Chinese Billionaire Moved to Tears by Shen Yun

5 February, 2013 at 07:08 | Posted in Chinese culture, Shen Yun, Society, Spirituality, Tang Dynasty | Leave a comment
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By Qiu Chen
Epoch Times Staff

VANCOUVER—The 5,000 years of traditional Chinese culture depicted by Shen Yun Performing Arts at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on Sunday afternoon, Jan. 13, was a moving experience for Chinese billionaire Mr. Zhu, who attended the performance with his family.

“I am shocked. Our 5,000 years of civilization is so splendid. Especially wonderful were the pieces about the Tang Dynasty and Han Dynasty. The entire performance brought Chinese culture to life,” said Mr. Zhu, adding that he was often brought to tears during the show.

New York-based Shen Yun has taken it as its mission to revive the essence of the Middle Kingdom’s ancient culture, which consisted of principles originating from Confucianism, Buddhism, and Daoism such as benevolence, honour, justice, propriety, and respect for the heavens.

According to the Shen Yun website, China’s rich traditional culture and art forms have been systematically destroyed due to various campaigns waged by the Chinese communist regime—something Mr. Zhu is well aware of.

“The root of traditional Chinese culture is in China. But in today’s China, the culture has been destroyed to an unrecognizable state. During the Great Cultural Revolution, the Confucius teaching was completely eradicated. As a result, the moral standard of our nation has collapsed,” he said.

Mr. Zhu noted that Shen Yun conveys the basic values of what it takes to be a good human being.

“What Shen Yun promotes is the return of human’s true self, true beauty, and true compassion,” he said.

“Why is it that human beings get to exist and develop? The fundamental reason is that there were saints and sages guiding us so that we stay close to our values of truth, compassion, and beauty.

“Only by doing so can civilization be preserved and human society develop, regardless of whether it’s China or other countries.”

Shen Yun has three equally large companies that tour annually, each with a unique orchestra that combines the grandeur of a Western philharmonic orchestra with classical Eastern instruments leading the melodies.

Through classical Chinese dance and Chinese ethnic and folk dances, Shen Yun presents beloved legends and inspiring stories from the long history of China.

“I think Shen Yun is telling the world about traditional Chinese culture, about the past glories of the Chinese nation,” Mr. Zhu said.

“In the meantime, Shen Yun is cleansing people’s hearts and reestablishing our values.”

Shen Yun Performing Arts, based in New York, tours the world on a mission to revive traditional Chinese culture. For more information, visit

The Epoch Times is a proud sponsor of Shen Yun Performing Arts. 

via Chinese Billionaire Moved to Tears by Shen Yun | Special Section | Shen Yun On Tour | Epoch Times

Related Articles: Reviving and Representing True Chinese Culture (8 of 9)


The Chinese Moon Festival

1 October, 2012 at 12:13 | Posted in China, Chinese culture, Tang Dynasty | Leave a comment
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By Gao Ling
Epoch Times Staff

The Moon Festival, also called the Mid-Autumn Festival in China, is one of the major traditional holidays celebrated by Chinese people. It is always on the 15th day of the 8th month each year according to the Chinese lunar calendar. This year, it falls on Sept. 30.

The festival was first introduced as an official holiday at the beginning of the Tang Dynasty and became widely celebrated in the Song Dynasty. By the Qing Dynasty, it became of equal importance as the New Year’s (Yuan Dan).

Like every other traditional Chinese festival, the Moon Festival’s origins come from a story passed on from generation to generation and it is always related to the moon lady Chang’e.

According to a Chinese legend, there was a time when 10 suns hung in the sky, baking the earth dry, and depriving the people of water and life. A hero named Hou Yi climbed to the top of Kunlun Mountain and shot down 9 of the 10 suns with his bow and arrows, thus saving the people on Earth.

One day, Hou Yi encountered the Lady Queen Mother and received the elixir of immortality from her. The elixir, when taken, would allow one to become an immortal and live in the heavens. Hou Yi gave the elixir to his wife, Chang’e, for safekeeping.

A neighbor learned of the elixir of immortality and tried to forcefully take it from Chang’e while Hou Yi was away. In a moment of desperation, Chang’e swallowed the potion and immediately became a Goddess and flew into the sky. Because she still cared so much for her husband, she landed on the place closest to Earth, the moon.

When Hou Yi returned and found his wife gone, he was devastated. As he looked up to the sky to call out her name, he saw that the moon that night was especially bright and full and he caught a glimpse of Chang’e.

He immediately brought out Chang’e’s favorite cakes to pray for blessings from Heaven. Since then, it became a tradition for people to worship Heaven and celebrate with moon cakes on that day. Thus, the Moon Festival became well-known among the Chinese.

There were once many things that the Chinese did to celebrate the Moon Festival. However, other than that many people purchase and eat moon cakes (round cakes filled with sugar, sesame, and other spices), most traditions are now forgotten.

The first time I really saw what the Moon Festival was all about was through my grandmother when I was a little girl, about 7 or 8, in my hometown in China. My grandmother is a traditional Chinese woman, who wears traditional Chinese buttoned shirts and has bound feet.

On the night of the Moon Festival, my grandmother quietly slipped out of our room to go somewhere. I was curious to see what she was doing, so I tried to tag along. My grandmother quickly waved me away and told me to go play.

Unsatisfied, I still followed her, out of sight, to the backyard of our house. I saw that she had laid out dishes of fruit and moon cakes on a platter, and then she proceeded to light incense and kneel down to pray. I watched her for a moment, and then quickly left.

Later, I would learn that my grandmother was praying to the Heaven and the Earth. The Moon Festival was not only about worshiping the Moon Goddess, but also about showing appreciation for Heaven and Earth. On this day, families gather together and celebrate the holiday in unity.

Fruits and moon cakes must be laid out for the Earth God and the Moon Goddess, and people should also share moon cakes together. Traditionally, the moon cakes are cut into many pieces, one piece for each member of the family. If a family member is not present, a slice must be reserved for them.

This is a memory of Chinese culture to be cherished!

via The Chinese Moon Festival | Culture | China | Epoch Times

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Reflections (III)

9 April, 2012 at 18:45 | Posted in Chinese culture, Tang Dynasty | Leave a comment
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I received this beautiful Tang poem as a gift by Lan Hua
, translator of poems for Epoch Times. I’m very grateful 🙂 Thanks a lot!

“This is my translation of a poem by the Tang poet Zhang JiuLing, also known by the courtesy name of Zishou. I don’t know too much about his work. He served as a senior minister to the Emperor Xuanzong in the early 700’s. The spiritual flavor of this poem reminds of sonnets by John Donne.” – Lan Hua

Reflections (III)

Into seclusion returning
A man resumes his lonely perch
Deliberate in manner
Bathed in purity and truth

Like a soaring goose
Feeling full of thanks
Because of the great distance
Spread out underneath
Over which the soul shall pass

Day and night
Mindful of
But can anyone
Attain its essence
Soaring or sinking
From self fully

Am I to find
Such comfort
Please tell me truly

Du Fu: Poetry Wrought from Hardship

1 February, 2012 at 08:05 | Posted in Chinese culture, Tang Dynasty | Leave a comment
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By Lan Hua

Editor’s note: This is a series of translations of Chinese poetry from the Tang Dynasty being published on The Epoch Times website. Each piece will be accompanied by its Chinese original, an interpretive English translation, and a small essay of introduction, contextualization, and appraisal.

Now I’d like to share with you my translations of some poems by Du Fu. Considered by many Chinese to be their greatest poet, Du Fu himself felt overshadowed by Li Bai, his slightly elder colleague, and he failed to receive anywhere near the same recognition for his poetry during his lifetime as did many of his contemporaries.


And here is a second poem written a number of years later, during the An Lu Shan rebellion, as Du Fu sadly reflects on his distant wife and children.


Read more: Du Fu: Poetry Wrought from Hardship | Culture | China | Epoch Times

A Song of Lu Mountain – One of Li Bai’s Spiritual Poems

25 December, 2011 at 07:40 | Posted in Chinese culture, Tang Dynasty | Leave a comment
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I got this beautiful gift from Lan Hua, who posted it as a comment on my “About me” page. I really appreciate this gesture since Li Bai‘s spiritual poems are my favourite ones among ancient chinese poetry.

Lan Hua wrote: Here is a translation of one of Li Bai’s spirit poems. The Madman of Chu appears briefly in the Analects and chides Confucius for thinking he can or should meddle in affairs of state.

A Song of Lu Mountain

I am the madman of Chu
Who sang for Confucius
And laughed at him too
All the while
In both my hands
A precious jade staff
Tightly I clasped

To Yellow Crane Tower
At dawn I departed
Onto the Five Sacred Peaks
Searching for Immortals
Far and wide

For an entire lifetime
Across Ming Shan
I have wandered there
Then across Lu Shan
Where I approached the Big Dipper
Through the nine screens
Traversing through clouds
Like wind through
A brocade clothe

Out of the shadows
And into brightness
I found a crystal clear lake
Its surface shimmering with
Dazzling colorful rays
And the gates of golden watchtower
Opened silently before me
Revealing in the distance
Two more enormous peaks

Down a winding path I strolled
Where there flowed a silvery stream
Under three stone bridges
It passed and then tumbled
Down a sheer precipice
In a misty waterfall
Obscure with a thick
Blue green haze

While on the skyline
Clouds glowed persimmon
Herald of the morning sun
And birds beat their wings
In endless flight on their way
To the state of Wu

Ascending these heights
What great vistas have I seen
Of Heaven and Earth
As well as places in between
A river that flows apart from
Space and time
Measureless and vast
Filled with whitecaps
Flowing fast
Yellow clouds
Propelled ten thousand miles
By the relentless wind
Towards nine distant
Snow capped peaks

This is the song
Of Lu Shan
The spirit that
The mountain speaks
At leisure I gaze
At her rocky crags
As into a mirror
More clearly
It’s my own heart
I glimpse

Down pathways
Long overgrown
Moss everywhere
A thick dark green
Taking an extra dose
Of cinnabar tablets
Beyond this world
The heart stirs
Like a zither
Strummed three times
It trills from
First to last

And far in the distance
See the Immortals assembling
Filled with roseate inner light
In their hands they hold
Hibiscus blossoms
To present the Jade Emperor
In the Imperial Court

Before crossing the void
Nine levels ascending
At last arriving
At the truth of Lu
Approaching utter clarity
Though the work continues
Onward still

Best regards — Lan Hua

Li Bai’s ‘Looking Toward Heaven’s Gate’

2 November, 2011 at 07:39 | Posted in China, Chinese culture, Tang Dynasty | Leave a comment
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An interpretive translation of classical Chinese poetry from the Tang Dynasty

By Lan Hua

Editor’s note: This is a series of translations of Chinese poetry from the Tang Dynasty being published on The Epoch Times website. Each piece will be accompanied by its Chinese original, an interpretive English translation, and a small essay of introduction, contextualization, and appraisal.

Last time I wrote about Li Bai and Du Fu, how together they are the twin giants of Tang poetry. Not only are they both great poets, but they are each archetypes who represent a distinct poetic response to the world, somewhat the way the Beatles and Rolling Stones are archetypes for all subsequent rock and roll bands.

To give you a better idea of the archetypes they have come to be, this week I am going to concentrate on Li Bai, starting with a small part of what has been passed down as official biography; then I’ll give you translations of a few more poems. After that, I’ll do the same with Du Fu and then we’ll return to the subject of their relationship, as reflected in some of the poems they wrote to each other. Part of what makes their relationship so interesting is how it is documented by their own work.

 * * * *

Here is a portion of Li Bai’s biography taken from the New History of the Tang Dynasty, which was written in the 11th century. I am borrowing here from a translation by the great sinologist Arthur Waley which appears in his monograph The poet Li Bai. I think this is worth quoting at length if for no other reason than to show the richness of the Chinese poetic tradition – from a distance of more than 1300 years, a distinct picture of Li Bai emerges, much more detailed than we have in fact for either Shakespeare or Chaucer.

Li Bai, styled T’ai-Po, was descended in the ninth generation from the Emperor Hsing-sheng. One of his ancestors was charged with a crime at the end of the Sui dynasty, and the family took refuge in Turkestan. At the beginning of the period Shen-lung, the family returned and settled in Szechwan. At his birth Li Bai’s mother dreamt of the planet Venus and that was how he came by his name.

At ten he had mastered the Book of Odes and Book of History. When he grew up he retired to the Min Mountains, and even when summoned to the provincial examinations he made no response. When Su T’ing became governor of I-chou, he was introduced to Li Bai, and was astonished by him, remarking on his conspicuous natural talents… However, he was interested in politics and fond of fencing, becoming one of those knight-errants who care nothing for wealth and much for almsgiving.

Once he stayed in Shantung with K’ung Ch’ao-fu, Han Chun, P’ei Cheng, Chang Shu-ming and T’ao Mien. They lived on Mount Ch’u Lai and were dead drunk every day. People called them the Six Hermits of the Bamboo Stream.

At the beginning of the T’ien-pao period he went south to Kuei-chi, and became intimate with Wu Yun. Wu Yun was summoned by the Emperor, and Li Bai went with him to Chang-an. Here he visited Ho Chih-chang. When Chih-chang read some of his work, he sighed and said: “You are an exiled fairy.” He told the Emperor, who sent for Li Bai and gave him an audience in the Golden Bells Hall. The poet submitted an essay dealing with current events. The Emperor bestowed food upon him and stirred the soup with his own hand. He ordered that he should be unofficially attached to the Han Lin Academy, but Li Bai went on drinking in the market-place with his boon companions.

Once when the Emperor was sitting in the Pavilion of Aloes Wood, he had a sudden stirring of heart, and wanted Li Bai to write a song expressive of his mood. When Li Bai entered in obedience to the summons, he was so drunk that the couriers were obliged to dab his face with water. When he had recovered a little, he seized a brush and without any effort wrote a composition of flawless grace.

The Emperor was so pleased with Li Bai’s talent that whenever he was feasting or drinking he always had this poet to wait upon him. Once when Li Bai was drunk the Emperor ordered the eunuch Kao Li-shih to take off Li Bai’s shoes. Li-shih, who thought such a task beneath him, took revenge by affecting to discover in one of Li Bai’s poems a veiled attack on the Emperor’s mistress, Yang Kuei-fei.

Whenever the Emperor thought of giving the poet some official rank, Kuei-fei intervened and dissuaded him. Li Bai himself, soon realizing that he was unsuited to Court life, allowed his conduct to become more and more reckless and unrestrained.

Together with his friends Ho Chih-chang, Li Shih-chih, Chin, Prince of Ju-yang, Ts’ui Tsung-chih, Su Chin, Chang Hsu and Chiao Sui, he formed the association known as the Eight Immortals of the Winecup.

He begged persistently to be allowed to retire from Court. At last the Emperor gave him gold and sent him away. Li Bai roamed the country in every direction. Once he went by boat with Ts’ui tsung-chih from Pien-shih to Nanking. He wore his embroidered Court cloak and sat as proudly in the boat as though he were king of the universe.

Read more: Tang Poetry in Translation: Li Bai and Du Fu Part II | China News | Epoch Times

Compassionate Tang Founded the Shang Dynasty

7 September, 2011 at 21:36 | Posted in Chinese culture, Spirituality, Tang Dynasty | Leave a comment
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By David Wu
Epoch Times Staff

China’s first dynasty, the Xia Dynasty, ruled for about 400 years, until 1675 B.C. The Shang became China’s second dynasty 1675 B.C. to 1035 B.C..

Xia Jie, the last emperor of the Xia dynasty, was a well-known tyrant. He and his nobles brutally oppressed the people, built many palaces, and enjoyed a very dissolute and luxurious life.

At that time, the Shang kingdom developed very quickly because of the practice of animal husbandry. Tang (also known as Shang Tang) was the king of the Shang kingdom.

One day Tang went out to hunt and saw a place overwhelmed by four nets cast by a man who prayed, “I wish that all animals from heaven and earth could come into my trap.”

Hearing this, Tang said to the man, “Look, according to your wish you would kill all animals!” He removed three nets and asked the man to change his prayer to: “Animals, if you want to go left or right, then just run. Those who are destined to be trapped by me, come into my trap.”

This story soon quickly spread all over and everyone praised Tang for his high standard of virtue. They said, “Even animals are benefited by him. He is such a graceful, compassionate, and great sage. Tang obeys God’s will and has the support of the people.”

Many kingdoms yielded obedience to Tang who ascended the throne and established the Shang dynasty in 1675 B.C.

In the first five years of Tang’s reign, there were several droughts and all the rivers dried up. Tang ordered golden coins to be made and distributed to poor families who had been forced to sell their children. He intended for them to use this money to buy their children back. The droughts nonetheless continued.

Tang was very confused and sad. One day, he piously prayed and asked for God’s direction: “Is all this because I have issued an inappropriate decree? Have I caused people to suffer? Is bribery rife? Are villains gaining privileges by speaking ill? Is the palace too luxurious? Why is the drought so bad? I am willing to do whatever it takes to stop the drought.”

A heavy rain started before his prayer was finished. People believed Tang’s pure heart and compassion for the people moved heaven and that his sincere spirit of sacrifice for people touched God.

The Shang dynasty established by Tang lasted for over 600 years and had 29 generations in total.

via Compassionate Tang Founded the Shang Dynasty | China News | Epoch Times

Spring Dawn – Poems From the Tang Dynasty

9 February, 2011 at 10:48 | Posted in Chinese culture, Tang Dynasty | Leave a comment
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Poetry was the highest and greatest art of China during the Tang Dynasty, which ran from the 7th Century AD through the 9th Century. Just as theater gripped the audiences of Elizabethan England and TV sitcoms enthralled 20th Century Americans, so poetry spoke to the people of Tang China.

The outpouring of poetry during this period is truly astounding. The most definitive collection of Tang poems (compiled during the early 18th century in China) contains more than 50,000 poems from more than 2,200 different authors. Emperors and ministers, minstrels and priests all wrote poems. There were women poets, drunken poets and child poets, poetry practiced in schools and among circles of friends. Poetry permeated the entire culture and was an integral part of every educated person’s life.

By Meng Haoran

Read more: Spring Dawn | China | Epoch Times

More poems: Grass

Editor’s note: This is the second piece in a series of translations of Chinese poetry from the Tang Dynasty being published on The Epoch Times website. Each piece will be accompanied by its Chinese original, an interpretive English translation, and a small essay of introduction, contextualization, and appraisal.

This week’s translation is of a poem written by Bai Juyi in the year 788.  Recognized as a prodigy when he wrote this poem at the age of 16, Bai went on to become one of the most prolific and popular poets of the middle Tang period.

Sun Shines on Legendary Rock Only Every 60 Years

2 September, 2010 at 17:54 | Posted in Chinese culture, Tang Dynasty | Leave a comment
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Photograph of painting depicting a scene from the Chinese classic Journey to the West. The painting shows the four heros of the story, left to right: Sun Wukong, Xuanzang, Zhu Wuneng, and Sha Wujing.


Epoch Times Staff

According to folklore, a Tang Dynasty monk dried Buddhist scriptures on the rock

The large rock known as “the rock for drying scriptures in the sun” lies in the valley behind the Fahua Temple, in Anning City, in China’s southwestern province of Yunnan. Ancient characters are carved on its surface, but the most remarkable thing about this rock is that the sun is said to shine on it only once every 60 years.

Legend has it that when the monk Xuanzang (A.D. 602–664) was on his way back to Chang’an, the capital of the Tang Dynasty, from India after receiving the Buddhist scriptures, he dried the scriptures on the rock after dropping them in the river.

Yunnan Information Newspaper reports that this rock is over a dozen yards high and several yards wide at the base. Trees and grass grow densely around it. The peculiar thing is that when the sun is high in the sky, casting sunlight to every corner of the valley, this rock does not get a single ray of sunshine.

On the front of the rock, it appears to have ancient characters chiseled on a 9-foot-by-6 foot flat surface. There are eight lines of characters, each having about a dozen carved characters. These curly-shaped characters look like hieroglyphic symbols or pre-Chin Dynasty characters, which are still used on seals today.

Over the ages, the characters have become hard to recognize. Besides these eight lines of large characters, there are many more finely carved characters that cannot be read.

Mr. Cao, a scholar in Chinese history, culture, and geography, said: “The sun shines on the rock only once every 60 years. It happens after sunset when the sun rises from behind the mountains [the same evening].”

Mr. Cao learned from elderly people in a village near the rock that a woodsman goes into the mountains to gather firewood every day. By sunset, he passes the rock on his way home while carrying two bundles of firewood. One evening, when the woodsman passed the rock, he saw the sun rise again after sunset on the same day. Bright light illuminated the rock. Startled, he dropped his bundles of wood and raced to the village to tell others.

‘Sunshine Filled the Hall’

A monk at the Fahua Temple says, “It was around 6:00 p.m. at the time of the 2005 spring equinox (March 20, 2005). I saw the sun illuminate the rock for about half an hour.” He had been a monk at the temple for many years, but that was the only time he had seen sunshine on the rock.

According to the Archives of Anning Prefecture, “It was during the rainy season, and the temple was rather dim as usual. Suddenly, sunshine filled the hall. The beards and hair on the Buddha portraits on the walls became incredibly vivid. Shortly afterward, the sunshine was gone, and everything became dim again.”

This was reported in 1921. Local legend has it that on the day after the spring equinox, once every 60 years, the sun rises again after sunset on the same evening. Sunshine fills the mountaintops and the valley, illuminating the special rock. The forests become vivid in color, Buddha portraits radiate a golden color, and the temple hall is filled with brilliant rays of light.

Read more: Sun Shines on Legendary Rock Only Every 60 Years | Epoch Times.

On Parting With Spring

18 June, 2010 at 20:03 | Posted in Chinese culture, Tang Dynasty | Leave a comment
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Hidden on this mountain, many Buddhist monks
Chant sutras, meditate together;
Men on distant city walls gazing towards the peaks
See only white, enshrouding clouds.

Wang Wei
(699-759 AD)

On the Mountain

15 May, 2010 at 20:42 | Posted in Chinese culture, Tang Dynasty | Leave a comment
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You ask me why I dwell in the green mountain;
I smile and make no reply for my heart is free of care.
As the peach-blossom flows down stream and is gone into the unknown,
I have a world apart that is not among men.

Li Bai
(701-762 AD)

The Tang Dynasty – At the Apex of Chinese Culture

31 March, 2010 at 08:18 | Posted in Chinese culture, Tang Dynasty | Leave a comment
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Emperor Taizong (r. 626-649) receives Ludongzan, ambassador of Tibet, at his court; painted in 641 AD by Yan Liben.

An exposition of society in the Tang Dynasty

The Tang Dynasty is considered a golden age in Chinese history, a time when China was the largest and strongest nation in the world. The apex of the Tang Dynasty refers to the time between the reign of Emperor Taizong and the reign of Emperor Xuanzong. During this period, China enjoyed an ethical political system and flourished in all aspects including trade, society, literature, and the arts.

Emperor Taizong of Tang appointed virtuous and capable people to important positions, and were able to accept suggestions and even criticism from their appointees. Although supreme as an emperor, Taizong was humble, respectful, and tolerant. He even promoted in rank those who had opposed him. Taizong had always been diligent and had lofty goals. Thus, he was not only the founder of the Tang Dynasty but also a role model for future emperors.

The unique character of Tang can be summarized as “having an open and broad mind, combining the quintessence from all.” It is precisely this spirit that forged a culturally diverse and splendid period in Chinese history.

Literature and the Arts

“The Complete Tang Poems,” compiled during the reign of Emperor Kang Xi of the Qing Dynasty, is a collection of more than 48,000 poems written by over 2,200 poets. The number of accomplished poets and the diversity of their poetry was a shining star in the history of Chinese literature. The poems written during the Tang Dynasty were not only great in number but also extremely high in artistic value.

The golden time of the Tang Dynasty produced countless renowned poets: “God of Poetry” Li Bai, “Saint of Poetry” Du Fu, Meng Haoran and Wang Wei, who were both famous for poems describing natural scenery, Gao Shi and Cen Shen whose poems were mostly about life in border areas, “the Poet of Confucius” Wang Changling, and so on. In the later years, Bai Juyi was a representative poet among numerous poets in the mid-to-late Tang Dynasty. Their poems are profound, imposing, and far-reaching; they transcend the mundane and embody the spirit of the Tang Dynasty.

In addition to poetry, Tang-style essays, novels, and tales of marvels also reached a very high artistic level. Scholars of the Tang Dynasty wrote about civilians’ lives and exposed the dark side of society, and demonstrated acute insight, courage, sense of responsibility, great foresight, and broad vision. Between the lines we are able to see their wish of “saving the multitudes of people, and maintaining the peace and prosperity of society.”


Ideology and Beliefs

The Tang Dynasty is a period when Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism continued to develop to their peak of popularity. The teachings of these three schools helped to regulate people’s conduct and permeated all aspects of society. As a result, the entire society was able to maintain a high moral standard.

Taizong not only respected Confucianism but also supported Taoism and Buddhism. During the Tang Dynasty, there was a complete system of worshiping heaven and earth as well as deities. People respected heaven and believed in gods. Scholars respected Taoism and promoted virtuous conduct, taking the well-being of the people and prosperity of society as their responsibility. Confucianism teaches people that “a benevolent person loves others”; the Taoist school teaches “enlighten to Tao and validate the truth;” the Buddhist school teaches “offering salvation with compassion.” People of that time strove to seek truth and firmly maintain a virtuous heart.

The Diamond Sutra, a Buddhist scripture, was printed in 868. It became the world's first widely printed book.

Taizong issued an order to have some scholars compile the book “Five Classics of Confucianism,” which became the standard textbook for students to study in preparation for the imperial examination. It remained a standard textbook for later generations as well.

In fine arts, there was a special study dedicated to Taoist and Buddhist figures. Musicians compiled grand Taoist music pieces.

In science too, the renowned Chinese Medicine doctor Sun Simiao was a Taoist whose lifetime endeavor was the cultivation of Tao and providing medical treatment for people. Later generations worshiped him as “Taoist True Man Sun” and “the King of Medicine.”

The Buddhist doctrine was also widely promoted. Large numbers of Buddhist scriptures were being translated and spread during this time. People believed in Buddhist Dharma, and in karmic relationships. They cultivated the heart and strove to be compassionate.

Accomplished monk Xuanzang, with his compassionate heart for all, was determined to go to India to obtain some Buddhist scriptures. He spent 17 years making a long and arduous journey to India and back, and returned with 657 scriptures. Upon his return, he translated all of the scriptures into Chinese at Ci’en Temple in Chang’an.

Taizong greatly acclaimed the monk’s feat and gave him tremendous support. Moreover, Taizong personally wrote the foreword for Xuanzang’s collections. It began with an exposition on heaven and earth, yin and yang, transformation of the four seasons, the visible and the intangible, macroscopic and microscopic, then transitioned to the power of Buddhist teachings, and praised the incredible feat of seeking the Buddhist scriptures. The foreword is majestic in its momentum, yet elegant in its literary style.

Read more: Epoch Times – At the Apex of Chinese Culture.

More articles: The Tang Dynasty, a Prosperous Time for Ancient China

Tang Dynasty Poems: Visions of Paradise

24 March, 2010 at 09:49 | Posted in Chinese culture, Tang Dynasty | 6 Comments
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Endless Yearning (I)

I am endlessly yearning
To be in Changan,
Insects hum of autumn by the gold brim of the well
A thin frost glistens like little mirrors on my cold mat,
The high lantern flickers, and deeper grows my longing
I lift the shade and, with many a sigh, gaze upon the moon,
Single as a flower, centred from the clouds
Above, I see the blueness and deepness of the sky
Below, I see the greenness and the restlessness of water…
Heaven is high, Earth wide, bitter between them flies my sorrows
Can I dream through the gateway, over the mountain?
Endless longing
Breaks my heart.
–Li Bai

A Visit to Sky-Mother Mountain in a Dream

So, longing in my dreams for Wu and Yue
One night I flew over Mirror Lake under the moon,
The moon cast my shadow on the water
And travelled with me all the way to Shanxi,
The lodge of Lord Xie still remained
Where green waters swirled and the cry of apes was shrill,
Donning the shoes of Xie
I climbed the dark ladder of clouds,
Midway, I saw the sun rise from the sea
Heard the Cock of Heaven crow,
And my path twisted through a thousand crags
Enchanted by flowers I leaned against a rock
And suddenly all was dark,
Growls of bears and snarls of dragons echoed
Among the rocks and streams,
The deep forest appalled me, I shrank from the lowering cliffs,
Dark were the clouds, heavy with rain
Waters boiled into misty spray,
Lightening flashed, thunder roared
Peaks tottered, boulders crashed,
And the stone gate of a great cavern
Yawned open,
Below me, a bottomless void of blue
Sun and moon gleaming on terraces of silver and gold,
With rainbows for garments, and winds for horses
The lords of the clouds descended, a mighty host,
Phoenixes circled the chariots, tigers played zithers
As the immortals went by, rank upon rank.
–Li Bai

A Ballad of Heaven

The River of Heaven wheels round at night
Drifting the circling stars,
At Silver Bank, the floating clouds
Mimic the murmur of water.
By the Palace of Jade the cassia blossoms
Have not yet fallen,
Fairy maidens gather their fragrance
For their dangling girdle-sachets.

The Princess from Ch’in rolls up her blinds,
Dawn at the north casement.
In front of the window, a planted kola nut
Dwarfs the blue phoenix.
The King’s son plays his pipes
Long as goose quills,
Summoning dragons to plough the mist
And plant Jade Grass.

Sashes of pink as clouds at dawn
Skirts of lotus-root silk,
They walk on Blue Island, gathering
Fresh orchids in spring.

She points to Hsi Ho in the east
Deftly urging his steeds,
While land begins to rise from the sea
And stone hills wear away.
–Li He

On the Way Back to the Old Residence

Travelling to Heaven in dreams
There is another space and dimension in the kettle
Overlook the human Earth,
That is easily withered and rotten.
–Li Bai

Ling Xu Mountain

Leaving the human world
Going toward the path to Heaven;
Upon Consummation through cultivation,
Then follow the clouds to Heaven,
Caves hidden under pine trees,
Deep and unseen among the peach blossoms;
–Li Bai

It is evident in the Tang dynasty poetry that they believe to be a human being on Earth is not the sole purpose of life. Tang people understood that reaching the happiness of heaven through cultivation and Consummation is the goal to be achieved. This is the predominant message that Tang poems have passed down to us.


All paintings by Zhang Cuiying

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