Shendao teaching (Chinese: 神道设教 or 神道社教; pinyin: shéndào shèjiào; literally: "by “theistic ways” establishing the (moral) teachings")[a] is a Chinese philosophy about religion. It originally meant following the natural way of things and setting up teaching to make people behave. Later on, it was used to educate people by talking about how good and bad things happen as a result of their actions. The idea of Shendao started in the early Western Zhou period and later became important in Confucianism as a way to teach character. Some people believe that it helped China understand and adopt the Western idea of religion.
Shang Dynasty[change | change source]
During the Shang dynasty in China, people believed in many gods. The most important god was called "Shangdi," but some people thought of Shangdi as just a part of the natural order of things, which they called "Tiandao." They believed that the emperor did not have control over this natural order. During Shang sacrifices, people didn't offer sacrifices to the emperor, but they would ask for the emperor's help. The Shang people believed in ghosts and gods, which was similar to what people believed in prehistoric times. They didn't use religion as a way to control people like some later dynasties did..
Zhou dynasty[change | change source]
The Zhou dynasty of ancient China believed in the divinity of Shangdi, the supreme god, and diminished the importance of other ancestral and natural gods that were worshipped during the previous dynasty. The king of Zhou set up an "imperial registry" to worship God, and built a god of the land with chestnut wood to inspire fear in the people. The Zhou also created an "imperial court" as the emperor's office. The Zhou believed that the emperor could send down a great Lu order to protect his house and people. The world of the gods, mainly the "emperor" and "heaven," became the foundation for the kingship of the Zhou Dynasty. They established the concept of rule with "Mandate of Heaven" as the core, and the king was referred to as "Son of Heaven." This practice of the Zhou was Shendao's establishment of religion, which became a tool for political rule and adapted to the needs of patriarchal kingship.Confucianism,, on the other hand, believed in the fear of heaven, adults, and the words of the saints, but did not believe in gods.
Belief, worship and ritual[change | change source]
Shendao is a religion that believes in ghosts and gods. It originated from the Tuan Chuan of the Zhou Yi. The ancient Chinese rulers used religious beliefs to strengthen their power, which is called the divine right of "Heaven and Man". This involved using practices like sacrifice and divination to gain support from the people. However, some thinkers did not believe in ghosts and gods, like Fan Zhen. He still believed in the importance of Shendao as a way to govern the country, bring peace to the people, and change traditions.
Other pages[change | change source]
Notes[change | change source]
- 神道设教 and 神道社教 are homophones both pronounced as Shéndào shèjiào 设 means set-up or arranged, while 社 means social. The homophonic nature of them likely gives a dual meaning of both social organization, and intentional social organization.
Sources[change | change source]
- "Christian Meyer - Scholars | Institute for Advanced Study". www.ias.edu. 2019-12-09. Retrieved 2023-03-09.
- 晁福林, Chao Fulin (2015). "先秦社会最高权力的变迁及其影响因素" [The change of supreme power in pre-Qin society and its influencing factors]. 中国社会科学 (2).
- Book of Documents, Book of Zhou, Lü Xing, God oversees the people.
- "Wayback Machine" (PDF). web.archive.org. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2022-04-16. Retrieved 2022-07-09.
- Kong Yingda《Correct Meaning of the Five Classics》："Shen Dao, subtlety, no direction, the reason is not known, the eye is not visible, do not know so however is called Shen Dao, and the four seasons of the season is seen."