In Taoism and Confucianism, how are religious experiences helped by the practice of the rituals of these religions?
Taoism and Confucianism both seek harmony through religious ritual practice aimed at unity with unseen spiritual forces.
Mostly, Taoist ritual is largely conducted by priests attached to temples, with loyalty and offerings to temples being the most outward form of religious practice by lay people. Meditation, purification, and offerings to deities combine as the mainstays of ritual in Taoism. Priests, with their assistants, also dance and perform mystical music, mostly from wind and percussion instruments. An example of the partnership of lay worshiper in priest-led worship is the chiao (jiao)—many rituals combined into a cosmic renewal rite. All households in a village contribute individual offerings to the community’s deities. The offerings are dedicated by the Taoist priest in the names of the families. The goal is to restore order to the universe, with town peace and prosperity sought from the gods.
The private and public honor paid to ancestors is the best known and key ritual of Confucianism. By some analysis the Confucian way of life is defined as an ethical route, with outward religiosity centered on burial and ancestor honor procedures. Most identified with China, but hardly limited to that nation, Confucianism seeks harmony in the form of order of national, community, and family life. Dead relations, properly buried, mourned, and remembered by family members are seen as the mainstays of a harmonious society.
The practitioners of both traditions find peace and harmony in their lives from the unseen forces guiding them because of their ritual participation.