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Chapter Article Notes

MMW 12 Chapter Article Notes: Sima Guang’s Letter Against Geomancy


Department
Making of the Modern World
Course Code
MMW 12
Professor
Alexander B Stewart
Chapter
Article Notes

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MMW 12 Article Notes Sima Guang’s Letter Against Geomancy
Introduction
Palace official and historian during the Song Dynasty
Neo-Confucianism
Supporter of government authority, Confucian education, conservative morality,
importance of etiquette and ritual in everyday life
Written 1084
Condemnation of the practice of fengshui (geomancy)
o Unproven nonsense
Waiting for the perfect time and place for burial was unfilal
Motivation for geomancy selfish, not concern for the welfare of the dead
The Lamentable State of Things
Consider many factors like when they died, their social status, wealth, time of death,
personality when choosing when and where they can bury the dead
Burial can be postponed for a long time
Coffins can become abandoned or lost
This is worse than dying on the road without any family to bury you, where they just
cover you with a blanket and leave you there
Why People Are Wrong
Ancient tradition says a funeral has to occur within seven months of death
The current dynasty says the funerals have to occur within three months of death
Children should mourn thoroughly for their parents
People don’t follow these old rules
o They don’t mourn
How do they live with themselves?
The Correct and Reasonably View
Factors like social standing, the length of life, personality, etc. do not have any impact on
when and where a person should be buried
Doing this is leaving your parents exposed to wind and weather for your own personal
benefit
An Instructive Example: My Family
Family was too poor to afford a coffin, and could not bury them in it until enough funds
were raised
No wealth was placed in their graves
Called a geomancer and offered him a large sum to do the burial
o Not many were paid a large sum in these times, as they did not have the
influence and prestige yet
o Brother said that the geomancer must obey him, and the geomancer agreed
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