Thanks to Chinese 5000 years of civilization, numerous saints or sages appeared in China and made the great progress of human developments in all aspects. The glorious history of China to a most degree is the record of these saints and their contributions and influences to China’s all-sided achievements in ancient times. In summary, Chinese ancient saints can be roughly classified into several kinds as below:
Confucianism actually is the largest academic and ideological school in ancient China. By virtue of its pragmatic theory system and the inclination to serve the lord and emperors with its socialized thoughts in order to stabilize and systemize and harmonize the society and sovereignty, Confucianism is traditionally respected to be the national authoritative thought in different dynasties and also a large number of outstanding Confucians were interspersed in all walks of life. Confucianism is the most superior and popular school in ancient China. The representatives are Confucius, Mencius, Xun Zi, Dong Zhongshu, Cheng Yu, Cheng Hao, Zhu Xi, Lu Shouren and Wang Yangming etc.
Perhaps in folk community, Taoism is most welcomed, even many famous Confucians also indulged themselves in Taoism such as Su Dongpo, Wang Wei and Ge Hong. Actually in China, the difference between Taoism and Confucianism is vague, besides many Confucians are both the followers of Confucianism and Taoism. But socially Confucianism is closely connected with people’s class mobility and more easily accepted by different people in society, compared with Taoism which is more apt to naturalism and seclusion as well as mysticism. But Taoism is better for nurturing or educating the saints or sage in self-cultivation and natural science. The apperacne and development of Chinese traditional medicine get close to Taoism. The representatives of Taoist include: Huang Di, Lao Zi, Zhuang Zi, Lie Zi, Guo Xiang Wang Bi, Ge Hong, Sun Simiao, Lv Dongbing, Zhang Sanfeng and Wang Chongyang.
Buddhism is an exotic belief and ranked one of three superior religions if Confucianism is considered to be a kind of religion. Since its entrance in Han Dynasty it played an important role in educating the public and edifying the believers. It also brings the great influence to Chiense society, art development and philosophical refinement. The representatives are Xuan Zang, Jian Zhen and Bodhidharma.
Legalist school has been vanished or is renamed law toady. It shows China in early time appeared the emphasis and superiority of law and standardization to administrate the country. But it is a little bit different from the definition and orientation of law nowadays. Legalist in ancient time served the lord or emperor when the society in a mess. For example in early time of Qin Dynasty and Han Dynasty, Legalists were highly respected and their thinking was also highlighted in national policymaking. They were the decision-makers of government at the time. But exactly their thoughts were opposite to Confucianism, and they used to suppress Confucianism deliberately, so that is one of reasons why legalist school was vanished suddenly in later time of China. The representatives of Legalist School are: Han Feizi, Shang Yang, Guan Zi, Li Li, Shen Buhai and so on.
Mohism is a special school appeared in early time of China. It is mainly featured by craftsman who was the main composition of Mohism. They appealed for loving each other and avoiding attacking each other. They respected the sages and highlighted austerity, and they also disagreed the war for imperialism. But partially they refused the standpoints of Confucianism and eventually vanished in history since Dong Zhongshu appealed to standardize the thought with Confucianism. But actually it is strongly growing in folk China. Chinese folk craftsman is partly the successor of Mohism. The representatives are Mo Zi and Lu Ban.
Chinese people early took research into war and strategies for non-war or for everlasting peace. Most of ancient strategists were the troop leaders or militarists. They summarized their own battle experience or historic war experience into their own theoretical masterpieces. Generally they paid more attention to tactics such as the book named The Art of War created by Sun Wu who was said to be the Saint of War and the forefather of Sun Bin, another famous war strategist in ancient China. This book is reported to be the textbook of U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The representatives of strategists: Sun Wu, Sun Bin, Gui Guzi, Wu Qi, Wei Wuji, Bai Qi, Zhang Liang and Han Xin.
Except those who mentioned above, there are still a lot of saints in different fields in China. Such as Wang Xizhi crowned as The Saint of Calligraphy, Wu Daozi known as The Saint of Painting, Sun Simao famous as The Saint of Herbal Medicine, Zhang Zhongjing boasting The Saint of Chinese Traditional Medicine, Lu Yu welcomed as The Saint of Tea, Lu Ban known as The Saint of Chinese Craftsmanship and Du Fu known as The Saint of Chinese Poem.