11. Ancient China was subject to the philosophy of Confucius and the religion of Taoism
Confucianism – the following of the philosophy of Confucius – was widespread in China, but was not a religion as much as it was an ethical system. Taoism is a religion which recognized many gods and goddesses. Its followers believed that there is a natural flow which is universal, and that it is necessary to allow oneself to accept it unresistingly, essentially simply going along with the flow. In addition to worshiping the many different gods and goddesses the Chinese worshiped their own ancestors, to the point of households containing shrines at which prayers and offerings were made to the dead of their family, in the belief that from the afterlife the dead could assist the living.
During the dynastic periods it was accepted that the emperor was selected by the universal force which governed all things, and thus religion and government were conjoined. The Chinese believed that the emperor, to comply with the Tao (the way), was meant to be benevolent in his dealings with his subjects, and that natural disasters were an indication from the universe that all was not as it should be. Too many natural disasters were an indication revolution was needed. Despite the focus on benevolence and acceptance, warfare was common across the lands which comprise modern China and with its neighbors, based on ethnic, religious, and political disputes. Numerous weapons, including explosives, the crossbow, and a manual of military tactics called The Art of War, emerged during the dynastic period, evidence that the belief in a benevolent universe did not extend to international disputes.