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January 2, 184

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The Yellow Turban Rebellion was initiated by Daoist adepts who proposed an alternative world view to restructure society from the Yellow Heaven. The struggle was not against society per se as much as it was frustration at the loss of an “idealized, primitive agricultural community…or a nostalgia for a prefeudal or Neolithic communal society” -- abstain from food (especially the Five Grains)

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Girardot, N.J. 1983. Myth and Meaning in Early Taoism

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Supernatural MeatMyth
Religion
Grains

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While traditional Chinese mythology depicted cooking and agriculture as key elements of civilization, the Daoists created a “counter-narrative” to justify the idea of grain avoidance. (Campany,Robert Ford. Hong Ge. 2002. To live as long as heaven and earth: a translation and study of Ge Hong’s traditions of divine transcendents. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 16)

For example, the Confucianist Xunzi and Legalist Hanfeizi describe Suiren as cultural folk hero:

In the earliest times … the people lived on fruit, berries, mussels, and clams – things that sometimes became so rank and fetid that they hurt people’s stomachs, and many became sick. Then a sage appeared who created the boring of wood to produce fire so as to transform the rank and putrid foods. The people were so delighted by this that they made him ruler of the world and called him the Fire-Drill Man (Suiren 燧人). (Hanfeizi 49, tr. Campany 2005:15)


In contrast, the Zhuangzi “Mending Nature” chapter mentions Suiren first in a list of mythic sage-rulers – Fu Xi, Shennong, Yellow Emperor, Tang of Shang, and Yu the Great traditionally credited with advancing civilization – but depicts them as villains who began the destruction of the primal harmony of the Dao. Campany (2005:16) calls this “the decline of Power and the ever-farther departure from the natural Dao into systems of social constraint and what passes for culture.”

The ancients, in the midst of chaos, were tranquil together with the whole world. At that time, yin and yang were harmoniously still, ghosts and spirits caused no disturbances; the four seasons came in good time; the myriad things went unharmed; the host of living creatures escaped premature death. … This condition persisted until integrity deteriorated to the point that Torchman [Suiren] and Fuhsi arose to manage all under heaven, whereupon there was accord, but no longer unity. Integrity further declined until the Divine Farmer and the Yellow Emperor arose to manage all under heaven, whereupon there was repose, but no longer accord. Integrity declined still further until T’ang and Yu arose to manage all under heaven. They initiated the fashion of governing by transformation, whereby purity was diluted and simplicity dissipated. (tr. Mair 1994:149)


“Now, the people of mysterious antiquity, they reached old age because they remained in leisureand never ate any grains.” (From Most High Numinous Treasure)

The Yellow Turban Rebellion was initiated by Daoist adepts who proposed an alternative world view to restructure society from the Yellow Heaven. The struggle was not against society per se as much as it was frustration at the loss of an “idealized, primitive agricultural community…or a nostalgia for a prefeudal or Neolithic communal society” (Girardot, N.J. 1983. Myth and Meaning in Early Taoism. Berkeley: University of California Press.)


Yellow Turban Rebellion

“Retiring to a mountain, then as now, would require an inordinate amount of training, planning and discipline. Following Maslow, the aspirant’s first concern, especially in times of famine and strife, would be nourishment. This essentially puts the person back in the same situation as before the advent of agriculture. The Daoist masters in some sense decide that in the face of continually crumbling social orders, with intermittent prosperity, to have done with the charade and to face the situation on their own terms. To be able to minimize or abstain from food (especially the Five Grains) and to thrive by way of subtle arts would be tantamount to freedom from the feudal system.” (Dannaway, Frederick R. (2009)Yoked to Earth: A Treatise on Corpse-Demons and Bigu)


The Yellow Turban Rebellion, also translated as the Yellow Scarves Rebellion, was a peasant revolt in China against the Eastern Han dynasty. The uprising broke out in 184 AD during the reign of Emperor Ling. Although the main rebellion was suppressed by 185 AD, pockets of resistance continued and smaller rebellions emerged in later years. It took 21 years until the uprising was fully suppressed in 205 AD.[1] The rebellion, which got its name from the colour of the cloths that the rebels wore on their heads, marked an important point in the history of Taoism due to the rebels' association with secret Taoist societies.[4] The revolt was also used as the opening event in the 14th-century historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

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