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Religion in China


MP3 sound recording (link)
史密斯:宋先生,在北京这一程走下来,我发现有好多名胜古迹都是寺庙啊!
宋先生:是的,中国人一向认为“举头三尺有神明”。所以平日有什么事情,都会去求神拜佛,就连以前的皇帝也不例外,所以寺庙格外兴盛。
史密斯:原来如此。中国人一般都信教吗?在英国大多数人都是基督徒。
宋先生:不算信教吧,在中国,大多数人在一些重要时刻都会去寺庙,但并不代表他们有宗教信仰,大家普遍都只是抱着侥幸心理,觉得安心而已。以前中国的宗教主要有佛教和道教,其实佛教一直比较繁荣,直到新中国成立,现代化进程开始,大家就都变成无神论者啦,据说中国不信教的人口居全世界之首,一半人是无神论,大概6亿人咯。另外一半人是有宗教信仰的,除了零零散散的一些神明崇拜,佛教徒大概有一亿人,加上少数民族的伊斯兰教,也有2000多万吧。其实现在西方文化传进来,很多人也开始信基督了,到现在已经有2000多万信徒。至于道教,主要是派别太多,难以统计。
MP3 sound recording (link)
史密斯:那在北京都是些什么的那些宗教的寺庙呢?
宋先生:大多都是佛教寺庙。像雍和宫啊, 潭柘寺啊,还有大觉寺、云居寺、 法海寺、 宣武法源寺、 后海广化寺 、白塔寺等等。另外,像天坛这种,是祭坛,供奉上天的,就是你们所说的“上帝”。中国人兴盛多神崇拜,也不知道“老天爷”是哪个,反正统统叫“天”。还有的,像历代帝王庙这种,是祭祀先人的,在古代也叫“宗庙”,自古国人就对祖先非常尊重,有种“祖先崇拜”的状态,现在翻译到英文,有的叫祭坛,有的也叫寺庙。
史密斯:好像这里面有好多奥妙啊,如果有时间,真想多多研究。
宋先生:确实挺有意思的。虽然大多数党员都是无神论者,不过很多年老的一辈,还有新生的年轻一代,都是有宗教信仰的。像我父母就都是佛教徒,现在每个城市都有好多佛教的寺庙和供信徒活动的场所,比如“居士林”啊什么的。中国宗教信仰还是很自由的,大学里面都有基督教的社团。现在一些发达城市也开始建造教堂了,史密斯先生你以后需要的话,我可以带你过去,北京也有好几个大教堂的。
史密斯:太有意思了,以前没想到在中国还能去基督教堂。回头等找个周末,我去看看吧。
宋先生:没问题,我给你安排下,到时候一道过去!
史密斯:不用不用,宋先生你是不信教的吧?我自己去好了,我也好做些祷告。
宋先生:嗯,也对,那回头我把那些教堂地址发给你吧!
史密斯:好的,谢谢谢谢。

Religion in China


Shǐmìsī: Sòng xiānsheng, zài Běijīng zhè yìchéng zǒuxiàlái, wǒ fāxiàn yǒu hǎo duō míngshèng gǔjì dōu shi sìmiào a!
Sòng xiānsheng: Shì de, Zhōngguórén yíxiàng rènwéi "jǔtóu sān chǐ yǒu shénmíng". Suǒyǐ píngrì yǒu shénme shìqing, dōu huì qù qiúshén bàifó, jiùlián yǐqián de huángdì yě bú lìwài, suǒyǐ sìmiào géwài xīngshèng.
Shǐmìsī xiānsheng: Yuánlái rúcǐ. Zhōngguórén yìbān dōu xìnjiào ma? Zài Yīngguó dàduōshù rén dōu shi Jīdūtú.
Sòng xiānsheng: Bú suàn xìnjiào ba, zài Zhōngguó, dàduōshù rén zài yìxiē zhòngyào shíkè dōu huì qù sìmiào, dàn bìng bú dàibiǎo tāmen yǒu zōngjiào xìnyǎng, dàjiā pǔbiàn dōu zhǐ shì bàozhe jiǎoxìng xīnlǐ, juéde ānxīn éryǐ. Yǐqián Zhōngguó de zōngjiào zhǔyào yǒu fójiào hé dàojiào, qíshí fójiào yìzhí bǐjiào fánróng, zhídào xīn Zhōngguó chénglì, xiàndàihuà jìnchéng kāishǐ, dàjiā jiù dōu biànchéng wúshénlùnzhě la, jùshuō Zhōngguó bú xìnjiào de rénkǒu jū quán shìjiè zhī shǒu, yíbàn rén shì wúshénlùn, dàgài liù yì rén luo. Lìngwài yí bàn rén shì yǒu zōngjiào xìnyǎng de, chúle línglíng sǎnsǎn de yìxiē shénmíng chóngbài, fójiàotú dàgài yǒu yí yì rén, jiāshàng shǎoshù mínzú de yīsīlán jiào, yě yǒu 2000 duō wàn ba. Qíshí xiànzài xīfāng wénhuà chuánjìnlái, hěn duō rén yě kāishǐ xìn Jīdū le, dào xianzài yǐjīng yǒu liǎng qiān duō wàn xìntú. Zhìyú Dàojiào, zhǔyào shì pàibié tài duō, nányǐ tǒngjì.

Shǐmìsī: Nà zài Běijīng dōu shì xiē shénme zōngjiào de sìmiào ne?
Sòng xiānsheng: Dàduō dōu shì Fójiào sìmiào. Xiàng Yōnghégōng a, Tánzhè Sì a, hái yǒu Dàjué Sì, Yúnjū Sì, Fàhǎi Sì, Xuānwǔ Fǎyuán Sì, Hòuhǎi Guǎnghuà Sì, Báitǎ Sì děngděng. Lìngwài, xiàng Tiāntán zhè zhǒng, shì jìtán, gòngfèng shàngtiān de, jiù shi nǐmen suǒ shuō de "Shàngdì". Zhōngguórén xīngshèng duōshén chóngbài, yě bù zhīdào "Lǎotiānyě" shì nǎ ge, fǎnzhèng tǒngtǒng jiào "Tiān". Hái yǒu de, xiàng lìdài dìwángmiào zhè zhǒng, shì jìsì xiānrén de, zài gǔdài yě jiào "zōngmiào", zìgǔ guórén jiù duì zǔxiān fēicháng zūnzhòng, yǒu zhǒng "zǔxiān chóngbài" de zhuàngtài, xiànzài fānyì dào yīngwén, yǒu de jiào jìtán, yǒu de yě jiào sìmiào.
Shǐmìsī: Hǎoxiàng zhè lǐmiàn yǒu hǎo duō àomiào a, rúguǒ yǒu shíjiān, zhēn xiǎng duōduō yánjiū.
Sòng xiānsheng: Quèshí tǐng yǒu yìsi de. Suīrán dàduōshù dǎngyuán dōu shì wúshénlùnzhě, búguò hěn duō niánlǎo de yí bèi, hái yǒu xīnshēng de niánqīng yídài, dōu shì yǒu zōngjiào xìnyǎng de. Xiàng wǒ fùmǔ jiù dōu shì Fójiàotú, xiànzài měi ge chéngshì dōu yǒu hǎo duō Fójiào de sìmiào hé gōng xìntú huódòng de chǎngsuǒ, bǐrú "Jūshìlín" a shénme de. Zhōngguó zōngjiào xìnyǎng háishi hěn zìyóu de, dàxué lǐmiàn dōu yǒu Jīdūjiào de shètuán. Xiànzài yìxiē fādá chéngshì yě kāishǐ jiànzào jiàotáng le, Shǐmìsī xiānsheng nǐ yǐhòu xūyào de huà, wǒ kěyǐ dài nǐ guòqù, Běijīng yě yǒu hǎo jǐ ge dà jiàotáng de.
Shǐmìsī: Tài yǒu yìsile, yǐqián méi xiǎngdào zài Zhōngguó hái néng qù Jīdū jiàotáng. Huítóu děng zhǎo ge zhōumò, wǒ qù kànkan ba.
Sòng xiānsheng: Méi wèntí, wǒ gěi nǐ ānpái xià, dào shíhou yídào guòqù!
Shǐmìsī: Bú yòng bú yòng, Sòng xiānsheng nǐ shì bù xìnjiào de ba? Wǒ zìjǐ qù hǎole, wǒ yě hǎo zuò xiē dǎogào.
Sòng xiānsheng: Èn yě duì, nà huítóu wǒ bǎ nàxiē jiàotáng dìzhǐ fāgěi nǐ ba!
Shǐmìsī: Hǎo de, xièxie xièxiè.

Vocab and notes

在北京这一程走下来 Zài Běijīng zhè yì chéng zǒuxiàlái’ I’ve been walking around Beijing during this trip’. 这一程 zhè yìchéng = 这一次旅行程 zhè yí cì lǚxíng chéng 'this trip'. Note that 程 is not a measure word. 下来 Xiàlái indicates the continuation of an action.
发现 fāxiàn ‘discover, find out’
名胜古迹 míngshèng gǔjì ‘historical sites and scenic spots’
寺庙 sìmiào ‘temple’
一向认为 yíxiàng rènwéi ‘thought all along’
举头三尺有神明。 Jǔtóu sān chǐ yǒu shénmíng. ‘The gods are only a few feet above your head.’
所以 suǒyǐ ‘therefore, so’
平日 píngrì ‘ordinarily, usually’
求神拜佛 qiúshén bàifó ‘seek god or pray to the Buddha’
就连 jiùlián 'even' (informal for 甚至 shènzhì)
皇帝 huángdì ‘emperor’
例外 lìwài ‘exception’
格外 géwài ‘especially’
兴盛 xīngshèng ‘to flourish, thrive’
原来如此 Yuánlái rúcǐ. ‘I see.’
一般 yìbān ‘generally’
信教 xìnjiào ‘(practise) a faith’
大多数 dàduōshù ‘most’
基督徒 Jīdūtú ‘Christians’
不算 bú suàn … ‘leaving … aside’
重要时刻 zhòngyào shíkè ‘important times’
寺庙 sìmiào temple
并不 bìng bù ‘not at all’
代表 dàibiǎo ‘represent, mean’
宗教信仰 zōngjiào xìnyǎng ‘religious belief’
普遍 pǔbiàn ‘in general’
抱侥幸心理 bào jiǎoxìng xīnlǐ ‘have a sense of consolation/security’
觉得安心而已 juéde ānxīn éryǐ ‘they feel at rest and that’s all’.
以前 yǐqián ‘before, previously, in the past’
宗教 zōngjiào ‘religion’
主要 zhǔyào ‘mainly’
佛教 Fójiào ‘Buddhism’
道教 Dàojiào ‘Taoism’
其实 qíshí ‘actually’
一直 yìzhí ‘all along, always’
比较 bǐjiào ‘relatively, quite’
繁荣 fánróng ‘booming’
直到 zhídào ‘until’
成立 chénglì ‘establish’
现代化 xiàndàihuà ‘modernization’
进程 jìnchéng ‘process’
开始 kāishǐ ‘start’
变成无神论者 biànchéng wúshénlùnzhě ‘become an atheist’
据说 jùshuō ‘it is said that’
人口 rénkǒu ‘population’
居全世界之首 jū quán shìjiè zhī shǒu 'ranks at the top in the whole world'
6亿人 liù yì ‘600 million people’. Note that the major units above 1,000 (千 qiān) have multiples of four zeros: 万 wàn ’10,000’, 亿 yì ‘100,000,000’ etc.
咯 luo = 啊 a
另外 lìngwài ‘additional’
除了 chúle 'apart from'
零零散散 línglíng sǎnsǎn ‘scattered’
一些 yìxiē ‘some’
神明 shénmíng ‘god, deity’
崇拜 chóngbài ‘worship’
佛教徒 fójiàotú ‘Buddhist’
大概 dàgài ‘about’
加上 jiāshàng ‘in addition’
少数民族 shǎoshù mínzú minority people’
伊斯兰信仰 yīsīlán xìnyǎng ‘Islamic faith’
其实现在西方文化传进来 Qíshí xiànzài xīfāng wénhuà chuánjìnlái ‘In fact, currently western culture has spread/come in’
基督教 jīdū jiào 'the Christian faith'
至于 zhìyú ‘as for’
派别 pàibié ‘school, denomination’
难以 nányǐ ‘difficult to’
统计 tǒngjì ‘statistics’
像雍和宫 xiàng Yōnghégōng ‘like the Lama Temple’
潭柘寺 Tánzhè Sì ’Tanzhe Temple’
大觉寺 Dàjué Sì ‘Dajue Temple’
云居寺 Yúnjū Sì ‘Yunju Temple’
法海寺 Fǎhǎi Sì ‘Fahai Temple’
宣武法源寺 Xuānwǔ Fǎyuán Sì ‘Xuanwu Fayuan Temple’
后海广化寺 Hòuhǎi Guǎnghuā Sì ‘Houhai Guanghua Temple’
白塔寺 Báitǎ Sì ‘White Stupa Temple’
等等 děngděng ‘etc.’
天坛 Tiāntán ‘Temple of Heaven’
祭坛 jìtán ‘altar’
供奉 gòngfèng ‘consecrate, offer, sacrifice’
上天 shàngtiān ‘heaven, god’
所说 suǒ shuō ‘what you call’
上帝 Shàngdì ‘(Christian) God’
多神崇拜 duōshén chóngbài ’polytheism’
老天爷 lǎotiānyě ‘god’
反正 fǎnzhèng ‘anyway’
统统 tǒngtǒng ‘totally’
天 Tiān ‘Heaven’
历代 lìdài ‘successive generations; successive dynasties’
帝王庙 dìwángmiào ‘royal mausoleum’
祭祀先人 jìsì xiānrén ‘offer sacrifices to ancestors’
在古代 zài gǔdài ‘in ancient times’
宗庙 zōngmiào ‘ancestral shine’
自古 zìgǔ ‘since ancient times’
国人 guórén ‘fellow countrymen’
对祖先非常尊重 duì zǔxiān fēicháng zūnzhòng ‘very much respected (their) ancestors’
状态 zhuàngtài ‘form’
翻译 fānyì ‘translate’
奥妙 àomiào ‘mysterious, profound’
研究 yánjiū ‘research’
确实 quèshí ‘certainly’
有意思 yǒu yìsi ‘interesting’
虽然…不过 suīrán … búguò ‘although’
大多数 dàduōshù ‘most’
党员 dǎngyuán ‘(Communist) party member’
年老 niánlǎo ‘old’
一辈 yíbèi ‘a generation’
新生 xīnshēng ‘new(ly born)’
年轻 niánqīng ‘young’
一代 yídài ‘a generation’
城市 chéngshì ‘city’
供 gōng ‘offer, for’
信徒 xìntú ‘believer’
活动 huódòng ‘activity, event’
场所 chǎngsuǒ ‘place’
比如 bǐrú ‘for example’
还是 háishi ‘relatively’. Cf. 相当 xiāngdāng, 十分 shífēn and 比较 bǐjiào
社团 shètuán ‘society’
发达 fādá ‘developed’
建造教堂 jiànzào jiàotáng ‘build churches’
需要 xūyào ‘to need’
带你过去 dài nǐ guòqù ‘take you there’
想到 xiǎngdào ‘expect’
还 hái ‘still; also; even (c.f. 甚至 shènzhì)’
嗯 èn 'mm'
回头 huítóu (colloq.) ‘later’
周末 zhōumò ‘weekend’
我给你安排下 wǒ gěi nǐ ānpái xià ‘I’ll just arrange it for you’. 下 Xià is short for 一下 yíxià ‘just, a little’.
到时候 dào shíhou ‘at the time’
一道 yídào ‘together’
不用 bú yòng 'that's all right' (refusing an offer)
祷告 dǎogào prayer’
地址 dìzhǐ ‘address’
发给 fāgěi ‘send to’

Religion in China


Mr Smith: I’ve been walking around Beijing during this trip and I’ve found that very many historical sites and scenic spots are temples!
Mr Song: Yes, Chinese people have always thought “The gods are only a few feet above your head”. So usually if something happens, they can go and seek god or pray to the Buddha. The former emperors were not exceptions, so temples especially thrived.
Mr Smith: I see. Do Chinese people generally have a faith? Most people in the UK are Christians.
Mr Song: They don’t really have a faith, but in China most people go to temples at certain important times. However, that absolutely doesn’t mean that they have religious beliefs. Generally everyone just has a sense of consolation and feels at peace and that’s it. In the past Chinese religions were mainly Buddhism and Taoism and actually Buddhism has always thrived relatively until the establishment of the new China and the start of the modernization process, when everyone became atheists and it is said that China ranks at the top with the most people not believing in the world. Half the people are atheists, about 600 million. The other half of the people have religious faiths. Apart from scattered worship of some deities, there are about 100 million Buddhists and in addition I think there also are more than 20 million belonging to the minority Islamic faith. In fact at present western culture has come in, many people have started to believe in Christianity and nowadays there are already more than 20 million believers. As for Taoism, there are too many schools, so it’s difficult to get statistics.

Mr Smith: In that case, which religion are all the temples in Beijing?
Mr Song: Most are Buddhist temples, like the Lama Temple, Tanzhe Temple, and also Dajue Temple, Yunju Temple, Fahai Temple, Xuanwu Fayuan Temple, Houhai Guanghua Temple, White Stupa Temple etc. In addition the sort like the Temple of Heaven is altars for sacrificing to heaven, what you call “God”. Polytheism is thriving among Chinese people, and it’s not known which “gods” they are, but they are anyway always called “Heaven”. There is also the sort with mausoleums of successive generations of imperial families, which worships ancestors and was called “zōngmiào” (ancestral shrines) in ancient times.
Since ancient times Chinese people have very much respected their ancestors and there is a sort of belief which is a form of “ancestor worship”. Now when it’s translated into English some call them altars and others temples.
Mr Smith: It seems that this aspect is very mysterious, if there is time I would really like to study it more.
Mr Song: It’s certainly quite interesting. Although most party members are atheists, many of the old generation and many of the newly born young generation have religious beliefs. People like my father and mother are Buddhists and nowadays every town has many Buddhist temples and places for activities for believers, for example “Jushilin” etc. Chinese religious beliefs are relatively free and in the universties there are Christian societies. Now they have started to build churches in some developed cities. If you need one, Mr Smith after this, I can take you there; Beijing has quite a few large churches.
Mr Smith: That’s so interesting; before this I didn’t expect I could even go to a Christian church in China. Later I’ll look for a weekend and I’ll go and see.
Mr Song: No problem, I can make arrangements for you; let’s go together at that time.
Mr Smith: That's all right. Mr Song, you’re not a believer are you? It’s better for me to go on my own, then I can pray.
Mr Song: That’s also fine. In that case I’ll send you the addresses of some churches later!
Mr Smith: All right, thank you.

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