There are several similarities between the Chinese philosophy of Confucianism and the religion of Buddhism. However, there are some important differences as well. This chart compares the two belief systems and their practices.

Comparison chart

Buddhism versus Confucianism comparison chart
Edit this comparison chartBuddhismConfucianism
Place of worship/ veneration Buddhist monasteries, temples, shrines are places of worship, with advising priests. Originally sites of the administration of imperial examination, not religious places of worship. Confucian temples today are for the veneration of Confucius. Confucian temples are not really religious sites and have no priests and spiritual beings.
Practices Meditation, the Eightfold Path; right view, right aspiration, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration Visit to temples to pay homage to Ti'en (while it can refer to God or Heaven, it traditionally refers to social power), Confucius, and ancestors; To practice ('Jing zuo, ') or 'Quiet Sitting', a neo-Confucian seeking of self-cultivation.
Place of origin Indian subcontinent China
Use of statues and pictures Common. Statues are used as meditation objects, and revered as they reflect the qualities of the Buddha. Permitted.
Belief of God The idea of an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent creator is rejected by Buddhists. The Buddha himself refuted the theistic argument that the universe was created by a self-conscious, personal God. Depending on the religion held, usually Buddhist. Confucianism is not strictly a religion but rather advises a schema of social order.
Goal To attain enlightenment and be released from the cycle of rebirth and death, thus attaining Nirvana. To have a structured society.
Life after death Rebirth is one of the central beliefs of Buddhism. We are in an endless cycle of birth, death and re-birth, which can only be broken by attaining nirvana. Attaining nirvana is the only way to escape suffering permanently. Ancestors and heritage is important, but not worshiped.
Founder The Buddha (born as Prince Siddhartha) Kong Qiu (Confucius)
Literal Meaning Buddhists are those who follow the teachings of the Buddha. Disciple of Confucius.
Clergy The Buddhist Sangha, composed of bhikkhus (male monks) and bhikkhunis (female nuns). The sangha is supported by lay Buddhists. Bureaucrats.
Human Nature Ignorance, as all sentient beings. In the Buddhist texts, it is seen that when Gautama, after his awakening, was asked whether he was a normal human being, he replied, "No". Humans should respect those who are superior to them.
View of the Buddha The highest teacher and the founder of Buddhism, the all-transcending sage. Buddha is followed by many Confucians.
Original Language(s) Pali(Theravada tradition) and Sanskrit(Mahayana and Vajrayana tradition) Mandarin or Cantonese
Followers Buddhists Confucianists
Scriptures Tripitaka - a vast canon composed of 3 sections: the Discourses, the Discipline and the Commentaries, and some early scriptures, such as the Gandhara texts. Analects of Confucius and Mencius; I Ching; Doctrine of Mean, etc.
Status of women No distinctions between men and women. Women are equal to men, and men are equal to women in the Sangha. The Buddha gave Men and Women equal rights and a major part in the Sangha. Socially inferior to men.
Principle This life is suffering, and the only way to escape from this suffering is to dispel one's cravings and ignorance by realizing the Four Noble Truths and practicing the Eightfold Path. Confucianism is all about the brotherhood of humanity.
View of other Dharmic religions Since the word Dharma means doctrine, law, way, teaching, or discipline, other Dharmas are rejected. Confucianists usually follow Buddhism, which is a Dharmic religion.
Holy days/Official Holidays Vesak day in which the birth, the awakening, and the parinirvana of the Buddha is celebrated. Chinese New Year, Teacher Day, Ancestor Day.
Time of origin 2,500 years ago, circa 563 B.C.E. (Before Common Era) Approx. 550 B.C.E.(Before Common Era)
Goal of Philosophy To eliminate mental suffering. Social Harmony.
Views on Other Religions Being a practical philosophy, Buddhism is neutral against other religions. Confucianists see no contradiction in following more than one religion.
Can atheists partake in this religion's practices? Yes. Yes.
Geographical distribution and predominance (Majority or strong influence) Mainly in Thailand, Cambodia, Sri lanka, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet, Japan, Myanmar (Burma), Laos, Vietnam, China, Mongolia, Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Other small minorities exist in other countries. Asia.
Concept of Deity n/a. According to some interpretations, there are beings in heaven realms but they are also bound by "samsara". They may have less suffering but have not yet achieved salvation (nibbana) Most believe in One God, but this is not necessary since Confucianism is not a religion but a belief system about social ordering.
What They Believe The principle of equality: that all living entities are equal Confucianism is a system of thought based on the teachings of Kong Zi, Master Kong

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Further Reading

For further reading, there are several books available on Amazon.com on Buddhism and Confucianism.

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