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The University Buddhist Association of UCLA is an organization of students, faculty, and community members who come together to learn about and practice Buddhism. We're a non-sectarian Buddhist group that welcomes all Buddhists and non-Buddhist of all faiths and traditions.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

China revives religion

Religion is becoming less taboo and accepted once again as a part of society.

"A government-sponsored survey last year found that 300 million Chinese, or 31.4% of the country’s adult population, considered themselves religious believers, much larger than the government estimate of around 100 million.

Two-thirds of the believers are Buddhists, Taoists or devotees of traditional deities such as the Dragon King or God of Fortune. The survey estimated that 12% of all believers—or 40 million—were Christians, up from 16 million in 2005. That makes Christianity one of the fastest-growing religions in China. Some foreign estimates put the estimated number of Christians even higher, from 50 to 70 million. Many attend independent, unregistered house churches."

So what's the status of Buddhism in China?

"Looking at it from a different perspective, particularly with regard to Buddhism, is Master Xuecheng, vice-president of the Buddhist Association of China, and abbot of four monasteries including the Longquan monastery in Beijing. He argued that once people have satisfied their basic needs and wants such as housing and food, they would have more spiritual demands.

He added: “Only when a society has prospered and developed can it have the strength to tolerate different kinds of thinking…Only after a society has prospered to a certain level can it have considerable numbers of people with relatively high standards of knowledge and, therefore, the qualification to devote themselves to the study of Buddhist scriptures.”

He cited as evidence the fact that Buddhism flourished during ancient China’s golden age, the Tang Dynasty, particularly in the region of Chang’an (present-day Xian), at the Chinese end of the Silk Road.

Liu, who has also explored Buddhism, finds Buddhist scriptures too difficult to grasp. They run into thousands of volumes compared with the one-volume Bible for Christians and the Koran for Muslims.

Besides, Buddhism “requires you to give up a lot in life”, said Liu, adding that she found this hard to accept. Buddhists strive ultimately to chushi, withdraw from the world, she argued."

Read full article.

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