Confucianism, the Literati, and Chinese Imperial Traditions

Religious Beliefs

Do Confucians believe in miracles?

Some have described Confucian teaching as philosophical in content and religious in function. As such, Confucian tradition focuses on the role of humanity in the greater scheme of things. It does not deny the existence a divine realm or the power of beings who inhabit that realm. Instead it emphasizes the importance of each human being’s full acceptance of his or her responsibility. About the rest we cannot know in detail. What we have to work with are the myriad small realities we confront every day. Countless wonders await anyone willing to observe carefully each detail of ordinary life. Confucius would not have approved of any approach to life that amounted to waiting for the gods to do what human beings alone are responsible for. As such, Confucian teaching is highly realistic. It does not deny the possibility of miracles, events beyond the ordinary. It merely suggests that people who are genuinely attentive to life as it unfolds already have more than enough to occupy them. Many devoutly religious people think of miracles as the ultimate cause for gratitude.


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