Theravada in China?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Theravada in China?

Postby Coyote » Thu Apr 03, 2014 3:51 pm

I have been accepted to teach English on a program in China. I am wondering what presence there is, if any, of Theravada in China?
There will also be opportunity for travel. Anything you would recommend, Dhamma-wise (or should that be Dharma?)?
I have never been abroad for such a long time, or much at all really. Any tips?
"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."
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Re: Theravada in China?

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu Apr 03, 2014 4:28 pm

Surprisingly, there are many Theravadins in China, the Tai, Shan people, possibly as many as 30 million Theravadins in China, as a nation, known mostly as a stronghold of Mahayana.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shaanxi
http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?tit ... _the_World
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Re: Theravada in China?

Postby JeffR » Thu Apr 03, 2014 6:35 pm

My travels in China was mainly done 1987-1990 with a small amount 1993-1995. I haven't been back since. Officially, according to the government, China is Atheist. Much of the old religious sites, pagodas, etc. where destroyed during the cultural revolution. I don't think I came across any PRC locals that knew anything about Buddhism or other religion; only the Communist propaganda from their school textbooks, news media, planted gossipers and regional loudspeakers. My travels were mostly in the East, Xian is as far West as I got. I traveled for work so associated with business people, engineers, nurses, technicians, translators and a few workers who could speak some English.

My speculation is that any Theravadin presence has been imported since 1995.
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Re: Theravada in China?

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Apr 03, 2014 7:37 pm

China has transformed in the last two to three decades, on all levels and it is certainly possible to find Buddhist and other religions being practised. However, as in many other Asian countries, a foreigner might not find it straightforward to find something of interest, and finding a good Theravada connection would, I think, be extremely difficult.

:anjali:
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Re: Theravada in China?

Postby pilgrim » Fri Apr 04, 2014 12:57 am

Theravada is very much a living religion in the province of Yunnan, south west China bordering Burma and Laos. Apart from that, you might find Goenka groups in the cities. Many PRCs go fro retreats in neighbouring countries as those in the mainland are often full. And if you read Chinese, this site would be useful
http://www.theravada.org.cn/
http://www.theravada-chinese.org/
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Re: Theravada in China?

Postby Coyote » Sun Apr 06, 2014 6:17 pm

Many thanks for the replies. Glad to know there are Theravadins in China.
"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."
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Re: Theravada in China?

Postby Freelance ExBuddhist » Mon Apr 07, 2014 1:07 pm

I did a considerable chunk of research on Theravada within China.

You can read an interview with my reflections on that period of my life, here:
https://medium.com/p/9df3f5f826e4

At the start of the 20th century, the tradition was already very weak (and war-torn) in both of its major centers of activity in Yunnan (that had, BTW, remarkably little direct contact with one-another).

The violence of several sequent wars, followed by Communism, and then followed by long-term government anxiety about controlling the Burmese border, has made matters considerably worse.

My heart breaks for many of the communities involved; you can meet people out there, speaking various profoundly different languages (by no means only "Tai") who have sincerely tried to reconstruct some kind of Buddhism from the ashes of the 20th century. However, the results are no better than heartbreaking.

If you can read Chinese (or want to discuss this with Chinese-speaking colleagues) cf.
https://medium.com/p/4e7ba4f7a30e

...and you'll notice that the status of the Theravada minority within China is very much an "enframing device" in this longer essay (aimed at a Chinese audience) that is posted in both English and Chinese translation:
http://a-bas-le-ciel.blogspot.tw/2014/03/canon-and-reason-complete-chinese.html

I'm sorry to say that if you read all three of those linked-to articles, you'll be among the best-informed people on the subject on the planet. Very, very few people have taken any sincere interest.
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