The Village Temple
DOI link for The Village Temple
The Village Temple book
Another centre of Chinese village life is the village temple. The temple is, as a rule, dedicated to a deified mortal such as Kwan-ti, once a distinguished general, now a god of valour and loyalty; Peh-ti, a culture god and patron of tradesmen; Wen-Chang, god of literature and patron of schoolboys; Lung-wang, a rain god; and so on as the predilections of the village folks may decide. But the temple is more a centre of social life than that of religious life. To it the superstitious element of the village and the neighbouring villages come to pray for favours or to perform thanksgivings, as the case may be. It is thereby a source of considerable income. There is, however, no definite religious belief attached to the temple. It is difficult to define with any degree of accuracy what religious ideas are in the mind of an average Chinese villager. With his eminent good sense and practicality he has fused into one the old theistic doctrine and a modified form of Buddhism, “addressing his prayers 1 on rare occasions to the Lao-tien-ye, the venerable Lord of Heaven, He 33who sees and judges, punishes and rewards.” But at the same time he is subject to a thousand and one superstitions. 1 Confucianism, needless to say, is not a religion. It is a system of positive 2 ethical and political rules of conduct with a shadowy personal God in the background; and, as is interpreted by the commentators such as Chu-hsi, it is pure materialism not unlike Haeckel’s system of “Kraft und Stoff.” Taoism pure and simple, on the other hand, has never found favour with the people. What is popularly known as Taoism is debased and mutilated and full of superstitious practices, borrowing at the same time a good deal from Buddhism.