Heaven in Chinese Religion/Philosophy

Confucius, Mencius and Xun-zi - at: http://www.san.beck.org/EC14-Confucian.html

By fifty he had a sense of mission in following the will of heaven;

While he was traveling through Song, HuanTui, the Song Minister of War, tried to have him assassinated, but Confucius said, "Heaven produced the virtue that is in me.

Confucius believed that his mission was to spread the culture that had been passed on to him by King Wen, and trusting that this was the will of heaven he did not even fear an assassin. He must have believed in prayer, because he said that whoever turns away from heaven has no one to pray to. He hoped that even if he was not recognized in the world, he would be known in heaven. When Confucius became ill, some of his students dressed up as retainers; but the master reprimanded them for this pretense, because he knew he could not deceive heaven.

The Analects concludes with the statement by Confucius that a gentleman must understand the will of heaven, the rules of propriety, and be able to understand words in order to understand people

King Xuan asked how to promote good relations with other states, and Mencius said that by submitting to a state smaller than his one delights in heaven and enjoys possession of the empire, and in submitting to a larger state one is in awe of heaven and enjoys the possession of one's own state.

Mencius was asked if it was all right to march on Yen, and he said yes, because the king had no right to give Yen to another; but he explained that he was not encouraging Qi to invade Yen, because only a heaven-appointed officer had the right to do so

Mencius advised Duke Wen of the small state of Teng to do good and hope that heaven will grant success.

For Mencius the sole concern of learning is to go after this strayed heart. People love all the parts of their person. However, the small person harms the more important in seeking what is less valuable, while the great person nurtures the parts of greater importance. The heart can think and tell the difference. This is what heaven has given humans.

Mencius believed that those who understand their own nature will know heaven; by retaining the heart and nurturing their nature they serve heaven.

Xun-zi contrasted the gentleman and the petty person. When the gentleman is courageous, he reveres heaven and follows its way.

Perhaps influenced by the mysticism of Lao-zi, Xun-zi saw the work of heaven as bringing to completion without acting and obtaining without seeking. When the work of heaven is established, then the human form is whole and one's spirit is born, resulting in the emotions of love and hate, delight and anger, sorrow and joy. The heart dwells in the center and governs the five senses. The wise cherish heavenly nourishment, obey heavenly dictates, nourish heavenly emotions, understanding what is to be done and what is not to be done. The gentleman does not stop acting because the petty carp and clamor any more than heaven suspends winter because people dislike cold. The gentleman focuses on what is in his power, living in the present and
remembering the past, refined in purpose, rich in virtuous action, and clear in understanding. The petty put aside their own power and long for heaven's power. Xun-zi was skeptical of heavenly portents, fearing rather human portents such as poor plowing, bad weeding, and evil government. To set aside human concerns and long for what belongs to heaven is to mistake the nature of all things. Xun-zi considered ceremonies as markers of the way to guide the people.

The six parts of the Zhou Li describe what came to be the six departments of Chinese government for the next two thousand years. The Institute of Heaven is the Prime Ministry that supervises all governmental activities and controls and appoints all the officials.

"The Center of Harmony" (Zhong-Yong), which is influenced by mystical Daoism, begins by defining human nature as what is given by heaven which when followed is called the way. When the center and harmony are
fully realized, order and happiness abound in heaven and earth, and everything flourishes

The way is cultivated by human goodness, and its greatest expression is in loving relations. Justice is the principle of setting things right, and its greatest expression is honoring the worthy. These two give rise to the rules of propriety. To cultivate their personal lives rulers must serve their parents and know people, and then they will know heaven.

Understanding what is good leads to sincerity, which is the way of heaven. Thinking how to be sincere is the human way and is choosing the good and holding to it. Sincerity may be studied extensively by inquiring into it accurately, thinking it over carefully, discerning it clearly, and practicing it thoroughly. Do not give up even if it takes a thousand efforts. Enlightenment results from sincerity. Those who are absolutely sincere develop fully their own nature, the nature of others and things, and by forming a trinity with heaven and earth are able to assist in the transforming and nourishing process.

His own book, Luxuriant Gems of the Spring and Autumn Annals, integrates the currently popular yin-yang cosmology with Confucian philosophy. Dong Zhong-shu treated the universe as an organic whole
in which heaven, earth, and humans all influence each other.He would subject the people to the ruler and the ruler to heaven. Dong Zhong-shu believed that heaven's will could be discerned by correlating catastrophes and anomalies with warnings in one's heart. This philosophy led to a more superstitious attitude toward such things as eclipses and weather patterns.

Taoism from http://www.askasia.org/frclasrm/readings/r000005.htm

Humans model themselves on earth,
Earth on heaven,
Heaven on the Way,
And the way on that which is naturally so.
-- Laozi (Lao Tzu)

Some Taoists believed that spirits pervaded nature (both the natural world and the internal world within the human body).  Theologically, these myriad spirits were simply many manifestations of the one Dao, which could not be represented as an image or a particular thing. As the Taoist pantheon developed, it came to mirror the imperial bureaucracy in heaven and hell.  The head of the heavenly bureaucracy was the jade Emperor, who governed spirits assigned to oversee the workings of the natural world and the administration of moral justice. The gods in heaven acted like and were treated like the officials in the world of men; worshipping the gods was a kind of rehearsal of attitudes toward secular authorities. On the other hand, the demons and ghosts of hell acted like and were treated like the bullies, outlaws, and threatening strangers in the real world; they were bribed by the people and were ritually arrested by the martial forces of the spirit officials.5 The common people, who after all had little influence with their earthly rulers, sought by worshipping spirits to keep troubles at bay and ensure the blessings of health, wealth, and longevity.

Taoism was also an important motif in fiction, theater, and folk tales. Local eccentrics who did not care for wealth and position were often seen as "Taoist" because they spurned Confucian values and rewards. In fiction Taoists were often eccentrics; they also had magical or prophetic powers, which symbolized their spiritual attainment. They healed, restored youth and vitality, predicted the future, or read men's souls. They were also depicted as the stewards of a system of moral retribution; the Taoist gods in heaven and hell exacted strict punishments for wrongdoing, and would let no sinner off the hook.