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Lecture

RLGA01H3 Lecture Notes - Laozi, Feng Shui, Chinese Buddhism


Department
Religion
Course Code
RLGA01H3
Professor
Henry Shiu

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RLGA01 Lecture 08 (East Asian Religions)
Referring to the religions practiced in China; or brought from China to elsewhere
No belief in any deity or gods
Focuses more on the philosophy of life
Early religious thought in China: the 3 realms: heaven human earth; we are trapped between
heaven and earth; heaven means the stars and earth means what we are standing on
Inseparability of the religion and culture; they are one
Chinese usually practice more than one religion at a time
Examples of East Asian Religions: Confucianism, Taoism (Daoism), Yin-yang school (school of thought
that attempts to summarize what we see in our world into two elements, yin and yang), Chinese
Buddhism
Neolethic period (beginning of the late 4th millennium BCE): goddess person, believed in an afterlife
Shang Zhou Chu Xia: important people (?)
Other religious beliefs: oracle bones and divination, human sacrifice, roles of Shamans (leaders of the
tribes, sometimes doctors, claimed that they get “mandate of heaven” as a way to claim authority)
Chinese believes in all types of deities (not in the sense of God):
Heavenly deities
Natural deities
Ancestral spirits: people who have passed away but still overseeing you and your actions
Sage Kings: same belief as the ancestral spirits
Five emperors (semi-realistic):
Yellow Emperor
Chuan-hsu
Yao: remembered for passing down his throne not to his son but to someone else who is
smarter and able to be more successful
Shun
Yu: famous for the flooding problem of China
Geomancy (feng shui): five direction, specific colours, elements (earth, wind, fire, water, air, and
earth) and signifiers
Confucius (Kong tzu):
Analects conversations with his disciples
He lived in a time where there was a lot of war between the tribes in China
The virtue of humaneness: the idea of gratefulness and see everyone as equal
He talked about five relationships: ruler and minister, father and son, husband and wife, elder
and younger brother, friend and friend
The ideal of “ren”: goodness, benevolence, humanity, human-heartedness
A later Confucian thinker: Mencius, claimed that everyone can become a sage and must hold this
goodness within you and not let evil take over
Hsun-tzu opposed Mencius’ claim and said how evil is in human nature and in order to become a
sage you need to be guided by a teacher
Five classics (educating/teachings)
I-Ching: the book of changes
Shanshu: speeches by royalty and ministers
Shijing: poetry
Yili: book of ceremonials
Chunqiu: recordings of the state
World view (of Confucius):
The universe is a unity under heaven
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