Christian Churches of God

Mysticism Chapter 8 East Asia - China and Japan (No. B7_8)

(Edition 1.0 19900920-20001216)

The origins of the religious systems of China and Japan like the history of their movements have been obscured. Neither nation’s history is as old as has been claimed. Their religious systems show derivation from the ancient Indo-Aryan systems and are readily identifiable.

 


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(Copyright ã 2000 Wade Cox)

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East Asia – China and Japan

Origins of the Chinese

The Move from the West

E.T.C. Werner was to write in 1922 in Myths and Legends of China, Graham Brash (Pte) Ltd, Singapore, 1988 reprint:

Pending the discovery of decisive evidence, the following provisional conclusion has much to recommend it - namely, that the ancestors of the Chinese people came from the west, from Akkadia or Elam (Mesopotamia or Modern Iran), or from Khotan, or (more probably) from Akkadia or Elam via Khotan, as one nomad or pastoral tribe or group of nomad or pastoral tribes, or as successive waves of immigrants, reached what is now China Proper at its north-west corner, settled round the elbow of the Yellow River, spread north-eastward, eastward and southward, conquering, absorbing, or pushing before them the aborigines into what is now South and South-west China. These aboriginal races, who represent a wave or waves of neolithic immigrants from Western Asia earlier than the relatively high-headed immigrants into North China (who arrived about the twenty-fifth or twenty-fourth century B.C.), and who have left so deep an impress on the Japanese, mixed and intermarried with the Chinese in the south, eventually producing the pronounced differences, in physical, mental, and emotional traits, in sentiments, ideas, languages, processes, and products, from the Northern Chinese which are so conspicuous at the present day (p. 17).

Early China was a comparatively small region. This:

territory round the elbow of the Yellow River had an area of about 50,000 square miles, and was gradually extended to the sea-coast on the north-east as far as longitude 119o, when its area was about doubled. It had a population of perhaps a million, increasing with the expansion to two millions. This may be called infant China. Its period (the Feudal Period) was in the two thousand years between the twenty-fourth and third centuries B.C. (p. 18).

This is the area where the modern provinces of Shansi, Shensi, and Honan join and which was extended in an easterly direction to the Gulf of Chihli, some 600 miles long by 300 miles broad. During the first two thousand years this area remained fairly constant but in the south, chou or colonies, the nuclei of Chinese population, increased in size through the conquest of neighbouring territory.

According to the Historians' History of the World, vol. XXIV, at p. 542, the first tangible monarch of the Chinese was Hwang-ti. His tomb is preserved in Shensi province. His wife's name was Empress Se-Ling-she. He allegedly reigned in the twenty-seventh century BCE, however, this early history is somewhat apocryphal. Confucius (Kung-Fu-Tse) (549 BCE) gives some historical data from the reign of Yaou allegedly from 2356 BCE, but this does not stand criticism (ibid.). He was succeeded by Shun as king. On the death of Shun, the "Great" Yu, who was employed to drain off the waters of the flood, which had visited China, became king. The calibre of the kings declined until Kee (1818-1766 BCE) was so despotic that his house was obliterated and the new dynasty Shang commenced. The ruler, Tang, was apparently just and abolished oppression. Curiously he ruled at the time of a seven-year drought. The famine of Genesis 41:54 may, in fact, actually have been in 'all' lands. In 1153 BCE the Shang Dynasty ended and the tyrant Chow ruled the 'empire'. About 1121 BCE ambassadors came from what is termed Cochin China (i.e. Southern Vietnam, formerly part of Indo-China).

From the analysis by Bernard Karlgren in A Catalogue of the Chinese Bronzes in the Alfred F. Pillsbury Collection, (The University of Minnesota Press, for the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 1952); there appear to be four main style periods prior to the Ch'in. These are Yin-Shang (1525-1028 BCE), Early Chow (1027-c.900 BCE), Middle Chow (c.900-c.600 BCE) and Huai (c. 600-c.222 BCE). These identifications may prove of significance in identifying alteration in cultural and religious systems. The cut off point is at 1525 BCE for the forms of Bronze decor and this may also be of significance in isolating early movements from mythical time scales.

A little more than two hundred years before the Christian era, China became subject to a fourth dynasty, called Tsin (Sinnim? Or Ch'in/China). The ruler of this dynasty, who incidentally caused, by drafting every third man, the construction of the Great Wall of China to keep out the northern tribes; attempted to establish a dynasty which reigned from the beginning to the end of time by collecting and burning all known records. However, this was thwarted by the discovery of the books of Confucius and his dynasty became extinct on the death of his son. (ibid., p. 543). The Han then commenced to expand the empire.

This destruction of records necessarily places great reliance on the accuracy of Confucius, but from what we know from ethno-linguistic and anthropological studies, we can construct a fairly accurate picture of the social and religious structure of the tribes of East Asia from earliest times.

In 221 BCE, all the feudal states into which this territory had been divided and which had incessantly fought with one another, were subjugated and absorbed by the state of Ch'in (supposedly hence China). The monarchical form of government, which was to last twenty- one centuries, was established (Werner, pp. 26-27).

During the first centuries of the Monarchical Period, which lasted from 221 B.C. to A.D. 1912, it had expanded to the south to such an extent that it included all of the Eighteen Provinces constituting what is known as China Proper of modern times, with the exception of a portion of the west of Kansu and the greater portions of Ssuch'uan and Yunnan. At the time of the Manchu conquest at the beginning of the seventeenth century A.D. it embraced all the territory lying between latitude 18o and 40o N. and longitude 98o and 122o E. (the Eighteen Provinces or China Proper), with the addition of the vast outlying territories of Manchuria, Mongolia, Ili, Koko-nor, Tibet, and Corea, with suzerainty over Burma and Annam - an area of more than 5,000,000 square miles, including the 2,000,000 square miles covered by the Eighteen Provinces. Generally, this territory is mountainous in the west, sloping gradually down toward the sea on the east (p. 18).

It is generally accepted that, on their arrival, the Chinese fought with the aboriginal tribes, exterminating, absorbing or driving them south. The Han Dynasty lasted from 205 BCE to 226 CE and was distinguished by its military prowess. The Chinese as late as this century were still fond of referring to themselves as the sons of Han. Between 194 BCE and 1414 CE the Chinese annexed Korea, Sinkiang (known as the new territory or Eastern Turkestan), Manchuria, Formosa, Tibet and Mongolia. Tibet was again added to the empire under Sun-che (1644-1661) at the establishment of the Manchu-tartar [Ta] tsing (great pure) dynasty. Formosa and Korea were annexed by Japan in 1895 and 1910 respectively. Werner holds that:

the Chinese 'picked out the eyes of the land' and consequently the non-Chinese tribes now live in the unhealthy forests or marshes of the south, or in mountainous regions difficult of access, some even in trees (a voluntary, not a compulsory promotion), though several, such as the Dog Jung in Fukien, retain settlements like islands among the ruling race.

In the third century B.C. began the hostile relations of the Chinese with the northern nomads, which continued throughout the greater part of their history. During the first six centuries A.D. there was intercourse with Rome, Parthia, Turkey, Mesopotamia, Ceylon, India, and Indo-China, and in the seventh century with the Arabs. Europe was brought within the sociological environment by Christian travellers. From the tenth to the thirteenth century the north was occupied by Kitans and Nuchens, and the whole Empire was under Mongol sway for eighty-eight years in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Relations of a commercial and religious nature were held with neighbours during the following four hundred years. Regular diplomatic intercourse with Western nations was established as a result of a series of wars in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (pp. 20-21).

China aquired and lost territory on numerous occasions during the course of its history. From 73 to 48 BCE "'all Asia from Japan to the Caspian Sea was tributary to the Middle Kingdom' i.e. China" (ibid., p. 27). During the Southern Sung dynasty (1127-1280) the Mongol Tartars owned the northern half of China, as far down as the Yangtze River, and in the Yuan dynasty (1280-1368) they conquered the whole country. During the period 1644-1912 it was under the rule of the Manchus.

 

Chinese Religion

Early Systems

Our knowledge of Chinese religions prior to the incursions of the Indian systems, predominant of which was Buddhism and which itself became adapted to the Shamanism in the North as Mahayana or greater vehicle Buddhism; and also the teachings of Lao-Tse and Taoism, is significantly dependent upon the writings of Confucius. Early Chinese religion has a twofold aspect. There seems little doubt that the religion of the masses is Animism or nature worship, which concentrates significantly on the deification of ancestors. There is also no doubt that there was an early system of Philosophical Theology, which postulated a dual system of creation, where there was a twofold aspect of being, which incorporated passive matter and active force. The active or Yang force was a heavenly (Tien) paternal force and the passive or Yin force is the earthly maternal force. The extent to which this force was monotheist is much disputed. The entity Shang-ti or "exalted ruler" within the heavens or Tien has as a composite characteristic, all the divine attributes associated with Monotheism; namely, "omniscience, highest love and wisdom, omnipotence and the like" (Historians' History etc. p. 526). But it is argued that the heavens themselves are the creative forces and not a spiritual personality. This concept caused confusion amongst early missionaries who were looking for a trinitarian Godhead, which was itself a syncretic derivation and logically incoherent as demonstrated in the work on the Godhead and the original doctrines (cf. Cox, Creation: From Anthropomorphic Theology to Theomorphic Anthropology (No. B5), CCG, 1992, 2000). The early Christians in China were Unitarians and not Trinitarians (cf. Cox, loc. cit. (No. 122)).

To what extent the system was Monotheist is open to dispute. It may well have been so and altered over time to adapt to animism with the creative force inherent in the eternal universe. Certainly the work done by Kang and Nelson (The Discovery of Genesis, Concordia Publishing House, St Louis, 1979) is a very plausible construction of the existence of Monotheism in early China, from an analysis of the ancient linguistic forms. There are serious objections to the work from the attempts at asserting a Trinitarian structure and the suppositions involved appear contrived in some cases to obtain a triune concept. Many words are in fact indicative of Mysticism rather than Monotheism where for example the final radical of the word for ‘spirit’ is in fact a worker of magic. The identification of God in the term Shen is, as we have as seen, erroneous, as possession by a Shen was the prerequisite to prophetic utterance under Shamanism in its Chinese form of Wuism. The earliest accounts of religious worship described by Confucius in the Shu Ching, or The Book of History, alleges that the Emperor Shun in 2230 BCE sacrificed to Shang Ti, but, as Kang and Nelson record, Confucius wrote "The ceremonies of the celestial and terrestrial sacrifices are those by which men serve Shang Ti" (ibid., p. 14ff). From the records of the prayer from the annual border rituals performed by this emperor, as the state’s lone high priest, it seems that the case for a paternal Monotheism can be made.

The structure, if this was the case, is that of degeneration from 2200 BCE to an Animistic Shamanism or Wuism, after Confucius, assisted by the advent of Taoism and Buddhism. It may well be argued that the view of heaven per se, as the creative principle, may of itself have been an accommodation to the Indo-Aryan systems entering China in the first Millennium before the current era.

Creation From Primordial Chaos and The First God

In extension of the cosmological structure of the creation from the chaos of primordial matter a figure similar to that of the Scandinavian Ymer (see H.A.Geurber Myths of the Norsemen) was invented in China, some say by the Magistrate Ko Hung, a Taoist recluse and author of the Shen hsien chuan (Biographies of the Gods), in the fourth century CE. Named P'an Ku, he was said to be the original offspring of the dual powers of nature and his name means: P'an - the shell of an egg and Ku - to secure or solid, hence hatched from primordial chaos. There is no record of either this entity or such a concept in non-Buddhist China prior to its Taoist utterance. The entity seems to have incorporated the Buddhist concepts adopted from Chaldean mythology of the holding of the sun and moon in his hands or of summoning them from the Han sea at the command of the Buddha. Creation myths mentioned by Lieh Tzu speak of a successor to the legendary Fu Hsi who allegedly reigned from 2953-2838 BCE. Nu Kua Shih also called Nu Wa and Nu Hsi, is said to have been the 'sister' and successor of Fu Hsi and to have been the creator of human beings when the earth emerged from the primordial Chaos. The sex is uncertain as the personage is referred to both as she and he. It has sometimes the body of a serpent and the head of an ox or, according to some writers, a human head and the horns of an ox. Ssu-ma Cheng (ca 8th cent.) author of the Historical Records and of another work on the three great legendary emperors, Fu Hsi, Shen Nung and Huang Ti gives the following account of her:

'Fu Hsi was succeeded by Nu Kua, who like him had the surname Feng. Nu Kua had the body of a serpent and a human head, with the virtuous endowment of a divine sage. Towards the end of her reign there was among the feudatory princes Kung Kung, whose functions were the administration of punishment. Violent and ambitious he became a rebel, and sought by the influence of water to overcome that of wood [under which Nu Kua reigned]. He did battle with Chu Jung [said to have been one of the ministers of Huang Ti, and later the God of Fire], but was not victorious; where-upon he struck his head against the Imperfect Mountain, Pu Chou Shan, and brought it down. The pillars of heaven were broken and the corners of the earth gave way. Hereupon Nu Kua melted stones of the five colours to repair the heavens, and cut off the feet of the tortoise to set upright the four extremities of the earth. [cf. the dwarves in the Scandinavian myth]

Gathering the ashes of reeds she stopped the flooding waters, and thus rescued the land of Chi, Chi Chou [the early seat of the Chinese sovereignty]'

Another account separates the name and makes Nu and Kua brother and sister, describing them as the only two human beings in existence. At the creation they were placed at the foot of the K'un-lun Mountains. Then they prayed saying, 'If thou O God, hast sent us to be man and wife, the smoke of our sacrifice will stay in one place; but if not, it will be scattered.' The smoke remained stationary. But though Nu Kua is said to have moulded the first man (or the first human beings) out of clay, it is to be noted that, being only the successor of Fu Hsi, long lines of rulers had preceeded her[him] of whom no account is given and also that, as regards the heavens and the earth at least, she is regarded as the repairer and not the creator of them (Werner, pp. 81-82).

Various other cosmological entities have been proposed throughout Chinese history and all of which are spurious attempts at representing the original cosmology. From the middle of the Confucian period (ca 500 BCE) up until about 400 CE the Chinese scholars attempted to explain the origin of the universe within the dualist cosmology of the Yang and Yin structures developed from the interpretations of the I Ching and other works. This dualist system is arguably a highly refined structure of soul theism and accommodates the function of spirit as a double of the individual in the spirit or soul, or the animistic being after death. If it was formalised from Confucius, it would be fatuous to suggest that the Chinese had no structure in explanation of the creation and the role of man in the long period from 2356 BCE with the Confucian record of the first ruler Yaou, who preceded the great flood of Northern China under Shun. It appears that the Chinese degenerated from a form of Monotheism, which understood the twofold aspect of spirit and matter.

Transmission of the Confucian Canon was neither a simple nor dull affair and, as in theology, was subject to many attempts at re-interpretation and many a battle raged between conservatives, bent on preserving the truth in its old form and progressives attempting new expressions of the truth. This process was commented on by R. P. Kramers in "Conservatism and the Transmission of the Confucian Canon - A T'ang Scholars Complaint" in JOURNAL OF ORIENTAL STUDIES Vol. II, Jan 1955, No. 1, Hong Kong University Press, Hong Kong, pp. 119-132. Kramers says:

The parallel with theology cannot, however, be consistently maintained. For one thing, since its inception during the Former Han dynasty, Chinese state religion and the government of the Empire were indissolubly linked together. We may characterise it, like Otto Frank in his great history of the Chinese Empire, by the term 'church-state'. The practical consequence of this feature of it was that, in accordance with the systems total claim on life, the only way to officialdom was a knowledge of its source: the Canonical Books. The admixture of faith with economical and, above all, political motives in the theological struggles is, therefore, even more evident in Chinese than in Western history.

The centuries from the middle of the Former Han up to the Chin dynasty especially, roughly from 100 B.C. to A.D. 300, were dominated in this field by the competition of rival schools of interpretation, all striving with varying degrees of sincerity for official recognition of their views, sometimes to the exclusion of the views of the others. It took centuries before even the Canon itself was fixed, let alone the official exegesis.

Kramers also notes, that due to the limited number of all those who concentrated on Canonical studies possibly being devoted scholars, the methods of interpretation were not very profound. In early Han times, a popular method of study arose known as chang-chu, literally paragraphs and sentences, or as Dubs translates it, chapter and verse, because of its relationship to the common religious practice of quoting out of context and so misconstruing the great underlying concepts involved. Kramers’ account of the dialogue written by Yuan Hsing-ch'ung (653-729), demonstrates that the interpretation of the Canon by chapter and verse and esoteric studies had resulted in the corruption of the former or Old interpretation. Kramers further notes (in the note 34 at p. 126) that it was Tzu-chun (d.23 CE), who introduced the Chou-li and Tso-chuan as Canonical texts. The usurper Wang Mang drew upon the Chou-li for his state ideology, and therefore this was the beginning of the 'Old Text' - 'New Text' controversy. The New Texts refer to those recorded in current script from the beginning of the Former Han. The Old Texts refer to those written in ancient (pre-Han) writing and claimed to have been rediscovered (see Tjan Tjoe Som, Po-hu t'ung Leiden, 1949, Part I, pp.137-145 and also the biography of Liu Hsin in the Ch'ien Han-shu, 36.33b et seq.) What we see from Kramers’ paper is that there was a concept of canonical and apocryphal works involving the cosmology and theology which was subject to much dispute and involved a church-state system, which found its counterpart in the West and which appears to have altered the ancient understanding.

 

Taoism

From Dualism To Singularist Tao

During its long history and exposure to the nomadic Shamans and from the influence of the Indo-Aryans, the dualist structure was formalised to accommodate the spirit on a human basis, within human form and later for the purposes of transmigration and reincarnation. The dualism of the Chinese in the first millennium before the current era, was to be unified by Lao-tse, the founder of Taoism, into a single primal existence or Tao void of consciousness or purpose as some early critics would have it (see Historian's History, p.530) so that all things were held together by a single supreme principle. Such a structure must be logically monist to retain any unconditional immortality, or else it reduces to elitist forms of polytheism (as identified in Cox Creation etc. ibid.) and discussed further below. We shall examine Taoism. However, it must be remembered, as Terweil has so readily demonstrated, that the discussion of the philosophers and the theologians make little impact on the mass, and that at heart they remained animist, or at best long ago combined it with an intuitive Monotheism, which was destroyed by the sedentary forms of Animism into a pantheon of nature gods. Lao-tse, like the Brahmins of India, lived in solitude and he taught the life of contemplation.

The belief in miracles and magic, which sprang from the Tao system, reached its climax in the Shamanism of the peoples of the Altai (Historian's History, p. 530)

The suggestion, that Shamanism drew its magico mysticism from Taoism, is to be rejected. The point made here is that Taoism developed the forms found amongst the Altaic Shamans and known by the Chinese as 'Wu'[ism].

The most systematic attack on the Yin-Yang school of dualism, which reached its greatest excesses under the New-Text School in the Han Dynasty, was Wang Ch'ung (CE 27-ca.100) who was an Old Text scholar. He systematically attacked its theories and especially the doctrine that an interaction exists between heaven and man, either teleologically or mechanistically. (See Fung Yu-lan pp. 210ff and below for further analysis.) The significant point here is that he paved the way for the revival of Taoism about a century later. China had come under an excessive philosophical school among its ruling classes, termed the Legalist School and the consolidation of the empire under the Ch'in had seen the most oppressive excesses, and the empire lay exhausted. Under the teachings of Lao-Tzu, Taoism was established as a philosophy. It was not until the second century CE that Taoism became a religion. There were thus two forms developed Tao chia and Tao chiao or Taoism as philosophy and Taoism as religion. The revival of Taoism in the second century thus was the revival of the philosophy termed neo-Taoism and not the religion, which was new.

Preceding this, in the first century CE, Buddhism entered China from India via Central Asia (Fung Yu-lan p. 211). Likewise Buddhism had a distinction between Buddhism as a religion, Fo chiao, and Buddhism as a philosophy, Fo hsueh. Buddhism as a religion did much to inspire the formulation of Taoism as a religion.

The latter as an indigenous faith, was greatly stimulated in its development by the nationalistic sentiments of people who watched with resentment the successful invasion of China by the foreign religion of Buddhism. By some, indeed, Buddhism was regarded as a religion of the barbarians. Religious Taoism, to some extent, thus grew as an indigenous substitute for Buddhism, and in the process it borrowed a great deal, including institutions, rituals and even the form of much of its scriptures, from its foreign rival. But besides Buddhism as an institutionalized religion, there also existed Buddhism as a philosophy. And whereas the Taoist religion was almost invariably opposed to the Buddhist religion, Taoist philosophy took Buddhist philosophy as its ally. Taoism, to be sure, is less other-worldly than Buddhism. Nevertheless some similarity exists between their forms of mysticism. Thus the Tao of the Taoists is described as unnameable, and the 'real suchness' or ultimate reality of the Buddhists is also described as something that cannot be spoken of. It is neither one, nor is it many; it is neither not-one, nor is it not not-many. Such terminology represents what is called in Chinese 'thinking into the not-not.' (ibid., p. 212).

In the third and fourth centuries, Taoist philosophers were often friends of Buddhist monks. The scholars were usually well versed in Buddhist sutras and the monks in Taosist texts especially the Chuang-tzu. They often conversed in Ch'ing t'an or pure conversation which reduced to non-verbal communication on reaching the subject of the not-not or the negation of the negation, which inevitably became Ch'an or more familiarly Zen. The Ch'an is really a branch of Chinese Buddhism, which blends both systems. One will recall Terweil’s remarks about this division or distinction in Buddhism where in fact the populace remained animists at heart, and the rites in the south were Tantric Buddhist.

As stated, the empire was exhausted under the rigidity of the Ch'in, in the severity of its domestic and foreign controls and its ideology was based on the Legalist School. Therefore when the Ch'in fell everyone blamed the Legalists for its excesses and complete disregard for human heartedness and righteousness, which exemplified the Confucian School. The Emperor Wu, besides issuing his decree making Confucianism the state teaching:

also decreed in 141 BCE that all persons who had become experts in the philosophies of Shen Pu-hai, Shang Yang and Han Fei (leaders of the Legalist school), as well as Su Ch'in and Chang Yi (leaders of the Diplomatist school), should be rejected from government posts. (See the History of the Former Han Dynasty, ch.6.) (Fung Yu-lan, p.213).

The furthest removed from the Legalist school were the Confucianists and the Taoists. Thus when the Legalists were blamed for the excesses of the Ch'in, these philosophies benefited in the anti-reaction. Chinese philosophy has a serious defect, in that it is essentially negative. The nearest it approaches positive analysis of the sort found in the West, is in the School of Names. This is a matter for further analysis however. Here it is sufficient to note that the forms of negativism extended in Taoism to its concepts of executive action. In the political philosophy of Taoism:

a good government is not one that does many things, but on the contrary does as little as possible. Therefore if a sage-king rules, he should try to undo the bad effects caused by the over government of his predecessor. This was precisely what the people of the early part of the Han dynasty needed, for one of the troubles of the Ch'in had been that there was too much government. Hence when the founder of the Han dynasty, Emperor Kao-tsu, led his victorious revolutionary army towards Ch'ang-an the Ch'in capital in present Shensi province, he announced to the people his 'three-item contract': Persons committing homicide were to receive capital punishment; those injuring or stealing were to be punished accordingly; but aside from these simple provisions, all other laws and regulations of the Ch'in government were to be abolished. (Historical Records, ch. 8.) In this way the founder of the Han was practicing the 'learning of Huang and Lao,' even though, no doubt, he was quite unconscious of the fact (Fung Yu-lan, p.213).

The development of Taoism, was thus in accordance with the needs of the rulers of the early part of the Han dynasty. As the Han subjugated the nations westward to the Caspian and moved southwards, they facilitated the movement of the forms of Buddhism into China which best accorded with its cosmology and philosophy. That the philosophies were in agreement did not mean that the animist masses would accept a foreign import without reaction. The system was thus syncretised to the forms of animism in the north, which was the form of Shamanism in China known as Wu. Thus Wuism, having been rendered itinerant by the Ch'in destruction of the feudal states, became the Shamans of the masses, as arhants and priests in Buddhism and Taoism respectively. However, the Wu were more acceptable in the Chinese form of singularism, or more correctly Monism known as the Taoist religion and the neo-Taoist philosophy. The people still however remain animists and shamanists.

 

Taoist Pseudo-Monotheism

The worship of the prime celestial entity as T'ai I, the Great One, or Great Unity, was reintroduced by Emperor Wu Ti (140-86 BCE) of the Han Dynasty and temples dedicated to him could be found in various parts of China in the twentieth century. The worship was reintroduced at the suggestion of a Taoist priest, Miao Chi, in the Emperor's search for immortality. The re-introduction was perverted by Taoist precepts and he was represented variously as:

the Ruler of the Five Celestial Sovereigns, Cosmic Matter before it congealed into concrete shapes, the Triune Spirit of Heaven, earth, and T'ai I as three separate entities, an unknown spirit, the Spirit of the Pole Star, etc., but practically the Taoists confine their T'ai I to T'ai-i Chen-jen in which Perfect Man they portray the abstract philosophic notions (Werner, p. 144).

The Taoists hold that the God of the Immortals is Mu Kung or Tung Wang Kung, also called I Chun Ming and Yu Huang Chun, the Prince Yu Huang. He was the first living being produced by the primitive vapour after its period of inactivity following its congealing. Mu Kung was the purest substance of the Eastern Air and sovereign of the active male or Yang principle and sovereign of all the countries of the East. His palace is in the clouds and his servants are Hsien Tung, the Immortal Youth, and Yu Nu, the Jade Maiden. He keeps a register of the immortals, male and female. (Werner, p. 136) His counterpart is the Goddess Hsi Wang Mu, the goddess of the Western Air in the legendary continent of Shen Chou. She is often called the Golden Mother of the Tortoise. Her family name is given variously as Hou, Yang or Ho. Her own name is Hui and first name is Wanchin. She has nine sons and twenty-four daughters. She represents the passive Yin or female principle. These two beings together engender life and all that exists. She is the head of the troop of genii dwelling on the K'un-lun Mountains, which is the Taoist equivalent of the Buddhist Sumeru. (Werner, pp. 136-137) The K'un-lun Shan are to be identified with the Hindu Kush and not the range dividing Chinese Turkistan according to Werner (pp. 16-17). These mountains are the abode of the gods who were the ancestors of the Chinese people. The genii are of course the spirits of the worthy ancestors as a form of arhants. (We might note that the Jupiter on the Capitoline was an oak that also represented the collective male genii of the Roman State). This location converges two theories of origin, the Central Asian and the West Asian. The K'un-lun legends appear to be of Taoist origin and appear to be simply the Sumeru of Hindu Mythology transplanted into Chinese legend as the fountain of immortality and the source of the four great rivers of the world. Scholars of earlier times were intrigued by the marked correlation between Chinese and Chaldean civilisation and cultural connections and attempted to isolate the path of transmission. It would have been convenient to identify in Nu Kua, one of the alleged creators, and the identification of Nu and Kua as the first two human beings, all of whom were placed on K'un-lun, the Prophet Noah and the flood story. Indeed the name Nu is the Eastern Aramaic and later Arabic form for Noah. He is still referred to as Nabi Nu or the prophet Noah. More intriguing still, is that a correct reading of genesis confirms, that the identification of Mount Ararat with the biblical Ararat is impossible, in that it was placed east of the plain of Shinar and closer to the Hindu Kush and not in the north as is the case with the present Mount Ararat. The Taoist origin of the legends destroys their authenticity as direct evidence but the study of the movement of peoples is seldom clear-cut. The paradigm within which the nineteenth century scenarios were constructed, were logically and historically false, based on a false reconstruction of biblical history by Augustine of Hippo, as was demonstrated in the work Creation (ibid.). Much modern scholarship is hampered by the false assertions made in the fifth century and subsequently. The understanding of the ancients was quite different as demonstrated there. It does however follow as an elementary observation that the commonalities may well have originated from more than one source and quite probably from a distorted paradigm. The Taoists would not have adopted a cosmology to which they gave no credence and which did not accord with their history and understanding. It is the most elementary process of deduction, upon identifying the base religion of the Uralic peoples as Shamanism, as we have done here, following on from Eliade’s work. Seeing the infusion of this nomadic system on the sedentary Animism of Chaldea, in India and from thence to all Asia, it is easily understood how this system was adopted and syncretised on a repetitive basis.

Another re-introduction of the concept of a supreme god as a king of the gods was introduced by deception during the Sung dynasty by the Emperor Ch'eng Tsung after he was obliged to sign a disgraceful peace with the Tungus (or Kitans) in 1005 CE. To prevent the loss of support by the nation for the dynasty, he invented on the advice of his crafty Minister Wang Ch'in-jo, the concept that he was in direct communication with the gods of heaven, namely Yu Huang, the 'Jade Emperor’ also called Yu-huang Shang Ti, the 'Pure August Emperor on High'.

The Emperor announced this ready-made god in the tenth moon of 1012 CE and produced a spurious message from his ancestor Chao or T'ai Tsu the founder of the dynasty. This deity who received many titles and became a most popular god, may well have been the cause of some misidentification of the later Christians, when coupled with the Taoist triune concepts borrowed from the Indo-Aryans. The later day Christians were seeking to identify as Christian the very same concepts, which they themselves had borrowed from the Indo-Aryans via the Mystery cults previously identified. It is probably from this later reconstruction, which is so obviously corrupted by the Indo-Aryan cosmology, that the later Christian identifications were made. Whatever the case, it was overtaken by Animism such that Wuism and ancestor worship became the dominant forces in China up until the present time.

Mother Goddess Figures

The Mother Goddess system penetrated China on two fronts, one in Buddhism as we have seen as the goddess Kuan Yin. In Taoism she became the goddess Tou Mu, the Bushel Mother or Goddess of the North Star, and is worshipped by Taoists and Buddhists alike. Werner states that she is the Indian Maritchi, and that she was made a stellar divinity by the Taoists and occupies the same relative position as Kuan Yin. She was made Queen of the Pole, occupying the palace Tou Shu, the Pivot of the Pole, because all other stars revolve around it and she bears the title Queen of the Doctrine of Primitive Heaven. She has nine sons who have their palaces in neighbouring stars.

Tou Mu wears the Buddhist crown, is seated on a lotus throne, has three eyes, eighteen arms, and holds various precious objects in her numerous hands, such as a bow, spear, sword, flag, dragon's head, pagoda, five chariots, sun's disk, moon's disk, etc. She has control of the books of life and death, and all who wish to prolong their days worship at her shrine (Werner, pp. 144-145)

The correlations here are the most obvious and elementary. The pole location is the Shamanic Axis mundi or centre of the world, as a world pole or tree theme. The nine sons represent the nine ascents controlled by a god at each ascent. It is the most elemental of Shamanism, but it has been adapted to encompass the Buddhist Matrix system, which is of itself an adaption to Shamanism. Two of her sons are the Northern and Southern Bushels; the southern, dressed in red, rules birth; the northern, dressed in white rules death. Werner in his reference to them curiously includes the quotation:

'A young Esau once found them on the South Mountain, under a tree, playing chess, and by an offer of venison his lease of life was extended from nineteen to ninety-nine years' (ibid., p. 145)

The mother goddess figure expresses itself also, as would be expected in the Earth Mother cult, where she is worshipped as Hou-t'u. The accompanying Gods of the Soil and Crops or She-chi and the god of Agriculture as Shen Nung are found in China, as they are in all animist systems where cultivation is employed. There are also the parallels of the Hindu\Buddhist Pantheon as protectors of the people. T'ien-hou and An-kung goddess and god of sailors, identify with the Buddhas of seamen mentioned in chapter 6. The god of cities or fortified towns is present as Ch'eng-huang. All of the Ch'eng-huang of each city constitute a celestial 'Council of Judgement' or Ministry of Justice with a 'Ch'eng-huang in chief'. Sacrifices have been offered to this deity 'all over the country' since the Sung dynasty and the origin of the practice is located with the Emperor Yao, allegedly 2357 BCE (Werner, p.165)

who instituted a sacrifice called Pa Cha in honour of eight spirits, of whom the seventh, Shui Yung, had the meaning of, or corresponded to, the dyke and rampart known later as Ch'eng-huang (pp.165-166).

This dyke and rampart system was employed in fortified towns with two walls and an internal earth dyke. As Fung Yu-lan holds, the early history of China is much extended by myth, but this myth has a common origin with the flood accounts of Sumer and is attributed to ancient pre-Sung myth. This practice supports a commonality with the western tribes of Semitic or Indo-Aryan origin, which is certainly much prior to the Sung i.e. 960 CE. The invention of myth in the Sung was eliminated by the neo-Confucian Materialism of the time and no new myths were invented from his time. The assertions may well have been adaptions to the Muslim or early Christian travellers of the first to the eighth century, or a syncretism of the conversion of the Hui-Hui to Islam. Its cosmology and antiquity should not be too readily relegated to the current era and may well reflect concepts of the second millennium, before the current era or earlier, which they carried into China in a simpler cosmology as we see in the I Ching.

The Taoist High Priest

Taoism reflects the Buddhist system in a number of ways (and in one way generally reflects the Indo-Aryan system), and that is in the office of the Vice-regent or vicar-general of the Pearly Emperor in Heaven. The original leader or Pope as Werner calls him, Chang Tao-ling, was born in 35 CE in the reign of Emperor Kuang Wu Ti of the Han Dynasty. From the Hsiang-er commentary on Chang Tao-ling in the British Museum (s.6825) we know that he participated in expounding the Tao-te ching which confirms what Tu Kuang-t'ing of the T'ang dynasty said. The text was edited by Ke Hsuan of Wu (CE 222-277) and known as the Ke text. It was widely current from the Lao Tzu k'ai-t'i of Ch'eng Hsuan-ying (CE 627-656). The earliest fragment of Taoist literature is the Su Tan fragment of the Tao te Ching (CE 270). We can establish from this document (which does not divide the document into two parts as the Tao-ching and the Te-ching, and does not omit particles, divide the book into chapters nor record the number of characters) that it is not derived from the Ke Hsuan text, but from the Ho-shang text that was current at the end of the Eastern Han (CE 220). The Ke Hsuan text was an abridged text of the Ho-shang limited to 5000 characters for mystical or numerological purposes. There are other reasons for determining that this is based on the Ho-shang and that the Su manuscript is the oldest Tao work extant.

Jao Tsung-I hypothesises that either:

1. The Taoist Pope Chang Tao-ling himself began the practice of using the title T'ai-shang himself adopting the title T'ai-ch'ing hsuan-yuan. Thus T'ai-shang hsuan-yuan as a title of the Tao-te ching "probably originated with the 'Popes'"; or

2. In Taoist literature the Tao-te ching is classed under the T'ai hsuan division, in conformity with the 'mysterious mystery' which forms the subject of the Lao-Tzu. Either way the subject of the Lao-Tzu is of experiential mysticism and of a form of asceticism, which philosophically we examine as a general structure.

A study of the Su text of the Three Kingdoms, being the oldest extant text of the Tao-te ching is of the greatest importance for the study of ancient Taoism and its study will yield also a study of the changes in the text from the Wu Kingdom to the T'ang Dynasty. (Jao Tsung-I "The Su-Tan Manuscript: A Study" Journal of Oriental Studie,s ibid., pp. 68-71 esp.)

From the time of Chang Tao-ling, it seems beyond doubt that Taoism began to specialise in the healing arts, mystical formula and talismans, which not only exalted his position in the mind of his disciples, but propelled him to wealth. He and two of his disciples allegedly ascended into heaven in broad daylight. Werner was able to write in 1922:

the present pope boasts of an unbroken line for three-score generations. His family obtained possession of the Dragon-tiger mountain in Kiangsi about AD 1000

The Taoist - Confucian Conflict

Fung Yu Lan (A Short History of Chinese Philosophy, ed. by Derk Bodde, Macmillan New York 1948) considers that Taoism and Confucianism differ, because they are the rationalisation or theoretical expression of different aspects of the life of the farmers. The farmers are simple in their living and innocent in their thought. Seeing things from their point of view, the Taoists idealised the simplicity of primitive society and condemned civilisation. They also idealised the innocence of children and despised knowledge. The Lao-Tzu (Lao-tsu) (at Ch 80) seeks 'a small country with few inhabitants' and urges the return to a virtual illiterate simplicity, with a form of contentment such that they would not seek to travel to neighbouring states. Taoism could seek such goals because of its esoteric mysticism. By virtue of its animism and affinity with mystical Wuism, it was apposite to the Confucian concern of the order of the state and the conduct of the perfect man, within the earlier structures of the harmony of the heavens and earth. Taoism, like Buddhism sought its ends in release and negation and consequently sought to revile the early structure as interpreted by Confucius.

Syncretic Myths

The Kings of Heaven and Other Myths

The Taoists appear to have mimicked the Buddhist Diamond system, or the four Chin-kang mentioned previously with the Four Kings of Heaven, Ssu Ta T'ien-wang, who reside on Mount Sumeru (Hsu-mi Shan). Named Li, Ma, Chao and Wen they are represented holding a pagoda, sword, two swords and spiked club respectively. Their worship appears to have commenced from critical appearances on auspicious occasions in the T'ang and Sung dynasties (ibid.).

The Northern Buddhist systems (particularly the Matrix), as has been analysed previously, were adaptions of the Shaman's ascent to the Gods. This appears to be reflected in later Chinese Mythology in other forms also, such as the legend of the Eight Immortals (three of whom were real people of earlier times), which is Taoist and not earlier than the Sung Dynasty (960-1280 CE). They are (according to Werner at p. 288) most probably from the Yuan or Mongol Dynasty (1280-1386) making its Shamanistic origin even more likely. The legend has the necessary elements of Shamanism, such as a supernatural peach tree of the genii. Han Hsiang Tzu attained immortality after climbing the tree and falling. In some versions he is transformed, in others he is killed and transformed. He was renowned as a votary of transcendental study. The immortals perform tasks found in Buddhist literature such as crossing the sea etc. They are associated with the slaying of the son of the Dragon King. Under Taoist cosmology there is a Lord of Heaven, termed Yu Huang which from above was a recent man-made god, and to whom all the Four Dragon Kings, of whom Lung Wang is but one, are answerable. The legend of the Guardian of the Gate of Heaven shows the cosmology and also the concepts of transmigration or reincarnation involved (Werner, p.305 ff).

Chinese Dragons

The concepts of evil dragons are those introduced by the Buddhists and prior to that the dragons were not seen as evil at all, but rather as beneficial spirits with powers over the waters and who helped with the provision of rain and abundance. Werner gives an analysis of this concept in his Chapter VII "Myths of the Waters", p. 208. In the I Ching the Dragon represents the heavenly or Yang principle and is the embodiment of heavenly virtue. The highest form is that epitomised by the first hexagram "Ch'ien" where six moving lines are expressed as a brood of headless dragons. The symbolism can be expressed logically in the form of Monotheism, where the heads of the dragons are missing because they act with one accord under the will of the Lord of Heaven. A similar concept is found in the Bible, where God subordinates the powers to himself by "breaking the heads of the Dragons" (Psalm 74:13). The negative Yin principle seeks to appropriate to itself the dragon symbol of heavenly power at moving line six of Hexagram Two "Ku'un" where two dragons contend in the wilderness shedding black and yellow blood. However, the commentary, allegedly by Confucius, asserts that they contend because their stock of merit is exhausted. The structure of the I Ching is logically consistent with non-trinitarian Monotheism of an early form, with advanced concepts and a structure reminiscent of the functions of the Urim and the Thummin, the instruments of divination of the Aaronic priesthood.

Indo-Aryan Time Myths

The formal introduction of the Indo-Aryan time cosmology appears to have taken place in the reign of Shen Tsung (1068-86 CE) and was continued during the remainder of the Monarchical Period as the worship of T'ai Sui, a dangerous spirit. The Eight Trigrams of the I Ching seems to have been trivialised and with the Five Elements and Five Colours, used in conjunction with a Shamanistic tree of twelve terrestrial branches and ten celestial trunks to locate his presence in any one year (Werner, p. 197). T'ai Sui equates with Jupiter, presiding over the year and passing through the twelve sidereal mansions. The diviners gave the title "Grand Marshal" to this deity following the example of the usurper Wang Mang (9-23 CE) of the Western Han Dynasty who gave that title to the year-star (ibid., p. 195). From above it was seen that Wang Mang in forming his state ideology largely drew upon the system in the Chou-li, inserted with the Tso-chuan as Canonical texts by Tzu-chun who also died in 23CE. It appears that this new cosmology was based on apocryphal works at variance with the ancient system and it is probable that this system was adapted by the Western Han to facilitate the movement of Buddhism into China from Central Asia with the subjugation of the western lands and a new system was required to achieve this end. Worship of the god T'ai Sui is not mentioned in the T'ang and Sung rituals,

but in the Yuan dynasty (A.D. 1280-1368) sacrifices were offered to him in the College of the Grand Historiographer whenever any work of importance was about to be undertaken. Under this dynasty the sacrifices were offered to T'ai Sui and to the ruling gods of the months and days. But these sacrifices were not offered at regular times: it was only at the beginning of the Ch'ing (Manchu) dynasty (1644-1912) that it was decided to offer the sacrifices at fixed periods (ibid., p. 194).

Sacrifices were offered throughout the empire to this deity as a stellar god under the open sky from the beginning of the Ming dynasty by order of Emperor T'ai Tsu (ibid).

 

Prehistory & the Archaeological Record

Tracing the Bronze Age

A major clue to the extent of civilisation and to the contact and distribution of tribes is found in the production and forms of Bronze, which is an alloy made from copper by the addition of small amounts of up to four per cent of tin. Tin increases the strength and hardness of copper and lowers its melting point. The origin of the production of copper is uncertain. According to the Interpreters Dictionary of the Bible, article "Bronze" at vol. I p. 467, Bronzes have been found at Ur in the Chaldees dating from approx 2500 BCE. The areas of production were most probably where copper and tin were found in nearby locations. These were found in Syria in the Kasrwan district behind Byblos, Armenia, the Caucasus and Northeast Iran. For the origin, Wainwright favours Syria although the oldest bronzes found in Syria, at Ras Shamra, date only from ca. 2050-1850 BCE. The absence of metal ores of any kind make it unlikely that the art of making bronze was discovered there, despite the finds at Ur dated to 2500 BCE although these may be of more recent date as an alternative explanation. Schaeffer favours Armenia and Anatolia believing that immigrant bronze workers from this area, who had as the badge of their profession a bronze neck ring, introduced bronze-working to Byblos. From there it spread to Europe. This explanation overlooks the significance of the Danube route, which as we will see later was of far greater significance than previously thought. The bronzes found in Egypt dated to before 2000 BCE are held to have been accidental mixtures of copper and tin. It is held that bronze was not made in Egypt until the Middle Kingdom (ibid.). A few bronze studs were found at Jericho and dated to the period 2300-1900 BCE and associated with invaders from the north, probably Amorites from Syria. Lachish yielded a: "bronze togglepin, a figurine and a pin of Eighteenth Dynasty date (sixteenth-fourteenth centuries BCE). A larger number of objects were found at Meggido. But, to judge from archaeological finds, bronze was by no means common in Palestine, even during the Middle Bronze Age" (ibid.).

As noted above, from the analysis by Bernard Karlgren in A Catalogue of the Chinese Bronzes in the Alfred F. Pillsbury Collection, The University of Minnesota Press, for the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 1952; there appear to be four main style periods of bronze production in China prior to the Ch'in. These are Yin-Shang (1525-1028 BCE), Early Chow (1027-c.900 BCE), Middle Chow (c.900-c.600 BCE) and Huai (c. 600-c.222 BCE). These identifications may prove of significance in identifying alteration in cultural and religious systems. The cut off point at 1525 BCE for the forms of Bronze décor may also be of significance in isolating early movements from mythical time scales.

The first Chinese dynasty is allegedly the Hsia. This dynasty is traditionally dated from 2205-1766 BCE but this is still uncertain and needs archaeological confirmation. It may also be that the dynasty refers to an earlier locale. We will examine this possibility later. The second, dynasty, the Shang (1766-1123 BCE) has been partly excavated and has yielded an abundance of inscriptions carved on bone and tortoise shell. These inscriptions were prepared in accordance with the method of divination, which was described by Fung Yu-lan in his Chapter 12 (see below). We will now list or examine the dynasties.

The Chinese Dynasties

Mythological Ancestors: Hwang Ti etc ca.2600 BC E-

Yaou - ruled - 2356? BC

Shun

Yu

Dynasty:

Hsia: Traditionally dated 2205-1766 BCE but not substantiated as first actual dynasty. The despot Kee is alleged to have been overthrown in 1818 BCE.

Shang: Probably the first actual dynasty (dated from Emperor Tang) 1766?-1123? BCE. (Yin-shang Bronze Period commences 1525 and extends to 1028 BCE).

Chou: Third or Feudal Period - 1123-221 BCE. During the early Chou tortoise shell divination was supplanted by the milfoil stalk system for greater accuracy. The time of the sages, Confucius (551-479 BCE), Mencius (371?-289? BCE) and Hsun Tzu (possibly between 298 and 238 BCE). Confucius is said to have been born in the twenty-first year of the emperor Ling which was read as 549 BCE by the Historian's History. The above dates are from Fung Yu-lan p. 143. (Early Chow (1027-900 BCE) and Late Chow (900-600 BCE) Bronze Periods. Huai Bronze Period commences ca. 600 extending to ca.222 BCE).

Tsin (or Ch'in): 221-205 BCE. The consolidation of the warring states occurred under Tsin and the first true empire was established. The fang sheng became itinerant from this time onwards.

Han: 205 BCE - 226 CE. This dynasty, following on from the consolidation of the Ch'in, subjugated some thirty nations and had great impact on the trade system, extending the dominions to the Caspian.

The Six Dynasties: Remarkably little is recorded of the period of these six smaller dynasties.

Tang: 618\620?-906\7 CE. The literary examinations were established under this dynasty.

The period of the Five Dynasties: 907-960 CE. Printing was invented here by Fung-taou in 924 CE (H.H p. 544).

Sung: 960-1280 CE. Spiritualistic theory arising under Taoism and which had become obsessive from the Han period was replaced by the dogma of materialism arising from Confucianism. This was in fact the period where Confucianism truly flourished. Werner (p. 73) considers that it was the Sung scholars that sounded the death-blow to Chinese Mythology. After this period we do not meet with any period of new mythological creation. Werner does not distinguish between the philosophical elite and the mass, which in fact remained animist. What is probably correct is that Wuism and Myth had become fixed, with Wuism eclipsing mythology in the masses. Marco Polo visited China at the close of the Sung in 1275.

Yuan: The Yuan or Mongol dynasty lasted eighty-eight years from 1280 to 1368 CE. From the tenth to the thirteenth century Kitans and Nuchens occupied the north.

Ming: 1368-1643 CE. The Portuguese visited China and reintroduced Christianity as the non-Nestorian Trinitarianism. They settled at Macao. Tsung-ching was overthrown by rebellion as Le Tse-ching and Shang Ko-he divided the empire, taking Honan and Szechuan\Hukwang respectively. Le besieged the capital of Honan, Kaifung-fu, so systematically that he reduced it to commercial cannibalism. The relief army broke the dykes of the Yellow River flooding the country and killing 200,000 in 1642. The rebels escaped to the mountains and Fu Le attacked Peking, entering by a eunuch's treachery. The Manchus were invited to enter China by the commanding general on the border with Manchuria and then entered defeating Le Tse-ching and the rebels.

Manchu: The Manchurians refused to leave and in 1644 proclaimed the ninth son of Teen-ning, emperor of China under the title of Sun-che, adopting the title of Ta-tsing ("Great Pure") for the dynasty. The dynasty continued until the twentieth century, being rendered ineffective by the warlords and the later political movements. The last emperor established under the Japanese the province of Manchukuo as a Japanese puppet state.

The Nexus

Isolating Early Chinese Occultists

The first Chinese dynasty, as mentioned above, was allegedly the Hsia, which is traditionally dated from 2205-1766 BCE. However, this is still uncertain and needs archaeological confirmation. The second, dynasty, the Shang (1766-1123 BCE) as also stated, has been partly excavated and has yielded an abundance of inscriptions carved on bone and tortoise shell. These inscriptions were prepared in accordance with the method of divination, which was described by Fung Yu-lan in his Chapter 12. He states that the early diviners were of the Yin-Yang school, which had its origin in the occultists, who were widely known as the 'fang shih' or practitioner of the occult arts.

"In the 'Treatise on Literature' (ch. 30) in the History of the Former Han Dynasty, which is based on the Seven Summaries by Liu Hsin, these occult arts are grouped into six classes" (Fung Yu-lan p. 129).

The six classes of occult arts are as follows.

The first, Astrology, according to the Han History, "serves to arrange in order the twenty-eight constellations, and note the progression of the five planets and of the sun and the moon, so as to record thereby the manifestations of fortune and misfortune" (ibid).

The second 'Almanacs', "serve to arrange the four seasons in proper order, to adjust the times of the equinoxes and solstices, and to note the concordance of the periods of the sun, moon and five planets, so as thereby examine into the actualities of cold and heat, life and death....Through this art, the miseries of calamities and the happiness of prosperity all appear manifest."

The third connected with the Five Elements, according to the "Treatise on Literature", "arises from the revolutions of the Five Powers [Five Elements], and if it is extended to its farthest limits, there is nothing to which it will not reach."

The fourth is divination by means of the stalks of the milfoil plant and that done with the tortoise shell or shoulder bones of the ox, which were the two main methods of divination in ancient China. According to Fung Yu-lan, tortoise shell or bone divination was by boring a hole in it then applying heat to it by means of a metal rod in such a way as to cause cracks to radiate from the hole. These cracks were interpreted by the diviner according to their configuration as an answer to the question asked. In the yarrow stalk or mill stalk method the stalks were used in such a method as to produce numerical combinations which could be interpreted by means of reference to the I Ching or Book of Changes which was the original purpose of the work.

The fifth group was that of miscellaneous divinations.

The sixth group, the system of Forms, included Physiognomy "together with what in later times has been known as feng-shui, literally, 'wind and water'. Feng-shui is based on the concept that man is the product of the universe. Hence his house or burial place must be so arranged as to be in harmony with the natural forces, i.e., with 'wind and water'. In the days when feudalism was in its prime during the early centuries of the Chou dynasty, every aristocratic house had attached to it hereditary experts of the occult arts, who had to be consulted when any act of importance was contemplated. But with the gradual disintegration of feudalism, many of these experts lost their hereditary positions and scattered throughout the country, where they continued to practice their arts among the people. They then came to be known as the fang shih or practitioners of occult arts." (ibid., p. 130)

Fung Yu-lan considers that the occultists desired to interpret nature in a positive manner and to acquire its services by its conquest, which differs only from science in its belief in the supernatural. The abandoning of the belief in the supernatural and the interpretation of the universe in terms of natural forces reduces occultism to science. This is essentially the reduction involved in dualism in the later, non theist period of the confucian interpretations where the interaction of the forces of nature were predictable according to formula. This appears to be a version of the reduction spoken of above from the ancient forms of Theism, which may have been Monotheism.

Certainly an examination of the above, in comparison with the practices outlined by Eliade will demonstrate that these practices in the feudal era were identifiably Shamanism and the sequence described by Fung Yu-lan above explain how the Wu of China became itinerant performers.

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