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2013 Chinese Philosophies and Religions

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  1. 2013 Chinese Philosophies and Religions

  2. What is philosophy? • Literally: a love for wisdom • Typically asks Questions like: • What is the purpose of life? • What is a good person like? • What is success? • What is truth? What is knowledge? • How should I act in a situation? • Often philosophy and religion overlap

  3. Why did these philosophies develop? • War and social changes were disrupting everyday life • Government lacked control • These philosophies helped guide people and the government to a better life

  4. Religion In China • The religious history of China is complex, and has evolved over the centuries. • Deeply interwoven into their beliefs is the worship of their ancestors. • The Chinese believed that the spirits of their ancestors were watching over them, and that they could be called upon during difficult times.

  5. Chinese Folk Religion • Belief in spirits • Reverence for ancestors • Priests perform blessing rituals: • purifying space • Exorcising evil spirits (“hungry ghosts”) • Astrology • Divination

  6. Chinese metaphysics is about… • Energy • Change • Balance • Harmony • Inter-relationships

  7. Chinese Metaphysics Movement of cosmic energies: Rising Falling Expanding Contracting Rotating Represented by and expressed in the “five elements” of nature…

  8. Fire Wood Earth Water Metal The “Five Elements” Productive cycle

  9. Chinese MetaphysicsConcepts • Chi – life force, life energy (“ultimate”) • Yin-Yang – harmony of opposites • Yin = passive state of energy • Yang = active state of energy [ • Tao – the “way” of the cosmos, of nature • Heaven (t’ien) and Earth • “Mandate of Heaven” • Practical applications: I-Ching and Feng Shui

  10. The I-Ching“Book of Changes” • Ancient divination technique (at least 3000 years old) • Intended to guide humans in decision making • Based on combinations of lines representing the ever changing relationship between passive (yin) and active (yang) energy flow of heaven, human, and earth = yin = yang

  11. The Tri-gramsEight combinations of three lines each: heaven wind / wood lake Fire water thunder mountain earth

  12. Using the I-Ching Tool • Symbolism of the lines: • Upper line = energy state of heaven • Middle line = energy state of human • Lower line = energy state of earth • Two sets of trigrams are divined to create a hexagram • Use coins or sticks to divine one of 64 hexagrams • Use I-Ching text to discern meaning of the hexagram and any additional meaning for “changing lines” (energies on the verge of changing) • A skilled interpreter is needed to apply the generic meaning of the hexagram #31

  13. Feng Shui • The Chinese art of placement (geomancy) • Means “wind water”– symbolically, the constant flow of wind and water that creates constant change in the world also affects us • Uses the five elements and the eight directions of the I-Ching as the Bagua tool • Seeks to maintain constant and balanced flow of energies (chi) in a space for improved flow of energy in the people who use the space

  14. History of Chinese Philosophies

  15. The History of Chinese Philosophy • The Classical Age (6th century BC-2d century AD) • Confucianism (Confucius, 551-479 BC) • Daoism (Lao Tzu, 6th century BC) • Mohism (Mo Tzu, 468-376 BC) • The Yin-Yang School (founder unknown) • The School of Names (Logic) (Hui Shih, c. 380-305 BC) • Legalism (Han Fei Tzu, d. 23 BC) • The Medieval Age (2d-10th centuries BC): relations & conflicts between Confucianism, Daoism, & Buddhism • The Modern Age (11th century AD-Present) • Neo-Confucianism (incorporation of Daoist & Buddhist elements in an overall Confucian perspective) (Chu Hsi, 1130-1200 AD & many others) • 20th century impact of Western philosophies such as Pragmatism & Marxism

  16. The Uniqueness of Daoism How is a man to live in a world dominated by chaos, suffering, and absurdity?? Confucianism--> Moral order in society. Legalism--> Rule by harsh law & order. Daoism--> Freedom for individuals and less govt. to avoid uniformity and conformity.

  17. Origins of the Mandate • During the Shang dynasty (2000-1027 B.C.E.) the concept of “Tian” was created • Meaning: sky, heavens, god, the cosmos • idea of heaven • governed all creation • guided moral order 天

  18. Origins of the Mandate • Zhou dynasty (1120-221 B.C.E.) concept of “tian ming” • Mandate of Heaven • explains conquest and submission of falling dynasties • Divinely inspired process • Anyone could assume the right to rule • Tian, or Heaven, chose who would rule the people

  19. The Mandate of Heaven is based on four principles: • The right to rule is granted by Heaven • Which gives the ruler prestige and religious importance. • There is only one Heaven • Therefore there can be only one ruler. • The right to rule is based on the virtue of the ruler • Which serves as a check on the ruler's power. • The right to rule is not limited to one dynasty • Which justifies rebellion as long as the rebellion is successful.

  20. Origins of the Mandate • A dynasty maintained rule as long as they: • ruled with benevolence and justice • duties of the ruler were carried out correctly • Failure meant the Tian could choose a new ruling family • could not be selfish, cruel, or oppressive

  21. Dynastic Cycle • Represents a dynasty’s rise and fall • Cycle starts with winning the Mandate (approval) of heaven • Period of prosperity, marked by motivated and capable emperors • Apex (peak) marked by political, economic, and cultural flowering.

  22. Dynastic Cycle • Then the decline began, usually slow (sometimes quite rapid): marked by administrative corruption, repressive laws, and incapable and lazy emperors. • Dynasty would face rebellion and disunity, the loss of peoples’ support, and loss of Mandate

  23. The Dynastic Cycle Peak of Dynasty

  24. In Summary The dynastic cycle appears as follows: • A new ruler unites China, founds a new dynasty, and gains the Mandate of Heaven • China, under the new dynasty, achieves prosperity. • The population increases • Corruption becomes rampant in the imperial court, and the empire begins to enter decline and instability. • A natural disaster wipes out farm land. The disaster normally would not have been a problem; however, together with the corruption and overpopulation it causes famine. • The famine causes the population to rebel and starts a civil war. • The ruler loses the Mandate of Heaven. • The population decreases because of the violence. • China goes through a warring states period. • One state emerges victorious. • The state starts a new empire. • The empire gains the Mandate of Heaven. • (The cycle repeats itself.) • Kennedy, Bruce. "Chinese Dynastic Cycle." Killer Roos. 17 February 2008

  25. Key Chinese Dynasties A terra cotta officer from the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BCE) Emperor Taizong - Tang Dynasty

  26. Taoism or Daoism

  27. The Universe of Opposites: Find the Balance! Yin Masculine Active Light Warmth Strong Heaven; Sun Feminine Passive Darkness Cold Weak Earth; Moon Yang

  28. Yin and Yang • Negative and positive principles of the universe. • One cannot exist without the other • Each is incorporated into the other • Not Opposites, but Complements • Complete each other

  29. Taoism/Daoism

  30. Daoism Happiness and peace were gained by living in harmony with nature. Rulers were encouraged to rule less harshly. Influenced Chinese thought, writing and art. Daoism developed into a popular religion. Simple and natural living.

  31. Belief Systems (not religions) • Daoism (Taoism) • Universe is in constant flux • Many rituals meant to promote harmony • People should take the world as they find it • Concern about power or wealth is irrelevant, instead you should seek balance/harmony with your place in nature (Yin/Yang) • Allowed to continue by dynasties because of its emphasis on spirituality not secular matters • Popular with people who were interested in a more spiritual or religious philosophy

  32. Lao Tzu – founder of Daoism

  33. Rise of Chinese PhilosophiesDaoism • Founder: • Laozi • Ideas About Order & Harmony: • Understanding nature is key to order & harmony • Natural Order more important than Social Order • Ideas About A Universal Force: • Universal Force called Dao (aka “The Way”) guides all things

  34. Laozi’s Daoism Yang “What Is” Light Masculine Creative Active Heaven Life Yin “What Is Not” Dark Feminine Receptive Non-action Earth Death

  35. Daoism • Like Confucius, the philosopher Lao Zi studied human society. • He, too, searched for ways to establish an orderly society. • Lao Zi, the founder of Daoism, however emphasized the link between people and nature rather than the importance of proper behavior. • Scholars know little about Lao Zi, but that his thoughts are contained in the book The Way of Virtue.

  36. Daoism • A contemporary of Confucius was a teacher named Laozi. Most of what we know about Laozi is so heavily mixed with legend, that it is difficult to know what is true, and what is myth.

  37. Lao Zi [Lao-Tzu] Not sure when he died. [604 B.C.E. - ?] His name means “Old Master” Was he Confucius’ teacher?

  38. Taoism • Lao Tzu: • Was born around 640 B.C. • No one is really sure about any dates or places. The father of Taoism

  39. Taoism • Lao Tzu was not pleased with his people, so he left and went on a journey. • Lao Tzu was asked to leave a record of his beliefs with his civilization. • It took him three days to complete 5000 characters titled the Tao Te Ching.

  40. Taoism • The Tao Te Ching is in effect the Taoist bible. • It centers around the concept of Tao. Or the “path”

  41. Taoism • There are three meanings of “Tao” • Tao- The way to ultimate reality. This Tao is way to vast for a person to comprehend or fathom. • Tao- The way of the universe. The norm, the rhythm, and the driving power in all of nature. Deals more with the spiritual side then the Physical side of things.

  42. Taoism • There are three meanings of “Tao” • Tao- The way of human life. It refers to the way that we mesh with the Tao of the universe.

  43. Taoism • Just like the three meanings of Tao. All three were designed to facilitate the power of Tao through “te” • There are three types of Taoism: • Philosophical Taoism • Religious or Popular Taoism • Vitalizing Taoism

  44. Taoism • Philosophical Taoism: • Is a reflective look at life • Relatively unorganized • Teaches what you should understand • You work on improving yourself • Seeks power through knowledge • Sought to conserve “te” and not to expend is on friction and conflict. • Associated Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu, and Tao Te Ching

  45. Taoism • Philosophical Taoism: • Wu Wei- The perfect way to live life, and reduce conflict and friction • Combines supreme activity and supreme relaxation • The conscious mind has to get out of the way of its own light. • For one to perfect the wu wei lifestyle. • A lifestyle above excess and tension. As in Buddhism

  46. Taoism • Religious Taoism: • Became a full fledge church • Its programs are active • “The Taoist priesthood made cosmic life-power available for ordinary villagers.” • Their power was with magic, the harnessed higher powers for human ends. • Want to help transmit “Ch’i” to people that can not get it on their own. As in Buddhism

  47. Taoism • Vitalizing Taoism: • The programs are active • Relatively unorganized • Teaches what you should do. • Is a self help program • You work on improving yourself • Want to increase the amounts of Tao or “te” in their life • They do this through “ch’i”

  48. For centuries, Chinese artists have depicted Lao Zi as a kindly sage who embodies the ideal heart of Daoism. • Lao Zi advised: “Reveal thy simple self, embrace thy original nature, check thy selfishness, curtail thy desires.”

  49. Taoism • Vitalizing Taoism: • They want to remove the barriers that slowed the flow of “ch’i” • The power of “ch’i” • “could shift Heaven and Earth”