Single Parent Households
Eightfold Path , Pali Atthangika-magga , Sanskrit Astangika-marga , in Buddhism , an early formulation of the path to enlightenment. The idea of the Eightfold Path appears in what is regarded as the first sermon of the founder of Buddhism, Siddhartha Gautama, known as the Buddha , which he delivered after his enlightenment. There he sets forth a middle way, the Eightfold Path, between the extremes of asceticism and sensual indulgence. Each element of the path also is discussed at length in other texts.
The law of dependent origination, however, raises the question of how one may escape the continually renewed cycle of birth, suffering, and death. It is not enough to know that misery pervades all existence and to know the way in which life evolves;…. In brief, the eight elements of the path are: In later formulations, the eight elements are portrayed not so much as prescriptions for behaviour but as qualities that are present in the mind of a person who has understood nirvana , the state of the cessation of suffering and the goal of Buddhism.
According to a more widely used conception , the path to enlightenment consists of a threefold training in ethics , in concentration, and in wisdom.
Ethics refers to the avoidance of nonvirtuous deeds, concentration refers to the control of the mind, and wisdom refers to the development of insight into the nature of reality. The components of the Eightfold Path are divided among the three forms of training as follows: We welcome suggested improvements to any of our articles.
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Your contribution may be further edited by our staff, and its publication is subject to our final approval. The chief deity, called God on High, was the ancestor of the king's own clan. There were regular animal sacrifices and libations of a beerlike liquor were poured on the ground. The object was to win the aid or avoid the displeasure of the spirits. Magic was employed to maintain the balance of nature, which was thought to function through the interaction of two opposed but complementary forces called yang and yin.
Yang was associated with the sun and all things male, strong, warm, and active. Yin was associated with the moon and all things female, dark, cold, weak, and passive. In later ages, Chinese philosophers - all male - would employ these concepts to work out the behavior pattern of obedience and passivity that was expected of women.
The common people were peasants who belonged to no clans and apparently worshiped no ancestors. Their gods were the elementary spirits of nature, such as rivers, mountains, earth, wind, rain, and heavenly bodies. Peasants were virtual serfs, owning no land but working plots periodically assigned to them by royal and noble landowners.
They collectively cultivated the fields retained by their lords. Farming methods were primitive, not having advanced beyond the Neolithic level. Bronze was used for weapons, not tools or implements, and the peasants continued to reap wheat and millet with stone sickles and till their allotted fields with wooden plows. The Chou leader announced that Heaven Tien had given him a mandate to replace the Shang.
It introduced a new aspect of Chinese thought: The Chou was a western frontier tribe that had maintained its martial spirit and fighting ability.
Its conquest of the Shang can be compared with Macedonia's unification of Greece. The other Chinese tribes switched their loyalty to the Chou leader, who went on to establish a dynasty that lasted for more than years B. Comprising most of North China, the large Chou domain made the establishment of a unified state impossible.
Consequently, the Chou kings set up a feudal system of government by delegating local authority to relatives and noble magnates.
These vassal lords, whose power was hereditary, recognized the over-lordship of the Chou kings and supplied them with military aid.
The early Chou kings were vigorous leaders who were able to retain the allegiance of their vassals when necessary, by their superior military power and fend off attacks from barbarians on the frontiers. In time, however, weak kings succeeded to the throne, and the power and independence of their vassals increased. Part of the royal family managed to escape eastward to Lo-yang, however, where the dynasty survived for another five centuries doing little more than performing state religious rituals as the Son of Heaven.
Seven of the stronger feudal princes gradually conquered their weaker neighbors. In the process they assumed the title wang "king" , formerly used only by the Chou ruler, and began to extinguish the feudal rights of their own vassals and establish centralized administrations.
Warfare among these emerging centralized states was incessant, particularly during the two centuries known as the Period of Warring States c. These developments led the Chinese to distinguish between their own high civilization and the nomadic ways of the "barbarian dogs" beyond their frontiers.
A sense of the superiority of their own civilization became a lasting characteristic of the Chinese. The first successful attempts at casting iron were not made in Europe until the end of the Middle Ages.
The ox-drawn iron-tipped plow, together with the use of manure and the growth of large-scale irrigation and water-control projects, led to great population growth based on increased agricultural yields.
Canals were constructed to facilitate moving commodities over long distances. Commerce and wealth grew rapidly, and a merchant and artisan class emerged. Brightly colored shells, bolts of silk, and ingots of precious metals were the media of exchange; by the end of the Chou period small round copper coins with square holes were being minted. Chopsticks and finely lacquered objects, today universally considered as symbols of Chinese and East Asian culture, were also in use by the end of the period.
Class divisions and consciousness became highly developed under Chou feudalism and have remained until modern times. The king and the aristocracy were sharply separated from the mass of the people on the basis of land ownership and family descent.
The core units of aristocratic society were the elementary family, the extended family, and the clan, held together by patriarchal authority and ancestor worship. Among the peasants, however, marriage took place after a woman became pregnant following the Spring Festival at which boys and girls, beginning at age fifteen, sang and danced naked.
The customs of the nobles can be compared in a general way to those of Europe's feudal nobility. Underlying the society was a complex code of chivalry, called li, practiced in both war and peace. It symbolized the ideal of the noble warrior, and men devoted years to its mastery. The art of horseback riding, developed among the nomads of central Asia, greatly influenced late Chou China.
In response to the threat of mounted nomads, rulers of the Warring States period began constructing defensive walls, later joined together to become the Great Wall of China. Inside China itself, chariots were largely replaced by swifter and more mobile cavalry troops wearing tunics and trousers adopted from the nomads.
The peasant masses, still attached serflike to their villages, worked as tenants of noble land-holders, paying one tenth of their crop as rent. Despite increased agricultural production, resulting from large-scale irrigation and the ox-drawn iron-tipped plow, the peasants had difficulty eking out an existence.
A major problem in the Chinese economy, evident by late Chou times, has been that the majority of farmers have worked fields so small that they could not produce a crop surplus to tide them over periods of scarcity.
Educated Chinese had become aware of the great disparity between the traditions inherited from their ancestors and the conditions in which they themselves lived.
The result was the birth of a social consciousness that focused on the study of humanity and the problems of society. Some scholars have noted the parallel between the flourishing intellectual life of China in the fifth century B.
It has been suggested that these three great centers of world civilization stimulated and influenced each other. However, little or no historical evidence exists to support such an assertion.
The birth of social consciousness in China, isolated from the other centers of civilization, can best be understood in terms of internal developments rather than external influences. Later Confucianists attributed to the master the role of composing or editing the Five Confucian Classics two books of history and one book each on poetry, divination, and ceremonies , which were in large part a product of the early Chou period. But the only work that can be accurately attributed to Confucius is the Analects "Selected Sayings" , a collection of his responses to his disciples' questions.
Confucius, who belonged to the lower aristocracy, was more or less a contemporary of the Buddha in India, Zoroaster in Persia, and the early philosophers of Greece.
Like the Buddha and Zoroaster, Confucius lived in a troubled time - an age of political and social turmoil - and his prime concern, like theirs, was the improvement of society. To achieve this goal, Confucius did not look to the gods and spirits for assistance; he accepted the existence of Heaven T'ien and spirits, but he insisted it was more important "to know the essential duties of man living in a society of men. Above all, Confucius' new Way meant a concern for the rights of others, the adherence to a Golden Rule: He was, in effect, putting new wine into old bottles.
He did the same thing with two other key terms, li and chun-tzu. Li, meaning "honorable behavior," was the chivalric code of the constantly fighting chun-tzu, the hereditary feudal "noblemen" of the Chou period. As refined and reinterpreted by Confucius, li came to embody such ethical virtues as righteousness and love for one's fellow humans.
The chun-tzu, under the influence of the new definition of li, became "noble men," or "gentlemen," whose social origins were not important. As Confucius said, "The noble man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what is profitable. As with Confucius, the key term in Lao-tzu's teaching is Tao, from which his philosophy derives its name. But while Confucius defined Tao as a rational standard of ethics in human affairs, Lao-tzu gave it a metaphysical meaning - the course of nature, the natural and inevitable order of the universe.
Lao-tzu believed that this goal could be achieved by living a life in conformity with nature, retiring from the chaos and evils of contemporary Warring States society and shunning human institutions and opinions as unnatural and artificial "outside things.
Lao-tzu pointed out that in nature all things work silently; they fulfill their function and, after they reach their bloom, they return to their origins. Unlike Confucius' ideal gentleman, who is constantly involved in society in order to better it, Lao-tzu's sage is a private person, an egocentric individualist.
Taoism is a revolt not only against society but also against the intellect's limitations. Intuition, not reason, is the source of true knowledge; and books, Taoists said, are "the dregs and refuse of the ancients. He said that he once dreamed that he was a butterfly, "flying about enjoying itself. As the Taoists put it, "The one who knows does not speak, and the one who speaks does not know. Unlike Upanishadic philosophy or Christian mysticism, it does not aim to extinguish the personality through the union with the Absolute or God.
Rather, its aim is to teach how one can obtain happiness in this world by living a simple life in harmony with nature.
Confucianism and Taoism became the two major molds that shaped Chinese thought and civilization. Although these rival schools frequently sniped at one another, they never became mutually exclusive outlooks on life. Taoist intuition complemented Confucian rationalism; during the centuries to come, Chinese were often Confucianists in their social relations and Taoists in their private life.
Taoism, with its individual freedom and mystical union with nature, would in time have a deep impact on Chinese poetry and art. Born a century after the death of Confucius, Mencius added important new dimensions to Confucian thought in two areashuman nature and government. Although Confucius had only implied that human nature is good, Mencius emphatically insisted that all people are innately good and tend to seek the good just as water tends to run downhill. But unless people strive to preserve and develop their innate goodness, which is the source of righteous conduct, it can be corrupted by the bad practices and ideas existing in the environment.
Mencius taught that the opposite of righteous conduct is selfishness, and he attacked the extreme individualism of the Taoists as a form of selfishness. He held that "all men are brothers," and he would have agreed with a later Confucian writer who summed up in one sentence the teaching of a famous Taoist: Mencius distinguished between good kings, who ruled benevolently, and the rulers of his day the Period of Warring States , who governed by naked force and spread violence and disorder.
Because good rulers are guided by ethical standards, he said, they will behave benevolently toward the people and provide for their well-being. Unlike Confucius, who did not question the right of hereditary kings to rule, Mencius said that the people have a right to rebel against bad rulers and even kill them if necessary, because they have lost the Mandate of Heaven.
As we have seen, this concept has been used by the Chou to justify their revolt against the Shang. On that occasion, the concept had had a religious meaning, being connected with the worship of Heaven, who supported the ruler as the Son of Heaven. Mencius, however, secularized and humanized the Mandate of Heaven by equating it with the people: Indeed, he even told rulers to their faces that the people were more important than they were. Modern commentators, both Chinese and Western, have viewed Mencius' definition of the Mandate of Heaven as an early form of democratic thought.
Mencius did believe that all people were morally equal and that the ruler needed the consent of the people, but he was clearly the advocate of benevolent monarchy rather than popular democracy. It had no single founder, as did Confucianism and Taoism, nor was it ever a school in the sense of a teacher leading disciples. What it did have in common with Confucianism and Taoism was the desire to establish stability in an age of turmoil.
The Legalists emphasized the importance of harsh and inflexible law as the only means of achieving an orderly and prosperous society. They believed that human nature was basically bad and that people acted virtuously only when forced to do so.
Therefore, they argued for an elaborate system of laws defining fixed penalties for each offense, with no exceptions for rank, class, or circumstances.
Judges were not to use their own conscience in estimating the gravity of the crime and arbitrarily deciding on the punishment. Their task was solely to define the crime correctly; the punishment was provided automatically by the code of law. This procedure is still a characteristic of Chinese law. Since the enforcement of law required a strong state, the immediate goal of the Legalists was to enhance the power of the ruler at the expense of other elements, particularly the nobility. Their ultimate goal was the creation of a centralized state strong enough to unify all China and end the chaos of the Warring States period.
The first centralized Chinese empire was the proud achievement of two dynasties, the Ch'in and the Han. The Ch'in Dynasty collapsed soon after the death of its founder, but the Han lasted or more than four centuries. Together the two dynasties transformed China, but the changes were the culmination of earlier developments. While the Confucians believed that such a king would accomplish the task by means of his outstanding moral virtue, the Legalists substituted overwhelming might as the essential element of effective government.
The political philosophy of the Legalists, who liked to sum up and justify their doctrine in two words - "It works" - triumphed, and no state became more adept at practicing that pragmatic philosophy than the Chin.
Recognizing that the growth of Ch'in's power depended on a more efficient and centralized bureaucratic structure than could exist under feudalism, Lord Shang undermined the old hereditary nobility by creating a new aristocracy based on military merit. He also introduced a universal draft beginning at approximately age fifteen. As a result, chariot and cavalry warfare, in which the nobility head played the leading role, was replaced in importance by masses of peasant infantry equipped with swords and crossbows.
Economically, Lord Shang further weakened the old landowning nobility by abolishing the peasants' attachment to the land and granting them ownership of the plots they tilled. Thereafter the liberated peasants paid taxes directly to the state, thereby increasing its wealth and power. These reforms made Ch'in the most powerful of the Warring States. It soon began to extend the area of its political and social innovations.
He also enlarged China - a name derived from the word Ch'in - by conquests in the south as far as the South China Sea. The First Emperor gathered the old nobility - some , families, according to tradition - near the capital, where they could be closely watched. To further forestall rebellion, he ordered the entire civilian population to surrender its weapons to the state.
A single harsh legal code, which replaced all local laws, was so detailed in its provisions that it was said to have been like "a fishing net through which even the smallest fish cannot slip out. To destroy the source of the aristocracy's power and to permit the emperor's agents to tax every farmer's harvest, private ownership of land by peasants, promoted a century earlier in the state of Ch'in by Lord Shang, was decreed for all of China. Thus the Ch'in empire reflected the emerging social forces at work in China - the peasants freed from serfdom, the merchants eager to increase their wealth within a larger political area, and the new military and administrative upper class.
The most spectacular of the First Emperor's many public works was repairing remnants of walls built earlier by the northern Warring States and joining them into the Great Wall, extending from the sea into Central Asia for a distance of over miles. Constructed by forced labor, it was said that "every stone cost a human life.
It remains today one of the greatest monuments to engineering skill in the preindustrial age and one of the wonders of the world. It is said to be the only man-made structure on earth that can be seen from the moon. The First Emperor tried to enforce intellectual conformity and make the Ch'in Legalist system appear to be the only natural political order. He suppressed all other schools of thought - especially the Confucians who idealized Chou feudalism by stressing the obedience of sons to their fathers, of nobles to the lord, and of lords to the king.
To break the hold of the past, the emperor put into effect a Legalist proposal requiring all privately owned books reflecting past traditions to be burned and "all those who raise their voice against the present government in the name of antiquity [to] be beheaded together with their families.
The mausoleum has not been excavated, but the partial excavation of the pits revealed an estimated soldiers. Strangely, each head is a personal portrait - no two faces are alike. Ch'in policies had alienated not only the intellectuals and the old nobility but also the peasants, who were subjected to ruinous taxation and forced labor.
Rebel armies rose in every province of the empire, some led by peasants, others by aristocrats. But the Chinese Empire itself, which Ch'in created, would last for more than years, the longest-lived political institution in world history.
At issue in the fighting that continued for another four years was not only the question of succession to the throne but also the form of government. The peasant and aristocratic leaders, first allied against Ch'in, became engaged in a furious and ruthless civil war. The aristocrats sought to restore the oligarchic feudalism of pre-Ch'in times. Their opponents, whose main leader was Liu Pang, a peasant who had become a Ch'in general, desired a centralized state.
In this contest between the old order and the new, the new was the victor. Named after the Han River, a tributary of the Yangtze, the new dynasty had its capital at Chang-an. It lasted for more than years and is traditionally divided into two parts: Liu Pang reestablished for a time some of the vassal kingdoms and feudal states in regions distant from the capital.
Peasant discontent was mollified by lessened demands for taxes and forced labor. But the master stroke of the Han emperors was to enlist the support of the Confucian intellectuals. They provided the empire with an ideology that would last until recent times. The Chins' extreme Legalistic ideology of harsh punishment and terror had not worked. The Han emperors recognized that an educated bureaucracy was necessary for governing so vast an empire. The ban on the Confucian classics and other Chou literature was lifted, and the way was open for a revival of the intellectual life that had been suppressed under the Chin.
In accord with Legalist principles, now tempered by Confucian insistence on the ethical basis of government, the Han emperors established administrative organs staffed by a salaried bureaucracy to rule their empire. Talented men were chosen for government service through an examination system based on the Confucian classics, and they were promoted by merit. The Han inherited both the Confucian bias against trade as an unvirtuous striving for profit and the Legalist suspicion of merchants who put their own interests ahead of those of the state and society.
The bureaucrats were drawn from the landlord class because wealth was needed to obtain the education needed to pass the examinations. Consequently, the earlier division of Chinese society between aristocrats and peasants was transformed into a division between peasants and landowner-bureaucrats. The latter are also called scholar-gentry, a term first used in the eighteenth century by the British. They saw a parallel with the gentry who dominated the countryside and administration of their own country.
To accomplish his goal of territorial expansion, he raised the peasants' taxes but not those of the great landowners, who remained virtually exempt from taxation. In addition, he increased the amount of labor and military service the peasants were forced to contribute to the state.
The Martial Emperor justified his expansionist policies in terms of self-defense against Mongolian nomads, the Hsiung-nu, known to the West later as the Huns. Their attacks had caused the First Emperor to complete the Great Wall to obstruct their raiding cavalry.
Wu Ti failed in an attempt to form an alliance with the Scythians in Bactria, but his envoy's report of the interest shown in Chinese silks by the peoples of the area was the beginning of a commercial exchange between China and the West.
Wu Ti also outflanked the Hsiung-nu in the east by the conquest of southern Manchuria and northern Korea. As costs increased, taxes increased, and the peasants' burdens led to revolt.
The end result was that the central government had to rely more and more on local military commanders and great landowners for control of the population, giving them great power and prestige at its own expense. This cycle of decline after an initial period of increasing prosperity and power has been the pattern of all Chinese dynasties.
During the Han this "dynastic cycle," as Western historians of China call it, led to a succession of mediocre rulers after Wu Ti's death and a temporary usur ation of the throne A. The usurper, Wang Mang, united Confucian humanitarianism with Legalist practice. Like his contemporary in the West, the Roman Emperor Augustus, his goal was the rejuvenation of society. By Wang Mang's day the number of large tax-free estates had greatly increased while the number of tax-paying peasant holdings had declined.
This was a by product of the private landownership that, under the Ch'in, had replaced the old communal use of the land. Rich officials and merchants were able to acquire the lands of small peasant-owners, who became tenants paying exorbitant rents. The conflict of landlordship and tenancy, along with the concentration of power of great families, became a major problem in Chinese history.
More and more peasants fell behind in their rents and were forced to sell themselves or their children into debt slavery. To remedy this situation and increase the government's tax income, Wang Mang decreed that the land was the property of the nation and should be portioned out to peasant families, who would pay taxes on their allotments.
Wang Mang sought to solve the long-standing problem of inflation, which had greatly increased since Wu Ti first began debasing the coinage when he found himself in financial difficulties, by setting maximum prices on basic commodities.
He also sought to stabilize prices by instituting "leveling" - the government bought surplus commodities when prices fell and sold them when scarcity caused prices to rise. In , a chance reading of Wang Mang's "leveling" proposal inspired the "ever-normal granary" program of President Roosevelt's New Deal. Although Wang Mang rescinded his reforms, he was killed by the rebels in A.
Warlords who were members of the rich landowner class seized more and more power, and widespread peasant rebellions one band was led by "Mother Lu," a woman skilled in witchcraft sapped the state's resources.
Surviving in name only during its last thirty years, the Han Dynasty ended in A. Three and a half centuries of disunity and turbulence followed - the longest in China's long history and often called China's "Middle Ages" - as it did in Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire.
With minor exceptions, it has remained united to this day. Politically, the disunity of Greece and the Chou was followed by the imperial unity and administrative genius of the Romans and the Han. Culturally, just as the Romans owed a great debt to the Greeks, so did the Han to the Chou. Furthermore, Greek and Chou intellectual creativity was not matched by the Romans and the Han. Scholarship flourished under the Han, but it was mainly concerned with collecting and interpreting the classics of Chinese thought produced in the Chou period.
As the basis of education for prospective bureaucrats, Wu Ti established an imperial university in B. The Han scholars venerated Confucius as the ideal wise man, and Confucianism became the official philosophy of the state. Great respect for learning, together with the system of civil service examinations based on the Five Confucian Classics, became fundamental characteristics of Chinese civilization.
Han scholars started another scholarly tradition with their historical writings. Their antiquarian interest in researching the past produced a comprehensive history of China, the Historical Records Shih chi. This voluminous work of chapters has been highly praised, in part for its inclusion of a vast amount of information, beginning with the legendary past, but even more for its freedom from superstition and careful weighing of evidence. In the Later Han, a scholar wrote the History of the Earlier Han, and thereafter it was customary for each dynasty to write the official history of its immediate predecessor.
The Chinese believed that the successes and failures of the past provided guidance for one's own time and the future.
As stated in the Historical Records, "Events of the past, if not forgotten, are teachings about the future. One scholar anticipated modern archaeologists by more than a thousand years in classifying human history by "ages": It listed the meaning and pronunciation of more than Chinese characters.
The largely decorative art of the past, which served a religious purpose, was replaced by a realistic pictorial art portraying ordinary life.
The result was the first great Chinese flowering of sculpture, both in relief and in the round. Some of the finer examples of this realistic secular art are the sculptured models of the tall and spirited horses that Wu Ti imported from Bactria.
The Han greatly admired these proud "celestial" and "blood-sweating" horses from the West, and their artists brilliantly captured their high spirit.
During the Han period, China surpassed the level of technological development in the rest of the world. Notable inventions included a primitive seismograph capable of indicating earthquakes several hundred miles away; the use of water power to grind grain and to operate a piston bellows for iron smelting; the horse collar, which greatly increased the pulling power of horses; paper made from cloth rags, which replaced cumbersome bamboo strips and expensive silk cloth as writing material; and the humble but extremely useful wheelbarrow.
Popular Taoism was a religion of spirits and magic that provided the spiritual comfort not found in either philosophical Taoism or Confucianism. Its goals were long life and personal immortality. These goals were to be achieved not so much as a reward for ethical conduct but through magical charms and spells and imbibing an "elixir of immortality.
Popular Taoism also became a vehicle for the expression of peasant discontent. Over , rebels destroyed much of China and greatly contributed to the anarchy that fatally weakened the Later Han Dynasty. It was brought to China by missionaries and traders through Central Asia. However, relatively few Chinese were attracted to the religion during this period. Buddhism's great attraction of converts and influence on Chinese culture came after the fall of the Han Dynasty, when renewed social turmoil made its emphasis on otherworldly salvation appealing to the great majority of Chinese.
Political unity was attained briefly under the Sui dynasty , consolidated under the T'ang , and maintained percariously in the south under the Sung Despite periods of internal disruption, this political structure, recreated from Han precedents, survived repeated invasions and civil wars. Its stability resulted from a common written language; an ancient family structure, guided by mature and conservative-minded matriarchs; an enduring Confucian tradition; and a Chinese elite of hereditary nobles and scholar-bureaucrats, who shared power while subtly contending for dominance.
Their efforts promoted a flowering of Chinese culture during the expansionary T'ang period, when China was the largest state in the world, and during the ensuing economic prosperity of the Sung. Various nomadic peoples, mainly Huns Hsiung-nu and Turks Yueh-chih , pillaged northern China, setting up petty states. Because these were administered mostly by Chinese, they gradually absorbed Chinese culture. Central and southern China, escaped these intrusions and experienced relative prosperity and an expanding population, resulting from an influx of northern emigres and an increasingly productive rice cultivation.
The growing economy supported a series of political regimes at Nanking, all maintaining classical traditions and the notion of a united state under a "Son of Heaven. Its promise of salvation, particularly to common people, its special compassionate appeal to women, its offer to meek men of monastic security in troubled times, and its long incubation within Chinese culture, all ensured its popularity. Although challenged by native Taoism which adopted many of its ideas , scorned by some Confucian intellectuals, and periodically persecuted by rulers jealous of its strength, Buddhism ultimately won adherents among all of its critics, especially among the barbarian monarchs of the north, including the Sui emperors.
Most of them patronized Buddhism by building splendid temples and generously endowing monasteries. The two Sui monarchs, tempered in the rough frontier wars of the north, reconquered all of China, thus ending nearly four centuries of localized confusion. They established an imperial military force and a land-based militia, centralized the administration, and revived a civil service recruited through an examination system.
They also started building a canal, a forerunner of the later famous Grand Canal, to link the rice-growing Yangtse basin with northern China. Their unpredictable cruelty, oppression and conscription of labor for the canal, led to a rebellion that ended the dynasty; nevertheless, the Sui emperors deserve much credit for later T'ang successes. This era of growth and grandeur was marked by the extraordinary reign of the able Empress Wu, a concubine of the second and third emperors, who controlled the government for twenty years after the latter's death, torturing and executing her political opponents but also consolidating the T'ang Dynasty.
In the process, she greatly weakened the old aristocracy by favoring Buddhism and strengthening the examination system for civil servants. Moreover, she decisively defeated the northern Koreans, making Korea a loyal vassal state. Largely because she was a woman and a usurper, she found little favor with some Chinese historians and politicians, who emphasized her vices, particularly her many favorites and lovers.
Her overthrow in ended an era of contention and ushered in a new age of cultural development in the long reign of Emperior Hsuan-tsung T'ang rulers perfected a highly centralized government, utilizing a complex bureaucracy organized in specialized councils, boards, and ministries, all responsible directly to the emperor.
Local government functioned under fifteen provincial governors, aided by subordinates down to the district level.
Military commanders supervised tribute collections in semi-autonomous conquered territories. Office-holders throughout the Empire were, by the eighth century, usually degree-holders from government schools and universities, who had qualified by passing the regularly scheduled examinations.
These scholar-bureaucrats were steeped in Confucian conservatism but were more efficient than the remaining minority of aristocratic hereditary officials. One notable T'ang institution was a nationalized land register, designed to check the growth of large estates, guarantee land to peasants, and relate their land tenure to both their taxes and their militia service. Until well into the eighth century, when abuses began to show, the system worked to merge the interests of state and people.
The government maintained monopolies on salt, liquor, and tea and used licensing in an attempt to discourage undesirable enterprises. In operating its monopolies, it issued receipts that circulated among merchants. These receipts were antecedents of the paper money that came into use under the Sung.
The state also built roads and canals to facilitate commerce. Perhaps the most functional of these projects was the magnificent Grand Canal, stretching some miles between Hangchow and Tientsin. Other typical government enterprises included post houses and restaurants for official travelers, as well as public granaries for insurance against famine.
Economic productivity, both agricultural and industrial, rose steadily during the early T'ang period. The introduction of tea and wet rice from Annam turned the Yangtse area into a vast irrigated food bank and the economic base for T'ang power.
More food and rising population brought increasing manufactures. Chinese techniques in the newly discovered craft of paper-making, along with iron-casting, porcelain production, and silk processing, improved tremendously and spread west through the Middle East.
Foreign trade and influence increased significantly under the T'ang emperors in a development that would continue through the Sung era. Chinese control in Central Asia reopened the old overland silk route; but as porcelains became the most profitable exports and could not be easily transported by caravan, they swelled the volume of sea trade through southeast Asia. Most of this trade left from southern ports, particularly from Canton, where more than , aliens - Hindus, Persians, Arabs, and Malays - handled the goods.
Foreign merchants were equally visible at Ch'ang-an, the T'ang capital and eastern terminus of the silk route. Although largely state-controlled and aristocratic, T'ang society was more dynamic and flexible than those of the past. It was particularly responsive to new foreign stimuli, which it eagerly absorbed. A strongly pervasive Buddhism, a rising population, and steady urbanization fostered this open-mindedness.
Many city populations exceeded ,; four cities had more than a million people; and one of these - the capital of Ch'ang-an - was the largest city in the world. Commercial prosperity naturally benefitted the merchants, but they were still considered socially inferior; merchants often used their wealth to educate their sons for the civil service examination, thus promoting the rising class of scholar-bureaucrats. The latter, as they acquired land, gained status and power at the expense of the old aristocratic families.
Conditions among artisans and the expanding mass of peasants improved somewhat, but life remained hard and sometimes unpredictably disastrous. In the early T'ang era, women had been considered equal enough socially to play polo with the men. By the eighth century, however, T'ang legal codes had imposed severe punishments for wifely disobedience or infidelity to husbands.
New laws also limited womens' rights to divorce, inheritance of property, and remarriage as widows. Women were still active in the arts and literature but were excluded from civil examinations for public service. Although some wielded influence and power at royal courts, many were confined to harems, a practice without precedent in Chinese traditions and probably borrowed from Islam in the late T'ang era.
These obvious regressions were only partially balanced by the continued high status and authority of older women within the families. It followed naturally from a dynamic society, but it was also greatly furthered by the development of paper-making and the invention in about of block printing in China, whence the technique soon spread to Korea and Japan.
Movable type, which would later revolutionize Europe, was little used in East Asia during this period, because all writing was done in word characters. Still, printing helped meet a growing demand for the religious and educational materials generated by Buddhism and the examination system. Chinese of this period firmly believed that lessons from the past could be guides to the future. As an early T'ang emperor remarked, "by using a mirror of brass, you may T'ang poetry was marked by ironic humor, deep sensitivity to human feeling, concern for social justice, and a near-worshipful love of nature.
The last, perhaps the greatest of them all, was an admitted lover of pleasure, but he could pinpoint life's mysteries, as in the following poetic expression of Taoist philosophy: The plastic arts, dealing with both religious and secular subjects, became a major medium for the first time in China. Small tomb statues depicted both Chinese and foreign life with human realism, verve, and diversity. Religious statuary, even in Buddhist shrines, showed a strong humanistic emphasis, often juxtaposed with the naive sublimity of Buddhas carved in the Gandara Greek Hellenistic style of northwest India.
Similar themes were developed in T'ang painting, but the traditional preoccupation with nature prevailed in both northern and southern landscape schools. The most famous T'ang painter was Wu Tao-tzu, whose landscapes and religious scenes were produced at the court of the Emperor Ming Huang in the early eighth century.
A warning came in , when Arabs reconquered the Tarim basin. Meanwhile, as the fiscal system weakened under attack from various vested interests, military governors took over control of outlying provinces. One of them, a former favorite named An Lu-shan, marched on Ch'ang-an in The aged Emperor Hsuan-tsung, while fleeing the capital, was forced by his troops to approve the execution of his favorite concubine, who had dominated his court and weakened his dynasty. According to legend, he died of sorrow less than a month later.
The rebellion was put down after seven years, but the disruption was so extensive that the late T'ang emperors never recovered their former power. Following a breakdown of the old land registration system, revenues declined and peasants rebelled against rising taxes. The government alienated more people by seizing Buddhist property and persecuting all foreign religions. At the capital, weak emperors lost their authority to eunuchs who had originally been only harem servants. Finally, in , a military commander killed all the eunuchs and deposed the last T'ang emperor.
South China, under T'ang rule, had developed a strong economy that could not be contained within the rigid T'ang system. The T'ang collapse permitted a commercial expansion that in turn generated much of the Sung's remarkable cultural achievement. During the period of the Five Dynasties in the north and the Ten Kingdoms in the south, barbarian attacks continued to alternate with internal conflicts among contending warlords.
A military leader of the northern Chou staged a palace coup and founded the Sung line in He and his successor reunited the country, although certain frontier provinces and the tributary areas held by T'ang rulers were never regained.
Although they were northerners, early Sung emperors abandoned their military traditions in deference to the powerful landed magnates of the south, upon whom the state depended for economic support. Instead of using officials personally committed to the emperor, the Sung rulers relied upon the civil service, recruited through an examination system that largely favored the scholarly elite.
Without an effective military, and plagued with internal bureaucratic dissension, Sung ministers tried first to defend the steppe frontiers by diplomacy. When that failed, they temporarily avoided invasion of the empire by paying tribute in silver and silk to neighboring barbarian kingdoms, such as the Khitan.
In addition to external threats, Sung rulers faced serious internal problems. A booming economy encouraged an individualism that affected all classes. The cost of foreign tribute, in addition to losses resulting from tax evasion by the wealthy, brought rising deficits as well as peasant unrest. To meet this crisis, the emperor called upon an eminent statesman, Wang An-shih Wang sponsored a program which enforced state-controlled interest rates on agricultural loans, fixed commodity prices, provided unemployment benefits, established old age pensions, and reformed the examination system by stressing practical rather than literary knowledge.
These measures brought some improvements but evoked fanatic opposition from scholars, bureaucrats, and moneylenders. Sung efforts to govern a united China came to an inglorious end early in the twelfth century. A nomadic people from Manchuria, the Jurchen, having established the Chin dynasty in north China, soon destroyed the Khitan regime and took the northern Sung capital in K'ai-feng.
The Sung court fled in panic to Nanking and later established a capital at Hangchow. After a decade of indecisive war, a treaty in concluded a humiliating and uneasy peace with the Chin. For more than another century the southern Sung state survived, almost completely cut off by land from the north and west, but still capable of great commercial and cultural advances.
Its water control projects and intensive agriculture doubled rice production within a century after , while industry increased rapidly, pouring out the finest silk, lacquer wares, and porcelains for home and foreign markets.
Sung economic advances were furthered by such technical innovations as water clocks, paddle-boats, explosive projectile weapons, seagoing junks, the stern-post rudder, and the mariner's compass. The resulting rise in productivity forced commerce out of government control, at the same time encouraging banks to depend upon paper currency. Foreign trade, formerly dominated by aliens, was taken up by Chinese, who established commercial colonies throughout East Asia.
Along with rising material affluence came urban expansion. The Chinese population swelled from 60 to million, an increase of more than twice the world average. For all classes, life presented a unique contrast between confidence and anxiety.
Relatively safe from nomad attack behind southern water barriers, most people were more concerned than in the past with their personal freedom, amusement, and advancement. The new affluence also brought cruel competition and undermined the old family values and moral obligations to the state.
Such influences, however, did little to affect the class structure. Merchants, no matter how wealthy, could not replace the dominant scholar-bureaucrats, who continued to prosper as landowners. Admittedly, many of these were from middle-class families, financially able to educate their sons for the civil service examinations.
Rising economic growth and competition helped erode Buddhist compassion and encouraged a revival of the Confucian doctrine of male dominance, particularly among the elite. For some lower-class women, commercial development brought new freedoms and opportunities to work, even conduct business, outside the home.
In contrast, upper-class Sung women were now more restricted than in the past. Usually betrothed by their fathers, they lived in near servile status within their husbands' families, producing children and providing social decoration. The binding of little girls' feet, as preparation for this sterile adult life, became common practice under the Sung, as did female infanticide, restrictions on the remarriage of widows, and harsh legal penalties including death for violating the accepted code of prescribed wifely conduct.
Most reformers claimed that their proposals were based upon Confucian principles, but they were nevertheless strongly opposed by the majority of Confucian scholars, who were part of the established bureaucracy. Although Buddhist and Taoist spokesmen supported few standard arguments in the debate, their general opposition to government gave them many opportunities to increase the confusion. Thus the fragile compromise between Buddhism and Confucianism, achieved during the T'ang period, was placed under severe strain.
Ultimately, these problems were resolved by a new compromise known as Neo-Confucianism, which was to become the intellectual foundation for Chinese thought until the twentieth century. Chu Hsi , founder of the new philosophic school, was a brilliant scholar and respected commentator on the Confucian classics. His teaching sought to reconcile the mystical popular faiths of Buddhism and Taoism with Confucian practicality. Thomas Aquinas, Chu Hsi synthesized faith and reason; but unlike Aquinas, Chu's highest priority was disciplined reason.
He believed that people are neither naturally good nor bad, but are inclined either way by experience and education. The universe, according to Chu, is a self-generating and self-regulating order, to which humans may adjust rationally. An important quality to be cultivated by a Buddhist meditator is mindfulness sati. Mindfulness is a polyvalent term which refers to remembering, recollecting and "bearing in mind".
It also relates to remembering the teachings of the Buddha and knowing how these teachings relate to one's experiences. The Buddhist texts mention different kinds of mindfulness practice.
Different early texts give different enumerations of these four mindfulness practices. Meditation on these subjects is said to develop insight. The practice of the four divine abodes can be seen as a way to overcome ill-will and sensual desire and to train in the quality of deep concentration samadhi.
The oldest material of the Theravada tradition on meditation can be found in the Pali Nikayas and in texts such as the Patisambhidamagga which provide commentary to meditation suttas like the Anapanasati sutta. An early Theravada meditation manual is the Vimuttimagga 'Path of Freedom', 1st or 2nd century.
Almost all of these are described in the early texts. When one overlays Buddhaghosa's 40 meditative subjects for the development of concentration with the Buddha's foundations of mindfulness, three practices are found to be in common: According to Pali commentaries , breath meditation can lead one to the equanimous fourth jhanic absorption. Contemplation of foulness can lead to the attainment of the first jhana, and contemplation of the four elements culminates in pre-jhana access concentration.
Goenka , takes a similar approach. Other Burmese traditions popularized in the west, notably that of Pa Auk Sayadaw , uphold the emphasis on samatha explicit in the commentarial tradition of the Visuddhimagga. These Burmese traditions have been particularly influential on the Western Vipassana movement also called "Insight meditation" , which includes American Buddhist teachers such as Joseph Goldstein , Sharon Salzberg and Jack Kornfield.
There are also other less well known Burmese meditation methods, such as the system developed by U Vimala , which focuses on knowledge of dependent origination and cittanupassana mindfulness of the mind. Also influential is the Thai Forest Tradition deriving from Mun Bhuridatta and popularized by Ajahn Chah , which, in contrast, stresses the inseparability of the two practices, and the essential necessity of both practices. There are other less mainstream forms of Theravada meditation practiced in Thailand which include the vijja dhammakaya meditation developed by Luang Pu Sodh Candasaro and the meditation of former supreme patriarch Suk Kai Thuean — This form of meditation includes the use of mantras and visualizations.
Their highly complex Abhidharma treatises such as the Mahavibhasa , the Sravakabhumi and the Abhidharmakosha contain new developments in meditative theory which are a major influence on meditation as practiced in East Asian Mahayana and Tibetan Buddhism.
First they contemplate each specific characteristic of the four applications of mindfulness and then they contemplate all four collectively. The Mahavibhasa for example remarks that, regarding the six aspects of mindfulness of breathing, "there is no fixed rule here — all may come under samatha or all may come under vipasyana.
Nevertheless, each has its own emphasis, mode of expression, and philosophical outlook. In his classic book on meditation of the various Chinese Buddhist traditions, Charles Luk writes, "The Buddha Dharma is useless if it is not put into actual practice, because if we do not have personal experience of it, it will be alien to us and we will never awaken to it in spite of our book learning.
This term was translated into Chinese as nianfo Chinese: Those who practice this method often commit to a fixed set of repetitions per day, often from 50, to over , When idle thoughts arise, the phrase is repeated again to clear them. In the earliest traditions of Zen , it is said that there was no formal method of meditation.
Instead, the teacher would use various didactic methods to point to the true nature of the mind, also known as Buddha-nature. Since the student cannot stop all his thoughts at one stroke, he is taught to use this poison-against-poison device to realize singleness of thought, which is fundamentally wrong but will disappear when it falls into disuse, and gives way to singleness of mind, which is a precondition of the realization of the self-mind for the perception of self-nature and attainment of Bodhi.
In China it has been traditionally held that the meditation methods used by the Tiantai school are the most systematic and comprehensive of all. Zhiyi classifies breathing into four main categories: Zhiyi holds that the first three kinds of breathing are incorrect, while the fourth is correct, and that the breathing should reach stillness and rest. Eventually, according to Tendai Taimitsu doctrine, the esoteric rituals came to be considered of equal importance with the exoteric teachings of the Lotus Sutra.
Therefore, by chanting mantras , maintaining mudras , or performing certain meditations, one is able to see that the sense experiences are the teachings of Buddha, have faith that one is inherently an enlightened being, and one can attain enlightenment within this very body. Vajrayana Buddhism includes all of the traditional forms of Mahayana meditation and also several unique forms. The central defining form of Vajrayana meditation is Deity Yoga devatayoga.
Other forms of meditation in Vajrayana include the Mahamudra and Dzogchen teachings, each taught by the Kagyu and Nyingma lineages of Tibetan Buddhism respectively. There are also other practices such as Dream Yoga , Tummo , the yoga of the intermediate state at death or Bardo , sexual yoga and Chöd.