（“Socialistic Policies of Ancient China” will continue next month.）
The Gene of Human Civilization: Dualism in human perception and divergence in world culture (in words and pictures)
This is an exploration into the human spiritual world in its relation to universal existence, which served as both its source and object of perception. This spiritual world was represented in artistic images, evolving throughout the long history and diverging between the East and the West while starting from certain commonality.
The study covers more than fifty thousand years, from the Paleolithic period through the 21st century; and is based on related artworks witnessed along nineteen thousand miles of tour route, from the East European great plains to China’s Northeast snowland.
More specifically, it explores the dualism in human perception as the gene of human civilization, and the evolution of its artistic symbol, i.e., the Taiji Diagram, over different regions of the globe. A major achievement is the re-establishment of the coordinate framework for presenting human civilization as an assortment of sub-cultures with differentiating characteristics -- a framework with Qinghai-Tibet Plateau as the origin of coordinates, which sets them apart in different directions over the globe.
During this exploration, the author has had so many touching experiences, seen so many breathtaking historical facts, and been inspired into so many soul-stirring thoughts. Undoubtedly, this has been one of the most exciting expeditions in mankind’s cultural history, leaving far-reaching impacts on the future.
Number of words total: 118200
Number of pictures: 133
Table of Contents
Preamble: Shared ancestors and homogeneous culture at the beginning
Just as all human beings currently living on this planet are basically related to the homo sapiens who came out of Africa seventy thousand years ago (which fact has been established by gene technology), mythologists and rock art researchers have found through studies of early human intellectual products that early homo sapien cultures in different world areas show certain surprising homogeneity. Human culture did not take on obvious local features at first, not until twelve thousand years ago when people settled down at various places and started agricultural production.
Four millennia ago or even earlier, there appeared a grand passageway for cultural exchanges running through the Eurasian steppes between the Danube and the Yellow River and, on turning south in China’s Gansu Province, continuing along the valley below the Eastern edge of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau all the way through Yunnan Province and further on to Burma and Thailand. The Chinese part of the passageway was first named the “Tibet-Yi Corridor” by the famous scholar Fei Xiao-tung (费孝通) in the last century, and later was re-named the “Tibet-Qiang-Yi Corridor” by the academia in a more inclusive generalization. Still further on, this T-shaped cultural corridor was extended to the Americas, Africa and Oceania.
The dualist perception in the Shamanic cultures of the hunter-gatherer era, which believed in animism, was totally different from the modern Western concept of binary oppositions but more closely similar to the Chinese concept of Yin and Yang, which two aspects are taken as mutually complementary parts of a whole.
I. Homogeneity in early human cultures
II. T-shaped Eurasian cultural corridor
III. Yin-vs.-Yang dualism in human perception of the hunter-gatherer era
Part A: The Global One Taiji
The Taiji Diagram does not belong to China and Asia only, but belongs to the whole world. As a symbolic form representing the human concept of Yin vs. Yang, it is contained as a major meme in the rich and varied cultures of both the East and the West. The Book of Changes says: “Life is a great favor from the Heaven and Earth.” (《周易·系辞下) Perhaps because the snake can generally represent life force, or the regenerative-reproductive capability of all living things, the image of two intertwined snakes was chosen as the prototype of the Taiji Diagram symbolizing the Heavenly way of alternating rise and fall of Yin and Yang.
The Taiji Diagram first appeared in an area to the west of the Black Sea, and then followed the footsteps of the human species to all corners of the earth, from China’s Southwestern mountainous region to central America. Because of barriers in time and space, the various cultures bearing the Taiji symbol have been isolated from one another so that finally they cannot recognize each other when they meet. There will be a long way to go before all nations can overcome the kind of isolationist mentality.
We need to re-assess, with historical insight and global vision, the value of Eastern culture centered in China and that of Western culture. Future peace of mankind does not lie in high-tech weapons, nor in strategic wisdom, but in the transformation of human culture. We are surprised to find that, from ancient Europe to the tenaciously surviving modern China, a culture of peace based on Yin-Yang harmony should be the true underpinning of human civilization. This is the most precious message the author can pass on to the world after a comparative study of the human concept of Yin-Yang and varied symbols of Taiji from many different places of the world.
I. The root of Taiji Diagram in prehistoric civilization
II. Taiji Diagram in image of two intertwined snakes in China
III. Intertwined-Snakes Taiji Diagram in the Nile/Indus River Corridor
IV. Intertwined-Snakes Taiji Diagram in the Pacific Rim cultural circle
Part B: A Miscellaneous Study of Eight-Diagram Calender Discs found on the Eurasian continent
In the past ten thousand years, there have been two worldwide cultural phenomena related with each other: One is the Taiji Diagram symbolizing man’s dualist conception, and the other the Eight Diagrams representing man’s concept of time and space in the universe.
China’s Yi people, due to some specific historical circumstances, have preserved memories of the human culture of remote antiquity: They still believe today that the Taiji Diagram represents two intertwined snakes (also as a variation of dragon) and that the Eight Diagrams and the Eight Angles are one same thing. Four to five millennia ago, the Eight Diagrams (Angles) spread from the East to the West along the T-shaped Eurasian cultural corridor.
I. The Eight Diagrams and the Eight Angles are one same thing
II. The time when Luo River Script and the Yellow River Diagram (洛书河图) came into being
III. Eight-Diagram Calender Discs found on the Eurasian continent
Part C: Six Different Expositions of the Eight Diagrams
Chinese culture inherited and upgraded what was achieved in the tens of thousands of years of human civilization since the homo sapiens came out of Africa. As early as in the Zhou dynasty, the Chinese already broke away from the mythological tradition of Shamanism and initiated a “humanistic”, i.e., people-oriented, culture by restructuring witchcraft through rationalization into rules of “propriety” (礼), thus accomplishing a humanitarian revolution of human civilization.
Meanwhile, the development of Western civilization has been characterized by a lack of conceptual unity as culturally shown in the binary opposition between man and god, that is, in clinging to the ancient mythological tradition from the humans’ inchoate stage. Even today, Western culture, though highly secularized and commercialized, is still built on the system of myths recorded in the Old Testament. While the sanctity of religion is continuously fading away, Western culture on the whole is still god-oriented and a genuine humanitarian transformation is yet to be realized.
Instead of slipping into the binary opposition between divine nature and human nature, between religion and secularism, and between politics and moral education as in Western philosophical thought, China’s people-oriented rationalization of Shamanism has elevated her culture into one of unity between the metaphysical and physical, ethics and legality, and administration and education, which tradition has laid the foundation for long periods of peace and prosperity in her history.
The Book of Changes says, “The alternating rise and fall of Yin and Yang makes up the Dao. What follows as a result is goodness. What helps with this course is the nature of things.” (《易•系辞上》) The concept of Yin and Yang has helped accomplish the Dao-abiding tradition in Chinese culture and build up the highly complex and yet unified classical Chinese system of learning. This achievement forms a towering peak in the history of human civilization. It does not belong to China only but to the whole world, worthy of conscientious studies by humanity of the 21st century.
I. Tuludouji • Emergence of clear and foul Qi (《土鲁窦吉·清浊气产生》)
II. A Brief Account of Beginning of All Things • Origin of the Taiji Diagram (《物始纪略·输必孜根由》)
III. Inner Canon of the Yellow Emperor • Basic questions • Detailed discussion on Yin vs.Yang as related to all changes (《黄帝内经·素问·阴阳应象大论》)
IV. Yinqueshan Han Tomb Bamboo Slips • Artfulness vs. Straightness (《银雀山汉简•奇正》)
V. Guiguzi • Chap 1: Tactical manoeuvring (《鬼谷子·捭阖第一》)
VI. An Explanation of the Taiji Diagram (《太极图说》)
Part D: Tracing the Taiji Diagrams - Notes on study tours
Through the Taiji Diagrams, the author sees the uniformity and complementarity between human cultures of different ethnic groups. Therefore, any form of cultural ethnocentrism is dangerous in leading to brutal conflicts between different branches of human civilization and to self-complacency and retardation of human culture.
Western culture should not deny the worthiness of China’s highly integrated and enriched tradition of “inner sageness externalized in non-hegemonic statesmanship” (内圣外王) by pitting its own monotheistic religion against the latter; nor should the Chinese Dao-abiding tradition deny the worthiness of Western monotheistic religion by pitting the two against each other. The remaining elements from Shamanic cultures all over the world are beams of light radiating from early human civilization, among which animism is still of important practical significance today when we are confronted with frequent ecocrises. And, as today’s humanity is suffering from stark spiritual poverty while possessing over-abundant material wealth, the deep-rooted Indian tradition of self-cultivation of inner character will surely benefit the whole world again ...
I. Notes on Ukraine Trip
II. Notes on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau trip
I. Indian Version of the Story of “Adam and Eve”
II. Human culture and art share one sole origin
III. Narratives in Yi Classics on the Eight Diagrams, Luo River Script and the Yellow River Diagram
IV. The Buddhist concept of “Law-abiding King” and the Yellow Emperor and Laozi’s Daoist-Legalism
Zhai, Yuzhong (翟玉忠), fellow researcher at Research Center for China and World Affairs, Beijing University; researcher at Industrial Originality Research Institute of Overseas Education College, Shanghai Jiao Tong University; Chinese Learning specialist; financial business commentator. Former director of international section of China Industrial Economy News; former director of news department of Legal News headquarters, Hong Kong China News Publishing House; and current general editor of Xinfajia (The New Legalist) website, Chinese and English sections.
Daolist-Legalist China: Revival of Chinese civilization in 21st century (2008)
The Way to Enrich the Nation: Classical Chinese economic thoughts and the thirty-six stratagems (2010; Also a Korean translation published the same year.)
China can save the World: Chinese culture as solution to current human crises (2010)
Rectification of Names：The traditional Chinese way of thinking (2013)
New on the Wealth of Nations: The art of balancing in Chinese economics (2013)
The Dao of Propriety: Rehabilitation of traditional Chinese ethics (2014)
The Learning of Human Nature and Destiny: A detailed elucidation of the new four books on Confucian approach to character cultivation (2014)
There it was: Origin and development of Chinese culture (2014)
《孔门理财学》(2009), A translation from English to Chinese: The Economic Principles of Confucius and His School (Columbia University Press,USA,1911)
A compilation: The Traditional Chinese Way of Doing Business for Sustainable Prosperity (2012)
This research project covers such broad areas of knowledge as from tens of thousands of years old Paleolithic rock art to newest academic achievements of the 21st century and so many ethnic regions as from picturesque small cities in Ukraine to quiet remote Yi villages in China’s Guizhou province. During its process this author benefited especially from the assistance provided by the following institutes and individuals:
Ukrainian Embassy in China,
Ukraine “Lan-Hua” Cultural Research Center,
Home for Ukrainians in Beijing.
Mr. Yuriy Kotyk, board chair of Ukraine “Lan-Hua” Cultural Research Center, whose thoughtful arrangements guaranteed fruitful results for our trip to Ukraine.
Thanks to the Ukrainian government and private cultural agencies for their warm reception,
And to Ms. Ianna Shuliak and Ms. Oleksandra Kiktenko from Home for Ukrainians in Beijing for interpreting for me related literature in Ukrainian language.
Mr. Wang Jichao (王继超) and Mr. Chen Zongyu (陈宗玉) from Yi Literature Translation Center of the city of Bijie, Guizhou Province, and Mr. Chen Wenjun (陈文均), bumo (sutra-chanting elder) of Sanguan Village, Datun Yi Township of Bijie City, who opened the door, so to peak, for me to the “living fossils” of Yi culture.
Mr. Fu Yuguang (富育光), research fellow at Ethnic Religion Research Center of Jilin Province and honorary president of Shamanic Culture Research Institute of Changchun Normal University, who accepted my interview in spite of his 83 years of age and suffering from severe illness. Thanks to him for all this and for the gift of his newly-released book. Thanks also to Mr. Zhang Xuehui (张学慧) and Mr. Liu Hongbin (刘红彬) of Ethnic Religion Research Center of Jilin Province, and to Mr. Shi Guanghua (石光华) of Man Nationality Museum of Jilin City, the twelfth generation Shaman descendant of the Shi family.
Director Bao Tin (包颋) of Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee of Qinghai Province, to Dr. E Chongrong (鄂崇荣), president of Ethnic Religion Research Institute of Qinghai Provincial Academy of Social Sciences, and to Administrator Hasqingeli (哈斯秦格力) of Ethnic and Religious Affairs Administration of Delingha City, Qinghai Province.
Mr. Duojiciren (多吉次仁), vice dean of Ethnic and Religous Affairs Committee of Tibet Autonomous Region; Department Director Jinmei (金美) ; Research fellow Suolangduoji (索朗多吉) of Tibet Art Research Institute, Research fellow Danzenglangjie (旦增朗杰) of Religious Studies Institute of Tibet Academy of Social Sciences.
Mr. Yu Youchen (余有陈) , Shibi (Shaman of Qiang nationality) of Heihu Township, Mao County, Sichuan Province; Mr. Jiao Husan (焦虎三), council member of the Qiang Studies Society of Sichuan Province and research fellow at China Intangible Cultural Heritage Research Academy.
Prof. Yi Hua (易华), research fellow at Ethnology and Anthropology Institute of China Academy of Social Sciences. Thank him for lending me his German and English literature at his home and offering many constructive suggestions. Research fellow Liu Jianguo (刘建国) at Archeology Institute of China Academy of Social Sciences.
Thanks also to many other scholars and specialists at home and abroad for offering much help to me in this arduous and complex research project.
May our exploration into the gene of human civilization help promote mutual understanding among people of different religious beliefs, nation-states and ethnic groups, mutual understanding being the foundation for a unified human civilization and lasting world peace.