Chinese contrarily to the Hindus, they are not in way some a passionate people for the religious thing. Their social order is not based on a revealed religion, but in the ethics of Confucius. While western literature, painting and music have been inspired many times by the idea of God, the Chinese art is devoted, mainly, to worship the nature like divine work.
For Chinese, the concept of the analogical, natural and concrete image of a personal god is among them less frequent than among the Jews, Christian or Muslims. In the Chinese society, it is not generally the priest the one that plays the most important part, but the sage. Confucius was not a man of monkish character, but an oriented fellow positively toward the life and the nature.
Modernly it is said that the Chinese are the first people to that have "overcome" the religion, because scarcely there have been in them cases of religious intolerance and neither before communism, along their millennial history except in some unfortunate times, there have been wars or persecutions whose causes were the religion.
It is that the Chinese religiosity is a resultant of the combination of many elements: autochthonous and strange, rational and primitive. Also, according to their different social classes, the Chinese people are also divided in the religious aspect. The population's great mass adheres to in its biggest part to traditional superstitions and the animism, inheritance of a primitive Chinese culture. The learned class, on the other hand, abides to the Confucianism ethical, and it observes the traditional formulas rigorously, that which does not exclude a slight shade of skepticism.
Of this combined complex they emerge which three big pillars of the thought; the Confucianism, the Buddhism and the Taoism. The first one; the Confucianism, is less a religion that a system that determines the human relations inside the mark of an ethical ideal order. Developed by Confucius, the precepts of this system for more than 25 centuries they have come regulating all the aspects of the culture and of the mentality of the Chinese. The Confucianism possesses a vital energy because it always has something to offer to the human spirit that looks for the truth.
Confucius affirmed that it is necessary to investigate the things and the facts to find the interior harmony and did he say: "¿by chance does heaven speak at some time?" and "that is possible to practice the perfectionism without any help of the heaven".
In the Confucianism two important concepts that are known as the li and the jen exist. The li is the behavior norm for which people should be governed when living. When they make an effort to fulfill the li, "everything is corrected in the family, the State and the world". Confucius said, and then the tao is made, or the one on the way to the heaven. But how must it express the li? That takes us to another central concept of the preaching of Confucius that is summarized in a single word, that of the jen that is human kindliness and love.
The Confucian ideal, based on the principles of the li and jen, is summarized in precepts like: "what you don't want for you, doesn't make it to the other ones; kindness in the father, filial pity in the son; gracefulness in the biggest brother, humility and respect in the minor; fair behavior in the husband, obedience in the wife; human consideration in the adults, respect in the minor, benevolence in the rulers, loyalty in the minister and the citizens".
All this helps to explain why most of the Chinese, and still other oriental, make so much stress in the family knots, in being industrious, in the education and in knowing the place that one occupied and how it must behave in that place.
Confucians concepts have been recorded deeply in the Chinese conscience and of them they have appropriated other doctrines with different shade, just as the so thrashed faith, it hope and charity of the Christianity. In this respect some Jesuit priests in the XVI century recommended the Pope from Rome that Confucius was canonized as "saint" of the Church.
The second element of the Chinese thought is the Buddhism of the Mahayana that it was cared of the India with its priesthood, sentences, pantheon of gods of human figure and sculptures.
The third element of the Chinese thought is Taoism that is not so easy of defining. To understand the Taoism it is necessary to think that it is not a delimited system of beliefs of all the other ones that they are distinguished for their limits, their philosophy and their moral reflection. To speak of the Taoism is to also speak necessarily of the Confucianism, of the Buddhism and in the old and traditional ways of the Chinese religiosity and in the Chinese way of to be that is not disturbed before the other cultures by the paradoxes and Illogical ecstasy.
That it is the Taoism and their evolution is understood well through the texts that gave it origin and body.
In the first place we go back to the XII century before our era, in the old Chinese religiosity that has stayed without more changes, it comes up the divinatory aspect that solved the concerns that refer to the hope of fortune in the sowing and crop and the war that it is summed up in the book Yi-king appears or Yi-ching, well-known in the China like "The Book of The Mutations", where elaborated divinatory methods is formulated that contains an antecedent of great importance with relationship to later developments, because it contains the idea of the division of the whole universe in two founders principles; the Yin, feminine, negative, and the Yang, masculine, positive, that centuries later they would incorporate to the Taoism.
Contemporary to the doctrine of the Confucianism it is that of the Taoism, attributed to Lao tse that lived according to traditions among 604 at 531 before our era on whose real existence many doubts exist, he wrote the Tao-you king or Tao-you ching that is the main book of the Taoism, where the tao is synonymous of "the road; the path to continue", the te "to be able to or virtue", and is writing in verses in a primitive style, lacking at all of conjugations, prepositions and other words that unite the sentences with other to clarify its meaning, besides that the verb does not have times and, those more than the times, it does not go accompanied by any subject, all that which replaces it the reader or translator, fact by which there are interpretations in different ways.
The same word Tao means for extension "method, principle or doctrine". When it is applied to the material world, the Tao is a manifestation of the harmony and cosmic order. It is a certain class of will or divine legislation that it exists in the universe and it regulates it. The concept of the applied Tao to the human matters indicates that there is a natural and correct way to make everything, what gives to each thing its place and to all person its function. Applied to the rulers it demands rites and sacrifices so that there are peace and prosperity in the nation. The Tao is the road that should be continued and it is central element of the Chinese philosophical and religious thought.
The Taoism and the Confucianism are two different and opposed expressions of the same concept. The Taoism adopts the mystic point of view, the route to follow is the inaction, the quietness and the passivity, it is to leave the society and to return to the nature, like pragmatic focus the Confucianism interests in the social order when each person plays the role that it corresponds and performs its duty.
Toward the century III before our era, it appears the following book of the Taoism that it is the Chuang-tzu, written by the teacher Chuang-tse, who recapturing of the book I ching or Yi king the old concepts of the Yin and Yang and that he applied for the Taoism that all the existent one is due to the reciprocates action of both principles, which fight to each other constantly.
The essential difference between the Chinese conception of the Yin and Yang and the other classic dualisms of the philosophy; light and darkness, the Manichaeism of the good and the evil, the positive forces and negative forces, it rests in the fact that these they constantly fight, while Yin and Yang, in the heart they coincide. The feminine Yin and the masculine Yang are necessary for the cosmic order and they are completed mutually. As long as they are in good harmony, they are good always. But, ¿how to get the harmony among these two ends? ¿How can they be induced for they abandon their opposed essential features and do act harmoniously to make possible the wonderful order of the nature? The answer of the Taoists is the following one: the source of its harmony, the origin of the order of the universe is the Tao. The Tao's concept is the nucleus of all philosophical speculation of the Chinese.
The Tao is the "on the way to the nature"," law of the life" or "universal law". Ab initio of the time, when Thai-dji, the "primitive magnitude" or the "originating unit" of the cosmos it began to be divided in the two different elements, Yang and Yin, the Tao, that it extends beyond the visible world and of the invisible world, it acted as integral factor. The heaven even works by means of the Tao; the gods always act of conformity with this "Path". This conception of the world reminds us the Big Bang that gave origin to the universe and so in the matter’s intimate nature the changes and the structures stay through positive and negative forces, before the dynamics of the fields that they act as the Tao of the nature.
To have an idea of the Tao-te king says in this respect on the Tao, let us see the following passage:
"(There was) something formed uncannily,
born before the heaven and the earth (...)
Maybe it could be the mother of myriad of things.
I do not know its name.
Let us call it Tao".-- Chapter 25.
"All the things arise of Tao
The Virtue (Te) it nurtures them.
They are made of matter.
The environment models them.
So the myriad of things respect Tao
and they honor to the Virtue (Te)".-- Chapter 51.
¿What we deduce from these passages so enigmatic? That for the Taoists the Tao is certain mysterious cosmic force that is responsible for the universe. The objective of the Taoism is to look for the Tao, to leave the world behind and to enter in union with the nature.
Of the Tao-Te king has impressed deeply that: "The one that takes in himself the treasure of Tao's virtue is as a small child. It won't be chopped by poisonous insects, neither attacked by wild animals or prey birds". And: "The one that the Tao reaches is eternal. It will never perish, even when their body broke down".
In the Tao-te king is appreciated that the Tao is the great principle that guards the universe. However, of good to first is declared that the true Tao cannot be defined, because the last and more secret mystery of the nature--the mystery of the creation and of the life--it is not something that can lock in a word or in a name. Although it is the last source of all the things, the one philosophizes Lao-se affirms: "I don't know about who is in fact son this Tao, an image of something that already existed before God". Be it that it was, the case is that all the things received by means of Tao the life and the form. "Before there were heaven and earth, already something existed of hazy, silent, locked in itself, in itself invariable, eternally circulating, worthy of being the mother of all the things...".
The author of the Tao-te king develops the thesis that the mystery of the life resides in the Tao's knowledge. When the man reaches his goal--the harmony with the Tao--, then he will obtain the peace and the illumination. But the concord between the heaven and the earth only takes place when the Tao can follow its natural course. Unfortunately, the man spreads to follow the road that leads to his own goals obstinately. In the moment in that intervenes, without he is called, in the course of the nature, he perturbs the Tao's rhythm and sows the confusion in the order of the universe. Of this obstinacy and this spirit of independence, they flow all the evils that afflict the humanity, that they will only be able to be overcome if we undergo the Tao's will and we become instruments of its eternal law.
"It lets that all the things follow their natural course, and do not interfere in it. Everybody who opposes to the Tao soon it succumbs". It is certain that the Tao works slowly, but not for it the sage will become arrogant, since "although the heaven does not fight, it always finishes conquering".
For Lao-tse the Tao is the Supreme Being, and his image resembles each other to the pickup in the Upanishads of the India for its divinity Brahma, with two eternal and temporary stadiums, without name and with name.
The Taoism traveled an evolutionary cycle from the philosophical thing to the religious thing and finally involutioned falling in the superstition.