Religions in Vietnam

Despite being deemed a Buddhist country, most Vietnamese people are atheists. There are 03 main religions in Vietnam: Buddhism, Christianity, and indigenous religions. Of those, the last one is the majority.

In most regions of Vietnam, the spiritual culture is a combination of 03 religions, referred to as the so-called triple religion, including Mahayana Buddhism, Confucianism, and Daoism. They remain a strong influence on the beliefs and practices of the Vietnamese.

Mahayana Buddhism is the bigger branch of Buddhism, of which the smaller one is Hinayana Buddhism. It is a religion derived from India and Nepal and a non-god religion. As for Buddhism in general, it is based on a doctrine in which life is deemed miserable and painful. Buddhism is the philosophy of misery and the path to rescue ourselves from misery.

The 02 other religions, Confucianism and Daoism are imported from China. The former one is initiated by Confucius while the latter one Laozi. Nowadays, Daoism is mostly popular in the countryside, which is a philosophical and religious tradition to advise people to live in harmony with “Dao”. It also popularizes a system of ceremonies and magics. Traditionally, Daoism features reverence for Laozi, immortals or ancestors, along with a variety of divination and exorcism rituals, and practices of achieving ecstasy, longevity, or immortality. Daoism also emphasizes naturalness, simplicity, spontaneity, and the “Three Treasures”: compassion, moderation, and humility.

Confucianism focuses on humanism, this world, and the family, not the gods and not the afterlife. Confucianism does not exalt faithfulness to divine will or higher law. It appreciates the cultivation of virtue and maintenance of ethics, the most basic of which are ren, yi, and li. Ren is an obligation of altruism and humaneness for the individuals within a community, yi is upholding righteousness and the moral disposition to do good, and li is a system of norms and propriety that determines how a person should properly act within a community. Confucianism holds that one should give up one’s life, if necessary, either passively or actively, for the sake of upholding the cardinal moral values of ren and yi.

Sound interesting? However, I do not follow any religion. I believe that Mother Nature is the highest force that has created the world and regulated everything inside the world by its invisible laws. As we are part of Mother Nature, we should do good things for the world so that, conversely, Mother Nature will support us.

The majority of Vietnamese now do not really understand the religions they are following. Thus, they often believe in divinity and create a more and more complicated and money-burning system of divination and exorcism rituals. They visit pagodas and temples to pray for big fortunes by serving divine worship. They spend a lot on exorcists and votive offerings. This results in a negative mentality with a bias of “something for nothing”. That’s why they often put change on alters in sacred places. They are devastating good traditions of Vietnam in terms of social norms, behaviors, and religions.

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