RLG100Y1 Chapter Notes - Chapter CIWR 479-503 — Chinese and Korean Traditions: Curbed, Good Governance, Citta
ChapterCIWR 479-503 — Chinese and Korean Traditions
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CIWR Reading: pages 479-503 — Chinese and Korean Traditions
At a glance:
— Confucianism: around 6 million
— Daoism: 20 to 400 million
— Shamanism: 1 to 7 million
Followers mainly live in East and Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Western Europe and North
Mythical fouders and heroes include Yao, Shun, and Yu in China and Dangun in Korea.
Famous ﬁrst teachers (some are mythical and some are historic) include the Yellow Emperor, Confucius,
and Laozi in China and Choe Chung in Korea.
For Confucians, the place of a deity is ﬁlled either by Heaven or by Heaven and Earth together. Some
Daoists see the Way as personiﬁed by Laozi as a deity. Popular religions, both Korean and Chinese,
include hundreds of deities.
Shamanistic religions are not textually oriented.
For Confucians the classics from the Zhou and Han dynasties are the foundational texts.
For Daoists Laozi and to a lesser degree, Zhuangzi are fundamental.
• The foundational layers of animism and shamanism remain visible today in traces of tribal
practices focused on dealing with the insecurities of life
• Philosophers, shamans and “masters of the methods” all sought to bring peace and Early
Confucian and Daoist writings thus included political teachings along with metaphysical
ruminations, advice on cultivating good health and moral character, and instructions for
achieving mystical union with the divine
• It was into this religious landscpae that Buddhism was later introduced
• The central focus on peace & harmony led the various religions to embrace a generally
tolerant, inclsuive and syncretic ethos
• The ancient syncretism is still visible in the practice of folk religion today
• When the Chinese speak of sanjiao, they are talking about the three (san) teachings,
philosophies, or religions (jiao) of Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism
• Collectively, these are sometimes described as the elite tradition
• A much more diffuse fourt tradition, often described as folk or popular religion, honours an
assortment of spirits that varies from place to place
• For the most part the four traditions have coexisted in peace and many people consult
specialists from across the spectrum — Confucian teachers, Daoist priests, Buddhist monks,
spirit mediums, astrologers, feng-shui practitioners
The Classical Period to the Qin (c. 2300 BCE - 206 BCE)
• Confucian Beginnings — Not all of the philosophy that the West calls Confucianism
originated with Kongzi or Confucius
• Some of its seminal ideas can be found in the Five Classic books that predate Confucius
• Confucius was one of the 3 foremost classical philosophers in the Confucian tradition; the
other two are Mengzi and Xunzi
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