Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism form the essence of Chinese traditional culture. Confucianism and Taoism provided ethical guides to the proper behavior of officials and individuals. The two originated during the Golden Age of Chinese several centuries before the introduction of the Christian era. Taoism sought to promote inner peace of individuals and harmony with their surroundings while Confucianism based on the teachings and writings of the philosopher Confucius and it’s ethical system that sought to teach the proper way for all people to behave in society. Buddhism later came in from India in the 1st century AD, which was a more conventional religion with its followers attending services, supported the temple on a regular basis and practiced rituals.
Historically, the three religions have complemented and also conflicted with each other in equal measures. Different schools of thoughts were greatly encouraged in China way before the Qin Dynasty. Confucianism and Taoism came to the forefront after the Hans Dynasty and co-existed with Buddhism. The relationship between the three is pretty much complicated at some point conflicting and at other times blending in seamlessly. All the three teachings have in one way or another involved in the socio-cultural function of humanizing the general Chinese populace. Having developed for more than 2000 years, the three have become quite essential entities of the traditional Chinese ideological culture.
Diversity in Thinking
The three systems of thought have integrated amid conflict and developed amid the integration. They have jointly worked together to shape the profile of the Chinese traditional ideologies and focuses on its development. An important point to start from when you want to understand the Chinese traditional culture is by studying the interrelationship among Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism. Essentially, the traditional Chinese thinking was human-centered and majorly focused on the pursuit of social stability, happiness, and harmony.
Gods and deities are always placed above any other things but regarded as a very important part of ensuring happiness in life. China might have divided doctrines, but most of their school of thoughts circumvent around the importance of people and their lives. Philosophically, this entails acknowledging the value of individuals. The rich and quite profound Chinese philosophy has resulted from the diversified beliefs and different religions
Interaction among three beliefs.
Buddhism has always emphasized on no-self and regarded life has the ultimate abyss of misery. It is very much committed to cutting the life and death cycle. Individuality and subjectivity characterize it. This characteristic is as a result of Buddhism interacting with Taoism and Confucianism. The three philosophies interrelationships clarified the human nature of traditional Chinese culture and manifested the integrated development of Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism.
The integral features of the three ideologies can be broken down into Taoism focusing on the pursuit of immortality and longevity, Confucianism focusing on preaching and moral obligations while Buddhism is encouraging people to stay away from the worldly affairs. It is interesting to mention that while they all worship figures, those figures are seen as mere forerunners of the philosophies, and they are worshiped out of respect and admiration
After the localization of Buddhism in China and Taoism borrowing so much from Confucianism, the three doctrines eventually grew to share more of the Confucian principles. With time, Taoism maintained that those who were aiming for longevity had to act upon gentility, piety, integrity, humanity and loyalty and if they fail to strive for the above virtues, they wouldn’t achieve immortality even if they had mastered other formulas.
Buddhism originally stated that all beings in the realm of existence including gods, demigods, humans, animals, hungry ghosts, and hells are parent and child to one another. But it experienced difficulty when trying to clarify the precise kinship hence it is baseless to focus on the earthly child-parent relationships instead practice filial piety as advocated by the Buddhist doctrines.
Just like Confucianism, Buddhist has promoted filial piety and even regarded it as the “unquestionable moral truth”. The three doctrines are clearly interacting with their doctrines changing and influencing the Chinese traditional ethics culture.
Revelation to reality
Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism have for more than 2000years developed amid the conflict, integrated and complemented each other. At some point, the conflict promoting integration and at other times, integration was intensifying the conflict. For instance, during the alliance of Taoism and Confucianism against Buddhism ended up with Buddhism blending in well with Taoism and Confucianism. Also, after Buddhist criticized Taoism about seeking immortality, made them assimilate some Buddhist and Confucian theories to enable it to evolve into a more theoretic system and gradually cut from the traditional Taoism.
Back in history, the Chinese traditional culture never really included non-homegrown Buddhism so as to retain its unique charm and see to it that there was stability in development. However, it did embrace valuable elements from Buddhism although selectively so as to continuously renew and enrich itself. The dual attitudes experienced when there was first massive introduction of external culture into China and the successful infusion that followed have continued to ensure Chinese cultural advancement today.
Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism are all quite broad and profound systems of thought in the Chinese traditional culture, penetrating the day to day lives of the Chinese people and represented in a plethora of art and literary forms. The relationship between the three has not only been subject to academic research but also a reflection of life practice, reflection of complicated social phenomena and wisdom.
Today, religion is promoted in so many different areas of public life ranging from business to government. They believe that religion will help ease the tension between the haves and the have-nots. There is a growing trend of business people worshiping Buddha or Confucius. There is a strong link between spiritual and material life in the contemporary China. For instance, china’s economy has been growing too fast becoming the factory of the world and this economic success has been associated with Confucianism and Buddhism. Religion doctrines have also influenced the close-knit family structure in China which has the Chinese people preferring to do business together as a family. Even with the new, contemporary religions such as Christianity getting introduced into China, Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism are the only religions that clearly hold water in China more especially the last two.