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
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.
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.
Native Chinese Folk Religion
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
Ontology & Cosmology
Taoism will absorb these ideas wholly into a very spiritual/magical worldview; Confucianism will modify them into a more philosophical /sociological worldview.
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