Names tell a tale, they say. Of the many names for China over the centuries, one stands out for all that it promises to tell: “Shenzhou” – “The Divine Land.”
Stretching across the canvas of Chinese history is a profound inclination, apparent in fields as diverse as urban planning and internal medicine, towards a world beyond, to a greater higher presence.
The very earliest works of Chinese art, drawn with remarkble care, depict godly figures and acts of veneration. In the earliest dynastic times, rulers considered heaven’s will fundamental to the well-being and integrity of the state.
The earliest extant Chinese writing, carved into tortoise shells, was solely devoted to discerning the will of a greater spiritual power. Entire cities were laid out so as to align with a higher, invisible order.
Chinese fiction and the novel, meanwhile, were born of Buddhist moral tales. Chinese metallurgy was interfused with, and often driven by, Daoist visions of alchemically transmuting the body into divine substance.
In almost every facet of China’s traditional culture can be found a wish to align human activity and thought with that of a greater spiritual presence or order, called variously “Dao” (the way), “Fa” (the law), “Tian” (heaven), “Shen” (god), or “Li” (principle).
This applied to carpentry and architecture, the martial arts, poetry and painting, astronomy, acupuncture, the festival calendar, and even military strategy, to name a few.
Hardly any aspect of China’s classical culture can be understood absent this. For this is the cultural legacy of “Shenzhou” – China – “The Divine Land.”
( From: NTDTV website, The Divine Land )
– The Mystery of Chinese Culture & Art