Deep in the Mountains of Tibet, there was a reform of Buddhism bringing about stricter standards and regulations to monasteries and also bringing preexisting aspects of shamanism from India. Thus began Lamaism. Much of the buddhism practiced in China has stemmed from this Tibetan religion and after being in Thailand and southeast Asian Buddhist cultures, you can tell its different. The architecture, the decorations, and the statues are much more reminiscent of the religion practiced in Nepal.
Since the communism takeover, much of China lost its religious significance. The national religion is to be unreligious, yet a lingering folk, ancestral worship predominantly lingers over the country. About 15% of the country claims to practice Buddhism and less than 3% claims to be Christian and less than 2% practices Islam. Though you will see a small number of churches dotting the cityscape, it is the huge, ancient temples from the 1500s during the ancient Ming Dynasty that draw a lot of attention. Yesterday we had the opportunity to go into one of these monasteries to witness monks chanting and praying, have very simple conversations with them, and pray over their dwellings and temples.
Despite our cultural differences and language barriers we were still able to share some laughs share some smiles and relate in a friendly handshake. Allow me to introduce you to my new friends Baobalon and Chengxiang.