Complementary: The Sacred and the Secular Essay

Complementary: The Sacred and the Secular Essay

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Contrary to common belief, religion is composed of both religious—divine reverence, and irreligious elements—politics and philosophy. Reciprocally outlining Chinese ideals, this complementary blend of religious and irreligious elements allude to harmony of opposites without conflict. However, widely interpretative, the Western term “religion” prevents clear distinction between religion and philosophy when applied to Ancient Chinese religion, Confucianism, and Daoism. Though each equitably dissimilar, each sector influenced the upbringing of the other politically, while continuing to uphold similar purposes of perceived harmony. Therefore, this paper’s analysis of Ancient China’s concept of Ganying, Confucius’ concept of Social Hierarchy, and Daoist practice of internal and external alchemy reveals a progressive religious influence on State, and simultaneously deems philosophy as only an appurtenant to religion.

During the Shang Dynasty, Ancient Chinese religion served as the premise to political structure and reign. The first divination process involving oracle bones, or tortoise shells and ox shoulder bones, introduced the idea of Shang diviners. This recognition of power paved way for the separation of social classes, resulting in the elite and popular class. The elite were considered literate and cultivated, comprising the upper class. In opposition, the popular class was that of the lower class, illuminating indigenous values. Exemplifying a religious connotation, prescriptively, the diviners’ chief role during the divination process prompted importance of ancestral worship and sacrifice. Illustrating the concept of ganying, diviners would attempt to provide ancestors with proper sacrifices to induce spiritual fulfillment—s...


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...d with qi, jing, and shen, this alludes to the Daoist conservation of blood, semen, and breath. The practitioners preserve these humanly essences through meditation implemented with fasting and breathing techniques (305). These Daoist exercises later influenced and embellished the practice of taji, boxing, yoga, and sexual practices.

From China’s most primitive state to its most culturally flourished, when describing Ancient Chinese religion, Confuscianism, and Daosim, individuals regard these practices as a “philosophy”, or “way of life”, instead of a religion (105). However, each equally embodies a perennial philosophy—different elucidations symbolize a single, universal truth. Therefore, if religion outlines both religious and irreligious aspects, and concurrently depicts a way of life, one can assert philosophy as an additional “interpretation” of religion.

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