Chinese Buddhism


Be able to recall two aspects of Chinese Buddhism


  • Paper & Pen/Pencil for Notetaking
  • Worksheet
  • Sun Wukong mask
  • Play


  • Print out the Sun Wukong mask
  • Choose if you will do the Intro Play or another person
  • Practice the Intro Play


1. Gassho

2. Intro Play

Monkey King or Journey to the East.


Sun Wukong, Monkey

XuanZang, Monk


Sun Wukong: "Hello! My name is Sun Wukong, the Monkey King! Have you seen the monk Xuan Zang? I have sworn to the Boddhisatva Guan Yin to protect him on his trip to bring the Tipitaka back from India to China!! I have fought dragons, rock giants and river gods already.

If you threaten us, I will fight you, too!"

3. Play

Ask volunteers for the parts. Students read the parts.

4. Presentation

(Have students write down answers on the Worksheet)

All forms of Buddhism exists in China. But Mahayana predominates.

And among the Mahayana traditions, the strongest indigenous form is Zen.


  • China was meritocracy.
    • Belief that one could do good.
    • Through examination on the classics, one could even become a judge
  • 2 pre-existing religions
    • Daoism (animism, mysticism)
    • Confucianism (ancestor/parent worship, philosophy of rules & family)
  • Relatively affluent. Much larger middle class than India which is caste-driven.
    • Much larger literacy rate and education rate.

Like in other places, "gods" become bodhisattvas or brought into the belief system as gods.

  • Daoism => (Vajrayana, Shingon) Similarity in mysticism.
  • Confucianism => Family & ancestor worship contrary to Theravadan
    • Self-enlightenment & monasticism
    • Give rise to: Jingtuzong(Amidhism, Pure Land), Ch’an(Zen)
      • Jingtuzong
        • Huiyuan is credited with establishing Pure Land Buddhism in China with the founding of the Donglin Temple in 402 CE. It is systemicized by Tan Luan, Tao Cho and Shan Tao (3rd, 4th, 5th Patriarchs).
      • Zen (Ch'an)
        • Founded by BodhiDharma (Daruma in Japanese) in China in 6th century CE.
        • South Indian, who migrated to Southern China, then to North.
        • Centered on the idea of Dhyana (meditation).
        • At one time, largest sect of Buddhism in China.
        • Almost Theravadan in the fact that they stress meditation,
        • but is actually Mahayana as it venerates the Lotus Sutra and the Bodhisattvas esp. Kuan Yu (Kannon, Guan Yin, Avalokitesvara) and Amitabha (Amida). i.e. Buddhism for everyone, not just monks.
        • But from a Jodo Shinshu perspective, it is extremely self-power.
        • 3 aspects/practice to achieve "Satori" Awakening.
          • Meditation
            • Sitting
            • Working/Active
              • Incorporating Daoism, gives rise to:
                • Shaolin Gung Fu (martial art)
                • Tai Chi Chuang (exercise)
          • Koan: Riddles to ponder over to achieve Satori
          • Experience and Dharma Talks
            • Belief that one could quickly achieve enlightenment through experience after learning.
      • Review the answers on the worksheet

5. Activity

  • Have students use Google maps and find :
    • a walking path from Kapilavastu directly to Luoyang.
      • Write down the cities that they come across
      • How far is it?
    • a walking path from Luoyang to Kashgar to Dushanbe (Tajikistan) to Kabul (Afghanistan) to Lahore (Pakistan) to Kapilavastu (Nepal)
      • How far is it?
    • Please note that Google maps will not let you calculate walking over the Chinese border. You will need to use maps to calculate the path, distance and time to the nearest city, then estimate the distance and time across the Chinese border, then use maps on the other side again. Also people usually walk about 6 hours per day. (About 24 miles/day)
  • Sitting Meditation
    • This is just an introduction.
    • Breathing is an easy way to start meditation. This is because the human body considers breathing over other bodily functions (thirst, hunger)
    • People might laugh; do not let it bother you. The whole point is to slow down your thinking by concentrating on your breathing.
    • Gassho
    • Close eyes.
    • Deep breath in through nose.
    • Breath out
    • In, 2, Hold, Out, 2
    • In, 2, 3, Hold, Out, 2, 3
    • In, 2, 3, 4, Hold, Out, 2, 3, 4
    • In, 2, 3, 4, 5, Hold, Out, 2, 3, 4, 5

6. Review

Ask "What do you find memorable?"

7. Closing Gassho


During the Review portion


The meditation portion could be extended to any length of time. Additionally, it may be omitted all together. I've thought of designing masks for all the play characters (kappa, pig, Xuang Zhang), but have never had an opportunity to do this.


Mas Nishimura,, San Jose Betsuin, 2013



Sun Wukong Mask

Journey to the West Script

Journey to the West Play