Taomeow

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  1. Wen Chang's Tower

    This is from bogus feng shui, invented some 40 years ago by a guy named Professor Lin Yun, marketed as "Black Sect Buddhist" (although the actual Black Sect Buddhists deny any connection of this system to theirs) and sold to the West (as well as Western-style-schooled Asians separated from their own traditions) by him and his book-authoring students so successfully that whole industries cropped up around this system. From selling houses in San Francisco that are painted according to "sectors" at tens of thousands of dollars higher price than the same kind of houses not treated in this manner to multiple online businesses selling objects to place in those "sectors" to "activate" this and that, to a thorough discrediting (the most infuriating part to me personally) of feng shui the real taoist science of the highest level of complexity and expertise. This school's antics is what 99% of Westerners think of when they hear the words feng shui. Alas, it's not. Well, the referenced sales pitch (taken from a site selling those pagodas) at least mentioned that "the yearly sector will change" -- but this won't tell a lay person anything about where exactly the pagoda is to be placed, and when, and when it will indeed be useful for something. In real FS, the Star of Scholastic Brilliance appears in some people's bazi charts and is formed by a particular type of qi in the Heavenly Stem of one's Day Pillar (which stands for "Self") combined with a particular type of qi in the Earthly Branch. There's a total of ten combinations that will form this particular type of qi, and it will be activated when the same combination also comes in the given year's Heavenly Stem-Earthly Branch. E.g., Yin Wood in the Stem with Horse (which has Fire) in the Branch will form the Star of Scholastic Brilliance. And, e.g., 2020, the Year of the Yang Metal Rat will not, because this particular qi requires a Yin Metal Rat combo to form that Star. So, no crystal pagoda will activate scholastic brilliance attributable to a type of qi particularly favorable to the endeavor in 2020 (which of course does not nullify personal effort, it's just that the support of Heaven won't be there, you're on your own.) So, even someone who has this star in the chart won't be able to take full advantage of it until a favorable combo year comes. But of course a site selling crystal pagodas won't tell you that. And it's pretty in any event, so why not buy it. If you have this star in your chart, placing the pagoda in one of the nine squares of the Flying Stars feng shui at the time when the appropriate stem-branch combo appears in that square will, indeed, help activate that qi. That's the short version. Whew...
  2. Daoist associations?

    It's like I originally stated -- I've never heard of them being monks. I've never come across any mention of them being monks until you called them monks. If you are going to prove to me that I'm wrong and "everybody knows" that they were monks in a monastery, I'll take your word for it. I'm not a scholar of Quanzhen, and aside from alchemical Longmen, my interests lie entirely elsewhere -- Xingshi Pai 形势派 and San Yuan Pai 三元派 (chiefly Xuan Kong 玄空), a bit of Qimen Dunjia (very beginning stage), a lot of bazi analysis, a lot of I Ching studies and divinations, a bit of Maoshan talismanic sorcery, a helluva lot of taiji, stuff like that. I should point out that I always get sort of pulled into those scholarly arguments kicking and screaming after just saying something in passing that I never expect to grow into a dissertation because I am not qualified to write a dissertation on those subjects. And what I'm qualified to tackle with full competence is not typically discussed here -- way too specialized and can't really be a discussion -- self-appointed experts' non-educated non-practitioners' opinions in those areas give me the creeps when they do crop up. So, if you are going to "overrule" my verdict -- that they aren't monks as I understand monks -- I'm sure you have the power. I'd give up at some point anyway because I simply can't not be what I am -- done with scholarly expertise, seeking daily decrease. You are most welcome to share yours of course. I might learn what I didn't know. Or what I didn't want to know. Or you might wind up not convincing me. 'S'all good, man.
  3. Opening the Dragon Gate of the Antarctic

    Beautiful! I remember a crystal winter too -- everything crystallized, the whole city, the trees... man! Stayed like that for a month I think. Unreal. And another thing I miss is those forests of ice crystals on the inside of the window (right over the heating batteries) -- the room was warm but any moisture in it would collect on the glass and somehow the difference of temperatures between the glass exposed to freezing cold on the outside and toasty warmth on the inside would paint those forests of ferns, flowers and feathers... these don't happen on plastic windows, and I haven't seen them even on glass windows in a long time -- even in colder climates. Where did they go? Did you have them in Minnesota?
  4. What are you listening to?

    I sometimes do -- as in this case. I was weary of rock for a long time. A new trail to blaze from that into something different but unexpectedly compatible may be the way to go!
  5. And if Egyptologists were snorting coke, it just further confirms my usual "they can't be trusted" attitude toward officialdom in these matters. Modern ones are probably more into synthetic opioids, which might puzzle the next generation of Egyptologists when they discover that the pharaohs were somehow able to lay their hands on oxycodone. And the generation after them will wonder about microchipped mummies.
  6. Wen Chang's Tower

    There used to exist this thirteen-story pagoda that was the main headquarters of Wenchang cult or Wenchanggong on mount Qiqu near Zitong. It was part of a feng shui-perfect layout of the city where temples to other associated deities (Guandi, Kui Xing, and also Confucius) were located according to precise form-compass feng shui calculations incorporating all the features of natural topography. The whole city with its related temples formed a harmonious whole around the Wenchang pagoda. Kui Xing is the main "regular" on my altar.
  7. Another detour to Egypt. Apparently the pharaohs smoked tobacco and snorted cocaine... and where did they get these goodies? ???Mighty intriguing...
  8. Daoist associations?

    Kindly don't put words in my mouth. I left well alone (out of incredulity at this level of straw-man-building effort on your part) a thread where you ascribed a whole worldview and ideology to me on the basis of a name I mentioned once in a lifetime in response to someone's question or point and without any qualifiers whatsoever at that -- so I am beginning to suspect it's your habitual way of conducting interactions with someone whose views don't sit well with you. Or maybe not "someone," maybe just me personally, I don't know you well enough to assert you do it to others too. In any event, you did it to me again, and I request you don't do it anymore in the future.
  9. Opening the Dragon Gate of the Antarctic

    I even saw something or other scientific recently explaining the physical phenomena arising from the falling snow and absorbing all sounds. Didn't read the explanations though, but it is, indeed, the kind of "sound of silence" that can't be replicated by, say, soundproofing a room. And then it also talks under your feet. Untouched snow talks different languages as you walk depending on the temperature, on the nature of the snow itself, and also on the recordings of the previous changes of temperature and previous snow underneath. It has memory, in layers, of its history. I once read a thread on Reddit where they asked formerly deaf people who successfully gained hearing via some medical interventions to describe all the surprises they encountered in the world of sound. It was a fun read. Everybody found the world much louder overall than they ever expected. Aside from the noise of the cities, some were also very surprised by, e.g., how loud birds can be -- such a small creature, such decibels. And then there was this guy who kept checking the sun for malfunction -- he always expected that something this bright and intense visually must be making a sound, some continuous buzz or rumble or hissing, something... The silent sun blew his mind. But I don't seem to recall anyone being surprised by the silence of a snowfall... it must have always "looked silent" to them too.
  10. Daoist associations?

    Ah, the romantic history of monasticism. Such quaint charm. So, who were those "individual desert hermits" and "recognized elders?" And why did hundreds of thousands of years of shamans living apart from the community (and recognized elders that they became once they became elders) never "spontaneously" and "organically" formed shamanic monasteries or anything even remotely of that nature? Why didn't it ever happen until spirituality became religion and religion became institutionalized? And what about Enkidu, the first spontaneous ascetic hermit whose existence was ever documented in writing (and even then he shows up only in the one-thousand-years-later Akkadian renditions of the Sumerian "Gilgamesh")? He was a monk by your definition! A pious one at that -- herbivorous, celibate, with no possessions, living alone in total harmony with his environment... as monky as they get, no?.. And if he wasn't -- and I doubt you will find a single non-quack expert in the field who wouldn't laugh at the idea -- how do we tell him apart from that guy in Georgia, or matter of fact that guy my friends managed to visit and live with for a while on Mt. Huashan who lived there for many years as a taoist hermit (and, for all I know, still does) yet has never called himself a monk? You seem to choose to call a "monk" someone whose practice you like, while I tend to call a "monk" someone who was accepted into a monastery and ordained, at least in the context of the universal contemporary understanding of the word which was what has arisen in the original context of this thread when I merely suggested that taoist priests are not necessarily taoist monks. In any event, I have never been interested in monasticism enough to keep digging that hole. Nor do I believe that I have the powers to plant even one seed of doubt therein if someone's hole dug in pursuit of understanding and knowledge has been fortified with cement.
  11. Daoist associations?

    @Walker Thank you for your perspective. Indeed. I am still far from convinced that any and every form of asceticism equals monasticism, but time does not permit going back and forth with arguments and counterarguments so I will just state my conclusions: no, not the same and not even close, personal or lineage-prescribed asceticism vs. a system of tax exemptions, land ownership, accumulation of wealth in the hands of the leaders, the resulting political influence, the resulting control of the masses. Hermits and ascetics don't have to, but might indeed in some cases (and historically did indeed in many cases) wind up going down this particular road -- the road most traveled. This road leads to Rome -- or its Chinese, Indian, Russian, Iranian, Tibetan etc. counterpart -- and features its own temptations that may corrupt a spiritual pursuit as fast and as completely as any carnal indulgence, or more so. Perhaps not in every single case but as a built-in danger for some, opportunity for others. So is cross-contamination. Indeed, everywhere in the world Monsanto frankenseeds cross-pollinate with nature-made plants, and frankenanimals are crossbred with nature-made ones, which means the end of biodiversity (to name one side effect), but my being aware of it doesn't equal accepting it without reservations. Some of the syncretic fruit is nourishing indeed, much of it is poisoned, and I have no one but me to decide for me whether to like some of it, all of it, or none of it. Perhaps, but aside from personal preferences, I am neither unaware of where it comes from nor am the first one to notice where it leads. The blending, mixing-and-matching, cross-pollination etc. of taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism which many (perhaps you among them) see as a positive, as well as the dismissive attitudes of the resulting three-headed Zmei Gorynych* toward "Chinese folk religion" -- what remains of the native proto-taoist shamanic tradition -- was not always embraced by "all" Buddhists, "all" Confucians and "all' taoists, and still isn't. There's room therein not just for someone like me who consistently moves back toward the non-GM seeds and plants and animals whenever she can (and I can't always find and separate and un-GM them, so I take what's there rather than starve, if we're talking the rationale for my personal choices of teachers, practices and sources). As early as the 8th century, scholar Han Yu (e.g.), worried by the emperor's benevolence toward dissemination of the Buddhist asceticism/monasticism, argued in his "Memorial on the Bone of the Buddha" addressed to the emperor that it was "nothing more than a cult of the barbarians" which gained influence in China during the times of imperial decline. He further argued that encouraging this doctrine would result in people abandoning their families and occupations and causing misery and disorder in communities. In his essay "Yuan Dao" he pointed out that monastic and ascetic ways violated the natural human law and undermined its pillars, the family and the social order, by promoting and engaging in escapism from the world, state, and family. Zhu Xi -- in the 12th century -- chimed in with his astounding conclusion that monasticism both dictates, and is the expression and the outcome of, fundamental selfishness. Actually you could say that it's the invention of the internet that led to Wang Liping in my life, and/or the founding of TDB where I chanced to come across a request to help out with a translation posted by one of his instructors, and that led to us striking up a conversation off the books, etc.. Similarly, you can burn an incense stick on Sean's altar for having this opportunity to express your ideas, preferences and beliefs and share them with me and whoever else participates in or otherwise duly notes the conversation -- but it doesn't mean that you are also under any obligation to emulate the whole developmental history of his ideas, preferences and beliefs. In fact, my Longmen lineage teachers freely admit (at least to practitioners, not to just anyone who would use it as a weapon of moral domination of course) that, throughout those long and arduous centuries, the lineage did fuck up on many occasions in the past -- and, yes, with external alchemy as well (time and fiduciary agreements don't permit to "go there") -- which is part of the attraction for me. I can't stand photoshopped impeccability -- spiritual as much as any other kind. Still the case in my non-monastic lineage -- full-time is not required but there's specific instructions for certain periods in the practice when one must either fast as an option, or abstain from meat, all chances of encountering blood (including coming into the proximity not only of a butchery but even a hospital), certain specific vegetables, sex, any stimulants and so on. Key words "certain periods." This is dictated by subtle anatomy and physiology interacting with gross anatomy and physiology in a particular different way at certain stages and comes from deep knowledge of these processes, which is also possessed by, e.g., vegetalista shamans in the rain forest, who sometimes stick to a particular extremely restricted dieta for several months to a whole year at a time. (And never for a lifetime!) Whereas monastic requirements of vegetarianism are nothing more than a cargo cult around this lost science IMO -- plus manipulation, coercion, economic considerations or suppression of whatever is "unwanted" and "not compatible with the lifestyle" turned into "forever" "vows." Indeed, if a lifestyle itself is tailor-made for escapism, avoiding things that might return one's thoughts and one's very physiology to the state of non-escapism might be in order. But a lifetime? -- the word "petrified" I used, to which you also objected, to me means just that -- instead of a meaningful phase of a natural unfolding of some psychophysical and spiritual cultivation process, a one-size-fits-all set of rules, which might clash badly with a particular "one" whom these rules don't fit, and perhaps with "everyone" at a certain stage in their process. Yet this is disregarded... ...well, the post has to stop somewhere. Thanks for the stimulating exchange. ___________________ * Zmei Gorynych -- a three-headed dragon-like monster of Russian folklore.
  12. Daoist associations?

    I don't think the origin of words explains phenomena they come to specifically signify in the course of growth of their derivational tree. "Monk is from 'monachos'" explains a monastery about as much as " 'Medici' is from 'medicina'" makes the House of Medici a hospital. Trust me, I'm a linguist.
  13. Daoist associations?

    You didn't notice my Korean Army comment I guess. Hermitage is not "the most basic kind of monasticism." If we play with words we can perhaps score by noticing the similarity of one feature of hermitage to one feature of monasticism, but let's not mistake it for the whole enchilada. Hermitage is the most basic kind of certain phases in the course of certain types of cultivation. It does not entail the shame of "breaking the vows" Walker was talking about when the taoist "goes back into the world" -- because there's no institutional vows to break. In the case of non-monastic lineages there's no lineage vows broken either if one chooses to end a particular phase of cultivation and enter a different one. Cultivating in the world is legit. It's just that, if going into the world means no cultivation is going to be happening, leaving the world -- temporarily or permanently -- may be the preferred option. And if the world objects, one might wall himself or herself in a cave, because cultivation might be a priority. But no shame is attached to not doing that either. One of teacher Wang Liping's seminars (maybe more than one, dunno) took place in a monastery where the monks observe the vow of silence. The students, who were served meals together with the monks, were asked to observe it too while in the presence of the monks in the dining hall. They did. Situational observance of particular vows is not uncommon. What is different is that they wouldn't be breaking any vows once out of the context of situational observance. Taoist cultivation is not carved in stone except for petrified institutionalized varieties. Taoist priests are married or not -- situationally. If they aren't married, they are likely to be celibate, unless they don't have to be. Depends on the practice. Vegetarianism is not practiced by most (and is a very non-taoist tradition to begin with). Abstaining from alcohol is seldom a requirement, abstaining from smoking is never a requirement, to my knowledge, and even abstaining from drugs is a novelty -- taoist external alchemical tradition is the original "pharmaceutical industry." One reason I always feel somewhat uneasy about cross-pollination of traditions is that the ones that are more about personal choice, personal responsibility, personal accountability to oneself and to one's higher self get more and more forced out and substituted with institutional choices, responsibilities, accountability to the power-wielding superiors. It's never the more human way that influences the more institutionalized ones, it's always vice versa somehow. As a result taoism turns into something one would be unable to tell from some respectable non-taoism, and its virtues that become institutionalized quickly partake of all the vices that invariably accompany restrictions imposed from without rather than self-imposed from within.