PureInsight | January 17, 2005
[PureInsight org] In the civilization of the human race there have been many "by chance" series of events. Even when ordinary folks call them "coincidences," a lot of them can't be explained away so easily. As practitioners, we all know that human history has been meticulously and systematically arranged and is all for the Fa. There is a positive aspect to it, such as enabling people of today to understand cultivation in Buddhism, Taoism and to have a belief in gods. There is also a negative aspect to it, such as including many negative factors that are intended to "test" Dafa. If we use Dafa as the central theme, we might be able to get a sense of why certain things have happened in human history. Here are my personal views of some of the historical arrangements. If anything is improper, I respectfully request corrections.
1. The Beliefs in Buddha and the Tao in China
It had been arranged a long time that China would be the main stage in the propagation of Dafa. Because of that, there have been the Buddhist and Taoist cultivation practices throughout history in China, and the practices have been very popular. Only then can the people have a deep understanding of the "Tao." That is very different from the west where the Taoist cultivation practice is hardly known. Therefore, from the initial stage of history in China, Taoism has been a part of the culture, a culture that started during the reign of Huangdi (the Yellow Emperor). In those days, "Taoism" was not a religion, but it was apparent that the whole population was practicing the "Tao."
Later on, there were conflicts between Buddhism and Taoism. During the period of Huichang (841 - 847 AD) in the Tang Dynasty, Taoism was heavily promoted and Buddhism was persecuted. It might have something to do with the emergence of the Taoist religion that Master mentioned in "Teaching the Fa at the Discussion on Creating Fine Art."
2. A Few Coincidences of Timing in History
As human morality degenerated during the Spring-Autumn Period (770 - 476 BC) in China, it was common for those "who obtained the great Dao to conceal themselves from the society" so they wouldn't become polluted. It seemed that humans had become further and further away from the great Dao. At that very period of time, several individuals who have had greatly influenced the human race came to the earth almost around the same time. They were Lao Zi and Confucius in China, Sakyamuni in India, and Socrates in ancient Greece.
Civilization in the East and West were entirely different. But as China was the main stage for the spreading of the Dafa, the Greek civilization was held back after reaching a pinnacle. The most famous student of Socrates was Plato, and the most famous student of Plato was Aristotle. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle became known as the three great founders of Western civilization. But Aristotle actually took a very different path from Socrates in their approaches to exploring the world. Aristotle placed importance on logic, observation, and experimentation. That became the foundation of the modern Western science. But modern Western science has taken a very wrong path, which I am not going to get into at this time.
The purpose of the appearance of Buddhism in India was to prepare for its propagation in the East. Two hundred years after Sakyamuni passed on, King Ayi established the most powerful monarchy in India, the Peacock Dynasty. It was the beginning of the propagation of Buddhism to the world. During that period, officials from the royal Indian court visited China. At that time, China was under the reign of Emperor Qin (221 - 207 BC). During that period of time, Buddhism did not gain a foothold in China. But from then on, India continued its effort to spread Buddhism to other countries.
During the early period of the Eastern Han Dynasty (25 - 220 AD), it was time for the Buddhist culture to gain a foothold in China. The Hanming Emperor (58 - 76 AD) had a vivid dream where he saw a golden figure with brilliant light emitting from its head flying high above the palace courtyard. The next day, the Emperor gathered his ministers to analyze the dream. One minister presented his analysis, saying: "There is a god in the West known as the Buddha. It is exactly like the one you dreamt about." The Emperor promptly sent his emissary to the West to obtain the Sutras. In Afghanistan, the emissary just happened to run into two eminent monks who were on their way to the East to propagate Buddhism. The emissary used white horses to carry the Sutras to the capital city of Luoyang. The Emperor built a temple to honor the two eminent monks and named it the "White Horse Temple." That marked the beginning of the spreading of Buddhism into China.
During that time, Buddhism still needed to exist in India. Buddhism didn't propagate in China on a large scale until the Northern and Southern Dynasties (420 - 589 AD) and the Sui (581 - 618 AD) and Tang (618 - 905 AD) Dynasties. Once Buddhism reached its peak in China, Buddhism had completed its mission in India. Starting from the middle period of the Tang Dynasty to the end of the Tang Dynasty, a period in the beginning of the eighth century AD, Buddhism gradually gave way to the Hinduism and eventually disappeared in India.
3. The Ascension of Chinese Culture
In order to foster the Chinese culture, there could not be two centers in the world that competed for dominance. Because of that, as the culture and science in China were on their way up, the western culture was strongly restrained. Alexander the Great, a student of Aristotle, gathered the products from the most advanced civilizations in North Africa, the Middle East and Europe, including ancient Greece, ancient Egypt, ancient Persia, the ancient Hebrew nation and ancient Babylon, and built the Alexander Library and a museum known as the Temple of Muses in Egypt in the city of Alexandria. But it was burned down by Caesar around 641 AD. The Middle Ages soon followed. The church and the state became tightly intertwined, and tightly controlled people's minds.
At that time, China naturally became the center of learning to its peripheral nations. North America had not been discovered yet. China was the sparkling civilization amongst the European, Asian and African continents. During the early period of the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) Emperor Hanwu (140 - 86 BC) sent Zhang Qian to explore the west. After suffering through immense tribulations, he traveled to Xinjaing, the Middle East and finally to Rome. Now it appears that the purpose of his mission was to let the people from the known world as the time know about China and the Chinese civilization. Later, Admiral Zheng He's fleet journeyed through several major oceans. That was yet another form of exportation of the Chinese culture. At the same time, many countries established predestined relationships with China through such exchanges.
As the Chinese culture continued to rise, it reached a peak during the Tang dynasty, with Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism being the three religions that also reached their pinnacles of brilliance. The Chinese society was ahead of the rest of the world for several hundred years. In order to pave the way for the emergence of the Communist Party that could then be used to test Dafa, the old forces then made arrangements to suppress the Chinese culture and promote Western culture.
4. The Renaissance of the Western Culture
After the Tang Dynasty, China passed through the Five Dynasties and the Ten Dynasties (907 - 1234 AD) and was finally unified by the Song Dynasty (960 - 1278 AD). When the Song Dynasty began, the teachings of Cheng and Zhu appeared. It was a philosophy founded by two brothers Cheng Hao and Cheng Yi during the Northern Song period and completed by Zhu Xi during the Southern Song Period. I feel that teaching is very different from the teachings of Confucius and a precursor for the downward slide of Chinese culture.
Just as the Chinese culture began its downward slide, the Ottoman Empire rose in Turkey around the 13th Century AD and invaded Rome. Many intellectuals there took a large amount of ancient Greek and Roman works of art, literature, history, and philosophy and fled to western European countries. That provided the people in those countries the opportunity to understand the brilliance of the culture of ancient Greece. Florence soon became the center where the culture of ancient Greece and Rome were restored and developed. It is now known as the Renaissance.
The "Renaissance Movement" was the beginning of the recovery and flourishing of the western science and culture. At the exact same time, the Chinese culture declined rapidly. It was very similar to what had happened during the lifetime of Lao Zi, except there was a complete role reversal - China was now the one that was declining and the West was the one that was rising. China went through the Yuan (1206 - 1341 AD) and Ming (1368 - 1628 AD) Dynasties. The Mongols who founded the Yuan Dynasty weren't assimilated by the Han Chinese people and knew very little about the Chinese culture. Under their rule, the Chinese culture declined rapidly.
During the Ming Dynasty, the royal court installed a system whereby officials were selected in the civil service examinations based on how well they could write an eight-legged essay (ba gu wen), an essay of eight parts written on a Confucian theme. The essay was supposed to test how well the student can "speak on the behalf of the Sage." That was ridiculous. How could anyone know what Confucius would say, and with what qualification could a person represent Confucius?
The eight-part essay system placed a high degree of restrictions on the Chinese intellectuals on what they could and couldn't say. It also stopped the advancement of science in China. The contributions from China in science basically stopped during the Song Dynasty. It was not because the Chinese culture was no longer all right. It was because the Chinese people had deviated from the Chinese culture. People forgot the spirit of science in ancient China, which was based on a macroscopic understanding of the heaven and the earth, as well as learning from and tolerating different schools of thoughts. It was clearly a step taken by the old forces to restrain the Chinese culture.
The restrictions placed on the Chinese culture and science were made so that the western forces could enter into China with their military might, which in turn paved the way for the introduction of the Marx's Communist ideology into China.
5. Preservation of the Traditional Chinese Culture
It is necessary to mention that, after the Song Dynasty, China has always put a lot of emphasis on recording its history. Even though the Chinese culture was on the decline, every imperial court devoted a lot of resources into gathering the essence of the works of the previous generations. The most eminent scholars of the day were made responsible for the compilation of books of Chinese civilization. In the Song Dynasty, the book Taiping Yula" was compiled, in the Ming Dynasty Yongle Daqu was compiled and in the Qing Dynasty, the Siku Quanshu was compiled. Those works were intended to preserve the genuine traditional Chinese culture for as long as possible so that the Chinese people wouldn't forget their divine culture that had been accumulated over the last several thousands of years.
To be continued…
Translated from: http://www.zhengjian.org/zj/articles/2004/12/28/30416.html