Chinese Religion Terms and Definitions
1.Tao- “way” , way that things work in causal constructions, way that heaven works,
way that interactions between heaven and earth emerge. Human interaction mirrors
larger causal relationships (heaven/earth). The Tao is significant to Confucianism
because it offers explanation to how life of earth functions. It also offers examples for
how human relations can be in harmony, and that can be achieved by mirroring the
relationship with heaven and earth. It is a core foundational principle in the
religion. It shows the basic nature of the religion, it is one that is in harmony with
nature and promotes peace because it emphasizes the functioning of things in an
2.Wu-wei- It means inaction in action, in other words to act without acting. The belief
is that a person can accomplish great things/ know things without organised actions.
A person does not have to be aggressive to be happy, rather they can live in harmony
with nature by going along with it. This concept if significant because it shows the
application of YIN qualities. These qualities involve harmony with nature and non
aggressiveness. It is also significant because it demonstrates the core principles of
Confucianism emphasizing the importance of harmony with nature. It can also be
considered a way of life for many people within the Confucian tradition.
3.Lao Tzu- He was born in 604 BCE. He was searching for knowledge, so he left his
post as the state librarian to travel West of China. He discovered the nature of
Taoism which is to be like an old child. Being old would involve retaining your
wisdom while still having the innocence of a child. He believes that the highest
wisdom involves being able to retain your innocence. He is significant because on his
journey he developed the TAO TE CHING which is a collection of insights that
consist of paradoxical language. They are very influence in Chinese traditions.
4.Ying/Yang- The idea that all things in the Universe are understood as operating in a
set of interdependent/ oppositional categories. For example, you cannot have the
concept of dry without understanding the concept of wet. The circle represents the
wholeness and sum of existence. The fluidness of YIN and YANG represent the idea
that things fit into fluid categories and that they are never completely only one or
the other (light/dark). YIN is soft and submissive and YANG is hard and dominate.
This concept is significant because it can be applied to social relationships. For