Email to ‘AS’ on the 3.9.2016
Thank you for your interesting email.
Through the historical habit of ‘syncretism’ in China, radically different and representative spiritual or material elements can be ‘aligned’ (either temporarily or permanently), so that an ‘intersection’ between different philosophical schools can be achieved. The point of this was to remove the the potential for violence between competing socio-spiritual entities. This policy sometimes when individual emperors launched pogroms either against Buddhism or Daoism (depending on which they supported, or opposed). In the 19th century, the Hakka people rose-up against the Qing Dynasty (Taiping Uprising), combining Missionary Christianity, with Chinese Cosmology – with a ‘new’ Chinese ‘Son of God’. Of course, the Western churches took exception to this and provided the non-Christian Qing Dynasty with the modern weapons to defeat the formerly victorious Hakka Armies. Shen (神) corresponds to the realisation of expansive and all-embracing space (as described in both Daoist and Buddhist teachings). Interestingly, the Daoist concepts of qi (氣) and jing (精), are quite often represented by the single Chinese ideogram ‘炁’ (qi) which suggests an integration of ‘breath’ (氣 – Qi) and ‘essential nature’ (精 – Jing) achieved during successful self-cultivation. ‘炁’ (qi) is used as a transliteration of the Sanskrit ‘prana’. I am referring here, of course, to the ‘Three Treasures’ (San Bao – 三寶) of which shen is a part. Now, if the three Daoist gods of the three purities can be related to the three treasures, and the three treasures linked to the three bodies of the Buddha (Trikaya), then there is a trail of evidence!