Free Essay on Chinese Philosophy

Published: 2019-10-18
Free Essay on Chinese Philosophy
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Culture Philosophy Buddhism
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1267 words
11 min read

The Chinese system of religious syncretism, which was the result of a complex process of synthesis of three doctrines, was formed slowly and gradually over a number of centuries. There were Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism. Confucianism was dominant in this complex process. China was characterized by the least absolute dominance of Confucianism. Although it continued to be considered as the official state ideology, according to tradition, and its followers, as a rule, stood at the helm of government and occupied the main positions in the administration system. During this period of Chinese history, rulers came to power that were sympathetic to the Buddhists or Taoists, - and these religions came to the forefront. As a result, it won a strong position and influential supporters in China. Thus, we see that the basic ideological system of China had opportunities for its independent existence and development in such conditions (Chinese Cultural Studies: Philosophy and Religion in China, 1995).

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Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism were still completely independent and each of these was ideologies competed with each other. Confucianism always played the role of approving start, while Taoism played the role as denying start. Every Chinese believed in Confucianism, when he prospered, and when misfortune fell down at him, he believed in Taoism. Therefore, Confucianism always came to the forefront in the period of peace and prosperity of the country whereas Taoism took its place in the period of unrest and turmoil. In fact, Taoism, as well as Buddhism, in its most popular form in China, led farmers that were oppressed and hungry for justice, who believed in the utopian ideals of their leaders.

The process of the synthesis and the integration of all three religious and ideological systems and the establishment of religious syncretism went on several main lines. First of all, each of three doctrines was influenced by the other two during the long centuries of evolution. This constant and objective process led to the fact that between Confucianism, religious Taoism and Chinese Buddhism exerted more points of contact, similar ideas, traditions, norms and institutions within the framework of established Chinese civilization. Therefore, the relationships between Buddhism and Taoism were unquestionable. The emergence of synthetic Taoist-Buddhist teachings Xuanxue was a specific result of it in the first centuries AD and the Buddhist sect Chana a few centuries later (Ou, Xinyi, 2012). Despite the relationship of Confucianism and Taoism, the influence of Confucianism had a great importance to Taoism. Confucian principles of ethics and socio-political relations largely defined the nature of the development of all these doctrines.

Considerable borrowing from Daoism and Buddhism, which greatly changed the nature of Confucianism, gave it a lot of new features and thus actually even alienated Neo-Confucianism more from the classic sample. Confucianism completely prevailed in the field of ethics, family and social relations. Its dogmas, cults, ceremonies had the dominion over every Chinese from birth to death. However, Confucianism was too rationalistic and realistic. Taoism compensated for the lack of mysticism, magic, superstition and other elements that made up the most emotional side of religion in it. Therefore, the rule of Taoism was as undisputed in the field of beliefs, rites, superstitions, as in the assembly of the spirits of the Gods, immortals and in the administration of mantic and magical rites. Finally, Buddhism played an important role in any society with its idea of salvation, with the concept of heaven and hell, with the monasteries, monks and mortuary reading sutras, the care about saving souls, organization of funeral and funerary ritual. Thus, the integration of these three movements formed a single complete image of ideology in China and the relationship between them became the starting point of the formation of Chinese culture. All these aspects of religion and ethics were venerated in ancient China, and the necessity of each of three teachings did not cause a single doubt in a single religious system.

Integration arose and developed in the two formations at two different levels. There are upper and lower. These two levels existed in each of the three teachings, and the synthesis of all three teachings proceeded on its own at every level. The peculiarity of the upper layer was that it existed only for the elite, for the initiated, especially for educated intellectuals, who made up the bulk of the privileged stratum of Chinese society. The lower level was different. Religious syncretism was completely dominated here. It appeared and existed primarily to satisfy spiritual needs of the undereducated and illiterate peasantry and standing next to it the layers of Chinese society. There were no differences between the three religions for ordinary Chinese. Of course, it would be a mistake to present the situation as if a certain facet lie between the upper and lower layers, which clearly separated them, opposing to each other, but it was the other way round. Both layer mutually meshed, successfully contacted and often formed an integral unit in practice. The division of the system into two levels did not prevent the normal perception of the system as a whole, as well as its division into three parts.

The triadic relationship in China developed in a special sequence and had its consequences. Confucianism took the Buddhist idea that scientists could devote themselves to academic research only after they got rid of desire. This trend refused to maintain the idea of abstinence. Taoism had its own basic idea to search for longevity and immortality. Also, it drew attention to the Buddhist idea, arguing that people could break away from reincarnation and became immortal through many lives and self-improvement. Buddhism was aimed at destroying the cycle of birth and death, and it was mentioned by Taoist concepts. It vowed to learn from the immortals and continued longevity to protect Saddhamma religion (Impact of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism-SSCP, 2016).


Taoism and Buddhism with Confucianism are the ideas and principles, which form the basis of national cultural traditions of China. It can be said that Taoism and Buddhism are the heart of Chinese culture. If Confucianism is body culture, Taoism and Buddhism are the beginning of life, leading its whole body in motion.

Taoism and Buddhism influenced the formation of the cultural traditions of China. Buddhism seemingly can be attributed to external influence in relation to the culture of China. But its arrival did not bring fundamentally new ideas in China in the second century BC. China took only what corresponded to its deep understanding of the world from Buddhism. Taoism and Buddhism are not something special in the world culture. Simply its appearance was the most open and visible. The ideas of Taoism and Buddhism appeared in an external - the art of China, to which anyone can touch. China's culture is a treasure of world culture, as well as any other national culture nowadays.

Thus, from the point of view of the fundamental features of the integration of these systems, Confucianism focused on moral obligations and sermons. Taoism focused on the pursuit of longevity and immortality, it pushed people to stand aloof from worldly affairs. Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism, entering into everyday life of the Chinese people, were presented in different forms. Therefore, the relationship between them is the subject of research today. All of them reflect social phenomena, which become the embodiment of knowledge, wisdom and life experience.


Chinese Cultural Studies: Philosophy and Religion in China. (1995). In Compton's Living Encyclopedia.

Impact of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism-SSCP. (2016). Retrieved 29 July 2016, from, Xinyi. (2012). The Successful Integration of Buddhism with Chinese Culture: A Summary. Grand Valley Journal of History: Vol. 1: Iss. 2, Article 3.

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