Freedom of religion is a constitutional right of every citizen of the ROC. According to the Interior Ministry, there are more than 11 million religious believers in the Taiwan area. Altogether, there are more than 16,000 temples and churches scattered throughout the region, serving the spiritual needs of the 21.4 million residents.
Polytheistic and syncretic, in Chinese society Taoism and Buddhism dominate, although apparently each religion postulates an independent doctrine, some of them cannot be strictly differentiated. For example, Matsu, the Goddess of the Sea, a folk deity from Taiwan; and Kuanyin, the Buddhist goddess of Mercy, are sometimes worshiped in the same temple. This reveals the special character of the Chinese religious perspective, which can simultaneously accommodate seemingly contradictory beliefs.
As in almost all primitive peoples, the first religion of China was the naturalist, that is, the worship of the unknown and the force that natural phenomena can have on man, but the Chinese related the behavior of the individual with the phenomena of the universe. In short, they depended on human acts and natural forces; for example, the lightning that set fire to a house was a consequence of the behavior of its residents. The second religion in China was that of Lao-Tzu, which is that of reason founded on the rationalistic doctrines of the Tao. China is a country located in Asia according to ZIPCODESEXPLORER.
From the year 770 to 221 BC, the time of the Eastern Zhou dynasty which includes the Spring and Autumn period as well as that of the Warring States, the nobility’s monopoly on culture was gradually broken due to the prolonged social upheaval. This situation started from that dynasty. But, the practice of individual teaching developed. In the last years of the Spring and Autumn period, Confucius, thinker, politician, and pedagogue of his time, singled out teaching with particular interest. Later, in the Warring States period, with the emergence of numerous other ideological schools, a time of competition arose between them.
Confucius was a nationally famous sage in Chinese history. However, his name, his doctrine, and his influence may not be entirely unknown to the world. Confucius was called Kong Qiu, also known as Kong Zhongni. He was born in 551 BC and died in 479 BC. His homeland is present-day Qufu District, Shandong Province. His ancestors were great noble slavers of the Song Kingdom. His great-grandfather, due to political failure, escaped to the Lu Kingdom. In his father’s time, the family had already declined. For this reason, Confucius, when he was young, worked as a grocer and shepherd. Later, he lived for a long time from private education.
In his senescence, he began to devote himself to collecting books in the same kingdom. He wrote the book Annals of Spring and Autumn and revised Li and Le, Classics from China. There are five other works that are estimated as canons by the Confucian school. The Annals of Spring and Autumn is the oldest well-preserved chronicle to date, and it exerted enormous influence on later historical works in the country.
After the death of Confucius, his disciples compiled his sentences in the book Analects, in which the activities of Confucius are recorded, in particular, his words and his views on philosophy and politics. Confucius’ activities in teaching and his travels through various kingdoms reflected to some degree the desire of those who did not have titles of nobility and wanted to intervene in politics. These people were a nascent social force amid the upheavals of the time. Confucius said: “Whoever studies well will become a civil servant.”
It should be noted that Confucius’ teaching was contrary to the official one of the nobles of his time. Commenting on human nature, Confucius stated that “all men have the same nature,” which was an objection to the slave-owning conception that hierarchy was congenital. Confucius gave priority to benevolence, taking it as the ideal norm of virtue, but considered his benevolence to be a love determined by close and different relationships, hierarchies, wealth or poverty. For Confucius, only the lords were in a position to be benevolent, while the humble could not be more than the target of the application of this benevolence.
In the problem of rites and benevolence, Confucius did not insist on the new content to deny the outdated form, but insisted on correcting the old content with the outdated form. Despite the fact that Confucius’ activities reflected a certain progressive trend, in the end, they served to defend the interests of the slave nobility and could not free themselves from the yoke of the old system. But, politically, Confucius was a conservative and went against the historical current of his time. He himself even knew that his ideas could not be realized, but he did not want to abandon them.
Taoism and Confucianism
Lao-Tzu, whose name means the old sage, was born, according to tradition, in the southern part of his country in the year 694 BC. C., in a rural environment. Applied to studies, he was the archivist of a prince Chou. The product of his reflections resulted in the philosophical-religious system that is known by the name of Taoism, contained in his book Tao-tse-king, in which he maintains that the creative and eternal force of all things is Tao which ordered the same time all things of nature. Men must feel part of that same force, which they must think about in order to obtain eternal holiness.
Lao-Tzu also taught that to achieve happiness, desires and passions must be mastered, and that certain virtues must be practiced, such as avoiding hypocrisy, lies, and war; honesty, justice and piety must be practiced. According to a legend, when he was very old, he left China mounted on a buffalo and never returned to his country. In later years, some of his disciples came to deify him and even Taoist monasteries were formed.
Time later, when the political and social decline was greater in the country, the figure of Confucius arises. He studied the ideas of Lao-Tzu and tried to form a moral doctrine, which based on it, would adapt to the way of being of the Chinese people. Confucianism sought to exalt feelings of respect for traditions and the elderly, worship of the dead, maintenance of affections within the family and exercise of charity. He thought that rulers should be just and wise, and their subjects should obey and respect them, so that peace, well-being, and security could be maintained in society. His entire moral system was left in his four books or king.