Religion: Chinese Folk Religion and Ancestors Essay

Submitted By jackieshao0321
Words: 1080
Pages: 5

The Blending of Religion and Family in China

In China, it’s impossible to talk about family without religion. Religion is the key things that the families do, and when you talk about religion, it’s necessarily to talk about the family, because they are intertwined. People in China believe that family goes forwards and backwards from time, from ancestor to progeny. In this essay, I will introduce some religious practices to support my view. I will also explain the changes in China about religions after the Western ideas came in. The religions that practiced in China are popular religions. They have no official scripture; no statement of faith; no formal religions education nor centralized authority. “Popular religion in Taiwan is made up mainly of Confucian, Buddhism, and Taoist elements, people neither practice all three elements together nor each separately” (Yang, 122). Most Chinese belong to popular religions, they don’t have specific religion believe, and they don’t go to temple or pagoda for pray frequently neither. But they know religions and when to use them; they will go to certain Buddha when they have something to pray for; and they will reveal religious element in their daily life. One of the Four Great Classics in China, “The Journey to the West”, is the product of popular religion. If we take Chinese culture as a fabric, then the transverse is different kinds of religions like Buddhism and Daoism, the pivotal axis is the indigenous foundation, and it’s the family life that builds the fabric. There is a blending in traditions that fuse economic and political elements all together. As I mentioned before, family and religion rely on each other. The relationship between family and ancestors is the most important link in popular religion. Chinese think that the wealth, wisdom, attitudes and materials are all inherited from their ancestors and the descendants need to show respect to their ancestors. “Since the individual is the beneficiary of the ancestors’ merits accumulated in this world, he or she is indebted to the ancestors and obligated to show reverence and support for them” (Yang, 123). Chinese believe that their ancestors just dead in physical but not mental, and their souls still in the world and keep the eyes on them, thus influence their lives. Ancestors have same demand as living people and need to be cared, so Chinese go to the gravesite to worship their ancestors in the Qingming Festival, and they take fake money and food to worship and satisfy their ancestors. It is believed that ensuring the comfort of the ancestors will benefit the good fortune of the descendants and neglect ancestors will lead to bad fortune. Most ancestors just help their own families, but sometimes ancestors get the fame being very helpful that get the worship from other families, then the ancestors become gods. Gods in Chinese religions are always being human. They are someone able to help more than just the families. There are local deities such as Tu Di Gong, household deities such as the Kitchen God. “Some control people’s lifespan and destinies in this world and the afterlife, some keep the peace and security of a community district, and some keep records of the life of each individual” (Yang, 125). Actually there are gods in all aspects that give Chinese to worship. But it’s not easy to be gods, opportunity for an individual to become a god in the afterlife is extremely slim, and most of the dead falls into a nonbureaucratic category. There are lucky dead who can become the gods, but there are also some poor people that become the ghosts afterlife. “The dead who have no bureaucratic standing as gods and no kinship standing as ancestors fall into the category of ghosts” (Yang, 126). There are two ways to become a ghost. If there is no descendant to care for you at the family altar after you death, then you become a ghost. Or if you died because of violence like murder and war, you maybe so