Christianity and Buddhism

In a textbook on Buddhism widely used at the end of the twentieth century, the author asserts that 'Buddhism was "discovered" in the west during the first half of the nineteenth century.'17 The author goes on to say that of course there had been encounters in the past between westerners and what came to be called Buddhism in the west. However, these 'disparate accounts of the encounter of the West with indistinct aspects of the Orient' were only recognized retrospectively as relating to Buddhism, after 'Buddhism' had been 'constructed'. This may very well be true of the intellectual world of the west in general, but a real encounter between Christianity and Buddhism happened during the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries in Japan, China and Indo-China primarily, though latterly also in Thailand, Ceylon, and Burma. The longest period of Christian-Buddhist contact was that between the Catholic missions and Buddhism in Japan, China, and Indo-China. This began with Francis Xavier's arrival in Japan and the creation of the Catholic mission there. The Jesuits gradually developed a picture of a religious tradition coming from India that had taken root in China, Japan, and Indo-China. They did not map out the full extent of its diffusion in Asia nor did they have any

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