Mo Tzu

(Mo Tzu, Photo: (Public domain) via http://history.cultural-china.com)

The ancient Chinese philosopher and theologian, Mo Tzu, lived in the 5th century BCE, after the death of Confucius and before the birth of Mencius. No one knows exactly where he was born, but some sources suggest he may have been a native of the ancient states of Sung or Lu. Nevertheless, he left his homeland and became a wanderer, traveling the many kingdoms of China to spread his ideas about life and spirituality.

Mo Tzu was the anomaly of ancient China in his view of Heaven. Mo Tzu wrote a theology for a deity that rewarded and punished humankind while the Confucians, Daoists and Legalists held views that Heaven operated unconsciously and could not be understood.

Mo Tzu was clear in his writing that Heaven was active. Mo Tzu’s Heaven held a vision for the world and operated by rewarding those who enacted his vision and punishing those who opposed it. The will of Heaven, according to Mo Tzu, is for mankind to have universal love. Furthermore, Mo Tzu wrote that there is no way to fool Heaven. Reward only comes from fulfilling Heaven’s command and there is no escape from Heaven’s punishment. Despite Heaven’s ever-watching eye, Mo Tzu told his followers not to fear Heaven’s wrath, for Heaven’s will was simple to follow; all they had to do was choose to love and refuse to hate.

Mo Tzu also wrote in detail of ghosts and spirits. He justified his interest in spirits by using descriptions made by Sage Kings about the topics of heaven and ghosts. Mo Tzu even categorized and labeled different types of ghosts and spirits.

The teachings of Mo Tzu also gave advise for daily living. His philosophy was that of frugality and devoid of distraction. Even though Mo Tzu believed in an active heaven and a detailed array of ghosts, he did not believe in extravagant funerals, for they were expensive and a simple funeral was just as efficient. He had a similar outlook on music; he saw music as an unnecessary distraction. Mo Tzu’s ideal life was strictly straight to the point.

Government, too, was a topic Mo Tzu avidly wrote about. He argued that leaders must employ the people most able to complete the jobs at hand. His philosophy for government, in accordance with his call for everyone to love one another, constantly condemned warfare, especially offensive campaigns and invasions.

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