Essay Topics Confucianism Taoism

Chinese Religions:
Sample Paper Topics

1) Classical Confucianism
  • Religious dimensions of classical Confucianism
  • Self and society in classical Confucianism
  • Culture (wen) and learning (xue / hsüeh) in Confucian thought
  • The relationship of ren (jen) and li
  • The relationship of heaven and humanity
  • Women in early Confucianism
  • Theories of government
  • Theories of human nature
  • Confucian self-cultivation
  • Confucianism as religious humanism

2) Classical Daoism

  • Huang-Lao Daoism
  • Critiques of language in Daoist philosophy
  • Zhuangzi's critique of knowledge
  • Water symbolism and the feminine in the Laozi
  • Wu-wei and spontaneity
  • Daoist conceptions of self, society, and nature
  • Daoist influences on Chinese art

3) Cosmology and Popular Religion

  • Permanence and change in Chinese religious thought
  • Meanings of nature in Chinese thought
  • Principles of Chinese cosmology and science
  • The cosmology of Chinese cities
  • Institutional and diffused religion in China
  • The family in Chinese religions
  • Ancestor worship
  • Gods, ghosts, and ancestors
  • Divination
  • The Yijing (I Ching)
  • "Civil religion" in China
  • Women in popular religion
  • Feng-shui ("geomancy")
  • Pilgrimage in China
  • Sacred mountains in China
  • Popular religion in Taiwan
  • The history and cult of Mazu
  • The history of Yiguandao (I-kuan Tao)

4) Daoist religious experience and practice

  • Daoist conceptions of the body
  • Daoist meditation
  • Daoist alchemy
  • Self-cultivation in Daoism
  • Daoist ritual
  • Women in Daoism
  • Revelation in Daoism
  • The Daoist Canon (Daozang)
  • The Way of the Celestial Masters (Tianshi dao)
  • The Orthodox Unity (Zhengyi) sect
  • The Complete Perfection (Quanzhen) sect
  • Daoist sacred mountains
  • Daoism and political movements in China
  • Daoism and traditional Chinese medicine

5) Chinese Buddhism

  • The Chinese transformation of Buddhism
  • Emptiness in Chinese Buddhism
  • Meditation in Chinese Buddhism
  • The development of Chan Buddhism
  • The Platform Sutra: history and myth
  • Major Chan teachers of the Tang dynasty
  • Major Chan teachers of the Song dynasty
  • gong'an practice vs. "silent illumination"
  • Pure Land Buddhism in China
  • Madhyamika (San-lun) Buddhism in China: the philosophy of Jizang
  • The Tiantai Buddhist synthesis
  • Huayan Buddhism
  • Women in Chinese Buddhism
  • Popular Buddhist movements in China
  • Buddhist sacred mountains and pilgrimage
  • Chinese Buddhist art / iconography

6) Neo-Confucianism (see bibliographies on Handouts page)

  • Religious dimensions of Neo-Confucianism
  • The revival of Confucianism in the Northern Song
  • Daoist and Buddhist influences on Neo-Confucianism
  • The social-historical background of Neo-Confucianism in the Song
  • Neo-Confucian critiques of Daoism and Buddhism
  • Theories of mind in Neo-Confucianism
  • The problem of evil in Neo-Confucianism
  • Women in Neo-Confucianism
  • What is new in Neo-Confucianism?
  • Zhu Xi's Neo-Confucian synthesis
  • The Lu-Wang school of Neo-Confucianism

7) Western religions in China

  • Christianity in China
  • Islam in China
  • Judaism in China
  • The Taiping Rebellion
  • The "Chinese Rites Controversy"
  • Catholic churches in China
  • Protestant churches in China

8) 20th-century critiques and revival of Chinese religion

  • Early 20th-century critiques of religion in China
  • Religion in the People's Republic of China
  • Theories of religion in the PRC
  • The Falun Gong movement
  • New religious movements in China
  • New religious movements in Taiwan
  • The "New Confucians"
  • The Buddhist Compassion Relief (Tzu Chi) Society in Taiwan
  • Buddhist and Daoist institutions in contemporary China
  • Government control of religion in China

Edit date: 8/31/09

Help Me Write About Taoism

Every month I get emails from students asking for help writing a Taoism paper and report. This page collates many of the commonly asked Taoism paper questions regarding the very generic template school questions asked to pass a letter grade system.

However, more importantly these Taoist answers will teach the student how to answer your own questions so instead of a school defining you to a school paper, you can turn the experience around and shake things up a bit. If you dare to push the boundaries… Because if you are to learn Taoism, then you must also be willing to break past any pre-assumed boundary the school system is trying to box you into, to step beyond the Taoism paper exercise.

If you truly want an “A” in writing a Taoist paper, you have to show some spunk and personal zeal other wise you are just parroting facts… and Taoism isn’t only about the facts,

Now some of my answers at times could seem flippant or avoiding the question. But in reality the answers are usually not about the question! The answers are about: how to help start a person to think and to explore the world. After all questions are doorways into exploration. Sometimes an answer must assist a person along rather than stop them in their tracks.

For each person I will answer differently depending on their perspective in life. It’s one of the reasons as a Taoist Guide as I am able to work with so many different people. Trying to answer questions in a one size fit all answer is just silly: as many of the answers here will be wrong for close minded teachers wanting fixed results never to change while being right for more open minded Teachers moving along in their life. So also know you have to allow these answers to shift to meet your audience’s nature.

Just because you are a student doesn’t mean your teacher isn’t learning from you.

This process is more than writing a paper.

It’s about how you live your life…

People merely limit their life to only be about facts. Those who do this, only live 1/3rd of a life and miss so much more that will always remain hidden from the facts.

Taoism is about freedom of expression, and school is in session, now…


Answers to 10,000 Student Questions About Taoism

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