RLG100Y1 Lecture Notes - Religion In China

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23 Mar 2011
World Religions
Introduction to Chinese Religions
Reading: Ch. 9 “Chinese Religions,” pp. 441-467
March 21st, 2011.
Enriched thing so that people belonging to certain classes remained in those
classes (hereditary occupation)
Historically class system evolved in this manner
Modern period class system is much more complex
Most ancient texts, talk about 4 broad occupational groups of society – distinct
from each other socially, marry amongst themselves and not out of group
In actual practice however this did not work, various kinds evolved caste groups
from primary groups
Eats Asia is cultural region: various parts although distinct in modern period, have
a shared heritage and long history of mutual interactions (China, Korea, Japan)
and one of the central unifying features in both classical and modern period of
east Asian history is Chinese writing system which in ancient times was product
of long development in china
Chinese writing system is unique in that most signs represent an idea rather than
China was highly evolved civilization, early in its history relative to various other
East Asian worldview significantly what we conquer in South Asia
Most important element is its approach, assessment of world – world is
understood as being a good place
East Asian worldview has optimistic appraisal of experience f being in the world -
quite a bit different from Indic worldview
Body is considered to be valuable contrary to Indic worldview body is to be
mastered and is source of distraction
Considerable appreciation, reverence for body and this perspective works itself out
in various concrete ways
East Asian worldview has considerable reverence for lineage, parents, ancestry
through which one has emerged into the world – concept of filial piety
Less exclusive in its ideas, sense of identity and much more syncretistic, absorbing
ideas from elsewhere and evolving and identity that is comfortable with received
knowledge form multiple sources
Sense that religion and culture and work of both are inseparable
The task of religion is to raise, hold a cultured individual, to produce and cultured
individual in every sense
Religious individual is someone whos mind is educated and refined, cultivated in
the art
No distinction between work of culture and work of religion, they support each
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