RELI 2732 Lecture Notes - Lecture 9: Spirit Tablet, Religion In China, Orthopraxy

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27 Apr 2016
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Lecture 9
Chinese Religions
Four areas of influence related to the development of religion in China
oAncient indigenous beliefs – concerned with spirits
oConfucianism – concerned with proper behavior
oDaoism – concerned with the natural way of things (the Dao)
oBuddhism – concerned with karma and rebirth
A person can practice all of the above religions simultaneously. Practices Orthopraxy (correct
practice) rather than orthodoxy (correct belief)
oBelief separates and unites Jews, Christians and Muslims
oBut ‘practice’ unites Daoists, Buddhists and Confucians.
Themes in Chinese Religion
o Life and death form a continuum
oThe main religious issue is the health and well-being of the person in this life and
beyond this life – longevity, prosperity, posterity (fertility)
oOn-going concern for the welfare of the person after death
oIdeas of the end of time and eternal salvation do not have much effect on how religion
is practiced.
Yin and Yang
oYin: Dark, cool, depth, contraction, quiet femininity
oYang: Light, heart, height, expansion, action, masculinity
oOrigins: Perhaps from the Chinese words for Sun/Moon, or to describe the sunny/shady
side of the mountain
oNot direct opposites, but rather harmonious qualities.
Chinese Soul Theory
oBased on the principles of yang and yin
oThe hun or yang soul associated with chi (breath/cosmic energy) and with heaven and
the ancestor spirit tablet
oThe p’o or yin soul associated with the physical body, with the grave and ghosts
Must be nourished (as the physical body was in life)
Paper offerings will be transported through burning
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