Mysticism and kingship in China: the heart of Chinese wisdom
In this book, Julia Ching offers a survey of over 4,000 years of Chinese civilization through an examination of the relationship between kingship and mysticism. She investigates the sage-king myth and ideal, arguing that institutions of kingship were bound up with cultivation of trance states and communication with spirits. Over time, the sage-king myth became a model for the actual ruler. As a paradigm, it was also appropriated by private individuals who strove for wisdom without becoming kings. As the Confucian tradition interacted with the Taoist and the Buddhist, the religious character of spiritual and mystical cultivation became more pronounced. But the sage-king idea continued, promoting expectations of benevolent despotism rather than democratization in Chinese civilization.
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