Buddhism in China
Buddhism was founded in India around the 6th century BC. It is said that the founder was Sakyamuni. The essence of Buddhism's early teaching was summarized in the Four Noble Truths Life is suffering; the cause of suffering is desire; the answer is to extinguish desire; the way to this end is by the Eight-fold Path, a pattern of right living and thinking. Specifically, his followers vowed not to kill, steal, lie, drink, or lose their chastity. Monastic orders for men and women were soon set up. The Three Precious things were said to be the Buddha, the Dharma (the teaching or Way) and the Sangha (the Monastic Order).
Buddhism became established in China in its Mahayana form (Greater Vehicle). The split between Hinayana (Lesser Vehicle) and Mahayana had already taken place some centuries earlier in India. Buddhism is practiced today as Hinayana in Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand and elsewhere in Southeast Asia, while various sects of Mahayana are in China. Japan, Korea, Mongolia and Tibet.
The worship of a whole series of Buddhist deities include Bodhisattvas(Enlightened Existences) in various manifestations. One of the popular Bodhisattvas are Amitabha, the compassionate savior of the Western Paradise. Another is Maitreya, the Buddha who is to descend to the world to replace Skyamuni and continue the spread of Buddhism. A third is Avalokitesvara, literally, depicted as the Goddess of Mercy. These Bodhisattva figures were ready for entry into Nirvana, a release from the cycle of rebirth but they vowed to turn back to the world and not accept their own salvation until all sentient beings, humans and animals, were saved.