By Patricia Buckley Ebrey, Peter N. Gregory
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Extra info for Religion and Society in T'ang and Sung China
Our larger goal was to work toward a more holistic and integrated understanding of Chinese culture. Diversity and variation we knew existed, but we wanted to learn more about how diverse ideas and practices coexisted and worked together to create, maintain, and reproduce the larger whole. Participants were asked to look especially for evidence of interconnections: links between social and religious changes, between political or economic developments and religious ideas or practices, between folk religion and institutional religion, between Confucian philosophy and changes in the social and religious landscape, between the ways religious and secular groups were organized.
Consequently, history could be read as a mirror of heaven's will. The emperor mediated between heaven and the realm of human beings, and his virtue ensured the proper harmony of the two sides. " Although the mandate of heaven is usually identified with Confucianism, Anna Seidel has shown that Taoism developed by appropriating the symbolism and meaning of the various portents and regalia that had became associated with the bestowal of the mandate in the Han. 22 Taoist ordination rites, for example, were referred to using terms that signified the bestowal of the mandate.
Judith Berling shows us the more romantic side of Taoist ritual experts. She examines the career of Pai Yü-ch'an, an expert in Thunder Rites, who was also a poet, the author of works on physiological alchemy, and the chronicler of a major cult. Pai Yü-ch'an interacted with secular men of letters, who saw him as an iconoclastic free spirit. Much of his contact with lay believers and mildly curious Confucian scholars took place at sacred places, especially the mountain temples that dotted the Chinese landscape and provided sites for the visits of pilgrims and tourists alike.