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China has long been a cradle and host to a variety of the most enduring

religio-philosophical traditions of the world. Confucianism and Taoism, later


joined by Buddhism, constitute the "three teachings" that historically have
shaped Chinese culture.
There are no clear boundaries between these intertwined religious systems,
which do not claim to be exclusive, and elements of each enrich popular or
folk religion.
Religious movements and institutions were first placed under government
control, then during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) suppressed. Under
following leaders, religious organisations were given more autonomy.
The government formally recognises five religious doctrines: Buddhism,
Taoism, Islam, Protestantism, and Catholicism (though enforcing a
separation of the Chinese Catholic Church from the Roman Catholic Church).
In the early twenty-first century there has been increasing institutional
recognition of Confucianism and Chinese folk religion.
China has been a multi-religion country since the ancient times. It is well known
that Confucianism is an indigenous religion and is the soul of Chinese culture,
which enjoyed popular support among people and even became the guiding
ideology for feudalism society, but it did not develop into a national belief.

According to a latest survey, 85% of Chinese people have religious beliefs or had
some religious practices and only 15% of them are real atheists. The real atheists
here refer to those who lack belief in the existence of deities and do not join in any
religious activities.

185 million people believe in Buddhism and 33 million have faith in Christianity
and believes in the existence of God. Only 12 million people are Taoists, although
more than one hundred million have taken part in Taoism activities before. Thus, it
is obvious that the Buddhism has the widest influence. The other major religions
are Taoism, Confucianism, Islam and Christianity.
*Buddhism
-Being brought into China 2,000 years ago, it was gradually widely accepted by most Chinese people and
developed into three sections, namely the Han, Tibetan and Southern Buddhism.
-It influences the local culture on three main aspects: literature, art and ideology.
Many famous poems have ideas from Buddhism and many Buddhist stone statues can be found, which
show its huge influence. It also promotes the countries intercultural communications with foreign
countries.
*Confucianism
-Confucianism, not a real religion, is just an ethical and
philosophical system, which developed from Confucius
thoughts and later was treated as a kind of belief to educate
common people.
-Based on the Four Books and Five Classics, the traditions
and principles in the Confucianism played an important role
in the formation of Chinese peoples thinking patterns and
teaching methods
Confucianism has worldwide influence. In many countries
and regions of world such the UK, USA, branches of
Confucius Institutes are established in recent years to spread
Chinese culture and expand the language
n China, you can find many Confucius temples, which is an
important place for the candidates for important exams. In
Beijing, They hang some red wooden plates with lucky words
in the Confucius Temple in the hope of gaining high marks
and a good future.
*Taoism
-Taoism, with more than 1,800 years history originated in the Warring Period and came into being in
Eastern Han Dynasty (25 - 220).
-In the 1,800 years, Taoism influenced the local culture deeply, especially on traditional medicine and
literature. Based on some theories of alchemists such as Wei Boyang in Eastern Han Dynasty, different
kinds of medicine prescriptions were created by Sun Simiao and many other doctors.
*Islam
Being introduced into China in the 7th century in Tang Dynasty, Islam has more than 1,400
years history in the country. Now, Muslims live everywhere, but the highest concentrations are
Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Gansu Province and
even Qinghai Province. Sunni Islam was the main branch worshipped by almost all the Muslims
in the country.

*Christianity
-Christianity was first introduced to China in Tang Dynasty, which was named as Nestorianism
during that time. After 1840, they swept the country. Although they were suspended after 1949,
it spread fast in recent years. Now about 30 million Chinese people are Christians, who are
organized in about 97 parishes. Most of Christians gather in the south part of the country.
In addition to the five main religions, Chinese people have some other
traditional folk beliefs.
More than 200 million people believe the existence of the ancestors souls
and worship them, while about 700 million have taken part in the activities
to worship their ancestors or related activities.
About 150 million people believe in Fengshui theory and 140 million
people believe in God of Wealth.
Chinese Astrology is very popular and many people think the sign can
decide ones characters and future. Thus, it is obvious that the traditional
folk belief has a wide foundation among the local people.
Now, more and more Chinese people are fond of constellation in western
culture. In the beginning of a new year, some people will watch some
fortune telling programs to see whether they can succeed in the next year
and learn how to avoid back luck.
The Chinese have very specific traditions and beliefs that have shaped
their lives for thousands of years. The beliefs may be different from those
in other countries but all countries have their own similar or peculiar
traditions.

The Chinese believe in the life force called the Qui (Chee). This is the air
or the breath emanating from the earth's surface which they think can
influence the fate of human beings. There is negative and positive chee -
good luck or or bad luck

To the Chinese, the landscape is alive and gives off these life-giving
and/or life-influencing energies and could be termed 'the breath of life'.
Another very prominent life-influencing belief is Feng Shui (wind and water) an ancient
belief that links the destiny of humans to the elements.
Its chief purpose is to ensure that people live in harmony with their surroundings; that
everything is done to use the environs in harmony with nature and that nothing is done to
negatively impact the environment which has been created over millions of years.
The Chinese believe that the right use of the environment depends on the proper
application of the Feng Shui, so the placement of buildings and structures in the
landscape must be done carefully, observing the Feng Shui principles if the business or
residence or school is to be successful and the occupants healthy.
The placement of windows and doors as well as all furniture and fixtures must be done
according to Feng Shui dictates.
For example, beds must not be placed below a window but may face the window so
the good Feng Shui will blow on the sleepers. The front door must not be placed
directly opposite from the back door as the 'good breeze' will blow right through.
When this cannot be avoided, then a screen must be placed near the back door.
In large cities, towns and villages throughout China, the advice of Feng Shui experts is
sought by architects, planners and farmers and persons refuse to erect even the simplest
building without it.
In rural Jamaica, some time ago, a man decided to build his new house on
one of the two rises on his property which were about 20 yards apart and a
cowshed on the other. His Chinese friend who knew something about Feng
Shui advised him that according to Chinese principles, the rise on which
the cowshed had been built was the better place to build his house. His
friend laughed at him saying that was Chinese lore and did not apply to
Jamaica so he ignored the advice and proceeded to build his dream house.
A few months later, a freak storm came. The partially finished roof of the
new house was severely damaged by the breeze but the roof of the
makeshift cowshed remained intact.

The Feng Shui advice was right even in Jamaica. When we see how badly we sometimes
abuse our surroundings, we could do well with paying attention to the Chee and Feng
Shui principles embraced by the Chinese.
1) The Afterlife in Chinese Religion
The Chinese conception of the afterlife is based on a combination of Chinese folk
religions, Taoism and Mahayana Buddhism.

At the moment of death, it is believed that one's spirit is taken by messengers to the
god of walls and moats, Ch'eng Huang, who conducts a kind of preliminary hearing.
Those found virtuous may go directly to one of the Buddhist paradises, to the
dwelling place of the Taoist immortals, or the tenth court of hell for immediate
rebirth.

After 49 days, sinners descend to hell, located at the base of Mount Meru. There
they undergo a fixed period of punishment in one or more levels of hell. The
duration of this punishment may be reduced by the intercession of the merciful Ti-
ts'ang. When the punishment is complete, the souls in hell drink an elixir of oblivion
in preparation for their next reincarnation. They then climb on the wheel of
transmigration, which takes them to their next reincarnation, or, in an alternative
account, they are thrown off the bridge of pain into a river that sweeps them off to
their next life.
2) Chinese Belief of Body and Soul
Does Chinese Religion believe in a soul?
In Chinese thinking, everything that exists flows out of the Tao, and human beings
are simply a tiny component of the Tao.
The ancient Chinese believed in a dual soul. The lower soul of the senses
disappears with death, but the rational soul (hun) survives death and is the object of
ancestor worship.
Perhaps the most important Chinese concept related to the body and soul is the
idea of ch'i. At its simplest, ch'i means breath, air or vapor, but in Chinese religious
belief it is life energy or life-force.
It is believed that every person is allotted a specified amount of ch'i and he or she
must strengthen, control and increase it in order to live a long life. Many Taoist
exercises focus on regulation and increase of one's ch'i. In the west, the most well-
known example of such a practice is T'ai chi.
3) Ch'i in Chinese religion
What is Chi?
Ch'i (also spelled Chi or Qi) is a fundamental concept in Chinese philosophy and
culture. Found in Chinese traditional religion but especially Taoism, Ch'i literally
means "air" or "breath," but as a concept it refers to the energy flow or life force
that is said to pervade all things.
The quality, quantity and balance of Ch'i is believed to be essential to maintaining
health and achieving a long life. One author explains it this way:
"Qi is the basic material of all that exists. It animates life and furnishes functional
power of events. Qi is the root of the human body; its quality and movement
determine human health. There is a normal or healthy amount of qi in every person,
and health manifests in its balance and harmony, its moderation and smoothness of
flow.
Ch'i can be regulated through practices like breath control, Ta'i Chi, massage and
acupuncture. Nearly all techniques in traditional Chinese medicine are based on
the concept of Ch'i.
4) Chinese belief in Ghosts and Spirits
In Chinese thought, the world is populated by a vast number of spirits, both good
and evil. Such spirits include nature demons (kuei-shen), evil spirits or devils (oni),
and ghosts (kui).
Evil spirits are believed to avoid light, so many rituals involving fire and light have
developed, such as the use of bonfires, firecrackers, and torches. Evil spirits are
also traditionally believed to travel in straight lines, which explains many curvy
roads throughout China.
But not all spirits are evil some are just unhappy. As evidenced by the practice of
ancestor worship, most Chinese people believe the souls of the deceased endure
after death and must be kept happy by offerings and honor.
If a spirit is not kept happy, perhaps because it had a bad death, an improper burial
or has no descendents to perform the proper rituals, it becomes a ghost
(sometimes called a "hungry ghost," a term with Buddhist origins). Ghosts may
attack human beings to prompt them to meet the ghosts' needs or at least to draw
attention to their plight.
Ghosts receive the most attentions during Ghost Month, the seventh month in the
Chinese lunar year, and especially during the Ghost Festival on the fiftteenth day.
5) Yin and Yang
In Chinese and other Eastern thought, yin and yang are the two opposing and
complementary forces that make up all phenomena of life.
In Chinese and other Eastern thought, yin and yang are the two opposing and
complementary forces that make up all phenomena of life. Both proceed from the
Supreme Ultimate and together they represent the process of the universe and all
that is in it.
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, "The significance of yin-yang through
the centuries has permeated every aspect of Chinese thought, influencing
astrology, divination, medicine, art, and government.
Yin has the following characteristics, representations and symbols:
- earth, female, dark, passive, absorbing, even numbers, valleys and streams, the tiger, the
color orange, a broken line
Yang has the following opposite characteristics, representations and symbols:
- heaven, male, light, active, penetrating, odd numbers, mountains, the dragon, the color
azure, an unbroken line