Known to many nations due to its strength, stability and great culture, China is one of the oldest empires that ever existed throughout the history of the world. It was even dubbed the “Celestial Empire” because of its so-called divine intervention that helped its kingdom to prosper for many years and centuries and also helped the Chinese people grow as a unique and organized nation.
At a span of 5,000 years, China has been rich with history, both in written and oral form. The country has been greatly renowned for being “one with the gods”, leaving behind a trail of classic literature, treasures and relics and important documents that bear significance not only to China itself but humanity as well.
Chinese scholar Liang Qichao has credited China as being one of the great Four Ancient Civilizations, standing alongside Egypt, India and Babylon. The diversity and uniqueness of the Chinese culture that has expanded more than 3,600 years in history have greatly influenced various cultures and nations of the world through their ideas, concepts and inventions.
The Yellow Emperor began China’s rich culture about 5,000 years ago, and this emperor, who is a cultivator of the Tao (the Way), was a kind and just ruler who not only possessed wisdom and power but also kind to his subjects and lived in good faith. Different Chinese legends have contributed to the Chinese belief on how their culture got formed. For instance, there are a few deities who have said to created significant aspects of their nation: Suiren – fire, Shennong – agriculture and Cangjie – Chinese characters (hence the later Japanese counterpart “kanji”).
The major religions of China were Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism and they have all shaped the Chinese culture, in the long run, even until today. Lao Zi was the man behind the Taoist ideology and got founded 2,500 years ago. His book, Dao De Jing or Tao Te Ching, described the concepts of the Tao or the Way of the universe.
Confucius, who lived from 551 to 479 BCE, was the one who guided China to its trademark religious thought called Confucianism, which focuses on moral codes that govern every Chinese in their everyday life through words of wisdom. The Han Dynasty, which went from 206 BCE to 220 CE, was the golden era of Confucianism, in which the moral teachings of Confucius got incorporated into the civil society of the Chinese people.
India brought about Buddhism to China in 67 CE and also had an impact on the Chinese culture. Buddhism focused more on meditation and the well-being of the self. These three religions became the pillars that guided and shaped the Chinese people, having reached their real golden age during the Tang Dynasty, which ran from 618 CE to 907 CE.
The five basic values got formed as a result of these three religions that influenced the Chinese people. These values are benevolence (ren), righteousness (Yi), propriety (li), wisdom (chi) and faithfulness (xin). These came along with the values of being one with nature and allowing divine intervention to see a clearer path to your destiny and were essential in the 5,000-year history of the Chinese people.
Even today, these concepts are being used by China and its inhabitants in the modern era – look how successful they regard business and trade today.