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Chinese religions Essay

The Chinese like any other race, had their own conceptual perspective of things that they cannot fathom or explain. Like their contemporaries they tend to “simplify things” by trying to attribute the unexplainable to the supernatural. They try to look deeper into things, taking into consideration the physicality and spirituality of objects, be they animate or inanimate. This outlook made the ancient Chinese come up with the concept of Yin and Yang. Yin and Yang is defined as the concept of balance between two contrastingly different, or opposing elements.

The Chinese believe that Yin and Yang maintains the balance of all things and that it is impossible to isolate or exclude one from the other. The continuity of the Yin and Yang cycle is clearly construed as the balance that keeps everything in an orderly manner. The idea of harmony and balance are the main basis of the yin and yang concept. Yin and Yang did not come to existence in order to destroy or overwhelm one another, but rather to complement one another.

The principle that each person is governed by both the negative and positive forces is central to almost all schools of Chinese thought. The Chinese believed that everything in the universe, including ourselves are constantly governed by the laws of dualism. The concept of Yin and Yang is echoed in various Chinese religions. It is essentially the basis and core of Taoism, and has a slight influence on Confucianism and Buddhism. The concept of Yin and Yang in Taoism hinges on the importance of maintaining the fragile balance between the Yin or positive force and the Yang or Negative force.

This religion bases its teachings on the principle that both Yin (Negative) and Yang (Positive) contains a small part of one another, and that both of these two opposing forces exist not to destroy one another by the usage of an overwhelming force, but simply to emphasize and complement one another. This religion also preaches that although the positive and negative aspect of things go against each other they are essentially things that would emphasize the uniqueness of the same substance and nature like the others despite the appearance of differences between these two things.

A good analogy of this would be mans’ concept of beauty. One cannot appreciate beauty if all objects look alike, if all things share the same features, then those things cannot be truly called beautiful, instead these things would be seen as plain or ordinary due to the lack of a viable standard to base this criteria. One can only distinguish beauty and perfection when its opposite, the concept of ugliness and imperfection exists. Confucianism, another religion that originated from China, also shows subtle hint of the Yin and Yang concept.

Confucius, its progenitor, theorized an ethical approach to eliminate conflict. His teachings echo a slight hint of the yin and yang concept, in that he believed that the mingling of the positive and negative forces brought about the existence of all that has life, and has persistently applied this principle in all of his teachings. Confucius did not focus his teachings on the principles of dualism (yin and yang) alone, instead, he assimilated it to almost all of his teachings concerning morality.

Another point that proves the influence of the Yin and Yang concept to the teachings of Confucius is the fact his teachings are always addressed to two groups of people, who happens to have a contrasting and totally different social status. As manifested further in his teaching, he asserts the proper manner as to how the Affluent should act towards the less privileged, a king to his subjects, a parent to his children, a man to his wife…the list goes on. The one thing that is highly noticeable on the previous analogy is that all of it is based on how a superior individual should act towards his inferior counterpart and vice versa.

This further boosts the idea that dualism has a significant influence on Confucian teachings. As a whole, Confucius emphasized that the suffering endured by society arose because its constituents failed to act out in accordance to their respective places in society, it is his idea that people should play their role to the utmost to maintain the balance and harmony within the existing society. Another Chinese religion that the Yin and Yang concept has influenced to a certain degree would be Buddhism.

This religion founded by Siddharta Gautama Buddha teaches that the main cause of pain and suffering is pleasure and desire, the concept, in itself is a paradox of duality, which is a very good indicator of the presence of the yin and yang concept. The main precept of Buddhism that preaches avoidance of pleasure and desire to avoid pain and suffering is a contradiction that suggests the influence of the Yin and yang concept. The principle of Yin and Yang and Buddhism are similarly congruent in the preaching of the belief in the importance of harmony and the maintenance of constant balance within the world.

It is notable that Taoism, the Religion that conceptualized the Yin and yang concept, and Buddhism both allude to the belief that a person’s fate is totally dependent on the deeds committed during his lifetime. Based on these ideologies, the Chinese have developed the attitude of always trying to blend in to their environment in accordance to the concept of the Yin and the Yang forces. This is evidenced on their continued belief and usage of the principles of Feng Shui, the principle of adjusting one’s surrounding to direct the balanced flow of positive and negative energy to benefit man as a whole.

The principle of Yin and Yang is also inherent in the practice of Chinese medicine. The main precept that they uphold in practicing Chinese traditional medicine is that, an imbalance of either positive or negative energy would cause sickness or even death to afflicted individuals, Thus, Chinese practitioners advocate that in order to be healthy one must always strive to have a balanced flow of energy circulating within his body.

These are but limited examples of how the Chinese see and apply the principles of Yin and Yang to their daily life. This concept has formed a line of tradition or norm for the Chinese people, so much so that It is unheard of for any Chinese individual to disregard the harmony and balance within his environment, without resorting to or practicing any of the practices prescribed by traditional Yin and Yang believers. As of the present it is safe to assume that the Chinese people put great store in mingling smoothly with their surroundings.

This is very evident on their attitude, and the way in which they were able to adapt to almost any environment known to man without relinquishing any part of their National Identity and Heritage (a Chinese could live in any part of the world, or be born on different countries, but essentially retains his Chinese posterity and would still be very “ Chinese” with regards to his beliefs). The Chinese, are perhaps one of the most, if not the most adaptable people known on this planet.

This is highly evidenced by their willingness to submit and accept their lot in society and at the same time trying to make the best out of it. Works Cited: “The Yin and Yang Theory” http://www. 168fengshui. com/articles/yin-and-yang-theory/ http://www. taopage. org/yinyang. html Yin and Yang in Acupuncture and in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) http://www. holisticonline. com/Acupuncture/acp_yin_yang. htm http://www. religionfacts. com/taoism/beliefs. htm http://fly. cc. fer. hr/~shlede/ying/yang. html http://www. essortment. com/all/yinyangmeaning_rosp. htm


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