Explore BrainMass

Religious Traditions in Modern Chinese Society

This content was COPIED from BrainMass.com - View the original, and get the already-completed solution here!

I am writing a paper and this is one of the topics I must cover. What is the status and practice of religious traditions in modern Chinese society?

© BrainMass Inc. brainmass.com March 21, 2019, 1:54 pm ad1c9bdddf

Solution Preview

Please see response attached. I hope this helps and take care.



1. I am writing a paper and this is one of the topics I must cover. What is the status and practice of religious traditions in modern Chinese society? Thank you for you hard work and help.

The status and practice of religious traditions in modern Chinese society has indeed progressed in acceptance by the People's Republic of China (1949-present). For example, the Communist Party of China, officially atheistic, initially suppressed Taoism along with other religions. Much of the Taoist infrastructure was destroyed. Monks and priests were sent to labor camps. This practice intensified during the Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976, nearly eradicating most Taoist sites. Deng Xiaoping eventually restored some religious tolerance beginning in 1982. Subsequently, communist leaders have recognised Taoism as an important traditional religion of China and also as a potential lucrative focus for tourism, so many of the more scenic temples and monasteries have been repaired and reopened. Taoism is one of five religions recognised by the PRC, which insists on controlling its activities through a state bureaucracy (the China Taoist Association). Sensitive areas include the relationship of the Zhengyi Taoists with their sect's lineage-holder (he lives in Taiwan); and the status of various traditional temple activities (astrology, shamanism) which have been criticised as "superstitious" or "feudal". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taoism

Thus, in contemporary Chinese society the major religious traditions in China (Chinese folk religion, Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism and Christianity) have become fully independent, autonomous, and ready for engagement with processes of institutionalization in ways compatible with the secularization paradigm of the Communist party. However, there are strict controls in place.

China has the following national religious organizations: Buddhist Association of China, Taoist Association of China, Islamic Association of China, Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, Chinese Catholic Bishops' College, Three-Self Patriotic Movement Committee of the Protestant Churches of China, and China Christian Council. (http://chineseculture.about.com/library/china/whitepaper/blsreligion.htm)

See http://chineseculture.about.com/library/china/whitepaper/blsreligion.htm.

Taoism -

For example, our short discussion of Taoism should begin with the following warning: as all the Taoist writers tell us, it is in the nature of the Tao that it cannot be spoken of. Talking about Taoism in a clear and rational way is, in fact, not to talk about Taoism. That aside, Taoism is, along with Confucianism, the most important strain of Chinese thought through the ages. It is almost entirely different from Confucianism, but not contradictory. It ranges over entirely different concerns, so that it is common for individuals, philosophers, Chinese novels or films, etc., to be both Confucianist and Taoist. The Taoist has no concern for affairs of the state, for mundane or quotidian matters of administration, or for elaborate ritual; rather Taoism encourages avoiding public duty in order to search for a vision of the transcendental world of the spirit.

Taoism is based on the idea that behind all material things and all the change in the world lies one fundamental, universal principle: the Way or Tao. This principle gives rise to all existence and governs everything, all change and all life. Behind the bewildering multiplicity and contradictions of the world lies a single unity, the Tao. The purpose of human life, then, is to live life according to the Tao, which requires passivity, calm, non-striving (wu wei), humility, and lack of planning, for to plan is to go against the Tao. The text of Lao Tzu is primarily concerned with portraying a model of human life lived by the Tao; later writers will stress more mystical and magical aspects. But Lao Tzu was, like Confucius, Mo Tzu, and Mencius, also concerned with the nature of government; he believed unquestioningly in the idea that a government could also exist in accordance with the Tao. What would such a government look like? It would not wage war, it would not be complex, it would not interfere in people's lives, it would not wallow in luxury and wealth, and, ideally, it would be inactive, serving mainly as a guide rather than as a governor. There were people who tried to translate Lao Tzu into real political action during the Han dynasty; these were, as you might imagine, spectacular failures. Taoism is frequently called in China, "The Teachings of the Yellow Emperor and Lao Tzu," or "The Teachings of Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu." Now, Chuang Tzu (369-286 B.C.) was a real person; his teachings come down to us in a short collection of his sayings. The Yellow Emperor is entirely mythical. This Lao Tzu, however, we know nothing about; we cannot say with certainty if he existed and when; on the other hand, we cannot say with certainty that he did not exist. All we know is that we have a very short book, the Lao Tzu (or Tao te ching), whose author is supposed to be Lao Tzu. The book is hard to read (as is Chuang Tzu), for one of the underlying principles of Taoism is that it can not be talked about. Hence, Lao Tzu uses non-discursive writing techniques: contradiction, paradox, mysticism, and metaphor. (http://wsu.edu/~dee/GLOSSARY/TAOISM.HTM)

The following statistics on the major religious traditions in modern China are hyperlinked below for further research.
Chinese folk religion: 394 million

o Not a single organized religion, includes elements of Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism and traditional nonscriptural religious observance (also called "Chinese traditional religion").

Buddhism: 376 million (Began: 6th century BC/BCE)

o Mahayana: 185 million
o Theravada: 124 million
o Vajrayana/Tibetan: 20 million http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Major_religious_groups

Since loosening of restrictions on religion after the 1970s, Christianity has also grown significantly within the People's Republic. It is still, however, tightly controlled by government authorities. The Three-Self Patriotic Movement and China Christian Council (Protestant) and the Chinese Patriotic ...

Solution Summary

This solution provides assistance in writing a paper on the status and practice of religious traditions in modern Chinese society.