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  • When we think of Chinese religious traditions, metaphysical lines get blurred. What I mean

  • is that the Chinese philosophies of Taoism and Confucianism are less about dualistic

  • notions of good verses evil but rather focuses on balance and harmony between the major complementary

  • forces of all of life. Secondly, Chinese religious and philosophical traditions are quite open

  • to incorporating ideas and insights from other religions. For instance, they quite easily

  • blend Buddhist insight on the nature of the self with Taoist notions of passivity. It

  • makes great sense to present Taoism and Confucianism together in one chapter, since they are both

  • based on the two fundamental forces of life, referred to as yin and yang. Everything in

  • creation, from the natural world, to our personalities, to the phases of the moon, to the spices used

  • in food, we are told, emerges from the unfolding of these two complementary forces, yin and

  • yang.

  • There is one word that best summarizes the goal of ancient Asian philosophies and religions.

  • That word is harmony. Harmony keeps society running smoothly. Harmony guides the chef

  • when creating a meal that balances hot spices and cooling flavors. Harmony guides the nation

  • vis-à-vis its citizens, with leaders and their people both seeking to live harmoniously

  • together.

  • If you travel to Asia or know Asian populations outside of Asia you will find that knowing

  • Taoism and Confucianism will help you understand the role of parents, filial piety, respect

  • for authority, and deference demonstrated in these communities. The East Asian tradition

  • of bowing as a form of respect, a practice that is decreasing nowadays in modern Asia,

  • illustrates the importance of maintaining harmonious relationships. Knowing Taoism and

  • Confucianism will dramatically lessen the culture shock typically experienced by travelers

  • unaware of the importance of deference to elders and maintaining peaceful, rightly ordered

  • relations.

  • Of course, no religious tradition is static, and the same applies to Taoism and Confucianism.

  • In our late-modern era, Taoism and Confucianism are still significant features of East Asian

  • societies. Knowing these religious-philosophical systems will help us all appreciate the substructure

  • of much of the business, cultural, and religious practices in Asia and Asian diasporic communities

  • worldwide. Yet today traditional notions of harmony are difficult to sustain, as people

  • seek higher education, money, and various forms of success that put immense stress on

  • families, societies, and nations.

  • Who is God in relationship to the Tao? Is there a unique East Asian perspective on Jesus

  • Christ? How Asian is Jesus? I hope you enjoy this chapter and are challenged and encouraged

  • by the great insights of Taoism and Confucianism.

When we think of Chinese religious traditions, metaphysical lines get blurred. What I mean

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