Confucianism is based on the social and moral teaching of the Chinese philosopher known in his own country as Kung Fu Tzu (551–479 BCE). Many still think of it as a philosophy counselling consistency between one’s personal and social life. However, from the 7th century CE onwards it gradually transformed into a religious cult, borrowing from both Buddhism and Taoism but opposed to them. In the 17th century a school of thought developed which was known as The Way of Former Heaven (Xian Tian Tao) whose aim was to reconcile Confucianism with the other two and later still with Islam and Christianity. In its syncretism it may be compared to Sikhism; in its acceptance of and claim to reconcile other religious teachings it resembles Baha’i. Between the late 18th-20th centuries a large number of religious sects, practised at the popular level, grew out of The Way of Former Heaven and spread with the Chinese diaspora. One of the most influential nowadays, I-Kuan-Tao, is the third largest religion in Taiwan and has up to 2,000 followers in the West Midlands. Members meet regularly, especially on full moon days, to sing religious songs, to make offerings and prostrations at the shrine, to listen to expositions of the teachings and to study. All are strictly vegetarian.The symbol used differs according to the teaching lineages followed within the sects. The one above is adopted by the Birmingham Confucian Society. It incorporates the Chinese character for Confucius.More information from the St Martin’s College encyclopaedia.