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Chinese Philosophy, Thoughts and Wisdom [Copy link] 中文

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Maoism

Maoism is a Communist philosophy based on the teachings of 20th century Communist Party of China revolutionary leader Mao Zedong. It is based partially on earlier theories by Marx and Lenin, but rejects the urban proletariat and Leninist emphasis on heavy industrialization in favor of a revolution supported by the peasantry, and a decentralized agrarian economy based on many collectively worked farms.

Many people believe that the implementation of Maoism in China led to widespread famine, with millions of people starving to death. Chinese Communist leader Deng Xiaoping instituted non-Maoist reforms which eventually enabled the country to recover.

Despite this, Maoism has remained a popular ideology for various Communist revolutionary groups around the world, notably the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, Sendero Luminoso in Peru, and an ongoing (as of early 2003) Maoist insurrection in Nepal.

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Post time 2007-5-1 05:29:24 |Display all floors
Chinese philosophy


Philosophy has had a tremendous effect on Chinese civilization, and East Asia as a whole. Many of the great philosophical schools were formulated during the Spring and Autumn Period and Warring States Period, and came to be known as the Hundred Schools of Thought. The four most influential of these were Confucianism, Taoism, Mohism, and Legalism. Later on, during the Tang Dynasty, Buddhism from India also became a prominent philosophical and religious discipline. (It should be noted that Eastern thought, unlike Western philosophy, did not express a clear distinction between philosophy and religion.) Like Western philosophy, Chinese philosophy covers a broad and complex range of thought, possessing a multitude of schools that address every branch and subject area of philosophy.

In China, the Tao Te Ching (Dà o dé jÄ«ng, in pinyin romanisation) of Lao Tzu (LÇŽo zǐ) and the Analects of Confucius (KÇ'ng fÅ« zǐ; sometimes called Master Kong) both appeared around 600 BCE, about the time that the Greek pre-Socratics were writing.

Of all the Chinese philosophies, however, it is quite safe to say Confucianism has had the greatest impact throughout East Asia. Confucianism respresents the collected teachings of the Chinese sage Confucius, who lived from 551 to 479 BCE. His philosophy focused in the fields of ethics and politics, emphasizing personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice, traditionalism, and sincerity. Confucianism, along with Legalism, is responsible for creating the world's first meritocracy, which holds that one's status should be determined by ability instead of ancestry, wealth, or friendships. It is arguable that Confucianism is most responsible for shaping the Chinese culture and state of Imperial China.

Throughout history, Chinese philosophy has been molded to fit the prevailing school of thought in China. The Chinese schools of philosophy, except during the Qin Dynasty, have been relatively tolerant of one another. Instead of competing, they generally have cooperated and shared ideas, which they would usually incorporate with their own. For example, Neo-Confucianism was a revived version of old Confucian principles that appeared around the Ming Dynasty, with Buddhist, Taoist, and Legalist features. During the Industrial and Modern Ages, Chinese philosophy had also began to integrate concepts of Western philosophy, as steps toward modernization. There have been attempts to incorporate democracy, republicanism, and industrialism into Chinese philosophy, notably by Sun Yat-Sen (Sūn yì xiān, in one Mandarin form of the name) at the beginning of the 20th century. Mao Tse-Tung (Máo zé dōng) added Marxism, Stalinism, and other communist thought. The current government of the People's Republic of China is trying to encourage a form of market socialism. As in Japan, philosophy in China has become a melting pot of ideas. It accepts new concepts, while attempting also to accord old beliefs their due.

Chinese philosophy has spread around the world in forms such as the so-called New Confucianism and New Age ideas (see for example Chinese traditional medicine). Many in the academic community of the West, however, remain skeptical, and only a few assimilate Chinese philosophy into their own research, whether scientific or philosophical.

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Post time 2007-5-1 05:31:29 |Display all floors
Religious Concepts in China

Many different systems of belief have taken root in China. The present article looks at some of the concepts used in Chinese religions and at the connections which exist between them.

Dao (also written tao) means 'the way', the path to be trodden, and is still used in its literal meaning in words such as renxing hengdao 'pedestrian crossing' which you can see on signs in Beijing. In religious usage it means 'human conduct', 'truth' or 'morality'; on a cosmic level it signifies the principle which creates and guides the universe. The term dao is very ancient, but was given particular prominence by the school of thinkers founded by Lao Zi (about 600 BC) and explained in the Dao De Jing 'The Way and its Power'. According to the Dao De Jing, the Way is the source of all things; it is mysterious and spontaneous in its action: all attempts to describe it in words are doomed to failure. Through the Way everything is achieved without effort; rules, exertion and interference with the natural world are contrary to the Way and lead to disaster.

Confucius also used the term dao to mean 'order' or 'morality'. Dao was felt by later generations of Chinese thinkers to be an essential part of the Chinese world-view, an ethical principle which the Westerners who rudely forced China to open its ports in the 19th century appeared to lack.

Li means 'politeness' or 'courtesy', but as used by the Confucians it included all the rules of human conduct from the proper mode of speech when addressing a superior to the performance of rituals. Rituals ('ritual' is another possible translation of li) were for the Confucian intellectuals the highest expression of goodness and righteousness, whilst for ordinary people they retained the far older significance of propitiating the spirits.

shen 'spirits' or 'gods' were associated with Heaven and the yang principle. In Chinese folk religion there were many different shen, associated with trees, rivers, rain, thunder, lightning, the household kitchen and the earth itself. The earth god was of great importance in the agricultural society of ancient China, and this is shown in the character she meaning 'society' with the altar radical next to the character for 'earth'. The communes set up in the late 1950s were called gongshe 'public she'.

gui 'ghosts' or 'devils' were associated with the Earth and the yin principle. They were seen as evil beings, wandering hungrily across the Earth. Buddhists explained them as human beings who had committed evil deeds in a previous life and so had been reborn as 'hungry ghosts'.

xian were Daoist immortals who had achieved physical immortality through the use of alchemy liandan or herbs yao. The character shows a person radical and a mountain: xian were supposed to dwell in the mountain, riding on cranes and perfecting their elixirs of immortality.

qi means 'air' or 'vapour', but it is not simply a form of gas. Joseph Needham translates it as 'matter-energy', and it is supposed to flow through the whole universe, including the human body, through which its channels are jing and luo (sometimes called 'meridians'). Acupuncturists seek to restore the flow of blocked qi by inserting their needles or by burning the herb moxa at the correct points.

Yin-Yang. Yin corresponds to darkness, coldness, dampness and Earth; yang to light, warmth, dryness and Heaven. They are in constant conflict, but neither force can ever completely vanquish the other. This is beautifully illustrated in the taijitu diagram , showing a little yin within the yang and vice versa. This theory was used to explain the existence of gui and shen, the cycles of the seasons and the nature of different foods and herbs.

ren is the perfect virtue of the Confucians, sometimes translated as 'human sympathy' or 'loving kindness'. The character ren shows a person radical with the symbol for 'two', indicating the relationship between two people, involving sympathy for others and action in accordance with li. Confucius explained ren as 'denial of self and response to li'.

tian 'Heaven' was a supernatural, ethical force seen as controlling the natural and human worlds. By the Zhou dynasty, the Emperor was called Tianzi 'Son of Heaven' and was seen as the conduit through which Earth was connected to Heaven. The morality of the Emperor was of great importance: a vicious ruler would cause Heaven to show its displeasure through earthquakes, floods and famines. Heaven gave its Mandate ming to just rulers, but withdrew it from those who proved lacking in virtue. The withdrawal of the Mandate would lead to a political upheaval ( geming , removal of the Mandate') which then resulted in the enthronement of a new, virtuous sovereign who would follow the Way of Heaven. The term geming is still used in China for 'revolution'.

Chan, better known in its Japanese form 'Zen', means 'meditation', and is probably the most famous school of Chinese Buddhism outside China. It placed emphasis on sudden enlightenment rather than gradual progress towards the goal of Nirvana. There are Zen stories of enlightenment following a chance remark in a wine-shop, a whack on the head with a teacher's sandal, and the Buddha holding up a flower. The source of enlightenment lay in everyday life, carrying water and chopping wood, not in elaborate systems of philosophy. Zen is sometimes seen as Daoist response to Buddhism, although it would be a mistake to assume that Zen is anti-intellectual despite its emphasis on meditation and 'silent identification with non-being'.

jingtu 'Pure Land', the name of the most popular form of Chinese Buddhism. The Pure Land was a kind of Heaven or Nirvana which could be achieved by repetition of the name of Amida Buddha. Chinese Buddhist temples often show aspects of several types of Buddhist practice, but the Pure Land sect was by the late Qin the most important, and the temples which still operate in China are mostly this type.

zuzong 'ancestors': worship of ancestors was always an important part of Chinese beliefs, emphasising the continuity of the family and clan, the mutual obligations of the living, and respect for the past. Sacrifices to the ancestors served to cement the relationship which defined the individual's place in society. Rich families had an ancestral hall in their house where stone tablets with the ancestors' names engraved on them were kept.

The above are merely a small selection of the many hundreds of religious terms used in China. The three main religions, Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism came to be seen as in essence different aspects of a single truth, and so there were relatively few people who defined themselves as Buddhist rather than Confucian or Daoist rather than Buddhist. There were Buddhist and Daoist monks and nuns who did make such a commitment of course, and periods of religious persecution, but still nothing to compare with the bloody European wars of religion nor the burning of heretics and witches.

This relative liberality both eased the introduction of new religions (such as Islam and Christianity) and created problems for the missionaries. Chinese religious terminology was already so rich that it was tempting to use an existing terms (dao, for 'God', for instance) with all the risks of misunderstanding that might arise perhaps even the absorption of the new religion into the indigenous systems of belief. Another possibility was to coin a completely new Chinese term which is what the Roman Catholic missionaries did when translated God as Tianzhu 'Lord of Heaven', whilst the Protestants used the existing term Shangdi 'Supreme Emperor' for the Deity.

The Chinese word for 'religion' zongjido itself denotes 'ancestral teaching', reflecting the Chinese emphasis on a collective relationship with the past rather than an individual's faith in a supernatural being, although the success of Pure Land Buddhism showed the emotional power of a more personal religious experience.

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Post time 2007-5-1 05:40:37 |Display all floors
Taoism was the fundamental religion in China for thousands of years. And during that period philosophers like Lao Tse, Confucius, and Menzies and others saw the tyrannic, opressive and cruel rule of the Emperors and warring between the rival territorial war lords of the nation, and sought answers for the good of the nation. Confucius tried, unsuccessfully to gain a place in the Emperor's advisory council without much success. However, many of his philosophies were wise and useful and has survived the test of time. But Concusius's philosophy was just that, and it was not related to god or religion. It was a code of life for harmonious living particularly in relation to the family and to the nation.

Buddhism, another philosophy, espoused by Gautama Buddha (born,Nepal,c.563-483 BC) began in India, born out of the Hindu environment. Buddha sent out emissaries to spread his philosophies, and mainly via Tibet, Buddhism spread to China. However, Tosists were impressed by the organization and practice of the Buddhism heirarchy and adopted many of Buddhist practices into the Taoist faith and Temple organization and rituals. Hence the natural fusion of these two religion. The two religions were not in conflict, but were complimentary to one another. This fusion religion eventually evolved, and is observed by many Chinese people in the Mainland China, and which spread throughout South East Asia mainly via immigrants bringing their traditions with them. This is why many Taoist/Buddhists outside of China has remained very stagnant in their concepts while that in the mainland has altered somewhat.

Much of the basis of the Chinese culture and psyche and thought processes is strongly influenced by these two religions. What do we know of the tenets of these two religions? There are some similarities but there are also some very definite fundamental differences about their concept of heaven, and god/gods. And to make things more confusing, into the fusion of these two religions, is also infused the best of the philosophies of Confucius. To understand the Chinese culture, one cannot avoid the influences of these religions in the analysis.

Has Chinese culture survived because of this strong faith in their religious beliefs, or has it held back the progress of the peoples of China and was changed and influenced by Communism? What is the result today of this mix? Overseas Chinese were not directly influenced by the Mao Tze Tung anti-religious doctrines. But today, there is strong evidence that religion is expereincing a resurgence in China. How is this going to influence future generations?

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Post time 2007-5-7 07:34:52 |Display all floors
Sun Zi Art of War


Sun Zi Bing Fa, also known as Sun Tzu Art of War, was written by the famous strategist Sun Wu, a native of today's Zhongmin County in East China's Shandong Province, during the late Spring and Autumn Period (770-476BC).

Sun Zi Art of War is the world's earliest military book extant in China and militarists all over the world have paid much attention to the book (which has been translated into several languages) from its very beginning. At the beginning of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), it was introduced into Japan. After the Song Dynasty (960-1279), it was listed as the first book of the Seven Military Classics. The book was introduced into Europe and America in modern times. It is said that after Napoleon was defeated in war, he regretted that he had not earlier read this book.

In April 1972, bamboo slips versions of Sun Zi Bing Fa and Sun Bin Bing Fa were discovered in the No.1 Tomb of the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD) in the Yinyue Mountain in Linyi of East China's Shandong Province.

The book features very terse language and philosophic contents, as can bee seen from below.

At the very beginning of the book, it makes clear that "the art of war is of vital importance to the state. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence under no circumstances can it be neglected." Therefore, says the book, the commanders of a war should carefully compare the conditions of the two parties, and "make calculations before the war to win it." The book suggests that generals should spare no money in using spies to fully learn the states of the enemy and stresses that preparedness is essential for war.

Sun Zi advocates maximizing the victory with minimum cost, via his famous all-round victory theory of "subduing the enemy troops without any fighting." The essence of the theory is to attain one's purposes through a series of unmilitary measures like tactics and diplomacy, based of course on military strength. The all-round victory thought constituted an important part in traditional Chinese strategic culture, and became the ideal goal for later militarists to diligently pursue, up to this very day.

In his book, Sun Zi is fully aware of the importance of initiative in the field. His core war theory is to steer clear of the enemy's main strength and strike its weak point. While the theory is universally known as a principle for war, yet Sun Zi's understanding is not limited to the theory's literal meaning; he also takes into account the strength and weakness in a developmental view.

According Sun Zi, the theory does not mean passively waiting; instead, he argues that subjective initiative should be adequately exerted to create favorable situations in the war. Hence there are a lot of tactics and plans to bait the enemy in the book. Sun Zi thinks that if the commanders could properly use tactics and stratagems in the field, delicately maneuver the enemy troops, then the commanders could make their own troop strong and the enemy's weak.

Sun Zi attaches much importance on the management and training of the army, and considers the skills and number of the soldiers as two basic factors that decide the war. It is not an overstatement to say that Sun Zi was the first militarist in China to put management and training on a strategic height.

The central content of Sun's theory in managing the army is to "order the soldiers with civil, and make them uniform with the martial." The generals must care about and treasure their soldiers, but should also implement strict rules and disciplines. Though Sun Zi's theory in managing the military forces is somewhat primitive, it still boasts innovative significance in opening a new and important field.

In addition, the book also talks about military geomorphology (the study of physical features of the earth's surfaces in relation to geological structures), logistics, and forecast. It is fair to say that this book sets up the basic structure of traditional Chinese military theory.

Author: Jeff

  1. http://www.chinaculture.org/gb/en_madeinchina/2005-07/21/content_70813_2.htm
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Post time 2007-5-7 07:36:46 |Display all floors
Liu Tao


Liu Tao (Six Strategies of the War), originally attributed to the famous strategist Jiang Ziya in the Western Zhou Dynasty (11th century-771BC), was actually completed in the late Warring States Period (475-221BC). Though the actual writer cannot be determined now, it is possible that the book reflects some of Jiang's military thoughts.

Though there are many editions of the book from different periods of Chinese history, and the content of each may vary slightly, the structure and the guiding idea are the same.

There are six volumes in the edition nowadays: the Civil Strategy (which discusses how to manage the state affairs and make proper use of its personnel); the Martial Strategy (which discusses how to direct military operation); the Dragon Strategy (which discusses the military organization): the Tiger Strategy (which focuses on the war environment, weapons, and troop formations); the Leopard Strategy (concerning the tactics); and the Dog Strategy (which looks at the commanding and training of the army).

Liu Tao inherits the cream of the military thoughts of the previous strategists, and also borrows from the merit points of different schools, hence its rich content and thoughts. In the area of political strategy, the book repeatedly advocates "the world is not a world for one person, but for all the people in the world." The book stresses that those who want to take the world must win the support of the people. In substance, Liu Tao requires the rulers to reduce taxes and labor.

In the area of military affairs, the book requires the commanders to use various strategies and tactics with ingenuity according to different situations. For instance, the best way to attack a city is to besiege it and strike at the reinforcement, so as to force the surrender.

The book also notes the great influence of geography and the climate on tactics.

In addition, it also summarizes the respective fighting methods of various arms of services like the infantry, vehicle soldiers, and the cavalry, as well as the coordinated tactic when all are involved. The command structure and the function of each part in ancient China are recorded, with the book also suggesting that soldiers should be arrayed into different teams according to different specialties. The book also stresses that communication should remain confidential in the army, recording various such methods.

The selection of the generals is also deemed very important. What's more, the book also raises eight ways to investigate a good general.

In military philosophy, Liu Tao boasts simple materialistic thoughts. On one hand, it opposes superstition and augury, listing them as one of the "Seven Evils" that must be forbidden. On the other hand, it advocates that "God's will" and superstition should be used to delude the enemy.

The book's dialectic thoughts are important contributions to ancient Chinese dialectics, and many important military thoughts are built upon it.

With its high theoretical and historical values, the book has been considered a military canon throughout ages both in China and abroad.

Author: Jeff

  1. http://www.chinaculture.org/gb/en_madeinchina/2005-07/20/content_70803_2.htm
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Post time 2007-5-7 07:38:38 |Display all floors
Sima Fa


In ancient times, a Sima was the highest official in charge of military times. The Sima Fa (literally means the "Methods of the Minister of War") book is a collection of Simas' opinions on the contemporary wars. Since Tian Rangju, Sima of the Qi State in the late Spring and Autumn Period (770-476BC), is said to have contributed greatly, the book is also known as the Methods of Rangju Minister of War . The earliest edition is from the Song Dynasty (960-1279).

The book generally classifies wars into two categories of just and unjust based on the purpose. The wars that put down chaos, root out evil and violence, and help the weak are considered righteous. Therefore, killing to stop killing, attacking another nation for its people's sake, and fighting that stops more fighting are acceptable. In short, the principle of starting a war is whether it is humane, and the book raises nine conditions under which one should not start a war. The precondition of launching a war is to protect the interest of the people.

On the issue of dealing with the enemy, the book also comes up with some innovative ideas. Common soldiers should be treated differently from war criminals, while prisoners of war deserve preferential treatment. The wounded in the war should be treated with proper medical care. The troops should not violate the interest of the people of the enemy country. Upon entering the enemy's domain, the soldiers are to strictly follow rules and regulations to get the support of the people in the enemy country. This is the earliest discussion on the policies to the enemy in China.

Preparedness and cautiousness to war are two important thoughts in the book. To be alert to danger in times of peace requires mental preparedness, which in turn ensures security. Via two large-scale surrounding hunts each year, the troops are trained and inspected, so as to remind the country about possible war any time. While emphasizing war preparedness, the book also stresses, "though the country is big and powerful, it is doomed to demise if it is too belligerent."

The book holds that administering an army is very different from managing the state affairs, as the former upholds rituals and the latter values laws. The paramount problem of regulating discipline in the army is handled through the reward and punishment system. The book lists the differences and similarities of the reward and punishment systems in the Xia, Shang, and Zhou dynasties (about 21st century-256BC), and discusses the essentials for establishing various rules in the army. Besides, there are also a lot of specific customs and rules, as well as the standards for an army general at that time in the book.

The guiding thought of the book is based on the military dialectics. The book accentuates comprehensive investigation and inspection about war, namely, the "five ponderings" -- timing, wealth, support (of the people), landform, and weapons. Before a war, meticulous schemes are required, while changes and adaptations are needed in the war according to the increasing knowledge about the enemy.

Since its inception, Sima Fa has always been highly valued by rulers, militarist, and scholars. The thoughts on administering the army with discipline and detailed military laws and customs have provided references for the military policy making afterwards. From the Song Dynasty (960-1279), the book has been listed as a classic of the military imperial examinations . The book also has had some international influences. However, the book contains some beliefs that are considered bigoted by today's standards, meaning some of its content is not very suitable for current military thoughts and trends.

Author: Jeff

  1. http://www.chinaculture.org/gb/en_madeinchina/2005-07/20/content_70804_2.htm
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