Student Teacher PHI-120-300 November 14, 2017 Tibetan Buddhism and the Influence of China America: Home of the Brave and Land of the Free. We live in a country where we are blessed to have all the freedom that we do: Freedom of Speech, Freedom of the Press, and most importantly, Freedom of Religion. We, as Americans, are able to practice any religion we wish at any time, and there is no need to go through the state for permission of anything we do religiously. We take this for granted. People living in countries that allow freedom to their people, are often very naive of how others who are not as fortunate to live in a free country. Let’s take Tibet, for example. Regardless of how unique their religion, culture, and political power has been, and still is, Tibet has been under complete control by the atheist Communist Chinese Party government. They have repressed Tibet’s religious freedom, and have caused immense amounts of people harm. In order to truly understand the severity of Tibet’s religious repression by China, it is important to explain their history. Buddhism was founded in India in the sixth century, and quickly spread throughout Middle and Eastern Asia in the third century, eventually making it the third major religion in China. Mahayana Buddhism was the most popular form of Buddhism that spread to many parts of Asia, including Tibet. Prior to the arrival of Buddhism, Tibet’s indigenous religious tradition was Bon. It was a “ system of shamanistic and animistic practices performed by priests” (Powers). The term “Bon” was a name that only represented loyal priests who performed rituals for emperors of the Yarlung dynasty. Some emperors included Nyatri 1
Tsenpo, Tisho Lek, Tori Longtsen, and Songtsen Gampo, who played a big role in the start of Tibetan Buddhism. These priests would “[ perform] rituals to propitiate local spirits and ensure the wellbeing of the dead in the afterlife” (Powers). Their goal was to insure a safe journey to the afterlife for the dead, especially emperors. The kings were buried in special tombs, conveniently joined by deceased servants to follow them in their journey. The priest would then perform a ceremony which could potentially last several years. The kings were ensured a pleasant afterlife, because they would request the help of a living priest for mundane tasks or affairs. Aside from the rituals done by loyal priests, Tibetans had their own general beliefs. They, much like Native Americans, believed that the world was filled with spirits and an abundance of powers. They believed that the natural environment was “alive with various types of sentient forces, who live in mountains, trees, rivers and likes, rocks, fields, the sky, and the earth” (Powers). Tibetans often performed offerings to the spirits to insure not to upset them and stay on their good side.
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- Spring '15
- People's Republic of China, Dalai Lama