The Tao of Meditation: Part 1 of 3

October 17, 2017

Some of the earliest written records of meditation come from the Hindu traditions of Vedantism around 1500 BCE. Between the 6th to 5th centuries BCE, other forms of meditation developed in Taoist China and Buddhist India.

“Those who know do not say; those who say do not know.” -Lao-tzu, the father of Taoism (604 – 531 BC)

Lao-Tzu was an ancient Chinese philosopher and writer. He is known as the reputed author of the Tao Te Ching, the founder of philosophical Taoism, and a deity in religious Taoism and traditional Chinese religions.

I am no expert on Taoism.  I have a copy of Tao Te Ching and have read it in addition to a few pieces about it, but I was raised a Christian in a Christian culture. Even though I walked away from organized religion at 12, I still retain what I learned from studying the Bible.

I’ve also learned that by the time Buddhism arrived in China in the first century AD, Confucianism and Taoism had been well established for several centuries.

Taoism was popular in China while Confucianism was the official state religion of the Han Dynasty. In fact, I’ve read that the bureaucracy practiced Confucianism at work and turned to Taoist spiritual practices after work.

Even though Taoism and Buddhism have fundamental differences, Taoism helped spread Buddhism. While Taoism seeks the salvation of the individual, Buddhism seeks an escape from the cycle of personal existence.

Certain practices of Taoism and Buddhism are similar, and those are meditation, fasting, and breathing techniques.

The word “Tao” means both the order and totality of the universe and the pathway or road that allows the individual to enter into the rhythm of the world through a negation of self.

Two opposing but complementary forces of reality are fused in the Tao: Yin, which is passive, cold and feminine, and Yang, which is active, hot and masculine.

A contemporary of Confucius, Lao Tzu’s teachings were compiled in the fifth century BC into a collection called the Tao Te Ching or Dao De Jing, that has had a great influence on Chinese thought and medicine.

Continued in Part 2 on October 18, 2017

Discover The Return of Confucious

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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To Get Around, take the Bullet Trains and Use the Subways in China

July 26, 2017

Believe me when I suggest avoiding driving or taking a taxi in Beijing unless it is midnight and the city is sort-of sleeping. Beijing is one of the worst cities in the world to drive in. This is probably true for most of China’s crowded cities.

To give you an idea of what I mean by crowded, New York City has a population of about 8.5 million and is ranked #1 in the United States with Los Angeles #2 with less than 4 million people. There are 160 cities in China with a population of over 1 million vs only 10 in the United States.

Here are China’s top five cities ranked by population.

Shanghai – 22 million

Beijing – 10 million

Guangzhou – 11 million

Tianjin – 11 million

Shenzhen – 10 million

I have been to Shanghai and Beijing several times between 1999 – 2008, and have been stuck in Beijing traffic breathing toxic fumes and watching the taxi’s meter adding numbers to the cost of the trip when we could have walked faster for free.

The other choice is Beijing’s subway system built for the 2008 Beijing Olympics (and it’s still expanding), which I prefer using. It’s fast and efficient, but wear a money belt because it can become sardine-can crowded creating a perfect environment for pickpockets. I didn’t even wear my backpack on my back. I put it on my chest where I could keep an eye on it. To be fair, Smarter Travel.com warns us of the dangers of pickpockets in New York City. The same advice will help in any major city you visit.


This video was filmed in 2013 when only one subway line was open. Today, Xian has three subway lines with sixty-six stations and an average of 1.5 million people riding the subway daily. Last time I was in Xian in 2008, the subway system was still under construction.

Then there is China’s high-speed rail. It didn’t exist in 2008, and I haven’t been back to China since. Why fly when you can see China from a bullet train moving at 120 – 160 mph (or faster). The Economist reports, “Less than a decade ago China had yet to connect any of its cities by bullet train. Today, it has 20,000km (12,500 miles) of high-speed rail lines, more than the rest of the world combined. It is planning to lay another 15,000km by 2025.”


“China’s high speed trains make travelling the country easy and quick but there are certain things you should know that’ll make using the high speed trains in China a painless process!” – Learn how to ride high-speed rail in China from The Adventurer

Then Manufacturing.net asks, “Why is There No High-Speed Rail Network in America?”

Here is the simple answer. Since World War II, the U.S. has spent about $33-Trillion on its military budgets and fighting endless wars in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan causing millions to be killed and/or maimed. Without those wars, there would probably be no ISIS. Then there is the fact that since President Reagan in the 1980s, the focus in the United States has been on cutting taxes mostly for corporations and the wealthiest Americans. That has led to about $20 trillion in debt for the federal government. During this time, the U.S. has not kept its infrastructure up-to-date – improvements that would have provided millions of new jobs and benefited the American people.

If the United States had avoided starting so many wars and had a military budget equal to China (ranked #2 in the world), it would have saved about $32-Trillion since World War II. There would be no national debt and the U.S. might even have its own bullet trains speeding from coast to coast.

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 Transition Years – Discovering History through Film

July 18, 2017

Farewell, My Concubine covers more than 50-years of Chinese history from 1924 – 1977.

In 1924, prostitute Yanhong sees no other alternative than leaving her son Douzi at a training school for Chinese opera where the boys are beaten, and tortured for forgetting their lines. The only escape is suicide. China’s decades long Civil War between the Communists and Nationalist rages on and then Japan invades China in 1937 and the challenges to survive become worse. After World War II, the Chinese Civil War continues and doesn’t end until 1949.

Two of the boys at the training school, Douzi and Shitou, become friends destined to be great actors, and they impress audiences by performing together. Through the years, with the political situation in China ever changing and not always for the good, Shitou and Douzi remain close.

Chen Kaige, self-trained as a filmmaker, was the director for this award-winning 1993 film. Prior to “Farewell, My Concubine”, Chen received modest acclaim for the “Yellow Earth” and “The Big Parade”. With “Farewell, My Concubine,” he won the Palme d-or in Cannes.

Although the film is in Mandarin with English subtitles, the story captured me from the beginning. If you are interested in Chinese history, this film spans several decades beginning soon after the end of the Qing Dynasty. On the surface, it is a story of two boys that happen to become famous, but they have difficulties and challenges like most of us do. However, the film takes us from the Qing Dynasty to a warlord dominated, struggling republic, the Japanese invasion of World War II, and through Mao’s Cultural Revolution.

I saw this movie more than a decade ago and I remember this powerful, dramatic story of one man’s life from the day his mother took a knife and chopped off an extra finger on each hand so he would have five instead of the six he was born with.

Discover Anna May Wong, the American actress who died a thousand times.

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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The Supreme Art of War is to subdue the Enemy without Fighting

July 11, 2017

Teddy Roosevelt said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” Compare what this American President said to China’s Sun Tzu, who wrote the Art of War (recommended reading at West Point) more than 500-years before the birth of Jesus Christ. Sun Tzu said, “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”

I’m not sure that America speaks all that softly and that stick has been around the world several times in too many countries and using that stick as a huge club has been costly.  I did a bit of internet sleuthing and the military budgets approved by the Congress from 1946 to 2009 cost the American tax-payer about 23-Trillion dollars, and that’s not counting the years from 2009 – 2017. These figures also do not include the cost of wars since World War II.

In today’s dollars:

  • the Korean War cost the U.S. taxpayer more than $340 billion
  • the Vietnam War cost $740 Billion
  • By 2013, the cost of war in Iraq had cost more than $2 Trillion, and that was four years ago
  • And, also in 2013, Afghanistan has cost between $4 – $6 Trillion

China intervened in the Korean War and sent hundreds-of-thousands of troops to fight with North Korea against the United States and NATO. To understand why the Chinese got involved, Mao said,”Vietnam (and Korea) is the gums to our teeth. What happens when the gums are gone?” At the time, China was surrounded by Communist-hating enemies except for the USSR.

In addition, between 1965 and 1970, over 320,000 Chinese soldiers served in North Vietnam.

The Guardian reports China increased its defense spending by 7-8 percent in 2016 to about $150 billion vs. almost $600 billion for the United States.

Based on Sun Tzu’s “subdue the enemy without fighting”, how is the United States doing compared to
China?

The United States had a stalemate in Korea (and North Korea is a much larger hostile threat today to world peace than it was back in the 1950s), lost in Vietnam, and can’t seem to win or end the wars the U.S. started in Iraq and Afghanistan compared to China that fought a brief war in Vietnam in 1979 a few years after the U.S. left and then pulled out a few weeks later, and fought an earlier war with India in 1962 that also lasted a few weeks, and once China’s objectives were met, that war ended.

Discover China’s First Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi, the man that unified China more than 2,000 years ago.

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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Are Empires Built on a Mountain of Lies?

July 5, 2017

The sun never set on the British Empire until endless wars brought that empire to its knees. I’m sure that at one time, a British citizen could easily say with arrogance, “If Russia (or China, or Germany, or Italy, or France or Spain) doesn’t behave, we will spank them.” And Britain did spank these countries and others for centuries until the empire was bankrupt and burdened with debt—sound familiar?

I read a piece in The Huffington Post and was reminded how power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  Then I remembered what an old friend said in an e-mail.  This friend is a conservative, born-again Christian. He claims to be guided by scripture. He believes that George W. Bush (GWB) was the greatest if not one of the greatest American presidents. He also believes in the nation building that GWB attempted in Iraq.

That former friend makes part of his living as a handyman. He lives alone in a one-bedroom apartment and drives a very-used car that he keeps running by visiting junk yards for parts and doing the work himself. He also votes Republican and often bashes evil liberals while listening to radio-talk shows like Dennis Prager and reading authors like Ann Coulter.

This former friend also voted for Donald Trump knowing the man was a crook and a liar.

This former friend wrote once that Communism was evil. My reply was that individuals like Mao or Stalin were corrupted by their power and did evil things, but not all communists were or are evil. In fact, if Communism was evil why has the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) been responsible for reducing 90-percent of global poverty? In 1949, about 95-percent of people in China lived in extreme poverty. Today, according to the CIA Factbook, 3.3 percent of people in China live below the poverty line.

How can the CCP be so evil if it also doing good things for China’s people?

I always thought that ‘power corrupts’ was only abused by people in powerful positions like corporate CEOs or elected officials.  I was wrong. A nation’s power may also corrupt the thinking of its people. That brings me to Donald Trump and a piece in the June 2017 National Geographic Magazine on Why We Lie. Trump is mentioned because of his lie about the size of the crowd at his inauguration. And later in the piece, it is mentioned by Dan Ariely, a psychologist at Duke University and one of the world’s foremost experts on lying said that “we want to see ourselves as honest, because we have, to some degree, internalized honesty as a value taught to us by society. Which is why, unless one is a sociopath (Trump is not a sociopath. He is a malignant narcissist and psychopath. There is a difference between a sociopath and a psychopath), most of us place limits on how much we are willing to lie.

Donald Trump does not place limits on how many lies he says. He is a world class serial liar. In fact, Politifact.com has a file on Trump’s lies, and according to Politifact, 84-percent of what comes out of Trump’s mouth or through his rabid tweets are lies.

What does that say about the United States?

I wonder how many empires are built on lies. Winston Churchill once said, “There are a terrible lot of lies going about the world, and the worst of it is that half of them are true.”

One of those lies is that the United States is not an empire.  The National Interest says (and I agree), “The United States is an empire – indeed, one of the most powerful empires in all history-but refuses to acknowledge the obvious (Is this refusal a lie?). This is part of the problem, for at present, America is a colossus with an attention deficit disorder, practicing cut-price colonization.”

And if you doubt that, explain this: “We know that roughly 750 military bases and installations staffed by American military personnel exist in approximately 130 countries around the world.”

How many military bases does China have in other countries?

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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Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, Modern China’s Founding Fathers

May 3, 2017

Under Mao Zedong (1893 – 1976), China suffered after he became its leader in 1949, but that isn’t the whole story. During Mao’s Great Leap Forward; what’s known as Mao’s Great Famine (1958 – 62), and the Cultural Revolution, millions died from starvation and purges. What we don’t hear is that China is known as the land of famines. Imperial records show that China has had droughts and famines in one or more of its provinces annually for more than two-thousand years, but there is no mention of the fact that there has not been any famines since the last one in 1962.

In addition, when Mao came to power in 1949, the average lifespan in China was 35. When Mao died, the average lifespan was in the 50s and today it’s in the 70s.

On June 30, 1984, Deng Xiaoping said, “Given that China is still backward, what road can we take to develop the productive forces and raise the people’s standard of living? … Capitalism can only enrich less than 10 percent of the Chinese population; it can never enrich the remaining more than 90 percent. But if we adhere to socialism and apply the principle of distribution to each according to his work, there will not be excessive disparities in wealth. Consequently, no polarization will occur as our productive forces become developed over the next 20 to 30 years.”

Deng Xiaoping was right. Bruce Einhom writing for Business Week, Countries in the Biggest Gaps Between Rich and Poor, October 16, 2009, listed the top countries with the biggest gaps. America was number #3 on the list. China wasn’t on the list.

What does capitalism, Chinese style, look like? Under Deng Xiaoping’s economic policies, China became the world’s factory floor.

Prior to 1979, the year China opened its doors to world trade, it was rare to find anything made in China.

In the last thirty years, something happened that Mao thought he had destroyed. China grew a consumer middle class and that growth hasn’t finished. During a trip to China in 2008, we saw the Chinese middle class everywhere we went. Instead of the majority of tourists being foreigners, they were Chinese traveling to discover their own country.

A middle-class family in China usually owns an apartment, a car, eats out regularly, and takes vacations. National Geographic Magazine in May 2008 said, “They owe their well-being to the government’s (Deng Xiaoping’s) economic policies …”

Current estimates show China’s GDP growth will continue to grow. Since 2000, China’s GDP has grown at an annual average of 9.66 percent. Compare that to the U.S. with a GDP that never breaks 4 percent and was 2.43 percent in 2015. – Google Public Data

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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How much did it cost for the U.S. to support a brutal dictator?

April 25, 2017

Just about everyone in the United States who reads and/or listens to the news has probably heard of Mao’s brutality and the alleged brutality of the Chinese Communist Party, but what about Chiang Kai-shek and his KMT, an ally of the United States during and after World War II.

But since 1949, China is responsible for 90-percent of the reduction in global poverty. At the same time the United States was supporting a brutal authoritarian dictatorship in Taiwan that didn’t become a democracy until 1996.

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History reports, “Taiwan was the home of one of the Cold War ‘friendly dictatorships’: illiberal governments with which Washington partnered because they were anti-communist. Taiwan’s political system allowed only the KMT to rule and maintained a permanent state of martial law, with severe constraints on civil and political liberties and harsh punishment of dissidents. Until the 1990s the KMT government, like the CCP, had a Leninist party structure originally designed by Soviet advisors.”

The Taipei Times published a piece on the front page of the paper on Tuesday, February 27, 2007, and said, Former dictator Chiang Kai-shek was a murderer, and President Chen Shui-bian said Taiwan’s former authoritarian regime and its leaders were responsible for the massacre of tens of thousands of civilians slain in 1947.

On a site that lists the death tolls for the major wars and atrocities of the twentieth century, Chiang Kai-shek was given credit for 10,214,000 democides from 1921 to 1948.

Democide is a term revived and redefined by the political scientist R. J. Rummel as “the murder of any person or people by their government, including genocide, politicide and mass murder.”

Scaruffi.com credits Chiang Kai-shek with the deaths of 30-thousand people during a popular uprising against his regime in Taiwan in 1947.

The next day, several thousand protesters marched in Taipei on February 28, 1947 against the brutality that took place the day before, but they were met with bullets, and martial law was declared.

I discovered a book on the topic, Representing Atrocity in Taiwan, The 2.28 Incident and the White Terror by Sylvia Li-Chun, who is the Notre Dame Assistant Professor of Chinese at the University of Notre Dame.

The Asia Times also reported, “They slaughtered civilians at random to terrorize the Taiwanese into submission, and carried out a targeted campaign to wipe out the Taiwanese elite—local leaders and intellectuals who represented the biggest threat to KMT rule. To this date, the numbers killed are uncertain, but historians estimate 30,000.”

The reason for all this was the confrontation between capitalism and communism worldwide. The thinking was “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” even if that friend is a monster, a tyrant who is equal to or worse than the targeted enemy.

Discover China’s First Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi, the man that unified China more than 2,000 years ago.

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”.

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China’s Holistic Historical Timeline