Competition vs Harmony

October 3, 2018

China is a collective culture vs. Europe and North America with cultures based on individualism, and understanding Confucianism helps explain how China’s collective culture works.

Religion

China has never been dominated by one religion like Christianity dominates Europe and all of the Americas or Islam dominates the Middle East and most of North Africa.

Philosophy

In China, Confucianism developed during the Spring and Autumn period from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius (551–479 BCE). His philosophy concerns the fields of ethics and politics, emphasizing personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice, traditionalism, and sincerity. Over time, Confucianism replaced Chinese Legalism.

Chinese Buddhism entered China from India during the Late Han Dynasties. By the time of the Tang dynasty five-hundred years after Buddhism’s arrival into China, it had transformed into a thoroughly Chinese religious philosophy dominated by the school of Zen Buddhism. Neo-Confucianism became highly popular during the Song dynasty and Ming Dynasty due in large part to the eventual combination of Confucian and Zen Philosophy.

In Europe and the Americas, there is Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Rene Descartes, John Lock, et al.  In the West, instead of one major philosopher, there are many. Western Philosophy refers to philosophical thinking beginning with Ancient Greece and Rome, extending through central and Western Europe and, since Columbus, the Americas.

The Basics of Philosophy says, “Very broadly speaking, according to some commentators, Western society strives to find and prove ‘the truth’, while Eastern society accepts the truth as given and is more interested in finding the balance.”

Westerners put more emphasis on individual rights while Easterners focus on social responsibility.

Individualism vs. Collectivism

China is a collective culture vs the west that is based on individualism, and this difference might explain why China was the wealthiest, most technologically advanced civilization on the planet for about 1,500 years up until the 16th century.

Objectivism 101 explains, “Collectivism … sees the group as the important element, and individuals are just members of the group. The group has its own values somehow different from those of the individual members. The group thinks its own thoughts. Instead of judging the group as a bunch of individuals interacting, it judges the group as a whole, and views the individuals as just members of the group.”

In individualism each individual is acting on his or her own, making their own choices and are not guided by the collective, and to the extent they interact with the rest of the group, it’s as individuals.

Collectivism views the group as the primary entity and most if not all individuals are expected to conform. Harmony is considered the foundation of a collective culture while divisiveness is the foundation of individuality.

But first, China Mike says, “To understand the Chinese mind, you need to start with Confucius (552-479BC). Arguably the most influential person in Chinese history, Confucius and his teachings continue to exert a deep influence on society even in modern China today. … Confucianism is a complex system of social and political ethics based on filial piety, kinship, loyalty and righteousness. His teachings cover a wide range—from how a ‘true gentleman’ should behave in his daily life (down to how he eats with proper decorum) to how a ruler should govern (with a benevolent concern for the well-being of his subjects).”

Note: When I started iLookChina in January 2010, I set a goal to write and publish three blog posts a day until I reached 1,000 posts, and then I slowed down. More than seven years later, iLookChina has now published 2,355 posts with more than one-million words. That’s why I have decided to slow down some more. Starting today, I will be posting once a week on Wednesdays. To the more than twenty-thousand amazing people that follow iLookChina, thank you.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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China’s long History with Tibet

July 10, 2018

On October 7, 1950, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) invaded Tibet. The PLA quickly surrounded the outnumbered Tibetan forces, and on October 19, the five thousand Tibetan troops surrendered.

When you hear about China and Tibet, what are your first thoughts? I suspect most people in the United States and Europe only know about China’s alleged ‘brutal’ conquest of Tibet and think Tibetans lost their freedom. If that’s what they have been programed to think, they are wrong. If they think Tibet was never part of China before October 19, 1950, they are also wrong.

The October 1912 issue of National Geographic Magazine describes how the Imperial government in Beijing managed a difficult Tibet, and letters Sir Robert Hart wrote in the 19th century also mention Tibet as part of China.

China considered Tibet a vassal state or a tributary of the empire.  In fact, starting in the 13th century, Yuan, Ming, and Qing Dynasty troops occupied Lhasa. There was a political governor and the Dali Lama, the religious leader of Tibet. Both were selected for their positions by the Emperor of China. When a Dali Lama died, the list of replacements was sent to the Emperor in Beijing and he selected the new Dali Lama.

In 1890, a Convention between Great Britain and China was signed that offers more evidence that China’s emperor considered Tibet part of his realm and Great Britain agreed. Tibet is mentioned twenty-nine times in that treaty.

Tibet has never had a Democracy and will probably never have one. The following quotes show you what Tibet was like before 1950.


One error mentioned in this video is that “many” Tibetans live outside of Tibet. Only 1-percent of Tibetans live outside of Tibet and they represent the landowners and ruling class that fled when China returned to Tibet in 1950.

The October 1912 National Geographic Magazine, page 979, reported, “Lamaism is the state religion of Tibet and its power in the Hermit Country is tremendous. Religion dominated every phase of life. … For instance, in a family of four sons, at least two, generally three, of them must be Lamas. Property and family prestige also naturally go with the Lamas to the monastery in which they are inmates.

“Keeping the common people or laymen, in ignorance is another means of maintaining the power of the Lamas. Nearly all of the laymen (serfs) are illiterate. Lamas are the only people who are taught to read and write.”

Under theocratic Lamaism, there was no freedom of religion, no freedom of speech, and there were no elections.

It is a historical fact that a Tang Dynasty Emperor married his favorite daughter to Tibet’s king as a way to stop Tibetans from raiding into China, something that Tibetans had done for centuries. Tibetans were not always Buddhists. Buddhism was introduced to Tibet by a conquering Mongol king around the time of Kublai Khan’s Yuan Dynasty.

Then a reluctant Tibet was ruled over by the Yuan (Mongol), Ming (Han) and Qing (Manchu) Dynasties from 1277 to 1913, when Great Britain convinced Tibet to break from China at the same time the Qing Dynasty was collapsing.

Between 1913 and 1950, Tibet was ruled by a Dalai Lama and was an autocratic theocracy, not a democracy or a constitutional republic like the United States. In case you don’t know it, a theocracy is a system of government in which priests rule in the name of God or a god. In Tibet’s case, his holiness the Dalai Lama is considered a living “God-King”, and he isn’t a Christian, a Jew, or a Muslim.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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The Power of One Man’s Dedication

March 20, 2018

In the seventh century, early in the Tang Dynasty, Hsuan-tsang (Xuangzang) entered a Buddhist monastery when he was thirteen. Later, he moved around China studying under different masters.

Finally, he went to India to study Buddhism at its source with Sanskrit masters where he  spent over ten years, wrote a famous book about his journey, and returned to China with over six hundred original manuscripts.


The first 2:3 minutes summarizes his life, and when he died, it was reported that his funeral was attended by one million people.

Hsuan-tsang spent the rest of his life with a group of translators rendering seventy five of the most important works into Chinese. All of this work was sponsored by the Emperor of the newly established Tang Dynasty (618 – 906 AD).

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

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Dunhuang’s Silk Road Oasis

March 14, 2018

The June 2010 issue of National Geographic had a piece about the history of the Mogao caves near Dunhuang, a Silk Road oasis in northwestern China.

The Buddhist art found in almost 800 hand carved caves are considered among the world’s finest. There is nearly a half-million square feet of wall space decorated with these murals and more than 2,000 sculptures.

Between the fourth and 14th centuries AD over a thousand years of history was documented on scrolls, sculptures, and wall paintings revealing a multicultural world more vibrant than anyone imagined.

And contrary to popular belief and the Dalai Lama’s soft-spoken words of peace, Buddhism, like all large religious movements, has had a bloody and violent history. Some of the cave art at Dunhuang depicts the dark side of Buddhism.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

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What would life be like today without paper?

March 6, 2018

Imagine the rise of civilization to today’s level of technology without paper and the books that came with paper and the printing press.

Would men have walked on the moon? Without paper, what would we use to clean up after defecation – I’m talking about toilet paper?

Papermaking is one of the four significant inventions from ancient China.

Almost 2,000 years ago, the discovery of paper was made in China. In 105 AD, Cai Lon submitted his discovery to the Han emperor. His method of paper making soon spread to the rest of China, and the emperor rewarded Cai Lon by making him a member of the nobility.

The basic principles of papermaking invented by Cai Lon are still in use today. To make paper was a six-step process, and properly manufactured paper lasts for centuries.

In fact, Buddhism arrived in China about the time of the invention of paper and this helped spread Buddhist ideas, which contributed to the spread of that philosophy/religion.

For a long time, the Chinese closely guarded the secret of paper making, but by the 15th century, the paper making process finally reached Europe. It only took about fourteen-hundred years.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

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Seven Amazing Places to Visit in China: 5 of 5

March 3, 2018

To protect the Shibaozhai temple (#6), the Chinese government had a six-hundred-foot high, thirty-three-foot thick dike built to protect it. Many river cruise boats dock at Shibaozhai for a few hours to allow passengers to tour the pavilion and temple.

Forbidden City, Beijing

The Forbidden City is the largest, ancient palace in the world and is one of the most visited tourist sites on the planet. This palace covers more than 7 million square feet in central Beijing next to Tiananmen Square. That is the size of eighty football fields and the palace is surrounded by a moat.

In the early fourteen hundreds, the emperor moved the capital of China to Beijing to establish better control over the country. It took a million laborers and artists fourteen years to build. The Forbidden City has 9,999 rooms—as close as a man can get to the palace of the gods, which is supposed to have ten-thousand rooms.

Before the Forbidden City became a tourist attraction, the penalty for sneaking inside was death usually by being beheaded. Once the empresses and concubines of the emperor moved into the Forbidden City, none were allowed to leave. Twenty-four emperors ruled China from inside the walls of this palace.

Return to Part 4 or start with Part 1

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

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Seven Amazing Places to Visit in China: 4 of 5

March 2, 2018

Mount Wudang is home to eight palaces, seventy-two temples in caves, thirty-nine bridges, thirty-six nunneries, twelve pavilions, and two temples.

During the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1643 AD), Mt. Wudang was known as a grand spectacle of all ages and is one of the best examples of ancient-religious architecture anywhere.

The Golden Hall, a temple built on Mt. Wudang in the 15th century is the largest copper building in China. The ninety-ton structure was plated in Gold in Beijing before being moved to the mountain.

Shibaozhai (Precious Stone Fortress)

Near the banks of China’s Yangtze River, a twelve story, five-hundred year-old Buddhist temple made of wood clings to a cliff without the support of a single nail. Before the temple was built, devout Buddhists climbed the cliff risking their lives to worship the Buddhist statutes on the mountain.  The temple was built to resist high winds and remedy this problem.

To protect and save the temple against rising water due to construction of China’s Three Gorges Dam, the Chinese government had a radical and ambitious solution.

Continued with Part 5 on March 3, 2018, or return to Part 3

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

Where to Buy

Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

About iLook China