Zhou Syncretism and Humanistic Religion During the Zhou dynasty, these beliefs were assimilated and consolidated, especially in the western Zhou. The individual traditions did not disappear, but society and scholars drew together important elements from all of them to bolster secular institutions along with religious ideas and practices. Divination and other animistic magical prac- tices continued. But at the same time, thinkers and religious practitioners combined them with other religious tra- ditions, picking what seemed best from each to form a new body of doc- trines and rituals. It was truly a syncretism—a generally contrived and strained sense of integration that would last for a few centuries and finally begin to fall apart under that strain. Then, new diverse religious strands would unravel, to be brought back together in a second syncretism dis- cussed below. This is how China’s religious traditions have evolved amid the diversity and immensity of the Chinese religious universe—an interplay of unity and difference.
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