Taoism – Part 2/3

March 28, 2012

What I think of when I think of Taoism is this story from the Taoist tradition, an Eastern philosophy whose main image or metaphor is that of water that meets a rock in the river, and simply flows around it. Taoism suggests that a major source of our suffering is that we resist and try to control the natural movements of the world around us. The Tao literally means “The Way,” and it reminds us that the world is bigger than us, and we’ll enjoy it better if we humble ourselves to the natural flow of things.

You know: Go with the flow.

The video’s narrator, Jean Delumeau (born 1923) is a professor of history at the College of France in Paris and is widely regarded as one of the leading historians of Christianity. Sin and Fear, one of his books, is a monument of flawless scholarship, says Wendy Doniger for the New York Times

Delumeau says that Taoism was a philosophy and a religion, which offered salvation for the individual and responded to the need for the immortality of its followers.

Confucianism, however, was somewhat abstract and didn’t offer a reward of immortality since ancient China did not have a concept of a spiritual soul that survives a physical death. Confucius said, “The superior men are sparing in their words and profuse in their deeds.”

Taoism believed that the physical body only contains the personality. There were rules for food, hygiene, breathing techniques and different forms of gymnastics, which were designed to suppress the causes of death and allow each follower to create an immortal body to replace the mortal one.

After the mortal body died, the immortal body went elsewhere to live.

In ancient China, the pathway of sanctity preached by Taoism evolved in Chinese Yoga and was recognized some 500 years before the birth of Christ.

In the second century AD, Taoism became a true church venerating immortals as saints.

About 200 AD, a Taoist scholar taught that virtue, avoidance of sin, confessions of sins and good works were the most important aspects and took precedence over diet and hygiene.

The difference from religions in the West was that Taoism did not have leaders on a national scale and was more like a federation of linked communities.

In 110 BC, Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty made Confucianism the state religion to strengthen and centralize his power.

Nevertheless, Taoism continued to be practiced as a parallel popular religion.

Religious Tolerance.org says there are about 225 million followers but the exact number is impossible to estimate since many Taoists also identify with other regions such as Buddhism and Confucianism.

Continued on February 27, 2012 in Taoism and Religion in Communist China – Part 3 or return to Taoism – Part 1


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Note: This revised and edited post first appeared on December 5, 2010

My Mother Would Have Burned This Book – Part 3/5

April 1, 2011

Since writing My Splendid Concubine was not motivated by sexual fantasies, I responded to “outback’s” biased opinion, and he counterattacked saying my book does not “come up to par with Anchee Min, John Steinbeck, Kurt Vonnegut, Alice Walker, Charles Dickens, Amy Tan, Pearl S. Buck, James Michener, Eudora Welty, Harper Lee, Isabel Allende, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Tom Robbins and so on….”

I’d have to agree. I have never even fantasized that I was equal or better than these authors were.

Outback claimed to have read all of the books by the above authors and thousands more yet he only has two, one-star reviews posted on Amazon (at the time I wrote this post).

Where are all those five-star reviews extolling the virtues of the work he admires?

Outback has a right to “his or her” opinion, but I do not have to agree or stay silent as he indicated when “outback” wrote, “P.S. You may want to grow a thicker skin.”

There are other opinions of My Splendid Concubine that do not agree with “colorado outback” that demonstrate a better understanding of why I wrote the novel.

Since “colorado outback” may argue (if he, she or it ever reads this) I quoted a friend’s biased review to defend my “thin skin”, I will use a review from a nonbiased source — the Midwest Book Review, which has posted almost 60,000 reviews on Amazon and compiled about 200,000 helpful votes compared to “outback’s” two reviews with two helpful votes.

The Midwest Book Review has a policy that if a reviewer does not like a book, he or she is to stop reading and find a book they enjoy.  Good thing “colorado outback” doesn’t write reviews here.

The Midwest Book Reviewer wrote of My Splendid Concubine, “Love for ones wives’ sister is typically forbidden by most western religions, but the most successful westerner in Chinese history is faced with this conflict.

“‘My Splendid Concubine’ is the tale of Robert Hart who deals with the matters of his lust and how to deal with them the Chinese way, which so conflict with his upbringing.

“The Taiping Rebellion doesn’t help matters, him making enemies of established and skilled mercenaries in the process of protecting his interest and the women he loves. ‘My Splendid Concubine’ is packed cover to cover with intriguing characters and plot, a must read for historical fiction fans and a fine addition to any collection on the genre.”

To be continued on April 2, 2011 in Part 4 or return to Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Learning what Win-Win Really Means from China

February 12, 2011

Living With Evolution or Dying Without It by K. D. Koratsky
Publisher: Sunscape Books
ISBN: 978-0-9826546-0-6
Reviewed by Lloyd Lofthouse

Koratsky’s book is a heavily researched, scholarly work that gathers what science has discovered since Darwin’s discoveries and fills in the gaps explaining why evolution has something to teach us if humanity is to survive.

The other choice is humanity going the way of the dinosaurs into extinction.

I started reading in early 2010 and took months to finish the 580 pages. The Flesch-Kincaid Readability level would probably show this book to be at a university graduate level leaving at last 90% of the population lost as to the importance of its message.

For months, it bothered me that so many in the United States do not have the literacy skills to understand an important work such as this (the average reader in the US reads at fifth grade level and millions are illiterate). This is certainly not a good foundation to learn how precarious life is if you do not understand how brutal the earth’s environment and evolution has been for billions of years.

As I finished reading Living With Evolution or Dying Without It, I realized that it would only take a few key people in positions of power to understand the warnings offered by Koratsky and bring about the needed changes in one or more countries so humanity would survive somewhere on the planet when the next great challenge to life arises.

On page one, Koratsky starts 13.7 billion years ago with the big bang then in a few pages ten billion years later, he introduces the reader to how certain bacteria discovered a new way to access the energy required to sustain an existence.

By the time we reach humanity’s first religion on page 157, we have discovered what caused so many species to die out and gained a better understanding of what survival of the fittest means.

To survive means adapting to environmental challenges no matter if they are delivered by the impact of a monster asteroid to the earth’s surface, global warming (no matter what the reason) or by competition with other cultures or animals competing for the earth’s resources.

In fact, competition is vital to the survival of a species for it is only through competition that a species will adapt to survive.

The book is divided into two parts.  The first 349 pages deals with where we have been and what we have learned, and the two hundred and eleven pages in Part Two deals with current ideas and policies from an evolutionary perspective.

I suspect that most devout Christians and Muslims would dismiss the warnings in this book out-of-hand since these people have invested their beliefs and the survival of humanity in books written millennia ago when humanity knew little to nothing about the laws of evolution and how important competition is to survival.

Koratsky is optimistic that the United States will eventually turn away from the political agenda of “Cultural Relativism” that has guided America since the 1960s toward total failure as a culture.

The popular term for “Cultural Relativism” in the US would be “Political Correctness”, which has spawned movements such as race-based quotas and entitlement programs that reward failure and punish success

Even America’s self-esteem movement is an example of “Cultural Relativism”, which encourages children to have fun and praises poor performance until it is impossible to recognize real success.

The current debate started by Amy Chua’s essay in The Wall Street Journal is another example of “Cultural Relativism” at work.

After reading Living with Evolution or Dying Without It, it is clear that Amy Chua’s Tiger Mother Methods of parenting are correct while the soft approach practiced by the average US parent is wrong and will lead to more failure than success.

Koratsky shows us that the key to survival for America is to severely curtail and eventually end most US entitlement programs. While “Cultural Relativism” is ending, competition that rewards merit at all levels of the culture (private and government) must be reinstituted.

He points out near the end of the book that this has been happening in China and is the reason for that country’s amazing growth and success the last thirty years.

In the 1980s, merit was reinstituted at the bottom and most who prosper in China today earned the right to be rewarded for success by being more competitive and adapting. Even China’s state owned industries were required to become profitable or perish.

The earth’s environment does not care about equality or the relativists’ belief that everyone has a right to happiness even if society must rob from the rich and give to the poor.

This book covers the evolution of the universe, the planet, all life on the planet including the reasons why most life that lived on the earth for hundreds of millions of years before humanity is now gone; the beginnings of the human species; religion in all of its costumes; the growth of civilizations and the competitions that led to the destruction and collapse of so many such as the Roman Empire and the Han Dynasty two millennia ago.

The environment and evolution says that all life on the planet is not equal and no one is born with a guaranteed right to success, happiness and fun. To survive means earning the right through competition and adaption.

If you don’t believe Koratsky’s warning, go talk to the dinosaurs and ask them why they are gone.


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

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Sinophobia and the Nation With the Soul of a Church

July 1, 2010

An old friend of mine once wrote in an e-mail that Communism was evil and if China didn’t do what America wanted, the US would spank them. That and his endless born-again preaching bruised about five decades of friendship. Now, we don’t communicate much.

The definition for Sinophobia is one who fears or dislikes China, its people or its culture—in other words, an ignorant, brainwashed bigot (my opinion).

This morning, I finished reading  An Exceptional Obsession by John Lee, which was published in The American Interest. On page 42, Lee wrote, “Above all, Chinese leaders are anxious about having to deal with a society so different from their own, and by different we don’t mean a superficial contrast between communism and capitalism.  China’s is a communal culture; America’s is individualist. China is rooted in its land longer and more deeply than any society on earth. America is an immigrant society and an unprecedentedly mobile one at that. China has never institutionalized the rule of law; America is fundamentally based on it. China has never experienced deistic religions; America, as Chesterton once said is “a nation with the soul of a church.”

Lee’s comparison reminded me of the few shallow Communist haters and Sinophobic people I’ve run into on the Internet, who live in this nation with the soul of a church. Occasionally, one crawls out of the woodpile on a thousand legs.

Discover Power Corrupts


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Peter Hessler, an expatriate, on China

March 30, 2010

Peter Hessler is a Beijing correspondent for the New Yorker. He has lived in China for fifteen years. After leaving the Peace Corps, Hessler freelanced for Atlantic Monthly and the New York Times before returning to China in 1999 as a Beijing-based freelance writer.

I agree with Hessler when he said in a CNNGo interview, “People in China are not forthcoming like Americans; they don’t like to tell you their personal story. It’s a type of modesty, I think, in a culture where people are not encouraged to see themselves as the center of the universe.”

I have an American born-again Christian friend who has bragged about Christianity being the fastest growing religion in China. I wonder what he’d say if he read what Hessler had to say here, “The Chinese relationship with religion is pragmatic and fluid; people often change their faith very quickly. And I don’t see them following religion to a degree where it’s clearly not in their self-interest….”

On happiness, Hessler says, “At this particular moment I think that Americans…might be less happy than Chinese people. The Chinese can roll with the punches…. Everybody in China has seen ups and downs; if they get laid off from the factory, they just go back to the village and play mah-jong….”

Discover The Influence of Confucius


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.