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

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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


Four Equals One China—More Facts about the Four Chinas (part 7 of 7)

May 17, 2010

Contrary to popular American or Western opinions because of the one child policy, the population in China is still growing but slowly at 0.655%. There are 14 births for every 1000 people and the death rate is 7.06 deaths per 1000. The one child policy applies to urban Han Chinese.

Life expectancy at birth is 73.47 years. When Mao won China, that life expectancy was 36 years. Religions: Daoist (Taoist), Buddhist, Christian 3%-4%, Muslim 1%-2%. The rest of the population is officially atheist (2002 est.) Source: CIA Factbook

Yes, the CIA actually provides public information for every nation on the earth.  You can buy the book or access the Website.

Start with Four Equals One China: Part 1

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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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The Qianlong Emperor and Google

March 16, 2010

On Friday, March 12, the BBC reported that the Chinese Minister of Industry and Information Technology Li Yizhong adopted a tough stance during a legislation session. “I hope that Google will abide and respect the Chinese government’s laws and regulations,” he said.  “But, if you betray Chinese laws and regulations … it means that you are unfriendly, irresponsible, and you will have to pay the consequences.”

Qianlong Emperor

Google doesn’t get it.  If they read what the Qianlong Emperor (1736-1796) wrote in his famous letter to King George the III in 1793—when China was strong enough to resist external influence—they might understand.

China is a family oriented culture, and the individual is not as important. Public freedom of expression does not fit the Confucian, Taoist foundation that begins in the family where you do not publicly criticize your elders or your leaders and expect to get away with it.

Starting with the first Opium War in 1840 until Mao won China in 1949, China was weak and was bullied by Imperial powers. Now that China is strong, they are saying “NO” as the Qianlong Emperor did.

Discover The Influence of Confucius

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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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Respecting Cultural Differences Out-of-Focus

February 26, 2010

I read at Crooked Timber that three Google executives were convicted of violating Italy’s privacy laws. That taught me that China is not alone in having laws different from other countries that limit activity on the Internet.

When China censors the Internet, or hires mothers to go after on-line pornographers, the family centered culture drives those actions. Most of China’s arrests of dissidents and executions of criminals are also driven by the family centered culture influenced by Confucian, Taoist beliefs.

Confucious

A few years back, a Japanese citizen, wife and mother attempted suicide in the United States and killed her children in the attempt, but the mother was saved by bystanders. She tried to kill herself and her children, because she had lost face when it was discovered that her husband had an affair with another woman.

When the American legal system was going to try her for murder, the Japanese government protested and said her actions were driven by her culture. Respecting the differences between the two cultures, the United States allowed her to return to Japan.

If we really respect the differences between cultures, why does the Western media and American politicians go out of their way to treat China without respecting the cultural differences that explains why China’s government acts the way it does?

To understand China more, I recommend pietyface and heroes.

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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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Education Chinese Style – Part 3

February 10, 2010

It seems that many of the six-thousand students I taught over thirty years felt the same way—that learning would make them mad like Acts says in the New Testament: 26:24 And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad.

Emperor Wudi

In China, during the early Han Dynasty, a different moral standard was set where earning an education was valued. Emperor Wudi from 141-187 BCE (two hundred years before Jesus Christ and five hundred years before Constantine), solidified the ideological framework of official Confucianism with a blending of Confucian, Taoist, and Legalist elements.

It looks like China may be officially returning to Confucianism or some form of it. Confucius taught that a ‘gentleman’ is the ideal figure. Among the traits of this ideal man is continued learning to develop moral character and to gain knowledge that is useful in serving others.

In China, teachers are treated with respect. Not so in the United States. Although a few students were respectful when I was a teacher, many were not. To understand what I mean, read the prologue from my memoir, Crazy Normal.

See Part 1

Lloyd Lofthouse is the author of the award winning novels My Splendid Concubine and Our Hart.