(Beyond) Atlantis II - Maya Inaccuracies??

12 views
Skip to first unread message

BAMMFrazer

unread,
Sep 1, 2000, 3:48:56 PM9/1/00
to
Ok, correct me if I am wrong here, but the Maya realm of Beyond Atlantis
(Atlantis II) seems to be full of distracting historical inaccuracies.

Clearly, this is supposed to be the Maya civilization as the box states
the location as the Yucatan. But I see references to Aztec and Inca culture
everywhere.
First, the location looks like it has been terraced. I may be mistaken,
but weren't the Incas the civilization to employ terrace farming? Ok, maybe
I'm wrong here, but I always thought it was the Incas.
More important though are the references to gods such as Quetzalcoatl
(Feathered Serpent) and Tezcatlipoca (Smoking Mirror). I'm pretty sure that
these are Aztec gods. Not Mayan. So, what are they doing here?
Last, while the temples certainly look Mayan, I believe that the
basketball-like game pit is characteristic of Aztec culture.

So, am I correct in these statements? I know that Beyond Atlantis is not
trying to be historically accurate the way a game like The Sacred Amulet is,
but errors like this really ruin the believability of a game world. Id be
interested to hear your feedback. Thanks.

-BAMM


Jenny100

unread,
Sep 1, 2000, 5:03:05 PM9/1/00
to
"BAMMFrazer" <BAMMF...@att.net> wrote in message
news:IKTr5.13909$Q36.1...@bgtnsc07-news.ops.worldnet.att.net...

> Ok, correct me if I am wrong here, but the Maya realm of Beyond Atlantis
> (Atlantis II) seems to be full of distracting historical inaccuracies.
>
> Clearly, this is supposed to be the Maya civilization as the box
states
> the location as the Yucatan. But I see references to Aztec and Inca
culture
> everywhere.
> First, the location looks like it has been terraced. I may be
mistaken,
> but weren't the Incas the civilization to employ terrace farming? Ok,
maybe
> I'm wrong here, but I always thought it was the Incas.
> More important though are the references to gods such as
Quetzalcoatl
> (Feathered Serpent) and Tezcatlipoca (Smoking Mirror). I'm pretty sure
that
> these are Aztec gods. Not Mayan. So, what are they doing here?

I assumed that this was meant to be some sort of transition period
since the priestess said all the surrounding villages were turning
to worship of Tezcatlipoca.

Did the Mayans even have a god as bloodthirsty as Tezcatlipoca?
From what I've heard the Aztecs were a lot bloodier than the
Mayans.

The best online source of Mayan mythology that I found was
http://www.pantheon.org/mythica/areas/mayan/
It mentions Chac and Xibalba. Quetzacoatl is not found in the main
index, but if you look up Kukulcan, you learn that Kukulcan was the
feathered serpent and was merged with Quetzacoatl by the Aztecs.
There's a link to more info about Quetzacoatl on the Kukulcan page.
And it seems that the duality between Quetzacoatl and Tezcatlipoca
is a Toltec thing too.

If you look at the entry for Ixtab, you learn she was a goddess of
suicide. Apparently Mayans believed that if they committed suicide,
they'd be taken to an eternal rest in paradise. This may explain why
they died out. :厚

> Last, while the temples certainly look Mayan, I believe that the
> basketball-like game pit is characteristic of Aztec culture.
>

I found a picture of a Mayan ball court here
http://www.members.home.com/johnbrow/mayaworkshop/
(This link takes forever to download with a modem.)
It does not look like the pit in Beyond Atlantis though.
It is much broader and the walls are lower.

> So, am I correct in these statements? I know that Beyond Atlantis is
not
> trying to be historically accurate the way a game like The Sacred Amulet
is,
> but errors like this really ruin the believability of a game world. Id
be
> interested to hear your feedback. Thanks.
>
> -BAMM

Well I know next to nothing about either Mayan or Aztec culture.
I think Cryo does not expect most gamers to know anything about
them. But I do think they should have done a little better research or
made it clear that this was not a strictly Mayan world.
It is obvious that the story has fantasy elements, since you can't
normally
talk to dead people's heads and such, but it would improve things if
they kept their mythology straight.


katie

unread,
Sep 1, 2000, 7:00:23 PM9/1/00
to
YUCK!

--
katiedidit
______


P12 <nom...@all.com> wrote in message
news:hcc0rs08pfg56t8mb...@4ax.com...


> On Fri, 1 Sep 2000 17:03:05 -0400, "Jenny100" <Jenn...@nospam.com>
> wrote:
>
> >Did the Mayans even have a god as bloodthirsty as Tezcatlipoca?
> >From what I've heard the Aztecs were a lot bloodier than the
> >Mayans.
>

> I think so. I have figurine my mother got in Mexico that is supposed
> to be a replica of a Mayan place to sacrifice people. She said the
> native who sold it to her had stories about tearing peoples heads out
> on that piece of stone.
>


BAMMFrazer

unread,
Sep 1, 2000, 9:38:53 PM9/1/00
to
Yeah, I try to follow the order of the Stones on the road and the locations
on the CD. Ireland is the only world I have completed as of now, and it was
fantastic. It struck a perfect balance between story, characterization,
puzzles, and gameplay. Plus, the music was just wonderful. Maya seems good,
but the world does not seem as believable and the puzzles are much, much
harder. But then again, the land of the dead's river is simply stunning. It
will probably be the visual highlight of the game for me (if you don't count
that yummy priestess). ;-)

-BAMM


"P12" <nom...@all.com> wrote in message

news:bdi0rs4d6ab93uq4s...@4ax.com...
> On Fri, 01 Sep 2000 23:31:13 GMT, "BAMMFrazer" <BAMMF...@att.net>
> wrote:
>
> >Yeah, I know, but it seems they are mixing cultures to fit their story
this
> >time. Maybe it is a kinda transition period. Its not that big of deal
since
> >this is not a realistic game, but the Maya mythology just does not seem
as
> >authentic as the mythology used as the backbone for the Ireland segment
(I
> >have not played China yet).
> >
> >-BAMM
>
> Ireland was my favorite part of the game. I loved that part. I
> guess you played it in the same order as me.


Murray Peterson

unread,
Sep 2, 2000, 3:12:36 AM9/2/00
to
nom...@all.com (P12) wrote:

>For some reason I really like chac. Maybe because my mother
>collects frog stuff. I don't know. I just found him very
>interesting. In Ireland I really enjoyed the horse. I found
>that whole scenario visually stunning.

We all seem to have found favourite visual imagery in that game, but
it seems Cryo has got some really good artists on their team if they
can do this for all of us. They really are getting quite good at
their games.

--
Murray Peterson
Email: murray_...@home.com (remove underscore)
URL: http://www.members.home.net/murraypeterson

Geoffrey Tobin

unread,
Sep 6, 2000, 10:24:24 PM9/6/00
to
Jenny100 wrote:
>
> "Geoffrey Tobin" <G.T...@latrobe.edu.au> wrote in message
...
> > The Mayan intellectual aristocracy wiped each other out in
> > ceaseless warfare, until only the peasants survived.
> > (The farmers are the Mayans of today.)
> >
> > Their rulers were not only as brutal as the Aztecs, but they
> > didn't even restrain their behavior to save themselves.
> > Compared to them, the Aztecs were socially enlightened.
>
> That's not what they taught me in high school but it's
> undoubtedly more accurate. Thanks.

Until the Mayan inscriptions could be read, archaeologists
thought they were ivory tower astronomers. So it was a mystery
why their cities were abandoned to the jungle. What could have
done it? Disease? Unlikely. Enemies? There was no sign of
rival powers who could have overcome them all. Were they so
peaceful that they calmly allowed themselves to be slaughtered?
Then why have so many Mayans survived as peasant farmers?

Now that much of the script is understood, we can read the events
and the dates - Mayan chronology is very precise. So we find
(this is a hypothetical example, as i don't recall the dates)
that on 11 April 911 so many human sacrifices were made before
King whoever set out to exterminate the nearby town of whatsit.

The last inscriptions in the main cities, around AD 1200, describe
how the local king's recent battles haven't been going too well,
and then there are signs that the site has been burnt.

Eventually there were only a few people left in the remains
of once great cities, and the surrounding lands had in any case
been overcropped, so the farmers had to move on, leaving no
reason for anyone to stay in the starved and smashed cities.

Summary: relentless internecine warfare is not good.

Curiously, the Mayan symbol for "mouth" is both written
and pronounced similarly to the equivalent Chinese word.
This suggests that (1) the Mayan and Chinese languages
may have at least one common source language, and
(2) writing may be a lot older than we know.

--
Best wishes!
Geoffrey Tobin
Email: G.T...@latrobe.edu.au
WWW: http://www.ee.latrobe.edu.au/~gt/gt.html

Jenny100

unread,
Sep 6, 2000, 11:59:10 PM9/6/00
to

"Geoffrey Tobin" <G.T...@latrobe.edu.au> wrote in message
news:39B6FC58...@latrobe.edu.au...

Very interesting information. Thanks again.
I don't suppose you know about who the Toltecs were.
Did they predate the Mayans or were they from a different
region or ?


Geoffrey Tobin

unread,
Sep 8, 2000, 1:51:28 AM9/8/00
to
Jenny100 wrote:
...

> I don't suppose you know about who the Toltecs were.
> Did they predate the Mayans or were they from a different
> region or ?

I'm hoping someone else will answer that, because i've
forgotten most of what i once knew about the Toltecs.

But i _think_ they preceded the Aztecs in central
Mexico.

Geoffrey Tobin

unread,
Sep 10, 2000, 8:45:33 PM9/10/00
to
P12 wrote:
>
>
> Actually I saw in interesting article in the paper on friday. It
> said they found a giant Mayan shopping center.

A market?
Or a mall?
Indoor or outdoor?

> ... And it makes me wonder how accurate our
> current descriptions of them are. If you look at modern America
> there is a all kinds of killing and violence. And if you just focus
> on that like the papers do then you will get and awful twisted view of
> America.

Except that, according to their own records, the Mayan upper class
wiped each other out.

Inter-city rivalries in America don't involve mutual extermination.
(Maybe they would if Al Capone and co. had got somewhat bigger,
but that's hypothetical.)

> I think a lot of these cultures that
> scientists write about they don't really understand at all.

That happens, especially when trying to imagine ancient times.
A lot of what scientists say is far-fetched extrapolation: just
because science is their profession doesn't mean that everything
they say is well-founded.

Indeed, speculation is essential to the enterprise of science:
so long as hypotheses are recognised as being only that until
sufficient evidence is available to test their ideas.

But often an enthusiastic proponent will put an hypothesis
as if it were fact. That's why we should all practice
critical thought. In particular:

"So-and-so is touted as an expert; s/he says such-and-such.
But holding an opinion is not an argument.
Making a claim is not evidence.
What parts of the claim can i verify?"

> For
> example it is common knowledge and belief that Manhattan Island was
> bought from the Indians for some beads and knives. Know they are
> realizing that maybe they just thought they where buying the island.
> That the Indians thought they where gifts since that was common when
> greeting strangers.

John Batman claimed the Port Phillip district for his settlement
of Melbourne in exchange for blankets, hatchets, etc. given to the
natives. That claim was not officially recognised by the colonial
government, nor by Batman's rival in settlement, John Pascoe Fawkner.

Obviously for a claim to be legally binding, there must first be
an agreed legal system. This was not the case for the first
European settlements either in North America or in Australia.

> They Indians never really thought the same way
> about owning land. We also portray them as barbaric and savages.

A convenient portrayal that's contrary to all the evidence.

Pcohontas's father was a King, ruling a large population
in a wide area along the Eastern seaboard that was comparable
to England.

The first English settlements depended on that King's support
to survive the harsh winters, yet their conduct was disgraceful.

> But if anyone had took over our country like we took over theirs I
> don't see us being all so friendly about it either.

The US claims it would fight to the death. It did so against
its original colonising power.

But people in general are one-sided in their application
of justice: "all rights to us, all obligations to others".

> People have discovered that art of writing history
> however they see fit.

Even so, an unjaundiced eye can read a more accurate story
by rejecting the propaganda, and watching actions and trends.

> And on another note. Who where the Pagans?
> They where portrayed differently then anything I remember.

Sorry? Which Pagans? Is this the name of an ancient Meso-American
culture? (Is that the origin of the name of the Apogee puzzle game
Paganitzu?)

erimess

unread,
Sep 10, 2000, 9:10:58 PM9/10/00
to
On Thu, 07 Sep 2000 13:24:24 +1100, Geoffrey Tobin
<G.T...@latrobe.edu.au> wrote:


>
>Curiously, the Mayan symbol for "mouth" is both written
>and pronounced similarly to the equivalent Chinese word.
>This suggests that (1) the Mayan and Chinese languages
>may have at least one common source language, and
>(2) writing may be a lot older than we know.
>

I have heard there are commonalities between some Oriental arts and
one or several of the historical peoples of South America. (Don't
remember who.) This is a vague memory in the back of my mind, so I
could be completely full of it.

erimess

You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.

erimess

unread,
Sep 10, 2000, 9:20:16 PM9/10/00
to
On Sat, 09 Sep 2000 23:47:52 -0400, P12 <nom...@all.com> wrote:

> For
>example it is common knowledge and belief that Manhattan Island was
>bought from the Indians for some beads and knives. Know they are
>realizing that maybe they just thought they where buying the island.
>That the Indians thought they where gifts since that was common when

>greeting strangers. They Indians never really thought the same way


>about owning land. We also portray them as barbaric and savages.

>But if anyone had took over our country like we took over theirs I

>don't see us being all so friendly about it either. People have


>discovered that art of writing history however they see fit.

You are so very right. Some of the Indians were just savage, but most
of them were just defending their land. We came in, some of them
welcomed us, shared with us, and we decided to just take over. I
shouldn't say "we" cause none of us personally did anything.
(Besides, my ancestors were still over in England at the time.
Anyway...) We did some pretty barbaric things to them, but we don't
learn that in history. I guess you really shouldn't get me started on
this subject

>
>
>
>And on another note. Who where the Pagans? They where portrayed
>differently then anything I remember.


"Pagan" was basically anyone who chose not to convert to Christianity.
That made them evil, of course. Oh, were you talking about something
in reference to the game? I haven't played it. (I was looking at it
in CompUSA today though.)

Arian Hokin

unread,
Sep 10, 2000, 10:32:28 PM9/10/00
to
Geoffrey Tobin wrote:

> P12 wrote:
> >
> > And on another note. Who where the Pagans?
> > They where portrayed differently then anything I remember.
>
> Sorry? Which Pagans? Is this the name of an ancient Meso-American
> culture? (Is that the origin of the name of the Apogee puzzle game
> Paganitzu?)

:-D :-D :-D

The English word "pagan", meaning "holding to a non-Christian religion" is
derived from the Latin "paganus", which means "one who lives in the country"
- the rustic country-dwellers were slower to abandon their ancestral
nature-religions and take on Christianity than those who lived in the
cities.

I'm not aware that there was ever any particular tribe of people who were
called "the Pagans," though that may simply be my ignorance - and the Romans
were often pretty cavalier about distinguishing differences among people who
weren't Roman citizens...

Where did you say you saw this portrayal of "the Pagans", P12?

Arian

Robert Norton

unread,
Sep 11, 2000, 12:06:30 AM9/11/00
to
erimess wrote:

> >Curiously, the Mayan symbol for "mouth" is both written
> >and pronounced similarly to the equivalent Chinese word.
> >This suggests that (1) the Mayan and Chinese languages
> >may have at least one common source language, and
> >(2) writing may be a lot older than we know.
>
> I have heard there are commonalities between some Oriental arts and
> one or several of the historical peoples of South America. (Don't
> remember who.) This is a vague memory in the back of my mind, so I
> could be completely full of it.

You are right. Burial with a piece of jade under the tongue, and
scapulmancy (sp? divining by watching the cracks in baked bones ) are
two more. I think also the year zero was the same for both to within a
few years.

Jenny100

unread,
Sep 11, 2000, 1:27:10 AM9/11/00
to
"P12" <nom...@all.com> wrote in message
news:k2korssbosfaoruhh...@4ax.com...

> >
> >> And on another note. Who where the Pagans?
> >> They where portrayed differently then anything I remember.
> >
> >Sorry? Which Pagans? Is this the name of an ancient Meso-American
> >culture? (Is that the origin of the name of the Apogee puzzle game
> >Paganitzu?)
>
> Perhaps I spelled it wrong. They where mentioned in the Ireland
> chapter very frequently since they occupied the Island before the
> current residents found their "true faith". I always though it was
> a religion. But when I looked it up it said it wasn't. I had
> always heard bad things about them. They where described as
> hedonistic and materialistic dictionary. But they didn't sound much
> worse than a typical American. In the Ireland chapter there is also a
> Pagan cross that is supposed to spin like the sun.

They're probably referring to Irish mythology. I don't know much
about it. There is a website here
http://www.pantheon.org/mythica/areas/celtic/
but the only name I can remember to look up is Aine.
Did they say the spinning cross was a St. Brigid's cross? I forget.


Jenny100

unread,
Sep 11, 2000, 3:21:36 AM9/11/00
to
"P12" <nom...@all.com> wrote in message
news:v7vorskfqa5b5gvbd...@4ax.com...
>
>
> I don't think it was just mythology. The skull you put together was
> supposed to be king. His name was Ailill according UHS hints .
> Yes it was St. Brigids Cross I believe. BTW I never knew that is
> where the Boston Celtics got their name.

In case anyone is still interested...
I found another link at
http://celt.net/Celtic/celtopedia/a.html
It mentions

AILILL OLUM

(el-yill olum) King of Munster; ravishes Ainé and is slain by her. # 562

And if I've counted right, the citing is for this book
Rolleston, T. W. CELTIC MYTHS AND LEGENDS Studio Editions
London 1990

It says this about Aine

AINE

(aw-ne) A love-goddess, daughter of the Danaan Owel;
Ailill Olum and Fitzgerald her lovers; mother of Earl Gerald;
still worshiped on Midsummer Eve; appears on St. John's Night,
among girls on the Hill. # 454: A goddess who seems to have
functioned as a type of Sovereignty in south west Ireland. She
gave her name to a sidhe dwelling in Munster, Cnoc Aine. She
is variously described as the wife or daughter of Manannan mac
Lir. - Later folk tradition tells of Gearoid Iarla (Earl Gerald of
Desmond, 1338-98) who encountered Aine bathing in a river
and raped her. The first earl of Desmond was called 'Aine's king'
and Gerald himself 'the son of fair Aine's knight'. Gerald was said
to have disappeared in the form of a goose, after a lifetime
building up his reputation as a magician. This legend shows
how active the myth of Sovereignty was persisting right into
the medieval era. # 100 - 454 - 505 - 548 - 562

At the other site at
http://www.pantheon.org/mythica/areas/celtic/
it mentions this about Dian Cecht, the blue guy whose daughter
was turned into a statue. (I looked up the names of these guys
in a walkthrough)

The great god of healing and the physician of the Tuatha Dé
Danann. He made the silver hand for his brother king Nuada to
replace the one he lost in battle. Dian Cecht had blessed the well
Slane in which the wounded Tuatha Dé bathed. It healed all their
wounds so they could resume their fighting. He had a son, Miach,
whom he slew out of professional jealousy. Miach had replaced the
silver hand Dian Cecht had made for Nuada with Nuada's own hand.
Some claimed it was jealousy, while Dian Cecht said is was the
disrespectful manner in which the replacement was done. He is also
the grandfather of Lugh.

This is what it said about King Nuada (the blue king)

Also Nudd or Ludd. "Silver Hand." The Irish/Celtic chieftain-god
of healing, the Sun, childbirth, youth, beauty, ocean, dogs, poetry,
writing, sorcery, magic, weapons, and warfare. Similar to the Roman
god Neptune, Nuada also had an invincible sword, one of four great
treasures of the Tuatha Dé Danann, that he used to cleave his
enemies in half.
Ruler of Ireland he was deemed useless and replaced by Bres after
he lost his hand in battle. His brother Dian Cecht, the great god of
healing, fashioned him a silver hand for a substitution. By this time
Bres had become a tyrannical leader and was exiled by the Tuatha
Dé while Nuada returned to his position as king. He was later killed
by the god of death Balor.


Geoffrey Tobin

unread,
Sep 11, 2000, 4:11:27 AM9/11/00
to
Arian Hokin wrote:
>
> The English word "pagan", meaning "holding to a non-Christian religion" is
> derived from the Latin "paganus", which means "one who lives in the country"

I thought it was the Latin word for "civilian", which Christians
adopted to refer to those who were not dedicated to "fighting
the good fight" against the powers of darkness.

Geoffrey Tobin

unread,
Sep 11, 2000, 4:28:35 AM9/11/00
to
P12 wrote:
...
> It wasn't really clear. I take it was an open market like in the
> sacred Amulet game. But they said it was 20 times larger than they
> expected. And apparently had rooms. ...

The rooms might be shops, like the Romans had in their marketplaces.
In the Roman cities the shops appear to have been attached to large
residences: there's a theory that the shopkeepers were tenants of
the urban landowners.

> There wasn't a picture or anything. I wish I had copied the article.
> But the newspaper only keeps stuff online for the current day. And
> I forgot. I was hoping maybe someone else would find something about
> it.

Sadly, interesting snippets are often lost in this way.



> >Sorry? Which Pagans? Is this the name of an ancient Meso-American
> >culture? (Is that the origin of the name of the Apogee puzzle game
> >Paganitzu?)
>

> Perhaps I spelled it wrong. They where mentioned in the Ireland
> chapter very frequently since they occupied the Island before the
> current residents found their "true faith". I always though it was
> a religion.

That's a common misconception.

> But when I looked it up it said it wasn't. I had

> always heard bad things about them. They were described as
> hedonistic and materialistic [in the] dictionary.

Ancient Roman society was rather cruel as well. The world has still
not emerged from that.

> But they didn't sound much worse than a typical American.

I think that's the point. You either honor money above all,
or you practise a better discipline.

> In the Ireland chapter there is also a
> Pagan cross that is supposed to spin like the sun.

Haven't encountered that; maybe it's connected to one of the
mediterranean sun worship religions?

Crosses of course mean many things. The Romans and Persians
used them as an instrument of torture and death. The Christian
use of the cross is intended as a sobering reminder of State
sponsored murder.

Geoffrey Tobin

unread,
Sep 11, 2000, 4:40:22 AM9/11/00
to
Celtic and Germanic mythological figures seem more human,
more "one of us", than the usually remote and apparently
senselessly capricious Greek and Roman deities.

Celtic and Germanic gods die from similar causes as
humans, and have much the same motives: they seem
less interested in making sport with the mortal world,
than in surviving and thriving within it.

The border-line between who is a god and who is mortal
seem very flexible in Celtic legend.

This hints at the proposal made by one Greek philosopher,
that the gods are folk memories of ancient heroes.

Jenny100

unread,
Sep 11, 2000, 7:59:07 PM9/11/00
to
"P12" <nom...@all.com> wrote in message
news:lmqqrsolo40fu0ohq...@4ax.com...

> On Mon, 11 Sep 2000 03:21:36 -0400, "Jenny100" <Jenn...@nospam.com>
> wrote:
>
> >AILILL OLUM
> >
> >(el-yill olum) King of Munster; ravishes Ainé and is slain by her. #
562
>
> That is definitely him.

> >AINE
> >
> >(aw-ne) A love-goddess, daughter of the Danaan Owel;
> >Ailill Olum and Fitzgerald her lovers;
>
> Not exactly what I was expecting. I thought Fitzgerald just thought
> about her casually in the story. And she got swept away with his
> words. I didn't think they where actually lovers. And since
> Ailill raped her and apparently had his way with a number of woman I
> didn't think they where lovers either.

Nor did I, but that's what it said on the website.
There are probably several alternate versions of the story.
Mythology is like that.

> What exactly is a love-goddess anyway?

Who knows? I've never met one myself.


Ashikaga

unread,
Sep 11, 2000, 10:00:18 PM9/11/00
to
"Robert Norton" <r...@execpc.com> wrote in message
news:39bc5be4$0$56643$3929...@news.execpc.com...

Interesting, I know very little about Mayan history. I am not sure
about that cremetorial thingy, as I never seen people do that, but
that put a piece of jade was used for emperors and people with high
status. Anywayz, it's not a surprise that there are other cultures
that use the same symbol for words such as mouth, since some Chinese
words are derived from symbols that looks just like the thing itself.
After centuries and centuries of beautification (actually I like the
originals better, very curvy and abstract, but hard to write) and
rectangularization, today, most words no longer look like they were
invented... Though I must say Mayan words are very squary, too...
that's quite interesting.

Ashikaga


Ashikaga

unread,
Sep 11, 2000, 10:00:19 PM9/11/00
to
"Geoffrey Tobin" <G.T...@latrobe.edu.au> wrote in message
news:39BC9A76...@latrobe.edu.au...

> Celtic and Germanic mythological figures seem more human,
> more "one of us", than the usually remote and apparently
> senselessly capricious Greek and Roman deities.

Budhist and Taoist gods are more human, too! Much more like saints
than deities in the Christian sense. In fact, the so called Taoist
gods are historical human beings that were later made into subject of
worshipping... Guan Yu, for example. Some of you who have read
Romance of Three Kingdoms knows him; and he is the God of Battle in
Taoist religion, and Taoism is very much the worshipping of ancestors.
Confucious, is another one... though he doesn't have a god title
(loosely, a saint of teachers, actually).

> Celtic and Germanic gods die from similar causes as
> humans, and have much the same motives: they seem
> less interested in making sport with the mortal world,
> than in surviving and thriving within it.

Sounds very interesting. Sidhartha (sp?) the Budha was an Indian
prince, who ascended into heaven as was trying to figure out the
meaning of life; sounds pretty human to me, at least we can more
related to him. So are many Taoist gods who lived through some heroic
lives (though I suspect they were glorified quite some bit later by
worshippers), who died later in some noble causes.

> The border-line between who is a god and who is mortal
> seem very flexible in Celtic legend.
>
> This hints at the proposal made by one Greek philosopher,
> that the gods are folk memories of ancient heroes.

That summarizes many ancient civilization's practice of worshipping.
Though later Christianities declare such practice as pagans or cults
and tried to exterminate those.

> --
> Best wishes!
> Geoffrey Tobin
> Email: G.T...@latrobe.edu.au
> WWW: http://www.ee.latrobe.edu.au/~gt/gt.html

Ashikaga


Arian Hokin

unread,
Sep 12, 2000, 12:42:31 AM9/12/00
to
Geoffrey Tobin wrote:

> Arian Hokin wrote:
> >
> > The English word "pagan", meaning "holding to a non-Christian religion" is
> > derived from the Latin "paganus", which means "one who lives in the country"
>
> I thought it was the Latin word for "civilian", which Christians
> adopted to refer to those who were not dedicated to "fighting
> the good fight" against the powers of darkness.

You gave me a nasty fright for a minute, there - I thought my brain
had gone soft and a disgustingly well-informed mathematician et al.
had actually caught out a classicist in an Error. But no, I'm right,
see:

> pagan.us N 2 1 NOM S M P
> paganus, pagani
> a countryman, peasant; pagan

Phew, I'm off the hook! :-D

But hmm, what *is* the Latin word for "civilian"? <dig, dig>

ROTFL! They used 'paganus' in that sense as well:

> pâgânus, a, um, adj. [pagus].
>
> I. Of or belonging to the country or to a village, rustic:
>
> B. Subst.: pâgânus, i, m., a countryman, peasant, villager, rustic:
>
> II. Opposed to military, civil, civic:
> As subst.: pâgânus, i, m., a civilian, a citizen
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
> III. Transf., rustic, unlearned:
>
> B. In eccl. Lat. (like gentilis) for heathen, pagan (opp. Jewish or
> Christian); and subst., a heathen, a pagan:


So there you are - we're *both* right :-)

The writers of the above dictionary include the definition "heathen,
pagan" as a sub-section of the def. "rustic, unlearned", which seems
to imply that they agree with my analysis; but OTOH, <more digging> it
looks as though the equivalent word in Greek, 'paganos', only means
"civilian". So your theory of the reason pagans were so called still
may in fact be the correct one. Maybe it was for both reasons. :-)

Arian

Geoffrey Tobin

unread,
Sep 14, 2000, 2:06:35 AM9/14/00
to
Ashikaga wrote:
>
>
> Budhist and Taoist gods are more human, too! Much more like saints
> than deities in the Christian sense.

Especially as Taoism has a supreme god, the Jade Emperor.

> In fact, the so called Taoist
> gods are historical human beings that were later made into subject of
> worshipping... Guan Yu, for example. Some of you who have read
> Romance of Three Kingdoms knows him; and he is the God of Battle in
> Taoist religion,

Not to mention the other martial god, Wu-Di, who was an historic
Han emperor.

> and Taoism is very much the worshipping of ancestors.

Or, perhaps we should say, veneration and imploring assistance.
Somewhat like the traditional western veneration of and prayer to
saints, as you mentioned.

> Confucious, is another one... though he doesn't have a god title
> (loosely, a saint of teachers, actually).

Understandably, as he was as influential in China, as Plato was
in the Christian and Islamic worlds.



> > Celtic and Germanic gods die from similar causes as
> > humans, and have much the same motives: they seem
> > less interested in making sport with the mortal world,
> > than in surviving and thriving within it.
>
> Sounds very interesting. Sidhartha (sp?) the Budha was an Indian
> prince, who ascended into heaven

The stories around Buddha grew with time to become supernatural
moral tales, beginning i suspect with the Indo-Greeks. A lot of
culture from Europe to the Far East has been influenced by the
determination of Hellenism to preserve itself inside every
society it encountered. When one examines the major world
religions, one soon discovers that the ancient Greeks were
astoundingly successful in introducing their rituals, art
and beliefs to countless other nations. There's nothing
in the teachings of Buddha or Christ about making statues,
or building prayer shelves, or the virtues of octagonal
buildings, or circular processions.

> as was trying to figure out the meaning of life;

It may be an exaggeration to say that all suffering
is due to desire, but wrongful desire is certainly
a cause of much suffering, and increasingly so.

I was surprised to read recently that Buddha occasionally
ate meat, and that his last meal included (white?) meat.
Maybe he was as flexible as modern lay Buddhists in that
regard, except i suppose that he would have insisted that
the food animal be killed humanely.

> sounds pretty human to me, at least we can more
> related to him. So are many Taoist gods who lived through some heroic
> lives (though I suspect they were glorified quite some bit later by
> worshippers), who died later in some noble causes.

> > The border-line between who is a god and who is mortal
> > seem very flexible in Celtic legend.
> >
> > This hints at the proposal made by one Greek philosopher,
> > that the gods are folk memories of ancient heroes.
>
> That summarizes many ancient civilization's practice of worshipping.
> Though later Christianities declare such practice as pagans or cults
> and tried to exterminate those.

As did Judaism and Islam. Very few Buddhists survived the Mogul
occupation of India.

But Jesus was not so harsh. The only advice he gave the Roman
soldier was not to use extortion. He often told people that
they lacked "one thing", which seemed to correspond to their
greatest moral deficiency. Once they corrected that, then
i suppose they would be equipped to overcome their lesser
weaknesses. Perhaps this kind of repentance counts as
sincere worship of God?

Ashikaga

unread,
Sep 14, 2000, 9:26:13 PM9/14/00
to
"Geoffrey Tobin" <G.T...@latrobe.edu.au> wrote in message
news:39C06AEB...@latrobe.edu.au...

> Ashikaga wrote:
> >
> > Budhist and Taoist gods are more human, too! Much more like
saints
> > than deities in the Christian sense.
>
> Especially as Taoism has a supreme god, the Jade Emperor.

err... to be honest with you, to say Jade Emperor being the supreme
god of Taoism is a bit strange. I don't even know who is the supreme
god in Taoism. Jade Emperor is neither a real historical person, nor
an emperor. But he is the one people worship first before all other
gods when you go to the temple, though.

> > In fact, the so called Taoist
> > gods are historical human beings that were later made into subject
of
> > worshipping... Guan Yu, for example. Some of you who have read
> > Romance of Three Kingdoms knows him; and he is the God of Battle
in
> > Taoist religion,
>
> Not to mention the other martial god, Wu-Di, who was an historic
> Han emperor.

Actually Wu-di isn't a god at all. Wu-di literally means "the martial
emperor;" it's the title of the emperor. The most famous of all
wu-di's is Han Wu-di, the one you mentioned. The title of the emperor
is also called "temple name." It's the name given to the emperor
during the burial ceremony, and is named posthumously according to his
contribution to China. Wu-di is usually given to the emperor who
expanded a significant amount of territory, Tai-tzu or Gao-tzu for the
founding fathers of the dynasty (tzu means grandfather, or ancestors
in general).

Personally I am not a big fan of Han Wu-di, because he literally
emptied the treasury (accumulated by the previous two emperors!!!) for
his personal pursuit of macho power. But he didn't stop just because
the treasury was empty, he heavily taxed people so he could continue
to chase away Mongolians. Talking about selfishness...

Wu-di was important because, well, China was the superpower during his
reign. Academically, he changed the nation's central philosophy from
Lao-tse's Taoism (the philosophy, the Tao religion didn't exist back
then) to Confucious' Zhuism. (Taoism is more Republican, and Zhuism
is more Democrats, if you don't know about those philosophy, but more
familiar with American politics)

<snip>


> > Sounds very interesting. Sidhartha (sp?) the Budha was an Indian
> > prince, who ascended into heaven
>
> The stories around Buddha grew with time to become supernatural
> moral tales, beginning i suspect with the Indo-Greeks. A lot of
> culture from Europe to the Far East has been influenced by the
> determination of Hellenism to preserve itself inside every
> society it encountered. When one examines the major world
> religions, one soon discovers that the ancient Greeks were
> astoundingly successful in introducing their rituals, art
> and beliefs to countless other nations. There's nothing
> in the teachings of Buddha or Christ about making statues,
> or building prayer shelves, or the virtues of octagonal
> buildings, or circular processions.
>
> > as was trying to figure out the meaning of life;
>
> It may be an exaggeration to say that all suffering
> is due to desire, but wrongful desire is certainly
> a cause of much suffering, and increasingly so.

It's all people's interpretation. I doubt he said that, since there
are so many translations in between, it could mean desires or human
emotions. But the "wrongful desired" are described as greed, lust,
glutonnous. Kinda like the 7 deadly sins. Though all desire is
originated from greed.

> I was surprised to read recently that Buddha occasionally
> ate meat, and that his last meal included (white?) meat.
> Maybe he was as flexible as modern lay Buddhists in that
> regard, except i suppose that he would have insisted that
> the food animal be killed humanely.

Okay, who told you that... white meat? funny, you can't go to heaven
just because you eat red meat? I think it's just some wacky
historians made that up.

<snip>


> > That summarizes many ancient civilization's practice of
worshipping.
> > Though later Christianities declare such practice as pagans or
cults
> > and tried to exterminate those.
>
> As did Judaism and Islam. Very few Buddhists survived the Mogul
> occupation of India.

But Buddhism is in China long before Mogul invasion, so it got
preserved. India and Tibet were never parts of the Mongolian Empire
(because of a marrital treaty between Tibet and M.E., and India was
too difficult to conquer because Tibet was in between). In fact,
Taoism was founded on the success of Buddhism. You could say Taoism
was the equivalent of the dot.com of the time. Nontheless, today's
Buddhism is very different from the original Buddhism, entirely
different (Chinese likes to interepret things the Chinese way...). I
would say Tibetan Buddhism is much closer to the original than
anything else. Chinese buddhism is heavily mixed with Tao elements,
and Japanese Buddhism and Shinto are yet another variations. Thai
buddhists eat meat.

> But Jesus was not so harsh. The only advice he gave the Roman
> soldier was not to use extortion. He often told people that
> they lacked "one thing", which seemed to correspond to their
> greatest moral deficiency. Once they corrected that, then
> i suppose they would be equipped to overcome their lesser
> weaknesses. Perhaps this kind of repentance counts as
> sincere worship of God?

Yet, another example of human interpretation. I doubt the Crusader
was led by god, but by Popes. But then, I am not a big fan of any
religion.

> --
> Best wishes!
> Geoffrey Tobin
> Email: G.T...@latrobe.edu.au
> WWW: http://www.ee.latrobe.edu.au/~gt/gt.html

Ashikaga


erimess

unread,
Sep 14, 2000, 10:36:16 PM9/14/00
to
On Sun, 10 Sep 2000 23:44:04 -0400, P12 <nom...@all.com> wrote:


>
>Yes that explains it very well. I couldn't understand from the
>definition in the dictionary why they where evil. But this explains
>it quite well. I remember when I lived in North Carolina and I was
>told I was going to hell because I didn't worship god. These where
>people far more sinful and less ethical than I was.
>
>And yes they are mentioned in the game in the Ireland chapter.

The Pagans I know (I know an interesting lot of people) have some of
their beliefs based on Celtic lore, but none of those dieties
mentioned by others sound at all familiar to me. (I also am not
familiar with that game, so I don't know how that fits in.) Their
gods are based on Norse mythology. I believe Odin is like the "head
honcho." I'm also trying to think if they celebrate Midsummers Eve.
That doesn't sound familiar, though I don't remember (if I ever knew)
all their holidays.

Geoffrey Tobin

unread,
Sep 14, 2000, 11:32:28 PM9/14/00
to
Ashikaga wrote:
>
> err... to be honest with you, to say Jade Emperor being the supreme
> god of Taoism is a bit strange. I don't even know who is the supreme
> god in Taoism. Jade Emperor is neither a real historical person, nor
> an emperor.

That's the point. He's the Emperor of Heaven, who has always
reigned there.

> But he is the one people worship first before all other
> gods when you go to the temple, though.

Is he considered to be first among equals, or uniquely above
all the others?



> > Not to mention the other martial god, Wu-Di, who was an historic
> > Han emperor.
>
> Actually Wu-di isn't a god at all. Wu-di literally means "the martial
> emperor;" it's the title of the emperor.

Yes, but i think i've come across references to people respecting
his memory as though he were a god.

The title "Di", as claimed by the first emperor Shi Huang-Di,
was taken from the name of one of the ancient Chinese gods,
the god of justice if i recall correctly. Previous rulers
used the title "Wang" or king.

"Wang" conveniently reminds me of the title of the Mycenaean
kings of Greece, "Wanax".

"Di" minds me of the title of the deified Roman emperors, "Divus".

Maybe these words go way, way back in human prehistory,
or maybe it's just two accidental coincidences, but in
either case it's a handy to jog the memory.

> The most famous of all
> wu-di's is Han Wu-di, the one you mentioned. The title of the emperor
> is also called "temple name." It's the name given to the emperor
> during the burial ceremony, and is named posthumously according to his
> contribution to China.

Interesting how Imperial China and the Greco-Roman West had similar
customs. Confucianism also had detailed parallels in Roman culture,
though there was no Roman counterpart to Confucius. But as Confucius
said, he was striving to preserve ancient mores.

> Wu-di is usually given to the emperor who expanded a significant amount
> of territory,

He did indeed. I think his reign was the high-point of Han
expansion. But the cost of maintaining the borders was
too great. Later, the internal strife during Wang Mang's
reign added to the difficulty.

> Tai-tzu or Gao-tzu for the founding fathers of the dynasty
> (tzu means grandfather, or ancestors in general).

Another useful pun: "Zi" (tzu in Wade-Giles) sounds like "Sir".



> Personally I am not a big fan of Han Wu-di, because he literally
> emptied the treasury (accumulated by the previous two emperors!!!) for
> his personal pursuit of macho power. But he didn't stop just because
> the treasury was empty, he heavily taxed people so he could continue
> to chase away Mongolians. Talking about selfishness...

Thanks for reinforcing my memory of why Wu-Di's rule was ultimately
deleterious. Certainly chastening the Mongols was always important
to China, but like most successful militarists, Wu-Di over-extended
his nation's capacity by attempting to expand too quickly.

> Wu-di was important because, well, China was the superpower during his
> reign.

Well, in the East it had no rival. In the West throughout the time
of the Han dynasty, there were the still the Greek and already the
Roman empires.

One theory of the final collapse of the Han is that the late second
and early third centuries were a time of crop failures throughout
the northern hemisphere, a notion that's supported by evidence in
the Roman sphere. Rome itself came within a hair of collapsing
around the same time. A succession of reforms helped stave off
the end for another two centuries in western Europe, and kept the
Greek east afloat for another twelve centuries. But it was a very
close shave. If the Romans hadn't spent the previous five centuries
tarining many German tribes to be loyal auxiliary troops, it's
doubtful they could have stood the ceaseless waves of armed
migrants. On the other hand, it was the Romans who had taught
those migrants the advanced arts of war, too.

> Academically, he changed the nation's central philosophy from
> Lao-tse's Taoism (the philosophy, the Tao religion didn't exist back
> then)

Though Lao-Zi's philosophy has threads in common with both Buddha's
and Christ's teachings.

> to Confucious' Zhuism. (Taoism is more Republican, and Zhuism
> is more Democrats, if you don't know about those philosophy, but more
> familiar with American politics)

I would have thought Confucius would be considered more Conservative,
and Lao-Zi more Liberal.



> <snip>
> > > Sounds very interesting. Sidhartha (sp?) the Budha was an Indian
> > > prince, who ascended into heaven
> >
> > The stories around Buddha grew with time to become supernatural
> > moral tales, beginning i suspect with the Indo-Greeks. A lot of
> > culture from Europe to the Far East has been influenced by the
> > determination of Hellenism to preserve itself inside every
> > society it encountered. When one examines the major world
> > religions, one soon discovers that the ancient Greeks were
> > astoundingly successful in introducing their rituals, art
> > and beliefs to countless other nations. There's nothing
> > in the teachings of Buddha or Christ about making statues,
> > or building prayer shelves, or the virtues of octagonal
> > buildings, or circular processions.
> >
> > > as was trying to figure out the meaning of life;
> >
> > It may be an exaggeration to say that all suffering
> > is due to desire, but wrongful desire is certainly
> > a cause of much suffering, and increasingly so.
>
> It's all people's interpretation. I doubt he said that, since there
> are so many translations in between, it could mean desires or human

> emotions. But the "wrongful desires" are described as greed, lust,
> gluttony. Kinda like the 7 deadly sins.

Yes.

> Though all desire is originated from greed.

Or lack of self-restraint.



> > I was surprised to read recently that Buddha occasionally
> > ate meat, and that his last meal included (white?) meat.
> > Maybe he was as flexible as modern lay Buddhists in that
> > regard, except i suppose that he would have insisted that
> > the food animal be killed humanely.
>
> Okay, who told you that... white meat? funny, you can't go to heaven
> just because you eat red meat? I think it's just some wacky
> historians made that up.

No, i think what i read said that Buddha ate red meat occasionally
too. It's just that i think his last meal contained chicken.
I read it only a few days ago; the source has joined that long
list of valuable but mislaid items that litter my intellectual
life.



> > As did Judaism and Islam. Very few Buddhists survived the Mogul
> > occupation of India.
>
> But Buddhism is in China long before Mogul invasion, so it got
> preserved.

Preserved in its Mahayana form that is heavily influenced by the
Indo-Greek modifications, particularly by the decrees of
the general Menander whose Buddhist name was "Milinder"
or "honey-bee".

> India and Tibet were never parts of the Mongolian Empire

> (because of a marital treaty between Tibet and M.E., and India was


> too difficult to conquer because Tibet was in between).

You're thinking of the time of the Mongolian conquest of China
in the 12th and 13th centuries. The Moguls conquered India
during the 16th and 17th centuries.

> In fact,
> Taoism was founded on the success of Buddhism. You could say Taoism

> was the equivalent of the dot.com of the time. Nonetheless, today's


> Buddhism is very different from the original Buddhism, entirely

> different (Chinese likes to interpret things the Chinese way...).

Not only China reinterprets. Europe and America love to do the same.

> I would say Tibetan Buddhism is much closer to the original than
> anything else. Chinese buddhism is heavily mixed with Tao elements,
> and Japanese Buddhism and Shinto are yet another variations. Thai
> buddhists eat meat.

I knew that lay people eat meat: Chinese without pork are somehow
lessened. :) But do Thai Theravada Buddhist _monks_ eat meat?
By Buddha's example, according to my forgotten source, they are
entitled to.

The Theravada Buddhists claim to hold most closely to Buddha's
original teachings, but i detect the same persistent elements of
Hellenism in their customs too.

Also there seems to be a belief among some Buddhists that with
sufficient discipline, a person may develop superhuman abilities
of strength and endurance. That was a popular view among some
of the ancient Greeks, as well, though i suspect human nature
likes to imagine itself to have powers within its reach that
it doesn't, at least not yet.

> > But Jesus was not so harsh. The only advice he gave the Roman
> > soldier was not to use extortion. He often told people that
> > they lacked "one thing", which seemed to correspond to their
> > greatest moral deficiency. Once they corrected that, then
> > i suppose they would be equipped to overcome their lesser
> > weaknesses. Perhaps this kind of repentance counts as
> > sincere worship of God?
>
> Yet, another example of human interpretation. I doubt the Crusader
> was led by god, but by Popes.

"Thou shalt not kill" and the restraint shown by Jesus
would suggest so.

The proponents of the Crusades probably thought that violence
is justified in self-defence, and after 500 years of generally
unprovoked attacks by the Arabs, the Europeans possibly had a
case.

> But then, I am not a big fan of any religion.

The very first Crusade i think was the Children's Crusade,
which was un-military and doomed. The Turks slaughtered
them.

It was the Turks who had blocked access to the Holy Land, but
the Crusaders never did take on the Turks in any significant
way, preferring instead to backstab their own Greek allies
and to slaughter both them and unarmed Muslim, Jewish and,
yes, Christian Palestinians.

Ashikaga

unread,
Sep 15, 2000, 3:00:00 AM9/15/00
to
"Geoffrey Tobin" <G.T...@latrobe.edu.au> wrote in message
news:39C1984C...@latrobe.edu.au...

> Ashikaga wrote:
> >
> > err... to be honest with you, to say Jade Emperor being the
supreme
> > god of Taoism is a bit strange. I don't even know who is the
supreme
> > god in Taoism. Jade Emperor is neither a real historical person,
nor
> > an emperor.
>
> That's the point. He's the Emperor of Heaven, who has always
> reigned there.
>
> > But he is the one people worship first before all other
> > gods when you go to the temple, though.
>
> Is he considered to be first among equals, or uniquely above
> all the others?

To be honest with you, during my time of being a playful (in oppose to
be a faithful, I was there for fun and free and delicious vegetarian
foods) Taoist/Buddhist, I have never considered JE has a higher rank
than the Budha or any other gods (I know this is mixed version of
Taoism/Buddhism, but if you go to a temple in Taiwan, you'll see
Taoists gods and Buddhist gods worshipped under the same roof). In
fact, you'll never find a JE idol to be worshipped anywhere, but you
just burn the incense and pray to him.

> > > Not to mention the other martial god, Wu-Di, who was an historic
> > > Han emperor.
> >
> > Actually Wu-di isn't a god at all. Wu-di literally means "the
martial
> > emperor;" it's the title of the emperor.
>
> Yes, but i think i've come across references to people respecting
> his memory as though he were a god.
>
> The title "Di", as claimed by the first emperor Shi Huang-Di,
> was taken from the name of one of the ancient Chinese gods,
> the god of justice if i recall correctly. Previous rulers
> used the title "Wang" or king.

Shi Huang-di literally means the first emperor. The name is not taken
from Chinese gods, but from two sets of pre-historic emperors.
Huang's, the first set, consists of the first three virtuous emperors,
the later five Di's are the same, but they just have different titles
(and they passed their thrones to the most capable person, instead of
their royal family members, since this was during the brief
pre-dynasty era of China, much more democratic). The most famous Di
being Hwang-di (don't be confused with Qin Shi Huang-di, as it sounds
exactly the same in Chinese, but different first character), whose
wife is considered to be the first person who raised silk worms to
make silk clothes (and all these records are considered
pre-historical, since Western historians do not recognize oral
tradition as being real history). Shi Huang-di (or Qin Shi Huang-di,
more commonly known by Chinese as Qin Shi Huang) thought his virtues
were higher than all eight of those emperors, so he combined the title
of Huang and Di and called himself, the first emperor (his son, short
lived, in fact, is called Qin II. I think there is a Qin III, too,
though they were executed during the civil war)

Wang means king, yes, but those are titles for nobles, specifically,
emperors' brothers. The rulers outside of China were also called
Wangs, since Chinese believe their emperors are the highest rulers and
everyone else are a step below. The rulers between those 3 huangs and
5 di's and Shi Huang-Di were called Tien-tse (zi according to your
spelling), which literally means the Son of the Heaven, implying they
were sent by gods to rule China. Of course, that also implies that
emperors are above gods (Chinese believed emperors were supreme
beings, gods were just there as spiritual guidance, something apart
from the human world, Chinese and Japanese have never taken gods as
seriously as Westerners are). Temples are often set by emperors, the
choice between Tao or Buddhism being the state religion was chosen by
emperors, and some emperors even try to exterminate Buddhist monks,
destroy Buddhist temples and ordered to deface gods' idols. Though
there were also some extremely pious emperors.

BTW, Khan, as in Gengis Khan, means the ruler of everthing below the
sky.

> "Wang" conveniently reminds me of the title of the Mycenaean
> kings of Greece, "Wanax".
>
> "Di" minds me of the title of the deified Roman emperors, "Divus".
>
> Maybe these words go way, way back in human prehistory,
> or maybe it's just two accidental coincidences, but in
> either case it's a handy to jog the memory.

I don't know anything about those. The first Dynasty of China is
prehistorical, too... that's how old the monarchy tradition in China
is... it's hard to change that monarchy tradition. When Sun Yet Sen
overthrown the monarchy, people got really confused and many attempted
to restore monarchy. To be honest, during the transition period,
China weren't too different under monarchy or deomocracy... maybe that
is still true.

> > The most famous of all
> > wu-di's is Han Wu-di, the one you mentioned. The title of the
emperor
> > is also called "temple name." It's the name given to the emperor
> > during the burial ceremony, and is named posthumously according to
his
> > contribution to China.
>
> Interesting how Imperial China and the Greco-Roman West had similar
> customs. Confucianism also had detailed parallels in Roman culture,
> though there was no Roman counterpart to Confucius. But as
Confucius
> said, he was striving to preserve ancient mores.

To preserve the ancient courtesy and etiquettes, extremely formalistic
and ceremonial. Aggressive rather than passive (which is Taoism).

> > Wu-di is usually given to the emperor who expanded a significant
amount
> > of territory,
>
> He did indeed. I think his reign was the high-point of Han
> expansion. But the cost of maintaining the borders was
> too great. Later, the internal strife during Wang Mang's
> reign added to the difficulty.

Yes, his reign is the height of Han Dynasty in term of military
prowess, but I doubt his peasants would agree. People had much higher
living standards during the reign of previous two emperors (who were
pretty much adopted Tao's "reign without actions," which is pretty
much the equivalent of the Lassez Faire policy). Their reigns was
considered to be the golden age of Han, not Wu-di's.

> > Tai-tzu or Gao-tzu for the founding fathers of the dynasty
> > (tzu means grandfather, or ancestors in general).
>
> Another useful pun: "Zi" (tzu in Wade-Giles) sounds like "Sir".

??? I am not sure about that. I think it is Zhu...

> > Personally I am not a big fan of Han Wu-di, because he literally
> > emptied the treasury (accumulated by the previous two emperors!!!)
for
> > his personal pursuit of macho power. But he didn't stop just
because
> > the treasury was empty, he heavily taxed people so he could
continue
> > to chase away Mongolians. Talking about selfishness...
>
> Thanks for reinforcing my memory of why Wu-Di's rule was ultimately
> deleterious. Certainly chastening the Mongols was always important
> to China, but like most successful militarists, Wu-Di over-extended
> his nation's capacity by attempting to expand too quickly.

I don't like over expansion, even if we are talking about business.

<snip>


> Well, in the East it had no rival. In the West throughout the time
> of the Han dynasty, there were the still the Greek and already the
> Roman empires.

How about Tang Dynasty? It was considered the largest country in the
entire world at the time. The capital was constructed with advanced
city planning. Ambassadors from Japan were frequent. Very
interesting era. Silk trade were truly flourished (though the traded
started during Han Dyanasty). More monks were sent by the emperors to
India to translate more Buddhist hymns and articles. Tai-Zhong
(sp???) the second emperor, and the Wu-di equivalent of the Tang
Dynasty killed his brothers and forced his father into early
retirement. This tough guy also had a daughter-in-law who he probably
was very afraid of. She (Wu Tse Tien) was sent to convenant by him,
but a fate is a fate, not only she got out, but she later became the
only recognized female emperor in China (her husband, Gao Zhong and
Tai Zhong's son, was a wimp. He got to the throne only because she se
t his brothers up and exterminated them just like what Tai Zhong did
to his brothers). It seems queens are very powerful regardless of
where they are from... Gao Zhong/Tse Tien Reign is actually the height
of Tang Dynasty, btw.

<snip>


> > Academically, he changed the nation's central philosophy from
> > Lao-tse's Taoism (the philosophy, the Tao religion didn't exist
back
> > then)
>
> Though Lao-Zi's philosophy has threads in common with both Buddha's
> and Christ's teachings.

Lao-tse/Lao-zi (whatever) teaches the way of the nature, and promotes
little human interference with the nature.

> > to Confucious' Zhuism. (Taoism is more Republican, and Zhuism
> > is more Democrats, if you don't know about those philosophy, but
more
> > familiar with American politics)
>
> I would have thought Confucius would be considered more
Conservative,
> and Lao-Zi more Liberal.

Actually Confucius was the liberal of his time, and Lao-zi was the
conservative, though they were friends and mentors of each other.

Tao promotes Laissez Faire, and Zhu promotes formalistic ceremonial
ettiquettes. Tao promotes less is more, Zhu promtes more is more...
Tao teaches the way of the nature, and human should remain passive,
but Zhu promotes human should take actions. It is just hard to
imagine Confucius is a conservative and Lao-tse is a liberal, type
mismatch (I know you westerners were educated otherwise, but the
central believe of Taoism is "reign without action." as oppose to
Zhuism's progressiveness, Faism/Legalism's disciplinary, and
Pacifist's peacefulness)

<snip>


> > It's all people's interpretation. I doubt he said that, since
there
> > are so many translations in between, it could mean desires or
human
> > emotions. But the "wrongful desires" are described as greed,
lust,
> > gluttony. Kinda like the 7 deadly sins.
>
> Yes.
>
> > Though all desire is originated from greed.
>
> Or lack of self-restraint.

Yours is from Christianity, mine is from Buddhism teaching.

> > > I was surprised to read recently that Buddha occasionally
> > > ate meat, and that his last meal included (white?) meat.
> > > Maybe he was as flexible as modern lay Buddhists in that
> > > regard, except i suppose that he would have insisted that
> > > the food animal be killed humanely.
> >
> > Okay, who told you that... white meat? funny, you can't go to
heaven
> > just because you eat red meat? I think it's just some wacky
> > historians made that up.
>
> No, i think what i read said that Buddha ate red meat occasionally
> too. It's just that i think his last meal contained chicken.
> I read it only a few days ago; the source has joined that long
> list of valuable but mislaid items that litter my intellectual
> life.

I could not careless what Buddha ate before he ascended. I don't even
care which kind of wood was crucifix made off. They are just not
important IMHO. Interesting trivials, but useless. Eating white meat
has nothing to do with how Sidhartha got ascended.

<snip>


> > But Buddhism is in China long before Mogul invasion, so it got
> > preserved.
>
> Preserved in its Mahayana form that is heavily influenced by the
> Indo-Greek modifications, particularly by the decrees of
> the general Menander whose Buddhist name was "Milinder"
> or "honey-bee".

Okay...

> > India and Tibet were never parts of the Mongolian Empire
> > (because of a marital treaty between Tibet and M.E., and India was
> > too difficult to conquer because Tibet was in between).
>
> You're thinking of the time of the Mongolian conquest of China
> in the 12th and 13th centuries. The Moguls conquered India
> during the 16th and 17th centuries.

Who were they?

> > In fact,
> > Taoism was founded on the success of Buddhism. You could say
Taoism
> > was the equivalent of the dot.com of the time. Nonetheless,
today's
> > Buddhism is very different from the original Buddhism, entirely
> > different (Chinese likes to interpret things the Chinese way...).
>
> Not only China reinterprets. Europe and America love to do the
same.

Not to the point of being totally unrecognizable with its original
form. Chinese Buddhism is weird... Indian Buddhism doesn't burn those
incense we use today. The ritual/ceremony is so Chinese, which I even
doubt the original Buddhism did any of those ceremonies. Zen Buddhism
invented during Mongolian Empire is actully an attempt to recover the
real essense of Buddhism belief through self study.

> > I would say Tibetan Buddhism is much closer to the original than
> > anything else. Chinese buddhism is heavily mixed with Tao
elements,
> > and Japanese Buddhism and Shinto are yet another variations. Thai
> > buddhists eat meat.
>
> I knew that lay people eat meat: Chinese without pork are somehow
> lessened. :) But do Thai Theravada Buddhist _monks_ eat meat?
> By Buddha's example, according to my forgotten source, they are
> entitled to.

Not the formal monks, of course, but those mandatory monks...

> The Theravada Buddhists claim to hold most closely to Buddha's
> original teachings, but i detect the same persistent elements of
> Hellenism in their customs too.
>
> Also there seems to be a belief among some Buddhists that with
> sufficient discipline, a person may develop superhuman abilities
> of strength and endurance. That was a popular view among some
> of the ancient Greeks, as well, though i suspect human nature
> likes to imagine itself to have powers within its reach that
> it doesn't, at least not yet.

That superhuman abilities thing is just a BS. I am not a man of
superstition.

<snip>


> > Yet, another example of human interpretation. I doubt the
Crusader
> > was led by god, but by Popes.
>
> "Thou shalt not kill" and the restraint shown by Jesus
> would suggest so.
>
> The proponents of the Crusades probably thought that violence
> is justified in self-defence, and after 500 years of generally
> unprovoked attacks by the Arabs, the Europeans possibly had a
> case.

Whatever. People can always find a way to justify their behaviors;
it's just the "human nature."

> > But then, I am not a big fan of any religion.
>
> The very first Crusade i think was the Children's Crusade,
> which was un-military and doomed. The Turks slaughtered
> them.
>
> It was the Turks who had blocked access to the Holy Land, but
> the Crusaders never did take on the Turks in any significant
> way, preferring instead to backstab their own Greek allies
> and to slaughter both them and unarmed Muslim, Jewish and,
> yes, Christian Palestinians.

I really hate war that started by religion. What's the point? Do you
know the reason for the emperor who order to exterminate Buddhist monk
sometime in Chinese history? Just because the emperor saw monks
fighting on the battlefield. Though what he has done was a little
radical, but I applaud his act to awake those blinded people. Because
the seperation of church and state has been true in China since.

> --
> Best wishes!
> Geoffrey Tobin
> Email: G.T...@latrobe.edu.au
> WWW: http://www.ee.latrobe.edu.au/~gt/gt.html

Ashikaga

Arian Hokin

unread,
Sep 17, 2000, 11:13:18 PM9/17/00
to
This seems like a good thread into which to interpolate a question:

Geoffrey, did you see the first episode of the Compass series called "For
God's Sake" on ABC last night, made by that secular Jewish guy, Frederic
... er, surname, come to me! ... ? He was in Jerusalem in that episode;
next week I think he's going to look at Buddhism and Taoism. He's
extremely iconoclastic and ironic, but still, it was interesting.

Arian


Geoffrey Tobin

unread,
Sep 19, 2000, 3:00:00 AM9/19/00
to
Ashikaga wrote:
...

> To be honest with you, during my time of being a playful (in oppose to
> be a faithful, I was there for fun and free and delicious vegetarian
> foods) Taoist/Buddhist,

"Taoist/Buddhist". Whoa! That's problem one: the Chinese Buddhist
("Buddha-is-omnipotent") interpretation of Taoism, as illustrated
for example in the "Journey to the West" is exceedingly jocular.

To know what Taoism is, one must adhere to a principally Taoist
view of Taoism.

> I have never considered JE has a higher rank
> than the Budha or any other gods (I know this is mixed version of
> Taoism/Buddhism, but if you go to a temple in Taiwan, you'll see
> Taoists gods and Buddhist gods worshipped under the same roof).

Yes, but that's about as authentic to either religion
as pictures from classical mythology in the Vatican. ;)

> In fact, you'll never find a JE idol to be worshipped anywhere,

That i find to be the most significant observation.
Is any reason given by the temple officials for that distinction?



> but you just burn the incense and pray to him.

Btw, incense originated in Oman, many thousands
of years ago. It was a major component in the
country's export economy, as i think it may still
be.

> Shi Huang-di literally means the first emperor. The name is not taken
> from Chinese gods, but from two sets of pre-historic emperors.
> Huang's, the first set, consists of the first three virtuous emperors,

"Huang" as in "yellow"?

> the later five Di's are the same, but they just have different titles
> (and they passed their thrones to the most capable person, instead of
> their royal family members, since this was during the brief
> pre-dynasty era of China, much more democratic).

I wouldn't say democratic, but more like a Principate in the
imperial Roman sense, especially when after the first Julio-Claudian
family's self-extinction, emperors often appointed successors who were
not blood relations. For example, Nerva -> Trajan -> Hadrian.

> The most famous Di being Hwang-di
> (don't be confused with Qin Shi Huang-di, as it sounds
> exactly the same in Chinese, but different first character),

Thanks for the correction. I had imagined that QSHD had
copied HD's title. That's the trouble with texts that
only have the transliterated names.

> whose
> wife is considered to be the first person who raised silk worms to
> make silk clothes (and all these records are considered
> pre-historical, since Western historians do not recognize oral
> tradition as being real history).

Western historians seek nearly contemporary documents,
which mostly means inscriptions at abandoned sites.

As you say, they disregard oral accounts, even after
Schliemann proved that even poems recited centuries
after the events can contain valuable information.

This is not surprising, considering that oral history
consists in a succession of copies. Western historians
distrust that process when it involves official written
documentation.

So they're dismiss oral history as popular folklore that's
far removed from any actual events.

If i may make a complaint about that cautious attitude,
it's that historians and popularizers of history are
not sufficiently sceptical of their own stubborn views,
after they've been proved wrong by archaeology.

> Shi Huang-di (or Qin Shi Huang-di,
> more commonly known by Chinese as Qin Shi Huang) thought his virtues

"Virtues"? I'm glad he's not ruling here and now, because i can
smile at the inapplicability of that word.

> were higher than all eight of those emperors, so he combined the title
> of Huang and Di and called himself, the first emperor (his son, short
> lived, in fact, is called Qin II. I think there is a Qin III, too,
> though they were executed during the civil war)

Ah yes, the very _not_ popular emperors. Possibly exceeded in
viciousness only by the Mongols.

Odd that the West remembers the Qin as _the_ Chinese dynasty,
even naming the country and people after them, whereas China
prefers to commemorate the Han.



> Wang means king, yes, but those are titles for nobles, specifically,
> emperors' brothers.

According to what i've read, that depends on the period.

Until the Zhou declined, "Wang" was solely the title
of the principal ruler of China.

But by the time of the Warring States, every State leader,
and every petty baron, wanted to be called "Wang".

> The rulers outside of China were also called Wangs,
> since Chinese believe their emperors are the highest rulers and
> everyone else are a step below.

Again, that applies only since the Qin.

Come to think of it, until Qin Shi Huang-Di, few Chinese
diplomats would have met anyone from outside China, as it
was the QSHD who first extended rule to the Canton area,
which was until then settled by Vietnamese. Nanhai in
Canton was the ancient capital of Viet Nam = "Yue Nan".

The Hokkiens weren't incorporated until the Han dynasty.

So knowledge of other nations would have been extremely
sketchy in ancient times, except concerning the Koreans,
plus some information about the Tibetan, Turkish and
Mongol invaders.

Maybe the Thais would have been known as a "hill tribe"
expert in bronze working?

As far as Shi Huang-Di was concerned, Japan was the islands
of the Immortal Fairies.

Geographical knowledge was apparently not a major concern
of most emperors. The stunning exception being the sponsor
of the Zheng He expeditions.

> The rulers between those 3 huangs and
> 5 di's and Shi Huang-Di were called Tien-tse (zi according to your
> spelling),

Well, i'm using Pin-Yin romanization.

> which literally means the Son of the Heaven,

"Zi" is "child", technically, isn't it?

> implying they
> were sent by gods to rule China.

The "Mandate of Heaven" is approximately equivalent to the
"Divine Right of Kings" in western terms.

Neither Chinese nor Western rulers liked to dwell on the
conditional nature of their privilege.

> Of course, that also implies that
> emperors are above gods (Chinese believed emperors were supreme
> beings, gods were just there as spiritual guidance, something apart
> from the human world, Chinese and Japanese have never taken gods as
> seriously as Westerners are).

The occasional Western Emperor, such as Caligula, regarded himself as
the ruler of the universe, on both earth and heaven. But noone in
the West took such claims seriously, as Chinese subjects were
expected to. ;)

Even the ever-victorious Alexander (who was considered a god
everywhere he went) when he tried to push his loyal soldiers
to conquer just one more thousand miles, had to back down
in the face of his Macedonian army's refusal. He was their
hereditary King, and an outstandingly successful Hegemon
(Supreme Military and Civil Commander of the Greeks), having
fought countless battles and won every one of them, and the
conquered peoples worshipped at idols of Alexander, but to
his troops, he was a mortal man whose commands could be
refused when unreasonable.

> Temples are often set by emperors, the
> choice between Tao or Buddhism being the state religion was chosen by
> emperors, and some emperors even try to exterminate Buddhist monks,
> destroy Buddhist temples and ordered to deface gods' idols. Though
> there were also some extremely pious emperors.

The Early Tang emperors tried to eliminate the "Three Foreign
Religions", namely Buddhism, Christianity and Islam.

But Empress Wu favored Buddhism, and with her sponsorship,
its temples and monks flourished once again.

So to that extent, i suppose Wu was as valuable to Buddhism
as Constantine was to Christianity.

> BTW, Khan, as in Gengis Khan, means the ruler of everthing below the
> sky.

Sounds like the German word for King. I don't know whether that's
(a) coincidence, (b) a term adopted from Attila the Hun, or
(c) a very ancient word that precedes the Huns' "visits" to Europe.

Btw:

Kahan = a descendant of Aaron the High Priest and brother of Moses.
This usage would be known to the early Muslims who expanded into
central Asia in the centuries before Genghis.

> > "Wang" conveniently reminds me of the title of the Mycenaean
> > kings of Greece, "Wanax".
> >
> > "Di" minds me of the title of the deified Roman emperors, "Divus".
> >
> > Maybe these words go way, way back in human prehistory,
> > or maybe it's just two accidental coincidences, but in
> > either case it's a handy to jog the memory.
>
> I don't know anything about those. The first Dynasty of China is
> prehistorical, too... that's how old the monarchy tradition in China
> is... it's hard to change that monarchy tradition.

Rome was at first a city ruled by the Etruscan monarchy,
and Greece was ruled mostly by kings and emperors as far back
as we can trace (at least 5000 years), as was Iran, and Iraq,
and Syria and Egypt.

But Greece is geographically opposite to China: Greece and
its adjacent regions are a rocky land, in which cities are
separated by rugged hills or by seas, and this separation
may have assisted in the development of independent thinking
and novel forms of local government.

Is it a coincidence that Confucius, Lao Zi, and other Chinese
thinkers emerged in a time of political disarray, when central
control was loosened?

> When Sun Yet Sen
> overthrown the monarchy, people got really confused and many attempted
> to restore monarchy. To be honest, during the transition period,

> China weren't too different under monarchy or democracy... maybe that
> is still true.

When the government is unelected, there is no hint of democracy.
The economics may now be capitalist (of the chartered mercantilist
sort), but that was never democratic when it predominated in
17th and 18th century Europe.



> > Interesting how Imperial China and the Greco-Roman West had similar
> > customs. Confucianism also had detailed parallels in Roman culture,
> > though there was no Roman counterpart to Confucius. But as
> > Confucius said, he was striving to preserve ancient mores.
>
> To preserve the ancient courtesy and etiquettes, extremely formalistic
> and ceremonial. Aggressive rather than passive (which is Taoism).

Desperate time require strict measures. The Warring States period
was certainly desperate.

But returning to the topic of Taoism, the philosophy espoused
in the Lao Zi's "Dao De Jing" appeals to Western mystics who
have also considered that the apparent strength of brute force
can be worn down through patience.

In our own time, the falls of European Communism, and of Asian
dictators (such as Marcos, Suharto and the Korean generals)
were facilitated by sustained passive dissent.

> > > Wu-di is usually given to the emperor who expanded a significant
> > > amount of territory,
> >
> > He did indeed. I think his reign was the high-point of Han
> > expansion. But the cost of maintaining the borders was
> > too great. Later, the internal strife during Wang Mang's
> > reign added to the difficulty.
>
> Yes, his reign is the height of Han Dynasty in term of military
> prowess, but I doubt his peasants would agree. People had much higher
> living standards during the reign of previous two emperors (who were
> pretty much adopted Tao's "reign without actions," which is pretty

> much the equivalent of the Lassez Faire policy). ...

I suppose so, though even the most ardent pro-commerce governments
do not operate at arm's length from business in actuality, rather
they deal under the table.

It would be interesting to see a government that curried no favors
with sectional interests in business, regardless of their status.

But who can attain and hold government without campaign
contributions?

> > > Tai-tzu or Gao-tzu for the founding fathers of the dynasty
> > > (tzu means grandfather, or ancestors in general).
> >
> > Another useful pun: "Zi" (tzu in Wade-Giles) sounds like "Sir".
>
> ??? I am not sure about that. I think it is Zhu...

"Zi" sounds like "Tser", which rhymes with "Sir".

> > Thanks for reinforcing my memory of why Wu-Di's rule was ultimately
> > deleterious. Certainly chastening the Mongols was always important
> > to China, but like most successful militarists, Wu-Di over-extended
> > his nation's capacity by attempting to expand too quickly.
>
> I don't like over expansion, even if we are talking about business.

You're so right. Over-extension causes a decline in service,
as does excessive centralization.

> <snip>
> > Well, in the East it had no rival. In the West throughout the time
> > of the Han dynasty, there were the still the Greek and already the
> > Roman empires.
>
> How about Tang Dynasty? It was considered the largest country in the
> entire world at the time.

The Tang coincided with European decline and Arab expansion.

In those days (7th to 10th centuries), the Arab empire extended
from Spain to Iran.

> The capital was constructed with advanced city planning.

I've often wondered why city planning has so rarely been
applied, even at the best of times. The Indus valley civilization
had excellent sewerage, but look at Indian sanitation since.
The Incas laid out their cities well, as did some of the Egyptian
pharaohs. Haussmann rebuilt Paris. But these events are
exceptional on the historical scale. Constantinople, which
could have been planned carefully, was rushed, even though
Constantine had the time, the resources, and the motivation.

> Ambassadors from Japan were frequent. Very interesting era.
> Silk trade were truly flourished (though the traded
> started during Han Dyanasty).

There are records of Han merchants in Rome.
Gold and jewels flowed east, in exchange for
silks and lacquerware.

> More monks were sent by the emperors to
> India to translate more Buddhist hymns and articles. Tai-Zhong
> (sp???) the second emperor, and the Wu-di equivalent of the Tang
> Dynasty killed his brothers and forced his father into early
> retirement. This tough guy also had a daughter-in-law who he probably

> was very afraid of. She (Wu Tse Tien) was sent to [convent] by him,


> but a fate is a fate, not only she got out, but she later became the
> only recognized female emperor in China (her husband, Gao Zhong and
> Tai Zhong's son, was a wimp. He got to the throne only because she

> set his brothers up and exterminated them just like what Tai Zhong did


> to his brothers). It seems queens are very powerful regardless of
> where they are from... Gao Zhong/Tse Tien Reign is actually the height
> of Tang Dynasty, btw.

Women rule so rarely, that when they do, it's because they are
even tougher than the most forceful of men.

The power behind Augustus's throne was his wife, Livia,
who is suspected of secretly arranging the murders of
most of the royal family to clear the succession for her
favorite son, Tiberius.

Queen Elizabeth I was imprisoned on death row by her father,
the formidable Henry VIII, but she emerged from the Tower
stronger than ever.

Indira Gandhi, Mrs Bandaranaike, Golda Meir, Margaret Thatcher:
none of those impresses as a fine, delicate, mannered lady.

I suppose if Suu Ki of Burma had those women's minds,
then the military junta would be washing dishes by now.

...


> > Though Lao-Zi's philosophy has threads in common with both Buddha's
> > and Christ's teachings.
>
> Lao-tse/Lao-zi (whatever) teaches the way of the nature, and promotes
> little human interference with the nature.

The question is, what is sustainable minimal interference?
We interfere when we breathe, eat, drink, go to the toilet,
find a place to rest, talk, think, and exist.

We're part of nature, and nature interferes with itself
continually, often with massive repercussions. Just
think of volcanoes, earthquakes, animal and plant diseases,
and the lives of animals and plants themselves.

As thinking creatures, perhaps we have the capacity for
more considerate behavior, and with that opportunity
comes a responsibility.

The Hebrew Torah has many injunctions against human mistreatment
of the natural world, for example:

"Cruelty to animals is forbidden".
"God will destroy those who are destroying the Earth".

And there are the many prophetic warnings to show restraint
in every aspect of life.

Not many people practice the advice of Lao Zi or the Biblical
prophets, so it may be hard to imagine a world without the
excessive use of force.

> > > to Confucious' Zhuism. (Taoism is more Republican, and Zhuism
> > > is more Democrats, if you don't know about those philosophy, but
> more
> > > familiar with American politics)
> >
> > I would have thought Confucius would be considered more
> > Conservative, and Lao-Zi more Liberal.
>
> Actually Confucius was the liberal of his time, and Lao-zi was the
> conservative,

Perhaps you should define those terms, as "liberal" and
"conservative" have quite different implications in
Australia. Here, they're most often used as synonyms!

> though they were friends and mentors of each other.

So the story goes. But who witnessed their meetings?

> Tao promotes Laissez Faire, and Zhu promotes formalistic ceremonial

> ettiquettes. Tao promotes less is more, Zhu promotes more is more...


> Tao teaches the way of the nature, and human should remain passive,
> but Zhu promotes human should take actions. It is just hard to
> imagine Confucius is a conservative and Lao-tse is a liberal, type
> mismatch (I know you westerners were educated otherwise, but the
> central believe of Taoism is "reign without action." as oppose to
> Zhuism's progressiveness, Faism/Legalism's disciplinary, and
> Pacifist's peacefulness)

OK, i know of the several philosophers to whom you refer,
and i understand your explanation of the different emphases
of Taoism and Confucianism, but it's still confusing when
one is used to the party of "Traditional Family Values" in
Modern Western history also being the party of economic
"Laissez Faire".

So it seems that modern political philosophy is tied in knots.

> > > Though all desire is originated from greed.
> >
> > Or lack of self-restraint.
>
> Yours is from Christianity, mine is from Buddhism teaching.

Yes. Incidentally, they have more connections than is spoken
of in most histories. For example, during Buddha's lifetime
the Persian empire ruled from the Eastern Mediterranean to
the Indus plain, so the Jews were under Persian rule, and
Buddha lived near the fringe of the empire, and during his
travels he may have visited cities within it.

The major Buddhist site of Gandhara was a province of the
Persian and Greek empires. (Its name for the last couple
of thousand years is after one of its main cities, Kandahar,
which Alexander founded.)

Remember how the objective of the "Journey to the West"
was to bring Buddhist scriptures from Gandhara to China?
Its success was in the right century (the sixth), because
the area was overrun by Muslims in the seventh century,
and then Buddhism was suppressed there.

> I could not care less what Buddha ate before he ascended. I don't even


> care which kind of wood was crucifix made off. They are just not
> important IMHO. Interesting trivials, but useless.

I see that rituals have little hold over you. :)

> Eating white meat has nothing to do with how Sidhartha got ascended.

Did he ascend? I thought he died in the normal way,
with the normal consequence. Aren't there numerous shrines
purporting to contain various of his bodily remains?
A finger here, another bone there?

I realise it's popular to think that not only Elijah
and Christ ascended, but also Moses and Mary, and
goodness knows who else, whether they were alive or
buried when it happened, but too much of that and
it sounds like rampant copy-cat-ism.

I'd rather try to stick to what the original speakers
said and did, according to their witnesses. Their
messages are significant, and are partially obscured
by a proliferation of popular embroidering.

For example, i'm sure that neither Buddha nor Christ
used a prayer shelf lined with statuettes in their lives.

Nor as far as i know did Buddha ever claim that he would
become a supernatural being, or that he would be reincarnated
as a Tibetan lama.

Buddha is important for what he discovered, and how he lived
his life, and for teaching the Eightfold Way and its
consequences to other people.

> > You're thinking of the time of the Mongolian conquest of China
> > in the 12th and 13th centuries. The Moguls conquered India
> > during the 16th and 17th centuries.
>
> Who were they?

A branch of the Mongol empire, related to Timur the Lame
(called Tamerlane in English) who ruled central Asia around 1400.

They built the Taj Mahal and many other monuments of that Islamic
style.

The Moguls were conquered by the British in the 1700's.

Pakistan and Bangla Desh exist as separate nations,
instead of being part of India, because of the Mogul
religious influence which was much stronger in those
places.

> > Not only China reinterprets. Europe and America love to do the
> same.
>
> Not to the point of being totally unrecognizable with its original
> form. Chinese Buddhism is weird... Indian Buddhism doesn't burn those
> incense we use today.

Hmm, i didn't know that about Indian Buddhism, but it does make
sense that it would be less modified.

> The ritual/ceremony is so Chinese, which I even
> doubt the original Buddhism did any of those ceremonies.

Reminds me of the ancient Greek and Roman versions of the Egyptian
and Persian religions. They were so adapted, they could hardly
be recognized.

> Zen Buddhism invented during Mongolian Empire is actually an attempt


> to recover the real essense of Buddhism belief through self study.

The Mongol period was surprisingly productive in Chinese culture:
after killing so many millions of people, the Yuan settled down
to a period of unparalleled commercial prosperity, poetry and
Chinese opera. The Chinese people who bravely persuaded Kublai
and co to adopt civilized ways, are to be commended, whoever
they were.

> That superhuman abilities thing is just a BS. I am not a man of
> superstition.

Humans strive to improve, even if it is just in mimicry of
the most superficial characteristics of cartoon superheroes.

> Whatever. People can always find a way to justify their behaviors;
> it's just the "human nature."

Unless they practice self-analysis, or at least scepticism
of their own motives. I wish a lot more people would
practise that.

> I really hate war that started by religion.
> What's the point?

A very good question. Sometimes, as with the Arab conquests,
or Cromwell's invasion of Ireland, it was for territorial expansion.

> Do you
> know the reason for the emperor who order to exterminate Buddhist monk
> sometime in Chinese history? Just because the emperor saw monks
> fighting on the battlefield.

How did monks begin to be militants?

> Though what he has done was a little
> radical, but I applaud his act to awake those blinded people.

Are you sure that was his motive?

> Because the separation of church and state


> has been true in China since.

Maybe religious philosophers have been separate from the state,
but religious rituals were practised by Chinese emperors since,
i think, at least the earliest recorded times. The annual festivals
officiated over by the emperor in honor of the sun and the moon,
for example, go way way back.

But the oldest forms of state religion in China, as in ancient
Greece and Rome, were so ingrained for so unimaginably long,
that, as far as i'm aware, they didn't even have a name.
Instead, the rulers would appeal to general principles of
duty, gravity, dignity, fortune, etc etc etc, to commend
those rites.

I suppose it's those rites that Confucius was commending.

Geoffrey Tobin

unread,
Sep 19, 2000, 3:00:00 AM9/19/00
to
Arian Hokin wrote:
>
> This seems like a good thread into which to interpolate a question:
>
> Geoffrey, did you see the first episode of the Compass series called "For
> God's Sake" on ABC last night,

I didn't realize it was on: i was too depressed by my car being
diagnosed with gear trouble, and drowned my sorrows in yet another
game of Alpha Centauri.

> made by that secular Jewish guy, Frederic
> ... er, surname, come to me! ... ?

Please don't look at me for help on that question. :)

> He was in Jerusalem in that episode;

Did he talk about how _ancient_ Jerusalem is as a centre
of worship? That's where Abraham made his temple donation,
and it was so famous during the Persian empire that Buddha
referred to "the Holy Land in the West".

> next week I think he's going to look at Buddhism and Taoism. He's
> extremely iconoclastic and ironic, but still, it was interesting.

Without critics, the people cannot distinguish the hypocrites.

Geoffrey Tobin

unread,
Sep 19, 2000, 3:00:00 AM9/19/00
to
erimess wrote:
>
> The Pagans I know (I know an interesting lot of people) have some of
> their beliefs based on Celtic lore, but none of those dieties
> mentioned by others sound at all familiar to me.

I think their aim is to reinvent polytheism in an aspect
with generalised references to Germanic and Celtic legends
about their gods and heroes, and archaeological speculations
about the mythological role of Mother Earth in preliterate
societies.

> (I also am not
> familiar with that game, so I don't know how that fits in.) Their
> gods are based on Norse mythology. I believe Odin is like the "head
> honcho." I'm also trying to think if they celebrate Midsummers Eve.

It would seem likely. Historically, many societies did,
whatever their religion.

> That doesn't sound familiar, though I don't remember (if I ever knew)
> all their holidays.

It's kind of ironic that if the church in Europe hadn't preserved
the old folk customs, but had gone the Mohammedan route of making
an almost complete break, then there would have been too little
left of the ancient customs for neo-pagans to make anything of.

Ashikaga

unread,
Sep 19, 2000, 3:00:00 AM9/19/00
to
"Geoffrey Tobin" <G.T...@latrobe.edu.au> wrote in message
news:39C752BD...@latrobe.edu.au...

> Ashikaga wrote:
> ...
> > To be honest with you, during my time of being a playful (in
oppose to
> > be a faithful, I was there for fun and free and delicious
vegetarian
> > foods) Taoist/Buddhist,
>
> "Taoist/Buddhist". Whoa! That's problem one: the Chinese Buddhist
> ("Buddha-is-omnipotent") interpretation of Taoism, as illustrated
> for example in the "Journey to the West" is exceedingly jocular.

Well, Journey to the West is one of the four masterpiece of Chinese
literature... Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Bandit Kings of China,
and the Dream of Red (something)... are the other three. Journey to
the West is pretty entertaining, but that's about it. Just don't
consider it as a good representation of a history.

> To know what Taoism is, one must adhere to a principally Taoist
> view of Taoism.

The problem with Taoism, the religion, is it was founded by a fraud
who tried to get his stomach filled. But why would people believe him
there are all these gods which he claimed? So he used Lao-tse's name
to back himself... which is quite disgusting, actually.

> > I have never considered JE has a higher rank
> > than the Budha or any other gods (I know this is mixed version of
> > Taoism/Buddhism, but if you go to a temple in Taiwan, you'll see
> > Taoists gods and Buddhist gods worshipped under the same roof).
>
> Yes, but that's about as authentic to either religion
> as pictures from classical mythology in the Vatican. ;)

:-) Well, things do get lost and misinterpreted overtime.

> > In fact, you'll never find a JE idol to be worshipped anywhere,
>
> That i find to be the most significant observation.
> Is any reason given by the temple officials for that distinction?

No... unfortunately.

> > but you just burn the incense and pray to him.
>
> Btw, incense originated in Oman, many thousands
> of years ago. It was a major component in the
> country's export economy, as i think it may still
> be.

Hmm... I didn't know that. I like incense though I don't like
cigarrette.

<snip>


> "Huang" as in "yellow"?

As in "royal" as the case for Qin Shi Huang Di. One of the Di's is
called Hwang Di (I think I talked about it somewhere), which means
"yellow." But both words sound the same in Chinese....

<snip>


> I wouldn't say democratic, but more like a Principate in the
> imperial Roman sense, especially when after the first Julio-Claudian
> family's self-extinction, emperors often appointed successors who
were
> not blood relations. For example, Nerva -> Trajan -> Hadrian.

Yes, something like that. But there isn't many record how the
government functioned under that period.

> > The most famous Di being Hwang-di
> > (don't be confused with Qin Shi Huang-di, as it sounds
> > exactly the same in Chinese, but different first character),
>
> Thanks for the correction. I had imagined that QSHD had
> copied HD's title. That's the trouble with texts that
> only have the transliterated names.

Yes. Even Chinese would get confused about the origin. BTW, QSHD was
a bastard child, and that has an extremely significant impact to his
childhood development. Many bastard kings and queens in the west
probably had the similar experience, and that probably have made them
much more stern and stringent rulers.

<snipped the historians' process to save download time>

It's weird, because all those prehistorical things about Hwang-di were
recorded in Si-ji (sp?), an important history record that described
everything from West-Han dynasty and earlier. A lot of the stuffs
from that book were oral history, because not until that time, nobody
cared about recording history in China. You would think western
historians recognize such work (well, kinda shaky), but the first
dynasty (Sha) was not recognized because there weren't any proof of
Chinese language existed back then, though Sha was recorded in Shi-ji.

> > Shi Huang-di (or Qin Shi Huang-di,
> > more commonly known by Chinese as Qin Shi Huang) thought his
virtues
>
> "Virtues"? I'm glad he's not ruling here and now, because i can
> smile at the inapplicability of that word.

hehe... yes...

> > were higher than all eight of those emperors, so he combined the
title
> > of Huang and Di and called himself, the first emperor (his son,
short
> > lived, in fact, is called Qin II. I think there is a Qin III,
too,
> > though they were executed during the civil war)
>
> Ah yes, the very _not_ popular emperors. Possibly exceeded in
> viciousness only by the Mongols.

In fact, Qin II was not the appointed successor of QSHD. QSHD's
oldest son was very respected by the people for his kindness and
righteousness, but he was a little bit blunt in front of his father,
so he got exiled by his father out of rage. The second son, who was
really a weasel, was then appointed as the successor prince. Funny
enough, during QSHD's periodic supervising of his territory (which is
not very common for emperors to do that, most of the emperors never
really cared about the country), he knew he was dying and attempted to
change the will to summon his oldest son back for the throne. He died
before the will was signed, so the official who was the ally of the
second son changed the will, and the weasel son got to the throne as
the Qin II. The civil war broke out immediately (because there
weren't any news, nobody knew QSHD died until Qin II was appointed,
and he weren't that popular and strong enough like his father to
settle the chaos).

> Odd that the West remembers the Qin as _the_ Chinese dynasty,
> even naming the country and people after them, whereas China
> prefers to commemorate the Han.

Well, I don't blame them, because Qin is the first Chinese dynasty
that united the entire China. Though QSHD was considered a tyrant,
and probably was a little bit psychotic, but he did quite a few good
things that would define China as a solid sovereignty. He united
currency, connected the Great Wall of China, build inter-province
routes to encourage commerce, and created a united legal system.

Chinese prefer to call themselve Han because Qin was short-lived and
extremely unpopular among people. Nontheless, both Qin and Han
possess the original territory of the true Chinese people. Xinjian
was only added after East Han-dynasty as a self-governing territory
(and in and out of China's boundary throughout history), Mongolia was
added after Yuen Dynasty (the Mongolian Empire), Manchuria was added
after Ching Dynasty. Vietnam and North Korea were in and out of
China's territory throughout history, too.

> > Wang means king, yes, but those are titles for nobles,
specifically,
> > emperors' brothers.
>
> According to what i've read, that depends on the period.
>
> Until the Zhou declined, "Wang" was solely the title
> of the principal ruler of China.
>
> But by the time of the Warring States, every State leader,
> and every petty baron, wanted to be called "Wang".

It is because they are just that, nobles. Another title for Wang is
Gong. As in Chi Huan Gong (which is probably one of the most famous
noble during Zhou Dynasty). China had a very strict pyramidal class
system at the time, though people with noble title were getting too
many, and many didn't get any land (they are sort of like lords in
British system). Confucious didn't get enough land to feed himself,
for example, so he took a part-time job as a tutor :-). Because the
lands weren't enough, so many bigger nobles gang up and fought each
other, and the Tien-tse (the emperor equivalent of the time) were
kinda like Japanese emperors, it's just there as a pretty ornamental
figure, but nobody cared about him since he had no military power.
Each of those Wangs were occupied a piece of China and ruled there,
and Yin-Chen (sp?), the later QSHD, used quite a few strategies to
errode the six states that made up the anti-Qin alliance from within
and united China (quite remarkable, since Qin is not even the largest
nor the richest state. Qin was located on a desert land, just outside
of the original China, most of the people he ruled weren't even
Chinese but nomads). Only afterthe formation of Qin Dynasty, emperors
are the way they appeared today... okay, until the end of Ching
Dynasty.

> > The rulers outside of China were also called Wangs,
> > since Chinese believe their emperors are the highest rulers and
> > everyone else are a step below.
>
> Again, that applies only since the Qin.

More commonly used the way we use Wang today. BTW, Hsu (my family
name) has appeared ever since Zhou dynasty.

> Come to think of it, until Qin Shi Huang-Di, few Chinese
> diplomats would have met anyone from outside China, as it
> was the QSHD who first extended rule to the Canton area,
> which was until then settled by Vietnamese. Nanhai in
> Canton was the ancient capital of Viet Nam = "Yue Nan".

Actually, it was called Jiao-zhi at the time, the name Yue Nan was not
used until much later. It was a self-governing place, and even Canton
was not much taken cared of because it was way too south and void of
many Chinese settlements. Long River area was the southern most
territory settled by Chinese at the time by Chu State (the largest
state of its time, probably occupied about 1/5 of China, but too
courteous and kind to survive in a warring state period).

> The Hokkiens weren't incorporated until the Han dynasty.

... I am not too sure about that. During the last few year of the
Warring States, Wu and Yue were established in Hokkien (Yue Nan means
"south of Yue") and were archrivals of each other.

> So knowledge of other nations would have been extremely
> sketchy in ancient times, except concerning the Koreans,
> plus some information about the Tibetan, Turkish and
> Mongol invaders.

Yes... they were very sketchy. Koreans were admitted and out of China
periodically. Turks were very obscure, and were thought to be the
descents of the ancient Mongolians, who were chased off by Han Wu-di
and settled there (though I am not too sure...). Tibetan weren't
China's land until Ching Dynasty. Mongols were repressed and
discriminated against before Mongolian empire, and Mongolians used the
same repressive policy against Han Chinese when Yuen was established,
and that caused quite a discontentment, and thus Ming Dynasty was
formed (though Ming was a very horrible dynasty).

> Maybe the Thais would have been known as a "hill tribe"
> expert in bronze working?

Don't know much about Thai, it was never part of China.

> As far as Shi Huang-Di was concerned, Japan was the islands
> of the Immortal Fairies.

Yes, and Fu Hsu (yes, that's my last name) was sent to Japan to
retrieve medicine of Immortality, but he never returned and settled
there. Jo is the Japanese form of my last name (perhaps Asu is also a
variation of Hsu).

> Geographical knowledge was apparently not a major concern
> of most emperors. The stunning exception being the sponsor
> of the Zheng He expeditions.

Hehe... but the original purpose was not to find out what's over
there, but to tell other people China is the greatest nation in the
world. That's the reason why Zheng brought papers, compass and
printing press to Arabs and Europe, to impress other nations about
Chinese inventions. Though the real good result of Zheng He
Expedition was the establishment of sea trading routes. I think
that's how tea trade got started. BTW, Zheng He was an eunuch, so
were most of the highly appointed people in Ming Dynasty. It was the
eunuch dynasty (and I doubt some eunuchs might have been emperors'
sweeties). Most peasants as well as anti-eunuch government officials
lived under terror, and CIA style investigation bureaus were
established by emperors to eliminate emperors' rivals (but the power
were abused...). Both Eastern Bureau and Western Bureau were strictly
run by eunuchs, Eastern Bureau being the most infamous one.

When Ching Dynasty succeeded Ming, Ching understood the corruption
associated with eunuchs, so many eunuchs were dismissed or killed.
Funny enough, some were rehired back, since a giant palace like Purple
Forbidden Palace couldn't operate without those busboys, not to
mention emperors' unused queens (China was a polygamous society) need
"maintenance" too. Eunuchs were used as palace keepers and foremen,
palace maids' shopping partners, queens maintenancer in palace ever
since Han Dynasty. Imagine that, three-thousand years of transexual
history....

> > The rulers between those 3 huangs and
> > 5 di's and Shi Huang-Di were called Tien-tse (zi according to your
> > spelling),
>
> Well, i'm using Pin-Yin romanization.

Okay, I am not from mainland China, so I don't know those Roman
pin-yins.

> > which literally means the Son of the Heaven,
>
> "Zi" is "child", technically, isn't it?

Well, Chinese uses intonations, so even though they look the same, but
because of the tone difference, they means differently. Yes, it means
child, but with different tone, it means someone who is highly
respected. Only Confucious (Zhuism), Lao-zi (Taoism), Muo-zi
(Pacificism), Shuen-zi (Also Zhuism, he believes human was born with a
wicked mind, contrary to Confucious' claim), Sun-zi (a famous
strategist), Man-zi (Zhuism, Confucious' most famous student),
Hanfei-zi (Legalism, which QSHD adopted) and another handful of people
were called with that title.

<snip>


> The "Mandate of Heaven" is approximately equivalent to the
> "Divine Right of Kings" in western terms.
>
> Neither Chinese nor Western rulers liked to dwell on the
> conditional nature of their privilege.

:-), neither do I.

<snip>


> The occasional Western Emperor, such as Caligula, regarded himself
as
> the ruler of the universe, on both earth and heaven. But noone in
> the West took such claims seriously, as Chinese subjects were
> expected to. ;)
>
> Even the ever-victorious Alexander (who was considered a god
> everywhere he went) when he tried to push his loyal soldiers
> to conquer just one more thousand miles, had to back down
> in the face of his Macedonian army's refusal. He was their
> hereditary King, and an outstandingly successful Hegemon
> (Supreme Military and Civil Commander of the Greeks), having
> fought countless battles and won every one of them, and the
> conquered peoples worshipped at idols of Alexander, but to
> his troops, he was a mortal man whose commands could be
> refused when unreasonable.

Well, that's how the godification got started... they just don't lose
during battles. Many founding emperors of each dynasty never lose on
battlefields except the last battle (which they died in). Song
Tai-zhu never lost in the battle, except was (according to rumor)
murdered by his own brother Tai-zhong, who helped him established his
sovereignty. Tai-zhu was the biggest piece of walking lard in
emperial history... no exaggeration... his belly was hanging to his
knees. Though I doubt he was that fat when he was a general, how
could his horse carry him if so... :-)

<snip>


> But Empress Wu favored Buddhism, and with her sponsorship,
> its temples and monks flourished once again.
>
> So to that extent, i suppose Wu was as valuable to Buddhism
> as Constantine was to Christianity.

Wu was soft-prisoned in a buddhist convent by Tang Tai-zhong, her
ruthless father-in-law. Maybe she learned something about Buddhism
there. Buddhism flourished during late Tang dynasty, so you are
probably right, it might be Wu's influence.

> > BTW, Khan, as in Gengis Khan, means the ruler of everthing below
the
> > sky.
>
> Sounds like the German word for King. I don't know whether that's
> (a) coincidence, (b) a term adopted from Attila the Hun, or
> (c) a very ancient word that precedes the Huns' "visits" to Europe.
>
> Btw:
>
> Kahan = a descendant of Aaron the High Priest and brother of Moses.
> This usage would be known to the early Muslims who expanded into
> central Asia in the centuries before Genghis.

Probably not a coincidence at all, as the title was given people he
conquerred, probably the people of, guess what, central Asia. BTW, it
IS pronounced very similar to Kahan.

<snip>


> Rome was at first a city ruled by the Etruscan monarchy,
> and Greece was ruled mostly by kings and emperors as far back
> as we can trace (at least 5000 years), as was Iran, and Iraq,
> and Syria and Egypt.
>
> But Greece is geographically opposite to China: Greece and
> its adjacent regions are a rocky land, in which cities are
> separated by rugged hills or by seas, and this separation
> may have assisted in the development of independent thinking
> and novel forms of local government.

Well, Greece has a history of being a democracy. China never was
until 1911. China never has a democratic neighbor either, so no luck
of being osmosed with such "radical" idea.

> Is it a coincidence that Confucius, Lao Zi, and other Chinese
> thinkers emerged in a time of political disarray, when central
> control was loosened?

Most of them emerged in times of disarray, no coincidence, because the
country needs people like those during the period. Don't forget Zhuge
Liang (or Kong-ming), who was considered the wittiest military
adviser/politician was living during the Three Kingdoms period. Read
the openning poem of Romance of Three Kingdom (supposedly wrote by
Zhuge Liang), and you'll find a sentence says something like "the tide
used up heroes." (sorry about the rough translation). Tide was
refering to the chaos. And heroes were constantly recruited and made
but also "expended" (maybe this is a better word than used up) during
that chaotic period. I hope that makes sense.

<snip>


> When the government is unelected, there is no hint of democracy.
> The economics may now be capitalist (of the chartered mercantilist
> sort), but that was never democratic when it predominated in
> 17th and 18th century Europe.

I am not sure what you are saying. Though China was monarchy (which
was a kind of government), it was always a capitalist society. Only
when communist party took over mainland China, it became some sort of
communism (communism is a economic system, socialism is the political
system).

<snip>


> Desperate time require strict measures. The Warring States period
> was certainly desperate.
>
> But returning to the topic of Taoism, the philosophy espoused
> in the Lao Zi's "Dao De Jing" appeals to Western mystics who
> have also considered that the apparent strength of brute force
> can be worn down through patience.

Dao De Jing means "The Scripture of Morality." I've never read it, it
is kinda in an unreadable archaic language, but from what I've learn
from my history teacher (in Taiwan), it was something about the order
of nature. Man should not interfere with the nature, and all things
have their ways.

> In our own time, the falls of European Communism, and of Asian
> dictators (such as Marcos, Suharto and the Korean generals)
> were facilitated by sustained passive dissent.

They were also the most radical people before their falls. I am not
completely passive, but I don't like overly aggressive, as I believe
that's the start of a chaos. The believers of chaos theory wouldn't
mind that, but I think chaos would hurt more than it rebuilds... and I
don't want to rebuild our society from ground up again. I believe in
a constant, predictable progressive pace will build up a strong
foundation for a nation. Less confusions will dwell on people's mind,
and more progress will be achieved than chaos would, which people will
only waste a chunk of time on settling stuffs.

<snip>


> I suppose so, though even the most ardent pro-commerce governments
> do not operate at arm's length from business in actuality, rather
> they deal under the table.
>
> It would be interesting to see a government that curried no favors
> with sectional interests in business, regardless of their status.
>
> But who can attain and hold government without campaign
> contributions?

hehehe... well, if we don't have an active compaign, then
contributions wouldn't exist in the first place. Besides, most
politicians today are not serving their societies, but serving
themselves. They should study why a government is founded in the
first place. Now it seems politicians are dealing with anything but
protecting people... well, they do protect people's rights, but out of
the wrong intention.

<snip>


> > ??? I am not sure about that. I think it is Zhu...
>
> "Zi" sounds like "Tser", which rhymes with "Sir".

I think you probably learned your Chinese from a Beijinger. They
often end their sounds with something er... er. :-)

<snip>


> > I don't like over expansion, even if we are talking about
business.
>
> You're so right. Over-extension causes a decline in service,
> as does excessive centralization.

Yes, and I actually believe the U.S. government should not be
centralized, but each State should self-govern itself (federation).
It failed during the early part of the U.S. history does not mean it
will failed again. Besides, the time was different, the U.S. was in
recovery stage after Revolutionary War, and people were less
educated.... err... well, it might still worth a try :-). The
centralized census is just plain ridiculous for a country of U.S.'s
size. No wonder many citizens are underserved, and ignored. There is
no focus on governing in general, whatsoever, but politicians are so
self-absorbed in playing their own political games (and this is true
for all the politicians around the world).

<snip>


> > How about Tang Dynasty? It was considered the largest country in
the
> > entire world at the time.
>
> The Tang coincided with European decline and Arab expansion.
>
> In those days (7th to 10th centuries), the Arab empire extended
> from Spain to Iran.

Tang was much larger than Europe. Tang was the third largest dynasty
in Chinese history, only smaller than Mongolian Empire, and Ching
Dynasty (which covers China today + Mongolia). In fact, Tang has the
basic shape of Ching's, only marginally smaller. Tang is another
synonym for China, too.

> > The capital was constructed with advanced city planning.
>
> I've often wondered why city planning has so rarely been
> applied, even at the best of times. The Indus valley civilization
> had excellent sewerage, but look at Indian sanitation since.
> The Incas laid out their cities well, as did some of the Egyptian
> pharaohs. Haussmann rebuilt Paris. But these events are
> exceptional on the historical scale. Constantinople, which
> could have been planned carefully, was rushed, even though
> Constantine had the time, the resources, and the motivation.

It's a surprisingly easy concept, too! Though I've heard an
overplaning, like the one in Brazil, actually does not function as
well as it would be if there was no planning at all.

<snip>


> There are records of Han merchants in Rome.
> Gold and jewels flowed east, in exchange for
> silks and lacquerware.

I think it should be so exciting to travel through the silk road to
Europe. It would be like a exploration to Mars. IIRC, the silk
merchants actually traded most of the silk clothes in Afganistan area,
and traded for something there, and bring those rugs or whatever the
silverware or stuffs to Europe, but of course, there will still be
some silk arrive in Europe.

<snip>


> Women rule so rarely, that when they do, it's because they are
> even tougher than the most forceful of men.

I think many feminists are following this path....

> The power behind Augustus's throne was his wife, Livia,
> who is suspected of secretly arranging the murders of
> most of the royal family to clear the succession for her
> favorite son, Tiberius.

Watch your back... watch out for feminists...

> Queen Elizabeth I was imprisoned on death row by her father,
> the formidable Henry VIII, but she emerged from the Tower
> stronger than ever.

I actually think Elizabeth I is attractive enough, but I might have
bought too much of those dramatic portrayal of her.

> Indira Gandhi, Mrs Bandaranaike, Golda Meir, Margaret Thatcher:
> none of those impresses as a fine, delicate, mannered lady.
>
> I suppose if Suu Ki of Burma had those women's minds,
> then the military junta would be washing dishes by now.

Hehe... maybe the person who will make you washing dishes is your
future wife.

> ...
> > > Though Lao-Zi's philosophy has threads in common with both
Buddha's
> > > and Christ's teachings.
> >
> > Lao-tse/Lao-zi (whatever) teaches the way of the nature, and
promotes
> > little human interference with the nature.
>
> The question is, what is sustainable minimal interference?
> We interfere when we breathe, eat, drink, go to the toilet,
> find a place to rest, talk, think, and exist.
>
> We're part of nature, and nature interferes with itself
> continually, often with massive repercussions. Just
> think of volcanoes, earthquakes, animal and plant diseases,
> and the lives of animals and plants themselves.

I don't think breathing is interference, every living thing breathes,
so are eating and drinking. It's just the way we do some of the
activities that are considered to be intereference. I doubt this is
what Lao tse had in mind. I think he meant we should not go against
our fate, which I think I've done quite often, and that would make
human suffer more than what we thought to be improving our lives.
Besides, if there indeed is a god, I think the god wants humans dead,
not to thrive. We survived out of stealing other living beings lives.
But of course, no human would think god wants us dead... those people
who think this way already killed themselves... hehe, eliminated by
"natural selection." People are very good at interpret things in
their own ways... into something they would agree with, it's only
human nature.

> As thinking creatures, perhaps we have the capacity for
> more considerate behavior, and with that opportunity
> comes a responsibility.

Yes, again, the definition is important. Some never are responsible,
some thinks they are responsible, but not in according to another
person's opinion. Well, I just think we ought to figure this out on
our behalf, and we'll just do what we think is right. The society
will never listen... it's too difficult to change their thoughts, and
they'll believe you are blocking their freedoms with your POV.

> The Hebrew Torah has many injunctions against human mistreatment
> of the natural world, for example:
>
> "Cruelty to animals is forbidden".
> "God will destroy those who are destroying the Earth".
>
> And there are the many prophetic warnings to show restraint
> in every aspect of life.
>
> Not many people practice the advice of Lao Zi or the Biblical
> prophets, so it may be hard to imagine a world without the
> excessive use of force.

Human are short-lived. Our life span in only about 80 years, and most
of us wouldn't think about the world beyond those 80 years of ours.
Some simply don't think that much, because they need to feed their
stomach first. Simply put, there were too many immediate issues to
deal with... isn't that just great? the best gift ever given to us by
the glorious Industrial Revolution, a busy life.

<snip>


> > Actually Confucius was the liberal of his time, and Lao-zi was the
> > conservative,
>
> Perhaps you should define those terms, as "liberal" and
> "conservative" have quite different implications in
> Australia. Here, they're most often used as synonyms!

My definition is a little different... though I think mine is the
right one, for the U.S. at least. Conservative being the original
belief visioned by the founding father of the U.S., which includes
those of Jefferson's, Madison's and Franklan's, etc. Though the one I
emphasized on this Lao-zi/Confucious thing is the non-interference
part, the freedom of people part. Liberalism, of course, means
government should be proactive, not only the government should protect
its citizen's basic right, but also taking care of their lives.
Confucious believes that government should do more to its citizen.
You might think Confucious is the conservative one, because his idea
is OLD by Chinese standard. Afterall, Zhuism has been the central
belief since Han Wu-di. The definition of conservatism and liberalism
varies according to the nations you are in.

I am a conservative, if you haven't figure that out. I believe the
U.S. should be run like what framers of the Constitution intended.
Social Secrity and other social benefits should be out, though it's
impossible to erradicate at this point, but we should try to eliminate
people's dependence on such things. It's not healthy for the country
at all.

> > though they were friends and mentors of each other.
>
> So the story goes. But who witnessed their meetings?

The story says so. But why wouldn't they want to meet each other.
They just possess different philosophies, so what? I would never
choke my evil counterpart. ;-) Nor would I discredit Democrats for
their simple ideals... hehehe. They exist so we may modified our
views. We can't never be fully right about anything, even though I
think liberals too romanticize issues, but you'll never know when they
are going to come up with interesting thoughts, which then I can use
to make my theory still better than theirs. :-)

> > Tao promotes Laissez Faire, and Zhu promotes formalistic
ceremonial
> > ettiquettes. Tao promotes less is more, Zhu promotes more is
more...
> > Tao teaches the way of the nature, and human should remain
passive,
> > but Zhu promotes human should take actions. It is just hard to
> > imagine Confucius is a conservative and Lao-tse is a liberal, type
> > mismatch (I know you westerners were educated otherwise, but the
> > central believe of Taoism is "reign without action." as oppose to
> > Zhuism's progressiveness, Faism/Legalism's disciplinary, and
> > Pacifist's peacefulness)
>
> OK, i know of the several philosophers to whom you refer,
> and i understand your explanation of the different emphases
> of Taoism and Confucianism, but it's still confusing when
> one is used to the party of "Traditional Family Values" in
> Modern Western history also being the party of economic
> "Laissez Faire".

Zhu is a traditional family values of Chinese. Because of those
courteous, well-mannered thing Confucious promotes so much, that's
consider the virtue. I know what you mean now, you mean that strict
class system Confucious promotes about rulers-ruled, father-sons
thing.... That's conservative if you put monarchy in the formula. But
if you live in a democratic society, conservatism should mean
government is best when it is the least, and liberalism being
proaction, baby-sitting everybody, assuming every citizen can't taking
care of themselves and avoid responsibility its consequences... I know
I am being a little bit harsh and invalidating liberalism, but that's
what it will eventually bring to citizens of such system, irresponsle
for their own actions (and stop being free thinkers because government
has done everything for the people, and they don't have to think about
survival).

Don't forget, heroes are created when society needs them. When people
live in a environment where things are abundant, they would get really
fat.

> So it seems that modern political philosophy is tied in knots.

Every country has their own history, so it's not weird that there are
some differences.

<snipped the interesting history of Buddha in the West>


> > I could not care less what Buddha ate before he ascended. I don't
even
> > care which kind of wood was crucifix made off. They are just not
> > important IMHO. Interesting trivials, but useless.
>
> I see that rituals have little hold over you. :)

Hehe... I just want a pizza.

> > Eating white meat has nothing to do with how Sidhartha got
ascended.
>
> Did he ascend? I thought he died in the normal way,
> with the normal consequence. Aren't there numerous shrines
> purporting to contain various of his bodily remains?
> A finger here, another bone there?
>
> I realise it's popular to think that not only Elijah
> and Christ ascended, but also Moses and Mary, and
> goodness knows who else, whether they were alive or
> buried when it happened, but too much of that and
> it sounds like rampant copy-cat-ism.

I don't mean ascend as in a physical body floating in the mid air. I
mean ascend as in the person's sprititually raised into another level.
He was enlightened and figured out the meaning of life, remember how
the story goes? It's that heightened understanding that
metaphorically described as ascension. I don't believe those
superstitious believes of saits flying or whatever the ridiculous
claim that's on the top of people's heads at the time. A true saint
needs no miracle to prove his greatness, his word is the power, and
people should feel the difference of his presence.

> I'd rather try to stick to what the original speakers
> said and did, according to their witnesses. Their
> messages are significant, and are partially obscured
> by a proliferation of popular embroidering.
>
> For example, i'm sure that neither Buddha nor Christ
> used a prayer shelf lined with statuettes in their lives.

I think it's people who created them, so it is more physicalized.
It's very difficult for people to worship something they don't see or
understand, so people made something up. It comforts people.

> Nor as far as i know did Buddha ever claim that he would
> become a supernatural being, or that he would be reincarnated
> as a Tibetan lama.

That's another thing people made up. Though it's good those Lamas and
popes are very responsible for their roles, and that is very
admirable. Even if they are not the true gods or the messengers of
gods, doesn't mean you can't learn things from them.

> Buddha is important for what he discovered, and how he lived
> his life, and for teaching the Eightfold Way and its
> consequences to other people.

What he discovered? I've never known really.

> > > You're thinking of the time of the Mongolian conquest of China
> > > in the 12th and 13th centuries. The Moguls conquered India
> > > during the 16th and 17th centuries.
> >
> > Who were they?
>
> A branch of the Mongol empire, related to Timur the Lame
> (called Tamerlane in English) who ruled central Asia around 1400.

Hmm... the remainings of the Mongolian Empire? I know Mongolian
empire were divided up into pieces, and ruled by different rulers.
Though I never knew India was ever conquered.

> They built the Taj Mahal and many other monuments of that Islamic
> style.
>
> The Moguls were conquered by the British in the 1700's.
>
> Pakistan and Bangla Desh exist as separate nations,
> instead of being part of India, because of the Mogul
> religious influence which was much stronger in those
> places.

Hmm... you knew quite a few stuffs. Yuen Dynasty is not one of my
strongest periods.

<snip>


> > Not to the point of being totally unrecognizable with its original
> > form. Chinese Buddhism is weird... Indian Buddhism doesn't burn
those
> > incense we use today.
>
> Hmm, i didn't know that about Indian Buddhism, but it does make
> sense that it would be less modified.

:-) because Buddhism is an Indian religion. It won't surprise me if
Buddhism was much more closer to Hindu than the one we have today.

> > The ritual/ceremony is so Chinese, which I even
> > doubt the original Buddhism did any of those ceremonies.
>
> Reminds me of the ancient Greek and Roman versions of the Egyptian
> and Persian religions. They were so adapted, they could hardly
> be recognized.

Yes, people won't adopt them if they don't like them. So even sacred
rituals got modified to fit people's tastes....

> > Zen Buddhism invented during Mongolian Empire is actually an
attempt
> > to recover the real essense of Buddhism belief through self study.
>
> The Mongol period was surprisingly productive in Chinese culture:
> after killing so many millions of people, the Yuan settled down
> to a period of unparalleled commercial prosperity, poetry and
> Chinese opera. The Chinese people who bravely persuaded Kublai
> and co to adopt civilized ways, are to be commended, whoever
> they were.

Convinced? I doubted, I think they were assimilated. It happened in
Chinese history very often, the conquerers tribe who got weaker
civilization than Han Chinese would end up adopting the Chinese ways.
Even the Manchurian Ching dynasty is the same. They did invented some
language of their own by making a variation of the Mongol words, but
the later emperors can't speak anything but Chinese. One of the nomad
emperors (of another period) even ordered its people to dress like
Chinese (which Ching didn't do, they preserve their clothes well,
though the fabrication technique probably are refined) and promoted
interracial marriage between his people and Chinese, which caused
quite some disturbance and his policies were reversed by the
succession emperor, of course.

And as for the literary prosperity, well, Song dynasty, the dynasty
before Yuen was considered the renaisance period of China, so Yuen is
actually the continuation of that trend. Though the trend really
changed from poetry composing, prevalent form of literature before
Song dynasty, to novel writing. One thing worth noting though is that
Purple Forbidden City was built that time, which is still the biggest
palace on earth today (which made most emperors shut-ins...).

> > That superhuman abilities thing is just a BS. I am not a man of
> > superstition.
>
> Humans strive to improve, even if it is just in mimicry of
> the most superficial characteristics of cartoon superheroes.

Hehe, but cartoons are not taken seriously.

<snip>


> Unless they practice self-analysis, or at least scepticism
> of their own motives. I wish a lot more people would
> practise that.

I do, if that makes you feel better. Though my opinion is just the
opposite of yours. I wish people would just live their lives the way
they were. Self-analysis doesn't bring happiness, ignorance does,
however.

> > I really hate war that started by religion.
> > What's the point?
>
> A very good question. Sometimes, as with the Arab conquests,
> or Cromwell's invasion of Ireland, it was for territorial expansion.

Selfishness and greed, that is, lack of self-restraint.

> > Do you
> > know the reason for the emperor who order to exterminate Buddhist
monk
> > sometime in Chinese history? Just because the emperor saw monks
> > fighting on the battlefield.
>
> How did monks begin to be militants?

They didn't become monks because they want to learn the true meanings
of lives, but they were in temples because they were trying to get
some foods. Sort of like government jobs, you won't get rich, but you
won't get hungry, either. :-) So during the battle, some of these
unorthodox monks got out of temple and looted the dead soldiers, some
were merely defending themselves, though.

> > Though what he has done was a little
> > radical, but I applaud his act to awake those blinded people.
>
> Are you sure that was his motive?

That's not his motive, but it has a good side-effect.

> > Because the separation of church and state
> > has been true in China since.
>
> Maybe religious philosophers have been separate from the state,
> but religious rituals were practised by Chinese emperors since,
> i think, at least the earliest recorded times. The annual festivals
> officiated over by the emperor in honor of the sun and the moon,
> for example, go way way back.

Yes, that's true, but they don't consult monks or gods for political
policies. Monks wouldn't be allowed in palace under normal
circumstance, anyways.

> But the oldest forms of state religion in China, as in ancient
> Greece and Rome, were so ingrained for so unimaginably long,
> that, as far as i'm aware, they didn't even have a name.
> Instead, the rulers would appeal to general principles of
> duty, gravity, dignity, fortune, etc etc etc, to commend
> those rites.
>
> I suppose it's those rites that Confucius was commending.

Confucious' rites are still done today during his birthday in
Confucious temple, the 8 X 8 dance (the Eight-Sparrow Dance), eight
rows, eight columns for totall of 64 people, wearing the traditional
Zhou Dynasty ceremonial ritual costumes (though I don't know how
authentic that is) was used in Zhou dynasty to commemorate nobles.
Depends on the rank, the dance would sized from 3x3 to 8x8.
Traditional Chinese instruments were used during the ceremony, too.
Could be interesting if you happend to be in China or Taiwan and catch
that.

> --
> Best wishes!
> Geoffrey Tobin
> Email: G.T...@latrobe.edu.au
> WWW: http://www.ee.latrobe.edu.au/~gt/gt.html

Ashikaga

Honeymus

unread,
Sep 21, 2000, 3:00:00 AM9/21/00
to
Who gives a rats A----about all these technicalities????Just a game for fun not
a lesson... Betty
hone...@aol.com

Geoffrey Tobin

unread,
Sep 22, 2000, 3:00:00 AM9/22/00
to
Ashikaga wrote:
>
> Well, Journey to the West is one of the four masterpiece of Chinese
> literature... Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Bandit Kings of China,

Bandit Kings: is that the story with over 100 heroes?
I should recall its other name, but i cannot.

> and the Dream of Red (something)

Mansions.

> ... are the other three. Journey to
> the West is pretty entertaining, but that's about it. Just don't
> consider it as a good representation of a history.

True, it's deliberately exaggerated. The Japanese TV series "Monkey"
based on it was great fun.



> The problem with Taoism, the religion, is it was founded by a fraud
> who tried to get his stomach filled.

Perhaps Astrology was founded by a needy Astronomer? I can imagine
his/her reasoning: "Noone will pay me to study the stars in order
to fathom the mysteries of the universe, but if i claim the stars
tell the fortunes of individuals, then kings and merchants will
pay me handsomely."

> But why would people believe him
> there are all these gods which he claimed? So he used Lao-tse's name
> to back himself... which is quite disgusting, actually.

Who was the man who did this?



> > Btw, incense originated in Oman, many thousands
> > of years ago. It was a major component in the
> > country's export economy, as i think it may still
> > be.
>
> Hmm... I didn't know that. I like incense though I don't like

> cigarette.

:) Tobacco is American. Incense is Asian.

> [Re the early emperors] there isn't many record how the


> government functioned under that period.

It was 4000 years ago, so it's not surprising. There may
have been records, but they could have been destroyed or lost
in one of the insurrections that occurs when dynasties fall.

> It's weird, because all those prehistorical things about Hwang-di were
> recorded in Si-ji (sp?), an important history record that described
> everything from West-Han dynasty and earlier. A lot of the stuffs
> from that book were oral history, because not until that time, nobody
> cared about recording history in China. You would think western
> historians recognize such work (well, kinda shaky), but the first
> dynasty (Sha) was not recognized because there weren't any proof of
> Chinese language existed back then, though Sha was recorded in Shi-ji.

The archaeological discoveries of a temple or palace complex north
of Beijing from that period (before 2000 BC) is solid evidence of
the ancientness of China's civilization.

> In fact, Qin II was not the appointed successor of QSHD. QSHD's
> oldest son was very respected by the people for his kindness and
> righteousness, but he was a little bit blunt in front of his father,
> so he got exiled by his father out of rage.

Like Cordelia the honest daughter in Shakespeare's "King Lear"!

> The second son, who was
> really a weasel, was then appointed as the successor prince. Funny
> enough, during QSHD's periodic supervising of his territory (which is
> not very common for emperors to do that, most of the emperors never
> really cared about the country),

QSHD was a paranoid compulsive obsessive :) who wanted to keep an eye
on everyone.

> he knew he was dying and attempted to
> change the will to summon his oldest son back for the throne. He died
> before the will was signed, so the official who was the ally of the
> second son changed the will, and the weasel son got to the throne as
> the Qin II.

A classic tragedy.

> The civil war broke out immediately (because there
> weren't any news, nobody knew QSHD died until Qin II was appointed,
> and he weren't that popular and strong enough like his father to
> settle the chaos).

I heard that the officials kept QSHD's death a secret for weeks.
They sprayed his carriage with perfume to hide the stench of his
corpse as they continued to wheel it round the countryside.



> > Odd that the West remembers the Qin as _the_ Chinese dynasty,
> > even naming the country and people after them, whereas China
> > prefers to commemorate the Han.
>
> Well, I don't blame them, because Qin is the first Chinese dynasty
> that united the entire China. Though QSHD was considered a tyrant,
> and probably was a little bit psychotic, but he did quite a few good
> things that would define China as a solid sovereignty. He united

> currency, connected the Great Wall of China, built inter-province


> routes to encourage commerce, and created a united legal system.

And standardised the weights and measures, such as the axle lengths
of wagons.

> > ... by the time of the Warring States, every State leader,


> > and every petty baron, wanted to be called "Wang".
>
> It is because they are just that, nobles. Another title for Wang is
> Gong.

I'd forgotten that. I should have remembered it on the basis that
it sounds a little like "king".

> ... Qin was located on a desert land, just outside


> of the original China, most of the people he ruled weren't even
> Chinese but nomads).

Turks. Tur-an = land of the nomads in the Ancient Persian language,
as opposed to Ir-an = the land of crop farmers.

I've read that many of the pre-Qin Chinese dynasties were descended
from Turks who'd migrated through Qin, using that as their base
for further expansion.

> BTW, Hsu (my family name) has appeared ever since Zhou dynasty.

Good to know. What does "Hsu" mean?

> > Come to think of it, until Qin Shi Huang-Di, few Chinese
> > diplomats would have met anyone from outside China, as it
> > was the QSHD who first extended rule to the Canton area,
> > which was until then settled by Vietnamese. Nanhai in
> > Canton was the ancient capital of Viet Nam = "Yue Nan".
>
> Actually, it was called Jiao-zhi at the time, the name Yue Nan was not
> used until much later.

My reading was that the Kingdoms of Min Yue (with its capital where
Fuzhou now is) and Nan Yue (centred at Canton) are named in Chinese
records during the Zhou dynasty.

> It was a self-governing place, and even Canton
> was not much taken cared of because it was way too south and void of
> many Chinese settlements. Long River area was the southern most
> territory settled by Chinese at the time by Chu State (the largest
> state of its time, probably occupied about 1/5 of China, but too
> courteous and kind to survive in a warring state period).

Chu state was the state with the especially beautiful music,
wasn't it? I love those bells.

> > The Hokkiens weren't incorporated until the Han dynasty.
>
> ... I am not too sure about that. During the last few year of the
> Warring States, Wu and Yue were established in Hokkien (Yue Nan means
> "south of Yue") and were archrivals of each other.

Min Yue was i think regarded as outside the mainstream
of Chinese civilization at the time. Maybe they didn't
recognize the emperor? Or their culture and language
were a little more different than most at the time?



> > So knowledge of other nations would have been extremely
> > sketchy in ancient times, except concerning the Koreans,
> > plus some information about the Tibetan, Turkish and
> > Mongol invaders.
>
> Yes... they were very sketchy. Koreans were admitted and out of China
> periodically. Turks were very obscure, and were thought to be the
> descents of the ancient Mongolians, who were chased off by Han Wu-di
> and settled there (though I am not too sure...).

An understandable confusion, as the Turks have often cooperated
with the Mongols in their invasions. Their languages are related,
and their customs were similar. The Turks ("White Horde") invaded
first, in large numbers, providing a beach head, and the Mongols
("Golden Horde") followed, commanded the combined Horde, and
mercilessly slaughtered all townsfolk and farmers that dared resist.

It was only in the Czech hills, and at the hands of independent
Turkish forces in Palestine, that the Horde was beaten. But
historians think they would have attacked again and again had
the Great Khan's death not summoned their leaders home to contest
the title.

> Tibetan weren't
> China's land until Ching Dynasty. Mongols were repressed and
> discriminated against before Mongolian empire, and Mongolians used the
> same repressive policy against Han Chinese when Yuen was established,
> and that caused quite a discontentment, and thus Ming Dynasty was
> formed (though Ming was a very horrible dynasty).

Why do you say very horrible? At least the Zheng He expedition
was a brave venture.

> > Maybe the Thais would have been known as a "hill tribe"
> > expert in bronze working?
>
> Don't know much about Thai, it was never part of China.

The Thais migrated south from Yunnan, where many of them
still dwell.

> > As far as Shi Huang-Di was concerned, Japan was the islands
> > of the Immortal Fairies.
>
> Yes, and Fu Hsu (yes, that's my last name) was sent to Japan to
> retrieve medicine of Immortality, but he never returned and settled
> there.

He would have been foolhardy to return without the elixir.
According to one theory, the Japanese imperial family
are descended from the Chinese courtiers who wisely chose
to stay. (But the Japanese nationalists probably think
_that's_ a fairy tale. :)

> Jo is the Japanese form of my last name (perhaps Asu is also a
> variation of Hsu).

> > Geographical knowledge was apparently not a major concern
> > of most emperors. The stunning exception being the sponsor
> > of the Zheng He expeditions.
>
> Hehe... but the original purpose was not to find out what's over
> there, but to tell other people China is the greatest nation in the
> world. That's the reason why Zheng brought papers, compass and
> printing press to Arabs and Europe, to impress other nations about
> Chinese inventions.

He certainly impressed. Even westerners sometimes forget that
both Egypt and Rome manufactured paper: the Egyptians from reeds
and the Romans by slicing trees very thin.

> Though the real good result of Zheng He
> Expedition was the establishment of sea trading routes. I think
> that's how tea trade got started.

Quite possibly. There was a TV documentary series "The Story of
the Rose" that mentioned a lot about Chinese "Tea Roses" and
their relation to the Tea Trade. So the modern rose hybrids
may owe their existence to Zheng He too.

<snip notoriety of palace eunuchs>

> Imagine that, three-thousand years of transexual history....

Not only in China. All the "Oriental Despotisms" (that's how
the Greeks perceived most of the Asian and African empires)
employed large numbers of palace eunuchs to administer the
courts of the large numbers of concubines, so the Monarch
could be sure that all his women's children were his own.

> .... Only Confucious (Zhuism), Lao-zi (Taoism), Muo-zi


> (Pacificism), Shuen-zi (Also Zhuism, he believes human was born with a
> wicked mind, contrary to Confucious' claim), Sun-zi (a famous
> strategist), Man-zi (Zhuism, Confucious' most famous student),
> Hanfei-zi (Legalism, which QSHD adopted) and another handful of people
> were called with that title.

So it is the word we translate as "Sage" = "especially wise teacher",
then?

> ... Tai-zhu was the biggest piece of walking lard in


> emperial history... no exaggeration... his belly was hanging to his
> knees. Though I doubt he was that fat when he was a general, how
> could his horse carry him if so... :-)

Maybe he sat atop the hill, sending messengers with his orders?

> Wu was soft-prisoned

"Soft-prisoned" is a delightful phrase. Who coined it?

> in a buddhist convent by Tang Tai-zhong, her
> ruthless father-in-law. Maybe she learned something about Buddhism

> there. ...

> > Btw:
> >
> > Kahan = a descendant of Aaron the High Priest and brother of Moses.
> > This usage would be known to the early Muslims who expanded into
> > central Asia in the centuries before Genghis.
>
> Probably not a coincidence at all, as the title was given people he
> conquerred, probably the people of, guess what, central Asia. BTW, it
> IS pronounced very similar to Kahan.

There's another connection: before Islam, the Jews converted many
Turks in Central Asia to their religion. Jews still refer to the
descendants of those converts as "Turks". I suppose because they
are. :)

> Well, Greece has a history of being a democracy.

Certain cities of Greece did (Athens and its allies), briefly,
during the 5th and 4th centuries BC, but after Alexander,
monarchy became the rule again. That's one of the tragedies
of conquerors: even the memory of their achievements is often
enough to crush their own people's desire for freedom.

> China never was until 1911. China never has a democratic neighbor
> either, so no luck of being osmosed with such "radical" idea.

Geography has been China's friend, and its foe. Surrounded
by mountains and ocean, it was able to develop a distinct
and coherent culture for countless thousands of years.
You just stated the downside of that.

> Read the openning poem of Romance of Three Kingdom (supposedly wrote by
> Zhuge Liang), and you'll find a sentence says something like "the tide
> used up heroes." (sorry about the rough translation). Tide was
> refering to the chaos.

To both the Chinese and the Greeks, Chaos is associated with the
Ocean.

> And heroes were constantly recruited and made
> but also "expended" (maybe this is a better word than used up) during
> that chaotic period. I hope that makes sense.

It certainly does. Such a waste of talent.
However, poetry thrives on tragedy.

> <snip>
> > When the government is unelected, there is no hint of democracy.
> > The economics may now be capitalist (of the chartered mercantilist
> > sort), but that was never democratic when it predominated in
> > 17th and 18th century Europe.
>
> I am not sure what you are saying. Though China was monarchy (which
> was a kind of government), it was always a capitalist society.

Every society has merchants. Capitalism means more than
the existence of trade. But i'll have to think about
what the difference is. :)

> Dao De Jing means "The Scripture of Morality." I've never read it, it
> is kinda in an unreadable archaic language, but from what I've learn
> from my history teacher (in Taiwan), it was something about the order
> of nature. Man should not interfere with the nature, and all things
> have their ways.

So i gather. Even in translation, it's very beautifully stated.



> They were also the most radical people before their falls. I am not
> completely passive, but I don't like overly aggressive, as I believe
> that's the start of a chaos. The believers of chaos theory wouldn't
> mind tha