it aims to train Buddhist talents who are politically trustworthy and trusted by the faithful.2

It should be emphasized that the principle of" ai guo, ai jiao", proclaimed as the fundamental principle of the sangha's life, was a directive of the highest party and state leadership of the PRC. Permanent guardianship on his part is a defining feature of the activities of confessional organizations. This guardianship is expressed visually in the form of instructive conversations between government officials and leaders of confessions, participation in events related to religious institutions and problems.

Here is a very illustrative example. On March 1, 2007, the Center for the Study of Chinese Buddhist Culture held a tea party in Beijing. It was attended by leaders of the Chinese Buddhist Society, the scientific community, and officials.

Ye Xiaowen, Head of the Department of Religious Affairs under the State Council of the People's Republic of China, delivered a speech to the audience. In his speech, he emphasized the main points:

1) Buddhism should support cultural features, folk features;

2) it is necessary to embody the spirit of charity, intelligence, tolerance, equality;

3) support the purification of human souls, promote the ability of public re-education to ensure consent.

Ye Xiaowen expressed hope that Buddhist circles and the scientific community will join forces and consistently develop the specific abilities of scientific institutions that study the culture of Chinese Buddhism. Speaking about the problem of self-creation of Chinese Buddhism in modern conditions, Ye Xiaowen gave the following guidelines.

1. Only by interacting with society can religion flourish.

2. Religion should share the same breath with the people and share their fate.

3. If Buddhism does not vow to be a mentor, it will certainly fall into secularization.

4. The decline of scientific research can lead to the fact that Buddhism will lose its ability to be a spiritual guide 3.

Being represented in the legislative and executive bodies of the State, Buddhist priests speak publicly on burning issues of the political order.

Let us reproduce some of the opinions of Buddhist high priests, deputies and members of the National People's Congress (NPC) and the Permanent Political Consultative Conference (PPC) of China, expressed by them in interviews with leading publications and mass media bodies of the People's Republic of China-the Fen Min Zhen Bao newspaper (PPC body) Zhongguo Wenhua bao, Xinhua News Agency:

"Fully develop the role of religion in creating a socialist harmonious society. Our state is multiethnic and multireligious. The teachings of all religions contain rich resources of virtues: peace, harmony, naturalness. Buddhism emphasizes joyfully (easily) doing good deeds, doing charity, helping people, being sincere, protecting (preserving) trust, upholding justice, opposing selfishness, discrepancies between words and deeds, slander and malice";

"Buddhist culture is effective for society in many ways, and the subjects of Buddhist culture are not only connected with pilgrimage, but also with ethics and morality, the development of cultural education in general useful matters. We need to develop positive factors in the prescriptions of religion and religious ethics in order to build a socialist and harmonious society.";

"Following the rapid development of our country's economy and society and the deepening of reforms and

page 27

public interests and connections are becoming more complex, and the influence of religion in society is increasing. Therefore, of course, it is necessary to ensure cohesive stability in the field of religion, only then will there be social stability; it is necessary to maintain harmonious coexistence between believers and non-believers, only then will there be harmonious coexistence in the whole society. " 4

Buddhism has been an important link in the field of intercivilizational communication between China and its neighbors. Coming from India to China, it spread from there to the Land of the rising sun. Personally, this is associated with the name of the Chinese monk Jian Zheng*. The BWC purposefully makes efforts to maintain and develop spiritual traditions in relations with its neighbors, and to preserve the memory of Buddhist missionaries. Jian Zheng's birthday was celebrated in Beijing. Memorial services were held at the capital's Fayuanshi Temple and the Daminsi Temple in Yangzhou.

And then I remembered such a detail related to Deng Xiaoping's visit to Japan in 1978 as Deputy Prime Minister of the People's Republic of China. He visited Naru, where Jian Zheng's grave and statue are located in one of the monasteries. Deng Xiaoping cupped his hands in a Buddhist ritual and bowed to Jian Zheng's ashes. All this made a great impression on the owners - one of the leaders of Communist China visited the monastery and paid homage to the remains of Jian Zheng! But it was not without some dissonance. The abbot of the monastery complained that he had repeatedly appealed to high-ranking guests from China with a request that the statue of Jian Zheng be taken home. Deng Xiaoping immediately assured the abbot that his wish would be fulfilled.

When I asked where the statue of Jiang Zheng is now, my interlocutors, KBO functionaries, replied that after the restoration, this statue was sent back to Japan. The Chinese side, I thought, is showing an enviable perseverance, clearly perpetuating the memory of their compatriots who have contributed to the spread of Chinese spirituality in other countries.

Personally, a great contribution to the spread of Buddhism in China is associated with the name of the monk Xuan Chuang (Tsang) (602-664). In India, in the Nalanda monastery, he learned the basics of the Buddha's teachings**.


Recently, various events dedicated to Xuan Zhuang have been held in China and abroad. On September 22, 2006, a scientific seminar on the life and work of Xuan Zhuang was held in Chengdu. Among its participants were representatives of India, Japan, Vietnam, Nepal, Bangladesh, Belgium, the United States, South Korea, and Sri Lanka. On February 12, 2007, a grand ceremony was held in Nalanda, Bihar, India, to mark the completion of restoration work at the Xuan Zhuang Memorial Hall. Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, Head of the State Council's Religious Affairs Department Ye Xiaowen, and more than 300 monks arrived to participate in the celebrations. Thus, Chinese Buddhism was present at this ceremony in two guises - in the state and monastic. The first was represented by officials, the second by Chinese monks.

Li Zhaoxing and Ye Xiaowen made speeches. They talked about the need to develop cultural communication between the two countries. Ye Xiaowen emphasized the importance of Buddhist contacts. The monks recited prayers. At the end of the ceremony in Nalanda, Buddhist clergymen from China made a pilgrimage to holy sites and visited historical monuments in Delhi, Agra, Benares, Patna. The Indian land has not seen such a large number of pilgrims from China (77 people) for a long time.

Honoring the memory of Chinese Buddhists who helped establish China's spiritual ties with other countries is not only a tribute to the past, but also a new opportunity to expand international contacts in the present. Chinese Prime Minister Zhou Enlai spoke about this categorically in 1963, speaking in Beijing at a meeting with a delegation of Asian Buddhists. He emphasized, " We need more Xuan Zhuang and Jian Zhen!"5.

From what representatives of the BWC said, a more complete picture of the external relations of Chinese Buddhists is emerging than it was before. I inquire about contacts between Chinese and Russian Buddhists.

- Yes, - representatives of the BWC confirmed , - in recent years

* Died in 763.

** In 629 he went to India, where he spent 16 years. He returned to China in 645.

page 28

Buddhist ties between China and Russia are being revived.

The worship of the Buddha manifests itself in different ways in the behavior of people. Here, on their knees, raising a bunch of incense over their heads, girls and boys are bowing before the impassive statues. Will they be asked to help them pass exams, get a job, or get married successfully? A middle-aged couple asks that the newly purchased utensils last longer. She's wrapped up in a bundle and lying next to me.

The goddess Guanyin looks at everyone who enters with equal affection. She is dressed in an unusual way: a red shawl is thrown over her shoulders. This means that she was asked to send down grace. Which one, you can't tell: Guanyin's lips, in a half-smile, remain motionless. Whether she fulfilled the request, the uninitiated can also find out. If, after some time, Guanyin appears without a red shawl, it means that she has fulfilled the request.

The fundamental commandment of Buddhism calls for a person to: "Thou shalt not kill!" It encourages vegetarianism. There are eateries in Beijing that cook only plant-based food. Here is the restaurant "Buddha" in one of the districts of the capital. The hall is dim, the smell of smoking. All this brings to mind the monastery premises. The dark brown color of the walls makes the monk's robes flash before your eyes, as if their color has been transferred to the walls, the wood of tables and seats. Even the kuaiji chopsticks are dark brown in color. They don't smoke or drink alcohol here: according to the Buddhist precepts, it is sinful to drink hot drinks. From drinks-fruit broth. A brown fish sat submissively on the oval platter. It consists entirely of mashed potatoes, which were given the appropriate shape and appearance.

For centuries, religion, in particular Buddhism, has been a permanent factor in the social life of China, acting as one of the dominants of the everyday consciousness of the overwhelming majority of the country's population. In China, Buddhism is of national importance. It is the object of daily attention and comprehensive control by the party and state leadership, as well as the subject of comprehensive scientific research.

Suffice it to say that there is a center for the study of Chinese Buddhist culture in Beijing. In addition, in the capital, Buddhism is studied in a special division of the Institute of World Religions of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, at the People's University of China, at the Central Institute of Nationalities, and at Beijing Normal University.

A number of specific scientific studies, in particular, of a cultural nature (Buddhist painting Dunhuang), there is a business cooperation of clergy and researchers.

Buddhists take an active civic position in the life of the country. The Chinese mass media publishes materials describing how monks set an example of service to people. The English-language China Daily (June 16, 2007) posted a picture of two young monks from Shanghai's Jasper Buddha Monastery donating blood. The picture is accompanied by the text - another 67 monks will donate blood next week.

The earthquake in Sichuan province in 2008, according to the materials of the national Buddhist publication "Fa Yin", literally captured the entire Sangha, from the leadership of the BWC to the peripheral monasteries. A special BWC meeting was held in Beijing to provide assistance to victims. The disaster area was visited by its leaders and volunteers from charitable societies attached to monasteries.

Buddhists actively participated in the preparation and holding of the Olympic Games in Beijing. This was especially noted in an interview with the press by Ye Xiaowen, Head of the Religious Affairs Department at the State Council of the People's Republic of China.6 A few days before the opening of the Olympiad, on August 4, 2008, in Leshan (prov. Sichuan) The world's tallest statue of the seated Buddha (71 m), carved into the rock, hosted the Olympic Torch Relay handover ceremony in the presence of tens of thousands of Chinese people.7 During the Olympics, religious services, including Buddhist ones, were held in the Olympic Village.8


...Evening twilight is creeping over Beijing. Electric light is not able to cope with them. No ordinary eye can distinguish the line between the surface of Beihai Lake water and the twilight of late evening. And in the semi-darkness, the whitish bulk of the Bayta Pagoda clearly appears...

The silent confrontation between light and dark brings to mind a dispute between irreconcilable parties because of the question that tormented them: "What does religion lead to? To the dark or the light? To the enlightenment of consciousness or the twilight of the soul?". And it seems doubtful because of its categorical postulate: "In a dispute, truth is born." As life shows, any of them is relative...

Apparently, the time of God-fighting initiated by the Chinese leadership has passed in China. Now there are other speeches. Speaking at a meeting with leaders of national faiths on the occasion of the Spring Festival (January 12, 2007), Jia Qinglin, a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, pointed out: "We need to develop the positive role of religion in the progressive movement of society and in promoting social harmony."

Man does not live by bread alone - this truth is clearly confirmed by everyday life. People are always attracted to countless restaurants, eateries, eateries, street stalls. These are all places where the flesh is nourished. But it is also constantly crowded where people are looking for food for spiritual life - in monasteries and holy places. Within the city limits and beyond, the little-known and well-known ones always have visitors of all ages.

..The Tiantang Buddha turned his gaze to the north: there, on the mainland, there are four more statues of the Buddha, matching his size.

1 Fa Yin (monthly illustrated magazine of the BWC, published in Beijing). 2008, No. 3, p. 45.

2 Ibid., p. 53.

3 Fa yin. 2007, N 3, p. 71.

4 Fa yin. 2008, No. 3, pp. 52-53.

Zhou Enlai. 5 Weijiao wenxuan (Speeches and speeches on foreign policy issues). Beijing, 1996, p. 355.

6 Fa yin. 2008, N 7, p. 58.

7 China Daily. August 5, 2008.

8 China Daily. August 16, 2008.


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