WorldReligions Chinese Religions Taoism & Confucianism
Overview• Ancient Chinese were polytheistic and animistic• Special attention given to gods of heaven and earth, especially at harvest time• Beneficial spirits known as “Shen” and evil spirits as “Kuei”• Sacrifice – including human – was common• Concept of balance between yin (negative force) and yang (positive force) developed to explain the nature of the universe – Negative force = darkness, coolness, dampness, femaleness: the earth – Positive force = lightness, dryness, warmness, maleness: the sun
Overview• By 8th century a move toward monotheism was apparent in China• The high god was Shang Ti• The Chou dynasty rulers claimed him to be the true god, and ruler of their reign• No prophets arose to clarify the ethical implications of this monotheism• Within a hundred years, its influence diminished
Taoism• Came to prominence c. 6th century BC• Born out of the writings of Lao-tzu (Old Boy), who was keeper of the royal archives• Tired of his life and work, he left the court and moved westward attempting to leave China• He was detained at the westward passes and remained for several months, writing the Tao Te Ching• He finally left and was never heard from again• His work of little more than 5,000 words has been translated more than any book except the Bible
Teachings The basic unity behind the universe is the undefinable force, the Tao (The Way) Compared to a stream of water that flows inexorably to its goal It is useless to struggle against the Tao One must blend with the Tao and be guided by it• Life is the greatest of all possessions Fame, wealth, etc, are all vanities• Life is to be lived simply Family ties are worthless impediments The small village is the ideal unit of society If a stronger nation wishes to conquer a lesser one, it must submit. This is the Tao
Teachings Pomp and glory are to be despised; pride invites destruction Fundamental beliefs“The ways of men are conditioned by those of heaven, the waysof heaven by those of the Tao, and the Tao came into being by itself” --Lao-tzu “Life is beautiful and frightening—it is a panorama of transformation. “Just surrender to the cycle of things. Give yourself to the states of the great change, neither happy nor afraid. And when it comes time to go, simply go. Without any unnecessary fuss” --unknown The Tao has never been made into a conscious god
Confucianism Kung Fu-Tzu (551-479 BC) became the father of Chinese culture by transforming the ancienttraditions into the beginnings of a code for directing social life Tzu’s code of conduct was based upon “Li” or “Jen”, referring to propriety in relationships. Li, or Jen, was defined as proper behavior based upon love for one another.
Confucianism• Father to son: kindness in the father and filial piety in the son• Husband to wife: righteous behavior in the husband and obedience in the wife• Elder brother to younger brother: gentility in the elder brother and humility in the younger• Elder to junior: consideration among elders and deference among juniors• Ruler to subject: benevolence among rulers and loyalty among subjects
Confucianism• Ancestor worship is important• The soul of the ancestor resides in three places – One part goes to heaven – One part stays in the grave – One part remains tied to the ancestral stone or tablet which the family treasures• The soul must be helped to heaven, so at the funeral food offerings are made, along with chanting andprayers to help the soul to evade the attempt of evilspirits to hold it back• The tomb is important and a geomancer is employed to find the right location
Confucianism Fundamental beliefsConfucius believed in the gods. Later Confucianists denied the gods and held to a purely moral kind of philosophy Later Confucianists taught that the key to life was to knowoneself. This happens by living ethically, by self-cultivation, andby exercising the mind. Tenderheartedness and humanity are to be major parts of life.