"Buddhism in Chinese History" is a collection of six lectures presented at the University of Chicago by Arthur F. Wright in the late 1950's. Wright offers up an attempt at reflective interpretation of the study of Chinese Buddhism, which explains how Buddhism played an important role in reducing the cultural and institutional differences that existed in China during the 6th century A.D. and laid the foundations for the unified, and eventually Confucian, society that would ultimately exist. Wright's analysis extends all the way from the Han China of 206 B.C. to the Modern Era, where Buddhism continues to have strong influences in China. Specifically, Wright looks at elements of thought, language and culture that have been so completely appropriated that their origins have been essentially forgotten. Indeed, you can imagine what position the Chinese Communist government would have on Wright's views, especially given Wright's claim that there is a self-conscious effort by the Chinese to identify, reinterpret and use elements of the country's Buddhist heritage to solve the problems China's traditional civilization faces when confronted with the dominating forces of the West. Whether you come to this volume because of an interest in the religion of Buddhism or the cultural history of China, you will certainly find Wright's arguments to be of interest.
Awesome overview of Buddhism's adaptation to Chinese civilization.