Religion in China

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Although China is officially atheist, many Chinese people are religious. The main religions in China are Buddhism (including Mahayana), Chinese folklore, Taoism and Confucianism. Because most Chinese religious people follow a mixture of all of the main four religions previously mentioned, the differences between and boundaries of those religions are blurred.

Buddhism and Mahayana in China[change | change source]

Chinese Buddhism (simplified Chinese: 汉传佛教; traditional Chinese: 漢傳佛教) refers to one of the many branches and types of Buddhism. Buddhism in China is often mixed with Chinese philosophy, folklore and traditional mythology, as well as concepts of other philosophy-religions such as Confucianism and Daoism (Taoism). It is mainly practiced in mainland China, where almost all Han Chinese are Buddhists.

When Buddhism was introduced to China from India is unclear, however, the first clear sign of Buddhism in China was around the 60s CE.

Folk Religion in China[change | change source]

See also: Major world religions

Chinese folk religion is a religion that has been practiced in China for thousands of years. There are at least 800,000,000 followers of Chinese folk religion worldwide (estimate). Most if not all of these followers are also followers of Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism, as these three philosophy-religions are major influences of China's folk religion. The influence from and to these three philosophy-religions goes to the extent that some mythical figures from folk culture have merged into those philosophy-religions and vice versa.

Chinese folk religion is made up of a combination of religious practices, including Confucianism, ancestor veneration, Buddhism and Taoism. Folk religion also retains traces of some of its ancestral neolithic belief systems which include the veneration of the Sun, Moon, Earth, Heaven and various stars, as well as communication with animals. It has been practiced alongside Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism by Chinese people throughout the world for thousands of years.

Daoism in China[change | change source]

See also: Daoism
The Yellow Emperor, an early Taoist

Daoism, or Taoism, is a philosophy-religion that is at least 2,500 years old. It originated from China and is now widely practised in Korea.

道 Dao, also romanized as Tao, is the "Force" that Taoists believe makes everything in the world. It is very mysterious, and instead of trying to interpret or understand what Dao is

Instead of spending a lot of time trying to explain what the Tao is, Taoists focus on living a simple and balanced life in harmony with nature. This is one of the most important principles in Taoism. Taoists also believe that conflict is not good and that if you have a problem with something, it is better to find a way around it.

Some important Taoists are:

  • 老子 Lao Zi. His name is contradictory, meaning "Old Child." Some say he wrote Dào Dé Jīng.
  • 庄子 Zhuangzi. He wrote a book with stories that talk about Taoism.
  • 黄帝 Huang Di the Yellow Emperor. People say he was one of the first Taoists, but it is disputed whether he even existed or not.