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Buddhism and its contributions to culture



Yung Dong










Culture and religion concern and deal with some similar human issues in terms of the concept of values, the way of thinking, inner feelings and the method of expression by means of symbolism. Buddhism, in particular, as a spiritual community (Sangha) was quite different from the Christian churches (both Protestant and Catholic) with their centralized organizations and hierarchical structures. Sanghas in other countries were never subordinated to the Sangha in India. This feature gives Buddhism its authenticity and enables those various local talents to express themselves maintaining the essence of the Dharma. While spreading Buddhism from India throughout Asia and to the West during its lengthy history of 2,500 years, Buddhism not only assimilated into local cultures, but also acted as a connector between east and west.

Culture includes all areas such as literature, music, dance, drama, printing, painting, architecture and art associated with Buddhism. This paper, mainly focuses on literature, architecture and music, and will be divided into five chapters. The first chapter will examine the definition of culture, the relationship between culture and Buddhism and the characteristics of the Buddhist Sangha. The second chapter will explore the contributions to literature made by Indian, Chinese and Humanistic Buddhism. The third chapter will look into the contributions to architecture made by Indian, Chinese and Humanistic Buddhism. The fourth chapter will explore the contributions made to music by Indian, Chinese and Humanistic Buddhism. The last chapter will make some conclusions concerning the first four chapters.

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