China: In Search Of An Identity

August 29, 2010

Author: Ananth Krishnan

Source: The Buddhist Channel/The Hindu,9467,0,0,1,0

In new China's cities, millions of young people are turning to Buddhism to make sense of their county's rapid transformation while in the far west, minority communities are searching for ways to preserve their culture against the pressures of development.

Every summer, young Chinese from the country's far corners gather at the foothills of the Taibai Mountains in China's east. The gathering includes doctors, lawyers, college graduates and, last summer, even a couple of nuclear scientists; in short, the kind of white-collar crowd one might usually find at a Starbucks coffee-shop in downtown Shanghai.

But these young Chinese weren't at Taibai on holiday; they were there in search of answers. The cool Taibai Mountains are home to the Tiantong monastery, a few hours' drive from the eastern port city of Ningbo. Tiantong Si is a 1,700-year-old centre of Buddhist learning, and it has influenced the thought and culture of much of China's east.