Major Events in Chinese Buddhism
|1st century CE||• Historical record has it that two Buddhist monks, Kasyapa and Dharmaraksha, from India in 68 AD, arrived at the court of Emperor Ming (58-75) of the Han Dynasty (25-220 AD). They enjoyed imperial favour and stayed on to translate various Buddhist Texts, one of which, The ‘Sutra of Forty-two Sections‘ continues to be popular even today.|
|2nd century CE||
• First translations of Indian Buddhist texts into Chinese by An Shih-Kao in 148.
• A Mahayana monk, Lokaksema translates Small Perfections of Wisdom Sutra and A Land of Bliss Sutra (168).
• First Buddhist monastery constructed.
• This early work of translating texts continues into 3rd century.
• Dhamaraksa (born 230) translates a large number of sutras, including the Lotus Sutra and Large Perfection of Wisdom Sutra, and founded monasteries, ordained Sangha, and expounded the Dharma
|4th century CE||
• Fo-T’u-Teng founds Buddhist order of nuns (317).
• Translation of Buddhist texts into Chinese by Kumarajiva (344-413) and Hui-yüan (344-416).
|5th century CE||
• Chinese pilgrim scholar Fa-hsien visits India (399-414).
• Amitabha (Amida) the Pure Land School (Ching t’u) emerges in China (402).
• First Patriarch of Pure Land was T’an-Luan (476-542)
• Persecution of Buddhism under Emperor Wu or Shih-tusu (424-451).
• Restoration under the new Emperor, Wen-ch’eng-ti (454).
• T’ien Tai school founded by Hui-Wen (470-?) in South China.
|6th century CE||
• Bodhidharma, first Patriarch of the Ch’an School arrives in China from India in 520 (variant 526).
• The T’ang dynasty (618-907) was the Golden Age of Chinese Buddhism.
• The T’ien-tai School was established by Chih-i (538-597)
• Hua-yen School establish by Fa-shun (557-640)
• Dhyana School (Ch’an; Jap.Zen) Schools of Chinese Buddhism.
• The Southern School of Ch’an or new Ch’an begins in earnest with Hui-neng (638-713) the Sixth Patriarch.
• The Persecution in 845, during the reign of Emperor Wu-tsung (841-7) an order came to the effect that all Buddhist establishments should be destroyed, initiating a decline in Chinese Buddhism.
• The invention of block printing by Chinese Buddhists. The oldest extant book printed is the Tun-hung book of 868 it contained excerpts from the Diamond Sutra .
|10th century CE||
• In 972, the first emperor of the Sung Dynasty ordered the complete printing of the Chinese Tripitaka. This was achieved in 983, known as the Shu-pen (Szechuan edition).
• Two classic collections appeared, the ‘Blue Cliff Record’, (Pi-yen-lu; Jap. Hekiganroku) compiled by Hsueh Tou Ch’ung Hsien (980-1152) and the ‘Gateless Gate’ (Wu-men-kuan; Jap. Mumonkan) compiled by Wu-men Hui kai (1184-1260).
|12th to 15th century CE||
• China during the Yuan Dynasty was under Mongolian rule and the influences of Tibetan Lamaism. It was during the Mogol Dynasty that the Buddhist-Taoist controversy was brought before Mangu Khan in 1255. The acrimonious debate, which had started over a 1000 years before was finally concluded in the Buddhist’s favour by an edict of Kublai Khan in 1281.
• Movement toward unity among the schools developed under the Ming Dynasty (1368-1643)
• Master Chu-hung, (born 1535) united in his person the two leading trends in Ming Buddhism: harmonization of the different schools (specifically Cha’n and Pureland) and the inauguration of a lay Buddhist movement.
|The Modern Era||
• The revolution of 1911 that toppled the Manchu Dynasty and established the Republic of China brought problems for the Buddhist Sangha. To combat these trends arose a remarkable monk, T’ai-hsu (1898-1947) who was able to rally his fellow religionists and to initiate a program of reform. On the national scale he organised a Chinese Buddhist Society in 1929.
• A revival of the Idealistic School was initiated by the publication in 1901 of the Ch’eng-wei-shih-lun (Notes on the Completion of the Idealistic Doctrine) of K’uei-chi, long lost in China but brought back from Japan. The leader of this revival was the layman Ou-yang Chien, and the Institute of Inner Learning, which he organised in Naking (Nanjing) in 1922.
• Hsu Yun, Ch’an Master (1840-1959) ‘Universally regarded as the most outstanding Buddhist of the Chinese Sangha in the modern era’ (Richard Hunn). Dharma successor of all five Ch’an schools; main reformer in Chinese Buddhism revival (1900-50).
• Wong Mou-Lam translated the The Platform Sutra into English and founded the journal Chinese Buddhism (1930).
• (1898-1978) Upasaka Lu K’uan Yu (Charles Luk) Translator and Writer on Ch’an. Born in Canton. Lived in exile in Hong Kong.
• The official formation of the Chinese Buddhist Association by the government of the People’s Republic of China on May 30th, 1953.
• The Cultural Revolution (1965-75) Buddhist temples and monasteries were sacked and the already weakened Sangha was further depleted. The excesses of this time have since been regretted, however, and a more liberal policy introduced.
• Ven. Cheng Yen founds Tzu Chi Compassion Relief Association (1966) and Tzu Chi Compassion Foundation (1980).