Syncretism in Chinese Worldviews:
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Syncretism in Chinese Worldviews: Chinese Folk Religion as a Compatible Common Element in Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism in China. Qing dynasty painting of Confucius presenting the baby Gautama to Laozi.

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Qing dynasty painting of Confucius presenting the baby Gautama to Laozi

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Qing dynasty painting of confucius presenting the baby gautama to laozi

Syncretism in Chinese Worldviews:Chinese Folk Religion as a Compatible Common Element in Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism in China

Qing dynasty painting of Confucius presenting the baby Gautama to Laozi


Qing dynasty painting of confucius presenting the baby gautama to laozi

There is a great degree of interaction, compatibility and syncretismbetween the 3 great religious traditions in China .

Confucianism

Buddhism

Taoism

Other religions present in China (Christianity, Islam) or which China was exposed to (Zorastrianism, Manicchaeism, Judaism) can coexist with the 3 main traditions, but they don’t syncretize into a coherent web of culture as do these three traditions.


Qing dynasty painting of confucius presenting the baby gautama to laozi

I would suggest that compatibility between Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism is due to the fact that all 3 traditions had to be basically compatible with Native Chinese Folk Traditions.

Confucianism

Buddhism

Taoism

Native Chinese Folk Religion


Native chinese folk religion has elements compatible with confucianism buddhism taoism

Native Chinese Folk Religion has elements compatible withConfucianism , Buddhism & Taoism

Tao = the Way a connected, holistic organismicwordviewthat trust spontaneity over propriety and nature over civilzation.

Yin/yang& 5 element model: laws in cosmos.

Ti, T’ien: heaven

Supernatural beings, animism, deified spirits

.


Central concepts in pre confucian thought

Central concepts in Pre-Confucian thought

Ontology & Cosmology

Metaphysics

  • Dao (“Way”) - the Ultimate; the One; the Absolute; the underlying Power; the Source. It is a connected, holistic, organic worldview that trusts spontaneity over propriety and nature over civilization. It is somewhat mysterious and indescribable.

  • Yin/Yang - the dual expression of Dao; neither is superior to the other (see next slide)

  • Heaven & Earth; an ever-changing expression & blend of Yin & Yang.(Heaven is Yang in relation to Earth; and Earth is Yin in relation to Heaven; but each is, in itself, a blend of both Yin & Yang.)

Taoism will absorb these ideas wholly into a very spiritual/magical worldview; Confucianism will modify them into a more philosophical /sociological worldview.


Yin yang

Yin & Yang

female

dark

cool

moist

passive

negative

Yin

Yang

male

bright

hot

dry

active

positive

Earth & moon

Yin & yang is not a “good vs bad” type dualism. Good is achieved when the right balance and mix is achieved between yin and yang in a given thing/situation.

Heaven & sun


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