The Tao of Meditation: Part 3 of 3

October 19, 2017

I wonder what happened to all of China’s mediating Buddhists and Taoists during Mao’s Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). Did they go underground like Anchee Min’s mother who became a closet Catholic that only prayed when her three children slept? During China’s Cultural Revolution, no one could be trusted, not even your children.

Most people don’t change who they are regardless of what the rich and/or powerful want, so it is obvious that if being a Buddhist or Taoist and meditating could get you denounced, you will find a way to practice what you think when no one else notices what you are doing.

Until Communism appeared, religion and the state were often closely linked. In the imperial era, the emperor was regarded as divine; political institutions were believed to be part of the cosmic order; and Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism were incorporated in different ways into political systems and social organizations.

U.S. History.org reports, “Taoism and Confucianism have lived together in China for well over 2,000 years. Confucianism deals with social matters, while Taoism concerns itself with the search for meaning. They share common beliefs about man, society, and the universe, although these notions were around long before either philosophy.”

During the Cultural Revolution, the teenage Red Guard did not discriminate against particular religions. They were against them all. They ripped crosses from church steeples, forced Catholic priests into labor camps, tortured Buddhist monks in Tibet and turned Muslim schools into pig slaughterhouses. Taoists, Buddhists and Confucians were singled out as vestiges of the Old China and forced to change or else.

However, after Mao died in 1976, China, under Deng Xiaoping lifted the ban on religious teaching, and since the mid-1980s there has been a huge program to rebuild the Buddhist and Taoist temples that were torn down by the teenage Red Guard.

In addition, in December 2004, China’s central government announced new rules that guaranteed religious beliefs as a human right.

According to an article in The People’s Daily, “As China has more than 100 million people believing in religion, so the protection of religious freedom is important in safeguarding people’s interests and respecting and protecting human rights.”

In March 2005, religion was enshrined in China as a basic right of all citizens, but worship outside of approved religions remains forbidden. There are five religions recognized by China’s government: Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism, and Protestantism. There are also a few Jewish Synagogues: two in Beijing, two in Shanghai, and five in Hong Kong.

Since the end of the Cultural Revolution with Mao’s death, it was safe to meditate again without the threat of fear getting in the way of an individual’s search for inner harmony.

Return to Part 2 or start with Part 1

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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 Tao of Meditation: Part 2 of 3

October 18, 2017

I’ve been following an exercise routine for at least 18 years. Recently I added mind and body mediation to the physical exercise. When I mediate every day, I turn inward to link my mind and body.

What I think of when I think of Taoism is a story from Taoist tradition 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.

Taoism teaches 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.

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.

What I’ve discovered as I continue to meditation every morning after the physical exercise and before I start the day, is that I’m calmer throughout the day with little or no depression or doubts and with a lot less physical pain.

Continued in Part 3 on October 19, 2017, or return to Part 1

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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 is Leading the World in Alternative Energy

August 23, 2017

The United States Congress passed the Clean Air Act in 1970 because of polluted rivers, lakes, and dense, visible smog in many U.S. cities and industrial centers.  I grew up in the Los Angeles basin in the 1950s – 60s and was a witness and victim of that air pollution.

A 2016 Report of the Trends in Global CO2 Emissions said, “top emitters China (1st place) and the United States (2nd place) set an example by effectively reducing their CO2 emissions over 2015 by 0.7% and 2.6%, respectively, compared to 2014 levels. … The largest decreases in coal consumption were seen in the United States and China.”

But all of the gains made by the United States since the 1970s are being reversed by #FakePresident Donald Trump and his extremist administration.

Yes, the United States is listed as the second largest producer of carbon dioxide emissions in the world, but if the U.S. had China’s population, the pollution generated would dwarf China. In 2015, China’s global share of emissions was 29 percent vs 14-percent in the United States, but if both countries had equal populations, the U.S. share would be almost twice China’s.

China’s first Clean Air Act was signed into law in 1987. In 2006, Greenpeace was consulted by China’s CCP on an early draft of a renewable energy law by China’s National People’s Congress. Now China is the world’s leader in the production of renewable energy. DW.com reports, “China is one of the driving forces behind the solar power boom. Last year, around 45 percent of the world’s new solar installations were built there. The United States, Japan and India were also top adopters of the technology, albeit significantly behind China.”

China’s one-party system has demonstrated the ability to get things done quickly and, yes, mistakes are made but so are course corrections.  For instance, I witnessed China’s ability to get things done in Shanghai. At the time, we were staying in what was once the French concession. The stately mansions that once housed wealthy French families and their Chinese servants had been converted to communal multi-family homes still surrounded by high walls.  When we went to sleep one night, the walls were there. In the morning, the walls were gone.

An army of workers arrived at night, took down the walls and trucked out the debris without making enough noise to wake people.

History already shows us that when China’s leaders set a goal to achieve something, they get it done even if it takes centuries.

Need proof? China is responsible for two of the largest engineering projects of all time: The Great Wall and the Grand Canal.

China Highlights reveals that “Over 2,000 years, many imperial dynasties and kingdoms built, rebuilt, and extended walls many times that subsequently eroded. The latest imperial construction was performed by the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), and the length was then over 6,000 kilometers (3,700 miles). This is the wall often referred to when we talk about the Great Wall.”

Britannica.com says, “The Grand Canal was built to enable successive Chinese regimes to transport surplus grain from the agriculturally rich Yangtze (Chang) and Huai river valleys to feed the capital cities and large standing armies in northern China.”

Global Securtiy.org says, “The Grand Canal is composed of the Beijing-Hangzhou Canal, Sui-Tang Canal and Zhedong Canal, and is over two thousand years old. It starts in Beijing and passes through Tianjin and the provinces of Hebei, Shandong, Zhejiang, Henan, Anhui and Jiangsu. It is 21 times longer than the Panama Canal, and surpasses the Suze Canal by 10 times … the Grand Canal of China is the longest waterway in existence and one of the most ancient.”

When someone thinks China can’t replace coal with renewable green energy sources, remind them of The Great Wall and the Grand Canal. All China needs is time to get the work done. Want another example?  About thirty years ago, China decided to seriously deal with poverty and led the world by reducing global poverty by 90-percent but only in China. The rest of the world was only responsible for 10-percent of that reduction.

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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The Difference between Chinese vs English Poetry

August 22, 2017

Su Kent says, “In my opinion, the essence of classical Chinese poetry is more difficult and allusive. Because of the nature of Chinese characters, each line can express utmost meanings in limited words. The beauty is condensed similar to energy ready to burst out.”

However, traditional Chinese Poetry is similar to Western poetry in other ways.  Lines in Chinese poetry may have a fixed number of syllables and rhyme was required, so ancient Chinese poetry resembles traditional English verse and is not at all like the free verse in today’s Western culture.

Modern Chinese poets have written in free verse, but many still write with a strict form.

In the end, the form is not as important as what the poem says. Western poetry often focuses on love while painting an image of the poet as a lover.

Influenced by Confucius and Taoism, the ancient Chinese poet shows he or she is a friend, not a lover and often paints a picture of a poet’s life as a life of leisure without ambitions beyond writing poetry and having a good time. Su Kent says, “Chinese poetry draws much of its richness from the depth of meaning which these individual ideographs can carry.  Structurally, a classical Chinese poem usually has five or seven hieroglyphs per line, with each line creating a self-contained thought or image.”


In Chinese poetry, the poet must balance one thing against another.

According to legend, Qu Yuan, a Chinese poet, killed himself to protest the corruption of the time, and it is said that the Dragon Boat Festival was named to honor his sacrifice.

Battle
By Qu Yuan (332-295 B.C.)

We grasp our battle-spears: we don our breastplates of hide.
The axles of our chariots touch: our short swords meet.
Standards obscure the sun: the foe roll up like clouds.
Arrows fall thick: the warriors press forward.
They menace our ranks: they break our line.
The left-hand trace-horse is dead: the one on the right
is smitten.
The fallen horses block our wheels: they impede the
yoke-horses?”

Translated by Arthur Waley 1919

Note: The translation process from Mandarin to English would insure that the fixed number of syllables and rhyme required of a traditional Chinese poem in its original language would not survive, but the contextual meaning should.

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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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Worried about a Civil War and Thinking about Moving to another Country

August 16, 2017

The Nation asks Are We on the Verge of Another Civil War? David Armitage says, “The linguistic temperature of contemporary politics (in the United States) has risen so high that civil war outside the bounds of politics is increasingly conceivable—and that is quite concerning.”

Well, if you live in the United States and you’re worried about the end of Social Security, losing medical care, and that there might be a bloody civil war in the near future thanks to #FakePresident Donald Trump and his Republican Party supporters, all hope is not lost.

If the thought of a civil war in the United States worries you, find out if there is a job opportunity in China, and here’s why: the China Law Blog reported that Chinese workers have more job protection, if not higher pay, than most workers, in the United States.

The reason for that situation in China is the transition from state controlled to private owned businesses since 1978, when China implemented its open-door policy.   The Conversation.com reports, “The fact is, massive privatisation has been ongoing in China since the 1980s, involving millions of business enterprises. Currently around 70% of Chinese industrial output is now produced by non-state controlled business firms, and over 80% of the industrial workforce in China is now employed in the private sector.”

And before complaining about the low wages in China consider the cost of living there, because the cost of just about everything is higher in the United States. To discover the difference, click NUMBEO to compare the cost of living between China and the United States. For instance, consumer prices including rent in the United States are more than 82-percent higher than in China. And the pay can’t be that bad considering the explosive growth of China’s emerging middle class that helped General Motors (according to CNN Money) sell 10-million cars in one year for the first time in its century-plus history.”

The China Law Blog reports, “China’s employment law system is quite different from the U.S. The main difference is that the U.S. is an employment at will system, which means you can terminate employees at any time for pretty much any reason (and it’s getting worse). China’s system is the opposite. The Chinese system is a contract employment system. … An employee can only be terminated for cause and cause must be clearly proved. … This whole situation makes the employment relationship and the employment documents much more adversarial than is customary in the U.S.”

Of course, finding a job in China and moving there from the United States might not be as easy as it sounds.

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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Who does a better job fooling the people – America’s private sector media or China’s state owned media?

August 15, 2017

In China, the people know who controls the media and its message, and that makes it easy for many to doubt news reports since they know the source is the government. In the United State, the opposite is often true. About half of the people trust the traditional media because it isn’t controlled by the government, and too many Americans follow the racist Alt-Right social internet media that invents alternative facts (lies) and manufactures fake evidence to spread unproven conspiracy theories.

This means that in China, the government is behind the fake news, but in the United States individuals like Steve Bannon and his billionaire backer Richard Mercer are behind it.

The BBC reports “China is the largest media market in the world, and has the world’s largest online population. … Beijing tries to limit access to foreign news by restricting rebroadcasting and the use of satellite receivers, by jamming shortwave broadcasts, including those of the BBC, and by blocking websites.

“Overseas Chinese-language news outlets that are not state-owned are blocked in mainland China. However, international English language websites like the BBC are often available to view. … State-run Chinese Central TV (CCTV) is China’s largest media company. … There are around 1,900 newspapers. Each city has its own title, usually published by the local (CCP branch) government, as well as a local Communist Party daily.”

Before we move on, it helps to know that there are more than 85-million members in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).  If the CCP were a country, it would be ranked close to Egypt (#16) on Nation Master’s countries comparison list that has 249 entries with populations to rank, and China’s government controlled media reflects the majority view of more than 85-million Chinese who belong to the CCP. This means that what’s reported is often considered to be in the best interests of keeping harmony in China instead of allowing turmoil caused by public dissension.

What about the media in the United States?


“In the early 1980s, roughly fifty-different companies owned 90-percent of the American media. … In recent years that same 90-percent is now owned by six conglomerates.”

Back to China. The New York Times reports on China’s media: “Another strategy is manipulation. In recent years, local and provincial officials have hired armies of low-paid commentators to monitor blogs and chat rooms for sensitive issues, and then spin online comment in the government’s (China’s) favor.

“Mr. Xiao of Berkeley cites one example: Jiaozuo, a city southwest of Beijing, deployed 35 Internet commentators and 120 police officers to defuse online attacks on the local police after a traffic dispute. By flooding chat rooms with pro-police comments, the team turned the tone of online comment from negative to positive in just 20 minutes.”

Isn’t this similar to what America’s Alt-Right media does except the Alt-Right media is run by individuals like Steve Bannon while the corporate traditional media is run by 6-corporate CEOs instead of the majority consensus of more than 85-million members of the CCP?

Is America really that different from China, but are Americans easier to fool and manipulate because they think the media is free and that makes them mostly trustworthy depending on who you listen to?

By now, you might understand why so many overseas news outlets that are not state-owned are blocked in mainland China. It’s obvious to me that China’s government doesn’t want to risk a future with its own version of a #FakePresident Donald Trump leading that country spreading lies and causing disharmony that might bring on the apocalypse and a collapse of civilization.

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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The Impact of Poverty and Starvation on Human Rights

August 1, 2017

On December 10, 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted by fifty-six members of the United Nations. The vote was unanimous, although eight nations chose to abstain (not vote).

At the time, the most powerful countries in the world was the members of the alliance that won World War II. It would take another sixty-three years for the rest of the world (minus three) to join and reach 193 countries. That means in 1948, twenty-nine percent of the world’s countries decided what human rights was.

Although Nationalist China was one of the original fifty-one members of the UN in 1945, Communist China (established in 1949 after the end of the Chinese Civil War) didn’t become a member until October 25, 1971, when the UN General Assembly expelled the Republic of China (Taiwan), and admitted the People’s Republic of China as one of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council. – Growth in United Nations membership, 1945-present

The five most powerful countries are on the U.N. Security Council: China, Russia, France, United Kingdom, and the United States. They are also the five most powerful countries that worked together to defeat Nazi Germany and Japan in World War II.  Six of the eight that abstained and did not vote were members of the Soviet Union’s Communist Bloc in Eastern Europe.

Merriam-Webster defines human rights as: “rights (such as freedom from unlawful imprisonment, torture, and execution) regarded as belonging fundamentally to all persons.”

When I read A Different Turning Point for Mankind by G. W. Bowersock in the May 9, 2013 issue of The New York Review of Books, I had one of those “Aha!” moments while I was reading about the history of several different cultural philosophies and ideologies.

For millennia, the major cultural influences on the planet have been: Greek, Roman, Jewish, Christian, Chinese, Hindu, Islamic, and Buddhist.

But the concept of human rights that dominates the planet today has its roots from ancient Greece and Rome, not China, Africa, India, or the Middle East.


China focused on poverty reduction first over human rights. After all, what good are human rights if you are poor and starving?

This Western, Greek-Roman concept of human rights that evolved over a period of centuries to dominate the planet today came about due to the fire and brimstone of the colonial era of the 18th and 19th centuries where European countries such as Spain, England, France, Germany, Portugal and Italy ruled, often brutally, over most of the planet as colonial powers. Later the United States joined in building its own global empire once again based on a Greek-Roman, Christian foundation.

When Western citizens criticize China or Asia, the Middle East, or Africa for human rights violations, these cultures are not being judged by their own perception of what human rights might mean. Instead, the West, especially the United States, is forcing its beliefs on those cultures.

In the West, human rights are based on the ideology of the self that emphasizes autonomy, but this is not relevant to a Confucian based society that stresses the primacy of community and the person’s obligation to others. – University of Illinois Press

And for the Islamic Middle East, Professor Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im says, “Shari’ah, which is the historical foundations of Islamic law, directly affects the millions of Muslims around the world. Because of its moral and religious authority, it has great influence on the status of human rights for Muslim countries.”

Words for thought: are claims of human rights violations outside of Western countries based on the status of human beings as individuals or as a member of a community or group of people, because traditional cultures do not always view the individual as an autonomous being possessed of rights above society? – Asia-Pacific Human Rights Information Center

In addition, hunger and poverty also influence the concept and evolution of human rights. “The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that nearly 870 million people, or one in eight people in the world, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2010-2012. Almost all the hungry people, 852 million, live in developing countries, representing fifteen percent of the population of developing counties.” – World Hunger.org

If you were one of the almost one billion people around the world suffering from chronic undernourishment (starving), would you be sitting around debating freedom of expression, religion, democracy, and equal pay for men and women? If you have never experienced living in a so-called democracy, how can you be expected to understand what that’s like?

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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