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Christian Churches of God
No. B7_8
Mysticism Chapter 8
East Asia – China and Japan
(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.
Christian Churches of God
Email: [email protected]
(Copyright  2000 Wade Cox)
This paper may be freely copied and distributed provided it is copied in total with no alterations or
deletions. The publisher’s name and address and the copyright notice must be included. No charge may
be levied on recipients of distributed copies. Brief quotations may be embodied in critical articles and
reviews without breaching copyright.
This paper is available from the World Wide Web page: and
Page 2
Mysticism Chapter 8
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 highheaded 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.
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 northeast 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 YinShang (1525-1028 BCE), Early Chow (1027c.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
East Asia – China and Japan
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 twentyone centuries, was established (Werner, pp. 2627).
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
Page 3
as the new territory or Eastern Turkestan),
Manchuria, Formosa, Tibet and Mongolia.
Tibet was again added to the empire under Sunche (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
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 16441912 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
Page 4
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
Mysticism Chapter 8
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
East Asia – China and Japan
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
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'unlun 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
Page 5
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 reinterpretation 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
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
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
Page 6
great underlying concepts involved. Kramers’
account of the dialogue written by Yuan Hsingch'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 Chouli 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.
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
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
Mysticism Chapter 8
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
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
East Asia – China and Japan
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
Confucian School. The Emperor Wu, besides
Page 7
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
Page 8
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
Mysticism Chapter 8
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
East Asia – China and Japan
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
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.
Page 9
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
Page 10
seamen mentioned in chapter 6. The god of
cities or fortified towns is present as Ch'enghuang. 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,
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.165166).
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 neoConfucian 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 Kuangt'ing of the T'ang dynasty said. The text was
Mysticism Chapter 8
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 Teching, 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 hsuanyuan. 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:
East Asia – China and Japan
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 (Laotsu) (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
Syncretic Myths
The Kings of Heaven and Other Myths
The Taoists appear to have mimicked the
Buddhist Diamond system, or the four Chinkang 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
Page 11
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
Page 12
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
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).
Mysticism Chapter 8
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
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.
East Asia – China and Japan
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.900c.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 EYaou - ruled 2356? BC
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.
Page 13
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
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
Tang: 618\620?-906\7 CE. The literary
examinations were established under this
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
Page 14
Mysticism Chapter 8
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.
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.
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.
“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).
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 Teenning, emperor of China under the title of Sunche, 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
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”
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
East Asia – China and Japan
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
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
Page 15
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