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| editorial |
| creative encounters |
One Revelation, Two Languages Tamil Veda as a
Buddhism & the Religious "Other"
Good Anthropology, Bad Islam?
The Real Threats To World Peace reflections of a
| practically speaking |
| reflections |
| sacred spaces |
| voices of youth |
| focus on the interreligious movement |
| in review |
| poetry |
An Interdisciplinary Haiku
| prayers and meditation |
Meditations from the Taoist and Confucian Traditions
|CHINA MOUNTAIN TEMPLE
In ancient Indian Buddhism, the stupa was a burial mound. Conical or dome-shaped, stupas came to be regarded as symbols of the victory over death. In one of the most remarkable examples of the evolution of architectural forms, the simple earthen, brick or stone stupa slowly became the multi-tiered pagoda. Probably derived indirectly from the Indic word bhagodi ("divine"), the pagoda was originally a place to house sacred relics, scriptural writings and commentaries. As Buddhism spread into China and then into Korea and Japan, pagodas proliferated.
This example, in the mountainous region of northern China, exemplifies another important dimension of Chinese Buddhism. As Buddhist teachings gained influence at the Imperial Court (after the 5th century CE) and among the noble and educated classes, accommodation with pre-existing Taoist, Confucian and Chinese folk religious traditions became more common.
Taoist shrines often found a place on Buddhist temple grounds. (This pattern later became commonplace in Japan as Shinto shrines grew up in Buddhist temple precincts. The reverse was also often the case.) At the same time, natural settings previously associated with Taoist and folk religion were now adopted by Buddhists as they built their temples, pagodas, and centers of study. Mountains had a long sacred history in Chinese folk religion. Over time, Buddhist architecture found a lasting niche in tranquil montane regions. This pagoda is a beautiful example.
Insight is grateful to Steven Freedman for another entrancing cover photo.
Steven I Freedman has a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering. He is a retired engineer, world traveler, and enthusiastic photographer.