The Influence of Confucianism and Taoism as a Religion

For years, society has been shaped by the influence of religion. In China, the two dominant religious and philosophical belief systems are Daoism and Confucianism. While both religions teach good behavior, respect, discipline, and morality, their approaches are different.

Founded by Lao Tzu in the sixth century BCE, Daoism rose to popularity quickly. Lao Tzu, also known as the ‘Father of Taoism (Daoism),’ urged people to follow the ‘Dao,’ or the ‘way of life.’ The teachings of Daoism state that human life is only a small part of the large progression of nature. Therefore, all decisions and actions must be made in accordance with nature and the natural flow of life.

Additionally, the correct way to behave, according to Daoism, is by simply doing nothing unnatural. Daoism’s origins directly relate to the balance of nature and the exchange of energy and matter. According to Henry M. Sayre in his textbook, Discovering the Humanities, ‘[Daoism] argues for a unifying principle in all nature, the interchangeability of energy and matter…called qi… [which] can be understood only by those who live in total simplicity…’ (105). In order to achieve this state, members are taught to meditate and practice breathing exercises. Turning away from materialistic pursuit and returning to a state of naturalness is how Lao Tzu believed one would become a better person. Overall, the mysterious teachings of Daoism directly correlate with nature and morals come from a state of peace, acceptance, and non-violence.

On the other hand, Confucianism, founded by Confucius in the fifth century BCE, was based more on communal interaction and rigid structure. Born in 551 BCE, Confucius had a plain and simple childhood before starting his career as a scholar. Although he dabbled in politics throughout his life, his main goal was to make education accessible to everyone in China. In his mission to provide education, he also started teaching ethics. Confucius believed that self-awareness, public works, and social interaction were vital steps toward an enlightened society. The purpose of Confucianism was to practice self-control, propriety, reverence for one’s elders, and virtuous behavior. Unlike Daoism’s abstract, individualistic characteristics, Confucianism is centered around concrete values and focuses on social conduct, and relationships with other people.

By all means, religion is a big part of society and will continue to impact humanity. In some cultures, religion is the culture. It dictates people’s dress, what they eat, how they speak, and the traditions they have.

I genuinely believe society needs the influence of religion. Religion, or a general belief system, provides a community with morals, standards, a foundation, coping mechanisms, and a sense of purpose.