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Three thousand five hundred years ago, Anyang was a marshy area in China teeming with tortoises, a favourite food of the local inhabitants, the Shangs.

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Presentation on theme: "Three thousand five hundred years ago, Anyang was a marshy area in China teeming with tortoises, a favourite food of the local inhabitants, the Shangs."— Presentation transcript:

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2 Three thousand five hundred years ago, Anyang was a marshy area in China teeming with tortoises, a favourite food of the local inhabitants, the Shangs. Their rulers used divination to seek guidance before making major decisions, like going to war or on a big hunt.

3 The method of divination was to drill a hole on the interior side of a tortoise shell and put the shell on a fire to see what cracks would appear on the obverse side.

4 By interpreting the cracks, the ruler’s advisors predicted the outcome of an event. After each divination, the dates, the events and the results would be written down and carved on tortoise shells or bones. And the collection of these became the earliest recorded historical material in China, from which modern scholars have divined "how things were in the Shang society".

5 The art of interpreting the elaborate cracks in heated tortoise shells was eventually replaced by the practice of interpreting the codified trigrams and hexigrams of the I Ching. It is easy to imagine these hexigrams appearing in cracks of shell or bone, but they are now produced by throwing coins or manipulating bundles of sticks,…

6 … or consulting a website!

7 Out of the tradition of advising rulers by interpreting the hexagrams of the I Ching comes the Tao Te Ching written by Lao Tzu, probably in the 4 th century B.C. Taoism, based on Lao Tzu’s work, becomes very popular not only with rulers and their advisors, but also with craftsmen and artizans who must find solutions to problems on a daily basis.

8 The Way The Way that can be experienced is not true; The world that can be constructed is not real. The Way manifests all that happens and may happen; The world represents all that exists and may exist. To experience without abstraction is to sense the world; To experience with abstraction is to know the world. These two experiences are indistinguishable; Their construction differs but their effect is the same. Beyond the gate of experience flows the Way, Which is ever greater and more subtle than the world. From Peter Merel’s translation of the Tao Te Ching, online at

9 Quality Quality that can be experienced is not true; The world that can be constructed is not real. Quality manifests all that happens and may happen; The world represents all that exists and may exist. To experience without abstraction is to sense the world; To experience with abstraction is to know the world. These two experiences are indistinguishable; Their construction differs but their effect is the same. Beyond the gate of experience flows Quality, Which is ever greater and more subtle than the world.

10 Inaction The follower of knowledge learns as much as he can every day; The follower of the Way forgets as much as he can every day. By attrition he reaches a state of inaction Wherein he does nothing, but nothing remains undone. To conquer the world, accomplish nothing; If you must accomplish something, The world remains beyond conquest. From Peter Merel’s translation of the Tao Te Ching, online at

11 Inaction The follower of knowledge learns as much as he can every day; The follower of Quality forgets as much as he can every day. By attrition he reaches a state of inaction Wherein he does nothing, but nothing remains undone. To conquer the world, accomplish nothing; If you must accomplish something, The world remains beyond conquest.

12 Difficulty Practice no-action; Attend to do-nothing; Taste the flavorless, Magnify the small, Multiply the few, Return love for hate. Deal with the difficult while it is yet easy; Deal with the great while it is yet small; The difficult develops naturally from the easy, And the great from the small; So the sage, by dealing with the small, Achieves the great. Who finds it easy to promise finds it hard to be trusted; Who takes things lightly finds things difficult; The sage recognizes difficulty, and so has none. From Peter Merel’s translation of the Tao Te Ching, online at

13 At about the same time that the Shang are interpreting the cracks in heated tortoise shells, the Aryans are sweeping into what is now India from the northwest. Out of the native Indus culture, and the culture of the newly arrived Aryans, develops Hinduism. The many “ways of seeing” of Hinduism share the view that the Universe is infinitely old, enduring cycles (Kalpas) of birth, growth and decay lasting billions of years. The many gods and godesses of the Hindus are all manifestations of the one god Brahmin. The wise man seeks to rise above the endless cycle of birth, growth and decay and to become one with Brahmin.

14 Buddhism develops later India. The Buddha achieves enlightenment, or oneness with Brahmin, and passes on to his followers his Path for attaining enlightenment. Buddhism travels to China, where it is influenced by the Taoist tradition of Lao Tzu. This variety of Buddhisms travels to Japan, where it flourishes and comes to be known as Zen Buddhism.


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