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Dictionary Conjugation Phrases Games More by bab. EN divine godlike numinous supernal.


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Is divine interest just occasional and selective, perhaps even haphazard? By faith, men and women give their assent to this divine testimony. We have had a tendency to give unbounded praise to that characteristic, imagining ourselves to be the paragon among animals, capable of god-like appreciation and understanding. Synonyms Synonyms French for "divin":. During the Later Han, scholars such as Bian Shao were combating new, unorthodox cults amongst the populace as well as at the imperial court.

They spoke up against the influence of the eunuchs, who often mediated the practices of popular religion to the court, thus diverting the emperor from the moral indoctrination by the scholars and from his political responsibilities. It is surely no accident that Emperor Huan's Laozi cult in Hu had been performed by two eunuchs, doubtless members of the eunuch faction that was in power during his reign.

For political considerations, therefore, Bian Shao had to tone down his own opinion about Laozi. The alternating rhythm of day and night, new moon and full moon, happiness and unhappiness, and the thought, which also goes back to the Book of Changes, that concealment, modesty, poverty, and self-debasement will infallibly change into their opposites, permitted him to explain the contemporary elevation and glory of Laozi from his former lowliness.

Had not Laozi himself, in the Daode jing, presented as his ideal the act of "diminishing himself over and over again"? In this way, Bian Shao could accede to the worship of Laozi without overexerting his own principles, at the same time still dispensing a schoolmasterly lesson on the fruits of modesty. All the preceding was merely introduction and explanation for this final section, in which Laozi's prophecies at the court of the "Dark King" are mentioned once again, and it becomes clear that, in Bian Shao's view, it was after these prophecies — i. The concluding hymn of praise on Laozi is again a description of the Taoist sage according to the Daodejing: declining the norms and honors of society, he has obeyed the great Taoist principles, i.

By doing so he could wander across the centuries, an old man with white hair, yet with the vitality of a newly-born. As he considers worldly wisdom as foolery, his genius is not classifiable according to the ranking order of Ban Gu, who ranks humans according to their visible merits.

In concluding his document, Bian Shao must again emphasize the heavenly god venerated by Emperor Huan — the deity who so closely corresponds to the Laozi of the "Disciples of the Tao. This could still be thought of as poetical hyperbole, but the regions of the Heavens mentioned next, named esoterically, derive from Taoist cosmology. It would lead too far to fully explain here what is meant by Laozi's enjoying free circulation in the Cinnabar Hut danlu fJM and the Yellow Court huangtingMM - The "hut" probably means the nose, that is, the point of entry and exit of breath.

That Laozi goes in and out of it signifies that he has been assimilated to the primordial pneuma, the force that circulates in the universe in the guise of wind and breath. The Yellow Court is the innermost room in the three centres of the body, the "Cinnabar Fields" in head, breast, and belly. But what is the significance of these technical terms of Taoist Yoga in this context? The answer is that the body of the Taoist is an image of the cosmos, and the divine points of reference in the body are, first and foremost, coterminous with heavenly regions.

Now we can realize the implications of Bian Shao's formulation: without having obtained the title of di, Laozi, the personified Taoist sagehood, has here been elevated to the throne of the emperor of the center of the heavens. In connection with the color symbolism of yellow, it is instructive to examine how the cult of Emperor Huan is treated in the official histories. Another question is what Huang-Lao might have meant in the connection of Emperor Huan's cult. The Emperor Huan did meditate on the life and apotheosis of the Yellow Thearch, but, to judge from the text of the inscription, his sacrifice appears to have been only addressed to Laozi enthroned in the Yellow Court — a yellow huang m Laozi.

Thus, the name Huang-Lao here no longer denotes, as it had years earlier, the teachings of the two patriarchs of a Taoist philosophy. On the surface, the question of what occasioned the breakthrough of Taoist piety into the imperial court under Emperor Huan can be answered by referring to developments at court.

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There was, in the first place, the influence of the eunuchs, who, for thirty years already, had had the upper hand over their rivals, the great land-owning families from whom the state officials were recruited. Another possible element may have been the influence of a woman from the Taoist Dou f family, who became empress precisely in Emperor Wen's X?

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W empress, so enthusiastic an adept of Huang-Lao, had been a Dou as well ; the emperor, however, apparently did not care for her much. A further bloodbath among the concubines could be averted by intercession on the part of the eunuchs, one of whom was Guan Ba, the celebrant of the imperial cult of Laozi at Hu. A further catalyst for the renewed imperial sponsorship of Taoism was certainly the fact that Emperor Huan by AD still had no male progeny; he was to die childless only one year afterward.

AD , after whom two successive shadow emperors had ascended the throne, children aged two and eight who were merely the pawns of the empresses and their powerful families. To Emperor Huan, the lack of a grown heir apparent at the time of his death must have been not merely an oppressive political worry, but also a proof of Heaven's disgrace, for childlessness was thought to be a punishment from Heaven.

Although such a concern is not mentioned in the "Inscription Honoring Laozi," it may not be irrelevant to remember that the Taoists were said at the time to possess recipes for producing an abundance of offspring. These are recommended in Xiang Jie's admonishing memorial:. The only consort of Emperor Wen [i. Empress Dou] bore him six sons, but of the one thousand or more women now in the harem one never hears the joyous news of a parturition. One should practice virtues and limit punishments in order to be blessed with children as numerous as locusts Anciently Gong Chong HT brought to court a divinely [revealed] scripture In it there was talk about the art of fostering the state and of multiplying offspring.

The divinely revealed scripture was the Taoist Taiping Qinglingshu li "Book of the Pure Outlines for the Great Peace" , which, according to Xiang Jie, had been circulating among the populace as early as the thirties of the second century AD. Emperor Huan may have desired to compensate for the omissions of his predecessor, and as it probably appeared easier to him to stage expensive cults than to "practice virtue and limit punishments," he decided to worship Laozi. The memory of the "Book of the Great Peace" may have inculcated into the emperor a special anxiety and urgency, for this popular work was by no means "in complete accordance with the Classics.

The populace had evidently turned away from the Han emperors and begun to look for alternatives. Local insurrections everywhere in the empire had disturbed the reign of Emperor Huan from its very beginnings. Rebel leaders had assumed the imperial title and. The deeper reason why Emperor Huan turned to Laozi was his search for a divine councillor in this hour of danger.

He hoped that the god in whose name the populace rebelled against him would help him to renew his own dynasty. The sources that have been adduced to help us comprehend the process of deification of Laozi merely render a filtered echo of ancient China's popular religion, a belief system difficult to grasp in its initial stages. Our analysis has clearly brought out, however, that it would be quite wrong to imagine Han society in terms of a dichotomy between the illiterate-cum-religious populace versus the history-writing, "agnostic" upper class.

For understanding Chinese religion, the relevant line of distinction cuts across all social strata. Rather than separating educated officials from superstitious peasants, or agnosticism from the belief in gods, it set state orthodoxy apart from heresy against it. The dominant ideology with its official hierarchy which extended all the way into the heavenly realm had to be distinguished from the unsanctioned cults not under the control of the authorities. As a consequence of the political turnaround under Emperor Wu, Taoism had become unorthodox.

It continued to develop, however, and it became a philosophical consolation to failed would-be officials, an object of fascination to learned hermits, an ideology to adepts at immortality, and increasingly, as the orthodox hierarchy of the Later Han dynasty lost the confidence of the populace, a religious and messianic alternative to the official order. The imperial Taoist cult under Emperor Huan can be viewed as an attempt to canalize this explosive popular creed in a way favorable to the orthodox ideology. Those elaborate ceremonies must be considered in conjunction with the order, given two months afterward, to destroy all minor local i.

AD , whose usurpation of the imperial throne had temporarily interrupted the reign of the Han dynasty. In this connection we can try to answer the question why it was Laozi who was honored with the position of the supreme god of the Taoist religion when, after all, there were more than enough legendary immortals to choose from.

The reason was. The Emperor and His Councillor 1 A universal delight in interpreting and tampering with Laozi's book affected intellectuals of all manner of persuasions, including, for instance, some mystically interested members of the orthodoxy as well as civil servants such as Bian Shao. Written by a quietist for a ruler, the contents of this book combined the art of living the good life with political wisdom, thus being better suited than any other to appease as well as appeal to the orthodoxy. This book also furnished the mode of its author's deification. Laozi probably became a god only during the Later Han dynasty AD In connection with the popular uprisings at the end of the Former Han period, there is as yet no mention of Laozi or the Yellow Thearch.

Confucius had become the orthodox teacher of the emperor governing the earth; but in the eyes of the populace, the transcendent eternal Tao, in revealing itself to the rulers of the Great Peace, had chosen the figure of the divine councillor Laozi. In view of the intended non-specialist audience, notes have been kept as brief as possible ; interested readers may want to consult my more specialized study of the same subject, which contains much more extensive references Anna Seidel, La Divinisation de Lao tseu dans le. Only for some new considerations that have emerged from my research since the time of publication of that work do I furnish some more detailed notes that may be of service to the sinologist.

The same thing is also true vice versa : natural catastrophes are the expression of ills in society. This way of thinking is still alive today, more than two thousand years later. The recent earthquakes in northern China were taken by many Chinese as a reaction to political unrest and an evil omen for the fete of China. As to the the universalist Chinese world view, see, e. Locus classicus : Zhuangzi iff? The state of research on the historical Laozi is presented in Seidel, La divinisation de. For these and other references, see Seidel, La divinisation de Lao tseu, Waley, The way and its power, ; Seidel, La divinisation de Lao tseu, Translator's note : The full connotation of the rendering of Huangdi as "Gelb kaiser" is difficult to replicate in English.

I have here adopted the rendering of "Yellow Thearch," championed by the author's close friend and colleague, the late Professor Edward H. Shiji sfcie See also Seidel, La divinisation de Lao tseu, Shiji This advice is quoted almost verbatim from Daodejing 57 Laozi 2. For further examples of quietist administration, see Seidel, La divinisation de Lao tseu, The Taoist passivity of the first Han governments was a tactic to bring about a period of recuperation to the populace, as well as revitalizing the economy, which had been ruined by the preceding wars.

At the same time, Legalist practices were continued in other areas of the administration. By the time of Emperor Wu, this time of transition, so propitious to Taoism, was over ; the country was now ripe for new political initiatives. Tang Lan's thesis ibid.

Note that the "Bibliographic Treatise" of the Official History of the Han mentions the Huangdi sijing in one breath with the book of Laozi as the classics of the Taoist school ; cf. Seidel, La divinisation de Lao tseu, 23, et infra.


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  • These titles were assigned to the texts after excavation. Hatano refrains from giving his judgment regarding the identification of the four texts. For further essays on the Taoist text finds see Wenwu Shiji Zhonghua edition, See Seidel, La divinisation de Lao tseu, Shiji 63 Zhonghua edition, Joseph Needham, Science and civilisation in China, v. As given in Kongzijiayu, the characterization refers to Laozi, but it may have been formulated originally with respect to Laolaizi ; see Seidel, La divinisation de Lao tseu, 13, note 3.

    This was shown by Homer H. Dubs, "The date and circumstance of the philosopher Lao-dz," Journal of the American Oriental Society 61 , ; discussion with Derk Bodde idem 62 , and , and 64 , Kongzijiayu 3 Guoxuejiben Congshu edition, 25 ; cf. Seidel, La divinisation de Lao tseu, 6. Lunyu The discrepancy between " years after the death of Confucius" BC and the trip of the Grand Astrologer Dan in BC is due to an incoherency between Shiji chapters 4 and 63 ; cf.

    Seidel, La divinisation de Lao tseu, 14, n. Later Taoists interpreted the Zhuangzi report of the death of Laozi as an allegory. Sima Qian begins his account of universal history from the Yellow Thearch, cf. On the Five Elements theory, which came into being during the fourth century BC, see Needham, Science and civilisation, v. In later religious Taoism, Taiyi became an important astral deity. Seidel, La divinisation de Lao tseu, This is one of the earliest occurrences of alchemy in world history.

    Le yoga de la divinisation: La theomorphose de l'homme (French Edition) - Hamsananda Sarasvati

    Needham, Science and civilisation, vols. Needham, Science and civilisation, v. See also infra, n. The first extensive and important study on the origin and history of xht fangshi during the Han period is Ngo Van Xuyet, Divination, magie et politique dans la Chine ancienne Paris : Presses Universitaires de France, Of course it is somewhat questionable to what extent an orthodox Confucian bibliographer would correctly render the different Taoist and esoteric groupings of his time ; but the political turning point during Emperor Wu's reign appears to be the logical time for the fusion of the unofficial esoteric techniques with Huang-Lao Taoism, which had become itself unofficial following the death of Grand-Dowager Empress Dou in BC.

    How different the concept of the Yellow Thearch was in the two traditions before BC is shown further below. Zhuangzi 11, 14, 16, 29 Harvard- Yenching index edition, 26, 39, 41, 81 ; Watson, Chuang Tzu, , , , The Yellow Thearch is here called Xuanyuan ff fS. His paradisiacal reign is here described in similar terms as in Daodejing, chapter 80 Laozi 2. Both traditions have their own specific concept of immortality : Huangdi becomes immortal by way of magical practices — he casts bronze vessels, which cause his apotheosis and ascension to Heaven.

    Laozi's immortality is that of a wise old man, which does not lead to a one-time glorious ascension, but to a peregrination of the centuries, right here on earth. For a more extensive treatment, see Seidel, La divinisation de Lao tseu, Han shu buzhu, 9. Lunheng "Daoxupian" Zhuzi jicheng edition, 7. The term zhenren, which in Zhuangzi means "perfected man," underwent a change of meaning in Han Taoism. Han shu buzhu, Hou Han shu 19 Guoxue Jiben Congshu edition, v. To judge from quotations, they were exclusively concerned with the Daodejing.

    Some of them distributed their wealth to the poor members of their own clans and supported widows and orphans. This tradition of good works influence of Mozi? Hou Han shu Guoxue Jiben Congshu edition, v. The Daode jing receives this interpretation in the Heshanggong commentary, which in my opinion transmits the Han understanding of the text Seidel, La divinisation de Lao tseu, ; Eduard Erkes in Ho-shang-kung's commentary on Lao-tse [Ascona : Artibus Asiae ] also dates this commentary to the end of Han, seeing it not as a philosophical interpretation but a manual to a Taoist conduct of life and meditation.

    Hou Han shu 1 Guoxuejiben Congshu edition, v. For more extensive textual criticism, see my French translation of the inscription in Seidel, La divinisation de Lao tseu, Gao You's commentary to Liishi Chunqiu Zhuzi jicheng edition, On Dongfang Shuo in Taoist literature, cf. This phrase had already been quoted by Sima Qian in his biography of Laozi. On the most ancient occurrence in Chinese sources of the cosmogonie myth of Pangu, which originates from southern peripheral peoples, see Seidel, La divinisation de Lao tseu, This story is of course a legend projected back into the time of Wuding, but archaeological finds have returned Wuding from the realm of myth into the light of history.

    The Five Blessings are according to Shiji Xunzi Xunzi 17, Harvard- Yenching index edition, 64 had criticized that Laozi could only bend, but not straighten himself cf. Seidel, La divinisation de Lao tseu, 6, n. Laozi is as vital as a newly-born and has the white hair of an old man ; in later legends, his mother was pregnant with him for 72 or 81 years and gave birth to him as an "Old Child" one possible literal translation of the name "Laozi". In DaodejingA Laozi 1. Allusion to Ban Gu's above-mentioned "Table of all [famous] personalities from antiquity and the present" in Han shu Hou Han shu 30B Guoxuejiben Congshu edition, v.

    Hou Han shu 7 Guoxue Jiben Congshu edition, v. For parallels to the Laozi legend, see Seidel, La divinisation de Lao tseu, Traducteur : Lothar von Falkenhausen. Moreover, the Taoist ideal behavior of "non- action" wuwei MM — of conforming with the spontaneous flow of things — was The Emperor and His Councillor conceived primarily with reference to the ruler. Far more than a political catastrophe, Warring States period thinkers experienced it as 3 The Emperor and His Councillor tantamount to the disintegration of the natural cosmic order; for in this time, the world was still conceived as a hierarchical unity of different spheres that influenced one another and were dependent upon one another, and the magico-religious synchronization of human society and nature was imagined in terms so concrete that disorder in society could quite literally compromise the harmony of the entire universe.

    As Granet has said: Chinese thought is dominated by concepts such as order, wholeness, and operative force. It is found quoted in other texts from the end of the fourth century BC onward, but nothing proves that these quotes, 8 Anna Seidel many of which are lacking from the extant text of the Daodejing, might not be older than the book in its present recension.

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    Huang-Lao Taoism The intensely longed-for unification of the empire, when it finally took place, did not proceed entirely according to the philosophers' plans. The historian Sima Qian hJ,H3 praised him with the following words: At this time the people, which had recently become liberated from the hard yoke of Qin, found peace because of Cao Can's forbearance wuwei.

    The emperor was to embody the Tao and know neither sorrow nor joy, neither pleasure nor anger. The Emperor and His Councillor The ten inscribed scrolls, which were placed in a lacquer box, contain maps and diagrams, as well as medical, juridical, astrological, historical, and philosophical texts. But how could the venerable and cryptic 12 Anna Seidel philosophy of the Daode jing have really been "servants' talk"?

    I should like, instead, 13 The Emperor and His Councillor to demonstrate the origin and significance of the different legendary themes. In the case of Laozi, as well, 15 The Emperor and His Councillor the reason of his journey is the dynastic decline of the Zhou. Since there is no dichotomy of body and soul, or of vital force and spiritual force, a high old 16 Anna Seidel age is in and of itself a proof of wisdom and even sanctity. The "historical" details of Laozi's biography can all be derived either from vague identifications with a variety of other Taoist sages about whose lives more information was available, or from the family tradition of his 17 The Emperor and His Councillor alleged descendant Li Jie.

    Only the Zhou king was entitled to sacrifice to the Highest Di Shangdi 18 Anna Seidel arguably, therefore, the emperors of the Four Directions may be regarded as subordinates of Shangdi. The mystical force of the subject who merely advises but does not act is superior to the power of the executing, acting emperor; the sacred radiance of the sage councillor is the 21 The Emperor and His Councillor actual source of good government.

    Barbara Kandel goes so far as to believe that the Taoist ideas of the king of Huainan significantly contributed to his political failure: Because the Huainanzi ignored the burning problems of organization of the vast newly formed Han state — probably because it simply did not want to accept the existence of such a state — its entire program slid off into near- irreality and became estranged from reality, unable to become a fully valid competition to the officially approved program.

    But Emperor Guangwu's feelings of responsibility prevented him 23 The Emperor and His Councillor from following such advice; while he understood all too well the advantages of the Taoist arts of longevity for his own person, the tiring business of government was more important. Two new themes appear that are absent from the Shiji biography: 1 The unrest in the time of the Warring States, in the course of which Laozi's native town of Xiang became desolate and put under the administration of the city of Hu.

    What is taking shape here is the belief in the peregrinations of the immortal Laozi through the centuries, who manifested himself again and again as teacher, prophet, and councillor: - Boyang at the court of King You BC ; - Teacher of Confucius BC ; - Grand Astrologer Dan of Zhou, who, in BC foretold to duke Xian of Qin the great future of his country as the unifier of the empire. This is how one can recognize how [Laozi himself] thought about life and death.

    This is meant with the sentence [of Confucius] : 'Those whose ways [Tao] are different cannot talk counsel among one another. In the credo of the "Disciples of the Tao," the three most important forms of being of the god Laozi are briefly circumscribed: 1 He is a cosmic god, existing since primordial beginnings; his throne is the quintessential center, the center of the Heavens in the Big Dipper as well as the symbolic center.

    He had a portrait painted according to this apparition, looked everywhere Anna Seidel in the country for the sage and recognized him in Yue tft, a man whom his emissaries had found among the indentured laborers. Rebel leaders had assumed the imperial title and 37 Anna Seidel declared war upon the Han dynasty. Conclusion The sources that have been adduced to help us comprehend the process of deification of Laozi merely render a filtered echo of ancient China's popular religion, a belief system difficult to grasp in its initial stages.

    The reason was 38 The Emperor and His Councillor 1 65 that Laozi was the only one of them to have authored a book. Notes 1. Daodejing I Laozi 1. Franke, Geschichte des chinesischen Reiches, v.

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    Daode jing 3 Laozi 1. Daode jing 17 Laozi 1. Lao tseu, Seidel, La divinisation de Lao tseu, 24, n. Seidel, La divinisation de Lao tseu, 16, note 1. Seidel, La divinisation de Lao tseu, 11, In Laozi's biography see note Shift 4 Zhonghua edition, Seidel, "Das Neue Testament des Tao.

    Kandel, "Der Versuch einer politischen Restauration," See note Daodejing 7 Laozi 1.