The Confucian Classics were the basis of the examination system.
It has often been said that the Chinese are not deeply religious. It is true that they have shown a comparative indifference to metaphysical speculation; Chinese culture was perhaps the first to develop an intellectual scepticism concerning the gods.
Attempts to manipulate the forces which shape the human and natural worlds have been a key element in all China's religious traditions. This is manifested in a complex mix of religious, superstitious and magical beliefs and practices.
Popular religion has always been dismissed as 'superstition' by the intelligentsia, particularly Marxists. Yet the various folk traditions in the religion of the rural masses have a comparable preoccupation with this worldly concerns, expressed in earthbound beliefs in the gods of the family and the soil.
In their different ways most Chinese have shown themselves to be concerned primarily with the human person and society. In a predominantly rural country, this has manifested itself in a concern for the land and its prosperity. Thus religious practice has been closely linked with the question of the ownership of the land.
Persistent beliefs The communist revolution sought to break these ancient connections, but with limited success. While the power of the clan or lineage has declined, the family has remained the focus of production. The rural reforms of recent years have reinforced this.
Despite all attempts at re-education by the Communist Party the family cult associated with Confucianism and popular religion still flourishes throughout the countryside, as do so-called 'superstitious practices'. Peasants saw no contradiction in attending both Buddhist and Daoist worship, nor in incorporating a diversity of gods into the local pantheon.
The Confucian state, dominated by Confucian thinking, was generally tolerant of the various religions that contended for the hearts and minds of the people, and other religions were allowed to flourish provided they did not challenge the fundamental Confucian order.
Both Buddhism and Daoism inspired heterodox religious systems, and from time to time these broke out in social rebellions, leading to state intervention and attempted suppression.
He came from a family of officials and his concern was with the restoration of the Way Dao of the ancient sages. His teaching was therefore related mainly to society and its government. He advocated strict conformity, and thought that fostering correct behaviour, within the context of the family, would produce an ordered society.
He was not particularly interested in religion, except insofar as it related to social life. However, in 59 AD during the Han dynastyit was decreed that sacrifice should be made to Confucius and this began a process which was to make Confucian philosophy into the foundation of the Chinese political order.
Confucius himself had only accepted the legitimacy of sacrifice to one's own ancestors, but from now on an official Confucian cult emerged, with its own temples.
It gradually became linked with the state cult of the Emperor. From the fifth century AD Confucian orthodoxy retreated before the popularity of Buddhism and Daoism. But a renaissance came during the Song dynasty when Confucianism responded to the challenge and developed its own metaphysics.
This new trend is known as Neo-confucianism, and its main exponent was Zhu Xi It subsequently became the main orthodoxy of the scholar officials until the demise of the imperial system in In contemporary China, the Confucian cult has disappeared, but the Confucian approach to government and society retains a powerful hold on many people.
Where the Confucian stressed ethical action, the Taoist spoke of the virtue of Wu Wei non-actiongoing with the flow of things. Like the Confucianists, Daoists looked back to a golden age. The good ruler, they thought, guided his people with humility, not seeking to interfere with the rhythms of social life conducted within the larger patterns of the natural world and the whole cosmos.
The Daoist adept was concerned to achieve 'immortality', seen as transmuted earthly existence. This led to the development of alchemy and to methods of meditation aimed at reaching material immortality.
As time passed Daoism found itself in direct competition with the foreign teachings of Buddhism. It borrowed Buddhist practices and also drew on folk religious traditions to create its own religious form and ethos.
It secured an essential place in popular religious life, but in this form it has ceased to bear much resemblance to the philosophical precepts of the early teachers. The earlier, more philosophical Daoism has continued to inspire Chinese painters and poets through the ages and its teachings appealed to many a scholar official who adhered to a strictly Confucian ethic in public life.
It first entered China in the second century AD and by the Tang dynasty was the most dynamic and influential of all religions. However, its very success led to a severe curtailment of its activities in the late Tang, since officials began to see its power as a threat, both to their own power and to the order and prosperity of society.
After this it remained an important element in Chinese life, but took its place alongside Daoism and a revitalised Confucianism. Both Confucian and Daoist teaching were 'non-dualistic' - matter and spirit formed a continuum within a cosmos that was self-generating and impersonal.
Buddhism, however, taught a radical dualism.
Through a long process of adaptation, various Chinese schools emerged such as Chan Zen and the Pure Land school, which were far more congenial to traditional Chinese thought. Zen, with its meditative techniques, and Pure Land with its stress on faith in the Amitabha Buddha as the way to salvation, became the dominant forms of Chinese Buddhism.Taoism is a religious and philosophical tradition that has had one of greatest impacts on the Chinese culture and ways of life for the past 2, years.
The Taoist religion and philosophy have spread to the neighboring countries who have had close ties with the Chinese, including Japan, Vietnam, and South Korea.
1. Introduction. Since Korean Buddhism has come to the attention of Western scholarship rather late compared with Chinese and Japanese Buddhism, it still lies, with its deep store of untouched resources, almost fully open for exploration.
Explore the world of Taoism, both contemplative and religious Taoist traditions, with overview history, important persons, key terms and insights, reading list. The origins of Hinduism can be traced to the Indus Valley civilization sometime between and BCE.
Though believed by many to be a polytheistic religion, the basis of . Chinese culture, tradition and customs. Taoism in China. In the Chinese language the word tao means "way," indicating a way of thought or life.
Philosophical Taoism speaks of a permanent Tao in the way that some Western religions speak of God. The Tao is considered unnamed and unknowable, the essential unifying element of all that .
Bob Whyte surveys the many strands of religion in China. The article first appeared in SACU's China Now magazine in It has often been said that the Chinese are not deeply religious.