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The Dragonfights in the Wilds; its Blood isBlack and Yellow.

HuangLao Daoism

the philosophy of

the Yellow Emperor (Huangdi)and Laozi

 


"... Daoism ... developed in ... two majorphases:

... first .... philosophical Daoism, the ... philosophy of... Laozi and Zhuangzi. This began around 500 B.C.E. ...[and] ... was the dominant form of Daoism for several hundredyears ... The magico-technicians ... (fangshi - fortune-tellers,astrologers, medical practitioners) ... and Huang-Lao Daoists ofthe Han, ... saw Laozi as an inspired leader ...

The second form of Daoism is ... religious Daoism. Itbegan in the second century C.E. with the revelation of theDao to Zhang Daoling, who became the first Celestial Master orrepresentative of the Dao on Earth. This was an organized religion,with doctrines, rituals, gods, and the ultimate goal of ascension tothe heavens of the immortals. ...".

from Laozi: Ancient Philosopher, Master of Immortality, and God, by Livia Kohn, in Religions of China in Practice, edited by Donald S. Lopez, Jr. (Princeton University Press 1996).


"... [Han dynasty] texts ... that apparentlyreflected the philosphical tradition of of HuangLao Daoism. ... werefound in late 1973

in ... tomb no. 3, Mawangdui, Changsha, Hunan province, in a cacheof manuscripts written on silk. They appear to have been part of theprivate library of a mamber of the Western Han dynasty aristocracy,the son of Li Cang, chief minister of the southern kingdom ofChangsha, who died in approximately 168 B.C.E. ...

... [The essays entitled] The Canon: Law contains nine ...essays with a total of five thousand characters ... the first essay,Dao and the Law, ... opens with ...

The Dao produces law. Law is what draws the line between gain and loss, and makes clear the curved and the straight. He who grasps the Dao, therefore, produces law and does not venture to transgress it, establishes law and does not venture to oppose it. ... is able to draw himself with the line, only then may he be not confused when he sees and knows the world.

... this passage contradicts Joseph Needham's assertion ... thatChina produced no theory of natural law (law derived from the divineor the processes of nature). ... [this passage shows that]... the ruler is not above the law, which is the position oflegalists ..., but rather is constrained by the law and the Dao...

... This [HaungLao Daoist] tradition ...developed n the period of of intesnse philosophical debates known asthe Hundred Schools after the death of Confucius in 479 B.C.E. andprior to the unification of China under the First Emperor of Qin in221 B.C.E. ... is referred to ... as being extremely popular at theend of the Warring States period and beginning of the Han dyhnasty(206 B.C.E.). ...

... the Daoists and Yin-Yang specialists ... believed that tosolve the existential and socio-political crises at that time, man -especially, of course, the ruler - had to orient himself to thehidden order of the cosmos and abide completely by its norms.

... Early Han economicand social policies apparently were based to a large extgent onHuangLao principles. ... it was the philosophy or techniqueof greatest interest to the early Han emperors Wen (reigned179-157 B.C.E.) and Jing (reigned 156-141 B.C.E.), the powerfulEmpress Dowager Duo, [and] Liu An (ca. 180-122 B.C.E.),the Han prince who sponsored the syncretic Daoist book Huainanzi...

... Indeed, it is recorded as being almostthe state ideology of the early Han until itwas displaced by Confucianism under the powerful emperorWu ... (reigned 140-87 B.C.E.) ... in about 140B.C.E. ... After the imperial sponsorship of Confucianism ... itwas virtually forgotten and the tradition was interrupted, nevermoreto influence intellectuals and the political, social, and economicpolicies of Chinese governments. The books and treatises were thrownaway or abandoned and the texts eventually completely lost. ...these manuscripts have not been read by anyone, Chinese orWestern, for close to two thousand years. ...

... even though [his] lord and master, Emperor Wu, favoredConfucianism ... Sima Tan argued that the Daoists (Daojia) adoptedthe best elements of all the philosophical traditions handed down tohis time ... [saying]

The Daoists enable man's Numinous Essence (jingshen0 to be concentrated and unified, enable him to move in unison with the Formless (wuxing), and to provide adequately for the myriad things. As for its methods, it follows the great compliance of the Yin-Yang specialists, picks out the best of the Confucians and Mohists, and adopts the essentials of the Terminologists and Legalists. It shifts with the times, changes in response to things, and in establishing customs and in practical applications it is nowhere unsuitable. the general drift of its teachings is simple and easy to hold onto; ther eis much achievement for little effort.

... this view was incorporated by his son Sima Qian, the grandastrologer of Emperor Wu, in his Shiji (Historical Records), thefirst of China's twenty-four dynastic histories. ... In the firstcentury B.C.E., Sima Qian ... [placed] ... the YellowEmperor at the very beginning of time, at the head of the list ofFive Emperors in his 130-chapter history of the world, theHistorical Records. ... Under the Yellow Emperor's beneficent rule,the Chinese people learned how to cultivate silkworms to make silkand to construct boats and chariots. Writing was developed, as were... the calendar, musical notes, mathematics, and medicine. ...

... The first appearance of the name of the Yellow Emperorassociated with the royal house of Tian of the northeastern state ofQi is significant, for it was in Qi ... that many of the philosoperslater associated with the HuangLao tradition, such as Tian Pian andShen Dao, Song Xing and Yin Wen, gathered to debate thier ideas amongthemselves and before the kings as members of the famous JixiaAcademy. The HuangLao tradition may, therefore, haveoriginated in the state of Qi in Warring States times. ...".

from Five Lost Classics: Tao, Huang-Lao, and Yin-Yang in Han China, by Robin D. S. Yates (Ballantine Books 1997).

 


"... The standard texts of Lao-tzu are divided into twoparts, chapters 1 through 37, which are sometimes called the Tao(the Way), and chapters 38 through 81, sometimes called the Te(Virtue).

The Ma-wang-tui texts do have the same two-part division,but in reverse order: the Virtue part preceding theWay.

The two halves are labelled Te and Tao, and that is the onlyindication of a title for the book in the Ma-wang-tui texts. In theMa-wand-tui texts (both A and B), the book begins with what mosttexts call chapter 38 and ends with 37. ... Some scholars feel theMa-wang-tui texts reflect the original order of the Tao-te ching andshow that Lao-tzu ... was all along more interested insocial-political matters than he was in metaphysics and psychology...

... were the Ma-wang-tui texts of Lao-Tzu to be divided intochapters where the present-day text is divided, the sequence ofmaterial in the texts would be much the same. But there are threeexceptions: what to us is chapter 24 comes between chapters 21 and 22in the Ma-wang-tui texts; what to us is chapter 40 comes betweenchapters 41 and 42; what ... are chapters 80 and 81 are placedbetween chapters 66 and 67 in the Ma-wang-tui texts. ...".

from Lao-Tzu Te-Tao Ching, by Robert G. Hendricks (Ballantine Books 1989).

 


"... For the last two thousand and more years, theYijing (I Ching) or Classic ofChanges has been, with the Bible,the most read and commented upon work in all of world literature.... The Mawangdui Yijing manuscript was written on two pieces of silk...

... The first piece ... contains ... the hexagram and linestatements often referred to as the Zhouyi... , and a second, commentarial text ... Although thiscommentary is apparently untitled, scholars working wth themanuscript generally refer to it as Ersanziwen or The Several Disciples Asked, the first words fo thetext. ...

... The second piece of silk ... contains about 180 columns oftext divided into four or five discrete commentaries: the Xicior Appended Statements, the only one of these commentaries ofwhich there is a received version; Yi zhiyi or The Properties of the Changes; Yaoor Essentials; and Mu He and ZhaoLi, both names of interlocutors. ...

... the Zhouyi ... text of the 64hexagram statements and associated line statements included 93columns of text, with each column having between 64and 81 characters. ... themost notable difference between the manuscript text and the received[Wen-wang] text liesin the sequence of hexagrams. ... the sequence of hexagrams given inthe manuscript is based on a systematic combination of the hexagram'sconstituent trigrams:

Click here to see a page with large(150k, 530k, 650k) images of the HuangLao Daoist Trigram and Hexagramsequences.

the top trigram of a hexagram is the basis of its position in themanuscript's sequence; it is then combined in turn in a prescribedsequence with each of the other trigrams serving as its bottomtrigram. Each of the eight trigrams forms a set of eight hexagramssharing that top trigram. ...

... the Ersanzi wen ... [isa] ... text in 36 columns of about 72characters per columns for a total of about 2,600 characters. ... Atthe end of column 16 there are three blankspaces, with column 17 beginning a new sentence. ... throughout thetext there are several breaks of one or two character spaces ... Thetext is in the form of numerous quotations of Confucius ... regardingthe Yijing, promped occasionally by questions from unidentifieddisciples. It is divided into thirty-two sections. ...

... the Xici ... ends in the forty-seventhcolumn of text. ... the original manuscript included 3,344characters, of which 2,908 are now legible. Unlike the receivedversion ... which is divided into two parts of twelve chapters each... the manuscript shows no evidence of either sections or chapters.There ar three or four fairly extended passages, including someentire chapters, that are not found in the manuscript version ...[some people now] argue that the manuscript text preserves... Daoist orientation ...

... the [Yi zhi yi] ... text isat least 45 columns long, though due to a break in the silk in themiddle of the text it is possible that there were originally two orthree columns more than this. A rough approximation of hte number ofcharacters in the text would be about 3,100. The final quarter ormore of the text consists of sections B6 through B11 of the received[Xici] ... that ... are missing in the manuscript[Xici] ... Also included in this commentary ... are the firstthree sections of the received Shuo gua or Discussion of theHexagrams commentary. ... After a brief introductory passagediscussing the interplay of yin and yang, the text goes through asequential discussion of many of the 64 hexagrams ... the sequence inwhich they are presented is generally that of the received text,rather than that of the manuscript Zhouyi. ...

... Some 20 columns [after the end of the Yizhi yi] ... the text ends in the middle of a column, followed bya space and then the word Yao ... ... and then, after anotherspace, the number 1,648. ... there were probably 24columns of text in the original manuscript. Of the total of 1,648characters, only about 1,040 are still legible. The text is dividedinto several sections by black dots. ... Columns 9-12 are essentiallythe last half of section B5 of the received text of the[Xici] ... Columns 12-18 record a conversation between anaged Confucius and his disciple Zi Gong ... The last section, fromthe bottom of column 18 through column 24, concerns the hexagramsSun, Decrease, and Yi, Increase ...

... The column immediatelyafter the last column of [Yao] begins with a blackrectangular mark, followed with the words: "Mu He asked ..."... After about severnty columns of text, there is a blank spacefollowed by the two characters Mu He , but no character count....

... the next column of text [after Mu He] begins ... withthe words: "Zhao Li asked ..." The text continues for another14 columns, in the middle of the last of which are the two charactersZhao Li followed, after a space, by the number 6,000. ... this number6,000 represents the total character count of both texts Mu He andZhao Li ...

... they should be regarded as two chapters of a single text. ...They include 27 diffferentsections, divided in the text with black dots.

Of these sections, 24 are in Mu He. Thefirst 12 sections are initiated by questions ... In sections 13-18,the Master [Confucius] discusses one line statement persection. Sections 19-24 ... begin with a historical story and thenconclude with the citation of a line statement from the Zhouyi...

... Zhao Li consists of threesections, in all of which Zhao Li asks ... questions ... Zhao Ligroups several [hexagrams or line statements] together andthen draws a general conclusion. ... ".

from I Ching, by Edward L. Shaughnessy (Ballantine Books 1996).

 


"... The wars and uprisings that marked the fall of the Qin led toextreme suffering and poverty among the people ... Needed to effect arecovery, as the Han ... realized, was a period of peace and securitywith a minimum of government expenditure and interference ...

Gaozu, the founder of the Han, ... relaxed the harsh lawsof Qin, reduced the land tax, ... and kept court expenditures at aminimum.

This policy of frugality and laissez-fairewas continued more or less consistently by his successors during theearly Han, with the result that the population increased and thenation recovered with remarkable success. ...

... During the time of Emperor Wen (r. 180-157 B.C.E.), thegovernment granted commutation of penalties or honorary court ranksin exchange for gifts of grain, thus making grain a commodity ofenhanced value. This policy met with considerable success,and by thetime of Emperor Wu (r. 141-87 B.C.E.) ... the government granarieswere filled, the government had sufficient funds, and the peoplelived in ease and plenty. ... Ban Gu, principal author of the Historyof the Former Han Dynasty, saw

the reign of Emperor Wu [who abandonedHuangLao Daoism] as the turning pointfrom prosperity to eventual ruin of the dynasty.

Though economic life recovered considerably after Wu's reign, thehistorian designated this period as the beginning of policies andtrends the led to the downfall of the Han. ... [which policiesincluded] the setting up of government monopolies in iron, salt,liquor, and coinage of currencey, as well as offices to engage ingovernment trading. ... the emperor sought to divert these profits tothe imperial treasury. ... along with forced conscription and haevylabor services imposed upon the people, [these policies] ...reduced the nation to poverty and brought extreme popular resentment.Emperor Wu, though professing support of Confucian ideals, was, infact, ... using traditional Legalist methods such as the Qin hadfollowed. ...".

from Sources of Chinese Tradition, volume 1, second edition, by Wm. Theodore de Bary and Irene Bloom (Columbia Universtiy Press 1999).

 


 

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