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Heaven and Earth

At the beginning of the universe there was chaos, personified by the egg-like Hun-Tun. He was not alone, however, as he was befriended by Hu, the ruler of the North, and Shu, the ruler of the South. Poor Hun-Tun had no eyes, mouth, ears or nostrils, so his friends, over seven days, cut seven holes into him so that he could see, hear, breathe and eat. Unfortunately, Hun-Tun did not survive the operations. Then the egg-like body of Hun-Tun, or chaos gave birth to a being called Phu-hu. The remains of Hun-Tun split into Yin (Earth) and Yang (Sky). Yin represents female passiveness, whereas Yang represents male activeness. Phu-hu grew, causing the universe to expand and further separate Yin and Yang. When Phu-hu died, his body became soil, his tears became rivers and lakes and his breath became the wind.

Hun-Tun's egg-like body became Yin and Yang.

Yu-ti is the Emperor of Heaven and his Empress is Wang-mu. It is said that at one time, they assisted the rulers of China. Perhaps they still do. The god of longevity, Shou-lao, records the time of a everyone's natural death as soon as they are born. Shou-lao is always shown as smiling. I'm not sure what to make of that.

Some gods were once human. For example, the war god Kuan Ti (Guanti) was once an outlaw called Kuan Chung. However, he was a benevolent Robin Hood figure loved by the oppressed populace. Unlike, Robin Hood, however, he was captured and executed. After his death, Yu-ti made him a divine duke. Continually proving his worth, he was promoted to prince and in time became a god himself.Then there was Yang Cheng, a magistrate of Hunan who liberated the populace from the oppressive taxation by the earthly emperor Wu-Ti (not to be confused with the divine Emperor Yu-ti). Yang Cheng eventually became the god of happiness and was given a new name, Fu-hsing.

In Heaven, criminals are usually executed by a chimera called a chhi-lin. In in 1440, the Chinese court imported a giraffe from Somaliland and by coincidence, the Somalis told the Chinese traders that it was called a girin. To the Chinese, "girin" sounded a lot like "chhi-lin". Thus the giraffe came to be equated with this mythical, deadly creature.

Traditional belief holds that homes on Earth are inhabited by both people and spirits. A kitchen spirit actually spies on the human family for the Heavenly Emperor Wu-ti, so it is important to bribe the spirit with sweets so that its reports would be favourable.

Everyone knows about the great Buddha, Gautama, who achieved nirvana, perfect enlightenment, by conquering worldly desire. Did you know that there is also a female Buddha, Kuan Yin (Guanyin)? She could have achieved nirvana much sooner but postponed her final enlightenment so that she could help those on Earth who needed her.

Chinese Dragons

Very important inhabitants of the spirit world are lungs, which Westerners identify as Chinese dragons. There are five kinds of dragon, or lung. There are the guardian dragons of Heaven; the ethereal dragons of the wind and rain; the Eartly dragons that created geomorphological features such as lakes and rivers; the dragons that are set to protect hidden treasures; and the Imperial dragons. Most Chinese dragons have four claws but Imperial dragons are depicted with five.

Not in the same class as the lungs is the horned rain dragon, Thaoh-thieh. It no longer has a body, as it was taken away as a punishment for eating people. I don't quite see the point of that punishment, as having no stomach, it is insatiable and causes great devastation.


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