People often see Confucianism and Daoism as two sides of the same coin, so to speak. Do you see this connection? Moreover, some say that Chinese culture is a fusion of Buddhism, Confucianism, and Daoism. In what ways do you think these belief systems fit together?
Though they appear in many ways to be diametrically opposed, Confucianism and Daoism share many fundamental concepts and assumptions. Both, for example, assume a cosmic order that is cyclical in nature. In addition, both Confucian and Daoist thought emphasize the ever-changing nature of things. Individuals' emotions, our social relationships, even governments and civilizations -- all go through seasons, just like the Earth itself.
A mother's joy at the birth of her newborn is like the freshness of new growth in spring. Our mourning at a loved one's death is also natural and right, just as natural and right as the cool breeze of autumn, or the still winters' snow covering leafless branches. All these conditions of life and earth are considered natural, wondrous workings of the universe. This acknowledgment and respect for all seasons is a prevalent trend in both Confucian and Daoist traditions.
We can definitely see influences from Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism in modern Chinese culture. For example, Chinese notions of filial piety — obedience to parents, and respect for one's elders for example — are deeply rooted in Confucian morality. At the same time, filial piety as expressed in Chinese social life also shows a characteristically Daoist/Buddhist emphasis on change and impermanence. Therefore, a person's obligations to their parents change with time as both parent and offspring mature into old age. A young child need only obey, whereas an older child should discover ways to financially and materially assist his parents. As adults, we owe our parents a uniquely different set of duties as they reach their end-of-life. Such duties and respects will, in turn, be paid us by our offspring as we age.
As the above example of filial piety demonstrates, The traditions of Buddhism, Daoism, and Confucianism are highly integrated in Chinese life and culture. It is difficult, if not impossible, to compartmentalize these various traditions. The have become seamless and fluid in Chinese social life and material culture.