SOC 3110 Lecture Notes - Lecture 10: Zhou Dynasty, Feng Shui, Yellow Emperor

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Published on 19 Apr 2013
University of Guelph
SOC 3110
of 4
East Asian Religions
Early religious thought in China: HeavenHuman Earth
The inseparability of religion and culture
The syncretism or combination of religions
The people adhere to more than one religions, and yet some of them might
not be very “religious”
Examples: Confucianism, Taoism (Daoism), Yin-tang school, Chinese
“religions”? “philosophies”? “ways of life”?
Neolethic period (beginning the late fourth millennium BCE): Neolethic
Burials, Goddess worship, Believed in an afterlife
oOracle bones & divination
oHuman Sacrifice
oRole of Shamans – Kings as Shamans; “mandate of heaven”, different
from the Japanese belief
oHeavenly Deities, Natural Deities, Ancestral spirits, Sage Kings
Five Emperors:
oYellow Emperor
Geomacy –feng shui – Five directions, Specific colours, elements and
Confucius – Kong tzu
oAnalects –conversations with his disciples
oThe virtue of humaneness: a doctrine of reciprocity and
neighbourliness as the ideal of the moral character of human
o“Never do to others what you would like them to do to you”
oFive relationships, each with its norms and duties:
Ruler and minister,
Father and son,
Husband and wife,
Elder and younger brother,
Friend and friend
oThe ideal of “ren”: goodness, benevolence, humanity, human-
A later Confucian thinker, Mencius, is known for his declaration that everyone
has the potential to become a sage, i.e., upholding the basic goodness of
human nature, and evil is merely a deflection from the good.
Mencius’ idea was opposed by Hsun-tzu, who explains that the evil in human
nature: “Man’s nature is evil; goodness is the result of conscious activity.
The nature of man is such that he is born with a fondness of profit …
Therefore, man must first be transformed by the instructions of a teacher and
guided by ritual principles …”
Five classics
1. I-Ching – The Book of Changes
2. Shangshu – speeches by royalty & ministers
3. Shijing - poetry
4. Yili – Book of ceremonials
5. Chunqiu – recordings of the state
World View:
oThe universe a unity under heaven
oHumans are an integral part
oFor humans, family and society are the most important links to the
Heaven Principle
oHeaven regulates the world and the moral order
oThe world originated from the Heaven principle
oHumans had their genesis from the Heaven and Earth principle
oAncestor veneration
Life after death
oNo stress on a afterlife
oJoin the ancestors
Confucian way of Life – The Ideal: To live a life according to the Confucian
values in this world through family and society
Expectations of Humans
oTo observe official and ancestor rites
oHonor parents and fulfill familial obligations
oFunction within the state regulated rules and values
oExercising benevolence and mutuality with others
Major Social Institutions: Family, Elite class, State, Empire
oPhilosophical Taoism and Religious Taoism
o“The Tao that can be spoken of is not the real Tao.”
oThe universe is one, yet always in a state of flux.
Lao Tzu
oLived in the Chou dynasty
oTaoists follow the teachings of the Master Lao Tzu
The Tao
oIs the great Way
oThe pathway in which the universe is moving
oThere is no beginning or end
Human Life
oIts an expression of the Tao
oTo share in its never ending evolution
oOne may become immortal by mastering the Tao and its power
The interplay of Polarities
oThe benign immortals are honored and serve as helpers to humans
oTo live spontaneously and close to nature
oMeditate and perform rites that increase one’s immortal nature