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An Analysis of Zen Renunciation System: Datong Society Decorated with Confucianism or Dangerous Political Struggle

1. Two versions of renunciation system

The system of abdication is system of electing military leaders - kings, which arose in China during period of "five emperors". First, tribes or ministers recommend "wise men" to incumbent as candidates for next throne. The current king then appoints next successor. The records of renunciation system are mainly recorded in "Shanshu" and "Historical Records", which has always been a historical event of Confucian respect for Taoism. According to records in two books, system of renunciation is perfect, and people chosen by it are also perfect.

An Analysis of Zen Renunciation System: Datong Society Decorated with Confucianism or Dangerous Political Struggle

Remission of sins

The Historical Records states that Yao is “benevolent like sky, and his knowledge is like a god. He is like sun and like clouds. He is rich but not arrogant, expensive but inconvenient”, but his son Danju is “unworthy”. At candidate selection meeting, ministers recommended Danzhu to Yao, and Yao said, “Wow! You're stubborn, don't use it." Finally, Yao finally found perfect successor - Shun. In Shun's later years, Daiyu made great contributions to water management and appointed Shun as his successor. After Shun's death, Daiyu was unwilling to take throne, hoping that Shun's son Shang Jun would succeed, and fled to Yangcheng, but all princes went to Yangcheng to support Dai's succession. Thus, Daiyu had no choice but to inherit throne. Dayu later appointed Gaotao as his successor, but Gaotao died soon after, and Dayu reinstated Yi as his successor. After Daiyu's death, all princes supported Daiyu's son Qi, so Qi inherited throne, which set a precedent for hereditary system.

An Analysis of Zen Renunciation System: Datong Society Decorated with Confucianism or Dangerous Political Struggle

However, there is another version of renunciation in history - bloody and brutal coups. Xunzi during Warring States period first questioned abdication system: "The husband said that Yao and Shun abdicated, which is a false statement, a superficial legend and a humble theory." Han Feizi even directly pointed out that “Shun forced Yao, Yu forced Shun, Tang Fang Ze and King Wu defeated Zhou. These four kings are also those whose rulers are killed by their ministers." And earliest general history of China's chronology, ancient book Bamboo Book Chronicles, also has some records of it. Among them, "Shun freed Yao in Pingyang", "Yao's virtue declined and Shun imprisoned him. Shun imprisoned Yao and reinstated Danzhu so that father and son could not meet each other." and forced him to exile. The Historical Record says that Shun died during southern tour of Cangwu, and Bamboo Book Chronicle says that Shun was exiled to Cangwu and died at hands of Yu. Regarding question of Houqi and Yi, ancients said that Daiyu secretly supported Houqi succession, and then Qi seized throne with support of princes.

An Analysis of Zen Renunciation System: Datong Society Decorated with Confucianism or Dangerous Political Struggle

The records of two can be compared. The personality written in first one is too perfect, which is unbelievable. The latter's records are full of sinister political clashes that fit human nature and seem more reasonable. However, if we consider only these historical materials, it is impossible to judge essence of renunciation system, we still need to compare early histories of different ethnic groups.

Second, military democracy

The American ethnologist Morgan proposed famous military democracy after studying primitive tribes of North America and history of Greece. He believes that this system will appear during transition of a nation from a primitive society to a class society. Following Greek example of "the era of Homer", this system consisted of three main institutions, namely military commander (king), elders of clan and popular assembly. The tribal Council of Elders consists of tribal leaders and has great power to choose heir to throne; The People's Assembly is also called Citizens' Assembly. Consisting of adult males, it has power to approve and veto proposals of elders. Wang is simply a warlord who is in charge of foreign wars.

An Analysis of Zen Renunciation System: Datong Society Decorated with Confucianism or Dangerous Political Struggle

The Age of Homer

This system has a strong democratic connotation and is origin of ancient Greek system of democracy and Roman republican system. According to ethnologists, any nation in world will have a similar system when it develops to a certain stage, and China is no exception. Although deeds of Yao and Shun are hard to find, early histories of many ethnic minorities in China have been recorded. For example, Jurchen tribe under Liao Kingdom had a military-democratic flavor. For example, tribal assembly among them had high power. From top to bottom, everyone presents their strategy, and if there is one that can be adopted, it will be used regardless of who it is. ". The meeting of kings and ministers who discussed affairs of state, preserved in early Qing Dynasty, is a remnant of meeting of tribal elders.

An Analysis of Zen Renunciation System: Datong Society Decorated with Confucianism or Dangerous Political Struggle

King and Minister Conference

Why did this kind of military democracy emerge at end of primitive society? First, in primitive society, classes are not yet fully differentiated, and members of tribe are relatively equal, which is basis of democratic elections; secondly, matrilineal tribal society has turned into a patrilineal tribal society, wars are becoming more frequent, some tribes with closer blood ties will unite. To form a tribal union, each tribe must elect a military leader who can convince crowd - king. The king will not interfere in internal affairs of tribes and is only entitled to military conquest. The Chinese word "王" comes from image of an ax, which in ancient times was a symbol of military power.

An Analysis of Zen Renunciation System: Datong Society Decorated with Confucianism or Dangerous Political Struggle

Military democracy will turn into a real democratic system in countries of maritime civilization, and in all countries of agricultural civilization without exception, it will turn into an autocratic system. For example, in ancient Greece and Rome, due to strong power of aristocratic class (the upper class of tribe), they could control choice of king, and ultimately highest power was held by Assembly of Citizens or Senate. In farming and civilized countries, as country needs more centralization of power, power is constantly concentrated in king. In end, after royal power was strengthened, military democracy was abolished and hereditary system was introduced.

Thirdly, system of renunciation is a transitional stage from union of tribes to state.

We analyze renunciation system in reverse. According to Chinese historical records, warlords such as Five Emperors are no longer just warlords, they have become de facto tribal leaders. For example, Zhuanxu carried out a religious reform and king monopolized power of religious priests, which marked a combination of royal power and divine power. Both Yao and Shun and Yu appointed many official positions, which shows that they could control internal affairs. But they failed to completely abolish military democracy, which testifies to immaturity of tsarist power.

When comparing Late Neolithic sites of corresponding period, such as Longshan culture, Taoxi site, Simao site, Liangzhu culture, Hongshan culture, etc., large-scale military defensive cities were found, which shows that tribal alliances are transitional to country . Several stone axes and jade axes have been unearthed, indicating initial formation of royalty. The emergence of private property is basis for emergence of class society. The "Book of Rites" describes Confucius' "Great Society of Harmony":

On way to great road, world is open to public. By choosing virtuous and emphasizing ability, preaching trustworthiness and cultivating harmony, so that people not only kiss their relatives, not only their sons, so that old die, strong are useful, young are strong, widows, widows, lonely, disabled and sick will all receive support, and men will get their share, women will return. The evil of good is left on earth, so there is no need to hide it in oneself; evil of power does not come from body, so there is no need to do it for yourself. That's why you don't do well if you plot against others, don't commit looting and robbery, and don't lock outsiders in. It's called Great Harmony.

An Analysis of Zen Renunciation System: Datong Society Decorated with Confucianism or Dangerous Political Struggle

Jade Ax of Liangzhu

This is scene of a primitive society without class differentiation. The world is public, which means that society as a whole is public property, and selection of talents can explain implementation of democratic elections, that is, system of renunciation. A small family has not yet appeared, and main unit of society is still clan and tribe, so that "you not only kiss your relatives, you have not only a son." There is no private property, which means there is no commercial exchange between people, that is, there is no currency, and thieves will not appear, and outsiders will not be closed. The so-called "Great Harmony" of Confucius is reasonable if we compare it with scene of tribal communities in primitive society. But after class division, all this changed and became “prosperous”.

The avenue is now hidden and world has become a home. Everyone kisses his relatives, each son of his son, and power of good is his own, and adults are respectful in world. City walls, moats, and ponds are considered strong, and etiquette and righteousness are considered discipline. Rule ruler and ministers, respect father and son, be kind to brothers, reconcile husband and wife, establish systems, cultivate fields, be virtuous and bold to know, and take worthy service as your own. . The trick is to use it and soldiers start with it. Accordingly, Yu, Tang, Wen, Wu, King Cheng and Duke Zhou were chosen. Among these six gentlemen there is not one who does not take etiquette seriously. Based on his righteousness, to test his reliability, write about his shortcomings, punish his benevolence, and yield to show people that there is permanence. If there are those who do not follow this, those who are in saddle will leave, and everyone will think that this is a disaster that is called a prosperous life.

An Analysis of Zen Renunciation System: Datong Society Decorated with Confucianism or Dangerous Political Struggle

Taosi destroys cultural relics

Public property gradually turned into private property, and past democratic elections turned into hereditary system of Xia, Shang and Zhou. To strengthen royal power, cities were built in country and etiquette was formulated. The evolution from an abnegation system in age of tribal unions to a hereditary system at national level will definitely require a process, and this process will inevitably be full of struggle. The royal family tried hereditary inheritance but was opposed by other tribes. Only when royal family formed an overwhelming advantage could hereditary inheritance begin. Just like Yao tried to pass throne to Danzhu, but Taotang clan was not strong enough and was eventually defeated by Yuyu clan, and Shun became new chief of tribe. Dayu later defeated Yuyu clan and became new chief of tribe. Qi eventually defeated Yi Xu, conquered throne and opened succession system. So Yao and Shun's renunciation system is actually a late stage in development of renunciation system, a degenerate stage.

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