28 October 2010

Unbelievable Buddhism

Buddha entering the final nirvana
While my mother-in-law and father-in-law (both Chinese) aren't what I consider religious people in a strict sense, I've always been fascinated by their individual beliefs and practices. My in-laws show a remarkable degree of tolerance for other belief systems that are quite different from their own. But it's their actual beliefs that intrigue me. 

So a little background on them first. The mother and father are both Han. Each of them adheres to the traditional Confucius beliefs of filial piety and ancestor worship. Though they don't classify themselves as Buddhists, they do align themselves with the religion simply due to the fact that most religious people in China align themselves with Buddhism (200 million is the estimated number of Buddhists in China but this figure is sure to be inaccurate). Other religions abound, but none are as acceptable to my in-laws as Chinese Buddhism.

In fact, their support for Chinese Buddhism is so firm that they refuse to accept the fact that Buddhism originated in India! The first time I heard that I could hardly believe my ears. But it appears that this view is shared among many of the elderly in China.

Generally speaking, the elderly are more inclined to believe the Buddhism practiced in China is of such a distinct variety that there is no possibility it could have come from another country. Now that really is unbelievable.

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