CHINA AT THE TIME CONFUCIANISM DEVELOPED

IDEAS AND BELIEFS IN CHINA DURING CONFUCIUS’S TIME


Bronze mirror from Warring States Period

Although many Confucians argue that their beliefs are based on the wisdom of sages that preceded Confucius and Confucius himself gave himself no credit for being an originator or even innovator, historians give him credit for founding Confucianism because he gave the beliefs a structure. Confucius placed more emphasis on morality and humanness rather than the divine, sensational and legendary found in writings that preceded him. In ancient texts there is a great deal of discussion about great emperors and sages but no one talked much of their wisdom and tried to spell out this wisdom until Confucius came along.

Some of the most important principals of Confucianism were established in the beginning of the Zhou Dynasty (1122-221 BC), centuries before Confucius was born. They include the notion of a benevolent supreme being; the mandate given by the supreme being to a ruler to govern; and the justification of overthrow of a dynasty if the ruler double-crosses the supreme being and becomes wicked.

Carrie Gracie of the BBC News wrote: “In the 5th Century B.C., Europe had Socrates and China had just had Confucius. Both philosophers thought hard about ethics, and the right relationship between the individual and the state. We often think of Confucius as being the foundation stone of Chinese political philosophy, and so do most Chinese. But he was channelling a world view which had been crystallising over centuries. [Source: Carrie Gracie BBC News, October 9, 2012]

Yu Dan wrote in his bestseller “Confucius from the Heart”: “The reason why these simple truths have survived down the millennia is that they have helped generation after generation of Chinese to understand the nature and the culture that formed them, and not to lose their heads, even when confronted by immense social change and almost overwhelming choice."

See Separate Article on Confucius

Good Websites and Sources on Confucianism: Robert Eno, Indiana University indiana.edu; Confucianism religioustolerance.org ; Confucius.org confucius.org ; Religion Facts Confucianism Religion Facts ; Confucius .friesian.com ; Confucian Texts Chinese Text Project ; Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy plato.stanford.edu; Cult of Confucius /academics.hamilton.edu ; Confucian Temple China Vista ; Virtual Temple tour drben.net/ChinaReport Qufu Wikipedia Wikipedia Travel China Guide Travel China Guide ; UNESCO World Heritage Site: UNESCO

Books on Confucianism and Confucius: There is a classic account of Confucius’s biography by Herrlee Creel: Confucius, The Man and the Myth (New York: 1949, also published as Confucius and the Chinese Way), and a recent book by Annping Chin, The Authentic Confucius: A Life in thought and Politics (New York: 2007). According to Dr. Robert Eno: “Among the many translations of the “Analects” , well crafted versions by Arthur Waley (New York: 1938), D.C. Lau (Penguin Books, 1987, 1998), and Edward Slingerland (Indianapolis: 2003) are among the most accessible published. The “Analects” is a terse work with an exceptionally long and varied commentarial tradition; its richness and multiple levels of meaning make it a living document that reads differently to each generation (as true in China as elsewhere). Responsible interpreters vary in specific choices and overall understanding, and no single translation can be viewed as “definitive.”“

Good Websites and Sources on Religion in China: Chinese Government White Paper on Religion china-embassy.org ; United States Commission on International Religious Freedom uscirf.gov/countries/china; Articles on Religion in China forum18.org ; Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; Council of Foreign Relations cfr.org ; Brooklyn College brooklyn.cuny.edu ; Religion Facts religionfacts.com; Religious Tolerance religioustolerance.org ; Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy stanford.edu ; Academic Info academicinfo.net ; Internet Guide to Chinese Studies sino.uni-heidelberg.de

Eastern Zhou, Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods

Confucianism developed in the Eastern Zhou, Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods. Beginning in the 8th century B.C. the authority of the emperors degenerated and hundreds of warlords fought among themselves until seven major kingdoms prevailed. This led to the formulation of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty (770-221 B.C.). The Spring and Autumn period (771-482 B.C.), the Warring States period (481-221 B.C.) and the Age of Philosophers and the China’s Classical Age (6th century to 3rd century B.C.) occurred within the Eastern Zhou Dynasty.

According to Atlantic Monthly: “A world where human relationships are challenging, narcissism and self-centeredness are on the rise, and there is disagreement on the best way for people to live harmoniously together describes China, 2,500 years ago." The Spring and Autumn (722 to 476 B.C.) and Warring States (476 to 221 B.C.) periods though marked by disunity and civil strife, witnessed an unprecedented era of cultural prosperity--the "golden age" of China. The atmosphere of reform and new ideas was attributed to the struggle for survival among warring regional lords who competed in building strong and loyal armies and in increasing economic production to ensure a broader base for tax collection. To effect these economic, military, and cultural developments, the regional lords needed ever-increasing numbers of skilled, literate officials and teachers, the recruitment of whom was based on merit. [Source: The Library of Congress *]

Also during this time, commerce was stimulated through the introduction of coinage and technological improvements. Iron came into general use, making possible not only the forging of weapons of war but also the manufacture of farm implements. Public works on a grand scale--such as flood control, irrigation projects, and canal digging--were executed. Enormous walls were built around cities and along the broad stretches of the northern frontier. *

Historian Francis Fukuyama of Johns Hopkins wrote: “As a result of the 500 years of intensive warfare that occurred during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States period (the eastern Zhou dynasty, 711-211 B.C.), Chinese states formed and began to consolidate into a smaller number of larger polities. As a result of the desperate need to mobilize resources for war, they developed bureaucratic administrations that relied increasingly on impersonal administration rather than patrimonial recruitment that as typical of earlier periods of Chinese history."

Dr. Robert Eno of Indiana University wrote: “China’s Classical age was a tumultuous era, filled with the dangers of constant civil war, political disruptions, and unpredictable social change. The intellectual elite of that period, who are the authors of all the textual records of that time, were anxious to search the past looking for political and ethical models that could help them extricate society from this era of crisis and chaos. The human past was for them as promising a field of study as the world of the natural sciences much later became for the West. At the same time, there was an urgent desire to make out a glimpse of the future, an almost millennial urge to see a new age of order emerge. These interests in history and the millennium were connected because the literate elite looked to the past as the key to their future. [Source: Robert Eno, Indiana University indiana.edu /+/ ]



Age of Philosophers

Confucianism and Taoism developed in a period of Chinese history from the sixth century to the third century B.C., described as "The Age of Philosophers," which in turn coincided with the Age of the Warring States, a period marked by violence, political uncertainty, social upheaval, a lack of powerful central leaders and an intellectual rebellion among scribes and scholars that gave birth to a golden age of literature and poetry as well as philosophy.

During the Age of Philosophers, theories about life and god were debated openly at the "Hundred Schools," and vagrant scholars went from town to town, like traveling salesmen, looking for supporters, opening up academies and schools, and using philosophy as a means of furthering their political ambitions. Chinese emperors had court philosophers who sometimes competed in public debates and philosophy contests, similar to ones conducted by the ancient Greeks.

Rival schools fought among themselves for dominance, with each claiming the authority of the ancients and each promising to restore order if its doctrines were followed. Among these schools were the Confucians and the Taoists as well as the Motzu, who argued that order could restored by following the principalis of universal love, and the Legalists, who argued that order could be restored by following legals principals rather than moral ones.

The uncertainty of this period created a longing for a mythical period of peace and prosperity when it was said that people in China followed rules set by their ancestors and achieved a state of harmony and social stability. The Age of Philosophers ended when the city-states collapsed and China was reunited under Emperor Qin Shihuangdi.

Hundred Schools of Thought

So many different philosophies developed during the late Spring and Autumn and early Warring States periods that the era is often known as that of the Hundred Schools of Thought. From the Hundred Schools of Thought came many of the great classical writings on which Chinese practices were to be based for the next two and onehalf millennia. Many of the thinkers were itinerant intellectuals who, besides teaching their disciples, were employed as advisers to one or another of the various state rulers on the methods of government, war, and diplomacy. [Source: The Library of Congress *]


Confucius and Laozi


Rival schools fought among themselves for dominance, with each claiming the authority of the ancients and each promising to restore order if his doctrines were followed. Among these schools were the Confucians and the Taoists as well as the Mozi (Mo-tzu, Mo Di), who argued that order could be restored by following the principalis of universal love, and the Legalists, who argued that order could be restored by following legal principals rather than moral ones. *

The body of thought that had the most enduring effect on subsequent Chinese life was that of the School of Literati (ru), often called the Confucian school in the West. The written legacy of the School of Literati is embodied in the Confucian Classics, which were to become the basis for the order of traditional society. One strain of thought dating to the Warring States Period is the school of yin-yang and the five elements. The theories of this school attempted to explain the universe in terms of basic forces in nature, the complementary agents of yin (dark, cold, female, negative) and yang (light, hot, male, positive) and the five elements (water, fire, wood, metal, and earth). In later periods these theories came to have importance both in philosophy and in popular belief. *

Dr. Eno wrote: “We possess a number of texts that these wisdom traditions generated, and so important did these become to the intellectual history of China that they became the emblems of the Classical age, which is sometimes thought of simply as the “Age of the Hundred Schools.” Modern Western scholarship has tended to treat these texts as “philosophical” rather than as historical or literary, but they are not, in fact, confined to any single disciplinary interest. They represent the free play of the Classical imagination – philosophical, literary, and historical. They should be understood as a byproduct of the persuader tradition for several reasons. /+/

“First, many parts of these texts were composed as arguments that could be used to persuade rulers to adopt certain policies or employ certain types of people (including the authors) at court. They are, essentially, persuasions, although they generally argue broad points of doctrine or ideology rather than positions related to some specific situation. /+/

“Second, like many persuaders who wished to attract patronage not on the basis of their specific ideas but on the basis of their general skills in rhetoric, these texts are displays of virtuoso abilities that were often intended to induce rulers or warlords to accept the authors as retainers whether or not their ideas are acceptable as bases for court policy. Wealthy patricians often enhanced their own prestige by providing talented men with financial and other forms of support. /+/

“Third, the authors of these texts, like the “wandering persuaders” who roamed from court to court in search of employment, were usually itinerant men of learning in search of patronage. These texts represented their “dossiers.” When rulers of states announced that they were opening their courts to talented men from afar and urged those seeking honor to come seek an audience, the authors of these texts would take their places besides military experts seeking armies to lead and glib Machiavellians offering clever schemes in return for ministerial positions. /+/

“But unlike the other persuaders, the authors of these texts addressed audiences beyond the court: disciples, for whom the texts were intended as important teaching tools, potential disciples, who would be attracted by the texts and come to study with those who were masters of them (bringing some form of tuition payment with them), and authors of competing texts, whose positions the author would attempt to discredit. These are the “academic” audiences of the text, and it is because the texts were written with them in mind that they seem, in many ways, to be talking to one another. /+/

Political Conditions in Confucius’s Time


In the five-century Eastern Zhou period hold of the privileged elite on power and prestige gradually began to decline. Dr. Robert Eno of Indiana University wrote: “ During this long period, two central intellectual questions arose in response to the social change that undermined the monopoly on social advantage that hereditary status had enjoyed. 1) How should the privileges of hereditary status be balanced against the merits of personal talent and accomplishment; 2) What sorts of talents and accomplishments should be considered to be meritorious? It is against the background of these two questions that the ideology of Confucianism arose. Confucianism answered these questions in a way different from society at large. [Source: Robert Eno, Indiana University indiana.edu /+/ ]

“Confucius (551-479 B.C.; the Chinese form of his name is Kong Qiu), lived during this transition of Chinese society. He saw, as did everyone else of his day, how the demand for talent was undercutting the exclusive privileges of heredity. Confucius was a strong advocate of the priority of merit over birth – he and his followers were all members of the shi class [See Below]. But he was dismayed by many aspects the changes he observed. The types of “merit” that received the greatest rewards seemed to include ruthlessness in battle, glib dishonesty in speech, cold.hearted disregard for the suffering of the people during these times of disruption, and a willingness to win the favor of men in power by demonstrating that there was no speech too coarse and no act too brutal to say or do. The winners in the competition for wealth and rank were those willing to practice an absolutely self-serving amorality, constrained only by the need to demonstrate absolute loyalty to any lord who would bestow his favors upon them. /+/

“For Confucius and his followers, who promoted the aristocracy of merit over the aristocracy of birth, the key issue was to reform the way in which society at large evaluated merit, substituting a type of moral merit, modeled on Confucius's picture of the sages of the distant past and the early years of the Zhou, for the warrior ethic of the day. /+/

“Confucius believed that the principal task for all people during his era was to find a way out of the chaos of the times so that China could return to its “original” order. Confucius, like most people of his day, believed that the orderly state of the early Zhou had been ordained by a benevolent deity called “Tian,” or “Heaven.” The Zhou ruling house had received Heaven's “mandate” to rule because the Zhou founders possessed a special set of virtues that prompted them to create a uniquely patterned social order in China..an order that Tian desired all mankind to emulate. The philosophy of Confucius was a portrait of the fundamental elements of that order. Confucius preached that if individuals could recapture that order in their own personal attitudes and conduct, others would be drawn towards that order and seek to accord with it. In this way, society could gradually return to the perfect state of the past, which was also the heavenly model for all time. Confucius's own teachings, built on these precedents from the past, he called his “Dao,” or Way. /+/

Confucius and the shi Class


Dr. Eno wrote: “ The division of Jin in 453 B.C., in which a ruling house sanctioned by Zhou tradition was displaced by three upstart patrician clans who sliced the old state into smaller ones over which they ruled, was part of a larger process in which the prerogatives of the old patrician class began to decay. While it is possible to view this as the end of the Zhou aristocracy, it is probably more accurate to say instead that the boundary between the older clans of high birth and the common people became more porous. It is during this period that the word “shi,” denoting a trained warrior possessing the learning and etiquette of the nobility, came to be applied to a class of people, and the characteristics of the members of the shi class came to be viewed as a function of training rather than birth (though of course, birth still largely determined who was likely to receive training). Being a shi thus became a goal rather than a mere fact.” [Source: Robert Eno, Indiana University indiana.edu /+/ ]

Confucius was most famous theoretician of this new view of the manly ideal. “Although he died before the beginning of the Warring States period, his life and ideas also serve as an appropriate starting point for a Warring States narrative. To review briefly some of the most relevant aspects of Confucius’s career and influence, Confucius was born of parents who were probably members of patrician lineages of very low standing. “When young,” he once remarked, “I was of low station, hence I had to become skilled in many humble arts.” Confucius lived in a patrician state that was undergoing progressive political disintegration. The dukes of Lu had, like those of the much greater state of Jin, lost much of their power to a group of warlord clans. In Lu, these clans were all cadet branches of the ruling Ji lineage (the royal lineage of the house of Zhou, descended, in the case of Lu, from the Duke of Zhou). The warlord clan leaders controlled most of the territory of Lu and their influence at the ducal court was paramount. Their own clan lands were generally controlled by powerful stewards, able retainers in the paid service of these warlords. /+/

“The distinctive character of the state of Lu had, in the past, been derived from its association with the Duke of Zhou, whose contributions to the establishment of the Zhou state in the eleventh century had been so great. As his descendants, the dukes of Lu were entitled to employ ritual, music, and sacrificial forms otherwise reserved for the Son of Heaven alone. Lu was seen as preserving the ritual forms and learning of the early Western Zhou, and it possessed a special type of cultural legitimacy. The warlord clans, however, by destroying both the political and the ritual order of the state were destroying this state character.Confucius, for reasons that seem personal and lost to history, developed a deep affinity for the decaying rituals of the Zhou, and in his mind, he seems to have associated those forms of ceremony and etiquette with the prodigious political success of the Zhou founders. For Confucius, the warlord society of the Spring and Autumn period showed a sharp decline in both the moral values of society and the forms of social, religious, and court behavior. He saw these dimensions as intertwined, and became deeply committed to restoring ethical and political order through restoration of ritual order and personal morality. /+/

“However, Confucius’s situation was paradoxical. He was an advocate of the old patrician order, but being of low birth, he himself could play no legitimate role in the revival he sought. From this background, Confucius developed a very powerful combination program. He preached a conservative restoration of the patrician society of the Zhou, but he maintained as a radical tenet that personal virtue, rather than birth, was the qualification for membership in the ruling elite. For him, virtue was expressed in terms of ritual skills and humane dedication to social rather than personal advantage. At the same time, Confucius looked to the existing “legitimate” sovereigns, men like the Zhou kings or the dukes of Lu, as the best potential bases for a social revolution. All things being equal, birth still counted. If the men who occupied the thrones of the Zhou patrician rulers could, by means of revived personal virtue (and the aid of morally talented men like Confucius), lead the population as a whole, the new order could be more effectively established.” /+/

Tianxia: the Confucian Golden Age

Tianxia (literally: "under heaven") is a Chinese language word and an ancient Chinese cultural concept that denoted either the entire geographical world or the metaphysical realm of mortals, and later became associated with political sovereignty. In ancient China, tianxia denoted the lands, space, and area divinely appointed to the Emperor by universal and well-defined principles of order. The center of this land that was directly apportioned to the Imperial court was called Huaxia, Xia, Hua, Zhongxia, Zhonghua, or Zhongguo, among other names, forming the center of a world view that centered on the Imperial court and went concentrically outward to major and minor officials and then the common citizens, and finally ending with the fringe "barbarians". The center of this world view was not exclusionary in nature, and outer groups, such as ethnic minorities and foreign people, who accepted the mandate of the Chinese Emperor were themselves received and included into the Chinese tianxia. [Source: Wikipedia +]

In classical Chinese political thought, the Emperor of China, having received the Mandate of Heaven, would nominally be the ruler of the entire world. Although in practice there would be areas of the known world which were not under the control of the Emperor, in Chinese political theory the rulers of those areas derived their power from the Emperor. The larger concept of tianxia is closely associated with civilization and order in classical Chinese philosophy, and has formed the basis for the world view of the Chinese people and nations influenced by them since at least the first millennium B.C.. Tianxia has been independently applied by other countries in the East Asian cultural sphere, including Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. +


Sinocentrism Tianxia


Tianxia is associated with a mythical golden age of Chinese virtue that Confucius summed up as: “To be able to practice five things everywhere under heaven constitutes perfect virtue … gravity generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness and kindness." June Teufel Dreyer wrote in YaleGlobal: “In this narrative, the benign emperor maintained a pax sinica and ruled tianxia, all under heaven. This was symbolized by the tribute system, under which rulers of lands surrounding the Celestial Kingdom visited the imperial court, performed ketou, or obseisance, and presented gifts of local produce. In return, their legitimacy as rulers was affirmed. They were presented with the dynasty's calendar and received costly items emblematic of the superior Sinitic civilization. The result was datong, or great harmony. [Source: June Teufel Dreyer, YaleGlobal, from a longer paper to be published by The Journal of Contemporary China, October 20, 2014 */*]

Tianxia: the Mythical Confucian Golden Age a Myth?

“The late Harvard sinologist Yang Lien-sheng stated flatly that “the sinocentric world order was a myth backed up at different times by realities of varying degree, sometimes approaching nil." As other Chinese scholars have pointed out, force was needed, both to keep the empire together and protect it from external enemies. In Wang Gungwu's formulation, the reality of empire was that of a hard core ofwei, or force, surrounded by a soft pulp of de, virtue. Astute statecraft lay in finding the right balance. Although court records praise the Confucian wisdom of emperors, they in fact behaved like Legalists, who suggested that the well-ordered society depended on clear rules and punishment for violators rather than benevolence. Others have noted that the superiority of the Chinese model in preventing war is ludicrous to anyone familiar with the details of Chinese history replete with conflict." */*

“In yet another dissonance between theory and reality, those who accepted the status of vassal to the Chinese empire did not necessarily accept the notion of their inequality and conducted negotiations much as equals. In the mid-15th century, the ruler of Ayudhya refused the Ming dynasty envoy's demand that he ketou to show respect to the emperor. For this ruler and others, recognition served a utilitarian purpose – in this case, obtaining the dynasty's backing to counterbalance other aspiring hegemons. Confucius’ views on subordination of women and diminution of entrepreneurs would find little resonance today. */*

“Differences in power between the Chinese ruler and the rest could even result in role reversal: In 1138, the founder of the Southern Song dynasty, accepted vassal status to the barbarian Jin dynasty.(8) In the 18th century, in response to pressure from Japan, the Ryukyus sent tribute to both the Tokugawa shogun and to Beijing.(9) Even the Koreans, the most faithful of those professing allegiance to tianxia, repeatedly balked at Ming Emperor Hongwu's requests to send horses, apparently because they wanted to reserve their stock for use in possible conflicts with the Ming in Manchuria. During the Qing dynasty, though continuing to send tribute, Korean rulers looked down on the Qing and pointedly retained the rival Ming dynasty calendar." */*

Duke of Zhou: Confucius's Hero


Duke of Zhou

The Duke of Zhou was a member of the Zhou Dynasty who played a major role in consolidating the kingdom established by his elder brother King Wu. He was renowned in Chinese history for acting as a capable and loyal regent for his young nephew King Cheng and successfully suppressed a number of rebellions, placating the Shang nobility with titles and positions. He is also a Chinese culture hero credited with writing the I Ching and the Book of Poetry, establishing the Rites of Zhou, and creating the yayue of Chinese classical music. He is said to have founded what is now the modern city of Luoyang in western Henan province, in 1036 B.C. [Source: Wikipedia +]

Archaeologist Wang Tao told the BBC:"Everybody including Confucius himself always said: 'The Duke of Zhou is my hero, he really set up the foundation, particularly the cultural foundation of China'". The Duke of Zhou is believed to have been a real life figure born in 11th Century B.C. Known as the "God of Dreams" in legend, he lets people know via dreams when something important is going to happen to them. In a time of turbulence and political instability, when China was by modern standards a failed state, the Duke of Zhou was glowing example and paragon of virtue whose reputation endured for three thousand years. He is credited with founding the idea of a ruler in harmony with heaven that inspired Confucius and was resurrected to fill the ideological vacuum left behind by Chairman Mao. [Source: Carrie Gracie BBC News, October 9, 2012 \=\]

Carrie Gracie of BBC News wrote: The Duke of Zhou is “probably the first real person to step over the threshold of myth into Chinese history. We don't actually know much about” him. “He's more a personality cult than a person. But the seed of the cult lies in a real historical figure and real events. The duke helped his brother sweep away a corrupt ruler and found the Zhou dynasty in the 11th Century B.C.. After his brother died, the Duke of Zhou acted as a dutiful regent, and when his nephew came of age, he handed over power. "He has become as it were everybody's favourite uncle. Because in his noble manner of handing power over - rightfully - to his nephew, he has become a paragon of goodness throughout China's history," says Frances Wood, curator of the British Library's Chinese collection. \=\

The duke's personal name was Ji Dan. He was the fourth son of King Wen of Zhou and Queen Tai Si. His eldest brother Bo Yikao predeceased their father (supposedly a victim of cannibalism); the second-eldest defeated the Shang Dynasty at the Battle of Muye around 1046 B.C., ascending the throne as King Wu. King Wu distributed many fiefs to his relatives and followers and Dan received the ancestral territory of Zhou near present-day Luoyang. Only two years after assuming power, King Wu died and left the kingdom to his young son King Cheng. The Duke of Zhou successfully attained the regency and administered the kingdom himself, leading to revolts not only from disgruntled Shang partisans but also from his own relatives, particularly his older brother Guan Shu. Within five years, the Duke of Zhou had managed to defeat the Three Guards and other rebellions and his armies pushed east, bringing more land under Zhou control. +

Gracie wrote: “Mostly in Chinese history everyone seems to be behaving badly. Regent uncles, dowager empresses, concubines, brothers… all end up doing the wrong thing. Skim read the dynastic ups and downs of imperial China and it is a terrifying bloodbath of unexplained deaths, heads severed, babies strangled, siblings thrown down wells, kings poisoned, whole families executed or challengers torn limb from limb. But not the Duke of Zhou. That is what makes him such a big favourite with Confucians. At the heart of their political philosophy, and far more important than rules or contracts, is sincerity. "To the Chinese way of thinking, that's a very decent thing to do, to hold on to your promise," says historian Xun Zhou of Hong Kong University. "It's a mandate of heaven that his nephew became the king, and he did that." \=\

See Separate Article on the Duke of Zhou

Duke of Zhou and the Mandate of Heaven


Duke of Zhou statue

Carrie Gracie of BBC News wrote: “The mandate of heaven is the Duke of Zhou's big idea. The ruler governs by virtuous example, which spreads virtue throughout the land, and in turn demonstrates his harmony with the divine. But there's a get-out clause for rebels. If the king fails to rule virtuously, harmony is ruined and can only be restored by removal of the king. "One of the great things about Chinese history is the way that people become godlike - that gods and people are slightly interchangeable, and people become slightly superhuman. I think the Duke of Zhou is superhumanly good," says Frances Wood. The concept of the mandate of heaven contains within it the idea that if a ruler is good, heaven will be pleased and all will go well, Wood says. If a ruler is bad, heaven will show its displeasure through earthquakes and all sorts of natural disasters, and the ruler will be overthrown. [Source: Carrie Gracie BBC News, October 9, 2012 \=\]

Confucius wrote: "He who exercises government by means of his virtue may be compared to the north polar star which keeps its place and all the stars turn towards it." Archaeologist Wang Tao told the BBC:"Confucius, in his own words, said: 'Oh, in politics I follow the Duke of Zhou'. I'm sure he very much tried to restore the so-called golden age, or golden rule of Zhou dynasty, particularly in the rule under the Duke of Zhou." /=/

The doctrine of the Mandate of Heaven countered Shang propaganda that as descendants of the god Shangdi they should be restored to power. According to this doctrine, Shang injustice and decadence had so grossly offended Heaven that Heaven had removed their authority and commanded the reluctant Zhou to replace the Shang and restore order. [Source: Wikipedia]

Duke of Zhou and Ancestor Worship

Carrie Gracie of BBC News wrote: “ The Duke of Zhou is also credited with the creation of imperial rituals - a process reinforced by Confucius, who helped make China a nation of ritual. These rituals, many of which persist today, often express someone's position in society, or within the family. "Confucianism is particularly strong on [ideas such as] that a son must obey his father, a wife must obey her husband," says Wood. "The ritual within the family, the pecking order, all of those things are established by ritual." [Source: Carrie Gracie BBC News, October 9, 2012 \=\]

“Trumping all the other Confucian duties is the duty of the living to the dead. The ancestor is at the very top of the family hierarchy. "Ancestral worship in China is so important, because the Chinese don't have any particular religion, they don't believe in God," Wang Tao explains. "But they all worship ancestors. If you want to establish yourself in a society, you have to have a good ancestor. And you also have to have a good relationship to that ancestor." The Duke of Zhou is the good ancestor par excellence. And he looked back himself even further, to China's legendary ancestors, Tao says, "using that to form the nation or the culture of China". \=\

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons,

Text Sources: Robert Eno, Indiana University indiana.edu /+/ ; Asia for Educators, Columbia University afe.easia.columbia.edu <|>; University of Washington’s Visual Sourcebook of Chinese Civilization, depts.washington.edu/chinaciv /=\; National Palace Museum, Taipei npm.gov.tw \=/; Library of Congress; New York Times; Washington Post; Los Angeles Times; China National Tourist Office (CNTO); Xinhua; China.org; China Daily; Japan News; Times of London; National Geographic; The New Yorker; Time; Newsweek; Reuters; Associated Press; Lonely Planet Guides; Compton’s Encyclopedia; Smithsonian magazine; The Guardian; Yomiuri Shimbun; AFP; Wikipedia; BBC. Many sources are cited at the end of the facts for which they are used.

Last updated September 2016

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