Religions and beliefs

Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism are the three major religions in China, although it is true to say that Confucianism is a school of philosophy rather than a religion.

Generally speaking, Chinese people do not have a strong religious inclination but despite this the three main faiths have had a considerable following. The fact that Confucianism is a philosophy rather than religion meant that it became the orthodox doctrine for Chinese intellectuals in the days of the feudalist society. However, these intellectuals did not stick to their doctrine as a believer clings to his belief. Someone summarized the true attitude of Chinese intellectuals as - they followed the teachings of Confucius and Mencius when they were successful but would turn to Taoism when they were frustrated.

Many people say they are Buddhists yet have never read the sutras. Most people will say they believe in gods, destiny, fate, luck and an afterlife. Even so, on most occasions, rather than rely on prayer, people will make decisions all by themselves or resort to either family or friends for help. A visible human being is considered far more reliable than invisible gods or spirits.