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Chapter ChineseReligion

RELG 270 Chapter Notes - Chapter ChineseReligion: Wced, Religion In China, Psychophysiology


Department
Religious Studies
Course Code
RELG 270
Professor
Eliza Rosenberg
Chapter
ChineseReligion

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Chinese Religions: Ecological Themes
David&Kinsley&
!
The$Nature$of$the$Universe:$“The$Web$That$Knows$No$Weaver”$
Unlike!biblical!religions,!in!Chinese!thought!and!religion,!the!cosmos!has!no!creator.!
It!is!complete!and!harmonious,!and!does!not!rely!on!chance.!Even!if!they!recognize!
the!existence!of!spirits,!gods,!goddesses!and!super?beings,!these!beings!exists!in!the!
cosmos.!Chinese!religions!also!believe!in!the!existence!of!heaven,!but!unlike!biblical!
religions,!heaven!is!a!part!of!the!cosmos!and!not!another!part!of!another!world.!
Biblical!religions!are!called!“salvations!religions”!because!humans!are!fallen,!and!
their!existence!on!earth!is!temporary,!until!they!return!to!heaven.!However,!in!
Chinese!religions,!the!religious!quest!is!to!is!to!remain!in!harmony!or!to!restore!
harmony!with!the!natural!rhythms!of!the!cosmos.!!
$
Continuity,$Wholeness$and$Dynamism$
The!cosmos!shows!three!basic!motifs:!continuity,!wholeness!and!dynamism.!$
!Continuity:!Since!nothing!exists!outside!of!the!cosmos,!everything!is!connected,!
dependent!and!continuous!to!each!other.!As!the!image!of!the!web,!is!strand!is!
connected!to!each!other,!and!the!whole!is!dependent!on!these!connections!to!remain!
stable.!
!Wholeness:!The!cosmos!is!not!a!part!of!anything!else,!and!it!is!self?contained!and!
complete.!Things!are!understood!as!expressions!of!this!wholeness.!They!can!
undergo!constant!changes,!yet!still!be!whole.!!
!Dynamism:!The!cosmos!is!dynamic.!Keep!in!mind!ch’i!(vitality!energy),!is!found!in!
everything.!The!cosmos!are!constantly!changing,!but!not!monotonously!nor!in!
repetitive!cycles.!It!is!always!transforming!in!an!open!system!tending!towards!
harmony.!!
$
Reality$as$Organic$
The!cosmos!is!considered!as!being!alive!because!everything!is!infused!with!ch’i.!In!
the!early!days,!ch’i!was!the!psychophysiological!power!associated!with!blood!and!
breath!so!the!cosmos!can!be!thought!of!an!organism!with!blood!and!breath.!
Although!there!is!distinction!between!beings!and!nature,!there!is!no!radical!
distinction!between!animate!or!inanimate!objects!in!nature,!and!subjective!and!
objective!aspects!of!reality.!Everything!has!ch’i,!therefore!everything!as!vitality,!and!
nothing!is!static!and!unchanging.!!
Since!the!cosmos!is!considered!to!be!always!tending!towards!harmony,!war,!
conflicts!(things!that!are!negative!and!destructive)!has!calm!and!tranquil!depths!
(sort!of!like!storm!waves).!!
$
Harmonious$Change$(Yin$and$Yang)$
Reality!is!composed!of!two!contrasting!yet!harmonious!polarities:!yin!and!yang.!The!
former!is!female!and!consists!of!the!moon,!cold,!water,!earth,!nourishing!and!
sustaining,!recessiveness,!autumn,!winter!and!north?facing!slopes,!and!the!latter!is!
male!and!connotes!the!sun,!fire,!heat,!heaven,!creation,!dominance,!rig,!summer,!
south?facing!slopes,!and!mountains.!This!idea!is!represented!in!the!t’ai&ch’i!disk,!

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where!yin!is!the!dark!color!and!yang!is!the!light!one.!The!curved!s?shaped!line!
separating!them!denotes!constant!motion.!!
!!Not!a!dualism,!but!rather!complementing!each!other.!
!Obvious!example!is!the!existence!of!day!and!night.!!
&
Feng)shui$(Chinese$Geomancy)$
Feng3shui!which!means!wind,!is!basically!a!technique!used!to!read!the!landscape!in!
order!to!position!dwellings,!buildings!or!graves!to!harmonizes!with!the!spirits!of!the!
land.!Following!this!method!is!supposed!to!bring!good!health!and!fortune.!
Consequences!will!follow!if!not!done!properly.!!
!Proper!position!is!related!to!heights!and!shapes!of!hills,!flow!of!streams!and!river,!
prevailing!winds!!
!Ch’i,!which!has!two!currents!(yin!and!yang),!are!symbolized!by!the!Green!Dragon!
(eastern!sky!and!spring,!positioned!on!the!left)!and!the!White!Tiger!(western!sky!
and!autumn,!positioned!on!the!right)!!!
!!The!most!desirable!feng3shui!site!should!face!south,!!on!a!slop!or!hillside,!
overlook!a!body!of!water,!and!be!protected!to!the!north!and!west!by!hills,!slopes!
mountains,!forests,!bamboos!or!trees.!!
$
Landscape$Painting$
The!concept!of!yin!and!yang,!and!feng3shui!is!usually!depicted!in!Chinese!landscape!
paintings:!
!Usually!these!paintings!have!mountains!and!water!in!harmonious!relationship!(I!
order!to!depict!the!harmony!between!heaven!and!earth).!!!
!The!landscape!is!usually!vibrant!to!show!that!everything!has!a!vital!force!(ch’i)!
and!everything!is!arranged!properly!to!portray!balance.!!
!!Humans/manmade!things!are!important!too,!but!are!shown!in!relation!to!the!
landscape!rather!than!dominant.!(In!contrast!to!western!painting,!where!the!human!
figure!or!manmade!objects!are!very!detailed!and!the!landscape!is!the!background!is!
of!little!importance.)!
$
Confucian$“Cosmic$Humanism”$
In!Chinese!traditions,!there!are!two!tendencies!when!it!comes!to!the!role!of!human!
beings:!The!Confucian!(important!active!role!to!play)!and!The!Taoist!(restrained!
role!to!play).!!
!The!Confucian!view:!all!creatures!and!beings!are!continuous!with!one!another!in!
the!sense!of!being!related!to!each!other!as!ruler!and!subject,!husband!and!wife,!older!
sibling!and!younger!siblings,!friend!and!friend!or!father!and!son.!
!Goal:!engineer,!coordinate!and!refine!human!society!to!be!in!harmony!with!the!
cosmic!rhythms.!!
!!Cosmic!Humanism:!Confucian!view!of!reality!where!human!beings!have!a!special!
role!(humans!are!somewhere!between!heaven!and!earth!and!can!be!perceived!as!
guardians!and!stewards).!
!!Humans!must!not!have!an!ego!due!to!their!role!
$
Taoism$(Letting$Be)$
Rather!then!to!improve!the!natural!world,!the!goal!is!to!flow!with!nature!in!a!way!
that!can!empower!you.!
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