Religion in Hong Kong: an important part of society

Hong Kong was a former British colony located in Southeast China. Religion in Hong Kong is involved in the education of the people. Indeed, the rules and principles derived from religions contribute not only to improving relations between people, but also their relationship with nature. Nearly half of the population of Hong Kong turn out to be atheists, while the majority religion remains the traditional Chinese religion.

What is a traditional Chinese religion?

Since 1978, in People’s China, the state has limited the number of religions in Hong Kong to five, namely Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism. The traditional Chinese religion includes Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. However, the first is a foreign tradition while the other two are local traditions. Considered at the base by the people as traditional and non-religious practices, it is possible to mix and combine several practices and beliefs among them. Indeed, in China, it is not compulsory to adhere to a single belief, which favours polytheism. As a result, people are free to call themselves Buddhist, but at the same time they can freely practice the rites associated with Confucianism. Nearly half of Hong Kongers choose to practice the traditional Chinese religion, but some of them have converted to Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism.

How does Buddhism participate actively in Hong Kong society?

It is both a world-famous religion and philosophy. Indeed, it is the religion of the Buddha and it is based on the awakening of the individual who must extinguish his or her selfish desires in order to stop suffering. It is practiced in a temple or in a quiet place and Hong Kong has a large quantity of it in its city. It is the religion where one generally meets monks. But in Hong Kong, it is impossible to meet them even in the temples. This religion is based on meditation and requires its practising monks to shave as a token of their renunciation of the material world. Moreover, the teaching of Buddhism, at the end of the awakening of man, emphasizes three qualities in the latter, namely openness, clarity and compassion. Men practising this religion are more tolerant and are more likely to develop a selfless love of good. This relationship has proven the value of self-sacrifice at the expense of others as well as charity.

What has Taoism brought to Hong Kong society?

Taoism is the second most widely practiced religion in Hong Kong. It was founded by Lao Tzu. It emphasizes the existence of a vital road or path associated with everything. This principle called “tao” encompasses various elements including the progression of the mind towards God, the balance of Yin and Yang, the value of good deeds and naturalism. The latter refers to the fact that it is the causes. The explanation and end of all things are natural. In other words, the tao refers to the life force that all things in this world possess. This religion is based on 4 principles which are the search for the personal way through one’s heart and mind to be able to live in harmony, the search for wisdom by passing happiness and fullness, the productive passivity which consists in not trying to rule the world and finally the favoring of the natural state to civilization. Thus, it is intended to make people self-reliant despite technical progress, pacifying and sociable, but more importantly, it promotes man’s communion with the nature around him.

What are the basic principles of the Confucian religion?

Although it does not appear to be a government-authorized religion, many people practice it as a complement to Buddhism or Taoism. Furthermore, it should be noted that Taoism and Confucianism are considered rivals even though their ideologies are the same. Indeed, drawn from the teaching of Confucius, it also allows the attainment of wisdom on both a personal and a collective level. These contributions to society are thus comparable to the contributions of Taoism. However, this religion maintains that it is possible to reform a society only by first going through the individual and his family. It asserts that man alone is responsible for his choices, for he can choose to become good just as he can choose to become bad. He empowers the man who lives in society by confronting him with choices and teaching him to accept them. This religion also possesses the faculty of inculcating obedience to the powerful in man, which will be very useful to him in harmonizing life in society.