Violence in Chinese Religious Traditions

Meir Shahar

in The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Violence

Published in print January 2013 | ISBN: 9780199759996
Published online March 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Violence in Chinese Religious Traditions

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  • Religion
  • Religious Studies
  • East Asian Religions
  • Comparative Religion



This chapter argues that the category of religion eludes traditional Chinese thinking. It outlines the periods of harmony between official Buddhism, Daoism, and Confucianism, commenting on the historical reverence for martial gods and practices of religiously sanctioned human sacrifice and self-mortification. The amorphous religious identity characteristic of China offers a convenient starting point for the analysis. Chinese clerics have been conscious of their religious distinction to the extent of competing with others. The policy has been a major source of friction between the People's Republic of China and the Catholic Church. The Chinese martial art is a multifaceted system of physical and mental self-cultivation that combines military, therapeutic, and religious goals within the same training routine. The imagination of Daoist immortality, the cosmology of the Supreme Ultimate, and the vocabulary of Buddhist enlightenment has been equally tackled to discuss the practitioner's mystical experience.

Keywords: religion; Chinese thinking; Buddhism; Daoism; Confucianism; human sacrifice; self-mortification; Chinese martial art; Daoist immortality

Article.  6535 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Religious Studies ; East Asian Religions ; Comparative Religion

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