Hist80Essay2 - 1 McMillan Aubrey McMillan Professor...

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Aubrey McMillan Professor Barbieri-Low History 80 26 August 2010 A New Perspective from the Song Dynasty “By gradually accumulating good deeds, purifying vulgarities, passing through many forms, and refining the spirit, one can arrive at a level at which rebirth will not recur and thus attain buddhahood” (Chinese Civilization, p. 98). As a Japanese Buddhist monk, I, Tōjin, have learned to live by these words of Wei Shou. It is my duty to relay the teachings of Buddhism in hopes of creating and upholding a peaceful and spiritual society. However, in the year 1010, I felt that the people of my hometown of Heian-kyō had begun to fall far from Buddhist teachings (East Asia 155). I wished salvation for my people through faith in Amida, which must be shown through devotion (East Asia p. 155). Thus, I decided to travel to the Northern Song dynasty of China to learn the latest forms of devotion. Not only would I learn of new religious traditions, but I would also witness new forms of city life, government, and economics. My decision to travel to the Song capital of Bianjing proved to be a wise one. The city life and urban design were the first outstanding characteristics of which I took notice. This city was vastly different from Heian-kyō. This city was not square, as I had initially expected, and it had no walls, boundaries, or wards. Because of this, government officials were in direct contact with ordinary citizens (East Asia, p. 131). Also, the city was incredibly populated – merchants, peasants, and farmers filled the streets and marketplaces. I contrasted this vibrant cosmopolitan city to Heian-kyō, with its extensive motes and walls, sparse-looking palaces, and unpopulated 1
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wards (East Asia, pp. 150-2). Bianjing was certainly very advanced in terms of urban design, adding to its cultural richness. The form of administration of the Song dynasty also greatly differed from that of Heian Japan. Instead of dominating all available territory, the Song saw themselves as equal among other states. The Song legal code was based on an evolved version of the Tang legal code (East Asia, p. 129). Also, Confucianism seemed to be prevalent among government officials, especially judges. These judges seemed to advocate moral decision-making in the mediation of disputes. Furthermore, government officials were selected for service by merit. This merit was
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This note was uploaded on 04/19/2011 for the course HISTORY 80 taught by Professor Barberri-low during the Winter '11 term at UCSB.

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Hist80Essay2 - 1 McMillan Aubrey McMillan Professor...

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