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The Story of Dharma Master Yin Shun - Decline of Buddhism

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The Story of Dharma Master Yin Shun
Winding road to Buddhism
Decline of Buddhism
Seeing the Buddha
My heart will never change
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Decline of Buddhism
In his vast reading, Master Yin Shun came upon the Agama Sutra, the first Buddhist scripture compiled by the Buddha's disciples. Although the scripture records events that happened 2,500 years ago, it brims with a strong sense of genuineness and tangibility. The young monk could still vividly hear the dialogue between the Buddha and his disciples.

At the same time, Yin Shun noticed that Buddhism in China was waning. The Buddhist scriptures, the lectures and teachings of the Buddha ought to be studied, understood, and above all practiced in daily life by Buddhists. But in China, the scriptures were nothing more than chanting materials for funerals. In his hometown, monks only chanted sutras for the dead, while their major duty of expounding the Buddha's teachings to those who were still alive was completely ignored. In the end, the lifestyles of the monks did not differ much from those of laypeople. The stunning discrepancy between the Buddhist doctrines and the real-life decadence, decline and lack of dedication of the contemporary Buddhist sangha [the congregation of monks] worried young Yin Shun deeply. He, too, was overwhelmed with questions and doubts.

Furthermore, ruthless criticism and reprimands could be heard in society. "Buddhism ruins the country." "Monks and nuns are useless." "Abolish monasteries." Derogatory slogans like these were shouted almost every day by some educated people.

Liang Su-ming, a famous scholar who was once a devoted Buddhist, concluded that Buddhism was totally inapplicable to real life. He felt that Buddhism was too abstract. It spoke of the vast time span from the past to the future, the space of the

Ten Directions, and the living beings in the Six Realms. Yet it failed to shed light on "this very moment, this very place and this very person."

Liang's pragmatic critique made a strong impact on Yin Shun. Was it true that the Buddha’s teachings had become useless in dealing with people and events in our lives? Yin Shun felt that Buddhism seemed to have been transformed into a fragile kite flying in the sky of 2,500 years ago: it could easily be blown away in a gust of wind. "Does the Buddha only exist in a heaven that is beyond the reach of people?" Yin Shun wondered.