China's culture can be traced back thousands of years before the common era and so can its religion. Before modern religions came about, China had already built up a religious world view that, in some respects, remnants through to today. In this philosophy, there is an earth, where we all live and work, and a heaven, where our ancestors live after death. While living on earth, it is important for a person to venerate the ancestors past; for although they cannot speak, the ancestors have quite a power over the world and have a tendency to send omens to the mortals below. The life of the average person is an escalation to the seat of heaven, and while one lives his or her life, the others around the person watch him or her progress in maturity to reside ultimately in heaven. The wisest man in a town is seen to be the man with the most years, and also as the man who was most heavenly. However, while on earth, a person must never forget their ancestors, and should make sacrifices and acknowledgments to those that have passed. Doing so brings about a better balance in the world, a balancing of the yin and the yang.
The yin and yang shown in the 'Diagram of the Supreme Ultimate' or the T'ai-chi depict a basic understanding among all Chinese religions. In looking to explain the forces of nature that dictated life, the ancient Chinese philosophers developed this concept to explain the many opposites in the world. The yin was the negative force, and is the dark, the cool, the earth, the moon, the shadows, and female. The yang was the light, the warmth, the heaven, the dry, and male. The yin and yang encompass varied forces existing in nature, where each force has a balanced opposite. A balance of the yin and yang must be attained for one to find happiness and comfort, and is best achieved in the words of Confucius by "taking the middle road".
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