(East-West Question) Buqiong: Why has Tibetan Buddhism been passed down on the snowy plateau for more than a thousand years?

  China News Agency, Lhasa, February 28th: ​​Buqiong: Why has Tibetan Buddhism been passed down on the snowy plateau for more than a thousand years?

  China News Agency reporter Zhao Yan

  Some of the different religious cultures that entered Tibet in history disappeared in a short period of time, while others continued to evolve and continue to this day.

Why has Tibetan Buddhism been passed down on the snow-covered plateau for more than a thousand years?

Nowadays, Tibetan Buddhism continues to present a situation of harmony between Buddhist affairs and religions. What are the good development experiences in it?

Why is it said that the Sinicization of Tibetan Buddhism is a historical necessity?

Recently, Bu Qiong, former director and researcher of the Institute of Religion at the Academy of Social Sciences of the Tibet Autonomous Region, accepted an exclusive interview with China News Agency "East and West" and gave a detailed explanation.

The interview transcript is as follows:

China News Service reporter: When it comes to Tibetan religious culture, what people are most impressed by is Tibetan Buddhism. Is there only one religious culture in Tibet?

What is the evolution history of different religious cultures in Tibet?

Buqiong:

Tibet is not only a religious culture of Tibetan Buddhism, but also various religious sects such as Bon, Islam, Catholicism, etc. The believers are free to believe.

  As far as regular phenomena are concerned, Buddhism, Islam and Catholicism introduced into Tibet all have a process of localization or localization, which is a general social phenomenon of religious dissemination and an objective law for the survival and development of all religions in the world.

When religion spreads to other countries and regions, it will inevitably face a process of integrating with the original local society, system and culture, and finally being accepted by the people of the new region.

  The Mughal Missionary Society in the 17th century and the Italian Cap Puritan Order in the 18th century sent missionaries to Ali and Lhasa successively.

At first, they were all supported by the local government, but eventually they quit because they touched the interests of Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and their ideas were not truly integrated into the local culture.

It was not until the middle of the 18th century that missionaries from France entered Mangkang County, Qamdo, and adopted the missionary method of "going to the countryside and following the customs". They built the only existing Yanjing Catholic Church in Tibet.

From the outside of the building, the eaves and columns of the Yanjing Catholic Church are similar to Tibetan dwellings, and the interior is a typical Gothic style, where Eastern and Western cultures are well integrated.

The only Catholic church in Tibet - Yanjing Catholic Church in Mangkang County, Qamdo.

Photo courtesy of Mangkang County Tourism Development Bureau


The only Catholic church in Tibet - Yanjing Catholic Church in Mangkang County, Qamdo.

Photo courtesy of Mangkang County Tourism Development Bureau

  Muslim merchants who entered Tibet from Kashmir, Balthus, Ladakh and other places in the 14th century, as well as Muslim merchants and soldiers who entered Tibet from the mainland since the Yuan Dynasty, settled in Tibet and intermarried with Tibetans.

In addition to maintaining Islamic beliefs and corresponding norms of daily behavior, through continuous self-adjustment in economic activities and daily life, it has become increasingly localized, and is tolerated and accepted by the local society.

There are four mosques in Tibet, and there are two large and small mosques in Lhasa.

According to statistics, there are 12,000 Muslims living in Lhasa.

Lhasa Mosque.

Photo by China News Agency reporter Gonggar Laisong

China News Service reporter: How did Tibetan Buddhism develop and inherit in Tibet?

Buqiong:

Culturally speaking, Buddhism that was introduced into Tibet from the Central Plains and ancient India is also a typical case of religious localization and sinicization, which is also inseparable from the strong adaptability and cultural diversity of Buddhism.

Tibetan Buddhism absorbs Buddhist cultures from the Central Plains, Nepal, and ancient India, and constantly adapts, transforms, and innovates while developing itself, so as to adapt to the society of different times.

  The development of Tibetan Buddhism in the snow-covered plateau was deeply influenced by Chinese Buddhism.

The introduction of Buddhism to China originated in the Han Dynasty, earlier than the introduction of Buddhism to Tibet. In addition, the Tibetan and Chinese origins are homologous, and the close relationship between Tibet and the mainland has been maintained since ancient times. Therefore, Tibetan Buddhism was deeply rooted in the Qianhong period (about 641 to 841 AD). Influenced by Chinese Buddhism.

After Princess Wencheng of the Tang Dynasty entered Tibet, Princess Jincheng also believed in Buddhism. She built the "Nine-Ding Zhenghui Wooden House Temple" and arranged for Han monks to manage it. Buddhist activities.

At this time, Buddhists interpret Buddhist scriptures in different ways based on their own realities, forming different inheritances. The Buddhist ethics of "compassionate, selfless and altruistic" began to enter the homes of ordinary people from the aristocratic class.

  At the same time when Chinese Buddhism was introduced into Tibet, it also absorbed a large number of Central Plains cultures such as astronomy, construction technology, medicine, culture and art, which greatly enriched Tibetan culture.

  At the same time, Tibetan Buddhism absorbed the architecture, medicine, literature and art of ancient India and Nepal, as well as the regional culture of Persian, Uighur and other surrounding ethnic groups.

These cultures have greatly enriched the cultural connotation of Tibetan Buddhism, promoted its localization process, and formed Tibetan Buddhism with plateau localization characteristics.

  Politically speaking, since Buddhism was introduced to Tibet, two major traditions have been formed. One is the close integration with the local regime.

The primitive religion of Tibet is Bon.

Buddhism was originally an imported product, but starting from Songtsen Gampo, an important lever for the spread and development of Buddhism in Tibet was the local government in Tibet.

After entering the tenth century, a system of political and religious integration that lasted for more than 700 years was gradually formed through alliances with different separatist regimes in Tibet.

The second is to respect the central government in the mainland.

Since Songtsen Gampo, the Tubo regime had established close ties with the Tang Dynasty at that time, and the Buddhist forces at that time did not oppose such ties.

Beginning in the 13th century, as agreed by Sakya Pandita of the Sakya sect and various sects in Tibet, Tibet was attached to the Mongolian Khanate at that time and the central government of the Yuan Dynasty. From then on, Tibet was officially under the direct jurisdiction of the central government. The tradition of respecting the central government in the mainland with local governments was formed and continued for a long time.

During the Qing Dynasty and the Republic of China, the central government established a complete and effective system of governance in Tibet, further strengthened the direct governance of Tibet, and laid a solid political foundation for promoting the Sinicization of Tibetan Buddhism.

Potala Palace.

Photo by China News Agency reporter Gonggar Laisong

China News Service reporter: What positive and negative influences exist in the history of Tibetan Buddhism's development and inheritance?

Buqiong:

The negative effects of religion in Tibet are varied and the reasons are complex. The criteria for judgment should mainly be based on whether it endangers national security, social development and progress, and the overall development of people.

  In the history of old Tibet, the unique privilege of Tibetan Buddhism led to the malignant expansion of religion, which in turn induced the malignant expansion of the negative influence of religion.

  The first is that Tibetan Buddhism itself is corrupt and degenerate. The religious reform of Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelug School, is based on this, so monks are required to practice asceticism and respect the precepts.

Second, the various sects of Tibetan Buddhism evolved and fought, and even caused various wars, causing great suffering to the local people.

Third, Tibetan Buddhism has become a heavy shackle that exploits and mutilates serfs, imprisons people's thinking, and hinders the development of productive forces.

Fourth, Tibetan Buddhism under the system of political and religious integration has gradually become an obstacle to safeguarding the unity of the motherland and consolidating national unity.

  Therefore, while downplaying the negative effects of religion, we must actively explore the positive factors in religious teachings and canons and play their positive role.

  In Buddhist ethics, there is an important role in cultivating meditation, regulating the mind and maintaining social harmony and stability, and its positive universal role is undeniable.

With its unique belief power and moral education, Tibetan Buddhism acts on the spiritual realm of people's lives, restricts people's behavioral norms, and plays the role of moral adjustment and education in the real society.

On December 23, 2016, monks at the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa light butter lamps.

That day is the "Lantern Day" on October 25 of the Tibetan calendar, which commemorates the day when Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelug Sect of Tibetan Buddhism, passed away and became a Buddha.

Photo by Li Lin issued by China News Agency

China News Service reporter: Why do you insist on the Sinicization of Tibetan Buddhism?

Buqiong:

Tibetan Buddhism adheres to the development direction of Sinicization, which is in line with the development requirements of the current era.

At present, China is striving for higher-quality modernization development. The serfs in old Tibet firmly believed in the cycle of cause and effect, and believed that if they created karma in the past life, they would suffer in this life, so they calmly accepted the miserable life at that time and lost the consciousness to change their destiny.

However, a happy life is a struggle.

The purpose of the Sinicization of Tibetan Buddhism is to consolidate the unity of the motherland, promote national unity, maintain social stability, and play an active role in the construction of socialist modernization with Chinese characteristics and the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

The Tibetan Buddhist community can contribute to it in terms of teaching interpretation and actively guiding believers.

  Second, insisting on the Sinicization of Tibetan Buddhism is also beneficial to its own development.

Temples are an important carrier of Tibetan Buddhism. In the process of innovating temple management, Tibet focuses on treating monks and nuns as citizens and friends, which is a very typical approach to promoting the Sinicization of Tibetan Buddhism.

Tibetan monks and nuns can participate in free medical examinations every year and are included in the social security system; some temples with conditions have also built nursing homes, so that they no longer have to worry about seeing a doctor or taking care of the elderly; patriotic and law-abiding monks and nuns can also be rewarded.

During my research, I found that these innovative measures of benefit monks from Lee Temple have won unanimous praise from the monks.

The monks can now fully enjoy the convenience of modernization.

The improvement of the practice environment will enable him to concentrate more on the Buddhist Dharma, provide better religious services for believers, and protect the freedom of religious belief of monks and lay believers.

On May 7, 2012, more than 100 monks and nuns from 8 temples came to Lhasa People's Hospital for free medical examinations.

Photo by Li Lin issued by China News Agency

  The sense of identification with the development of modernization is a process in which Tibetan Buddhism adapts to socialism.

In the Youth Living Buddha Class established by the Tibetan Buddhist College, the first 7 Living Buddhas completed 9 years of compulsory education and have returned to the temple to further study their religious attainments.

At present, the second batch of 9 juvenile living Buddhas are receiving 9 years of compulsory study.

This is an innovative exploration in the cultivation of young living Buddhas in Tibet, changing the traditional cultivation of temples into a cultivation mode that combines education in modern colleges.

The Buddhist Academy also pays attention to cultivating the interests and hobbies of the little living Buddhas, such as basketball, Tibetan calligraphy, and painting.

On March 23, 2021, the second day of the Tibetan Buddhist Academy, the young living Buddhas played basketball in physical education class.

Photo by China News Agency reporter Gonggar Laisong

  However, for the more remote temples, their understanding of the Sinicization of Tibetan Buddhism is not enough, and Tibetan religious people and researchers still need to find a more optimal path.

Adhering to the direction of the Sinicization of Tibetan Buddhism is a step-by-step process. It is necessary to more fully grasp the development laws of Tibetan Buddhism, actively reduce the negative impact of Tibetan Buddhism, guide and educate believers to actively integrate into modern and civilized life, and correctly treat the present and the future, the secular and the world. The relationship between gods and spirits, changing concepts, advocating science, viewing religion rationally, and pursuing a healthy and civilized way of life.

(over)

Interviewee Profile:

  Buqiong, male, Tibetan, was born in 1961 in Naidong County, Shannan, Tibet.

In July 1986, he graduated from the Minority Language and Literature Department of the Central University for Nationalities with a bachelor's degree in Tibetan language and literature.

After graduation, he has been working in the Institute of Religion of the Tibet Autonomous Region Academy of Social Sciences.

He has successively served as the deputy director, director and researcher of the Institute of Religion, and concurrently serving as a visiting professor at the Tibetan Buddhist Academy.

He has published "A Brief Analysis of the Positive Role of Tibetan Buddhism in Building a Harmonious Tibet", "Tibetan People Fully Enjoy Freedom of Religious Belief", "On the Reincarnation System of Living Buddhas in Tibetan Buddhism - A Brief Discussion on Who Is Disrupting the Normal Religious Order" etc. papers.

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