The present study should be seen as an experiment.1 Although its title reads “Moral Speculation and the Conception of a Sky God,” the range of topics it touches upon is significantly broader. The central issue it addresses may perhaps best be described in terms of the development “from Religion to Philosophy” in ancient Chinese thought.2 Among the relevant works inquiring into the origins of Western speculation, F. M. Cornford’s study deserves mentioning. From the scattered literary records of Ancient Greece, he manages to identify a common thread, pointing out two traditions, a scientific one and a mystical one, that underlie the formation of Western thought. He furthermore traces the origins of such important concepts as Nature, God, and the Soul. In these respects, his book may serve as a reference for our present endeavor. At some points it even mentions materials related to Chinese yin-yang thought.3 As we are concerned here with the investigation into similar matters, we as well, from time to time, must resort to Western sources for the sake of comparison. In view of certain abstract problems, this method may facilitate our understanding and grasping of key issues. Yet in using these sources one needs to be rather cautious. At the same time, Chinese texts, especially the Confucian Classics, often suffer from being interpreted out of context by some scholars. Hence when it comes to understanding the semantic import of primary sources, the present study seeks a more appropriate approach in order to avoid faulty interpretations as much as possible. When citing passages from the Book of Documents or the Zuozhuan for instance, each individual meaning will need to fit into the respective passages’ larger context, often requiring a process of repeated consideration before a decision on a certain interpretation can be confirmed. Thus, for some of the material cited below several explanations and perspectives will be provided. As this method is somewhat at variance with the established scholarly conventions, I have felt it necessary to explain my approach here in advance.
Based on the example of Greek intellectual history, it is a generally agreed scholarly consensus that questions about the origins of morals in the West, such as concerning the relatedness of “destiny” and “law,” can be traced back to the announcement of Thales of Miletus (fl. 624/623–548/545 BC), according to which “the ultimate nature of all things is water, and the universe is alive – ‘has soul in it’ – and is full of spirits of gods.”4 Here one already finds mentioned the two concepts of “God” or “Spirit” and “Soul.”5 Note that the “Shui di”
What is water? It is the origin of the myriad phenomena.6
In his preface to the Shuijing zhu
As to the element of water, it moistens the entire world; among the spirits none can equal it.8
This saying may serve as an analogy to the Greek example.
The first religious poet of Greece, Hesiod (fl. 750 BC), repeatedly states that “Nature is moral.” He tells us that men will receive blessings when they do good, whereas when they commit offenses, they necessarily will become subject to Heaven’s wrath. Man’s loss of morals causes Heaven to send down great torments. The incest of Oedipus therefore resulted in tremendous natural disasters. In the belief of the ancient Greek philosophers the “Heavenly order” was conceived of as a moral category.9 This closely resembles the ancient Chinese reasoning expressed in the phrase:
The way of Heaven is to confer blessings on the morally good, and to make the depraved suffer from calamities.10
In early China, the graph “de”
Now Di-on-High will restore the de of my high ancestor and [help us to] restore order to our house.11
The appellation “high ancestor” refers here to Cheng Tang
1 The Beginnings of the Worship of Di
帝 and the Deity of Heaven
The highest entity [in the cosmos] is called Heaven. Since in the knowledge and perception of man there is nothing bigger than the vault of the sky, Heaven became the subject of man’s veneration. This reverence towards the sky arose spontaneously out of man’s interaction with nature. Moreover, the worship of Heaven constitutes a common feature of belief shared by ancient religions all over the world.12
The numerous instances of the graph di
古帝命武湯Anciently Di appointed Cheng Tang
正域彼四方to campaign and take residence within these four cardinal regions.13
Di in this passage evidently refers to the Heavenly High God. The succession of ruling houses took place according to Di’s commands as well. Moreover, both the socio-political realm of man and the natural world were determined through Di’s commands.14
The names of winds and clouds are sometimes found modified by the epithet Di in OBI. Such as yun
The Shang kings are named wang
卜，爭〔 鼎( 貞) 〕 : 上帝降。
Crack-making, Zheng [testing:] Di-on-High sends down calamities.19 (HJ 10166; Wu Ding
武丁[fl. 1250–1192 BC])
兄……( 貞) : 上帝…… 出。
Xiong …… [testing:] Di-on-High …… come out / emerge (HJ 24979; Zu Geng
祖庚–Zu Jia 祖甲[fl. 1191–1148 BC])
叀( 惟) 五鼓上帝，若。王〔 受〕 又二。
Striking the drums five times to Di-on-High, [Di is] compliant. The King [will receive] assistance. Second [crack]. (HJ 30388; Lin Xin
廩辛–Kang Ding 康丁[fl. 1147–1135 BC])20
Mention of the title “Wang-Di”
□□王卜，曰: 兹下若，𢆶 于王帝。
On […] the King divined through crack-making, proclaiming: From here downwards it signals content. In this case, [supplicatory prayer is to be conducted] towards Wang-Di (HJ 24980; Geng-Jia)21
貞: 隹王帝〔 人〕 不若。
Testing: It is Wang-Di and his peers (?) / the [one] man (?) who (HJ 24978)22
[…] addressing Wang-Di, now saying […] (HJ 30389; Lin-Kang)23
As far as concerns the evidence from OBI, the concept of “Tian”
肆皇帝亡 ，臨保我氒周 四方。
And so, August Di unremittingly watched over and protected our Zhou and the four cardinal regions.28
The Mao Gong ding
And so, August Heaven unremittingly watched over and protected our Zhou.29
In the “Wen Hou zhi Ming”
Thereupon, Di-on-High sent down its mandate on King Wen.30
Another passage in the Mao Gong ding reads:
It was that Heaven sent down its mandate [on Zhou].
One instance has “Di-on-High sent down its mandate,” the other has “Heaven sent down its mandate.” The Zhou people were also still worshipping Di-on- High. The Tian Wang gui
It was that August Di-on-High and the many [ancestral] spirits protected me, the little one, so that my plans have been successful without competition. I therefore succeed to match the August Heavenly King (i.e., the royal protagonist’s deceased predecessor [tr. note]).32
Here we find the appellations “August Di-on-High” and “August Heavenly King” appearing within the same inscription. A similar phenomenon can be observed in a passage from the Zhou Gong gui
The Former Kings solemnly reside to the left and to the right of Di.34
Compare also the following passage from the Tu Wang Yichu duan
[May I use this goblet] to make offerings to August Heaven and to my Cultured Forebear.35
Having matched Heaven, the deceased king (i.e., the father of King Yichu, to whom this goblet is dedicated [tr. note]) was able to reside next to the Heavenly Di. Both constitute objects of veneration and sacrifice for the living. The Heavenly Di and the kingly thearch in combination become Di above and Di below. Since we find the designation Shang-xia Di on Zhou bronze vessels, we know that they did not replace Di with Heaven. Quite the contrary, in the conception of the Western Zhou people, Di and Di-on-High controlled the living, hence their positions were of utmost importance. This is not only the case in inscriptions from sacrificial vessels, in the early Zhou announcements (gao
珷征商，隹甲子朝，歲鼎( 貞) ，克聞，夙有商。
When King Wu attacked Shang it was the morning of jia-zi day (day one in the sexagesimal ganzhi cycle) and Jupiter was in its correct position. The campaign could be perceived [by Di-on-High (according to Jao’s interpretation below) (tr. note)], so that by dawn, Shang was taken.40
The phrase “could be perceived, by dawn Shang was taken” (
2 The Graph de
德 in Writings from the Yin and Zhou Periods
As has been mentioned above, the graph “de”
庚辰卜，王貞: 朕德。 六月
Crack-making on geng-chen day, the king tested: “I will de fang.” Sixth month43
This instance of the graph
Among the numerous phrases containing the term de in the three parts of the “Pan Geng” chapter, huang de
When it comes to Western Zhou bronze inscriptions, the graph de surfaces broadly; for instance, in the inscriptions of such important vessels as the Ke ding
The received Classics from the Western Zhou period time and again refer to de in instructions and admonishments, such as can be found in the “Kang gao”, the “Shao gao,” the “Jun Shi”
As the above account shows, the conventional phrase “bing mingde”
The compound zhengde
3 Standing in Awe of Heaven’s Daunting Authority and the Establishment of the Idea of jing de
經德 (Honoring de)
The two graphs jing
Truly, Heaven had compassion for the people of the four cardinal regions; its favoring appointment lighted on our earnest founders. Let the king sedulously honor his de.56
Let the king first bring under his influence the managers of affairs of Yin, associating them with the managers of affairs of our Zhou. This will regulate their natures, and they will make daily advancement. Let the king make reverence the resting-place (of his mind). He may not but honor his de. […] It was by not honoring their de that (Xia’s) appointment fell prematurely to the ground.57
Thus, the king commenced his duties. Oh! it is as on the birth of a son, when all depends on (the training of) his early life, through which he may secure his wisdom in the future, as if it were decreed to him. Now Heaven may have decreed wisdom (to our king); it may have decreed good fortune or bad; it may have decreed a (long) course of years; we only know that now is with him the commencement of his duties. Dwelling in this new settlement, let the king sedulously honor his de. When he is all-devoted to this de, he may pray to Heaven for a long-abiding appointment.58
In the “Wu yi” chapter we read:
Oh! There likewise were King Tai and King Ji of our own Zhou, who attained to humility and reverential awe. King Wen dressed meanly and gave himself to the work of tranquillization and to that of husbandry. Admirably mild and beautifully humble, he cherished and protected the lesser people, and showed a fostering kindness to the wifeless men and widows.59
Those kings of Yin, Zhong Zong, Gao Zong, and Zu-jia, with King Wen of our Zhou, these four men carried their knowledge into practice, […] then they paid great and reverent attention to their de.60
Further in the “Jun shi” we come across the following statement:
If you can but reverently cultivate your virtue (now), and bring to light our men of eminent ability, then when you resign (your position) to some successor in a time of established security, (I will interpose no objection).61
A similar reasoning can also be found in the inscription from the Western Zhou Ban gui:
隹( 唯) 民亡( 造) 才( 在) 彝，( 昧) 天令，故亡。
允才( 哉) 顯隹( 唯) 苟( 敬) 德，亡逌( 攸) 遠。
Evidently indeed, only through honoring one’s de, will (the danger of) perishing be distant.64
All the above passages can be regarded as famous remarks of the Zhou people. By ignoring Heaven’s charge, one brings destruction upon oneself. It is therefore of utmost importance to maintain and honor one’s de.
In the inscription from the Da Yu ding we further read the king’s words as proclaiming:
今余隹( 唯) 令女( 汝) 盂𥃝( 邵)( 榮)( 敬) 雝( 雍) 德，巠( 經) 敏，朝夕入( 納) 讕( 諫) ，亯( 駿) 奔走，畏天畏( 威) 。」
Now I charge you, Yu, to assist Rong in honoring (the standards of) harmonious de. Be constantly assiduous, remonstrate with me from dawn to dusk and hurry about (in service), standing in awe of Heaven’s awesomeness.
Here we come across the formulation “jing yong de”
女( 汝) 母( 毋) 敢彖( 墜) 在乃服，( 劭) 夙夕，敬念王畏( 威) 不睗( 易) 。
And in the “Gu ming” chapter from the Zhoushu:
The former sovereigns, Kings Wen and Wu, displayed in succession their equal glory, making sure provision for the support of the people, and setting forth their instructions. (The people) accorded a practical submission; they did so without any opposition, so that their influence extended to Yin, and the Great Appointment (of Heaven) was secured. After them, I, the stupid one, reverently received the awesomeness of Heaven, and continued to keep the great instructions of Wen and Wu, not daring blindly to transgress them.67
Here we find the expressions “respectfully bearing in mind the king’s awesomeness” (
The juncture between Heaven and man must be held in awe indeed.68
The Chunqiu wei
As to the joining of Heaven and man, evidently, this must utterly be held in awe.69
Theories concerning the joining of the spheres of Heaven and of man were quite advanced during the Han period, yet the idea of “revering Heaven” (
旻天疾威Compassionate Heaven, arrayed in terrors,
如何昊天How can it be, mighty Heaven?
胡不相畏How do you not stand in awe of one another?
不畏于天You do not stand in awe of Heaven.70
旻天疾威The terrors of Compassionate Heaven,
敷于下土Spreading out over the lands below.71
昊天已威Immense are the terrors of great Heaven,
予慎無罪But I am truly without blame.72
不愧于人He is not ashamed before men;
不畏于天He does not stand in awe of Heaven.73
我其夙夜Do not I, night and day
畏天之威Revere the majesty of Heaven,
于時保之To preserve its favor.74
Sayings about Heaven sending down its awesome terror are particularly numerous in extant admonitions from the Western Zhou period. These may be excerpted as below:
今我民罔弗欲喪，曰:『 天曷不降威？』 大命不摯，今王其如台？
Our people now all wish (the dynasty) to perish, saying, “Why does not Heaven send down its awesome terror?” Why does not (someone with) its great appointment make his appearance? What has the present king to do with us?75
予不敢閉于天降威，用寧< 文> 王遺我大寶龜，紹天明。…… 天降威，知我國有疵，民不康。
Nor shall I dare to reject the inflictions that Heaven sends down (on us). King Wen left to me the great precious tortoise-shell, to bring into connection with me the intelligence of Heaven. […] As Heaven sends down its terrors, it appears as obvious that there are defects in our polity and the populace is not tranquil.76
When Heaven was sending down its favoring decree and laying the foundations of (the eminence of) our people, (wine) was used only in the great sacrifices. When Heaven has sent down its terrors, and our people have thereby been greatly disorganized and lost their virtue, this may be traced invariably to their indulgence in wine.77
We, the Zhou, received (Heaven’s) favoring decree. We accordingly felt charged with its bright awesomeness; carried out the punishments which kings inflict; rightly disposed of the appointment of Yin. […] Di was not for (Yin), as appeared from the conduct of our inferior people, in which there is the brilliant dreadfulness of Heaven.78
我亦不敢寧于上帝命，弗永遠念天威越我民罔尤違，惟人。…… 天壽平格，保乂有殷，有殷嗣，天滅威。…… 後暨武王誕將天威，咸劉厥敵。…… 告汝朕允保奭。其汝克敬以予監于殷喪大否，肆念我天威。
I also do not dare to rest in the favor of Di’s mandate, not forecasting at a distance the terrors of Heaven in the present time when there is no murmuring or disobedience among the people; (the issue) is with man. […] Heaven gives long life to the just and the intelligent; it was thus that (those ministers) maintained and regulated the dynasty of Yin. He who came last to the throne was extinguished by the terrors of Heaven. […] Afterwards, [these men of virtue] along with [King Wu], in great reverence of the majesty of Heaven, slew all his enemies. […] What I tell you, O prince, are my sincere thoughts. O Shi, the Grand-Protector, if you can but reverently survey with me the decay and great disorders of Yin, and thence consider the dread majesty of Heaven (which warns) us.79
Heaven then sought among your many regions, making a great impression by its terrors to stir up one who might look (reverently) to it.80
五刑之疑有赦，五罰之疑有赦，其審克之！簡孚有眾，惟貌有稽。無簡不聽，具嚴天威。…… 今天相民，作配在下。…… 永畏惟罰，非天不中，惟人在命。天罰不極，庶民罔有令政在于天下。
When there are doubts as to the infliction of any of the five punishments, that infliction should be forborne. When there are doubts as to the infliction of any of the five fines, it should be forborne. Do you examine carefully, and overcome every difficulty. When you have examined, and many things are clear, yet form a judgement from studying the appearances of the parties. If you find nothing on examination, do not listen to the case anymore. In everything, stand in awe of the dread majesty of Heaven. […] Now Heaven, wishing to help the people, has made us its representatives here below. […] Ever stand in awe of the punishment of Heaven. It is not Heaven that does not deal impartially with men, but men ruin themselves. If the punishments of Heaven were not so extreme, nowhere under the sky would the people have good government.81
People during the Han period held that that the notion of “jing”
The kings of the Yin people instructed by reverence and failed by [falling into] superstition. For the correction of superstition there is nothing better than wen (diligence / self-exertion).82 The kings of the Zhou people instructed by wen and failed by [falling into] profligacy. For the correction of profligacy there is nothing better than loyalty.83
The text further says:
The [kings of] Yin instructed by reverence, therefore they preferred the sacrificial vessels, so as to express the utmost reverence.84
The “Yin benji”
湯曰:「 汝不能敬命，予大罰殛之，無有攸赦。」 作湯征。
Tang spoke: “If you cannot respect my commands, I will inflict upon you the penalty of death. Amnesty will not be granted.” Thus, the Punitive expedition of Tang was composed.85
To say that the instructions of Yin were based on the idea of reverence is certainly not without justification. The “Zhou benji”
Yin Yi read out the prayer from the written bamboo slip:86 “The last descendant of Yin, Zhou, forsook his ancestors’, the former kings’ bright de, defied the deities by not offering them sacrifices, and, in his dullness, was cruel to the families of the many cognomens of the settlement of Shang. Let these [transgressions] be obvious and known to Heavenly August Di-on-High.”87
Another version of the text has “August Heaven Di-on-High” (
Di-on-High will not help him, so the nine lands are lost. Di-on-High opposes him and sends down many curses.88
The meaning of the binome Jiuyou
The “Wu Wang jian zuo” chapter from the Da Dai Liji holds that the way of the Yellow Thearch and Zhuan Xu is transmitted in the cinnabar document (dan shu
Auspicious is when reverence surpasses idleness; idleness surpassing reverence equals destruction. Propriety surpassing desires, this is to follow / comply with; ominous is when desires surpass propriety.89
The Di ming yan
季秋之甲子，赤爵銜丹書入于豐，止于( 姬) 昌戶，其書曰:「 敬勝怠者吉云云。」
On the last jia-zi day in autumn, a red sparrow, holding a cinnabar document in its beak, entered [the Zhou royal capital] Feng, and stopped at the door of Ji Chang [i.e., King Wen of Zhou (tr. note)]. The document reads: “Auspicious is when reverence surpasses idleness and so forth.”90
Compare also the “Ming zhuan”
One honors and reveres the bright spirits in that one invokes them in sacrificial rites. […] Thus, there are the offices of heaven and earth, spirits and humans and of the categories of things. These are called the five offices, each in charge of its own order, without getting mixed up with one another. The people are therefore able to show loyalty and trust and the spirits can confer bright de. The affairs of men and of spirits are differentiated, with [the people] showing reverence [to the spirits] without being disrespectful.92
The people attached great importance to the value of reverence and were therefore able to hold their distance to the spirits. Yet no matter at how far a distance they kept them (
Never be disrespectful. When Heaven creates good fortune, the spirits will then cause it to arrive to you. When Heaven creates calamities, the spirits will (likewise) confer them on you. Be attentive and reverent in serving the spirits and take Heaven’s patterns as standard. Revere the Heavenly patterns and the people will bring them sacrifices. Respect them [i.e., Heaven’s patterns] without deviation.
From this ardent admonition we may know that the notion of jing was related in a most important way to the business of serving the spirits.
The Shi Daxu
Through poetry, the former kings effected filial devotion and respect [towards the spirits].97
It is in conjunction with each other that reverence towards the spirits and filial piety become statutory. The strong association between jing and offering sacrifices is also clearly stated in the Liji. The “Ji yi”
It was not that the Son of Heaven and the princes had not men to plough for them, or that the queen and the princely wives had not women to tend the silkworms for them; it (them ploughing the fields and tending the silkworms themselves [tr. note]) was to give expression to their personal sincerity. Such sincerity is what is called doing their utmost; and such doing of their utmost is what is called reverence. When they had reverently done their utmost, they could serve the bright spirits. Such was the way of sacrificing.99
The text of this passage continues:
The Son of Heaven had his sacred field of a thousand acres, his wives unwound the silk threads [from the cocoons of the silkworms] and raised the sacrificial animals which were to be offered in sacrifice to the former kings and patriarchs.100
Also in the “Xiang yin jiu yi”
Intercourse being conducted on the basis of fellow-kindness and propriety, guests and host exchanging toasts and the number of stands and dishes being properly fixed, this is called consecration. When consecration is established, and the procedures are handled with reverence, this is called ritual etiquette. Ritual etiquette embodying the distinction between old and young is called de. De is that which is the characteristic of (lit. obtained within [tr. note]) the person.101
This passage explains de
The Zhou people’s conquest over the Yin does indeed mark the rise of a new power, similar to the case of Persia overthrowing Babylon. The Zhou people had their own original ideas on how to establish their state. “Honoring de” is really an elaboration and advancement of the instructions of Yin. Jing refers to the veneration of Heaven whereas de marks the essence of cultivating one’s person. To put it in concrete terms, jing may be described as the expression of standing in awe of Heaven; magnificent de in turn implies a person’s perfected dignified deportment, which takes its pattern from the Heavenly High god. In his “Dian yin”
The hymn “Jing zhi”
天維顯思By Heaven all is observed;
命不易哉Its appointment is not easy to hold.
無曰高高在上Do not say it is high, high above,
陟降厥士Going up and down about its own business.
日監在茲Day in day out it watches us here.103
Mighty Heaven oversees man at every turn, it is thus absolutely necessary to be “reverent, reverent.” The “Shao gao” chapter furthermore says:
Let the king first bring under his influence the managers of affairs of Yin, associating them with the managers of affairs of our Zhou. This will regulate their characters, and they will make daily advancement. Let the king make reverence the resting-place (of his mind). He may not but honor his de.104
Human character provides the pattern of human existence. One therefore needs to control and restrict one’s unyielding (sanguinary?) nature in order to advance in the cultivation of de. Honoring de requires one to control one’s character, only then can one arrive at a stage of advanced de. Patriarch Shao warns over and over again that it was because the Xia and the Yin “did not revere their de, that their appointment had prematurely fallen down” (
The “Shifa” chapter in the Zhoushu
Formerly, the sage kings administered their subject populations by choosing plots of barren soil for them to settle on and by employing them in hard labor. It was thus that they were able to govern All-under-Heaven for extended periods of time. When the common people find themselves employed in hard labor, they become considerate; when they become considerate, benevolent behavior arises. If they are allowed to dwell in leisure, then they tend to become immoderate. When they become immoderate, malicious behavior arises.
That people living on fertile land tend to lack many capabilities is due to them indulging in leisure. That among those who live on barren lands there are none who do not tend towards behaving socially conscious and responsible, is due to them being employed in hard labor. For this reason, every year on the day of the spring equinox, the Son of Heaven wears the five colored imperial robe and worships the sun god. He meets with the three patriarchs and the nine dignitaries to inquire into and to learn about the de of the ground. At noon he examines the successes and failures of his government and inquires into the daily tasks of the hundred officials, including how the senior officials, the many servicemen, the herdsmen and the chancellors of the states promoted the order of government within the people’s affairs.
Every year on the day of the autumn equinox, the Son of Heaven wears the three colored embroidered robe and worships the moon god. He meets with the grand historian and the court astronomer to devoutly survey the Heavenly patterns. After sunset he inspects the nine imperial concubines and orders them to purify and to prepare the offerings for grand imperial sacrifices and for the ceremonial grain offerings in the suburbs. Only after this has been done does he go to rest.
Every morning, the regional rulers receive and implement the commands of the Son of Heaven. During the day, they carry out the affairs of their polities and in the evening, they reflect on their statutes. At night, they admonish their many officials not to indulge in excess and only then do they go to rest.
In the morning, the high officials carry out their main duties, during the day, they go about their various governmental obligations, in the evening, they set their affairs in order and at night, they regulate their households and only then go to rest. The servicemen receive their orders in the morning, during the day, they are involved in executing their tasks, in the evening, they revise them, at night, they recapitulate the successes and failures without regrets and only then they go to rest. All the commoners go about their affairs at dawn and go to rest at dusk. Not one single day is spent in idleness.111
This portion of speech is ascribed to Jing Jiang
It is said that the Son of Heaven together with the patriarchs and dignitaries studied the de of the ground, for during the time of the spring equinox they were cultivating the governing standards of yang; they investigated the patterns of Heaven, for during the time of the autumn equinox they were focusing on the instructions of yin. The sun illuminates the day; the moon illuminates the night. Each of these conditions of illumination was associated with different affairs that had to be put in order at their respective time.112
On the occasion of da cai zhao ri
During the Spring and Autumn period, many eminent personalities came forth with refined and sharp explanations for the term jing. Consider for instance the following quotations from the Zuozhuan:
Jiu Ji (i.e., Xu Chen
胥臣[d. 622 BC]) had been sent on a mission and was passing through Ji. He saw Xi Que (d. 597 BC) hoeing, and his wife carrying food to him. They were respectful, treating one another like guests. He took Xi Que back with him and spoke of him to Patriarch Wen (Patriarch Wen of Jin 晉, Chong’er 重耳[697–628 BC] [tr. note]): “Respect is the accumulation of de. To show respect one must first possess de. De is what is used to govern the people. I am asking, my lord, that you employ him […].”114
Ritual propriety is the pillar of the domain, and respect is the vehicle of ritual. If one does not show respect, then ritual will not advance. And if ritual does not advance, then the order of superior and inferior will be confused. How then will his line extend for generations?115 (Inner Scribe Guo
過criticizing the Prince of Jin for behaving slothfully upon receiving a piece of ceremonial jade.)
Ritual propriety is a person’s trunk; reverence, a person’s foundation.116 (Meng Xianzi
孟獻子accusing Xi Que 郤缺of speaking disrespectfully.)
Not being reverent means being indolent and careless. The Shuowen jiezi says: “Indolence means to be irreverent” (
Reverence sustains one as the master of the people. If one abandons it, how can one uphold and guard one’s patrimony?118 (Mu Shu
穆叔[d. 538 BC] discussing the necessity of upholding reverence.)
Reverence constitutes the basis of de, whereas a person’s character relies on ritual propriety and reverence to become established. “Without ritual propriety, one’s character cannot be established, without reverence there is no stability” (
4 The Interrelation of Politics and Morals within the Conception of the Heavenly Mandate
The term “Di ming”
Alas! August Heaven and Di on High altered their principal heir and with it the Mandate of this great settlement Yin. It was King [Wen] who then received [and assumed] the Mandate, infinite its blessings, yet infinite also its burdens. Alas! How could he possibly not be reverent?120
Similarly, the “Da gao” states:
I cannot accomplish wisdom and lead the people to prosperity; how much less should I be able to reach the knowledge of the Mandate of Heaven! It is upon me to arduously serve the charge received by the former men (i.e., the former kings).121 Now, I do not forget their great achievements. […]
已！予惟小子，不敢替上帝命。天休于寧( 文) 王，興我小邦周。寧( 文) 王惟卜用，克綏受茲命。……
Alas! I am but the young heir, and I do not dare to abandon Di on High’s Mandate.122 Heaven bestowed his grace on King Wen and thus promoted our small polity Zhou. King Wen divined and acted accordingly, and so he was able to receive and assume this (great) Appointment. […]
爽邦由哲，亦惟十人迪知上帝命越天棐忱。…… 爾亦不知天命不易。…… 肆朕誕以爾東征。天命不僭，卜陳惟若茲。
Among all the wise men of the polity, only the ten of you obey and know the Charge of Di, and the sincere assistance Heaven grants us. […] How can it be that you do not know Heaven’s Mandate cannot be changed! […] It is on these accounts that I make this expedition in force to the east. There is no mistake about the Decree of Heaven. The indications given by the tortoise-shell are all to the same effect.123
When during the rebellion of the San Jian
有周不顯Illustrious was the House of Zhou
帝命不時Enduring the Mandate of Di.
商之孫子The descendants of the House of Shang
其麗不億innumerable were their hosts
上帝既命Yet Di-on-High gave his command
侯于周服And by Zhou they were subdued.
侯服于周By Zhou they were subdued
天命靡常Heaven’s Mandate, it does not last perpetually.125
綏萬邦He pacified the myriad polities
婁豐年He secured successive years of abundance
天命匪解Heaven’s Mandate he never neglected.126
維天之命The Charge that Heaven gave
於穆不已May it solemnly last without end.127
When we come to the time of the Han period, discussions on the conditions of a sovereign’s receipt of the Heavenly Mandate flourished even more. Ban Biao’s
The doctrine that the “Mandate of Heaven is not constant” underwent an important development during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods. In a passage from the Zuozhuan, listed under the fifth year in the reign of Patriarch Xi
臣聞之，鬼神非人實親，惟德是依。故周書曰:「 皇天無親，惟德 是輔」
I have heard that ghosts and spirits are not actual kin to the living, it is de that they attach to. Thus, in the Documents of Zhou it says:129 “August Heaven has no kin, Heaven only supports [those displaying] de.”130
In his Lisao
皇天無私阿兮August Heaven knows no partiality
覽民德焉錯輔It looks for the virtuous and makes them his ministers
夫維聖哲以茂行兮For only the wise and good can ever flourish
苟得用此下土It is given to them to possess the earth below.131
In his commentary to the above passage, Wang Yi remarks:
August Heaven is divinely enlightened and therefore knows no partiality.132 It observes the multitudinous people looking for those among them who display (or possess) dao-de (virtue). Those it puts into the position of rulers, having able men of worth assist them. This is how Heaven accomplishes its intent.133
This states that only those possessing or displaying de are able to rule All- under-Heaven. In the “Kang gao,” the king admonishes the young Zhou prince Feng
Alas! Now, youngster Feng, as to the Mandate, it is not eternal, be aware of that! Do not stop serving me.134
To be able to receive Heaven’s assistance it is absolutely necessary to practice de. That the human sovereign receives the Heavenly Mandate is because he possesses de and implements it tirelessly; thus, Heaven grants him its support. The Ban gui inscription says:
惟民之(sic)( 造) 在彝。
The accomplishment of the people (sic!) consists (in maintaining their) constant moral principles.
The phrase zai yi
天生烝民Heaven gave birth to the multitudinous people,
有物有則furnishing them with customs and standards.135
民之秉彝The people held on to their constant moral principles,
好是懿德as they were fond of this excellent de.136
I have heard that men are born of the spirit of central harmony between Heaven and earth, and this is what is called their mandate. That is why there are standards for action and movement, ritual propriety, and duty, as well as for proper deportment employed to secure this mandate. The able ones nurture this mandate and find their way to good fortune; the feckless ones ruin this mandate and bring on disaster.
That is why noble men are assiduous in fulfilling ritual propriety, while common men exert themselves to the utmost in physical labor. In being assiduous in fulfilling ritual propriety, there is nothing equal to offering reverence. In exerting oneself to the utmost in physical labor, there is nothing equal to steady dedication. Reverence lies in nurturing the spirits; dedication lies in keeping to one’s vocation.
The great affairs of the domain lie with sacrifice and warfare. With sacrifices, there is the ritual of distributing roasted sacrificial meat; with warfare, there is the ritual of receiving sacrificial meat. These are the critical junctures in serving the spirits. In the present case, Cheng Patriarch Su was slack; he has cast aside his charge. Surely, he will not return!138
What Liu Patriarch Kang refers to as “men are born of the spirit of central harmony between Heaven and earth” describes exactly the import of the term ming. Zhong
[August Di-on-High] confers a moral sense and a constant nature.139
The “Shi gu” passage in the Guangya states: “Zhong
These standards can be understood in terms of the people’s discipline. As far as concerns rulers and noble men, they must be assiduous in fulfilling ritual propriety, offering reverence to nourish the spirits. The task of nourishing the spirits is fulfilled through ritual sacrifices. These sacrifices in turn form one aspect among the major affairs of the state. The Hou Hanshu
In former times, the sages established the central harmony between heaven and earth and called this ritual propriety. Ritual propriety is the basis for auspicious fortunes to flourish and the source for calamities and disorder to stop.141
Xun appropriates here the text from the Zuozhuan in stating that “the central harmony between heaven and earth is what constitutes ritual propriety.” The idea of offering one’s reverence manifests itself in the act of nourishing the spirits. Hence the notion of reverence was based in the context of offering sacrifices to the spirits. This is why reverence was associated with ritual propriety. Not being reverent equals idleness. Chengzi had been idle, thus he ran the danger of forfeiting his “mandate.”
The term ding ming
無競維人Unsurpassed were these men,
四方其訓之Whom all world took their lesson from
有覺德行To their upright virtuous conduct,
四國順之All the world rendered obedient homage.
訏謨定命With great counsels did they secure their mandate,
遠猶辰告Through far-reaching plans and timely announcements.
敬慎威儀Reverently attentive to their proper deportment,
維民之則They became a standard to their people.142
Liu Patriarch Kang says that the “standards for action and movement, ritual propriety and duty, as well as for proper deportment” need to be employed to secure one’s mandate. In the ode “Yi” this is achieved through great counsels and far-reaching plans, the implementation of which also depends on paying reverent attention to one’s proper deportment so one can become a pattern for the people. Both meanings complement each other.
Starting from the Spring and Autumn period, the notion of the Heavenly Mandate changes every so often from a political into a moral concept. The Guliang zhuan
人之於天也，以道受命；於人也，以言受命。不若( 順) 於道者，天絕之也。不若( 順) 於言者，人絕之也。臣子大受命。
In their relations with Heaven, humans receive their mandate from the former through the way [of Heaven]. In their relations with one another humans receive their mandate through words. Those who do not conform to the way [of Heaven], Heaven cuts off. Those who do not obey words, men cut off. Officials of the states greatly receive (both these) mandates.143
The Guliang zhuan differentiates here between the Heavenly Mandate on the one hand, which is to be received through “the way” (dao
When the king commands the regional rulers, he receives them as guests so they would come and accept their mandates from him.144
The ritual occasion marking the conferral of commands was therefore regarded as a very important event. Similar to the Heavenly Mandate, the king’s appointments were not to be treated lightly. Those who did not conform to the way were cut off by Heaven; those who did not obey the wording of a command or appointment were cut off by man. Heaven confers its mandate by means of its way. The way of Heaven is absolute.
After King Helu
So long as the former rulers do not cast aside our sacrifices, the people do not cast aside their masters, the altars of the domain maintain their ceremonies, and the domain and patrimony are not overturned, then he is our ruler. Against whom should we presume to bear a grudge? We mourn for the dead and serve the living, awaiting Heaven’s commands.146
When one finds oneself confronted with the most adverse conditions that prove to be beyond human power to overcome, one assumes an attitude where one accepts and is content with one’s fate without complaining. The Zhong yong
Living peacefully and at ease and waiting for one’s ming, one does not find oneself in any situation wherein one would not be at ease with oneself.147
“Living peacefully and at ease” (ju yi
利於民而不利於君。」 邾子曰:「 苟利於民，孤之利也。天生民而樹之君，以利之也。民既利矣，孤必與焉。」 左右曰:「 命可長也，君何弗為？」 邾子曰:「 命在養民。死之短長，時也。民苟利矣，遷也，吉莫如之！」
“It will benefit the people but will not benefit you.” The Viscount of Zhu replied, “So long as it benefits the people, then it is a benefit to me. Heaven gave birth to the people and set up a ruler for them in order to benefit them. If the people are to benefit, I too must have some part in it.” His retainers said, “If your life-span (ming) can be prolonged, why do you not act upon it?” The Viscount of Zhu said, “My charge (ming) is to nourish the people. Whether death comes early or late, that is a matter of timeliness. So long as the people benefit from it, we will relocate the capital. Nothing else could be so auspicious.”148
Du Yu remarks here:
That the ming of the people could be passed on from generation to generation without end was because Patriarch Wen made it his utmost priority.149
The Viscount of Zhu did not care about his personal disadvantages. He did not consider his own lifespan as something worthy to be concerned about, since what constituted the conditions of Heaven’s mandate was nourishing the people. Being able to forfeit one’s own life-span (ming) in favor of striving for a greater commitment (ming); this can be called “knowing [about the cost of Heaven’s] mandate” (
Not to allow any double-mindedness regardless of longevity or brevity of life, but to cultivate one’s person and wait for [destiny to take its own course] is the way to fulfill one’s lot.152
The span of one’s life is not worth worrying about. However, to cultivate one’s person in order to await destiny’s arrival, that is the spirit adopted by Ji Zha and the Viscount of Zhu. As this represents the common view on destiny during the Spring and Autumn period, these two episodes may testify to the influence this view had on Confucian thinking.
The Greeks referred to the idea of destiny as Moira. According to the ancient Homeric epics, the celestial deities are subordinate to Moira, the ordinance of which constitutes a moral decree. As such, destiny surpassed the power of all deities. When the latter committed a crime, not even Zeus could go against the ordinance of faith, having been subject to moral sanctions himself.153
Within the system of polytheism, the idea of destiny in ancient Greece functioned as a decree of moral obligation that served to limit all individual powers, both human and divine.154 In ancient Chinese bronze inscriptions we come across phrases referring to the concept of the Heavenly Mandate, such as “to exert oneself [in the implementation of] the Great Charge” (
In the Zhou Hymns from the Book of Songs we read:
維天之命The Charge that Heaven gave,
於穆不已Boundless in its beauty,
於乎不顯And alas most glorious,
文王之德之純The limitlessness of King Wen’s de.
假以溢我With blessings he has whelmed us,
我其收之We need but gather them in.
駿惠我文王High favors has King Wen vouchsafed to us;
曾孫篤之May his descendants hold them fast.155
The main significance of this hymn lies in its interconnecting the idea of the Heavenly Mandate with the notion of “profound de” (chun de
王曰: 師𩛥！女( 汝) 克衋( 藎= 進) 乃身，臣朕皇考穆王。用乃孔德( 遜) 屯( 純) ，乃用心引( 矧) 正乃辟安德。
The King spoke: “Commander Zai! You were able to offer up yourself in the service of my August Deceased Father King Mu. Because your great de is integer, you were able to employ your heart and to make upright the settled de of your ruler as well.”156
Here we now find with “kong de”
5 The Mental Worries and Anxieties that Led to the Composition of the Changes (Yi
易) and the Establishment of Cultivated de
Human religiosity arose from the fear, amazement, and disappointment that man experienced in being exposed to nature’s phenomena. Its goal was to provide a source of mental consolidation and trust. Religion was born from emotions, whereas academia originated from wisdom. In its broadest meaning, religion means belief. Its mental expressions can be found in the reverence towards meteorological or astronomical phenomena as well as in apprehensiveness and caution in human affairs, to name only a few. In Wen Zhongzi’s
As to the anxieties and worries of the Changes, encounter them with cautiousness and diligence. How can one not stand in awe of Heaven and sympathize with man and carefully consider the right time to act?158
These lines capture the spirit of the Changes quite well. It is generally believed that the “Xici”
There exist two theories as to who composed the “appended statements” of the Changes of Zhou: One theory states that both the “hexagram statements” and the “line statements” have been devised by King Wen.
This position is based on the “Xici,” where one reads: “Was it not in the middle period of antiquity that the Changes began to flourish? Did not he who created the Changes suffer from anxieties and worries?”
It further says: “Was it not in the last age of Yin, when the de of Zhou had reached its peak, and during the troubles between King Wen and Zhou
紂(i.e., the Last Shang king) that the Changes began to flourish?”
史遷云:「 文王囚而演易」 即是作易者其有憂患乎？……
The Grand Historian [Sima] Qian says: “King Wen was in confinement when he elaborated the Changes.” Doesn’t this mean precisely that he who devised the Changes was troubled with anxieties?
二以為驗爻辭多是文王後事，…… 左傳韓宣子適魯，見易象云:「 吾乃知周公之德。」 周公被流言之謗，亦得為憂患也。……
According to the second position, the “line statements’” verifications fell largely into the time after King Wen. […] The Zuozhuan relates that when Han Xuanzi (d. 514 BC) went to the state of Lu and saw the Images of the Changes (Yi xiang
易象), he spoke: “Now I understand the de of the Zhou Duke.” The Duke of Zhou was defamed by rumors; thus he too was plagued by anxieties and worries.159
Regardless of whether these “Statements” had been produced by King Wen or by the Duke of Zhou, in any case they arose out of anxieties and worries and were written down as instructions. Kong Yingda’s shu
Without anxieties and worries, there would have been nothing to ponder and be concerned about. There would have been no need to devise these statements. […] Yet if one finds oneself amidst misfortunes and hardships, the need arises to pass down the measures devised against them and show them to posterity to prevent further misfortunes from happening. It was thus that these were committed to writing, to make clear where gains and losses lie and how to discern between auspiciousness and ominousness.160
The latter part of the “Xici” commentary therefore says:
As a book the Changes cannot be distanced, as a way it frequently shifts. […] It only alternates where it goes. The goings and comings are according to rule and measure; the [visible] outer and the [invisible] inner cause one to know fear. It makes plain the nature of anxieties and calamities, and the causes of them. It does not have a master to protect it and yet it is close like a father and mother.161
Both outer and inner teaches one to fear, so one stays alert day and night, seeking to avoid making mistakes. Thus the “Xici” further says:
子曰:「 危者，安其位者也；亡者，保其存者也；亂者，有其治者也。是故，君子安而不忘危，存而不忘亡，治而不忘亂；是以身安而國家可保也。易曰:『 其亡其亡，繫于苞桑 』。」
The Master said: “He [who is apprehensive about] dangers, will secure his position; he [who is apprehensive about the danger of] perishing will protect his [continued] existence; he [who considers the dangers of] disorder will maintain order. Therefore, the superior man, when resting in safety, does not forget that danger may come; when in a state of security, he does not forget the possibility of perishing; and when all is in a state of order, he does not forget that disorder may come. Thus, his person is kept safe, and his domain with all its families can be preserved. The Changes say: ‘We may perish! We may perish! (so let the state of things become firm, as if) bound to a clump of bushy mulberry trees.’ ”162
The [texts explaining the] sixty-four hexagrams are all concerned with how to cultivate de and how to avoid calamities. Following the sentence “he who created the Changes had anxieties and worries” (
Lü (Treading), is the foundation of de; Qian (Modesty), its handle; Fu (Returning), its basis; Heng (Constancy), its sturdiness; Sun (Decrease), its cultivation; Yi (Increase), its abundance; Kun (Entangled), its exercise of discrimination; Jing (The Well), its ground and Xun (Compliance), its regulation.163
As the purpose of these nine hexagrams is to cultivate de and to avoid calamities, I have listed them here to illustrate the uses of de. In a passage from the “Zhouyu”
夫王人者，將導利而布之上下者也，使神人百物無不得其極( 正) ，猶日怵惕，懼怨之來也。
As king one has the obligation to set free one’s resources and to distribute them to the people above and below to enable the spirits, people and the myriad phenomena to all reach their equilibrium. Moreover, [a king] should be fearful every day, fearing that there might be blame.164
As to “being fearful every day” (
The nobleman to the end of the day is so vigorous; in the evening is fearful as if there is danger. There are no misfortunes.165
The shu commentary explains that:
The superior man finds himself in a position filled with anxieties and dangers, therefore he needs to be vigorous all day long. This means that he vigorously strengthens himself, exerting himself without ever pausing, permanently throughout and to the end of this day. Being fearful in the evening means that throughout the entire day and even into the night, the superior man still carries with him his anxieties and fears.166
It is exactly this mentality of fearfulness that leads one to develop the commendable habit of “approaching one’s tasks with a sense of solicitude” (
In talking about the Changes, Wen Zhongzi promotes the attitude of standing in awe of Heaven and sympathizing with man. Fearing the calamities Heaven might send to punish man for his crimes, one therefore cultivates de to avoid misfortunes. The spirit of putting anxieties first and enjoyments last bears strong religious overtones but does not amount to being fearful of the spirit world. The explanations in Søren Kierkegaard’s (1813–1855) The Concept of Dread lead a humanity carrying the burden of an “original sin” to tremble and repent in front of God in the face of cruel natural disasters.167 In ancient China there was no notion of an “original sin.” The mentality of anxiety we find in the commentarial literature of the Changes is therefore greatly different from the mentality of dread.
The hexagram Zhen
The superior man is fearful and apprehensive; therefore, he cultivates (his de) and examines (his faults).168
One does not stop at being frightened, but one takes this fear as an incentive to cultivate and examine oneself. The hexagram Ji Ji
The superior man guards against misfortunes by keeping (their possibility) in mind.169
Trying to avoid misfortunes constantly and without ceasing; this is exactly the mentality of anxiety that speaks to us through the Changes.
In interpreting each of the hexagrams, the creator of the “Xiang” commentary to the Changes time and again uses the term de. For instance, the “Xiang zhuan” to the Kun
The noble man supports things with his profound de.170
The “Xiang zhuan” to the Meng
Striving to be resolute in one’s conduct and to nourish one’s de.171
The “Xiang zhuan” to the Xiao Chu
Adorning one’s de with excellence.172
The “Xiang zhuan” to the Pi
Avoiding calamities by moderating one’s de.173
The “Xiang zhuan” to the Yu
Honoring one’s de by composing music.174
The “Xiang zhuan” to the Gu
Assisting the people by nourishing one’s de.175
The “Xiang zhuan” to the Da Chu
Accumulating one’s de by storing a vast amount in one’s memory of the words and deeds of former men.176
The “Xiang zhuan” to the Kan
Practicing instruction by making one’s de-conduct constant.177
The “Xiang zhuan” to the Jin
Giving oneself to make more brilliant one’s bright de.178
The “Xiang zhuan” to the Jian
Cultivating one’s de by turning around and examining oneself.179
The “Xiang zhuan” to the Guai
Bestowing emoluments on those below oneself, for accumulating (undispensed) de (here: gifts) triggers jealousy.180
The “Xiang zhuan” to the Sheng
Obeying one’s de and accumulating its small developments till it is high and great.181
The “Xiang zhuan” to the Jian
Making the manners of the people good by attaining and maintaining one’s extraordinary de.182
The “Xiang zhuan” to the Jie
Discussing one’s de-conduct by devising numberings and measurements.183
For fourteen out of the sixty-four hexagrams in the Changes the “Xiang zhuan” mentions the word de, mostly communicating the idea of advancing or accumulating it. In the case of ominous hexagram images, it suggests staying vigilant. The advice to moderate one’s de when encountering Pi, to make one’s de constant in the case of the Kan, to cultivate one’s de in the case of Jian, or to discuss one’s de when encountering Jie are all such examples.
The Wenyan commentary explains the hexagram Qian in terms of yuan
Now I, as a woman, was yet party to fomenting disorder; and undeniably in a lowly position, I was yet not showing fellow-kindness; this cannot be called ‘great beginning.’ I did not bring peace and stability to the domain and patrimony; there cannot be ‘unobstructed development.’ My action harmed my person; this cannot be called ‘harmonious gain.’ I abandoned my position to indulge in licentiousness; this cannot be called ‘correct firmness.’ With these four virtues, ‘Following’ is yet ‘no blame.’ But since I have none of them, how can this be deemed ‘Following’?185
Because she chose a harmful course of action, blame necessarily ensued. The convention of referring to yuan, heng, li and zhen as the “four virtues” goes all the way back to the Spring and Autumn period. As to the arrangement of the line statements commenting on the hexagram Qian, “initial nine” protects its dragon-de (sic!), “nine in the second” says: “de is plentiful and transformation ensues” (
The superior man’s conduct shows in his accomplished de, which can be observed in his daily affairs.187
The accomplishments of the superior man consist in his de-conduct. The creators of the “Shi yi”
Jao presented a preliminary version of the present article during the Symposium on Scientific Methods of Research in the Study of Ancient Chinese Bronzes and Southeast Asian Metal and other Archaeological Artifacts in Melbourne, Australia, October 6–10, 1975. His conference paper has been translated into English by Noel Barnard (1922–2016) as “The Character te in Bronze Inscriptions,” in The Proceedings of a Symposium on Scientific Methods of Research in the Study of Ancient Chinese Bronzes and Southeast Asian Metal and other Archaeological Artifacts, ed. Noel Barnard (Melbourne: National Gallery of Victoria, 1976), 145–54. A significantly expanded Chinese version was published three years later under the title “Tianshenguan yu daode sixiang”
Jao quotes here the first part of the title from F. M. (Francis MacDonald) Cornford’s (1874–1943) seminal study, From Religion to Philosophy: A Study in the Origins of Western Speculation (New York: Longmans, Green and Co., 1912), which to some degree constitutes the Western counter draft for this study.
“Regrettably though,” Jao remarks, “these passages are limited to the insights from J. J. M. (Jan Jakob Maria) de Groot’s (1854–1921), The Religion of the Chinese (New York: The MacMillan Company, 1910), therefore, it can be said that they are entirely without use to us.”
Cornford, From Religion to Philosophy, 4.
Guanzi jiaozhu, 14.831.
In the original, Jao gives the author as Guo […]
The original quotation in Li Daoyuan’s preface reads: “Water accounts for the majority of the matter that makes up the world. It floats in the heaven’s and it carries the solid land; above and below there is nothing it does not reach; among the myriad phenomena there is nothing it does not moisten. Its life-breath even runs within stone, merging completely with it. It takes not even an entire morning for it to moisten the entire world; among the spirits none is able to equal it.” (
In the above passage, Jao paraphrases the argument in Cornford, From Religion to Philosophy, 5–6. In his footnotes, he directly quotes from Cornford’s work the phrases “all nature is poisoned by the offence of man” (p. 5), and the “order of Nature is a moral order” (p. 6).
Jao quotes here the following statement from Wen Tingshi’s
Mao #303 (Maoshi zhengyi, 20.1700).
Jao refers the reader here to the passage called “The Sky-Religion” in E. O. (Edwin Oliver) James (1888–1972), Prehistoric Religion: A Study in Prehistoric Archaeology (London: Thames and Hudson, 1957), 204–28.
“Testing: Conducting a di-sacrifice to the Di-clouds” (
“Crack-making on xin-wei day: Di-wind. Not use. Rain” (
For “Di-sacrifice to the Fang” (
See fragment H11:1 in Cao Wei, Zhouyuan Jiaguwen.
Cf. Chen Mengjia
See Chang Yuzhi
This OBI passage is somewhat problematic. See Chang Yuzhi, “You Shangdai de ‘Di’ kan suowei ‘Huang Di’,” 45–6, for a discussion of possible readings.
The possible identity of the graph between di
Chang Yuzhi suggests reading this passage as: 「……[
Jao refers here to Dong Zuobin’s division of the Late Shang or Anyang period (ca. 1200–ca. 1051 BC) into five sub-periods according to different diviner groups, a periodization still widely used for the dating of OBI by early China scholars today. Cf. Dong Zuobin, Jiaguwen duandai yanjiu li
Citing the same three OBI passages as Jao does here, both Chen Mengjia and Hu Houxuan
Jao refers the reader here to “The Origin of the Deity T’ien,” in Herrlee G. (Glessner) Creel’s (1905–1994), The Origins of Statecraft in China, Volume One: The Western Chou Empire (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1970), 493–506.
Jao cites here the following related passage from “Yin benji”
Shu 48.27–36. My interpretation of ji
JC 260. My punctuation of this passage differs slightly from Jao’s, which reads: 「
JC 49. This bronze is better known by the name Bidi zhong
JC 6513. The name of this inscription is more commonly transcribed as Xu Wang Yichu zhi
All of these instances are listed in appendix one in Jao’s original article.
The original passage in the Book of Documents reads:
King Wen established order throughout our western lands […]. His endeavours became known to Di on High, and Di [bestowed] his grace [on him]. Heaven accordingly greatly charged King Wen to exterminate Yin, and to grandly receive its appointment. (Shu 29.67–125).
The original passage in the Book of Documents reads:
成湯陟，丕釐上帝之耿命[…] 其在受德暋，惟羞刑暴德之人，同于厥邦。[…] 帝欽罰之，乃伻我有夏，式商受命，奄甸萬姓。
Cheng Tang arose and grandly administered the bright command of Di-on-High. […] When it came to Shou, his character was impetuous. He chose men of severity and violent character to act as his associates in his polities. […] Di-on-High then punished him, and caused us [i.e., the Zhou] to possess the lands of Xia, replacing the Shang with us as the recipients of his charge to govern the myriad families. (Shu 39.133–232).
For the shared meaning and the interchangeable use of the terms Di and Tian, Jao refers the reader further to Ikeda Suetoshi
Shuowen jiezi, 7.
Guangya shuzheng, 1A.2.
JC 2405 + 2661 + 3733.
Zuo, Ai 2.3, 1614. Cf. Durrant, Li, and Schaberg, trans., Zuo Tradition, 1845.
Mengzi 7B. 33. Cf. D. C. Lau, trans., Mencius: A Bilingual Edition, rev. ed. (Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 2003 ), 324–25.
“Wei Tian zhi ming”
Shu 32.280–96; Translation adapted from Legge, The Shoo King, 426.
Shu 32.431–507; Translation adapted from Legge, The Shoo King, 429–430.
Shu 32.556–609; Translation adapted from Legge, The Shoo King, 430–31.
Shu 35.269–304; Translation adapted from Legge, The Shoo King, 468–69.
Shu 35.480–516; Translation adapted from Legge, The Shoo King, 472.
Shu 36.657–72; Translation adapted from Legge, The Shoo King, 485.
My punctuation of this passage differs slightly from Jao’s original, which reads: 「
Note that Jao reads yuan
For the interpretation of as shao
Shu 42.77–119; Translation adapted from Legge, The Shoo King, 547.
Hanshu, 56.2498. See further Michael Loewe, Dong Zhongshu, a “Confucian” Heritage and the Chunqiu Fanlu (Leiden: Brill, 2011), 87–100 for Dong Zhongshu’s Duice.
“Yu wu zheng”
“He ren si”
“Xi Bo kan Li”
“Da gao” Shu 27.82–137; Translation adapted from Legge, The Shoo King, 364–66.
“Jiu gao” Shu 30.40–65; Translation adapted from Legge, The Shoo King, 399–400.
“Jun shi”; Shu 36.59–622; Translation adapted from Legge, The Shoo King, 475–84.
“Duo fang”; Shu 38.393–406; Translation adapted from Legge, The Shoo King, 501.
“Lü xing” Shu 47.569–908; Translation adapted from Legge, The Shoo King, 604–10.
Due to its “basic openness which allows it to absorb different meanings according to different circumstances” (Martin Kern, “Ritual, Text, and the Formation of the Canon: Historical Transitions of ‘Wen’ in Early China,” T’oung Pao 87.1 : 44), the term wen has no exact English equivalent. Moreover, its concordant translation as “pattern” or “culture” does not make much sense in the given passage. As far as concerns a Western Zhou ritual context, scholars point to a possible semantic affinity between the terms wen
Baihutong shuzheng, 8.372; Som, Po Hu T’ung, 2: 557–58.
Jao remarks here that Yin Yi
Shiji, 4.126. Translation adapted from Nienhauser Jr., ed., The Grand Scribe’s Records, Volume I, 62.
Sun Yirang, Mozi jiangu, 8.260–61 Translation adapted from John Knoblock and Jeffrey Riegel, Mozi
Da Dai Liji jiegu, 6.104.
Cited in Shiji, 4.115.
D. C. Lau
Guoyu jijie, 18.513–14.
Lunyu jishi, 12.406.
The following interpretative transcription of the Chu Silk Manuscript has been updated according to the latest version of Jao’s “Chu boshu xin zheng,” in idem, Xuantang jilin: Shilin xin bian, 3. 860–911. Some graphs left unidentified in Jao’s transcription have been supplemented from the most recent transcription of the manuscript’s text in Li Ling, Zidanku boshu, 2: 43–77.
This reconstruction follows Li Ling, Zidanku Boshu, 2: 56.
This reconstruction follows ibid.
Maoshi zhengyi, 1.12. Compare Stephen Owen, Readings in Chinese Literary Thought (Cambridge, MA.: Harvard University Press, 1992),44–5.
Liji zhengyi, 47.1528. Translation adapted from James Legge, trans., Li Chi: Book of Rites, 2 vols., edited by Ch’u Chai and Winberg Chai (New Hyde Park: University Books, 1967 ), 2: 210.
Liji Zhengyi, 49.1573. Translation adapted from Legge, Li Chi, 2: 239.
This passage does not appear in the Li ji and has, to my knowledge, no verbatim counterpart in any of the transmitted classics.
Liji zhengyi, 61.1902. Translation adapted from Legge, Li Chi, 2.438.
Mao #288 (Maoshi zhengyi, 19.1583). Translation adapted from Waley, The Book of Songs, 302.
See pp. 234–35 above for the Chinese text.
This text corresponds to the “Shifa jie”
Huang Huaixin, Zhang Maorong et al., Yi Zhoushu huijiao jizhu, 6.670.
Liji zhengyi, 1861.
Shuowen jiezi, 9.188. Jao refers the reader here to the passage “jing ri xin”
Shuowen jiezi, 9.188; 3.65.
See Shiming shuzheng bu, 4.111.
Guoyu jijie, 5.194–97 My translation of this passage is informed by the notes in Guoyu jijie as well as by the modern Chinese rendering in Lai Kehong’s
Guoyu jijie, 5.194.
Zuo, Xi 33.6, 501. The English translation has been adapted from Durrant, Li, and Schaberg, trans., Zuo Tradition, 453.
Zuo, Xi 11.2, 338. The English translation follows Durrant, Li, and Schaberg, trans., Zuo Tradition, 305.
Zuo, Cheng 13.1, 860. The English translation follows Durrant, Li, and Schaberg, trans., Zuo Tradition, 801.
Shuowen jiezi, 10.220.
Zuo, Xiang 28.11, 1151. The English translation follows Durrant, Li, and Schaberg, trans., Zuo Tradition, 1229.
Quoted from Yan Shigu’s
Shu 32.191–226. See also the interpretations of this passage in Shaughnessy, “The Duke of Zhou’s Retirement in the East and the Beginnings of the Minister-Monarch Debate in Chinese Political Philosophy,” Early China 18 (1993): 61, and Nivison, “An Interpretation of the ‘Shao gao’,” Early China 20 (1995): 180.
The interpretation of ti
Shu 27. 39–551. Compare Legge, The Shoo King, 362–375.
I.e., the Wu Geng rebellion during which the three guards allied with several Yi tribes and the last Shang prince to overthrow the government under the Duke of Zhou, which they regarded as illegitimate (tr. note).
“Wei Tian zhi ming,” Mao #267 (Maoshi zhengyi, 19.1509). Translation adapted from Waley, The Book of Songs, 291.
See Yan Kejun
Jao cites here Du Yu’s commentary to the Zuozhuan, according to which the title Zhoushu refers to a lost work.
Zuo, Xi 5.8, 307–10.
Chuci buzhu, 23. The translation of this passage has been adapted from Hawkes, trans., The Songs of the South, 73.
The binome shenming
Chuci buzhu, 23–4.
Shu 29.878–89. Most Chinese and Western commentators read this sentence either in the sense of “Don’t make me terminate your charge,” or “don’t cause (Heaven) to revoke our charge.” However, in light of the rhetoric we have observed in the preceding examples, I suggest to interpret wo
For the interpretation of the term wu
Mao #260 (Maoshi zhengyi, 18.1432). Translation adapted from Waley, The Book of Songs, 275.
This passage appears in the “Hong fan” chapter of the Documents. See Shu 24.67–70.
Zuo, Cheng. 13.2, 860–61. The English translation of this passage follows with minor amendments that of Durrant, Li, and Schaberg, Zuo Tradition, 803.
The actual text reads “August Di-on-High conferred a moral sense on men, compliance with which results in their nature becoming constant.” (
Guangya shuzheng, 1A.11. Jao notes here that this is Wang Niansun’s
Hou Hanshu, 62.2054.
Mao #256 (Maoshi zhengyi, 18.1367).
Chunqiu guliang zhuan zhushu
The passage Jao purports to quote in fact reads: “When the king commands the regional rulers, he receives them as guests” (
According to the tradition recorded in the Zuozhuan, it was King Liao
In summer, in the fourth month, Prince Guang hid armored men in a basement chamber and offered the king ceremonial toasts. […] Zhuan Shezhu, disguised as a server, brought in a fish with a sword hidden in it. He pulled the sword out and stabbed the king with it even as the guards’ cutlasses pierced his own chest. And with that he assassinated the king. Prince Guang, now King Helu, appointed Zhuan Shezhu’s son as a high minister (Zuo, Zhao 27.2, 1484. The English translation follows Durrant, Li, and Schaberg, Zuo Tradition, 1675).
Zuo, Zhao 27.2, 1484. The English translation has been adapted from Durrant, Li, and Schaberg, trans., Zuo Tradition, 1675.
“The superior can find himself in no situation in which he is not at ease with himself. In a high position he does not treat his inferiors with contempt. In a low position he does not court the favor of his superiors. He rectifies himself and seeks nothing from others, hence he has no complaints to make. He does not complain against Heaven above or blame men below. Thus, it is that the superior man lives peacefully and at ease and waits for his destiny (ming) while the inferior man takes to dangerous courses and hopes for good luck” (
Zuo, Wen 13.3, 597–8. The English translation of this passage has been adapted from Durrant, Li, and Schaberg, trans., Zuo Tradition, 533. Compare also Schaberg, “Command and the Content of Tradition,” in The Magnitude of Ming: Command, Allotment and Fate in Chinese Culture, ed. Christopher Lupke, (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2005), 23–4, for a discussion of the different meanings of the term ming that are employed in a playful way in this passage.
Chunqiu zuozhuan zhengyi, 19B.628.
My interpretation of the phrase zhi ming follows Schaberg, “Command and the Content of Tradition,” 24.
This line is quoted from the Liezi
Mengzi zhengyi, 26.878. The English translation is adapted from Chan, A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy, 78.
This passage constitutes a paraphrase of Cornford, From Religion to Philosophy, 12–14.
See ibid., 14.
“Wei Tian zhi ming,” Mao #267 (Maoshi zhengyi, 19.1509–10). The English translation has been adapted from Waley, The Book of Songs, 291, taking into consideration Jao’s own philological notes on page 88 of the original text, which have not been reproduced in the present translation.
JC 2830. For the entire inscription and the notes on my philological choices in the English translation see my “Command and Commitment: Terms of Kingship in Western Zhou Bronze Inscriptions and in the Book of Documents” (Ph.D. Diss., University of Edinburgh, 2019), 302–6.
Jao gives as the source for this citation the following passage from the “Wei Kangshu shijia”
See Zhang Pei
“Zhouyi zhengyi xu”
Ibid, 8.370–71. The English translation has been adapted from James Legge, trans., The Sacred Books of China: The Texts of Confucianism, Part II: The Yi King, in Sacred Books of the East, vol. 16, ed. Max Müller (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, 1966 ), 399; and Shaughnessy, I Ching, 231.
Zhouyi zhengyi, 8.362. The English translation has been adapted from Legge, The Yi King, 391.
Zhouyi zhengyi, 8.368–69. The English translation has been adapted from Shaughnessy, I Ching, 231.
Guoyu jijie, 1.13–14.
Zhouyi zhengyi, 1.5. The English translation has been adapted from Shaughnessy, Unearthing the Changes, 214.
Zhouyi zhengyi, 1.5.
See Søren Kierkegaard, The Concept of Anxiety: A Simple Psychologically Orienting Deliberation on the Dogmatic Issue of Hereditary Sin (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980).
Zhouyi zhengyi, 5.246. Translation adapted from Legge, The Yi King, 330.
Zhouyi zhengyi, 6.293.
Ibid, 6.282. The English translation of all the above passages from the “Xiang zhuan” have been adapted from Legge, The Yi King.
The Zuozhuan ascribes this passage of speech to Mu Jiang, who also refers to herself in these lines (tr. note).
Zuo, Xiang 9.3, 965–6. The English translation has been adapted from Durrant, Li, and Schaberg, trans., Zuo Tradition, 955.
Jao cites these three lines with slight adaptations from the Wenyan commentary to the line statements of the hexagram Qian. See Zhouyi zhengyi, 1.17–20.
The present translation does not include the last paragraph of the original where Jao presents a short philosophy of time in ancient China, as it has no direct connection to the article’s main topic.