I was watching a video CD “Samsara” this afternoon. The story (about a Tibetan monk) and setting brought back some thoughts I had during my Tibet trip about 5 years ago.
During the trip, travelling along the seemingly endless road from Nepal to Lahsa (which would have gone all the way to Shanghai, apparently), it seemed that God gave the Tibetans nothing but sun, sand and rocks. It really made me wonder how the Tibetans, as a people, managed to survive for all these years? To be able to face the hardships of their habitat, and yet remain so devout and, in many ways, docile?
Come to think of it, before Buddhism was embraced by the Tibetan kings a long time ago, the Tibetans were very ferocious warriors causing lots of problems even for the mighty Chinese empire. In fact, even during the Tang Dynasty, the Chinese emperor had to marry off his daughter to gain peace along the border. But what happened? After the Tibetans had adopted Buddhism, they seemed to have been pacified and lost all aggression it seems.
However, this is not the only example where adoption of a ‘foreign’ philosophy has forever changed the shape of a community.
Confucianism, so often touted as the pinnacle and symbol of Chinese culture, was introduced by the emperor of Han Dynasty as a way of pacifying its citizens, after Qin Dynasty was overthrown. It has been said that the decline of Chinese empire may be partly attributed to the conserve thinking of Confucian scholars. This was most obvious from the closed-doors policy of the Ming Dynasty. It was all downhill from there, I might add.
Recently came across some websites containing information about Gnosticism. It is very interesting that there once existed a ‘hidden’ branch of Christianity that was later banished to the realm of heresy. Is it something worth knowing, or are we to hear only the mainstream voices? Wonder if normal Christians really care at all?
As usual, the victor gets to rewrite the history.
Note: The Great Wall of China was linked together during the Qin Dynasty.