Society and Social Welfare

Zhong Yong (Doctrine of the Mean) (Zhōngyōng 中庸)

Nirmal DASS One of Confucianism’s sacred texts, the Zhong Yong serves as a guide to achieving ­harmony—personal, social, and political—through a mind and self in a state of perfect equilibrium. Translated as The Doctrine of the Mean, it embodies many of the central themes of Confucianism. The Doctrine of the Mean (the Zhong Yong) comprises two chapters in the Classic […]

Four Books and Five Classics of Confucianism (Sìshū Wŭjīng 四书五经)

James D. SELLMANN The Song dynasty scholar Zhu Xi streamlined Confucian education by compiling the Four Books: Mencius, Analects, Great Learning, and Centrality and Commonality. These texts influenced Chinese culture more than any other classics during the last six centuries of the dynastic period. The great Song dynasty (960–1279) synthesizer of neo-Confucianism, Zhu Xi (1130–1200 CE), standardized educational methods by […]

Wang Yangming School (Wáng Yángmíng Xuéxiào 王阳明学校)

Wang Yangming School (Wáng Yángmíng Xuéxiào 王阳明学校)

Nirmal DASS A portrait of Wang Yangming, the philosopher who expanded the concept of the “thing” beyond materiality to embrace moral precepts and ideas. Neo-Confucianism combined principles from the three major ancient philosophies of China—Daoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism—and the Wang Yangming school was one of its dominant and most influential movements. The Wang Yangming school was named after the philosopher […]

Buddhism, Persecution of (Zhàojìnfó 诏禁佛)

Buddhism, Persecution of (Zhàojìnfó 诏禁佛)

André LALIBERTÉ A statue of Buddha, symbolically peeling away his earthly shell. PHOTO BY JOAN LEBOLD COHEN Buddhism, introduced from India, became widely accepted in China in the third century CE but suffered from persecution over the years for various reasons: rejection of Buddhism as a foreign or idolatrous religion, feelings of antireligion in general, or by the desire to […]

Huayan Buddhism (Huáyán Chánjiào 华严禅教)

Huayan Buddhism (Huáyán Chánjiào 华严禅教)

Nirmal DASS A page from the Flower Garland Sutra, the principle document of Huayan Buddhism. The Huayan school of Chinese Buddhism is part of the Mahayana tradition that examines the metaphysical condition of things. As such, it seeks to explain phenomena as an interpenetration of the universal with the particular, wherein the macrocosm is found contained within the microcosm. The […]

Tiantai (Tiāntái 天台)

Nirmal DASS The first truly Chinese school of Buddhist thought, Tiantai, was founded in the sixth century. With its Chinese perspective on an Indian religion, Tiantai spread through East Asia, establishing itself in Japan and Korea. Geographically, Tiantai refers to a mountain as well as a mountain range in Zhejiang Province; historically, this mountain became home to a school of […]

Buddhism (Fójiào 佛教)

Buddhism (Fójiào 佛教)

Ding-hwa HSIEH This stone relief sculpture decorating the Buddhist Temple of the Azure Clouds, in Beijing’s Western Hills, depicts a crowned and jeweled bodhisattva seated in lotus position. The bodhisattva holds a water jar and lotus (symbols of the life cycle), sits on lotus throne, and is surrounded by vines and heavenly clouds. PHOTO BY JOAN LEBOLD COHEN. Buddhism was […]

Divination (Bǔshì 卜筮)

Divination (Bǔshì 卜筮)

John G. BLAIR and Jerusha McCORMACK A fortuneteller in a nineteenth-century photograph. Harvard Yenching Library Archives. COURTESY OF JOAN LEBOLD COHEN. Since prehistoric times Chinese have tried to predict the future by interpreting oracle bones, signs in the sky, and stalks of plants. The newest form of divination practiced in China is feng shui. Divination (practices that seek to predict […]

Religion, Folk (Mínjiān zōngjiào 民間宗教)

Religion, Folk (Mínjiān zōngjiào 民間宗教)

Terence C. RUSSELL Wood engraving of a Thunder God. Throughout the premodern era the masses of the Chinese people, most of whom lived in small rural villages, remained faithful to their local gods. But they also perceived that the world was inhabited and affected by great numbers of unseen forces and beings. The objective of folk religion was to enlist […]

Confucian Ethics (Rújiā dàodé 儒家道德)

Confucian Ethics (Rújiā dàodé 儒家道德)

James D. SELLMANN A drawing of Confucius from a seventeenth-century book. The original caption read: “Confucius, The celebrated Chinese philosopher.” From Su shu; The morals of Confucius, a Chinese philosopher. London: Printed for Randal Taylor, 1691. BEINECKE RARE BOOK AND MANUSCRIPT LIBRARY, YALE UNIVERSITY. Confucian ethics teaches that no fixed and binding rules govern the moral life. Rather, a person […]