CHINESE TRADITION: THE CULTURAL CONTEXT
We once asked an old lady who spent a lot of her time visiting temples in Hong Kong whether she was Daoist or Buddhist. She looked at us as if we were stupid. To her, whether the temple had a gold-tiled roof (Buddhist) or a bottle-green tiled roof (Daoist) was irrelevant. There was no difference. Whether the figures inside were gods or bodhisattvas, they were all "Buddhas!" And they deserved the same respect as they had received for 1000s of years.
In many ways this typifies Chinese tradition. It is a complex tangle of ancient legend, lifestyle, ritual and unquestioned assumption that defies truly objective study. It's a collection of symbols and achetypes that makes Chinese people what they are - whether or not they practice any of the "old ways" overtly from their soaring glass-clad offices in Shanghai, Singapore or Hong Kong. Chinese tradition just "is."
Buddhism, Daoism, Conficianism, Wu Xing, Feng Shui ... they have all dissolved and merged inside the Chinese psyche. They are all part of that amorphous cultural congee that we can just call "Chinese-ness."
To get a handle on these strands, however, we must try to unravel the tangle and uncook the congee. The buttons below lead to articles about some of the many important ingredients. As yet, only buttons with red captions lead to pages with articles, but we'll be writing more as the year progresses.