RLGA01H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 8: East Asian Religions, Yellow Emperor, World View

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3 Feb 2013
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Religion Lecture 8 (East Asian Religions)
Early religious thought in China:
heaven : the sky, what is above us-nature
earth: what standing on-nature
moral standards are on a decline this is presented by weather/nature
the king of the people is the son of heaven
emperor not behaving well, another reason the chinese would explain about
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"
taoism (Daoism)
yin-yang school-negative and positive elements.
chinese buddhism
"religions? " "philosophies"? "ways of life"?
Neolethic burials:
neolethic period (beginning the late fourth millennium BCE)
Goddess worship
Believed in an afterlife
oracle boens and divination
human sacrifice
role of shamans (king as shamans; "mandate of heaven",different from the
japanese belief)
heavenly deities
natural deities
ancestral spirits
sage kings
Five emperors:
Yellow emperor
Geomancy-feng shui
five directions
specific colours,elements and signifiers
5 elements
1. earth
2. wind
3. fire
4. water
5. air
Confucius-Kong Tzu
analects-conversations with his disciples
the virtue of humaneness: a doctrine of reciprocity and neighbourliness as the
ideal of the moral character of human relationships
"never do to other what you would not like them to do to you"
five relationships, each with its norms and duties:
-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, is known for his declaration that everyone has
the potential to become a sage example, upholding the basic goodness of
human nature, and evil is merely a deflection from the good.
mencius' idea was opposed by shun-tzu who explains that the evil in human
"mans nature is evil; goodness is the result of conscious activity. the nature of man
is such that he is born with a fodness of profit…Therefore,man must first be
transformed by the instructions of attacher and guided by ritual principles…"
Five classics:
1. I-chind: the book of changes
2. shangshu-speeches by royalty and ministers
3. shijing-poetry
4. yili-book of ceremonials
5. chunqiu-recordings of the state
World view:
the universe a unity under heaven
humans ar an integral part
for humans,family and society are the most important links to the universe
life after death
no stress on a afterlife
join the ancestors
major social institutions:
elite class
philisoophical taoism and religious taoism
"the tao that can be spoken of its not the real tao"
the universe is one, yet always in a state of flux
Lao Tzu
lived in the Chou dynasty
Taoists follow the teachings of the master of lao tau
The Tao:
is the great way
the pathway in which the universe is moving
there is no beginning or end
Human life
its an expression of the tao
to share in its never ending evolution
one may become immortal by mastering the Tao and its power
The interplay of polarities:
the benign immortals are honoured and serve as helpers to humans
to live spontaneously and close to nature
meditate and perform rites that increase ones' immortal nature
to support the temples, monasteries and taoist priesthood