Phase 1: Posing Real Questions

Updated 7 years 2 months ago


1) I know that.... According to my father, who visited the Linden Centre a few years ago, the Dali area is greatly influenced by many religions and it can bee seen in may aspects of life such as architecture and social classification. For example, there is Christian, Muslim and Buddhist influence visible in the area. I learned in Social studies class last year that Christianity is the largest religion in the world with the most followers. From that point, I can make an educated guess that Christianity had effected Xizhou as well. Buddhism has also impacted China for a long time and has deep roots here. I learned this from my martial arts teacher a few years back. I read in the book The Essence of Buddhism that Buddhists believe that the world is a wold of suffering and to become enlightened, you must rid of all of your cravings.

2) I want to know.... I want to start my research by first finding out what religions are actually there. in Dali, once I know that, I want to get some background these religions until I find one that seems most interesting to me. For that one religion, I want to know what values are a part of this religion, how the architecture and art of the village has religion incorporated. I am also interested in learning prayers and meditation (depending on which religion I find most interesting). I am also interested in discovering and possibly taking part in or watching ceremonies- birth ceremonies? Death? weekly worship (like Sunday mornings for Christianity) What is that like?- in the community. I would also be interested in the physical layout of the temples. Where do they worship? How do they worship? Do they use certain alters or objects of worship? what is the job of the spiritual leader? I am also interested in looking at the differences in the different religions. Meeting and working with and actual priest or religious leader and learning about God and life hands on, it is more real and raw. I will definitely be doing the discovery and the kind of technical learning that other topics include but I would also like to take this opportunity to discover something even more within myself. My goal is not to convert myself by the end of this process but to explore different possibilities.

I did some primary research so that I could get my head around what this topic was all about. You can find that information in Phase 3.


To research:



set of questions #1

New Questions #2


  1. Who was Buddha?
  2. Siddhartha Gautama 

Are there foods that Buddhists do not eat? Drinks? Activities that are forbidden? Any unique to Benzhu?


  1. How does Buddhism affect other parts of the local architecture?

My Guess: 

I think that there will be parts of the town that have strong influence but others where you cannot, or it takes some observation to pick out.



  1. How is Buddhism practiced?

My Guess: I imagine Buddhist prayer and contemplation as being very quiet and calm. This is the overall feel I have gotten from Buddhism so far.

 How does meditation affect the religion? The people who practice Buddhism?


  1. How does prayer affect the religion, the people who practice it?

My Guess: Meditation is where someone tries to clear their mind and organize their thoughts. Prayer is the act of worshipping their God.



  1. What values are important in BenZhu? Are they any different from other sects of Buddhism?

My Guess:

Because BenZhu is still Buddhism, I think that the values will involve the steps to enlightenment. For example, not being materialistic, understanding what is right and wrong and then deciding what to do, keeping Karma in mind.



6. How many Buddhist temples are in the XiZhou area? Does this have any correlation with the Buddhist influence?

My Guess:

I think that there are quite a few temples because from what I understand, most of the Bai population practice BenZhu.



  1. What ceremonies? Rights of passages? and rituals are important in BenZhu? Any unique to BenZhu?

My Guess: There are rituals for the transition from child to adult, marriage, death, and birth.



  1. Do spiritual leaders hold any other importance in village happenings? Governing? Teaching?

My Guess: There are some parts of the town that hold high respect for the Buddhist leaders. I also think that there are certain religious schools that Monks teach at.



  1. How are places of worship physically laid out? Is there any importance to that?

My Guess: There are certain areas for different activities. There is often a basic set up but it is there is not formula. I imagine it being very open because of the Buddhist belief that being connected with nature is important.



  1. How is Buddhism similar? Different from other religions? Especially others that are practiced in the Xizhou area?

My Guess: I think that at the core, everything connects. I think that if you look deep enough, every aspect of every religion will have connections into other religions.

Do all people who practice Buddhist ceremonies concider themselves Buddhist?


More questions:

Are the religions in the area affected by eachother?


Sorting through questions:

to research:

Are there any foods forbidden in to Buddhists?

Who was Buddha?


Things to notice:

How are places of worship physically laid out? 

Do spiritual leaders hold importance in village happenings? Governing? Teaching?

What ceremonies, rights of passage are important in Buddhism? 

What values are important in Buddhism?

How does prayer affect the religion? Meditiation?

How does Buddhism affect the architecture?


Post research analysis:

How is Buddhism similar, different from other religions?


Thoughts 0


I am impressed with your curiosity around various religions with all your enquiries and questions. Good luck with your discovery process Cass. You are doing amazing internal work of expanding your practical/theoretical knowledge around what will fit for you in your unique spiritual journeying. Although I am a professed buddhist, I have also enjoyed delving into organized religion out of my past and "Toltec Wisdom" more recently. In don Miguel Ruiz's book, "The Four Agreements", he outlines how the agreements are interwoven and which ones are more pillar while the other agreements are more supportive. The four agreements are as follows:

1. Be impeccable with your word
2. Do not take anything personally
3. Do not make assumptions
4. Do your best

Remember, eventhough you are amassing many belief systems, underneath all the beliefs in the world around religeon and spirituality, being your Authentic Self in non-attachment to beliefs will feed your soul ultimately... Just my view where you can accept, reject or negotiate any part of what I say!! Much compassion!

I will stop here. Happy journeying Cass!!



Hey Cass!!! How's life at Microcampus? We miss your awesome discussion questions during class, but I hope you have fun learning about the religion there! We just finished a science test here at SAS on compound, mixtures, and elements and a few people (not naming names) asked some very unnecessary questions. :D I heard that Yifei got a group of 8 people lost...LOLLL....anyways...Have fun and go on Skype often!!!

Syncronistic coincidence


Hi Cass,

What fantastic questions you have developed.  You have really come a long way from where you were last week before you got up there.  I am so looking forward to following as you discover some answers. What is next?  Where will you go in search of these answers? 

What a syncronistic coincidence that just yesterday I was in a full day leadership retreat and we spent time looking at don Miguel Ruiz's , "The Four Agreements" that Uncle Scott mentioned in his post.  You know what I think about coindidences.  love mom

Your topic


Wow. You have done a ton of work on this since we last spoke. I love how specific your questions are getting. Good luck searching out some interesting people to talk to.



Dear Cass

What a wonderful journey of exploration and personal growth. With reference to one of your question on religious comparisons, when we first moved to China many years ago I delved superficially into the religions of China but not as in depth nor as personally as you seem to be considering this. I recall being interested in the connections and comparisons between Taosism and Bhuddism as two of China's important religious influences. Confucius obviously the third. If I recall correctly, there was a significant historical evolution in Yunnan where many Taoists adopted Buddhism and the philosphical and spiritual elements of the two may have been blended in practice? Don't remember the details but might be an interesting consideration for you, if I have this right. I am travellign and books not nearby but noted a website reference which seems to touch on this as well. Your journey could be interesting fodder for family discussions in St Andrews.................enjoy

Buddhism and it's various forms


Hey Cass,

Amazing to be able to read about your journeys you are going through! Powerful stuff!

Another potential question to consider:

how is buddhism in China influenced by the chinese government?

Keep exploring,



Man, I am impressed with your early work. Great language, great ideas. I do have a question about your personal questions about the topic. Don't you think that you could also look into the muslum side of the community becasue as you stated you are christian so no need to learn, but I don't think you may know much about that part of the community. I think that would be interesting aswell. I wish you good luck! 




First of all, I am not Christian, and I don't think that I stated that I was. Also, it is not that I do not want to learn about Islam and Christianity (I want to learn about it all) but that when I narrowed down my project topic, I decided that Buddhism is most interesting to me. I am not studying it all because if my topic is too broad, then I feel like I will have so much to look at that I will not have time to do anything.

Hey! I'm Cass! I love exploring and I am loving this amazing adventure! I am so excited to continue diving into the mysteries of spirituality and discovering the beautiful things that the world has to offer!