In parallel to Master Xuecheng’s effort to make traditional Chinese culture that emphasizes harmony and openness better understood by more people, China’s Central Television (CCTV) has translated a popular five-part documentary into English.
(Master Xuecheng is president of the Buddhist Association of China. See more about his ideas in the opinion article: “Spreading seeds of compassion in dialogue among civilizations.”)
The CCTV documentary tells how Phagspa (also spelled as Phagpa) (1235-1280), a Tibetan Buddhist guru, helped the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) establish central authority over Tibet, and how Phagspa persuaded the dynasty’s first emperor, Khubilai, to pursue peace in the process of national unification.
Last summer, the English version of the documentary, titled “Phagpa: Imperial Master,” was broadcast on CCTV9 to more than 80 countries simultaneously. Feedback has been positive, said sources from CCTV. The Chinese version was first broadcast in 2015.
Chen Qingying, a noted scholar on Tibetan Buddhism, says that Phagspa seldom forced his Buddhist ideas of compassion onto others.
A glimpse into the spirit of Xuanzang (602–664 AD) may help shed light on the secret of Phagspa’s success in bringing peace to the nation and the people.
Spirit of Xuanzang
“What’s the spirit of Master Xuanzang that moves and motivates us till this day? It’s a spirit of persuading others without resorting to force, a spirit of detaching oneself from worldly gains and weaning oneself from bias, and a spirit of enlightening more than oneself,” Master Xuecheng says.
In his trip to India, which covered 110 countries and more than 50,000 li (one li equals half a kilometer), Master Xuanzang found himself besieged many a time by robbers. He responded with no violent struggle. In the end, the robbers were moved and converted, according to Master Xuecheng.