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Buddhism Spreads in China, IndoChina, Japan and Tibet

The teachings of Buddha reached to various locations including the Indian subcontinent and several parts of Asia. It is listed on the Bible Timeline Chart between 1AD and 150AD. Upon spreading to new cultures, the different styles and methods of Buddhism were modified and aligned to the mentality of the locals. However, these modifications did not compromise nor go against the essential teaching of Buddha.

Buddhism in China and Indochina

It was during the Han Dynasty in China when the cultural ties and trade between Central Asia and China increased. It was because of the strong relationship that existed among these cultures that the Chinese learned more about Buddhism. By the middle part of the 1st Century, there was already a small community of Buddhists in China.

However, early translators failed to find the accurate words to explain further significant Buddhist concepts in the Chinese language. Thus, they decided to use Taoist terms as they translated these concepts to the locals. Since then, believers associated Buddhism with the Taoist tradition that was already practiced that time.

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In the 3rd century, the Han Dynasty came to an end, and this also started a period of political issues in China. Despite this difficult period in China, the Buddhist texts still remained and the religion became more popular with the Chinese people. This also gave rise to a number of Chinese monks, particularly Dao-an, who was responsible for revising and improving the earlier Chinese translations of Buddhist texts. Eventually, Buddhism spread to Indochina including Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, all because of the dedication of Buddhist monks who intended to tell the world about the wise teachings of Buddha.

Buddhism in Japan

During the 6th century, the king of Packche came to Japan to send images of the Buddha and several copies of Buddhist texts, with the hopes of establishing a strong and peaceful relationship with the country. He also recommended the religion as a way of providing further benefits to Japan. Eventually, the people of Japan incorporated Buddhist philosophies with their Shinto beliefs as both of these aimed to cultivate harmony and peace.

Although several rulers in Japan were responsible for the support and protection of Buddhism throughout time, it was Prince Shotoku who had the greatest contribution in the growth and expansion of this religion in the country. It was him who wrote the first Japanese constitution that promoted the social and moral values presented in Buddhism. During his time, several Buddhist temples were built, and he also encouraged more Japanese monks to study and read the scriptures of Buddhism.

Buddhism in Tibet

According to historians, Buddhism in Tibet all started with the Bon religion, which was shamanistic and animistic in nature. While Buddhist texts already existed in Tibet several centuries ago, the history of Buddhism in the region only started in 641. It was during that year when King Songsten Gampo succeeded in unifying Tibet because of his victorious military conquests. He also built the very first Buddhist temples in the region, as well as the Changzhug (Nedong) and Jokhang (Lhasa). Tibetan translators were also assigned to work on the study and incorporation of Buddhism on the Sanskrit scriptures. When King Trisong Detsen ruled Tibet in 755, Buddhism was proclaimed as the official religion of all the people in the region.

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