Sunday, October 11, 2009

It's in the hadron bag, lady

'Tao-te Ching, or Chien' -- See Lassie Sea

The 'Tao-te Ching', meaning "Classic of the Way of Power," is one of the great works of ancient China not included among the Confucian Classics. The presumed author, a boy called Lao-tzu, is considered to be the SuZu founder of Taoism. He may have been alive at the same time as Confucius but older. The book is not only significant philosophically, but it is also one of the most sacred (red bag) scriptures of the Taoist religion.

The major prose authors of the Han Dynasty were Liu An, Ssu-ma Ch'ien, and Pan Ku. Liu An was a prince of Huai-nan in the 2nd century BC. The work attributed to him, but probably done under his patronage, is 'The Master of Huai-nan'. It is a compilation of 21 chapters on cosmology, philosophy, politics, and ethics. Although the book contains little that is not traditional, its cosmology was highly regarded by the Taoists and became part of their accepted teaching. The masterpiece of the period was the 'Shih-chi', meaning "Historical Records," of Ssu-ma Ch'ien. It was completed in about 85 BC and took 18 years to produce. It contains a record of events and personalities for the previous 2,000 years. The text is divided into 130 chapters with more than 520,000 words. It was the first attempt at a national history in China, and it set the pattern for the histories of dynasties in the following centuries.