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Acts Upon a Stage (Part 5 of 5)
A Look at Chinese Divine Culture through the History of Chang'an City
Li Xin, PureInsight Net

The Great Buddha Statue in Longmen Grotto. Taken by Xin Li (2002).

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Acts Upon a Stage (Part 4)
Acts Upon a Stage (Part 3)
The Last Act: Ruination of Chang'an City

After the diadem returned tothe Li Family, Emperor Li Longji, who was the grandson of Wu Zetian, created another age of wonder on the foundation created by Li Shimin and Wu Zetian.

He reduced palace expenditures and appointed able and virtuous ministers. China became very rich and the population of the Tang Empire increased to 48.91 million. This is the peak and golden era in the Tang Dynasty.

However, according to the theory in Book of Changes, if something is too puissant, it will decline. That is one of the reason why Confucius taught people to keep their hearts in the middle of the road.

Li Longji became proud of his achievements. During his dotage, attracted by her beauty, he married his daughter-in-law, Yang Yuhuan2, and ignored governmental affairs.

As a result, the An Shi Rebellion occurred and continued for 8 years. Chang'an City was badly mangled and could not be rehabilitated because other rebellions had happened in border areas and the materials could not be transported to Chang'an.

The drama in Chang'an City was ended. Even the stage was dismantled, not by other people, but by themselves.

In AD 904, the Tang Empire had to abandon Chang'an City and moved to a new capital city east of Chang'an. The governments attempted to use the material of Chang'an to build the eastern capital, Luoyang. Many buildings in Chang'an were dismantled and the wooden material was cast into the river. However, instead of floating to Luoyang, the majority of the wood got lost in the river. A grand city, which was built dramatically, dramatically disappeared, not only the form of city, the architectures, but even the material as well.

The Moral Behind the Scenes

In the contemporary era, people discuss sustainable development a lot. The interdisciplinary studies and innovation in technology provide people more spaces and more methods to achieve the goal. Nonetheless, many civilizations were ruined not due to lack of technology, but due to the ruin of human beings' morality. Chinese architecture is a beautiful manifestation of Chinese culture throughout the ages and a living historical textbook for thousands of years of descendants to learn from. The ancient Chinese believed that human beings should esteem heaven and earth, cherish nature and other creatures, and respect each other. Indeed, overlooking the entire Chinese history, the rise and fall of dynasties is related to human being's moral values. Those who are able to assimilate to the universal characteristics prosper, while those who go against it decline. In many great myth and legends, one can learn a great deal from their essential core meaning and, as the ancient Chinese saying goes, "although the earth is so spacious, only persons with great virtue live there forever."

1 The Yellow Emperor lived 5,000 years ago and is recognized as the symbolic ancestor of all Chinese people

2 One of the four great Beauties in Chinese history

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