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Ancient China: Religion and Philisophies of Ancient China

Religion in Ancient China

For many thousands of years, the ancient Chinese believed in many gods and goddesses. They believed in magical dragons and ghosts. They believed their ancestors watched over them, and would protect them, provided they prayed in the right way. They did many things to protect themselves from evil and to make sure they would have a happy life. For example, they believed their front door had to face south if they wanted a happy life. They had many superstitions. They held many festivals to honor their gods. They even had an annual birthday party for ghosts, so ghosts would be honored and remembered, and have a good time. Read more...

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In the Shang Dynasty (about 2000 BC), the earliest period we know much about, people in China worshipped a lot of different gods - weather gods and sky gods - and also a higher god who ruled over the other gods, called Shang-Ti. People who lived during the Shang Dynasty also believed that their ancestors - their parents and grandparents - became like gods when they died, and that their ancestors wanted to be worshipped too, like gods. Each family worshipped their own ancestors. Read more...

The Three Teachings

The Three Teachings Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism have been a backbone of Chinese society and culture since the bronze age. The Three teachings are still intertwined strongly with today's China.

Taoism

It was during the rule of Chou dynasty when the concept of T’ien (meaning Heaven) similar to the concept of Shang Ti emerged. Like Shang Ti; T’ien also ruled over all other gods. Lot many different views emerged during the period 600 BC to the coming 200 years. It was during this time when the Chinese philosopher named Lao Tzu came up with the philosophy of Taoism which gained popularity among the masses. This philosophy believed that people should not attain anything by force but should compromise and use natural forces in their favor. This philosophy further states that there is a universal force which flows through all living beings and respecting that force will lead them to a happy life. Read more...

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Buddhism

Buddhism which originated in India spread widely in China and today is the major religion in China. Buddhism came to China along with the Silk Route and was during the Hans dynasty. It was earlier considered a part of Taoism, however the Buddhist monks were successful in propagating it as a separate concept. Nirvana of Buddhism became very popular in the later stages. Read more...
 

Buddhist Symbols

It is not known what the role of the image was in Early Buddhism, although many surviving images can be found, because their symbolic or representative nature was not clearly explained in early texts. Among the earliest and most common symbols of Buddhism are the stupa, Dharma wheel, and the lotus flower. The dharma wheel, traditionally represented with eight spokes, can have a variety of meanings. It initially only meant royalty (concept of the "Monarch of the Wheel, or Chakravatin), but started to be used in a Buddhist context on the Pillars of Ashoka during the 3rd century BC. The Dharma wheel is generally seen as referring to the historical process of teaching the buddhadharma; the eight spokes refer to the Noble Eightfold Path. The lotus, as well, can have several meanings, often referring to the inherently pure potential of the mind.Read more...

Confucianism

The Chinese teacher and philosopher Confucius was the founder of the school of philosophy known as the Ju or Confucianism, which is still very influential in China. Read more...

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