Trail Blazer Ministries
Base Camp for Life: A Spiritual Journey...

Buddhism, Christianity and true peace


In early December 2009 I had the chance to walk around the Forbidden City in Beijing. This trip in China made a lasting impact on me, and I've grown to understand myself, American culture and Chinese culture better.

The Manchu ancestors of the Qing imperial family followed a tradition of shamanistic practices based on their beliefs in supernatural forces. Over the centuries, those beliefs and practices were absorbed into the religions adopted from China: Daoism, Confucianism and Buddhism. This multiplicity of faiths led to a plethora of religious observances. The emperor attended all major sacrificial rites, while lesser ones were attended by officials representing him.

Over time, Buddhism became the primary religion of the Qing Dynasty. The Qing emperors supported the Yellow Hat sect of Esoteric Buddhism, an adherence which proved useful in diplomatic relations with Tibetan and Mongolian nobles. Esoteric Buddhism, besides providing the possibility of personal enlightenment, offered protection and preservation of the sovereign nation. The palace featured Buddhist altars in the private quarters of the emperor and empresses.

There is a lot a person can look up on the internet about the Forbidden City, including many pictures, information about the palaces, and the history. I won't go into all the detail of it's history and descriptions of palaces, but just a short overview of went on within it's gates.

A few facts:
1. The tradition of castrating male servants dates back over two thousand years. The Qing Dynasty started with 9000 eunuchs, reducing to about 1500 in 1908. Their testicles were mummified and stored in jars, to be buried with them after their death. Many eunuchs were harshly treated, or executed at whim. Corruption, power struggles and personal vendettas flourished.

2. Emperors were entitled to several wives and many concubines. (Qianlong had two official wives and 29 concubines). Concubines were well-educated women selected from the best Manchu families. Nightly, the Emperor would decide which concubine would visit him that evening. She would then be stripped, bathed and depilated before being carried to his chamber. The number of times a concubine was chosen secured her social standing.

I could go on and on about how the concubines killed each other, had affairs with eunuchs (they were called vegetarian affairs)and had the other concubines sons killed. It's ironic that this dark place called the Forbidden City had so many halls and palaces dedicated to Harmony. Here is a list of the palaces: Hall of Mental Cultivation, Palace of Earthly Tranquility, Palace of Heavenly Purity, Palace of Abstinence, Hall of Supreme Harmony, Hall of Preserving harmony, Hall of Imperial supremacy, Hall of Military Glory, Hall of Literary Brilliance, Imperial Garden, and Gate of Divine Prowess.

All these halls seemed to do nothing to really preserve peace. All this wealth, wisdom, and concubines reminds me of Solomon. The Biblical figure Solomon asked for wisdom, and because the Lord loved his request he was granted wealth and power. Unfortunately, this corrupted him and he took on 700 wives and 300 concubines. The Bible doesn't rebuke that he had that many wives, just that he started worshiping the gods of his wives and concubines.

Whether it was Solomon in all his glory, or the Emperors in all their glory; none were at peace. I enjoy reading Ecclesiastes, "All is Vanity, a chasing after the wind".

The book instructs us to live fully:
Ecc 9:7-10

7 Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.

8 Let your garments be always white. Let not oil be lacking on your head.

9 Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun.

10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.

I look forward to hearing more of your trip to China!

Recent Comments