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Ling (Chinese religion)

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Title: Ling (Chinese religion)  
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Subject: Chinese folk religion, Xian ling, Chinese creation myth, Bao ying, De teaching
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Ling (Chinese religion)

Ling (灵, Vietnamese: linh) is the notion of sacred in Chinese traditional religions.[1] It is the inchoate order of creation, that is the "medium" of the bivalency constituted by the opposite forces of the universe (yin and yang).[2] Therefore it is the state or power of gods and divine beings (shen);[3] their activity, actuality, is xian ling, literally "holy virtue, sacred efficacy, the sacred as manifest", or numen.

Ling is the mediating bivalency, the "medium", between yin and yang, that is "disorder" and "order", "activity" or "passivity", with yang usually preferred over yin.[4] More specifically, the ling power of an entity resides in mediation between the two levels of order and disorder, activity and passivity, which govern social transformation.[5] The mediating entity itself shifts of status and function between one level and another, and makes meaning in different contexts.[6]

This attribute is often associated with goddesses, animal motifs such as the snake—an amphibian animal—, the owl which takes night for day, the bat being half bird and half mammal, the rooster who crows at the crack between night and morning, but also rivers dividing landmasses, and other "liminal" entities.[7] There are yin gods and yang gods.[8] Ling is a "cultural logic of symbolic relations", that mediates polarity in a dialectic governing reproduction and change.[9]

Ling has also been described as the ability to set up spacial and temporal boundaries, represent and identify metaphors, setting apart and linking together differences.[10] The boundary is crossed by practices such as [14]

See also


  1. ^ Thien Do, 2003, p. 9
  2. ^ Thien Do, 2003, pp. 10-11
  3. ^ Thien Do, 2003, p. 9
  4. ^ Thien Do, 2003, pp. 10-11
  5. ^ Thien Do, 2003, p. 11
  6. ^ Thien Do, 2003, p. 11
  7. ^ Thien Do, 2003, p. 11
  8. ^ Thien Do, 2003, pp. 12-13
  9. ^ Thien Do, 2003, pp. 13
  10. ^ Thien Do, 2003, pp. 14
  11. ^ Thien Do, 2003, pp. 14
  12. ^ Thien Do, 2003, pp. 14
  13. ^ Thien Do, 2003, pp. 15
  14. ^ Thien Do, 2003, pp. 15


  • Thien Do. Vietnamese Supernaturalism: Views from the Southern Region. Series: Anthropology of Asia. Routledge, 2003. ISBN 0415307996
    • Note: in the economy of a discourse over Vietnamese religion, the author studies in deep certain concepts of Chinese religion at large.
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