The Meaning of the Mandate of Heaven

July 4, 2013

Due to the Mandate of Heaven, many of China’s people see rebellion as a birthright under the right circumstances. The Mandate of Heaven has been traced back to 1753 B.C. or earlier.

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With the Mandate of Heaven, the right to rule from divine legitimization to one based on ‘evenhanded’ rule was born. Whenever a dynasty fell, the reason offered by China’s wise men was the loss of the moral right to rule given by Heaven alone—on a good government, Heaven sends down all blessings; on the evildoer Heaven sends down all miseries.

However, humans in China were free to rule unjustly and could harm the people they ruled but their rule would come to a swift end as Heaven passed its mandate to another family or group. Heaven blessed the authority of a just ruler, but would be displeased with a despotic ruler and would withdraw its mandate. In addition, severe floods or famines might be considered evidence of divine repeal of the Mandate of Heaven.

The time an individual or family or a political group like the Communists rules China is based on a fair and just performance. As long as the ruling family or party rules fairly and justly, the majority will see no need for change.


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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China’s Holistic Historical Timeline

The two faces of Confucius – Part 4/5

December 23, 2011

When comparing the practice of Confucianism in China to Japan, a report by Wai-ming Ng at the Chinese University in Hong Kong says, “The relationship between loyalty and filial piety, two fundamental virtues in Confucianism, has been a subject of concern among Confucian scholars in East Asia for many centuries.

“Many modern Japanese scholars believe that the main difference between Japanese Confucianism and Chinese Confucianism rests with their preference between loyalty and filial piety, suggesting that Japanese Confucianism puts  loyalty [to the government] before filial piety, whereas Chinese Confucianism prefers filial piety [in the family] to loyalty [of the government].”

That difference may be explained by China’s concept of the Mandate of Heaven, which says that heaven would bless the authority of a just ruler, as defined by the Five Confucian Relationships, but would be displeased with a despotic ruler and would withdraw its mandate, leading to the overthrow of that ruler. The Chinese people, of course, would be heaven’s hammer, which does not sound very obedient.

However, in Japan, the Mandate of Heaven is not practiced the same as in China. While the Chinese may protest and rebel, the Japanese tend to shy away from this behavior.

In The Coming China, Joseph King Goodrich says, “Obedience in China is a word that connotates far more than it does in Japan. It means obedience to the emperor, to the parent, to the family and to the government, although the Japanese have the reputation of being singularly marked with this trait.”

Confucianism = ritual, etiquette and being kind to one another

In China, the difference lies in the mandate to rule, which means that leaders do not tax the people unjustly. They make sure people have sufficient food and live in an orderly and peaceful society.

Confucian political philosophy is also rooted in the belief that a ruler should learn self-discipline, should govern his subjects by his own example, and should treat them with love and concern.

By providing these things, Confucius believed leaders would earn the confidence, trust and obedience of the people. By not providing these things, China’s leaders would lose the trust and obedience of the people.

One element of Confucianism that runs strong throughout East Asia is that Confucianism regards government and education as inseparable. Without a good education, it is considered impossible to find leaders who possess the virtues to run a government.

Confucius asked, “What has one who is not able to govern himself, to do with governing others?”

Continued on December 18, 2011 in The two-faces of Confucius – Part 5 or return to Part 3


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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The “Mandate of Heaven’s” Gobal Revelation – Part 2/2

May 15, 2011

Global history shows that not all previous civilizations collapsed at the same time.

After the Western Roman Empire (500 AD) and the Han Dynasty (219 AD) were gone, the Byzantine Empire thrived in the Middle East for almost a thousand years (500 – 1453 AD), while the Tang Dynasty survived until 906 AD and the Yuan Dynasty (the Mongols) to 1368 AD to be replaced by the Ming then Qing Dynasties.

The British Empire survived until 1947 then vanished as an empire as the United States became a global super power after World War II.

However, many people are not aware of The Mandate of Heaven’s cycle, which leads to behavior that repeats the same mistakes that caused the fall of other civilizations.

American style democracy, capitalism, socialism, jet planes, the combustion engine, telephones, electricity, the Internet, and the iPad are not going to save civilization, as we know it today.

The reason for this is that human nature is what causes the downfall of civilizations.

History shows that during the good times at the height of a civilization such as Rome or the Han Dynasty, most people take the quality of life for granted as if it will never end.  Once that happens, the end begins.

The Mandate of Heaven explained on a global scale by Warren Edward Pollock

In the video, Warren Pollack explains how the Communist Party returned China to stability after chaos and anarchy swept China after the fall of the Qing Dynasty. If the Party continues to maintain domestic stability and keep people working, China may survive as the civilization it is becoming for a few centuries before the next collapse.

Since Mao died in 1976, the internal goal of the People’s Republic of China has been domestic stability. With domestic stability, we see China returning to that period in the dynastic cycle where harmony and prosperity rules leading to a period of stability.

To understand what happened in China, I suggest reading The Roots of Madness.

Edward Pollock says, “If China stood as the world’s top country, it would not act like the United States, which has been irresponsible, lazy and greedy and engaged in robbery and cheating. They (US)  have brought economic recession to the whole world.”

If we look to the dynastic cycle as a guide, it would seem that the United States has entered the cycle’s stage of decay moving toward a collapse.

However, with the weapons of mass destruction that America has in its arsenal (more than any other nation even the USSR), could the US, like a drowning man, pull the rest of global civilization down with it?

Return to The Mandate of Heaven’s Global Revelation – Part 1


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

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The Qing – China’s Last Dynasty – Part 2/3

December 12, 2010

This segment of the travelogue takes us to the Wong family compound in Lingshi county, Shanxi province. The Wong mansion offers another example of China’s ancient collective culture.

Twenty-seven generations of the Wong family lived in this mansion for 680 years.

To build the mansion and the wall that protects it took more than fifty years.

The narrator points out that the buildings and gardens are well arranged (according to feng shui) and adapted to the geographical conditions.

Three architectural complexes were part of the Wong family compound completed during the Qing Dynasty. This included the Red Gate Fort and an ancestral temple. The area covered 45,000 square meters (almost 54 thousand square yards).

Although the narrator in the video doesn’t mention this, for more than two millennia the Chinese raised their children to follow the Chinese ethical and moral system based on the family and Confucius’s Five Great Relationships.

1. between ruler and subject
2. father and son
3. husband and wife
4. elder and younger brother
5. friend and friend

Instead of being taught from a church pulpit, these values are part of child rearing.

Of the five relationships, in each pair, one role was superior and one inferior; one role led and the other followed. Yet each involved mutual obligations and responsibilities.

When most children married, the newlyweds lived with the groom’s family. Failure to properly fulfill one’s role according to this Chinese ethical and moral system could lead to the end of the relationship.

In fact, when the ruler didn’t fulfill his role, bloody rebellions often gave rise to new dynasties after a period of chaos and violence that in some cases lasted decades or centuries.

China’s history is also littered with failed rebellions often citing the Mandate of Heaven as the right to rebel and challenge the ruling dynasty.

During the Qing Dynasty, there were several failed rebellions. The bloodiest was the Taiping Rebellion, which lasted more than a decade with more than twenty million killed.

Continued in The Qing – China’s Last Dynasty – Part 3 or return to China’s Last Dynasty – Part 1


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of “The Concubine Saga”, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.

Enough, Already!

December 2, 2010

Christopher Bodeen of the Associated Press reported that a Chinese father was punished for food safety activism.

The AP wasn’t the only Western media to go ballistic with this story.

Amnesty International jumped in along with BBC News, Forbes, and CBS News among others. 

In the West, this type of story sells newspapers and boosts ratings for the five and ten o’clock news.

Be assured, this story will be “milked” for all it is worth.

The father of a three-year old child that was sickened by melamine-tainted milk, Zhao Lianhai, was convicted and sentenced Wednesday to 2 1/2 years in prison for inciting social disorder (in China), his lawyer said.

Bodeen’s lead in the AP piece was a masterpiece to appeal to Western anger. “A father who organized a support group for other parents whose children were sickened in one of China’s worst food safety scandals was convicted and sentenced…”

However, if you grew up in a Western culture and are capable of not seeing red, I suggest you read the rest of Bodeen’s piece before you start shouting. 

It also helps to understand how the Mandate of Heaven has affected Chinese civilization for more than two thousand years. Chinese history is filled with bloody rebellions and insurrections that were allowed to get out of hand.

In China, it is often better to make a mistake by throwing someone in jail than risking another Cultural Revolution or Taiping Rebellion where an estimated fifty million died.

What the government did sounds more like “Enough Already!”  The guy just wouldn’t get the hint and had to be hit upside the head.

After all, the event happened in 2008. Lianhai has had almost three years to protest before the government sent him to jail to shut him up.
In fact, there was a trial for the people behind the tainted milk and justice was served.
Three people got the death penalty.
The general manager and chair woman of Sanlu, the company at the heart of the scandal, was given a life sentence.

Dozens of officials, dairy executives and farmers were punished for allowing the contamination to take place.

When this type of tainted food scandal happens in the US, few go to prison and sometimes there is no justice even in court.

What China should do is free Linahai and send him and his family to the US where he can protest all he wants about tainted American food.

In fact, we need Linahai here.

Sarah Francis at says that each year in the U.S., more than 76 million people get sick and more than 5,000 die from food-borne diseases.

The problem is that there are so many people protesting in the US, few listen unless you belong to the Tea Party.


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.