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"Chinese Folk Religion"

Discussion in 'Asian Mythology' started by hindupridemn, Dec 30, 2011.

  1. hindupridemn

    hindupridemn Defender of the Truth

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    How can one distinguish between Chinese Folk Religion and Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism? At least 400 million people call thir religion "Chinese Folk Religion," more than any other religion in China.
     
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  2. Sylvan

    Sylvan Unrepentant goofer duster

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    It has to do with the government of China, and the wacky way they categorize religious practices.
     
  3. nathanielfirst

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    is it getting uh, <loosens collar> hot in here?
     
  4. nathanielfirst

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    like some social democracy/green distributism crossed with some tiantai and some indigenous chinese religion?
     
  5. lilithu

    lilithu The Devil's Advocate

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    Good question! I was wondering that myself.

    No, it has to so with Chinese culture and the fact that we don't feel the need to say, "I am this and not that." For the Chinese, you can be Taoist, Confucian, Buddhist all at once. In China and Taiwan, Buddhist temples have Taoist deities and Taoist temples have buddhas and bodhisattvas. I've even seen Hindu deities, such as Ganesh. :)
     
    #5 lilithu, Sep 28, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2012
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  6. hindupridemn

    hindupridemn Defender of the Truth

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    Lilithu that's beautiful
     
  7. sampuna

    sampuna Member

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    This is a typical Chinese Folk religion altar. It is a typical 'syncretic' religion, the native religion absorbing foreign divinities but at the same time maintaining its original set of rites and rituals. A host of Chinese gods and a Bodhisatva sit in harmony on the altar.

    On a Chinese folk religion altar, the Buddhas & the Three Pure Ones sit on the highest pedestal, then followed by the Arhats, Bodhisatvas & higher deities , and the hierarchy descends accordingly to the Taoist ranks.
     

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  8. GoodbyeDave

    GoodbyeDave Well-Known Member

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    The term "Chinese Folk Religion" is, of course, Western, not to mention condescending.

    Chinese, like most non-European languages, does not have a term for religion. That's only needed in connection with mutually exclusive religions, like the Abrahamic ones, where you need to contrast "my religion" with "your religion".

    In Chinese one can say
    jiā: literally "family", hence "school of thought", "tradition"
    jiào: "teaching" — the nearest equivalent in practice
    xué: study
    Hence Daoism can be Dàoxué as a philosophy, or Dàojiào as a way of worship. So religious worship can be called Dàojiào, but it can equally be Shénjiào — "Divine teaching". A Confucian follows Rúxué "The Scholars' Learning", a Daoist follows Dàoxué, but many accept both, and their followers will both be likely to worship in the same way.

    Fójiào, Buddhism, is not really compatible with Chinese beliefs in its original form. All Chinese (unless atheists, Protestants, or Muslims) practice a cult of ancestors, which is obviously incompatible with belief in reincarnation — it's no use making offerings to your grandfather if he's currently a teenager in France! In practice, reincarnation in Chinese Buddhism is downplayed or ignored. The practices of Buddhism become a way to achieve enlightenment in this life or to enter heaven (the "Pure Land") after death.
     
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  9. sampuna

    sampuna Member

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    Where I'm from, adherents to this form of religion call themselves the " 拜神" "Bài Shén". This religion is also my family religion. It is a very simple religion, with doing good and not doing bad things as the main guideline for living. Apart from that, there are a host of rites and rituals to follow. There are feast days of the gods and ancestor worship days. This religion recognizes the greatness of the Buddhas, Bodhisatvas and other sages, but does not promote the study of their teachings. In practise, most stop short at praying to these honorable figures for intercession.
     
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  10. Vishvavajra

    Vishvavajra Active Member

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    The idea of separate, mutually exclusive religious cultures is something that was pioneered by Christianity. China never really had that view of things. Insofar as Chinese people are religious, most of them engage in a variety of practices. Their religious life may be formed by traditional Chinese worship (which has no name, not being a discrete institution all its own), Buddhism, Daoism, etc., but they're not used to thinking of themselves as "being" one of those. When Chinese people have been polled and asked which religion they practice, most have floundered a bit and cast around for the most recognizable name. Most will say "Buddhist," but some will say "Daoist" or "Confucian." The actual practices of those three people may not differ in any measurable way.

    Now, some people are very serious about Buddhism, for example, and will consistently identify as Buddhist, but I'd say that's the exception rather than the rule. Many more people are just generally pious and do a little of this, a little of that, and don't think too much about where each practice is coming from. So while Chinese folk religion isn't the same as Buddhism, e.g., it's also not entirely distinct either. The difference is that Buddhism proper has specific doctrines and scriptures and orthodoxy, whereas folk religion is more about an indefinable sense of sacredness.
     
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  11. BrightWhites

    BrightWhites New Member

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    Though others have already pointed out that "chinese folk religion" is largely syncretic, and translation from the stated atheist government and then into western language mucks up our understanding a lot, I think its worth pointing out that there is a word for what youre probably thinking of called "shenenism". Thats the catch all for ancient chinese polytheistic ancestor spirits and whatnot, Jade Emperor and such. Try looking into that while keeping in mind its still a blanket term much like hinduism.

    Also, fun note, Chinas official government was once a monotheistic worship of Tian or, in english, "heaven", Christian missionaries love that even though the religion cannot be practiced without the emperor involved so its really not applicable.
     
  12. chevron1

    chevron1 Active Member

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    Yes, modern chinese altars (taoist, confucian) are very syncretic, even to include the Christian God. Here's an image of the Chinoy altar in the Philippines. There is a crucifix hanging on the back wall. Some chinese can worship buddha and jesus and the high ones in turn.

    [​IMG]
     
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  13. GoodbyeDave

    GoodbyeDave Well-Known Member

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    I think that must be a very Philippino thing. The sinologist Jordan Paper asked his Chinese wife to read Mark's gospel and offer her opinions. She was unimpressed and her comments were similar to the sort of criticisms that Chinese have been making for the last thousand years:
    "Jesus is arrogant and selfish to kill a fig tree just because there were no figs when he wanted them. A god should never lose his temper."
    "If Jesus is a god, he should be able to end his suffering and avoid his crucifixion. It is incomprehensible that he died and rose again. Why does he bother to die in the first place?"
     
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  14. chevron1

    chevron1 Active Member

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    In China, Christianity has made some inroads because they are raised now Christians and they proseletyze. The Christians bring money to poor China to smooth the way for conversion too. China does not seem to mind altars that are syncretic with Jesus or any other deity. As you know, the movies now have Thor, the Norse god of thunder. Someone who like the Thor movies could buy a Chris Hemsworth doll and put it in the altar to worship. That's funny, but it's true. The Scandinavians are building a NEW temple to Thor now, so Thor is a modern god to people in the modern world and so, Chris Hemsworth must be "god-like" - you know what I mean. :)
     
  15. Baladas

    Baladas An Págánach

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    I have always disliked the passage where Jesus killed the fig tree.
     
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  16. sampuna

    sampuna Member

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    most Abrahamic religions do that, a very deep sense of exclusivism. By nature, Abrahamic religions seems to be "it's either you are with us,or against us".


    Folk religion's idea of sacredness, if you were to research about it would make up one really thick thesis! A whole bulk of do's and don'ts.
     
  17. sampuna

    sampuna Member

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    I too hold the same opinion as Jordan Paper's wife. I'd say it's all due to our Buddhist ideology biased views.
     
  18. sampuna

    sampuna Member

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    I'm not too much of disliking the passage, it's just that I couldn't fathom the fact that the Son of God, the Man-God would behave in such a less than divine behaviour. However, some of my Christian friends believe that there is a cryptic message behind it
     
  19. Baladas

    Baladas An Págánach

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    Yes, I've heard that as well, being a former Christian.
     
  20. sampuna

    sampuna Member

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    when you were a Christian, how did you justify the fig tree incident? what was the cryptic message behind it? just curious
     
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