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Chinese equivalent to Angels?


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#16 Bao Pu

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Posted 06 March 2006 - 10:06 PM

My apologies that this is off topic

1. Shang Di is the Ancestor of not only the human realm, but the natural realm as well. A human cannot be the ancestor of the natural realm. In the official ceremonial texts used for the annual sacrificial rituals for Huangtian Shangdi, Shangdi is described as the Ancestor of all the myriad things, not just of all the myriad peoples.


-- Again, this is a Zhou dynasty ritual, is it not? Nothing is said in Shang sources of Shang Di being an ancestor to the myriad things. Don't get me wrong though, I tend to agree with you.

2. If Shang Di were a human spirit, He would certainly be an ancestral spirit, so the ancients would have sacrificed to Him in a similar way to how they sacrifice to their ancestors.


-- Maybe. Maybe not. The older the ancestor, the more unreachable and more powerful. Robert (Bob) Eno has written some interesting articles on Di in Shang times. According to one account in the Shijing, Di left footprints on the ground which Jiang Yuan stepped in and got pregnant with the Zhou clan's ancestor, Houji. Therefore, Di presumably had feet. You quote from Keightley is great. I find it convincing, but I remain open, and think it is still only speculation, good speculation, but speculation nevertheless. :)
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#17 Elisha

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Posted 06 March 2006 - 11:16 PM

Since this thread is titled, "Chinese equivilant to Angels?, descriptions, powers, rankings, etc." And reading this thread, the angels you're referring to here are from Christianity. If so, you may need to know some facts according to the Bible about angels before you compare. :)

[disclaimer:- I have not made a personal study of angels 'cos, erm, not very interested in them.. yet. So whatever I've written, I've actually gotten from a book written about them.]


I've also heard that it's only in the Christian Bible that the orders of angels are elaborated into 12 or so ranks (and the inclusion of Fallen Angels).



According to this book I have, titled "Angels" by Billy Graham, it is actually nine; quote:-

"We cannot study the subject of angels in the Bible without becoming aware of ranks among angelic beings. The evidence shows that they are organized in terms of authority and glory.

Though some see the ranking of celestial powers as conjectural, it seems to follow this pattern: archangels, angels, seraphim, cherubim, principalities, authorities, powers, thrones, might and dominion (Colossians 1:16; Romans 8:38)"

The ranks above include the fallen angels.

On Shang/Zhou stuff, the patterns and Taotie have always fascinated me. You have a theory that Christianity and such is based from ancient Chinese religious beliefs, right? I usually hear it as ShangTi=YHWH/Dio/etc. but did you ever make an equivilancy to Angels (say the famous ones like Michael, Death Angel, fallen, etc.)


By that I assume you mean the different roles that angels play.

There is only one archangel mentioned in the bible. (Jude 9) And that is Michael, recognised in rank to be the first prince of heaven. (Daniel 10:21) He especially protects and defens God's people. Bible students have speculated that Michael cast Lucifer and his fallen angels out of heaven.

In relation to the Taoist equivalent, I do not recall that there was a rebellion in heaven. Although I think there are many generals according to Taoism, there is no one above all in terms of angelic authority.

Gabriel is another one of the most prominent angels mentioned in scripture, often referred to as "the messenger of Jehovah". He appears twice in the New Testament and announces the birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:19) and the Virgin Mary about Jesus. (Luke 1:30-33) Contrary to popular opinion, he is not an archangel.

I do not think there is a messenger angel from heaven in Taoism. Although there is something about messangers from hell? I think there were 2? I think they did not have human heads.

It is difficult to go into detail the roles of Seraphim and Cherubim; they belong to different orders and are surrounded by much mystery in scripture, they share one thing, they are constantly glorifying God.

There is no equivalent of this in Taoism. In Taoism, a Jade Emperor is portrayed and he holds court, quite possibly like the courts that are held during the different dynasties. And he had different ministers and generals in them. But these beings do not worship the Jade Emperor, they recognise him as overlord. Only people worship him and his court.

And yes, Satan. Before Satan fell, he was known as Lucifer, one of the most brilliant and beautiful of all created beings in heaven. (Ezekiel 28:12-17 describes him) He rebelled against God. The Bible speaks of "the dragon.. and his angels" (Revelation 12:7) A third of the angelic host fell with him. (Revelations 12:4)

There is no satan equivalent in Taoism but there is a reference to fallen angels as demons. Unless satan is the king of hell. In terms of representation, in Taoism, he does seem to play a less active role. Whereas in Christianity, he is seen to play a more 'active' though futile role. (Ephesians 2:2; Revelations 12:10-11)

Also, there was no rebellion in heaven according to Taoism. Although according to folklore, there have been individual heavenly beings who have misbehaved and were banished to earth. Nothing much is said about the king of hell. In Taoism, it seems an accepted fact that people would automatically go to hell. That's why the elaborate ritual on death to help them cross the 18 levels into paradise.

On a side note, interestingly, both Taoism and Christianity talk about a bridge to paradise after death... but that's for another time..

#18 somechineseperson

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Posted 06 March 2006 - 11:57 PM

In fact, there is no Shangdi as a term of creator of the world in chinese mythology, Yuhuang dadi(玉皇大帝) is also a normal human after millions of years self-cultivation and then become the Emperor in the heaven court. One can explain this way, One can think that way.


You are talking about folk religion and mythology heavily influenced by Buddhism from India. Buddhists do not believe there is a starting point for the universe but classical Chinese thought evidently does. Taiji (太极) or the Supreme Ultimate is the Origin of all things, which the famous Confucian scholar Ma Rong of the Eastern Han Dynasty explicitly identifies with Shangdi. Also in the ceremonial texts used in the official annual sacrificial rituals for Huangtian Shangdi, Shangdi is explicitly described as the "True Ancestor of the myriad things". Shangdi therefore is clearly considered to be the Creator of the universe according to official and scholarly sources.

-- Maybe. Maybe not. The older the ancestor, the more unreachable and more powerful. Robert (Bob) Eno has written some interesting articles on Di in Shang times. According to one account in the Shijing, Di left footprints on the ground which Jiang Yuan stepped in and got pregnant with the Zhou clan's ancestor, Houji. Therefore, Di presumably had feet. You quote from Keightley is great. I find it convincing, but I remain open, and think it is still only speculation, good speculation, but speculation nevertheless. :)


Actually according to the Bible Yahweh walked in the Garden of Eden as well before the Fall of humankind.

#19 somechineseperson

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Posted 07 March 2006 - 12:21 AM

Why the distinction? Even after Buddhism, all spirits are still human, even the Tian Di, who was rumoured to be a king many kalpas ago who ruled all due to his previous merits.


In Buddhism spirits can move between the six realms, so in a sense you are right in saying that all spirits are human according to Buddhism, but by the same logic one can also say that all spirits are devas, all spirits are asuras, all spirits are animals, all spirits are pretas and all spirits are hell-beings. There is no a priori preference to the realm of humans. You say "all spirits are human" only because you happen to currently inhabit the realm of humans. If you lived in the realm of devas, you would have said "all spirits are devas".

#20 Borjigin Ayurbarwada

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Posted 08 March 2006 - 02:40 PM

You are talking about folk religion and mythology heavily influenced by Buddhism from India. Buddhists do not believe there is a starting point for the universe but classical Chinese thought evidently does. Taiji (太极) or the Supreme Ultimate is the Origin of all things, which the famous Confucian scholar Ma Rong of the Eastern Han Dynasty explicitly identifies with Shangdi. Also in the ceremonial texts used in the official annual sacrificial rituals for Huangtian Shangdi, Shangdi is explicitly described as the "True Ancestor of the myriad things". Shangdi therefore is clearly considered to be the Creator of the universe according to official and scholarly sources.

Not all Chinese thought say there is a start of Universe. Daoism do not. ZhuangZi's Qi Wu Pian mentions this:
"There is a beggining, there is a time before the beggining, and there is a time before the beggining of the time before the beggining." Shang Di might have been considered the creator of all living things in early times, but it is the Yin Yang that Shang Di forged his creation out of. Shang Di is like carpenter, and the forces of Yin and Yang are what he created things out off, he can't create out of nothing like the Western God. And this is clearly mentioned during Han times. Later Ming Confucians thought the western concept of God creating every single aspect of the universe, including Qi is ridiculous, for Qi is what formed the myriad things.

In Buddhism spirits can move between the six realms, so in a sense you are right in saying that all spirits are human according to Buddhism, but by the same logic one can also say that all spirits are devas, all spirits are asuras, all spirits are animals, all spirits are pretas and all spirits are hell-beings. There is no a priori preference to the realm of humans. You say "all spirits are human" only because you happen to currently inhabit the realm of humans. If you lived in the realm of devas, you would have said "all spirits are devas".


Yes, which mean the distinction in Buddhism is even less.

#21 Bao Pu

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Posted 08 March 2006 - 05:03 PM

... in the ceremonial texts used in the official annual sacrificial rituals for Huangtian Shangdi, Shangdi is explicitly described as the "True Ancestor of the myriad things". Shangdi therefore is clearly considered to be the Creator of the universe according to official and scholarly sources.


HI SCP
Coud you tell us the details of this? What is the source? What is the Chinese for "Shangdi is the true ancestor of the myriad things"? I have read of no account from Classical China of any creator, other than the Dao, (which isn't really a Creator). (The Taiyi Shengshui is perhaps an exception, but there is no consensus.) It would probably be a good idea to start a new thread on it, as it is much off topic.

Thanks :)
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#22 somechineseperson

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Posted 08 March 2006 - 08:02 PM

Not all Chinese thought say there is a start of Universe. Daoism do not. ZhuangZi's Qi Wu Pian mentions this:
"There is a beggining, there is a time before the beggining, and there is a time before the beggining of the time before the beggining."


Daoism believes that 有 comes from 无, but 无 here does not refer to "non-Being" or "nothingness", but the indescribable, like the Dao.

The claim that the universe had no beginning is against modern scientific evidence.

Shang Di might have been considered the creator of all living things in early times, but it is the Yin Yang that Shang Di forged his creation out of. Shang Di is like carpenter, and the forces of Yin and Yang are what he created things out off, he can't create out of nothing like the Western God. And this is clearly mentioned during Han times. Later Ming Confucians thought the western concept of God creating every single aspect of the universe, including Qi is ridiculous, for Qi is what formed the myriad things.


In Confucianism, Shangdi is identified as the personification of Taiji, while Taiji is identified with the Dao. So Shangdi is identified with the Dao.

As for creating something from nothing, I think that is not the only theological alternative in Christianity. The classical Greek philosophers had argued that it is illogical for Being to come from Non-being. Do you know about the panentheistic interpretation of God/Theos? According to this interpretation, the universe is within God, and God is within everything in the universe, therefore before the creation of the universe, there was not nothingness or non-being, there was God. Panentheistic theology is found in Eastern Christianity, such as Greek Orthodox.

In ancient Chinese natural philosophy, Yin and Yang are manifestations of the Qi, and the Qi is the fundamental substance from which everything is made. (Qi is similar to the Four Elements in Greek philosophy)

Edited by somechineseperson, 08 March 2006 - 08:03 PM.


#23 somechineseperson

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Posted 08 March 2006 - 08:06 PM

HI SCP
Coud you tell us the details of this? What is the source? What is the Chinese for "Shangdi is the true ancestor of the myriad things"? I have read of no account from Classical China of any creator, other than the Dao, (which isn't really a Creator). (The Taiyi Shengshui is perhaps an exception, but there is no consensus.) It would probably be a good idea to start a new thread on it, as it is much off topic.

Thanks :)


It's from the official ceremonial texts used in the annual sacrificial rituals for Heaven. (Huangtian Shangdi) The version I have read is from the Ming Dynasty, however, the Ming most likely drew on earlier religious traditions.

The Confucian scholar Ma Rong identifies Shangdi with Taiji, while Zhu Xi identifies Taiji with the Dao. So Shangdi is the Dao, from which all things sprang forth. Even Zhuangzi spoke of a Creator. (造物者)

#24 Bao Pu

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Posted 08 March 2006 - 10:06 PM

It's from the official ceremonial texts used in the annual sacrificial rituals for Heaven. (Huangtian Shangdi) The version I have read is from the Ming Dynasty, however, the Ming most likely drew on earlier religious traditions.

The Confucian scholar Ma Rong identifies Shangdi with Taiji, while Zhu Xi identifies Taiji with the Dao. So Shangdi is the Dao, from which all things sprang forth. Even Zhuangzi spoke of a Creator. (造物者)


-- I see. Well, in my opinion, this "evidence" is completely anachronistic and specious. Shangdi is Shangdi. Dao is Dao. Taiyi is Taiyi (though possibly also Dao). Zhuangzi's Zaowuzhe is a metaphor, much like Laozi's Mu (mother) metaphor. ;)
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#25 somechineseperson

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Posted 08 March 2006 - 10:16 PM

-- I see. Well, in my opinion, this "evidence" is completely anachronistic and specious. Shangdi is Shangdi. Dao is Dao. Taiyi is Taiyi (though possibly also Dao). Zhuangzi's Zaowuzhe is a metaphor, much like Laozi's Mu (mother) metaphor. ;)


One cannot be sure that Laozi and Zhuangzi used the terms metaphorically.

Furthermore, as far as religion is concerned almost everything is anachronistic. Christianity is also an anachronistic religion. In the Book of Genesis for example it is said that the snake caused Eve to eat the forbidden fruit, without any mention of satan. (Read it for yourself) Identifying the snake with satan is anachronistic.

Orthodox Confucian scholars clearly identifies the concepts "Shangdi", "Taiji" and "Dao" as identical to each other. For the purpose of religious studies (not just history) this is enough. If one splits hair here and reject all "anachronisms", then every major religion in the world will fall apart.

#26 Elisha

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Posted 08 March 2006 - 10:45 PM

Furthermore, as far as religion is concerned almost everything is anachronistic. Christianity is also an anachronistic religion. In the Book of Genesis for example it is said that the snake caused Eve to eat the forbidden fruit, without any mention of satan. (Read it for yourself) Identifying the snake with satan is anachronistic.


Hey SCP, can you enable your PM function?

#27 Borjigin Ayurbarwada

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Posted 09 March 2006 - 12:32 AM

Daoism believes that 有 comes from 无, but 无 here does not refer to "non-Being" or "nothingness", but the indescribable, like the Dao.

Daoism also say that You and Wu produce each other. It is a more conceptual production than physical.


The claim that the universe had no beginning is against modern scientific evidence


What evidence? If you are talking about the big bang, you might want to consider the fact that even that theory is hardly "proven". Big Bang is completely based on our observation of the stars, it has no mathematical prove. Our observation of time and space is limited since we cannot look out into infinity. Time wise, we do not know whether there were infinite big bangs before that since there are also theories that the universe will contract after a long time. Furthermore, we do not know whether there are other universes even further away in space.
Also just because there is a big bang, doesn't mean time does not exist before that. In fact to say that there is a beggining to time is a logical contradiction against physics, or rather a rhetorical fallacy. Because time, like space is an abstract illusion.
Lets see if I can put this in simple words.
Time is the product of the relative derivative ratio of between the speed of different objects in proportion to light.
Think about the 4 dimensional space-time as 3 temporal vector and one displacement vector in a graph. The line for displacement would be substitued for the time that light travels between 2 points. The derivative of that straight line is 0. Therefore someone moving in light speed does not experience time(of course he would be dead before reaching that speed as mass increase in propotion to speed). Now imagine the derivative of the time for me to get from point A to point B as a curved line. The derivative(dx/dy or dx/dz, etc.) for that curved line would be the time that I am experiencing.
To say there is a beggining to time is as ridiculous as to say that there is a beggining to space, since there is no distinction betwen time and space in a 4 dimenstional space time.



In Confucianism, Shangdi is identified as the personification of Taiji, while Taiji is identified with the Dao. So Shangdi is identified with the Dao.


But Confucian also defined what the Dao is, which is the cultivation of the Ming.

#28 Bao Pu

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Posted 09 March 2006 - 06:55 AM

WARHEAD: Also just because there is a big bang, doesn't mean time does not exist before that. In fact to say that there is a beggining to time is a logical contradiction against physics, or rather a rhetorical fallacy. Because time, like space is an abstract illusion.


-- Well actually, as Stephen Hawking has put it, asking what was before the big bang is like asking what is north of the north pole! Space and Time did not exist before the big bang - there was no arrow of time prior to the big bang. But perhaps this is what you mean by "To say there is a beggining to time is as ridiculous as to say that there is a beggining to space, since there is no distinction betwen time and space in a 4 dimenstional space time."
:)

I'm going to start a thread soon posting all the cosmologies/cosmogonies of the classical period very soon, in case anyone is interested.
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#29 somechineseperson

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Posted 09 March 2006 - 07:20 AM

Hey SCP, can you enable your PM function?


Hi

It is already enabled, is it not?

#30 Borjigin Ayurbarwada

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Posted 10 March 2006 - 09:39 PM

-- Well actually, as Stephen Hawking has put it, asking what was before the big bang is like asking what is north of the north pole! Space and Time did not exist before the big bang - there was no arrow of time prior to the big bang. But perhaps this is what you mean by "To say there is a beggining to time is as ridiculous as to say that there is a beggining to space, since there is no distinction betwen time and space in a 4 dimenstional space time."


You do realize that big bang is but one of the many theories of universe, it is also created due to the bias that there is actually a beggining at all. The big bang theory exist solely because of what we can observe on earth! Because the stars in all direction of the earth is moving away from it. Yet this does not in any sense include the possible distant stars that are so far away that their light have not even reached earth. The big bang theory is therefore explaining how the universe that can be seen by the human eye is like, not what it really is. It is severely limited in its theory since it ignored the areas further than the eye can see. Second, big bang didn't just come out of nothing, thats against the first law of thermodynamic. As long as there are energy, there is time and space. Even the cluster that created the universe has time and space.
Both time and space are abstract concept of the human mind of categorization. Space is produced by time,(and vice versa) it can be proven by mathematics. I also have trouble picturing this at first until I sketched a space time graph. Human mind can only picture space time as static space moving forward in time. Yet math has shown that we can also see it as static time in expanding space. By making a 3 dimensional model of space-time(like how we make two dimensional model of space), we can see that the 3 dimensional space actually has a shape(a shape that has no end).

Edited by warhead, 11 March 2006 - 04:19 PM.





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