Buddhism’s Journey to China

January 30, 2018

An Indian prince became the Buddha around the 6th Century BC, but Buddhism would not arrived in China for several centuries. The Buddha’s original name was Siddartha Guatama.

After he died, Buddhism split into two major branches that divided again several times over the centuries.

Today, Buddhism has almost 380-million followers and is the world’s fifth largest religion. Christianity is the largest with 2.4 billion followers. Islam is ranked #2 with 1.6 billion. Christianity and Islam also split into different sects after the founders died although Jesus Christ isn’t the real founder of Christianity. Jesus was a Jew and he died a Jew. There is no evidence that Jesus Christ wanted to launch a new religion that wasn’t Jewish. Hinduism (#3) has 1.15 billion followers with four-major sects.

The Bodhi-dharma was a Buddhist monk and a teacher who lived during the fifty and/or sixth century AD, more than a thousand years after Buddha died in India. The Bodhi-dharma traveled from India to China where he lived in a cave for 9 years.

A Sudden Dawn by Goran Powell is an epic historical fiction novel that opens with a young man named Sardili born in 507 AD to the Indian warrior caste. Sardili realizes that he would rather seek enlightenment than follow his family’s military legacy and he sets out on a life-long quest for truth and wisdom that leads him to China where he becomes the Buddhist monk Bodhidharma, known as Da Mo in China.

Da Mo establishes the Shaolin Temple as the birthplace of Zen and the Martial Arts. In ancient China, bandits and thieves were widespread and Buddhist temples were vulnerable to attack. The Da Mo taught a fighting system for the monks to defend themselves, and it proved successful. Over time, the Buddhist Shaolin style of martial arts evolved to what it is today.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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The Tao of Meditation: Part 3 of 3

October 19, 2017

I wonder what happened to all of China’s mediating Buddhists and Taoists during Mao’s Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). Did they go underground like Anchee Min’s mother who became a closet Catholic that only prayed when her three children slept? During China’s Cultural Revolution, no one could be trusted, not even your children.

Most people don’t change who they are regardless of what the rich and/or powerful want, so it is obvious that if being a Buddhist or Taoist and meditating could get you denounced, you will find a way to practice what you think when no one else notices what you are doing.

Until Communism appeared, religion and the state were often closely linked. In the imperial era, the emperor was regarded as divine; political institutions were believed to be part of the cosmic order; and Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism were incorporated in different ways into political systems and social organizations.

U.S. History.org reports, “Taoism and Confucianism have lived together in China for well over 2,000 years. Confucianism deals with social matters, while Taoism concerns itself with the search for meaning. They share common beliefs about man, society, and the universe, although these notions were around long before either philosophy.”

During the Cultural Revolution, the teenage Red Guard did not discriminate against particular religions. They were against them all. They ripped crosses from church steeples, forced Catholic priests into labor camps, tortured Buddhist monks in Tibet and turned Muslim schools into pig slaughterhouses. Taoists, Buddhists and Confucians were singled out as vestiges of the Old China and forced to change or else.

However, after Mao died in 1976, China, under Deng Xiaoping lifted the ban on religious teaching, and since the mid-1980s there has been a huge program to rebuild the Buddhist and Taoist temples that were torn down by the teenage Red Guard.

In addition, in December 2004, China’s central government announced new rules that guaranteed religious beliefs as a human right.

According to an article in The People’s Daily, “As China has more than 100 million people believing in religion, so the protection of religious freedom is important in safeguarding people’s interests and respecting and protecting human rights.”

In March 2005, religion was enshrined in China as a basic right of all citizens, but worship outside of approved religions remains forbidden. There are five religions recognized by China’s government: Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism, and Protestantism. There are also a few Jewish Synagogues: two in Beijing, two in Shanghai, and five in Hong Kong.

Since the end of the Cultural Revolution with Mao’s death, it was safe to meditate again without the threat of fear getting in the way of an individual’s search for inner harmony.

Return to Part 2 or start with Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Blame the British for China and India’s Border Problems

October 3, 2017

In August 2017, The New York Times reported China Tells India That It Won’t Back Down in Border Dispute. “China’s military has warned India not to underestimate its resolve to hold a mountainous piece of land at the heart of a standoff between the two Asian powers. … Beijing defending its claim to the 34 square miles of disputed land at a corner where China, India and the small kingdom of Bhutan meet. India does not claim the land but says it has been acting on behalf of Bhutan.”

So far, no shots have been fired, but this isn’t the first time India has had border conflicts, and the world can probably blame the British Empire for this problem that never seems to go away.

In the 19th century, with the reckless stoke of a pen or pencil, British Explorer McMahon drew the borders on maps that created India, and due to this, International Border Consultants reports, “India has had border disputes/wars with China, Nepal, and Pakistan.”

What’s interesting is that before the British Empire established the Raj, Victorian Web.org says India wasn’t a country, and no Chinese government was included in the changes McMahon made to the borders between Tibet and India.

When McMahon drew those borders for India, the Qing Dynasty like the Yuan and Ming Dynasties before it considered Tibet part of China.

In 1947, soon after the end of World War II, India gained its independence from Britain, and the Indian government refused to negotiate with China over land that had once been part of Tibet, but after 1949, Mao’s government told India that some of the land behind the McMahon line in India had been part of Tibet and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) wanted it back.

For the next thirteen years, China and India had a series of diplomatic conversations about this boundary issue. Zhou Enlai, the first prime minister of the PRC, attempted to convince Jawaharlal Nehru to resolve the boundary issue peacefully.

With the failure of peaceful negotiations, Chinese troops were sent to the McMahon Line.

India’s Nehru government repeatedly rejected China’s requests to negotiate the border dispute over the McMahon Line. Instead, the Indian army built bases and outposts in the disputed area while Chinese troops strengthened their defenses on their side of the disputed border.

Then India sent patrols into territory occupied by China and some of its troops were captured. In the next move, on June 4, 1962, Indian troops built fortified outposts deep in the disputed territory.

On September 8, 1962, Chinese troops surrounded the Indian outposts to stop further advances.

Chinese intelligence reported that the Indian army would soon attack due to India’s Seventh Brigade being deployed to launch Operation Leghorn. On October 9, Indian troops crossed the river between the two armies and attacked Chinese positions.

The resulting battle caused the Indian Seventh Brigade to collapse and large numbers of Indian troops surrendered and were taken prisoner by the Chinese. Chinese troops counterattacked and crossed the river pushing south as the Indian troops retreated faster than the Chinese army could advance.

To stop the Chinese, the Indian army sent four brigades to set up defensive positions along the only mountain road leading south through the rugged mountainous terrain, and India was planning to launch an assault on the Chinese army.

In a risky flanking maneuver, the Chinese sent 1,500 troops along a dangerous mountain trail to attack India’s Army in the rear and cut them in half. The move succeeded.

India’s Sixty-second Brigade collapsed the first day, and India’s Sixty-fifth Brigade abandoned their positions without a fight. News of the Indian army’s defeat reached New Delhi, and the people panicked causing large numbers of refugees to flee south.

China declared a unilateral cease-fire.

India’s army in their haste to retreat had left their weapons behind, but Chinese troops gathered the weapons and returned them to India along with the Indian troops that were POWs.

China’s next move was to withdraw its troops to the border it claimed to keep only the disputed territory. Similar to the Korean Conflict, that brief conflict ended without a treaty.

Since that 1962 war, China and India have continued to argue about sections of the border, which includes a portion of Kashmir and the eastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.

Another area in dispute is Ladakh. For centuries, Ladakh was an independent kingdom but is now part of India but with obvious cultural links with China.

In Ladakh, no one knows where India ends and China begins. China and India still share the biggest stretch of disputed border in the world divided by Nepal and Bhutan from Arunachal Pradesh in the south to Kashmir in the north.

The Indian army keeps a heavy military presence on India’s side of the border in Ladakh. Once again, India is not interested in negotiating a peaceful settlement.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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With High Stakes Tests Comes Cheating

July 4, 2017

I guess I’m naïve, stupid, or something else. During the nine years I attended colleges and universities to earn my BA in journalism and MFA in writing, I did my own work. It didn’t occur to me that I could pay someone else to do it for me. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway. I didn’t have the money to pay to cheat.

And when I read, “Rampant cheating hurts China’s research ambitions” (from Yahoo news), I was disappointed at the lack of balance. There was no mention that cheating is a global problem. But cheating on exams didn’t start in Communist China. For instance, the South China Morning Post reported about a tiny book that was used for centuries by Chinese students to cheat on civil service exams.

I taught journalism and was an adviser for an award winning high-school newspaper for several years, and the student reporters learned to write balanced pieces, even for the opinion page. I said that both sides of an issue should be heard even if the balance isn’t perfect and one side is not politically correct.

Since Yahoo is or was an American company (I read recently that Yahoo was sold to another company), I’m going to start with cheating in America to correct this imbalance. It’s worth noting that since student test results are being used and abused in America’s k-12 public schools to rank teachers and schools and then fire or close them, the odds are that someone who was once honest will cheat to survive. Imagine punishing a child’s teacher for the results of a test the child took. This is insanity, and it is a crime. No other country in the world, even China, uses student tests to rank-and-fire teachers and close public schools.

Lawyers.com reports, “In a 2005 research study, 75 percent of (U.S.) students admitted to cheating in school; 90 percent admitted to copying another student’s test paper or homework. A 2009 study of 2,000 middle and high school students showed 35 percent of them used cell phones to cheat and 52 percent used the internet to cheat.”

But Chinese and U.S. students aren’t the only ones that cheat. The Conversation.com says, “Students at a medical college in Thailand have been caught using spy cameras linked to smartwatches to cheat during exams. They used wireless spycams in eyeglasses to capture exam questions, transmit them to associates elsewhere and receive responses through linked smartwatches.”

CBS News reported that Indian parents scale school walls to help students cheat on exams.

In addition, there was this about cheating in the UK. The Telegraph says, “Invisible ink revealed as the latest university exam scam.”

News24 reports “Cheating students on the rise … Johannesburg (South Africa) – A survey has found that universities are battling a rising tide of cheating by students who brazenly take the easy route to a qualification, reports the Sunday Times.”

And just to make a point, I decided to include South America. Peru This Week.com says,”Imposters arrested for cheating on teachers’ exams in Peru.”  All I did was Google the same question, “Cheating on school exams (name of country)” and changed the name of the country each time.

Discover The Return of Confucious

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

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Buddhism’s Arrival and Influence in China

June 6, 2017

Siddartha Guatama, an Indian Prince, became the Buddha in the 6th century BC. Recorded history says Buddhism first arrived in China about four hundred years later more than two centuries before the birth of Jesus Christ.

After the Buddha died, tradition says that Buddhism split into difference sects. Christianity and Islam also split into two major branches that divided again several times over the centuries after the founders died.

Today Buddhism has about 379-million followers and is the world’s fifth largest religion.

The Bodhidharma was a Buddhist monk and a teacher who lived during the fifty and/or sixth century AD about twelve-hundred years after Buddha.

Britannica.com says, “The accounts of Bodhidharma’s life are largely legendary, and historical sources are practically nonexistent. Two very brief contemporary accounts disagree on his age (one claiming that he was 150 years old, the other depicting him as much younger) and nationality (one identifies him as Persian, the other as South Indian). The first biography of Bodhidharma was a brief text written by the Chinese monk Daoxuan (flourished 7th century) about a century after Bodhidharma’s death.”

The Buddhist monk Bodhidharma was known as Da Mo in China.

Da Mo establishes the Shaolin Temple as the birthplace of Zen and the Martial Arts. In ancient China, bandits and thieves were widespread and Buddhist temples were vulnerable to attack. The Da Mo taught a fighting system for the monks to defend themselves, and it proved successful. Over time, the Buddhist Shaolin style of martial arts evolved to what it is today.

Discover The Return of Confucious

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

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China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


The Complex History of Buddhism

November 1, 2016

Siddhartha Gautama, the historical Buddha, lived in the 5th or 6th Century B.C. He was born in Nepal and his father was the king of the Sakya people.  After he attained enlightenment at the age of thirty-five, Buddha preached the Dharma in an effort to help others reach enlightenment too.

Unlike the other major religions, Buddhism does not have a god like the Christian, Jewish or Islamic God.  Buddha is not a deity or supreme being. The Buddha believed that religious ideas and especially the god concept have their origin in fear.

Several centuries later during the Han Dynasty in the first century B.C., trade with Central Asia introduced Buddhism to China.  Over the centuries, interest in Buddhism grew.  However, due to Confucianism and Taoism, the Chinese adapted Buddhist scripture to fit the Chinese culture creating the Mahayana sect that spread to Korea and Japan.

Like most major religions, there are subdivisions within Buddhism but most may be classified into three. This is why Southeast Asian Buddhists differ from the Chinese.  The Theravada form of Buddhism is found in Southeast Asia in countries like Burma, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos.

Tibetan Buddhism incorporates other beliefs, and there are four principal schools or types of Tibetan Buddhism. The Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of one of the four, the Yellow Hat sect.

Buddhism in China reached its high point during the Tang Dynasty, 618 to 907. However, in 845 AD, the Tang emperor suppressed Buddhism and destroyed thousands of monasteries, temples and shrines.

Soon after Mao and the Communists won China’s Civil War with the Nationalists under Chiang Kai-shek, Buddhism flourished for a time but was repressed during the Cultural Revolution (1966 – ‘76) along with all other religions. Many monasteries and Buddhist texts were destroyed. After Mao died in 1976, many of the major monasteries were rebuilt under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping.

In 2012, the Pew Research Center reported there were about 488 million Buddhists worldwide, and about 244 million, half, are in China.

Discover Wu Zetian, China’s only female emperor

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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China’s water race to beat Disaster

July 26, 2016

A man or woman can survive for weeks without food but only a few days without water. Knowing that, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Tibet will stay in China for some time and water is one of the most important reasons why.

The Yellow River and Yangtze start in Tibet serving more than a third of China’s population—more than 400 million people. It’s possible that Mao realized the importance of water from Tibet when he sent 40,000 PRC troops to reoccupy the former troublesome province/tributary that at the urging of the British Empire’s broke from China in 1913 and declared its independence as a theocracy ruled by a Dalai Lama known as a living god.

Tibet has an area of about 1.3 million square kilometers (about 5 million square miles) and it is estimated that there are less than 3 million people living in Tibet. China, on the other hand, serves more than 1.3 billion people, so who benefits the most from water that starts its journey in Tibet?

Rajendra K. Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, said, “At least 500 million people in Asia and 250 million people in China are at risk from declining glacial flows on the Tibetan Plateau.” – Circle of Blue Waternews

If Tibet’s water were in the hands of anyone else like a free Tibet that might favor other nations over China, China’s future would be dim at best and dire in a worst-case scenario. As it is, China is one of the earth’s driest areas and the challenge to supply more than 1.3 billion people with water is a daunting task. In fact, China is racing to beat a disaster, and the end of that race will be reached in a few decades.

Today, water and waste pollution is the single most serious issue facing China.

While replacing thousands of older, coal-burning power plants with cleaner technologies, building more hydroelectric dams, and constructing nuclear reactors, China is also adding desalinations plants to ease the growing water crises. In 2005, a desalination facility south of Shanghai started producing about 375,000 gallons of fresh water an hour, with a goal to build more plants and produce 250 million gallons of water per day by 2010. – Environmental News Network

In fact, to achieve this, China contracted with IDE Technologies in Kadima, Israel to build four new desalination units and the first went on line near Beijing in 2010. These plants are designed to provide desalinated seawater for a power plant’s steam boilers as well as drinking water for local residents.

Bloomberg reports, “Home to 20 percent of the world’s population but only 7 percent of its fresh water, China has embraced desalination. The central government’s Special Plan for Seawater Utilization calls for producing 3 million tons (807 million gallons) a day of purified seawater by 2020—roughly quadruple the country’s current capacity. Of China’s 668 largest cities, at least 400 already suffer from water scarcity.”

And this isn’t all that China is doing to deal with its water woes. China is building an aqueduct—some of it running underground and it is known as the South-North Water Transfer Project—that may rival China’s Great Wall as a construction project that will cost twice as much as the Three Gorges Dam. The completed aqueduct will be slightly over 716 miles long.

China also plans to build 100 dams in Tibet—not only to generate electricity but to store much needed water for its more than 1.3 billion people. Both projects are controversial, but can China afford to do nothing?

Meanwhile, the United States with the 3rd largest population in the world is facing its own challenges with water. Business Insider reports, “Americans tend to take it for granted that when we open a tap, water will come out. … (but) Many states — 40 out of 50 according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office — have at least one region that’s expected to face some kind of water shortage in the next 10 years.”

In addition, India, with the 2nd largest population in the world, has an even larger challenge than China or the U.S. when it comes to water. The Water Project reports, “India’s water crisis is often attributed to lack of government planning, increased corporate privatization, industrial and human waste and government corruption. In addition, water scarcity in India is expected to worsen as the overall population is expected to increase to 1.6 billion by year 2050. To that end, global water scarcity is expected to become a leading cause of national political conflict in the future, and the prognosis for India is no different.”

Discover China’s First Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi, the man that unified China more than 2,000 years ago.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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