China's Golden Age (618-1279)
Standards: 7.3.1
Standards: 7.3.3
Chronological And Spatial Thinking 1
  • Students explain how major events are related to one another in time.
Religion and Thought in China's Golden Age

Key Terms and People

nirvana: a state of complete peace

Wuzong: a devoted Daoist who order do the structure of Buddhist monasteries and temples

Zhu Xi: a scholar-official who was the most famous neo-Confucian thinker

Section Notes


  • Three main belief systems shaped life in China under the Tang and Song: Daoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism. Daoism is an ancient Chinese philosophy Dow means a "Way" or the "Way of nature." It's basic teaching is that all things-Earth, heaven, and people-should follow the Dao. For many Daoist, this meant withdrawing from society to live close to nature.


  • Buddhism is the religion based on the teachings of Indian spiritual leader Siddhartha Gautama.Gautama taught that life involves suffering. The way to ease suffering is to give up worldly desire and seek perfect wisdom known as enlightenment (nirvana). Those who entered nirvana also escaped an endless cycle of suffering, death, and rebirth. Buddhism entered China during the Han Dynasty. It gained strength during the troubled times between the Han and Tang Dynasties. Its appeal was based on the hope for salvation and an end to suffering.


  • Confucianism was a system of ethics and morals based on the teaching of Confucius, a great Chinese teacher and philosopher. Confucianism was based on respect for family and the social order. Everyone had a fixed role to play in society. Confucius also stressed the importance of moral virtue. He said people could improve themselves and gain virtue through education.
  • Neo-Confucianism: this was a revived form of Confucian thought influenced by Buddhism and Daoism. The neo-Confucianists continue to study the classic writings of Confucius. But they interpreted these works in a new way to answer questions about the meaning and purpose of life. Some even sought enlightenment in the Buddhist sense. Others emphasized self-improvement through education.

Summary: Buddhism was a popular philosophy and religion in China, but it was opposed by followers of the ancient Chinese philosophies of Daoism and Confucianism.

Study Guide Questions

What is the Dao?

Why do you think Daoism became a religion?

What were the two main schools of Chinese Buddhism?

What features of Buddhism led some Chinese to oppose it?

What was the main goal of Confucianism?

How did Neo-Confucianism differ?

Practice Test

Homework: Choose one
  1. Workbook Chapter 10, section 2 (Page 124)
  2. Answer three of the study guide questions using complete sentences.
  3. Draw a picture of something important from this section and summarize this section of the text (three sentences minimum).