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Unformatted text preview: (Pre Buddhist) World of the Dead 1. Ancestor Worship • Records of ancestor worship as early as Shang oracle bones • Continued to modern times • There remains in Chinese culture respect for ancestors and the elderly. 2. The Yellow Springs • Located underground (remember: yellow is the color of dirt/earth) • Evidence from as early as 4 th-3 rd centuries BC in the Zuo Zhuan • Mentioned in the Guanzi. “Those who are killed go to the Yellow Spring; they die but do not perish”. 3. Souls: hun and po • Hun is ethereal and proceeds upward (according to received texts) • Po is earthly and proceeds downward • (Some recently discovered texts imply that both hun and po proceed downward) 4. Mount Tai • One of the Five Mountains • Pre-Han: a location for sacrifices • Connections with the world of the dead. • Actual place in China • Lord of Mount Tai • Emperor of Heaven tiandi is also associated with the administration of Mount Tai • An early post-Han text: “Mount Tai is also called Heaven’s grandson, meaning that he is the grandson of the Emperor of Heaven. He is in charge of summoning people’s hun and po. He is in the East, the originator and completer of all things; hence he knows the length of people’s lives.” (232- 300) • Another account that associated Mount Tai and the Emperor of Heaven is “Ts’ai Chih’s Wife,” in Gjertson, “The Early Chinese Buddhist Miracle Tale,” pp. 289-290 • Mount Tai becomes important in Chinese Buddhist belief • It becomes the location for a world of the dead • It contains a netherworld bureaucracy, with judgment chambers and hells 5. Heaven • Rituals for deceased ancestors • A concept similar to “god” • Universe has three parts: Heaven, Earth, and Man • With Buddhism several “heavens” are introduces. • Buddhist and Daoist concepts interact to form a “popular” Chinese conception of the netherworld. Popular Buddhism • Buddhism was introduced into China circa 100 BC-100 AD • First mention in Dynastic Histories is dated 65 AD • 2 major types of Buddhism were introduced: o Mahayana or “Northern” Buddhism o Theravada (Hinayana) or “Southern” Buddhism • Mahayana became the dominant type of Buddhism in China (emphasizes “outside assistance”) • The five major Mahayana sutras were translated into Chinese by 286 AD • “Popular Buddhism” combines Buddhism with indigenous Chinese concepts Important concepts in popular Buddhism: o Karma (ye)-ethical totality of all acts o Samsara (zhuanlun)- continuous cycle of birth, life, death, rebirth, life, death… o Retribution/recompense (yinguo)-individuals are repaid for good and bad actions • The Five (sometimes six) Paths o Heaven (tian) o Human (ren) o Animal (chu) o Ghost (gui) o Hell (diyu) o The sixth, not often mention in popular Chinese Buddhism is Asura, “demigod” • Important in Mahayana-influenced popular belief • Salvation (one can be saved by “outside” assistance)...
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This note was uploaded on 10/19/2011 for the course CHINESE 155 taught by Professor Idk during the Spring '08 term at UMass (Amherst).
- Spring '08