Welcome 10/8/2012 RELS RELIGIONS OF CHINA HEAVEN IN CONFUCIANISM DR. JOSEPH A. ADLER CHINESE COSMOLOGY CONFUCIANISM

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1 HEAVEN IN CONFUCIANISM RELIGIONS OF CHINA DR. JAMES CATANZARO AND DR. JOSEPH A. ADLER RELS 2030 The Absolute Reality Personal Aspect / Individualized Naturalistic Sky Abode of the Gods Ancestors Reside in Heaven Source of Moral Authority Transcendent and Immanent Natural world Human nature DR. JOSEPH A. ADLER CHINESE COSMOLOGY Professor of Asian Studies Director of Asian Studies Program Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio a private liberal arts college Expert in the Neo-Confucian tradition of China Research and teaching in the fields of: Buddhism Chinese and Japanese religions Heaven and Earth comprise the cosmos In early Confucianism the Emperor was responsible for maintaining harmony between heaven and earth In later Confucianism all humans were responsible for: Maintaining balance between heaven/earth Actualizing moral potential Moral potential is natural within us We can transcend ourselves Self-cultivation CONFUCIANISM CONFUCIANISM AS STATE RELIGION What is unique about Confucianism? Philosophy of life Social outlook Religious tradition How is it a religious tradition? Textual canon Methods for self-transformation Reference to transcendent Heaven Social base/communal Scholarly clan in Chinese society The literati (scholarly) class 2 nd century, BCE till last Dynasty in 1911 Sanctioned and supported by the Chinese government Conservative Supported status-quo Confucian teachings became basis for Chinese civil service examination Exam required for government positions and reach the upper levels of Chinese society Memorization of Confucian classics Bureaucrat = Scholar Official = highest achievement outside of royalty RELS

2 TAOISM VS. CONFUCIANISM 5 th to 4 th centuries BCE both arose together Counterparts to each other Complementary like yin and yang Different conception of the Tao (the way / the path) For Confucians the Tao is the ideal social, ethical, political order Taoists saw the Tao as existing in nature Confucians saw the Tao as existing in the sages of the past Difference between Nature (Taoists) & Culture (Confucians) TAOISM AND CONFUCIANISM Religious traditions in dialogue Sometimes in conflict Serving complementary functions Practiced: Alongside one another At times simultaneously TAOISM AS RELIGION 2 nd century CE Religious Taoism emerges from Classical Taoism (which was mainly just Taoist philosophy) Deified Lao Tzu (Laozi) Key Figure / Founder of Taoism Source of Revelations in Religious Taoism Most Westerners are: Unfamiliar with Religious Taoism Yet familiar with its philosophy TAOISM AND CONFUCIANISM [CONT.] Confucianism focuses more on: public life social aspects ethics Taoism focuses more on nature natural life personal life the physical body The two are compatible RELIGIOUS ASPECTS OF TAOISM Communal (social base) Priesthood Canon of texts Meditation (unified practice) Ritual Cosmology (unified beliefs) WHY THESE TWO RELIGIONS IN CHINA? Both arose during a time of Dynastic decline Time of Dynastic struggle, conflict and disorder Proposed solutions for social strife and chaos Confucians believed: If rulers focused on their own moral potential their influence would spread to all people The virtuous person has an effect on those around him Taoists believed: We should stop asking questions and start emulating nature / acting naturally If we act naturally we will find the harmony that we seek Swimming with the current instead of against the current It is an active participation with the Tao, not passive RELS

3 CONFUCIUS SAY. Sayings compiled for 200 years after his death The Analects a collection of sayings Requires a guide to approach Follow the treads throughout the book Coherent philosophy emerges Provides a religious outlook TAOISM TODAY Two major sects of Taoism Older sect from 2 nd century: trains priests from apprenticeship mostly hereditary More recent sect from 12 th century: monastic tradition anyone can become a priest Role of Taoism in Chinese society today Professional priesthood of popular religion Priests hired to perform private rituals for Chinese families CONFUCIANISM TODAY Today Confucianism is evident in: Mainland China Taiwan Singapore Hong Kong South Korea BUDDHISM IN CHINA Originating in India A prominent religion in China Difference between south Asian culture and East Asian culture: CONFUCIANISM DECLINE IN CHINA SOUTH ASIA VS. EAST ASIA hinduism.htm Due to The Communist Revolution Communist and the Proletariat Movement Attempts to wipe all Confucianism and all religion Since the liberalization of China (1979) Revival of religion and of Confucianism Confucianism is seen today as a resource for indigenous Chinese values Confucianism is revalued as a moral compass RELS

4 BUDDHISM IN CHINA In 1 st century China, regarded as very un- Chinese Buddhist monastic life seemed unethical and socially irresponsible Took root among foreigners - south & central Asians Chinese intellectuals were attracted to the teachings of Buddhism Eventually Buddhism in East Asia became thoroughly Chinese GODS / ANCESTORS / GHOSTS Always recognized by the Chinese people Permeable boundary between these three ancestors can become ghosts and/or gods, ghosts can become gods etc Ancestors remain a part of your family after dead Ancestor worship popular in modern Taiwan Food offerings to ancestors not to gods Offerings made to both the ancestors and the gods all at once RELIGIOUS TRADITIONS OF CHINA Buddhism often practiced alongside another Chinese religious tradition Buddhism makes no claim to absolute truth No immediate negative consequences for leaving the tradition The stakes are not so grave when you believe in reincarnation - you will get another chance All just different paths The Buddha way, The Taoist way and The Confucian way INFLUENCES ON CHINESE CULTURE Chinese conception of time Not cyclical like Hinduism, but SPIRAL Patterns repeat but time marches forward No end or beginning of time universe is eternal Long view of history continuity with their past Hard-working and attention to detail Sense of order Aesthetic order vs. rational order Order emerges from the immanent CHINESE FOLK RELIGION Popular Religion The religion among the people Native Chinese Folk Religion Ancient oral tradition Predating Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism WESTERN RELIGIONS IN CHINA Western religions are unsuccessful in China Christians never been above 1% Different world views Notion of one truth is alien to Chinese culture Christian missionaries rejected by the Chinese due to: Imperialist/colonialist impetus Capitalist views RELS

5 WESTERN RELIGIONS IN CHINA [CONT.] Clash of worldviews Don t mesh well philosophically/cosmologically Religion and culture in India is closer to Western religion Chinese and Japanese religions are not readily recognized The lens through which we view them alters our perception of them THE FUTURE OF CHINESE RELIGION s attempt to wipe out religion in China Chinese dignitaries recognize the need to retrieve the spiritual resources of the past Revival of religion in China anticipated Scholars see the Chinese outlook contributing to the dialogue among civilizations Contributing to an evolving global ethic and a pluralistic worldview. CHINESE RELIGION IN AMERICA Large city centers Chinese immigrants have more places for worship Philosophy and worldview is attractive to Western intellectuals Scholars who study Eastern philosophy and religion Mostly an intellectual pursuit Less so a movement toward a religious practice RELS

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