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The origin of religion goes back to prehistoric times when the earliest people of China sought answers to the same basic questions that have baffled man over time: what is the unseen force that brings darkness and light, winters and summer, drought and rain, life and death: what must men do to appease this force (Schafter 60-61)? Ancient China has three main religions: Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism.
Confucius was concerned mostly with laws made by people and whether people were naturally good or naturally evil. Confucius, a major system of thought in China, developed from the teachings of Confucius and his disciples, and concerned with the principles of good conduct, practical wisdom, and proper social relations (Creel 18). Confucius rose to greatest prominence during the Han dynasty, around 200 BC to 200 AD (Creel 19). It influenced the Chinese attitude toward life, set the patterns of living and standard s of social values (Hinnelles 354). Although Confucius became the official ideology of the Chinese state, it never existed as an established religion with a church and priesthood (Ammann). Confucius later became a basis for education and a collection of Confucius wrightings known as the “Classics” have been used for Chinese memorization and recited in exams (blue.butler.edu). Confucius provides the settings for Chinese political theories and institutions still used in China today.
In contrast, the followers of Lao-tzu believed universal laws, not human ones, guide people. This was the basis of Taoism becoming a religion around the Eastern Han dynasty. Taoism developed around the same time as Confucianism (blue.butler.edu). Taoists tried to live a life of simplicity and meditation close to nature. Taoism was mystical and influenced by ancient Chinese folk religion (Williams 18). Its followers used magic, as well as prayer and diet to seek internal youth (Williams 18). Taoists were peaceful people who generally lived peaceful lives (Williams 19).
Tao originally meant ‘road’ and then was implied ‘to rule’ and ‘principle’ (Watts 21). Tao is the origin of the internal world. It is boundless in time and space. Ordinary people can become gods when they have Tao. Taoism pursues immortality and preservation of health; its uttermost goal is to become an immortal being. Taoism claims this can be obtained through cultivating one’s moral character and perfecting one’s moral integrity (
Buddhism did not come to a land innocent of religion and philosophy, China, in fact had three main rival streams of thought: Confucianism, Taoism, and folk religion. Buddhist appeared first in China around 150 AD in the Han dynasty, and 100 years later