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Henry Shiu (55)

east asian

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Henry Shiu

Heaven (Tian) is a key concept in Chinese religions, and is the spectrum a synonym of "Supreme Deity". Tian derives from the name of the supreme deity of the Zhou Dynasty. After their conquest of the Shang Dynasty, the Zhou people considered Tian to be identical with the Shang supreme deity Shangdi and the concepts fused over time. Heaven is affected by man’s doings, and having personality (Zhou people gave him anthropomorphic attributes), is happy and angry with them. This is significant as this term is common among most East Asian religions but is debated upon by many scholars such as Mencius or Xunzi. Human have a special bond to the divine in East Asian religions (Tianren heyi [Heaven and human are one]). This was assured by communication between the ancestral spirits and their living descendants or through the actions of diviners or shamans. The bond between human and the divine was experienced in trances or spirit possession. This is significant as essentially all ritual referred symbolically or actually to a primeval union between humans and the gods. Earth (she) refers to an earthly deity and by extension its products, grain (ji), rivers and mountains. This term is significant as it is part of the early Chinese thought where governance begins with Heaven then to Human and finally to Earth. Confucianism is a Chinese ethical and philosophical system developed from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius. It is a complex system of moral, social, political and philosophical thought that has had tremendous influence on the culture and history of East Asia. The basic teachings of Confucianism stress the importance of education for moral development of the individual so that the state can be governed by moral virtue rather than by the use of coercive laws. This term is significant because it is one of the dominant religions of many East Asian countries but possibly because of governmental promotion. Confucius literally “Master Kong” was a Chinese thinker and social philosopher, whose teachings and philosophy have deeply influenced East Asian thought and life. His teachings may be found in the Analects of Confucius which was compiled many years after his death (when he became influential). His philosophy emphasized personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice and sincerity. Confucius is a significant figure as he is the founder of the Confucianism system of philosophy. Taoism (or Daoism) refers to a variety of related topics such as philosophical and religious traditions and concepts that have influenced East Asia and the West. The word Tao (or Dao) means "path" or "way". Taoist propriety and ethics emphasize the Three Jewels of the Tao: compassion, moderation, and humility. Taoist thought generally focuses on nature, men- cosmos correspondence, health, longevity, action through inaction, liberty, and spontaneity. This term is significant as Daoism is an important religion in the East but cannot be limited to doctrine; it is more of a relation between philosophy and physical aspects than a unified doctrine. Oracle bones are pieces of bone or turtle plastron (underside) bearing the answers to divination chiefly during the late Shang Dynasty. They were heated and cracked (which were interpreted), then typically inscribed using a bronze pin in what is known as oracle bone script (recorded important results or future events that fit with the oracle). The ritual was supervised by the king and questions were addressed to ancestral spirits. This term is significant as the records confirmed the existence of the Shng dynasty, which some scholars, until then, had doubted ever existed. Shaman is a person who is said to have a special ability to commune with the gods through knowledge and mastery of a “technique of ecstasy”. Shamans of ancient China (wu) are intermediaries in spirit cults, experts in exorcism, prophecy, rain making and the interpretation of dreams as well as magic healers. This is significant as kings in China or Japan even if not having direct shamanic powers (may have shamanic or divine descent) were considered the chief shaman (in charge of other shamans) and had the authority to call deities down at will. Huang-di or the Yellow Emperor is a legendary Chinese sovereign and cultural hero. He is often portrayed as the conqueror of evil forces and the bearer of civilizing benefits, including the invention of the compass needles. His wife teaches the people to rear silkworms and his chief minister invents writing. He is significant because he is one of the Five Emperors (Wudi) who were part of a legendary age of gods and heroes – there still is debate to whether they were divine or human. Zhuanxu (grandson of Huang-di) is little known and is sometimes said to be another name for Emperor Yao. Yao is remembered as a benevolent ruler who decides to pass the throne on to a man who is the worthiest in the realm (Shun). He is significant because he is one of the Five Emperors (Wudi) who were part of a legendary age of gods and heroes – there still is debate to whether they were divine or human. Shun is the legendary dutiful son who has a blind father and an evil stepmother. He earns the position from Yao because he is the most worthy in the realm. He is significant because he is one of the Five Emperors (Wudi) who were part of a legendary age of gods and heroes – there still is debate to whether they were divine or human. Yu is the great flood controller when the Yellow River overflows and floods large areas. He is the model hard worker who labours for thirteen years and finally succeeds in channeling the Yellow River into the ocean. He founded the first dynasty (Xia). Later, he is urged by a grateful populace to depart from tradition and make his son the heir to the throne. He is significant because he is one of the Five Emperors (Wudi) who were part of a legendary age of gods and heroes – there still is debate to whether they were divine or human. Analects also known as the Analects of Confucius, are considered a record of the words and acts of the central Chinese thinker and philosopher Confucius and his disciples, as well as the discussions they held. It was written during the Spring and Autumn period through the Warring States period. This book is significant because of the tremendous influence it has had over Eastern countries and is the primary source of Confucianism. Ren is the Confucian virtue of humaneness. Ren is also translated as “goodness”, “benevolence”, “humanity”, and “human-heartedness”. Confucius transformed ren into a universal virtue, the quality that can make a human being a sage. Ren is rooted in human sentiment and is a fundamental pattern for life. Ren mainly has to do with human relationships. This is significant as ren implies that moral merit, not noble birth should be the criterion for status as a gentleman. Mencius was a Chinese philosopher. Mencius gave his advice more bluntly than Confucius but state leaders regarded him as hopelessly impractical. He preached benevolence and righteousness at a time when might was right in the struggle for political survival. Mencius said that Heaven is present within the human’s heart thus givi
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