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Lecture 12

RELG 270 Lecture Notes - Lecture 12: Tao Te Ching, Gong Gong, Chinese Buddhism


Department
Religious Studies
Course Code
RELG 270
Professor
Eliza Rosenberg
Lecture
12

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18#February#2015#
Taoism:#The#Way#of#Nature#
#
The#Way#of#Chinese#Cosmology#
Confucius,#Lao@tzu,#and#Buddha#as#the#“three#vinegar#tasters”#
Synthesized#and#harmonized#around#the#shared#concept#of#tao#(“the#way”)#
Taoism#has#its#own#canon#and#doctrines,#but#also#tends#to#flow#seamlessly#with#“popular#
religion”#(a.k.a.#“folk#religion”)#
Tradition#of#synthesis#
#
The#Vinegar#Tasters#
Buddha@#bitter#notes,#Buddhism#sees#creation#as#suffering##
Confucius@#sour#notes,#humans#need#rules#to#be#kept#in#line#
Lao@tzu@#sweet#notes,#following#natural#order#is#good#and#right#
All#are#correct,#complimentary#thoughts#in#Chinese#history#
o General#Asian#practice#may#include#parts#of#all#ideas#
o Not#easily#separated,#Chinese#religion#complex#or#East@Asian#religious#complex#
#
Tao#(dào):#The#Way#
Idea#in#Taoism,#Confucianism,#Chinese#Buddhism#
o Isn’t#the#same#for#each#
o People#have#tried#to#harmonize#the#3#meanings#and#are#usually#practiced#together#
Taoism#emphasizes#“way#of#nature”#
o “Chinese#popular#religion”#or#“folk#religion”#is#influential#in#Taoism#practice#to#add#
things#not#covered#in#the#text#
Central#principle#sometimes#likened#to#a#deity#in#importance#
#
Creation:#Nuwa##
Taoism#has#no#creation#text/scripture#but#Chinese#folk#traditions#do,#which#sometimes#differ#
but#they#sometimes#harmonize#multiple#stories#but#never#disagree#with#what#other#peoples#
illustrious#ancestors#have#passed#down#
In#the#beginning,#the#square#earth#supported#at#its#corners#the#bowl#like#heavens#on#four#pillar#
mountains.#The#evil#sea@serpent#Gong#Gong#kept#sending#terrible#floods,#until#he#was#confronted#
by#the#fire#god#Zhù#Róng.#Defeated#and#ashamed,#Gong#Gong#knocked#over#a#pillar@mountain,#and#
the#bowl#of#the#heavens#tipped#toward#one#side.#
The#benevolent#goddess#Nuwa#then#made#replacement#pillars#out#of#the#legs#of#the#cosmic#
turtle/tortoise#Ao.#She#lifted#the#heavens#back#into#place#and#repaired#them#with#stones#of#five#
colours.#Later,#she#created#human#beings#from#the#yellow#earth.#
(Adapted#from#Noss)#
After#the#fight#things#are#off#balance#
o Disharmony#is#frequently#bad#in#traditional#Chinese#thought#
Yellow#earth,#soil#in#Asia#has#high#ochre#content##
#
Creation:#Pángu##
The#universe#started#out#as#formless#chaos#contained#within#a#cosmic#egg.#After#
18,000#years,#the#yin#and#yang#principles#that#had#warred#within#it#attained#harmonious#beings,#
and#the#giant#man#Pángu#awoke/was#born#from#within#it.#He#set#the#cycle#of#yin#and#yang#into#
motion,#separated#earth#and#sky,#and#each#day#he#grew#ten#feet#to#push#them#apart.#
Finally,#after#18,000#years#on#earth,#Pángu#passed#away.#His#remains#fell#apart#and#formed#the#
world.#His#head,#torso,#arms,#and#two#feet#formed#the#Five#Sacred#Mountains.#His#breath#became#
winds#and#clouds,#his#voice#became#the#thunder,#his#flesh#the#fields,#his#beard#the#stars,#and#his#
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bones#the#metals.#His#sweat#became#the#rain.#Last#of#all,#the#lice#of#his#body#became#human#beings.#
A#primordial#egg#is#a#common#allusion#
The#5#sacred#mountains#are#still#important#today#
Flesh#corresponds#to#soft#earth#or#soil#
Stars#on#a#clear#night#resemble#strands#of#a#long#white#beard#
Lice#of#his#body#became#humans,#not#very#noble#beginnings#for#the#human#race#
Balance,#everything#does#something#
#
Sources#of#Taoism#
Tao#Te#Ching:#Late#Spring#and#Autumn#
Classic#of#the#Way#and#Its#Power”##
“Way”#“power”#“book”#very#short#and#economical##
Attributed#to#Lao@Tzu#@#“venerable#master”#
Chuang@Tzu:#Warring#States#period#
Eponymous#
Reflections/observations#not#rules#
Not#as#authoritative#as#Tao#Te#Ching#
Daozhong:#Jin,#Tang,#Song#eras#(265@1279,#~1000#year#period)#
“Daoist#canon”#of#~1,500#works,#in#sections#
Compiled#in#Ming#era#(14th#@#17th#cen.)#
Compilation#of#traditions#and#other#texts,#some#rules#
Ethical#and#other#texts#(e.g.,#Mo@tzu)#
Use#of#existing#and#evolving#traditions#
Also#reflect#on#ancient#texts,#which#are#not#Taoist#
#
#
The#Beginning#of#the#Tao#(Te#Ching)#
The#tao#that#can#be#spoken#is#not#the#eternal#tao.#
The#name#that#can#be#named#is#not#the#eternal#name.#
The#nameless#is#the#beginning#of#heaven#and#earth.#
The#named#is#the#mother#of#the#ten#thousand#things.#
Ever#desireless,#one#can#see#the#mystery;#
Ever#desiring,#one#sees#the#manifestations:#
These#two#spring#from#the#same#source#but#differ#in#name.#This#appears#as#darkness.#
Darkness#within#darkness:#the#gate#to#all#mystery.#
(Ad.#Feng#Giafu#and#Jane#English#[tr.],#1989)#
Something#formless,#yet#lacking#nothing,#there#before#heaven#and#earth,#silent#and#void,#standing#
alone#and#unchanging,#revolving#yet#inexhaustible.#
Perhaps#it#is#the#mother#of#the#universe.#
I#do#not#know#its#name,#so#I#call#it#“tao.”#
If#pressed,#I#call#it#“great.”#(ch.#25)#
Taoism#emphasizes#the#way#of#nature,#way#with#humans#is#natural#and#is#the#way#things#
ought#to#be##
Sometimes#revered#as#a#deity#
The#Tao#should#not#be#understood#
“Tao#simply#is”#!#like#a#good#version#of#the#matrix#
We#do#not#understand#so#we#are#plagued#by#the#thought#of#contradiction#
#
Foundations:#Yin#and#yang#
Existence#is#a#cycle#of#ebbing#and#flowing#harmonies#of#complementary#opposites#
o Flowing#harmonies#of#complementary#forces#
The#true#tao#is#in#complete#harmony#with#this#cycle#
o Perhaps#this#is#tao,#perhaps#not#
No#long#narratives#or#
rules#for#behavior#
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