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Ethics and Community

Community Organization

In many ways, local communities are the heart of Chinese civilization. Religious groups sometimes provide leadership, meeting places, and social services to their communities; at other times clans or secular organizations have taken on this role.


Apart from Buddhist and Taoist clergy, examples of Chinese religious specialists include mediums, diviners, feng shui practitioners, healers, and astrologers. These may operate independently or as part of religious organizations.

Principles of Moral Thought and Action

In China, these include respect for elders and leaders, an obligation to promote harmony within one's family and community. Buddhist precepts such as prohibitions against killing, lying, stealing, and sexual misconduct are also honored.

Vision for Society

The Chinese vision is of a harmonious society in which every member has a place and a purpose. Individual self-improvement is undertaken not only for one's own benefit, but also for the benefit of society.

Gender and Sexuality

Traditional Chinese biases have been exemplified by practices such as foot-binding and female infanticide, and by the custom among the nobility of having multiple wives and concubines. Lives as Buddhist or Taoist nuns provided greater opportunities for education, leadership roles, and independence. In today's China, great strides have been made toward gender equality.