Chinese religions: harmony and the basis of great morality

Religions in China

Which religion had the most influence on the state, culture, society and politics of China is not yet fully resolved question. Each of the religions or philosophical and moral teachings have played a role in history. Still, acquaintance with them is very interesting. All ancient religions contributed to the formation of a special Chinese civilization, which in turn had an impact on neighboring states: Korea, Vietnam, Japan, Russia.

When it comes to the Middle Kingdom, it is important to consider that some believers can profess several religions at once.

There are three main religious teachings for China:

  • Buddhism
  • Confucianism
  • Daoism

According to various sources, about 40% of the country's population considers themselves atheists.

Buddhism: Forming a Chinese Tradition

Buddhism originated in India in the 5th century BC. BC, based on the teachings of Prince Siddhartha Gautama, penetrates China in the 2nd century AD. e., during the reign of Emperor Ming-di. The construction of the first Buddhist temples dates back to this time. There is nothing surprising in the fact that Buddhism found fertile soil on the Chinese soil, no. The Chinese recognized Taoism in Buddhism. The same principle is not action, detachment from the real world and self-contemplation. As the religion of ancient China, Buddhism played an extremely important role in the education and humility of people.

The formation of the Chinese tradition of Buddhism is considered by the monk An Shigao, who was the first to translate Buddhist writings into Chinese. Thanks to the efforts of Chinese and Indian monks who worked on Buddhist treatises and built datsans, Buddhism is becoming very popular and relevant. As a rule, such religions or philosophical teachings, as well as appeals to morality, appear in times of troubles and crises. So in this case, when in the 4th century the Chinese state was going through a crisis.

In the 6th century, Buddhism became the dominant religion of China under Emperor Wu. The development of the doctrine underwent changes, but still remained a religion for everyone. The decline of Buddhism has been going on since the beginning of the 20th century, when China experienced revolutions and the building of a new state. In the 60s and 70s, Buddhism was banned, and the monks were sent for "re-education."

Buddhism is one of the main religions for modern China, today about 18% of the population follows this teaching.

Confucianism: or how to become a "noble husband"

Of all the religious and philosophical teachings, Confucianism (or Lunyu) has experienced its rise and fall, ascension to the rank of religion and violent persecution by the authorities. Born in the 5th - 6th centuries BC. e. this doctrine, which was initially considered a socio-ethical direction, set as its goal the formation of a "noble husband", a devoted servant of the state. Turning to the nature of man, Confucianism called on the latter to cognize heavenly predestination, humanity. On the basis of the knowledge of the "heavenly" in man, Confucianism is already acquiring religious features, becoming the main religion of the Chinese state. The doctrine of the spirit, intimate and secret, of heaven or the supernatural, determined the religious component of Confucianism.

Confucianism receives its greatest fame and recognition 300 years after the death of its founder. This determined the entire history of China for 2 thousand years. Not a single sphere, be it culture, politics, economics or social relations, was not without the strong influence of the teachings of Confucius.

In China, the New Year celebration lasts 15 days. The last, fifteenth day - Yuanxiaojie, or the Lantern Festival, which most Chinese love more than the New Year itself: hundreds of thousands of lanterns and figures rise into the sky, which creates an unforgettable sight.

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Holiday history

Yuanxiaojie was first mentioned in the Western Hani era, which lasted from 206 BC. ... to 25 A.D. ... Already at that time it was one of the main holidays. The Lantern Festival, according to legend, was established by Emperor Ming Han, who learned about Buddhist monks lighting lanterns as a sign of worship of Buddha. The ruler liked the tradition, so he ordered all believers, monasteries and temples to do the same. Over time, the religious component was lost, and the tradition of lighting and releasing lighted lanterns and figurines into the sky remained.

There is another, more mystical story of the origin of the holiday. The Jade Emperor - the main heavenly god - was angry with the people who killed his beloved goose. On the fifteenth day of the new month according to the lunar calendar, he decided to destroy humanity with a firestorm. Upon learning of this, the fairy godmother warned people and offered to light the lanterns in response. Seeing the earth from the sky, wrapped in fire from the lanterns, the emperor was satisfied that revenge for the goose took place, and did not bring fiery death to humanity. It would be a shame to burn for a goose.

The main attribute of the holiday is lanterns

There is not a single rule or restriction that would define the appearance of a festive lantern - it can be anything: colored or transparent, classic or fancy shape, plain or with inscriptions. The tradition of hand-painting finished lanterns makes them true works of art.

The first lanterns were made of rice paper and a small wax candle, making entertainment accessible to all walks of life. The lanterns were made similar to each other, and symbolic hieroglyphs with riddles and wishes were written on the outside.

Today, lanterns are made not only from rice paper, but also from unusual materials, such as leather and fur. Lanterns can play music or move, glow from batteries. By the way, the tradition of guessing riddles on the lanterns has remained: the owner of the lantern writes a riddle on it, and glues a piece of paper with the answer to the bottom. The person who answered correctly receives a small gift.

How is Yuanxiaojie noted?

The celebration begins in the afternoon. The townspeople take to the streets, have fun with performances by street musicians, performances, participate in interactive activities, chat and dance, dress up in animal costumes. The most popular is the fire dragon costume and its dance - a symbol of success and prosperity in China.

China has been a multi-religious country since ancient times. It is well known that Confucianism is the indigenous religion of China and is the soul of Chinese culture. Confucianism enjoys popular support and has even become the guiding ideology of feudal society, but it will not become the national religion of China.

According to the latest poll, 85% of Chinese people have religious convictions, some have religious practices and only 15% of them are real atheists. (Real atheists here refer to those who do not believe in any religion, or in any activities related to religions or folk customs.) 185 million people are Buddhist, 33 million people are Christians or Catholics and believe in the existence of God ...

And only 12 million people practice Taoism. Thus, it can be seen that Buddhism has the broadest influence than other major religions in China: Taoism, Confucianism, Islam and Christianity.

Religion of Ancient China

The religion of Ancient China recognizes the supreme being - Tian; He is personified on earth by the supreme ruler Shang Di. Nevertheless, this religion is very far from pure monotheism, but rather recognizes that nature is full of celestial, earthly and human spirits, which, as such, have influence and are worshiped.

The first include the sun, moon, planets and individual constellations; to the second - mountains, seas, streams, rivers, springs, trees, etc.; in addition, there is a special patron spirit of the state and the spirits of the earth: first for each individual principality, then for each city and town - the patron spirits of agriculture, the crops of the hearth, etc.; to the third. finally, the spirits of deceased family members belong, i.e. ancestors and spirits of prominent people.

The gods of China can be the embodiment of cosmogonic and chthonic forces - personifying the natural power of the earth. In this religion there were not and there are no persons of clergy: the emperor is its high priest, who enjoys the right of sacred rites and prayer in the temple of Heaven, but only personally; in other churches, he can temporarily or permanently replace himself with officials. As the emperor and father of the people, he accepts before heaven responsibility for the behavior of his subjects and sees in the people's disasters the consequences of his sinfulness.


Gradually Buddhism has become the main religion of the Middle Kingdom. The latest poll shows that 31% of people who do not believe in Buddhism have taken part in a number of Buddhist events and about 17 million people have already begun to come to the faith.

Nowadays, the majority of followers are representatives of various classes - they are the intelligentsia, business elite, and ordinary people. Recently, a new report has appeared - the 2012 White Paper, published jointly with the Industrial Bank and the Hurun Report, which shows that 39% of intellectuals and businessmen are Buddhist. Not only the number of followers is growing, but also the attention from the public. Now in the Celestial Empire there are about 13,000 temples and 180,000 monks and nuns.

What is the religion in China?

China is a multi-confessional country. Over 5000 years of Chinese history, various religions have spread and coexisted in the country: Taoism, Buddhism, Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism.

Today, freedom of religion is protected by the state. According to the constitution, any Chinese citizen has the right to practice religious practices and rituals. Religion in China is of great importance, and for many Chinese, a sense of belonging to a particular religion is as important as national pride.

The diversity of religions in China

Although the culture of China seems to be unified and homogeneous, in fact, the religious picture of the Celestial Empire is quite diverse. There are many believers among the indigenous population of China who profess the main world religions. In almost every city, you can find many different ethnic groups practicing religious and historical traditions and practices, from Buddhism to Protestantism.

Religion and philosophy in China are often closely intertwined. Taoism and Confucianism are examples of philosophical beliefs that are, at the same time, religious in nature. Certain rites and beliefs associated with the afterlife, which have nothing to do with philosophy, have become important aspects of the oldest philosophical teachings in China.

Features of religion in China

It is difficult to determine even an approximate number of believers in China. The fact is that, despite the way of thinking influenced by religious beliefs and the observance of various rituals in everyday life, many Chinese, nevertheless, do not consider themselves followers of any particular religion.

No religion has ever dominated China. Foreign religions that came to the Celestial Empire at different times, under the influence of ancient Chinese culture and traditions, gradually invariably acquired characteristics characteristic of China.

Chinese folk religion is characterized by different beliefs in salvation, prayers to ancestors and former leaders, understanding of the role and influence of the natural world. Folk religion in China is a great example of how religious beliefs become part of the life views of people who do not consider themselves to be a separate religion. Learn also about Chinese hospitality traditions.

The four main religions in China - Buddhism, Taoism, Islam and Christianity - over the past millennia have had a significant impact on the development of the culture and history of the Middle Kingdom. Let's take a closer look at each of the four religions.

Buddhism in China

China has managed to become a country where not only several local, but also world religions coexist peacefully, although they have different foundations. The Chinese religion is markedly different from the general world in its principles and diversity.

History of the development and emergence of religious movements in China

Local religious denominations (Taoism, Buddhism, Confucianism) have radically different characteristics when compared with the religions of Europe, America and the Middle East. Initially, they emerged as a philosophical movement, not a religion. Their main tasks were human self-development and knowledge of the world, to understand the meaning of life and quickly find a place in society.

The main distinguishing feature of the Chinese religion is that there are no such concepts as "God", "heaven and hell". Particular attention is paid to ensuring that all confessions coexist peacefully, which is rarely seen in other religions. The local religion allows one to profess several faiths at once or adhere to the elements of the rituals of several of them.

The diversity of religions in China

Due to the fact that China has been closed to other countries for a long time, its religious movements can seem monotonous. In fact, this is not the case, because the local population professes up to a dozen world religions. Each city (especially a large one) has its own ethnic groups, its own history of the emergence of local faith, traditions and rituals, which are practiced only here.

The religion of modern China is based on the fact that the peculiarities of philosophy and religious teachings are very closely intertwined in it. For example, local Confucianism and Taoism are considered religions, but they originated as a philosophical teaching.

The main reasons for the influx of foreign religious movements into China

No matter how hard the Chinese try, foreign religious cults have also infiltrated the country. The main reasons for this are:

  • Migration movements. Many historians agree with the theory that the Chinese people arose as a result of the large migration of different peoples to the territory of the modern country. It turned out that each nation created its own settlements and its own religion. Each nation introduced new traditions and rituals, religion, holidays and customs.
  • The existence of the Great Silk Road, which originated between the two Chinese rivers Yangtze and Yellow River. This is the largest shopping destination route. People exchanged not only goods, but also ideas and thoughts of their countries, peculiarities of faith.
  • Processes in politics and history. Previously, China tried to close its territories as much as possible from the influence of any countries, because of this they did not know much about it and it turned into a tidbit for some world states. Tribes who wanted to get a part of the territory, or at least explore the country, tried to bring their own rules and traditions.
  • Direct campaigning. Back in the 8th century AD. ... On the territory of China, people began to appear who subtly preached the peculiarities of the religions of their countries: Orthodoxy, Islam, Catholicism. Their attempts at campaigning were not always successful, but the result sometimes resulted in new temples, churches, mosques, and sanctuaries.

Which religions are mainstream in China

The faith of modern man has become firmly embedded in all spheres of life in China. She has an impact on politics and medicine, economics. Despite the fact that today all religious confessions actively coexist here, there are 2 main religions in China:

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