The Origins of Buddhism [Asia Society]
"A short essay that explores how Buddhism grew out of Hinduism and spread from India to the rest of Asia. How does Buddhism vary from place to place, sect to sect? Learn about how the spread of ideas combine of new beliefs with existing thoughts and practices."
Introduction to Buddhism [SPICE Digest, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford University]
A brief overview of the origins and basic tenets of Buddhism.
Foundations and Transformations of Buddhism: An Overview [ExEAS, Columbia
These materials are designed to serve as background materials on what Buddhism is, how it developed and spread, and how Buddhist traditions differ.
The Travel Records of Chinese Pilgrims Faxian, Xuanzang, and Yijing: Sources for Cross-cultural Encounters between Ancient China and Ancient India [Education
About Asia, Association for Asian Studies]
Article with maps about three Chinese monks who traveled to India: Faxian (337?-422?), Xuanzang
(600?-664), and Yijing (635-713).
Note to Teachers Education about Asia
The journal Education about Asia has many excellent teaching resources on-line on all topics related to East, South and SE Asia.
Responses to Chaos: Art, Religion and Literature in Six Dynasties China (221 to 581 CE) [China Institute/China360]
Chinese and Western historians have treated the era from 220 to 581 in China as a "Dark Age" because the country had no central government and was plagued by repeated conflicts and wars. The collapse of the Han (206 BCE-220 CE), one of the greatest dynasties in Chinese history, resulted in political chaos, which permitted foreign, mostly nomadic pastoralists living north of China, to occupy much of North China and to found Chinese-style dynasties. ...Such instability led to damage of the land, the deaths of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people, and an increase in banditry, which would seem to substantiate the concept of a Dark Age during this era... Yet Dark Ages in politics need not undermine cultural, religious, and artistic developments.
Buddhism on the Silk Road [International Dunhuang Project]
"The civilizations which flourished along the Silk Road in the first millennium CE were open to cultural and religious influences from both East and West. Many religions, including Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism, gained new followers. But it was Buddhism, travelling the trade routes of the Silk Road, which became the common factor uniting the different peoples of the Silk Road." See especially the section on Chinese Buddhism. Also see the IDP website's Education section for more units about the Silk Road.
Xuanzang: The Monk Who Brought Buddhism East [Asia Society]
"The life and adventures of a Chinese monk who made a 17-year journey to bring Buddhist teachings from India to China. Xuanzang subsequently became a main character in the great Chinese epic Journey to the West."
Buddhism [A Visual Sourcebook of Chinese Civilization, University of Washington]
"This unit offers evidence of how Buddhism changed China's visual culture, showing the evolution of images of deities, plus views of temples and people practicing Buddhism." A Visual Sourcebook of Chinese Civilization was prepared by University of Washington history professor Patricia Buckley Ebrey. With questions for discussion, timelines, maps, and suggested readings. Select HOME to find link to teachers' guides for all topics featured on the website.
in the Chinese Cosmos >> Buddhism: The "Imported" Tradition [Asia
Although the focus of this teaching module is late-imperial China, this section on
Buddhism offers a general overview
of Buddhism, its origins in India, and the history of Buddhism in China.
Ox-Herding: Stages of Zen Practice [ExEAS, Columbia
The ten ox-herding pictures and commentaries presented here depict the stages of practice leading to the enlightenment at which Zen (Chan) Buddhism aims. The story of the ox and oxherd is an old Taoist story, updated and modified by a twelfth-century Chinese Buddhist master to explain the path to enlightenment.
Buddhist Art in East Asia: Three Introductory Lessons Towards Visual Literacy [ExEAS, Columbia
The most immediate goal of this unit is to familiarize students with a few examples from the vast array of East Asian Buddhist art. A more general goal is to achieve visual literacy, which means being able to analyze and articulate how art conveys meaning to and solicits reactions from its audience.
AFE Special Topic Guide Buddhism [OMuRAA, Asia for Educators]
AFE's compilation of recommended resources about Buddhism on OMuRAA, Online Museum Resources on Asian Art.
composed after 483 BCE
Primary Source w/DBQs Selection from the Lotus Sutra: "The Daughter of the Dragon King" [PDF] [Asia for Educators]
The Lotus Sutra, a text of the Mahayana School of Buddhism, was composed well after the death of the historical Buddha (ca. 483 BCE) and written down in Sanskrit even later. The scripture was translated into Chinese in several different versions, the most respected being the translation carried out under the direction of the monk Kumarajiva in 406 CE. This passage is notable for addressing the question of the salvation of women.
Primary Source w/DBQs Selection from the Lotus Sutra: "The Buddha Preaches the One Great Vehicle" [PDF] [Asia for Educators]
The Lotus Sutra, a text of the Mahayana School of Buddhism, was composed well after the death of the historical Buddha (ca. 483 BCE) and written down in Sanskrit even later. The scripture was translated into Chinese in several different versions, the most respected being the translation carried out under the direction of the monk Kumarajiva in 406 CE. This passage addresses the question of the multitude — of why there are so many schools of Buddhism.
Mouzi, latter years of the Eastern Han (ca. 220 CE)
Primary Source w/DBQs Selections from Mouzi's Disposing of Error (Lihuo Lun) [PDF] [Asia for Educators]
Lihuo Lun is a defense of Buddhism possibly composed by Mouzi, a Confucian scholar and official of the Eastern Han.
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