Confucianism and Daoism
Confucianism is a term used to describe a philosophical system of beliefs based on the teachings of Confucius, whose birth name is Kong Qiu but went by the title Master Kong, Kongzi (Jensen, 2007). Confucius was a Chinese thinker who between 551-479 BCE. While Confucius did have disciples, Confucianism as a system of beliefs was not created until the 2nd and 1st centuries B.C.E. before that era there was no organization in regards to his writing. According to Jensen (2007), Confucians were Chinese thinkers who admired and centered their lives on the Wujing, a collection of texts that originate from Western Zhou. It is believed that Confucius wrote those texts (Demerath, 2001).
Kongzi was a strong believer in rituals. One ritual is ancestor worship, which is the ceremonial communication and sacrifice to one’s family member that passed away. It is a tradition that still observed to this day. The ritual is pervasive throughout all of East Asia. Daily worship typically requires a person to consistently strive to improve one’s character and act appropriately within one’s community (Jensen, 2007). Another form of worship is actively participating in the social hierarchy, in other words, family, community, and country. Confucians also utilize an ancient divination manual known as the Yijing. The Yijing is used to predict the future or the outcomes of present actions. It is used by millions of people even Westerners (Jensen, 2007).
Taoism is also referred to Daoism, Chinese religion associated with the teaching of Laozi (Lao Tzu) and his text the Daode jing. The text emphasizes on dao being a path or the correct way to behave. The Daode jing refers to an ancient mix that existed before “Heaven and Earth” which all creatures originated from (Fowler, 2007). The religion itself did not exist until the Way of Celestial Masters was created in 142 C.E. By Zhang Daoling basing the sect on the teachings of Laozi. Taoism is greatly influenced by the Shang dynasty religion. The Shang dynasty religion worshipped heavenly ancestors who were ruled by an emperor, Shangdi (Demerath, 2001). Sacrifices were made to the ancestors and divination rituals were practiced to communicate with the deceased. Practitioners would ask their ancestors for advice on all sorts of matter including war, politics, and other social issues.
There are two principal types of rituals: the first is funeral rites or regular rites to honor ancestors and the second is rituals for the community (Fowler, 2007). Rites for the community may involve up to hundreds of villages every three, five, or twelve years. Besides these rituals there are festive proceedings such as plays, parades, and meals. These rituals are precise and meticulously planned. A master Taoist performs the rituals with four assistants.
Daily worship, like those practices seen in China, involves a Taoist act as a consultant to members of the community with problems. A household alter is kept in the house along with statues and paintings that are important in Taoist history. The Taoist hears the problem of the individual, the Taoist will then write a talismanic symbol that carries the energy of his power to be given to the client. The talisman is carried until the issue goes away or by burning the talisman and ingesting the ashes (Fowler, 2007).
Demerath, N.J. (2001). Crossing the gods: World religions and worldly politics.
New Brunswick, N.J: Rutgers University Press.
Fowler, J.D. (2005). An introduction to the philosophy and religion of Taoism: Pathways to immortality. Portland, Ore: Sussex Academic Press.
Jensen, L.M. (1997). Manufacturing Confucianism: Chinese traditions & universal civilization. Durham: Duke University Press.
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