Post 17: Tibetan Buddhism and Taiwan

The growth of religion in Chinese communities could largely be attributed to the “spiritual void” as we have discussed in class before. This familiar concept is described as a “spiritual crisis” in Yu’s paper and is likely caused by a multitude of factors, including a lack of religious development following the Cultural Revolution and the growth of corruption and materialism in a rapidly modernizing society. The efforts of Chinese people today to find a sense of spiritual awakening have led many of them into traps, temples and religious groups managed like for-profit companies, taking advantage of those who don’t know any better.

Much of the Buddhism practiced in China today is considered “Lay Buddhism,” with “incense burners” or “xiangke” simply going to temples to ask for favors from gods. While Tibetan Buddhism has gained a wider following in Mainland China in the recent years, any traditions involving Tibet are heavily politicized and risky to take part in largely due to complicated politics which can be associated with possible involvement with Taiwan. For many Chinese people, including Taiwanese, the mystique surrounding Tibetan Buddhism has always been a major factor contributing to its popularity.

While Tibet and Taiwan have had previous connections politically, I find it rather interesting that the Mainland and Taiwan governments somehow always find a way to politicize basically every single topic. While the Tibetan issue is definitely a geopolitical issue, it is equally important as a religious and spiritual issue.

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