China: Philosophy & Beliefs                                              

China’s religion is officially designated as atheist by the state. However, some religious practice is allowed but is strictly controlled by the government. Taoism, Buddhism, Christianity 3%-4%, and Islam 1%-2% are the most commonly practiced faiths.

What do you think atheist means? 


Taoism

In addition to the teachings of Confucius, which could be characterized as a philosophy, many Chinese also follow Taoism which is a philosophy and a belief that explains the simplicity and nature of the universe. The essential belief is that there is no absolute "stillness" in living things. Everything, including the universe, is changing all the time. Relative "stability" can be achieved when harmony is reached between "yin" and "yang", which are said to be opposite but related natural forces that exist in the universe.

There are five elements in total. The diagram depicts their interrelationship. Taoism teaches the Chinese to live harmoniously with nature, to seek harmony in life, and to seek mental peacefulness and "emptiness". The Chinese Taoists are mindful that any act to an extreme will cause the opposite reaction in force in the opposite extreme. Essentially, one tries to calm the constant movement of energy by finding balance. 

Buddhism

Buddhism remains the largest organized religion in China since its introduction in the 1st Century. Chinese Buddhism may be classified according to languages into three communities: Mandarin, Tibetan, and Bali. The general principle is that the world is an illusion conjured up by each individual's mind. Every thought has the power to produce a retributive future result (known as karma), and that it is this that decides what form we will appear in during our next life. 

Enlightenment occurs when we understand this, and nirvana is attained when we are emancipated from the endless cycle of life and death to join the Universal Mind. Many Buddhist schools have integrated the ideas of Confucianism, Taoism and other indigenous philosophical systems so that what was initially a foreign religion came to be a natural part of Chinese civilization, albeit with a unique character. Buddhism has played an enormous role in shaping the mindset of the Chinese people, affecting their aesthetics, politics, literature, philosophy and medicine.

 

 

                                             Sam Poh Chinese Buddhist Temple