The Asian life is entirely different from the other

The world’s diversity is not only because of the difference
in race and color of humanity and the wild nature but also the variation on
cultural and religious practices among the communities. The western population
takes pride in a more liberal society which allows one to exercise their
personal beliefs and opinions in almost everything as guided by the
constitution. In the African setup, much emphasis is on the ancestral
traditions which govern relationships within and without the communities, as
well as moral values across all ages. However, the Asian life is entirely
different from the other continents since the trends we see today is an outcome
of the foundational pillar laid centuries ago through Buddhism. Buddhism has
had a considerable influence on Asian countries and its people mainly regarding
social and cultural values, trade, education, politics, the judiciary, and
arts. This essay shall, therefore, endeavor to examine the meaning of Buddhism,
its history and spread in Asia, and finally the various influence on Asia as a

is Buddhism?

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Buddhism is a universal religion which majorly practiced in
Asian countries. In the world, Buddhism ranks fourth after Christianity, Islam,
and Hinduism. According to Peter Harvey, Buddhism religion comprises several
beliefs, traditions and spiritual practices based on the ancient teachings and
philosophies endorsed by Buddha (8). The fundamentals of Buddhist education
bases on four noble truths which include the reality of suffering, the reason
of affliction, the end of suffering, and the path leading to the end of pain.
Usually, the devotees consisting of monks and nuns stay in the temples in
secluded places like mountains or outskirts of major towns to meditate and
learn more while the ordinary believers visit the temples at specific times to
offer rituals and meditate. As explained by Harvey, some of the guiding morals
of Buddhism rests on three essential divisions of wisdom, moral virtues, and
meditation (21). Other subdivisions encourage people to be enlightened,
practice selflessness, and abstain from theft, lying, intemperance, sexual
malpractice, and intoxicants.

and Spread in Asia.

There is no accurate date in which Buddhism began. However,
as stated by Swearer, many historians agree that it started as early as in the
third century from the ancient India (4). 
From India, teachings of Buddha spread to South East Asia, Central Asia,
China, Tibet and other remote parts of Asia. The two sub-categories of Buddhism
namely Hinayana and Mahayana which exist today various countries like China,
Korea, Japan, and Thailand amongst others, is a result of the diverse teachings
that the monks gave to the people. Contrary to the history of other religions,
Buddhism spread peacefully throughout Asia between the third to seventh
centuries. In most cases, the doctrine spread organically as the merchants
moved from one region to another (Harvey 305). For example, in Central Asia, trade
along the silk routes saw the business people of Buddhist belief settle in
different lands. As they traded, the merchants exercised their beliefs and
cultural practices which drew the curiosity of the native settlers. As a
result, the natives got inspired and unknowingly began practicing the faith.
The advanced spread in Asia was due to the monarchs who showed significant
support for the Buddhist religion. According to Zhao, the kings believed that
the moral and social values taught in Buddhism would make it easy for them to
lead their subjects and hence solidify their dynasties (388). A good example is
in China, Korea, and Japan.

 In China, Zhao noted
that the Han Dynasty supported the Monks and teachers who came from India and
central Asia to establish Temples in all parts of their territories (391). In
as much as there was an obstacle due to the language barrier, the monarchical
system which perceived the Buddhist religion as one of the high in the society,
allowed the pioneers to use Taoist terms to translate teachings from Indian
language to Chinese. In Korea, the Silla rulers comprising of the Koguryo,
Packche, and Silla kingdoms in the seventh century helped the Chinese monks to
spread Buddhism. Also, the Koryo dynasty in the tenth century gave Buddhism
utmost importance in its leadership. In Japan, Prince Shotoku gets credit for
his relentless support towards the increase and expansion of Buddhism.
Throughout the evolution and spread of Buddha faith, nobody faced coercion to
accept the teachings.

on Asia

Modernization and technology advancement has blurred the
impact of Buddhism in most if not all Asian countries. However, in the
background, we see the significant influence of the Buddhist faith in some
Asian activities from politics, to education, to moral values in trade and
economy, social engagements, and arts.


From the time when Indians introduced Buddhism in various
parts of Asia, the governments and political structures never remained the same
again. The earlier dynasties in countries like China, Korea, Japan, and
Sri-Lanka played a central role in ensuring that the respective communities
adopted the spiritual beliefs and traditions taught by the monks and nuns. In
the standard setup, the kings and rulers used the Buddhist faith as a political
tool to advance their strength, lengthen the period of leadership as well as
cement the support gained from the people (Harvey 201). Some of the privileges
the rulers gave the monks like tax exemption in China helped them to focus on
teaching and not be anxious about what to eat or where to stay. On the other
hand, the Buddhists had a say in the Japanese courts and leadership. Under
prince Shotoku, the first constitution of Japan promoted the moral and social
values of Buddhism (Zhao et al., 393). Even though the law has undergone
amendments and changes taking the form of bill of rights from the western
countries, the moral values taught in the earlier centuries by Buddhist
devotees remain.


Other than political influence, Buddhism has had a
significant impact on the education system in Asia. Among the first goals of
the monks who visited countries like Japan and China from India was to
establish schools. Zhao et al. state that the initial purpose of the schools
was to teach those interested in serving as monks on the beliefs and practices
expected of them (394). Also, the ordinary people could bring their children to
the learning centers where they could learn how to read and write alongside the
Buddha faith since no schools existed in these ages. The government and rulers
often assisted by providing the necessary resources needed to erect the
structures and support the daily needs of food for both the children and
facilitators. In the seventh century, China had Buddhist schools like Tian-Tai,
Pure Land, and Chan which focused on particular texts for practice and study
(Zhao et al. 394). Today, Buddhist schools exist in the countries where Buddha
religion has a big following such as India, Thailand, China, Cambodia, and
Myanmar.  The students and believers have
divided themselves between the two leading schools Theravada and Mahayana. In
some areas where military regime abolished Buddhism, the monks established
universities. The education system is also the foundation of Eastern
philosophies on the reality of life, cosmology, meditation, and liberation.

and Economic Influence

The influence of trade is both positive and negative. During
the period in which the pioneers introduced Buddhism from India, many dynasties
spent a lot of money in building monasteries and temples. As Harvey states, the
Tang China spent a lot concerning the setting up of statutes, conducting
rituals, and taking care of the monks (218). The large spending on promoting
Buddhism worked to the disadvantage of the ordinary person as the extra cash
could be used to improve the livelihood of the people. However, Buddhism also
impacted the economy positively in the long run. In the ancient Asia, Buddhism
acted as a critical promoter of trade among communities (Swearer 186). In the
process of trading with others, the natives adopted Buddhism. Therefore,
dynasties gained through trade. Today, the Asian community is famous for honest
business dealings with some of the thriving companies like Alibaba and Sinopec
getting listed among the Fortune 500. Some of the practices in business is a
product of the Buddhist beliefs taught from the ancient times and passed from
one generation to another.

and Social Values

Asian culture is full of Buddhism. The social and moral
values in all countries show allegiance to the beliefs and pillars of Buddha.
As stated by Harvey, some of the ethical ideas like honesty and hard work
originated from the Buddhist community and later evolved to other religions
(139). Love and selflessness have encouraged the communist life in China and
other Asian states. The relationship between families and the different age
groups is centrally guided by the eight sub-groups of Buddhist traditions (Zhao
et al. 427). Also, the rituals and festive activities in most countries which
also form the culture in Asia resulted from the foundations laid in the early
stages. The artistic monuments and architectural designs even came from the
Buddha traditions. Some of the familiar landmarks like the temple of the
reconciling Buddha have benefited Asia by making it a tourist destination
choice for many around the globe.

In general, Buddhism is the center of Asian history, and it’s
present. Buddhism continues to play a big role in the education, political,
economic, artistic, and social values in Asia.