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RLG100 East Asia/ Confucianism

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University of Toronto St. George
Arti Dhand

Monday March 24, 2014 RLG100 EastAsia • EastAsia is a cultural region similar to how we think of Europe, a set sort of religion practices that spread across languages and states o China, Korea, Japan • Bulk of discussion based on China • Chinese worldview that had an impact of eastAsian culture • Focusing on Chinese ideas and Chinese development, development in religion that are exported out into the larger cultural region and come to form the Chinese view on society etc. • China has a distinct worldview • Abrahamic worldview had assumptions for the way the world came to be, god will judge us etc. • EastAsian worldview: o There is a positive appreciation of the world and it’s elements o There is an understanding of continuity from generation to generation, focus of reflection in EastAsian tradition  Great concern for lineage, idea that who I am comes from somewhere from my parents who emerged from someone else. Great interest in identifying and appreciating every element on that chain of being. o Great interest in the idea of harmony and order. What they’re trying to achieve at various levels is harmony not only in the individual and physical sense but harmony in all aspects, as a social organism, in governments, etc. o Basic ideal of eastAsian religions is to achieve the sobriety of the depth of a sage, become a sage individual. (wisdom?) • EastAsian religions in particular are Confucianism and Taoism, both of which are ancient and of distinct characters o Confucianism more concerned with evolving a system that’s comprehensive for all of society- not only about individuals but wants to think through achieving the welfare of all of society in a multi-dimensional kind of way o Taoism focuses more on the individual and individual health- psychological, mental, emotional, spiritual health o Compliment each other o Confucianism starts off with thought of one figure but it goes on to become a system that comes to inform the way society is established and the way government is established not only in China, but in all of EastAsia o The world has been going for a long time, and has a kind of integral pattern to it, this is what is often referred to as the Tao. The term Tao is one of the broadest and the most complex terms within Chinese culture, has great many meanings. The most literal sense of thinking is that it means way, the way things work and happen, the particular pattern and movement but it also has bigger and broader meanings. Idea is that creation is a sort of mystery and the Tao itself is the source of all this mystery. Tao as the source, mother, origin of creation. [Type text] [Type text] [Type text] • EastAsian literature spends less time talking about these kinds of things- how world came into existence and who brought it about etc. • Different texts put forward different idea of creation, how it happened, so there are some creation myths but there is very little, not the kind of heavy focus on ideas of creation, the concern is more with being in the world now • EastAsian religions are not theistic, their way of thinking about things is different from Abrahamic traditions. o Some idea of god maybe but it’s not a focus • There’s not a developed idea of God as central to eastAsian society • Chinese history neatly organizes itself according toa number of dynasties so the idea of china as a centralized kind of unit that is goverened by a ruler or emperor. The ideal in chinese history ahs always been to ahieve a harmoniously functioning empire under the leadership of one figure. The dynasty we will be most concerned with is the Zhou dynasty during which we see the Confucianism and Taoism emerging. 6 , 5 centuries when we see emergence of our major thinkers. • Alot of eastAsian thought focuses on the idea of heaven and on the relationship between heaven and earth. Whereas we might think of heaven as the residence of God, as something to be worshipped and looed up to, the Chinese perspective on this is a little bit different in that the Chinese traditions want to observe therelationship of heaven with other things, and basically Chinese though proposes a triad of three m
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