Buddhism in China
From China, Buddhism was transmitted to the Korean peninsula in the fourth century, and then to Japan in the sixth century. Chinese translations were also transmitted to north Vietnam during this time period.
The forms of Buddhism that developed in China are marked by the interaction between Indian forms of Buddhism with the pre-existing Chinese culture at the time of transmission, which included philosophies such as Taoism and Confucianism.
The Buddhist world at the time of transmission to China
Contemporary scholar Rupert Gethin states:
- When Buddhism began entering China the Mahāyāna was still in its early stages of development; the writings of Nāgārjuna, Asaṅga, and Vasubandhu were still to come.
Contemporary scholar Erik Zürcher suggests that Buddhist monasteries were already established in central Asia at the time when Buddhism was introduced to China. Zürcher states:
- By the beginning of the second century CE, Buddhist monasteries could be found all over the Kushan empire: in Afghanistan and Kashmir, in the most prosperous parts of present-day Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, in the Ferghana valley and the upper and middle reaches of the Amu-darya. This was the situation in the western parts of Central Asia by the time the first missionaries crossed the dry heart of the continent on their way to China: monks from northwestern India and Kashmir (Tianzhu 天竺, Jibin 罽賓), Parthia (Anxi 安息), Sogdiana (Kangju 康居), and, less precisely localized, the country of the Indoscythians (Yuezhi 月支).
Translation into the Chinese language
In one's own tongue
According to Erik Zurcher, early Buddhist texts did not express a preference for a "sacred language" of the dharma. Rather, the Buddha recommended that the dharma should be expressed in one's own tongue. Zurcher states:
- For our purpose it is important to note that this diffusion of Buddhist texts was not coupled with the preference—let alone prescription—of any “sacred language.” On the contrary, possibly as a reaction to the exclusive use of Sanskrit in the Brahminical tradition, in a much-debated Vinaya passage the Buddha is said to have explicitly permitted to preach the Law “in one’s own tongue” (sakåya niruttiyå, variously rendered in Chinese by guoyin... “the [speech-]sounds of the country” and guo su yanyin..., “the common speech-sounds of a country”).
- In its original context this obviously referred to closely interrelated regional languages or dialects, and eventually also to Sanskrit. However, it is an important fact that the translation of texts as a corollary to the propagation of Buddhism was fully accepted and practised long before Buddhism spread beyond the Indian subcontinent
The translation of Buddhist texts into the Chinese language represented a "linguistic break-through" for the transmission of Buddhism. It was the first time that Buddhist texts were translated into a non-Prakrit language. Erik Zurcher states:
- Thus, the production of the earliest Buddhist texts in Chinese, around the middle of the second century CE, marks a “linguistic break-through” in the spread of the dharma: for the first time scriptures had to be translated into a language totally unrelated to any Indian tongue, instead of being “transposed” from one Prakrit to another, or from Prakrit to Sanskrit, a process that allowed for an almost word-by-word transposition without any appreciable loss as regards content and way of expression. As we shall see, this change from transposition to “restatement through translation” was to have far-reaching consequences for the propagation of Buddhism in China.
In the early transmission of Buddhist to China, Buddhist texts and traditions were transmitted from multiple points of origin from within the Indian sub-contenent and Central Asia within a short period of time. As a result, the Buddhism that developed in China become a "melting pot" of a variety of distinct traditions that had developed within the existing Buddhist world of that time period.
Erik Zurcher states:
- Perhaps the most outstanding characteristic of the spread of Buddhism to East Asia is the fact that China, being situated at the terminus of both the transcontinental caravan roads and the maritime route from south and southeast Asia, did not receive the foreign creed from one particular region but from many centres simultaneously. In the early medieval period it received impulses (in terms of missionaries, texts, rituals and artistic traditions) from virtually the whole Buddhist world, altogether some fifteen different regions, ranging from Kashmir to Sri Lanka, and from Samarkand to the Mekong basin. As a result, Chinese Buddhism became a melting pot of different types of Buddhism, a mass of scriptural, disciplinary and scholastic traditions of various provenance that not seldom contradicted each other. That diversity goes back to the very beginning of the “church of Luoyang” in the second century CE, when Hinayana scriptures were introduced by the Parthian missionary An Shigao 安世高 and Mahayana texts by his younger contemporary, the Indoscythian Lokaksema; shortly afterwards Amitabha devotionalism came to complicate the picture.
- The Vinaya in early Chinese Buddhism was a matter of bewildering variety: between ca. 250 and 480 CE eleven masters were active in producing disciplinary texts of no less than six different schools. In the second-to-last decade of the fourth century, Gautama Sanghadeva and others made the Chinese acquainted with the scholastic system of the Sarvāstivādins; twenty years later, Kumarajiva arrived and introduced its Mahayana counterpart, the scholastic treatises of the Śūnyavādins, that contradicted it on every point. The earliest Chinese versions of the “Buddha-biography” (ca. 200 CE; a text said to have come from Kapilavastu) describes Shakyamuni’s life in concrete and down-to-earth terms,7 whereas another text, translated around the same time, presents the whole story in purely Lokottaravādin terms, as a phantasmagoria.
- Thus the geographical situation naturally led to a bewildering diversity, which in turn forced the Chinese to develop a spirit of eclecticism and syncretism, to accept doctrinal diversity and (seeming) inconsistency as part of the Buddhist message itself, and to transcend those differences by regarding them as “levels of truth” or “successive stages of revelation” — the basic principle of the indigenous Chinese scholasticism that started to take shape by the end of our period.
Schools of Chinese Buddhism
Different schools of Buddhism began to emerge in China around the fifth century CE. Peter Harvey states:
- From the fifth century, a number of different schools of Buddhism emerged, each being known as a zong (tsung): a ‘clan’ which traced its lineage back to a certain founder or patriarch. Each school specialized in a particular aspect of Buddhist teaching or practice, and monks and nuns often studied or practiced according to several of them.
Rupert Gethin states:
- The schools (tsung) of Chinese Buddhism divide into two main categories: those which have a more or less direct Indian counterpart and those which are native to China.
- Vinaya school - mainly based on the Dharmagupta vinaya
- Kosa school - based on the Abhidharma-kosa
- Chengshi (Tattvasiddhi) school - based on the Tattvasiddhi Śāstra
- Di lun (Daśabhūmikā) school - based on the Daśabhūmikasūtra
- Salun (Three Treatise) school - from Indian Madhyamaka
- Faxiang (Characteristics of Dharmas) school - from Indian Yogacara
- Zheyan (Mantra or Efficacious World) school - from Indian tantric Buddhism
The schools that originated in China (and were later transmitted to the other East Asian countries) are:
"In principle these are also the schools of Korean and Japanese Buddhism. In practice certain of the schools developed more significant local traditions than others." Forms of these schools are also found in Vietnam.
Schools based directly on Indian schools
- Mūlamadhyamakakārikā by Nagarjuna,
- Dvādaśadvāraśāstra, also by Nagarjuna, and
- Śatakaśāstra by Aryadeva.
The Zheyan (Mantra) school was based on the Indian Tantric Buddhist traditions. This school died out in China in the 9th century, but it was transmitted to Korea and Japan. The Japanese form of this school, Shingon, still exists.
Synthesizing schools: Tiantai and Huayan
By the middle of the sixth century CE, a great variety of Buddhist texts had been translated from Sanskrit or other Indic languages into Chinese. Many of the teachings in these various texts seemed to contradict each other.
Both Tiantai (Tien-t’ai) and Hauyan (Hua-yen) schools emphasized organizing and classifying these texts in order to resolve these contradictions among the texts, and thus present a coherent system of thought. Both schools employed the logic that the Buddha taught different teachings at different times according to the capacity of the audience. That is, the Buddha adapted his teachings to the ability of his listeners to understand them.
Peter Harvey states:
- Both the synthesizing schools flourished in the Tang (T’ang) dynasty (618– 907). Influenced by Chinese ways of thought, they emphasized ultimate reality as immanent in the world, like the Dao, and as fathomable by penetration into the thusness of any natural phenomenon.
The Tiantai school was founed by Zhiyi (538–97), who arranged the Buddha’s teachings according to the ‘five periods and eight teachings’. The final teaching of the Buddha is said to be the Lotus Sutra.
Rupert Gethin states:
- Zhiyi expressed his understanding of Buddhist metaphysics and dependent arising in the form of a doctrine known as ‘the threefold truth’: phenomena are at once empty of existence, temporarily existing, and poised in the middle between existence and non-existence. Associated with the elaboration of this doctrine, which is seen as relating all things to each other and to the whole, is a theory of the ‘interpénétration’ of all phenomena: every individual thing in the universe contains and at the same time is contained in everything else, or, as Zhiyi himself would put it, one thought is the 3,000 worlds. While some of the writings of Zhiyi represent sophisticated (and mind-boggling) intellectual meditations on the interdependence of all things, others also show a concern for the down-to-earth problems and practicalities of just sitting in meditation.
The Huayan or "Flower Garland" school is based on a unique interpreation of the Avatamsaka (Flower Garland) Sutra. This school was founded by Dushun, and first flourished in China during the Tang dynasty.
Rupert Gethin states:
- The Hua-yen school was founded by Tu-shun (557–640) and its thought was developed especially in the writings of Fa-tsang (643–712). For Hua-yen the vast Avataṃsaka or ‘Flower Garland’ Sūtra collection represents the highest teaching. As with Tien-t’ai, great emphasis is put on an elaborate theory of the interpenetration of all phenomena.
Peter Harvey states:
- The Huayan (Hua-yen) school...put the Avatamsaka Sutra in pride of place. Founded by the meditation-master Dushun (Tushun; 557– 640), it was philosophically systematized by its third patriarch Fazang (Fa-tsang; 643– 712), and came to be influential on the Chan school.
The Chan (Ch'an) school emphasizes the importance of direct insight into the nature of reality. This insight is developed primarily through combining the practice of sitting meditation with a direct mind-to-mind transmission from master to disciple. While both philosophical study and good works are also emphasized in this school, these are considered of little use without the wisdom that comes from direct insight into true nature of reality. In this view, while philosophy and positive actions play in important role on the spiritual path, obstacles arise if the student becomes overly attached to these methods. For example, obstacles can arise for:
- a scholar who becomes arrogant at their accumulation of knowledge
- an ordinary person who performs good deeds, but with a selfish motivation
Thus, in Chan, insight into reality is given the highest importance.
The Chan school recognizes the Indian monk Bodhidharma as its founder and “first patriarch.” Bodhidharma is said to have traveled from India to China in the fifth or sixth century CE. According to Rupert Gethin, “it is likely that the roots of Ch’an lie further back in Chinese Buddhist history.”
Rubert Gethin describes the philosophical basis of Chan as follows:
- Bodhidharma is said to have emphasized the teachings of the Lankāvatāra Sūtra, and the theoretical basis of Ch’an centres on the notions of the tathāgatagarbha and ‘emptiness’ as pointing beyond all conceptual forms of thought. Our innermost nature is simply the Buddha-nature (fo-hsing) which is to be realized in a direct and sudden experience of inner awakening (wu/satori).
- Linji (Lin Chi; Japanese Rinzai)
- Founded by Linji (died 867).
- Emphasized the use of gong-ans (koans), direct methods in teacher-student interviews, and 'sudden awakening'
- Cao-dong (Ts’ao Tung; Japanese Soto)
- Founded by Dongshan (Tung-shan; 807– 69) and Caoshan (Ts’ao-shan; 840– 901)
- Emphasized a particular form of sitting meditation, and 'gradual awakening'
"While the Japanese forms of these two schools have remained separate, they merged in China during the Ming dynasty (1368– 1644)."
Key texts of the Chan school
Peter Harvey states:
- The philosophical background of Chan comes from various texts and streams of thought. One is the Perfection of Wisdom Sutras, especially the Heart Sutra and Diamond-cutter Sutra and their idea of emptiness, two levels of truth, and paradoxical modes of expression. Another is the Lankavatara Sutra, a Yogcara text which also draws on ideas of the Tathgata-garbha. The Indian Yogcara school saw human experience as a projection out of the ‘storehouse consciousness’, due to the maturation of karmic seeds in it. The Lankavatara Sutra equated this kind of unconscious mind with the Tathgata-garbha... Another influence came from the above two texts on the ‘Buddha-nature’: the ‘Treatise on the Buddha-nature’ and ‘Treatise on the Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana’. As the Dharma-kaya, the ‘One Mind’ of the latter text is seen in Chan as the ‘original enlightenment’ of all beings... Many of these ideas are also found in the Huayan school, with its ideas of the One Mind as the unifying principle from which everything is made... In many ways Huayan can be seen as the philosophical counterpart of Chan.
Pure Land (China)
The 'Pure Land' or Jingtu (Ching-t’u) school emphasizes faith in the buddha Amitabha. The main practice of this school is the recitation of the mantra of Amitabha; this practice is called nianfo in Chinese (nien-fo, Jap. nembutsu). It is believed that if one recites the mantra and has sufficient faith in Amitabha, then Amitabha will appear to the faithful one at the time of their death, and take them to his heavenly abode--referred to as the Amitabha Pure Land (Sanskrit: Sukhavati).
This school became popular among lay people because it does not require extensive training in meditation or philosophy, or require one to become a monk. The main practice of mantra recitation (nianfo) can be performed by anyone, regardless of their status in society. The main requirement for the practice is trust in buddha Amitabha.
In practice, some Pure Land teachers within China emphasized combining recitation of the Amitabha mantra with developing mindfulness and concentration, and doing good works.
An early form of the Pure Land school was found by Huiyuan (334– 416) in the beginning of the fifth century. But Tanluan (476– 542) is recognized as the official 'first patriarch'. Peter Harvey states:
- While [Tanluan's] writings drew on Madhyamika and Yogacara ideas, he stressed faith in the power of Amitbha’s vows, which could save even an evil-doer. His ideal was establishing a pure, firm and uninterrupted faith throughout life. This would ensure the ability, as death approached, to call on Amitbha for ten consecutive moments of genuine faith: the minimum requirement for rebirth in Sukhvati. The main practice he advocated was one called nianfo (nien-fo, Jap. nembutsu)... He explained [nianfo] to mean both ‘recollection’ and ‘calling on’ Amitbha, this being done by repeatedly reciting the Chinese translation of the short formula of praise to Amitbha.
The second patriarch of the Pure Land school was Daochuo (Tao-ch’o; 562– 645). Daochuo emphasized the concept that the world has entered into a degenerate age, referred to as the "age of the ‘latter-day Dharma’ (Ch. mofa (ma-fa), Jap. mappo)." According to Daochuo, since the times are so degenerate, it is more important that ever to rely on the power Amitabha.
The third patriarch was Shandao (Shan-tao; 613– 81). Shandao helped increase the popularity of the school. "From the ninth century, the school was so widely diffused that it no longer needed special patriarchs as leaders."
Key texts of the Pure Land school
The Chinese Pure Land school relies on the following texts as the basis for their beliefs:
- The three main sutras related to Amitabha:
- The Sutra on the Buddha of Infinite Life (also known as the Larger Sutra on Amitāyus, abbreviated to Larger Sutra; the Sanskrit text is popularly known as the Larger Sukhāvatīvyūha Sutra )
- the Sutra on Amitāyus Buddha (also known as the Amida Sutra or the Smaller Sutra on Amitāyus, abbreviated to Smaller Sutra; the Sanskrit text is popularly known as the Shorter Sukhāvatīvyūha Sūtra|Smaller Sukhāvatīvyūha Sutra )
- Guanwuliangshoufo Jing (Kuan-wu-laing-shou-fo Ching)
- and the Sukhavati-vyuhopadesa (‘ Instruction on the Array of the Happy Land’), a work attributed to Vasubandhu which systematizes the ideas of the Larger Sukhavati-vyuha Sutra.
Later history of Buddhism in China
Dynastic periods from 618-1911
Buddhism in China flourished during the Tang dynasty (618-907), with many large monasteries that were active in their communities, including performing services such as caring for orphans and the old and sick. However, in 842, as a result of a civil war, the emperor turned against the monasteries in order to obtain their wealth. He destroyed most of the monasteries and confiscated their land and wealth. This policy was reversed a few years later after the emperor's death, but most most of the schools never recovered from these events.
- Tiantai retained some of its power, but the main surviving schools were Chan and Pure Land. Chan survived because it was less dependent on libraries and images, etc., its monks had come to grow their own food, and many of its centres were geographically isolated. Pure Land survived because it was mainly a lay movement. Buddhism in China was now past its peak.
- During the Song dynasty (960–1279), though, the entire Canon of Buddhist scriptures was printed, using over 130,000 wooden printing blocks (972–83). In time, however, Buddhism came to lose out to the rising power of Neo-Confucianism, which reached its classic form in the twelfth century. Drawing elements from Buddhist philosophy, this was an all-embracing ideology and metaphysic which became the basis of competitive civil-service exams. Under its influence, Buddhism was increasingly seen as fit only for the masses. The decline of Buddhism under this reformulated expression of indigenous Chinese beliefs is in some ways akin to its decline in India under Hinduism, a reformulated Brahmanism. In both cases, a religion or philosophy closely tied to a national culture came to overshadow a universal religion from which it borrowed. In time, however, it became quite common for people’s practice to draw on Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism.
- In the Mongolian Yuan dynasty (1280–1368), state patronage increased again, though it was mainly for Northern Buddhism. Early in the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), Buddhism had a small revival due to initial state encouragement, but then the control of education by Confucian scholars, and the prevention of Buddhists being state officials, led to a decline in Buddhist scholarship. Popular Buddhism still thrived, however, though it became increasingly mingled with Daoism and folk religion. In the Qing (Ch’ing), or Manchu dynasty (1644–1911), Buddhism continued to be criticized by Neo-Confucian propaganda, but in the seventeenth century it was spread to the island of Taiwan by Chinese immigrants.
Republican period (1912-1949)
Peter Harvey states:
- After the devastation of many temples and monasteries during the Christian-inspired Tai-ping (T’ai-p’ing) rebellion (1850–64), there was a modest revival in Chinese Buddhism. In the Republican period (1912–49), there was also something of an intellectual renaissance, led by Taixu (1890–1947), in an ideologically more open period free of Confucian dominance, and partly in response to well-organized Christian missionaries (Bechert and Gombrich, 1984: 211; Welch, 1968). There was revitalization in a number of monasteries, and contact was made with other Buddhists in Asia and the West. Dozens of urban lay Buddhist societies developed in the 1930s, concerned with education, social welfare and devotion. Buddhism remained very strong in some provinces, but new political ideas meant that young people often saw it as being irrelevant to the needs of modern China.
One Teacher, Many Traditions states:
- Changes in society in the early twentieth century spurred Buddhist reform and renewal in China. The fall of the Qing dynasty in 1917 stopped imperial patronage and support of the saṅgha, and the government, military, and educational institutions wanted to confiscate monasteries’ property for secular use. Buddhists wondered what role Buddhadharma could play in their encounter with modernity, science, and foreign cultures.
- This social change provoked a variety of reactions. Taixu (1890–1947), perhaps the most well-known Chinese monk of that time, renewed the study of Madhyamaka and Yogācāra and began new educational institutes for the saṅgha using modern educational methods. He also incorporated the best from secular knowledge and urged Buddhists to be more socially engaged. Traveling in Europe and Asia, he contacted Buddhists of other traditions and established branches of the World Buddhist Studies Institute. He encouraged Chinese to go to Tibet, Japan, and Sri Lanka to study, and he established seminaries in China that taught Tibetan, Japanese, and Pāli scriptures. Taixu also formulated “Humanistic Buddhism,” in which practitioners strive to purify the world by enacting bodhisattvas’ deeds right now as well as to purify their minds through meditation.
- Several young Chinese monks studied Buddhism in Tibet in the 1920s and 30s. Fazun (1902–80), a disciple of Taixu, was a monk at Drepung Monastery, where he studied and later translated into Chinese several great Indian treatises and some of Tsongkhapa’s works. The monk Nenghai (1886–1967) studied at Drepung Monastery and, upon returning to China, established several monasteries following Tsongkhapa’s teachings. Bisong (a.k.a. Xing Suzhi 1916–) also studied at Drepung Monastery and in 1945 became the first Chinese geshe lharampa.
- The scholar Lucheng made a list of works in the Tibetan and Chinese canons to translate into the other’s language in order to expand Buddhist material available to Chinese and Tibetan practitioners and scholars. In the first half of the twentieth century, Chinese lay followers had increased interest in Tibetan Buddhism, especially in tantra, and invited several Tibetan teachers to teach in China. They and their Chinese disciples translated mostly tantric materials.
- Taixu’s disciple Yinshun (1906–2005) was an erudite scholar who studied the sūtras and commentaries of the Pāli, Chinese, and Tibetan canons. A prolific writer, he was especially attracted to Tsongkhapa’s explanations. Due to Yinshun’s emphasis on Madhyamaka and the Prajñāpāramitā sūtras, many Chinese Buddhists have renewed interest in this view. He developed the schema of the major philosophical systems in Chinese Buddhism today: (1) False and unreal mind only (C. Weishi) is the Yogācāra view. (2) Truly permanent mind only (C. Zenru) is the tathāgatagarbha doctrine, which is popular in China and has a strong impact on practice traditions. (3) Empty nature, mere name (C. Buruo) is the Madhyamaka view based on the Prajñāpāramitā sūtras. Yinshun also encouraged Humanistic Buddhism.
The People's Republic of China (1949 - present)
Peter Harvey states:
- The triumph of the Communists in 1949 brought suppression and manipulation. Sangha numbers were decimated as all ‘hereditary temples’, and many large ‘public monasteries’, closed down because their income-producing lands were confiscated (Welch, 1972). Many of the monks had to support themselves by weaving, farming and running vegetarian restaurants. They were urged to see working in a Communist society as the true Bodhisattva way, and even to accept that killing the ‘enemies of society’ was compassionate. During the Cultural Revolution (1966–76), the Red Guards wrought great destruction, and all monasteries were closed, at least for a time. Since 1977, the general readjustment of policy in China has meant that temples have reopened, and, in 1980, ordination of monks (banned since 1957) was again permitted, with a state-funded Chinese Buddhist Academy opening to provide training seminaries (Sponberg, 1982). As of 1997, the country had around 200,000 Buddhist monks and nuns and 13,000 temples outside Tibetan areas. In 1986, the cited number had been 28,000 monks and nuns, while in 1930, there had been 738,200 outside Tibet (Welch, 1967: 412–14). Lay activity has been renewed in certain regions, especially the provinces on the east coast. Buddhism has been seen as politically useful for making links with Buddhist countries, through the Chinese Buddhist Association, but Chinese universities now pursue the study of Buddhism, and Buddhists are increasingly coming to be valued for their contributions to society.
Chinese Buddhist Canon
The "Chinese Buddhist Canon" includes the translations of the vast number of texts translated from Indian Buddhist sources, as well as indigenous writings by native East Asian authors.
This canon contains the core texts of East Asian Buddhism, which includes the Buddhism in China, Japan, Korea and most of Vietnam.
Within the East Asian tradition, this canon is referred to as "The Great Scripture Store" (C. 大藏經, dazangjing or ta-ts'ang-ching; J. daizōkyō; K. taejanggyŏng). It is also sometimes referred to as the Tripitaka within the tradition.
In the West, the canon is sometimes referred to as the Chinese Tripitaka or the East Asian Buddhist Canon.
- Further reading
- Dalai Lama & Thubten Chodron 2014, s.v. Buddhism in China.
- Gethin 1998, p. 257.
- Gethin 1998, p. 258.
- Zürcher 2012, p. 5.
- Zürcher 2012, p. 3.
- Zürcher 2012, p. 7.
- Harvey 2013, sv. The schools of Chinese Buddhism.
- Gethin 1998, s.v. The schools of East Asian Buddhism.
- Harvey 2013, Chatper 7.
- Gethin 1998, p. 264.
- Harvey 2013, p. 215.
- Gethin 1998, pp. 264-265.
- Gethin 1998, p. 265.
- Harvey 2013, p. 217.
- Gethin 1998, p. 262.
- Gethin 1998, p. 263.
- Harvey 2013, p. 222.
- Harvey 2013, pp. 217-218.
- Harvey 2013, p. 216.
- Harvey 2013, pp. 216-217.
- Inagaki 2003, p. xiii.
- Harvey 2013, sv. China.
- Harvey 2013, sv. The People's Republic of China.
- Buswell & Lopez 2014, s.v. dazangjing.
- The Chinese Canon (Buddhanet)
- Buswell & Lopez 2014, s.v. Taishō shinshū daizōkyō..
- Bechert, H. and Gombrich, R., eds., 1984, The World of Buddhism: Buddhist Monks and Nuns in Society and Culture, London and New York, Thames & Hudson.
- Buswell, Robert E.; Lopez, Donald S. (2014), The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism, Princeton University
- Dalai Lama; Thubten Chodron (2014), Buddhism: One Teacher, Many Traditions, Wisdom Publications
- Gethin, Rupert (1998), Foundations of Buddhism (Kindle ed.), Oxford University Press
- Harvey, Peter (2013), An Introduction to Buddhism (Second ed.), Cambridge University Press
- Inagaki, Hisao (2003), "Translator's Introduction", Three Pure Land Sutras, Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research
- Linh Hoang (2012), Rebuilding Religious Experience: Vietnamese Refugees in America, AV Akademikerverlag
- Sponberg, A., 1982, ‘Report on Buddhism in the People’s Republic of China’, JIABS, 5 (1): 109–17.
- Welch, H., 1967, The Practice of Chinese Buddhism, Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press.
- Welch, H., 1972, Buddhism Under Mao, Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press.
- Zürcher, Erik (2012), "Buddhism Across Boundaries: The Foreign Input", in McRae, John; Nattier, Jan, Buddhism Across Boundaries: The Interplay of Indian, Chinese, and Central Asian Sources, Sino-Platonic Papers
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