Religion in Chinese Society: Confucianism

Confucianism has been proven to be one of the key contributors to the development of the Chinese society. It established the basic principles that guided the operational values for family life, social endeavors, as well as governmental affairs. The Confucianists (scholars trained in the doctrine of Confucianism) were considered the elite of the Chinese society and participated in controlling the social and political lives of local communities. However, there has been a debate on whether Confucianism is a religion or a doctrinal framework that guides the society in every aspect of its operation. While Confucianism does not present a God as a symbol of its teachings (Yang 244), it is impossible to state that there is a complete absence of any theistic impact.

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I would like to disagree with the statement that Confucianism has no religious background because it included a range of religious elements that guided the society towards functioning effectively. An example of one of such elements was the pursuit of the unity of self and Heaven. Therefore, while Confucianism did not establish a monotheistic deity in which the society had to believe, it taught that human beings could ‘become one’ with Heaven. The pursuit to ‘become one’ with Heaven was further transferred to societal and family affairs in order to create a harmonious society. Such teachings disprove the statement that Confucianism has nothing to do with religious beliefs despite the fact that its key principles were not focused on the belief in a deity.

To conclude, Confucianism did, indeed, shape the way the Chinese society developed became what it is today. While its key teachings revolved around establishing a rationalistic and humanistic way of life and guiding the society towards achieving balance, the idea of the belief in unity with Heaven is what characterized its religious nature.

Works Cited

Yang, Ching Kun. Religion in Chinese Society: A Study of Contemporary Social Functions of Religion and Some of their Historial Factors. Waveland Press Inc., 1991.

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