Great religions of Eastern Asia Essay

East Asian religions, also known as Taoist religions, refer to the religions and philosophies that are dominant in the Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese regions and any other places near them. Taoism is the root of all these religions, teaching that nature is the greatest teacher and that everything has a flow and a way. Confucianism teaches that without education and social order there can be no religion, and the act of learning is the religious experience. Buddhism taught that craving, Jealously, and gluttony will only bring chaos and that good deeds will bring a ood life and a good next life.

China, 500 B. C. E, was quite advanced for the time, but although very advanced, war tore through the country, ruining social structure and the feudal system. During this time chaos was sweeping through the whole county when K’ung-fu-tzu or Confucianism was born. Confucius was raised in a poverty and war-stricken China. Through seeing the corrupt nature of the rich and powerful and living through challenging times, he pledged to teach peace, wisdom and social structure. Through his sadness as a child and adolescence he grew wiser and more determined.

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He believed that education was the building block of a good society and people would become better through learning. He went so far as to say that it was a divine right for every man and women to be educated (“Ancient Philosophies” 2). After his death his disciples combined his teachings with the basic text of many classical Chinese beliefs. That is why even today one cannot speak of Chinese culture without speaking of Confucius. He taught the importance of the family, human compassion, and moral behavior.

Although deemed as a religion, Confucianism never troubled itself with the orship of ancestors, heaven or hell, but rather put the importance on the person being good with or without a religion: miou are not yet able to serve men, how you can serve spirits? “(Chan 126). The holy books of this religion include The Analects, which is a series of conversations between Confucius and his disciples, The Four Books, and The Five Classics, which go over subjects from history, proper rituals and ownership of property. Taoism is the religion of nature or religion of the elders.

Tao refers to the source of the universe, the way the universe works and how it is kept in alance. The highest point of the Taoist is to become harmonized with nature completely. The oldest book on Tao was written by Lao Tzu who claimed the story of Tao was revealed to him in a vision. Lao Tzu’s existence and birth are debatable. The story tells that Lao was born of virgin birth; his mother being impregnated by the Pole Star, she carried Lao for 81 years and was born from his mother’s left armpit under a plum tree (Chan 123).

He was called the “Old Master” or “Master Lao” because of him being born as an 81 year old. Whether or not Lao was from virgin irth or made from stars, he wrote on Taoism and the harmony of the nature earth and humans coexistence in the 6th century BCE. He developed the theory of Yin and Yang, hat everything came from primordial chaos, that without light dark cannot exist and without bad there cannot be good. Even through later times the religion has not adapted a supreme being. It is the absence of these god’s that make the individual rise above gods and ancestors and live in harmony.

Due to the rapid expansion of family, immortality and emotion. This shift from importance of conforming for espect, taught by Confucius to individuality and naturalistic tendencies taught by Lao Tzu changed many parts of Asia greatly “Confucianism died down although not completely, Taoist took over the new system of the old master” (Schipper). Buddhism is the third largest religion in eastern Asia spread by the Silk Road and founded in India. The story of Buddhism begins with a young prince named Siddhartha Gautama who grew in a large wealthy palace shielded from the pain and chaos in the world.

This was until he left the palace and witnessed a dying man a sick man and a dead an once he returned to the palace young Siddhartha could never see the palace in the same way. Once he was old enough he left the palace in the dead of the night to try and find a way out of this endless cycle of death and suffering. For many years he tried extremes to try and find this eternal truth eating only one grain of rice a day, eating as much as he could and fasting for days(Howley 8). One day after all the other practices had failed he sat under the Bodhi tree and meditated until he found the answer to the end of human suffering.

He then told his first sermon to his new disciples revealing the eight fold path and the four noble truths, the end to the eternal cycle of ignorance and suffering. Siddhartha from this point on was called The Buddha or “The Enlightened One” the Sage of the Sakya clan. The birthplace of Buddhism was in India and was brought to China by the Silk Road and over time in Asia the religion became fused with local folk religions adding Gods, colorful Llamas (the equivalent to Catholic Saints) and vengeful demons (Howley 10).

Over time the eligion split into different sects of the same religion according to region. All three of these religions blended and formed the complex thoughts and morals of Eastern Asia. Confucianism and Taoism lived in peace and complimented each other like two sides of the brain due to the fact that Confucianism dealt with social matters while Taoism deals with the meaning of it all. The average man would read the works of Confucius as a normal working man. Then as individual grew older he could ponder the meaning of “The Way’ (Chan 127).

Buddhism was the path that one would lways follow throughout ones whole life being the binding of moral law and path. Or more simply put “The devout wore a Confucian crown, a Taoist robe, and Buddhist sandals” (Chan 128). Chan, Wing-tsit. Great Religions of the World. Washington: National Geographic Print. Howley, Adrienne. Naked Buddha. Milson’s Point, N. S. W. : society, 1971 . Bantam Australia, 2003. Print. Schipper, Kristofer. “Taoism and Life. ” N. p. , n. d. Web. Taoism and Confucianism ??” “Ancient Philosophies. ” Ushistory. org. N. p. , n. d. Web. 21 Nov. 192013. Revise/edit


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