Tangut Twilight: Living Buddhism in the City of Ghosts

Discussion in 'Religion and Ethics' started by Disir, Aug 12, 2018.

  1. Disir
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    Disir Gold Member

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    This is a story of esoteric, mysterious Buddhist forces hiding in plain sight across the fabric of Chinese Mahayana and Vajrayana. It is a tale about connections—of threads of living faith that we can discern in the jumbled mess that is world history. Nearly 800 years before the British Empire defeated the Qing (1644–1911) in the First Opium War and forced the Qing to consider them as political equals, the Great State of White and Lofty (bai gao da guo), mostly known as Western Xia, Xi Xia, or the Tangut empire, accomplished the same, forcing the neo-Confucian Song Dynasty to consider the Tangut Buddhist rulers as a force to be reckoned with. During and after the Song-Tangut wars (1038 and 1044) and up until their destruction at hands of Genghis Khan, the Tanguts of the Western Xia (1038–1277) achieved momentous things that are often overlooked.

    The desert empire of Xi Xia managed to extract concessions from the Song government such as mutual recognition and even financial tribute from the Chinese dynasty. They built an occult script from the ground up, concurrently with empire building, that concealed the esoteric language of Buddhist dharanis, mantras, and mystic revelations.* They reshaped the balance of power across Inner and Central Asia, and through their relations with the Song, Khitans, and Jurchens, contributed to a medieval geopolitical configuration in which all powers balanced each other—from European duchies to nomadic kingdoms. This was, of course, before Temujin’s all-devouring Mongol empire, which despite its incredible achievement in uniting much of Eurasia as a single polity for a short time, consumed many peoples and kingdoms in the process, including Xi Xia.
    Tangut Twilight: Living Buddhism in the City of Ghosts | Buddhistdoor

    Another interesting article on Buddhism.
     
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