Confucius’ Conception of Religion and GodJune 27, 2021
The concept of God in Confucianism; There is no god and pantheon of gods, priesthood, temple, faith, or scripture. That’s why the Chinese called Confucianism the “School” or “Scholars Doctrine”.
Confucius never felt like a divine representative; He also did not mention supernatural beings, superior forces and spirits. He also rejected ideas about the existence of gods and spirits. For this reason, most clergy are not in Confucius’ religious history; that it should be in the history of philosophy.
He also does not believe in life after death. In fact, to a question on this subject, “If a person has not yet recognized life, how can one recognize death?” he replied. Nor did he speak of spirits; “If we cannot serve man, how can we serve spirits?” He clearly stated that he does not have belief in the hereafter.
Before religions such as Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism appeared in China; There was a belief in ancestor veneration, worship of celestial and nature spirits, foretelling, sacrificing to holy beings, and a “Supreme Being” called Shang-ti. This naming is actually God, known as the owner of Heaven. It also means “Greatest Emperor” and means “Sky”; It is the traditional form of religious utterance used in prayer and state religion, as opposed to the impersonal form of T’ien favored by Confucius and ancient Chinese thinkers.
It is likely that Shang-ti was first compared to the earthly ruler. Then the clergy watching that the emperor’s successors were directly attached to Heaven; They gave the Emperor the title “Son of Heaven”. This name is BC. It is a belief that started in the 12th century. With this thought, the Emperor will be just as fair as the sky and will treat his people under his rule with justice and tolerance.
Here, the Microcosm-Macrocosm phenomenon, which is a feature of all Chinese religion, stands out. Man must catch the harmony in his own body, which is a big world and a small world, and keep up with the harmony of the sky. Sang-ti, used synonymously with T’ien, was the oldest ancestral spirit (Ti) in ancient China.
He was worshiped in the state religion as the Supreme God, and sacrifices were offered to the Sky God by the emperor. The belief in the “Supreme Being” known as Shang-ti, which was common in China, continued in Confucius. However, he preferred the “T’ien” we mentioned earlier to express this Supreme Being.
According to Confucius, T’ien; it was not a name given to the ancestors who sat in heaven, punishing wicked rulers, establishing new dynasties, and rewarding the good, as it was understood at the time. Confucius T’en; He defined it as the supreme being, the ruler of the natural order, the being above all, the creative power. This term was used among the ancient thinkers of China in a being that was the organizer and complement of nature. Over time, the term came to be used synonymously with Destiny or Tao.
The general term for God is Shangti. T’ien, a Chinese term, is dedicated to Heaven, meaning God and Nature. This Sky God T’ien; the god above means the sky itself. Initially, T’ien represented an anthropoformic idea of a god. But later, he is described as one above humans in the Shu Wen Dictionary.
The name of the god T’ien was not included in Han Dynasty documents. Presumably, this religious belief was introduced into Chinese culture during the Chou Dynasty (1000 BC) as a supreme sky god. The term was used for “Great God”, a meaning very close to Shang-ti. Confucius used this term to mean “God Almighty”. He respected T’ien as the source of goodness, confessing his devotion to her. He learned of T’ien’s order and believed that T’ien understood him too.
According to Confucius, T’ien cannot be deceived, he directs people’s lives and protects them. Later, T’ien became a term completely identified with nature. T’ien in Chinese religion; It was not enclosed in a religious structure, but in nature it was known as a worship performed by the emperor on an altar.
According to the belief of the Chinese, the Son of Heaven (T’ien Tsu), who is the Emperor, received the authority to rule people and give orders from T’ien. In Confucianism, God rules to protect the downtrodden; He sent teachers to help in the “Way of God” and to keep the peace all over the country. He is exalted, ruling over the people on earth, and when the wicked multiply, his rule is merciless. Death and life are orders of the sky. Wealth and honor are the work of fate. God sees everything clearly and is with people in all things done. It is Heaven who gives the law and the law. He rewards good people with longevity as well as virtue.
This virtue consists of four parts: human love, justice, obedience to ordered ceremonies and knowledge.
If a person sees these four virtues as the purpose of life and obeys them, he will gain happiness and peace. Man must also act according to the command of the sky. Because Confucian