Sunday, February 1, 2009

Human Day

You probably don’t know it but today is Renri, Human Day, the 7th day of Zhengyue when, according to traditional Chinese belief, the goddess Nuwa created humanity. She had spent the previous six days creating all the various domestic animals. Nuwa started by making each human individually out of yellow clay but to speed up the process eventually dipped a rope in the wet clay and flicked it, each drop becoming a human. It’s a pity this creation myth is not as well-known in the West as the old Hebrew one. Its no more true or false, but it is free from the frightful story of the Fall and all the nastiness that follows from it - Original Sin, Cain killing Able because God didn’t like his whole-grain offering, God regretting having created humanity and drowning everyone except Noah and his family, etc. Liberal theologians wrack their brains and strain their imaginations trying to see positive symbolism in all this. Why not just dump the whole thing and 'do' theology with the Chinese myth. Goodness! Its got everything you could want. The Creator is female (come on you feminist theologians, you should rejoice in this), she is half human half snake (Wow! That’s pregnant with meaning) she lovingly makes the first few hundred humans individually and then mass produces the rest (right now I can't think of what meaning could be teased out of this, but if they can take the biblical phrase 'and it was good' and construct a whole theology of Christian environmentalism, they should be able to do something with this), everyone is made out of yellow clay (yellow is an auspicious color for Chinese) and there's no Fall, no being expelled from Paradise, no being ashamed of your genitals, no woman giving birth in pain as a punishment for eating the apple, etc. I vote that we teach intelligent design in schools - this version of intelligent design. Have a happy Human Day.


Liew Shi Xiong said...

cool! haha

Unknown said...

My favorite human creation story, a version I found on the net :

Some versions of the myth credit him with creating man. This story reinforces Prometheus as a symbol for the supreme artist, suffering for his creation.

One of the gifts he gives man is blind hope, so that they would continue to fight on no matter what. Prometheus tells the Chorus that he stopped man from foreseeing doom, as he does, by giving them a great gift:

PROMETHEUS: Yes, I stopped mortals from foreseeing doom.

CHORUS: What cure did you discover for that sickness?

PROMETHEUS: I sowed in them blind hopes. (ll. 249-51)

Prometheus' gift to man throws his own plight into sharp relief. To save man from extinction, it was necessary for man to be spared the power of foresight that Prometheus himself possesses. Blind hope, in the face of fate, is the answer.


Ser Ming said...


What you've quoted sound both interesting and pessimistic at the same time.

Soe am i said...

yamizi, probably because the greek so loved tragedies.

Justin Choo said...

First it was the perfection of creation, when the yelow clay was perfectly baked and out came the perfect Chinese, perfect shade, perfect proportions.

Then the creator became tired and left the oven unattended and the result was overbaked product.

By then, she was too impatient wanting to mass produce and the baking time was shortened; the product?? Bhante, take a look at yourself!!!


Unknown said...


What I like about that story is that the Ancient Greek that wrote it knows about the 1st Noble Truth. The also see how, as humans, we hunger for Samsara in spite of knowing it:

"Now this, monks, is the Noble Truth of dukkha: Birth is dukkha, aging is dukkha, death is dukkha; sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, & despair are dukkha; association with the unbeloved is dukkha; separation from the loved is dukkha; not getting what is wanted is dukkha. In short, the five clinging-aggregates are dukkha."

— SN 56.11