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Moral Innovators perspectives on China

In April 2011, at the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, Israel (just south of Tel Aviv), a team looked at a one million year old sediment from Stratum 10, Excavation 1, Wonderwerk Cave, South Africa.  When they found ashes, they believed they found the first evidence of controlled use of fire by hominids, claiming that the finding was older than the first controlled use of fire in an open-air site around 800,000 years ago, and much older than the first controlled use of fire inside caves 400,000 years ago.  This was published in the Proceedings in the National Academy of Sciences in April 2012, and reached other publications like Nature, The Atlantic, and ABC News.

In 1960-61, or 50 years before the examination of the South African sediments, a team of Chinese excavated a 1.8 million year old Xihouducun (西侯度村) cave site in Shanxi Province, China.  They not only found fossils and bones, there was evidence that food was cooked in both open-air and in caves.  This was published in the November, 1998  issue of Acta Anthropologica Sinica (人类学学报). 

This illustrates lack of knowledge, as the South African archaeologists took action based on their beliefs.  Moral Innovators seek knowledge, which requires the confirmation of beliefs.  Without the proper knowledge, it is difficult for Moral Innovators to do the right things and make the world a better place.

China is our only continuous civilization that survived among the four ancient civilizations.  Except for a brief period of time 750 years ago (during the Yuan Dynasty) when revenge drove Chinese Mongolians to capture Aleppo and Damascus, China has not ever exhibited global ambitions.  This is illustrated when the Chinese Mongolians left a trail of marriages including an offspring who is the mother of the founder of India’s Moghul Empire Babur in the 16th century.  Even with the bigger and more impressive armada 100 years before Columbus sailed to the Caribbean, the Chinese elected to destroy her own armada before 1492.

Until the world industrialized 200 years ago, Chinese were successful exporters with superior products and frugal importers (e.g. the Silk Road).  Exploitation within China such as over-taxation and corruption led to revolutions and uprisings for the next dynasty and government.  The brutal Qin Dynasty united China 2,200 years ago and lasted only 15 years.  Most of the subsequent dynasties started with the support of the people until another cycle of over-taxation and corruption led to more revolutions and uprisings.  Moral standards introduced by many different schools of thought were consolidated into modified Confucian thought, with pockets of Taoism and moral standards from various religions like Buddhism.  Government supported monopolies (or today’s State Owned Enterprises) have existed for at least 2,000 years, and the present legal system has been in place also for 2,000 years.  There have been many overlapping laws which obfuscated jurisdictional authorities and gave civil servants the flexibility to choose the applicable law.  This facilitated corruption and bribery at all levels of government.

During the industrialization, Christians led by British East India Company (with monopoly power authorized by the British government) forced the import of opium into China against Chinese laws.  Even though overlapping Chinese laws often confused the jurisdictional authorities, it should be very clear that our moral obligations could never endorse the forced selling of opium in China against Chinese laws.  The forced selling of opium in China clearly violates the universal Golden Rule:  Do unto others what you want others to do unto you.  To illustrate:  We currently have laws against illicit drugs.  Would the US government want the forced selling of cocaine into the USA?  200 years ago, different Christian nations Germany, Russia, USA, France, Canada, Italy joined Britain and recruited the rogue nation of Japan to jointly pillage China.  Besides the countless unrecorded atrocities, there were at least eight unfair treaties that forced China to pay over 70,000 tons of silver as well as giving up land or privileges to foreign governments (these treaties ended in 1949).  The land and privileges given up by China includes giving the Christians exclusive rights to buy land and freedom to spread Christianity in China (this was in the Nanjing Treaty which ended the First Opium War and was translated by the son of the first USA Protestant Missionary Robert Morrison).  Japan colonized Taiwan for 50 years until 1945 (the end of World War II) in another treaty.  Issues still outstanding today include Japan’s unilateral decision to annex Ryukyu Islands as Okinawa (then leased the land to USA as a military base).  With the backing of the USA, Japan is adamant on holding onto China’s Diaoyu Islands by calling them Senkaku Islands.  These are examples of USA and Japan seemingly taking action on their beliefs without understanding the truths, leading to conflicts that can easily escalate.  Moral Innovators would assemble truths and facts to confirm the beliefs, so decisions can be made based on knowledge, not based on faith or beliefs.

Since 1978, China sacrificed the environment and offered low cost labor to earn US$4 trillion foreign currency reserves, again demonstrating the combination of profitable exports and frugal imports.  No one should impose policies upon China against Chinese laws.  Moral Innovators hope that China will be a full participant in this globalized world to increase knowledge, so we can do the right things together and make our world a better place.

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How Buddhism fits in the Moral Innovator picture

Buddhism exists in both India and China, even though Buddha himself was born in what is now Nepal.  It is basically a combination of linguistics, psychology, and philosophy.  There is no “God” per se but there are super beings (or some believe the equivalent of angels), and not a single holy script…  The focus is to live a moral life, so the focus is on the “moral” element of the Moral Innovator balance.  The problem is the lack of “innovations” creates an imbalance that is difficult to sustain.

The following is the background and history of Buddhism passing through China and onto Japan:


Buddhism developed from the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, son of King Suddhodana and Queen Maha Maya (Shakya Clan) who was born 2,500 years ago in (what is now) Nepal.  “Siddhartha” means “he who achieves his aim.”  At first living a life of luxury in three palaces, he had an arranged marriage at 16, bore a son Rahula 13 years later, but left to become a beggar – eventually reaching enlightenment (self- actualization) when he was 35.  He preached that the state of supreme liberation is Nirvana, and focused on the “Four Noble Truths” to remove human suffering. He himself possessed “Ten Characteristics.”  He lived an ascetic life for the next 45 years until his death. 

In terms of writings in China:

Between 265-618ce China was in turmoil and Buddhism penetrated China with the following well known events: Monk Fu Tu Cheng (佛图澄) (232-348ce) established 893 temples, Monk An Dao (道安) (312-385ce)  translated the meaning of Buddhism into books (综理众经目录), Monk Hui Yuan (慧远) (334-416ce) introduced paradise (极乐世界), before Indian Monk Jiu Mo Luo Shen (鳩摩罗什) (343-413ce) preached Buddhism in China between 403-413ce, and Indian Monk Pu Ti Da Mo (菩提达摩) (?-536ce) preached the “quiet self-reflection” (静虑) branch of Buddhism (禪宗).  Around the year 530ce, Buddhism was systemized into a compendium of ten categories.  These were documented in the book “Gao Seng Chuan (高僧传)” by 259ce and “High Monks (高僧)” led by Hui Jiao (慧皎)(497-554ce).

A 5th century book by Bing Song (宋炳) entitled “Treatise on Buddhism (明佛论)” has three quotations from Confucius that make this clear:

 – How can one know the afterlife if the living is not understood? (未知生,安知死?)

 – How can we know events in the afterlife when we have unknown events for the living? (未知事人, 焉知事鬼?)

 – There is no connection between our personality and the heaven. (性与天道,不可得闻)


Buddhism was exported to Japan when Jian Zhen (鉴真)(687-763ce) visited Japan six times to preach Buddhism beginning in 742ce.

In the year 845ce, Tang Dynasty Emperor Wuzong decided that foreign religions were harmful to Chinese society, Buddhism was persecuted along with Zoroastrianism, Nestorian Christianity, Manichaeism, etc…