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Some people are just wankers and have not a whiff of spirituality about them. Some people are genuinely struggling though with the wankerly aspects of their personality and it is helpful to be removed from temptation (or an audience).

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On 1/19/2020 at 9:57 PM, Walker said:

 

Never even heard of this movie, but sounds... Interesting to say the least! 

 

It's a pretty cool movie, a 1991 "art comedy-drama" as Wiki put it, directed by Jim Jarmusch and depicting one night in five cities -- Los Angeles, New York, Paris, Rome and Helsinki -- through five separate vignettes with five respective cab drivers working that night.  It can be found on Netflix I think, and the episode I was referring to, the one taking place in Rome, someone posted on Youtube, although it's even better in the overall context.  If you have 26 minutes to spare, enjoy. :)  

 

 

 

Edited by Taomeow
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On 2020/1/22 at 8:41 PM, SirPalomides said:

Re: watermelon fucking, on a general note, I think it must be concluded that internet access is one of the worst things a monastery can have. Not that crazy things didn’t happen before- humans are humans. I remember an episode in the novel Seven Taoist Masters where the disciples are made to sleep next to wooden boards. They dream about beautiful women and in the morning the boards are covered in... uh, jing. Further afield I was a bit shocked when I first read this quote in the Sayings of the Desert Fathers: 

 


and this from an age where Christian monasticism was supposed to be at its most pristine. 
 

So stuff happens, but man does the internet not help. In my years in the Orthodox Church I saw more than a few cases of monastics from respectable places who got internet connections and *poof* goes that old aura of sanctity and wisdom. Maybe some guy on Mount Athos launching into a tirade about how the EU is trying to turn everyone into slaves of the one world government with biometric passports; or a monk in Romania singing fascist songs with a chorus of nuns on his birthday; or a Russian elder going on some anti-Semitic conspiracy rant. And of course all kinds of sexual abuse and predatory behavior.
 

Keep the monks away from the internet, folks. 

 

Thank you for sharing this. I think your observations are important. While it can be easy to say something like, "well, if these monks are susceptible to temptation, then they're not real monks, so monasticism is inherently hypocritical and maybe even itself a violation of natural principles," your comments reminded me that the whole point of any real monastic environment comes from honestly acknowledging how human it is to be susceptible to temptation. The walls (both literal and figurative) of any cloister exist precisely because the monks--if they are honest--are clear about how they will not make the progress they wish to make unless they separate themselves from aspects of the human world that they are not, at least at a certain stage of their path, capable of standing aloof of. It doesn't take a leap of imagination to see how allowing internet connections in monasteries is a bit like filling them with liquor cabinets and allowing overnight visitors in monks' and nuns' bedrooms. Sure, drinking a beer (or ten) and having a cuddle (or an orgy) are "natural" behaviors. Hell, maybe even some orgy-having, watermelon-fucking, cognac-swilling cultivators can reach their spiritual goals without giving up the booze and sex. But: monasticism has always existed for those who admit to themselves that they need at least a long, long break from access to those external things that will derail them focus on their inner lives. That's why it is important for all people connected to a tradition that has a monastic path to respect the monastic lifestyles. Nuns/monks, non-monastic clergy, and laypeople all have a part to play in this. 

 

It is sad when laypeople who call themselves "believers" or even "practitioners" not only don't respect the monastic way, but even throw themselves full force into becoming sources of chaos in monastic environments. Case in point: the person who narrated the watermelon story to me in person carried on a sexual relationship with a monk in White Cloud Monastery for years. She even took me to meet the dude once; in addition to this mistress he also secretly had a wife and child and as such was always busy trying to find ways to make money while living as a "monk" so that he could send it to his wife, who would show up at the temple and threaten to out him if the cash flow dried up. One day I went to visit my friend for tea (I swear, just tea... and maybe a few cookies... fuck it, I'm not a monk, I can have cookies!) and she complained bitterly to me about a much older monk in the White Cloud Monastery who saw her poking around one of the places where monks have bedrooms, looking for her beau. Her man wasn't in, and the old monk saw her, walked over and said, "I know who you're looking for, he's not home," apparently, she felt, with a look of judgement and contempt on his face. All she wanted to do was complain about this judgmental bastard, and when I pointed out maybe he finds it upsetting that she's there several times a week to get her fuck on right in the middle of his monastery, where he specifically moved in order to cultivate the Dao in relative peace, well, hmm, maybe she could turn the light of judgment on herself just a tiddily-tad. This flew right over her head, and in fact she complained about that incident to me several other times over the years, despite also lamenting the "even worse" antics of White Cloud Monastery, which are multifarious and are not limited to boning veggies on web cams. 

 

That internet-based temptation has been problematic for monks in the Eastern Orthodox church is sad, but it also makes me feel a little bit better about my own tradition, as it shows that this isn't simply a challenge that Daoist monasteries are, as a whole, failing to deal with effectively. I think one problem is that people remain too attached to the letter of monastic code written in ancient times, and not the spirit. I know many chain smoking Daoist monks. Why is this okay? "Wang Chongyang, et al, did not forbid smoking tobacco." Right, motherfucker, because they did not know about it! They also did not know about getting sucked into the WeChat hole and much other crap, but it doesn't take a fucking prophet who can talk to the ghosts of Christmas past to make a good guess about what Wang Chongyang mighta said about staring at a phone to play mah jiang or flirt with "the faithful" five hours a day. Point being: anybody who struggles to answer the proverbial WWJD question here just doesn't wanna deal with his/her addictions du jour. 

 

Anyway,

 

I finally finished doing my research into Zhang Mingxin and Four Dragons.

 

Holy fucking shit, that's a whole 'nother can of worms. Gonna need a whole new thread, and a few hours to write it all up. She wears blue but she's as red as Lenin and she's found a bevy of gullible American pawns only too eager to become "priests." Madness. Madness. 

Edited by Walker
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19 minutes ago, Walker said:

 but it also makes me feel a little bit better about my own tradition, as it shows that this isn't simply a challenge that Daoist monasteries are, as a whole, failing to deal with effectively.

 

It also makes me feel great about my tradition, which is not monastic.  I think all the things you talk about as deviations are the tip of a much more sinister iceberg.  For one thing, people used to become monks not in order to accomplish anything in particular but mostly because parents were unable to feed an extra mouth, so the boy would be sent off to be a monk, or to marry off an extra daughter -- that's your nun.  People society had to put aside for lack of a role to offer.   

 

I will never forget what I saw in Saint Francis Monastery in Lima, Peru, which has catacombs filled with countless wells, each containing this arrangement to the depth of 30 feet:

 

5e2a7f5734e82_1280px-Catacumbas_de_San_Francisco_Lima.thumb.jpg.020edd5b8616924790668ec08a0ebd16.jpg

      

It is also believed there existed secret passageways that connected to the Cathedral and the Tribunal of the Holy Inquisition.  To my question about whose bodies were thus arranged, the guide just shrugged.  To my next question -- what for -- he responded, "This served no purpose, the monks just did it for no reason."  The skulls and bones are thought to have belonged to some 25,000 people.  That's just one monastery, in a very remote place, and its having these catacombs was discovered only accidentally in the 20th century. 

 

I was very perceptive just then after ayahuasca sessions in the rain forest on the opposite side of the country, and I was absolutely destroyed by that place.  Couldn't put the visions out of my mind's eye for weeks... 

 

So, not much of a believer in monastic virtues...  and I don't care which denomination we're dealing with -- though not all are equally sinister -- but I tend to think promiscuity and lack of piety are the least of their problems.  

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Well, that's just one side of a coin, and at the other side is the fact that you, as a practitioner of Longmen Daoist arts, are a benefactor of a line the traces directly back to Wang Chongyang, Ma Danyang, and Qiu Chuji, who all chose a staunchly monastic path and recommended it for some (but not all) of the aspirants they taught.

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21 minutes ago, Walker said:

Well, that's just one side of a coin, and at the other side is the fact that you, as a practitioner of Longmen Daoist arts, are a benefactor of a line the traces directly back to Wang Chongyang, Ma Danyang, and Qiu Chuji, who all chose a staunchly monastic path and recommended it for some (but not all) of the aspirants they taught.

 

I've never heard of it.  Don't know about Ma Danyang, but Wang Chongyang and Qiu Chuji?

?  

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You are a student of Wang Liping, right?

 

Can you rephrase your question? I'm not entirely sure what those question marks indicate you're asking.

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1 hour ago, Walker said:

You are a student of Wang Liping, right?

 

Can you rephrase your question? I'm not entirely sure what those question marks indicate you're asking.

 

Yes.  

 

Rephrasing the question: it's rhetorical, meaning, I'm surprised to hear it, never heard of it, have never come across any mention of either one of the three "choosing a staunchy monastic path."  A staunchy path, yes, at least part of the time.  But monastic, never heard of anything like that.  The biographies I'm familiar with go as follows:

 

Wang was born into aristocratic wealth in 1113,¬†got a classical education and martial training, planned a¬†rebellion against the¬†Jurchen¬†Jin dynasty, but then, at the age of 48,¬†met three taoist immortals --¬†Zhongli Quan,¬†L√ľ Dongbin, and¬†Liu Haichan. They met in a tavern.¬† The immortals¬†taught him, he¬†adopted the taoist name "Chongyang" and, as part of his training, built a tomb for himself and practiced¬†taoist arts there for three years.¬† Then he built a hut on top of it and lived there for another four, practicing and sharing the¬†teachings with others.¬† He named his hut "Complete Perfection Hut," and later it became the name of the school -- Complete Perfection.¬† It was a hut, not a monastery.¬† In 1167, he burned the hut down and went traveling, eventually accepting a married couple, Sun Bu-er and Ma Yu, as his disciples.¬† Damn, it's late, I'll continue tomorrow.¬† Happy coming Chinese New Year!¬†¬†

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The root of monasticism is in hermits, whether they lived in caves, huts,, etc. So the Greek word monachos= solitary, whence we get "monk." The early Christian monks were solitary ascetics like St Anthony the Great who lived in caves or, sometimes, huts (e.g. St John the Hut-Dweller). As they acquired disciples they began to order a more common life which eventually developed into the sketes and coenobia that we now call monasteries. But monasticism at its core isn't defined by these institutions, so Wang Chongyang living by himself in a tomb or a hut is practicing a kind of monasticism. Sun Bu-er and Ma Yu were indeed a married couple, but they were not accepted as a married couple. Rather Ma Yu abandoned Sun Bu-er who later joined him but they were thenceforth celibate. The early Quanzhen masters were adamant that you had to abandon your family if you really wanted to cultivate. It was definitely a monastic movement.

Edited by SirPalomides
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1 hour ago, SirPalomides said:

. But monasticism at its core isn't defined by these institutions, so Wang Chongyang living by himself in a tomb or a hut is practicing a kind of monasticism.

 

 

We call it hermitage or asceticism, and monasticism is defined by institutions, complete with vows, institution-prescribed not voluntarily chosen.  It's about as "the same" or "similar" as practicing taekwondo as taught in the Korean Army (which I used to) and enlisting in the Korean Army.

 

1 hour ago, SirPalomides said:

Rather Ma Yu abandoned Sun Bu-er who later joined him but they were thenceforth celibate. The early Quanzhen masters were adamant that you had to abandon your family if you really wanted to cultivate. It was definitely a monastic movement.

   

It was Sun Bu-er who left Ma Yu -- at the age of 57, her family obligations fully completed, her children married off, her grandchildren cared for -- announcing to her husband that from this point on she will take care of her own spiritual needs.  He joined her in cultivation ten years later, when she was 67 and he, probably older.  At that age celibacy tends to come more naturally.   If you can even call it that after a lifetime of human normalcy predating its onset.  

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2 minutes ago, Taomeow said:

 

We call it hermitage or asceticism, and monasticism is defined by institutions, complete with vows, institution-prescribed not voluntarily chosen. 

 

Again, hermitage is just the most basic kind of monasticism. Any monasticism is normally entered voluntarily- if you don't like the rule of a particular monastery, you don't have to join. Situations where people are forced into monasteries for political or economic reasons should be considered a deformation of the practice and not a defining feature, even if it was alarmingly common in certain eras.

 

If you wanted to be  Wang Chongyang's  core disciple, you had to abandon family and become celibate. The Quanzhen masters did open the teachings up to laypeople but they very clearly regarded renunciation of family life as essential to real advancement. So you have stories of Quanzhen disciples doing things like walling themselves inside caves and ignoring the pleas of their wives or  children outside.

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1 minute ago, SirPalomides said:

 

Again, hermitage is just the most basic kind of monasticism. Any monasticism is normally entered voluntarily- if you don't like the rule of a particular monastery, you don't have to join. Situations where people are forced into monasteries for political or economic reasons should be considered a deformation of the practice and not a defining feature, even if it was alarmingly common in certain eras.

 

If you wanted to be  Wang Chongyang's  core disciple, you had to abandon family and become celibate. The Quanzhen masters did open the teachings up to laypeople but they very clearly regarded renunciation of family life as essential to real advancement. So you have stories of Quanzhen disciples doing things like walling themselves inside caves and ignoring the pleas of their wives or  children outside.

 

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.

 

 

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Again, monk is from ‚ÄúMonachos,‚ÄĚ solitary. The first people to be called monks were guys like Paul of Thebes and Antony the Great. Likewise the word ‚Äúhermit‚ÄĚ comes from these same people, referring to the Egyptian desert they lived in.¬†They lived in huts and caves alone and had no monasteries or rules except whatever ascetic regimen they decided for themselves. Hermits are the first monks. Wang Chongyang alone in his hut is a solitary, a monachos, a monk.

 

For early Quanzhen cultivating in the world was a dead end. If they thought otherwise they wouldn‚Äôt insist so strongly on breaking up families.¬†They referred to people still in the world as ‚Äúwalking corpses‚ÄĚ and things like that. They were not playing around.
 

I’ll wait for Walker to chime back in before saying more.

Edited by SirPalomides

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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.    

Edited by Taomeow
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6 hours ago, Taomeow said:

We call it hermitage or asceticism, and monasticism is defined by institutions, complete with vows, institution-prescribed not voluntarily chosen.  It's about as "the same" or "similar" as practicing taekwondo as taught in the Korean Army (which I used to) and enlisting in the Korean Army.

 

Right, and the vows of Quanzhen Daoism were codified and prescribed to disciples.

 

Whether Wang Chongyang was a hermit, a monk, or both while he was practicing alone in the Zhongnan Mountains is an interesting question, but it's not really the crux of this.

 

When he concluded his (mostly) solo practice and began seeking disciples for his Complete Reality movement, mostly in Shandong and Shaanxi, he was most certainly initiated the ones who ŚáļŚģ∂/chujia/"left home" into a monastic life.¬†

 

Ma Danyang, who was the leader of the Quanzhen movement after Wang's passing as well as Qiu's primary teacher (Qiu Chuji was very young when he joined Wang Chongyang and barely exchanged words with his master, who viewed him as far from ready for real spiritual cultivation) was heavily into asceticism and promoted the monastic life, going so far as to come into disagreement with one of the other seven main disciples who founded a major monastery, which seemed to Ma as too luxurious (the other disciple--I forget which one, and I'm too busy to look it up, answered that this kind of fancy monastery allowed them to help more laypeople). 

 

When Qiu Chuji, who was much younger than all of the other disciples, completed his long period of retreat he continued the monastic ways of his two teachers, Wang and Ma. In part because of the influence he gained as a result¬†of his visit to Genghis Khan, his sway over Daoism in the northern part of the Yuan dynasty was enormous (in the south, Zhengyi and a Zhengyi-derived movement called Á饜ēô were both powerful--Quanzhen monasteries could not be built in the southern reaches of the Yuan without Zhengyi approval). Thanks in part to Qiu's influence, the¬†monastic Quanzhen lifestyle became widespread.

 

Going all the way back to Wang Chongyang, the Quanzhen masters tended to be lovers of letters, and they left behind poems and essays that made explicitly clear their thoughts about monasticism. Because many of Wang's first generation disciples came into frequent contact with the Jin and Yuan courts in order to secure the right to promulgate their movement, there is plenty in the written record from governmental sources. Local gazetteers also contain a wealth of information about the early masters' biographies and religious activities. Taken as a whole, a clear picture is left behind of an institutionalized monastic movement. 

 

To this very day, in monastic Longmen Daoism, the requirement for monks and nuns is to eschew many things lay Longmen disciples are not prohibited from partaking in. Marriage and sex are prominent on the list. Those Longmen Daoists who wish to be married and/or have sex are either laypeople, or monks and nuns who violate their vows. 

 

Quote

 It was Sun Bu-er who left Ma Yu -- at the age of 57, her family obligations fully completed, her children married off, her grandchildren cared for -- announcing to her husband that from this point on she will take care of her own spiritual needs.  He joined her in cultivation ten years later, when she was 67 and he, probably older. 

 

That is one way of interpreting events, I am not sure where it comes from. My understanding is that it is often painted as a mutual decision made by Sun and Ma after Wang Chongyang impressed them with physical bilocation, a series of cryptic teaching poems, and the symbolic cutting of pears into pieces for several weeks, which eventually Ma and Sun understood as meaning "to leave [marriage]," as "pear" (śĘ®)¬†and leave (ťõĘ) are homonyms. There are also¬†androcentric-sounding versions of the story in which Ma makes the decision and a disappointed Sun asks him to reconsider.

 

Regardless of brought up the word "divorce" first, the two of them entered into a monastic life and, so far as we know, remained in it until they died. 

 

5 hours ago, Taomeow said:

Taoist cultivation is not carved in stone except for petrified institutionalized varieties.

 

The use of the word "petrified" here seems gratuitous. Living in a monastic setting might not suit you at all and might feel very petrified were you to be in it, but that is not how it feels to those who have an affinity for that path (which predates the Quanzhen movement by a long time--Daoist ŚáļŚģ∂ living with monastic strictures began to be codified centuries earlier in the Tang, I believe). I say this having lived with such people and being student and confidant of such people.

 

Wise Daoist teachers I have met recognize that some aspirants have affinity for a monastic path, some do not. For those who do not, there are teachers like your own, who are lay people who inherit Longmen teachings and transmit them to other lay people.

 

Quote

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.

 

This is a statement which only makes sense when talking about traditions like Zhengyi and Lingbao, which are called ÁĀęŚĪÖ/huoju, "living near the fire/hearth," which refers to being a married householder.

 

In the Quanzhen, there is no provision for huoju daozhang. 

 

Quote

  Vegetarianism is not practiced by most (and is a very non-taoist tradition to begin with).

 

That is not true. To the contrary, an argument could be made that Chinese Buddhism had vegetarianism forced upon it by the emperor who required all Buddhist monks and nuns in China to abstain from meat (I think this emperor was Liang Wudi) due to Daoist influences. To be certain, ancient Daoism did not require full-time vegetarianism, but strict abstention from meat for periods of time prior to major jiao rituals was common. So strict was this abstention that the entire community hosting the ritual could be prohibited from eating meat, as well as slaughtering animals, hunting, and fishing altogether during the lead up to the ritual and up through its conclusion. This is such a deep-rooted tradition that local McDonald's in Taiwan have been successfully prohibited from serving meat patties for this reason.

 

By contrast, ancient Indian Buddhists were not vegetarians. They were, to use a modern term, freegans. They ate what they were given. 

 

Quote

  Abstaining from alcohol is seldom a requirement,

 

Abstaining from alcohol is certainly a requirement of monastic Quanzhen Daoists. This is well-documented. Laypeople may drink.

 

Quote

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."

 

External alchemy was not a part of the Quanzhen monastic regimen. If there were (and I suspect there were, because this was such a syncretic movement) Quanzhen monks or nuns who dabbled or specialized in external alchemy, this would not have been to get high.

 

Quote

 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.

 

And yet on the first page of this very thread you talked about Daoists "embracing syncreticism." Like it or not, cross-pollination is more the rule than the exception, everywhere in the universe. This does not mean all cross-pollination is good, and that it cannot lead to the death of a species (I would argue that the cross-pollination of modern Quanzhen Daoism with modern PRC consumerist culture and CCP United Front Work Department nationalism, for instance, is strangling that spiritual path).

 

Regarding the second part of this comment, perhaps your eye is somewhat jaundiced regarding this issue. You certainly make your distaste for monasticism clear quite often. And to be certain, monastic life can be about subservience to power structures with all of the attendant large- and small-scale catastrophe that comes from that. 

 

But also, monasticism can be about personal choice, responsibility, and accountability coming to the fore of one's existence thanks to the way in which a monastic setting can allow one to cut away nearly everything except for those three things.

 

I personally know people who have been touched by both sides of that coin. As the world is a very complicated place, sometimes it is the same person who has seen both sides of the coin. 

 

Quote

  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.

 

I don't think you have enough "on the ground" experience to say "always" here. Even within a single small monastery with fewer than 10 monks or nuns within one finds a complex blend of patterns that defies easy definition. 

 

Finally, while there is merit in all of the negative assessments you could levy at monasticism, please try to remember that had the monastic Quanzhen Longmen not existed, there could never have been a Wang Liping in your life. If what he inherited truly traces back to Qiu Chuji, that means he inherited something that came from elders who felt very strongly that monasticism should be established, nurtured, defined, and maintained. I respect their thinking on these matters, not blindly, but for the very same reason that I defer to the teachers when they tell me what the teachings are. After all, if I know better than Wang, Ma, and Qiu did, why the hell am I wasting my time and my teachers' by coming to them for instruction?

Edited by Walker
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@Walker

Thank you for your perspective.

 

On 1/24/2020 at 7:17 PM, Walker said:

 

Right, and the vows of Quanzhen Daoism were codified and prescribed to disciples.

 

Whether Wang Chongyang was a hermit, a monk, or both while he was practicing alone in the Zhongnan Mountains is an interesting question, but it's not really the crux of this.

 

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. 

 

On 1/24/2020 at 7:17 PM, Walker said:

 

And yet on the first page of this very thread you talked about Daoists "embracing syncreticism." Like it or not, cross-pollination is more the rule than the exception, everywhere in the universe.

 

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.

 

On 1/24/2020 at 7:17 PM, Walker said:

Regarding the second part of this comment, perhaps your eye is somewhat jaundiced regarding this issue. You certainly make your distaste for monasticism clear quite often. And to be certain, monastic life can be about subservience to power structures with all of the attendant large- and small-scale catastrophe that comes from that. 

 

But also, monasticism can be about personal choice, responsibility, and accountability coming to the fore of one's existence thanks to the way in which a monastic setting can allow one to cut away nearly everything except for those three things.

 

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.  

 

On 1/24/2020 at 7:17 PM, Walker said:

Finally, while there is merit in all of the negative assessments you could levy at monasticism, please try to remember that had the monastic Quanzhen Longmen not existed, there could never have been a Wang Liping in your life. 

 

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.  

 

On 1/24/2020 at 7:17 PM, Walker said:

To be certain, ancient Daoism did not require full-time vegetarianism, but strict abstention from meat for periods of time prior to major jiao rituals was common.

 

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. 008c952ee6c2ec63505b30bc8fdca03e.thumb.jpg.59cba8514ae5730f0cc97ff869753c63.jpg

 

 

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On 1/24/2020 at 6:00 PM, Taomeow said:

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.    


Not a valid analogy. The collective monastic system developed quite organically from the phenomenon of individual desert hermits, as more aspiring hermits drew near to recognized elders for guidance. At first the monks¬†would remain living apart, only gathering on rare occasions for advice or church services- this is how the skete form of monasticism developed. Later some monks began living together more permanently, necessitating a common rule to maintain harmony and peace- this is the lavra or coenobium. In all cases though the monks were in the desert for the same reason- secluding themselves from ‚Äúthe world‚ÄĚ to devote themselves to prayer and asceticism, so it‚Äôs not like the lavra was a deviation from the prior ascetic practice. To this day, in both Orthodox and Catholic Churches monasticism exists in all three forms- hermits, sketes, lavras. The hermits are still called monks. In Georgia today there is a famous monk living by himself in a hut on a mountain pillar- he is still called a monk.


o-2-900.jpg?5

 

Many towns in the Russian frontier developed this way- a hermit would head out into the forest; later on someone would find out about him, some other aspiring monks followed. Eventually a monastery developed. Then pilgrims would follow, and merchants would follow the pilgrims, and soon a town came into being. Then some monks, to get away from the bustle, would strike out on their own as hermits, further into the forest, and the process would begin again.

 

It’s very clear that the Quanzhen masters established monasticism almost immediately. Whether you think they were mistaken in doing so is another matter.

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1 hour ago, SirPalomides said:

The collective monastic system developed quite organically from the phenomenon of individual desert hermits, as more aspiring hermits drew near to recognized elders for guidance (...)

 

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.   

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1 hour ago, Taomeow said:

 

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?    
 

¬†For the simple reason that ‚Äúshaman‚ÄĚ is not a role you chose. It was chosen for you, by the spirits,¬†often with a lot of suffering involved.

 

1 hour ago, Taomeow said:

 

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?..  

 

Your version of Enkidu sounds a bit like a monk, sure, but of course you are leaving out some important details of his story. 
 

Look, if you think monasticism is stupid, repressive, whatever, fine. Some important people in your lineage thought otherwise. 
 

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1 hour ago, SirPalomides said:

 

Look, if you think monasticism is stupid, repressive, whatever, fine. Some important people in your lineage thought otherwise. 
 

 

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. 

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9 hours ago, Taomeow said:

 

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. 


I’m sorry I did that, Taomeow.

 

For what it’s worth I think you’re brilliant.

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On 1/27/2020 at 1:52 AM, Taomeow said:

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. 

 

Before I reply to anything else I'd like to check something. By offering this definition of "monasticism," are you implying that Wang Chongyang (after he left solo cultivation and began founding the Quanzhen movement), Ma Danyang, Qiu Chuji, and Qiu Chuji's disciples were not monks? 

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52 minutes ago, Walker said:

 

Before I reply to anything else I'd like to check something. By offering this definition of "monasticism," are you implying that Wang Chongyang (after he left solo cultivation and began founding the Quanzhen movement), Ma Danyang, Qiu Chuji, and Qiu Chuji's disciples were not monks? 

 

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 ŚĹĘŚäŅśī嬆and¬†San Yuan Pai¬†šłČŚÖÉśīĺ (chiefly¬†Xuan Kong¬†ÁéĄÁ©ļ), 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.  

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2 hours ago, Taomeow said:

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 see. Thank you for clarifying.

 

 

It is indeed widely known and undisputed that the Quanzhen school of Daoism has had monasticism at its backbone ever since its founding. I hope that you will read this free sample entry from The Encyclopedia of Taoism, edited by your acquaintance, Fabrizio Pregadio. I know you say it is your habit to "usually forget whatever is not found practically useful, theoretically compatible with my 'bigger picture,'" but that strikes me as a dubious approach, lacking the rigor you typically seem to require of yourself, not to mention those who seek to enter into discussion with you here on this forum! 

 

I know you are busy and that is a long-ish entry, but simply doing Crtl+F to search for "monast" will call forth the evidence of the central import of monasticism in Quanzhen teachings. 

 

 

2 hours ago, Taomeow said:

I'm not a scholar of Quanzhen, and aside from alchemical Longmen, my interests lie entirely elsewhere --¬†Xingshi Pai ŚĹĘŚäŅśī嬆and¬†San Yuan Pai¬†šłČŚÖÉśīĺ (chiefly¬†Xuan Kong¬†ÁéĄÁ©ļ), 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 see. 

 

While Longmen self-cultivation techniques have always been available to students who are not monks or nuns, I think there is wisdom in knowing where they come from. I do not suggest this simply so that you can fill your head with more ideas, or so that you can change your opinions about monasticism as a whole (although I think your ideas are excessively pitched towards seeing the negativity--which I am certain appears in all monastic traditions--at the expense of a more comprehensive and, therefore, accurate vision). Rather, I say this because, as a student of the Longmen in any way, shape, or form, you are a descendant of Wang, Ma, Qiu, et al.; a recipient of their gifts; and a beneficiary of their efforts. It seems to me to be a part of the jibengong of studying to at least be open to learning more about one's ancestors, not simply out of some sort of filial respect, but also because you never know what further gifts await you if you spend time getting to know these ancestors through their writings and their stories, and how those gifts may prove to deeply improve and accelerate your cultivation in ways that could be totally unexpected and unpredictable. 

 

To restate the point of the italicized portion above in different terms: there is qi in the teachings of those masters. It can and does interact with "on the cushion" cultivation of Longmen teachings. I'll say no more than that, the rest is up to each individual to access, or not, as is his/her wont. 

 

2 hours ago, Taomeow said:

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.

 

If that is a recurring problem, there is always the option of saying nothing at all, and in fact it is widely suggested for those who wish to avoid getting pulled into things, especially if a lack of qualification is part of the problem. 

 

To me, while I may be acting like a pedant and just offered a link to a book written by professors, this is not a scholarly argument.

 

Everything I have written in this entire thread I wrote because I care deeply about how non-Chinese-speaking westerners' misunderstandings of what the name "Quanzhen Longmen" really means can easily harm their ability to receive, and then embody and realize, the teachings of this great lineage.

 

In other words, while I may one day write a dissertation about this topic, even if I do, my motivations are strictly related to the core of what Wang Chongyang clearly stated he set out to do in his voluminous writings.  

 

2 hours ago, Taomeow said:

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. 

 

I understand deeply.

 

Please contemplate how all of that makes you feel next time you get ready make strong statements about Daoist monasticism, especially if you haven't read up on the topic and (even better) spent a good deal of time with Quanzhen monks and nuns beforehand. 

 

2 hours ago, Taomeow said:

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. :)

 

I do think your verdict is wrong. Everything you listed ("tax exemptions, land ownership, accumulation of wealth in the hands of the leaders, the resulting political influence, the resulting control of the masses") has been a part of Quanzhen history from the start, going right back to Qiu Chuji himself. This is actually clearly explained in the encyclopedia article. 

 

On 1/27/2020 at 1:52 AM, Taomeow said:

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.

 

Some years ago (and perhaps to this day, as well) there was a special "Daoist tea" being sold on Wudang Mountain, that had the interesting effect of leaving a special sweet after taste that would make is so that, after drinking this tea, regular water or even a cheap Chinese cigarette would all taste sweet. In 2007, after trying it while sitting shivering in a temple-turned-teashop on Wudang, I bought two canisters, one for me and one to send to a Daoist teacher who I to this day deeply respect. When the tea finally reached him in the mail he tried it and sent a glowing review. 

 

In 2010 I returned to Wudang again and this time bought quite a few more canisters, as my bargaining skills had increased considerably and I now had more people to give gifts to. This time I also gave a canister of the tea to a "tea master" who is quite well-known in China and who insists she has "internal vision" which allows her to directly observe her body's qi and to be able to tell whenever she has consumed anything remotely tainted with chemicals. She's quite a remarkable cultivator and I think she may have this ability, at least to an extent. She, too, was deeply impressed with the tea and showed it off regularly to visitors to her home. I told her I'd get more the next time I was on Wudang. 

 

A year later, in the summer of 2011, I was back on the mountain once again. My Daoist nun friend, who knew that I liked that tea and had bought quite a bit the year before made a point of bringing the tea up and warning me to definitely not buy it again. I was shocked, wasn't this the special Wudang Daoist tea, after all? She sighed and said, "yes, even we were fooled for years and used to drink the stuff. Actually that effect with the sweet aftertaste is due to some sort of chemicals that are sprayed on those leaves, which aren't even tea at all. I'm really sorry that I helped you find it last year when you came, but I'm telling you, it's a scam, we figured out where they make it off the mountain. That plant doesn't even grow here."

 

I was a bit speechless. How had I, my Daoist teacher in the US, the tea master in Shanghai, and all of these monks and nuns--what with our qigong and meditation and sensitivity and refined tastes--all failed so miserably to be able to discern between an all-natural plant, and just some bland leaf with a chemical sprayed on it?

 

Ever since then, while I do pay attention to my taste buds and intuitive reactions to foods and drinks (and generally avoid regularly consuming the things that strike me as toxic or tainted), I also remind myself that it's really hard for people to know what's "all natural, " what's got "additives," and what's downright "contaminated."

 

Personally, I really don't have a problem with the task you have set for yourself, and I think that to an extent all cultivators should similarly decide for ourselves "whether to like some of it, all of it, or none of it" when it comes to the teachings we receive. 

 

But, perhaps, with regular reflection upon the reality that we might very well be making the wrong decisions. 

 

On 1/27/2020 at 1:52 AM, Taomeow said:

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.

 

First of all, I must harp once again upon the undeniable fact that the blending of Daoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism was not just seen as positive by Wang Chongyang. Rather, he actively taught and promoted this mixing. So did Qiu Chuji, as well as many important recipients of their teachings who went on to pave the road that allows us, in 2020 on all corners of the globe, to have the good fortune of meeting teachers who can pass bits and pieces of their legacy to us, sometimes improving our lives in truly profound ways. 

 

Secondly, if you get the opportunity to spend more time wandering in the world of Daoist temples and folk religious temples, you may see that there remains plenty of room in many settings for the "native proto-taoist shamanic tradition." I have written elsewhere in the recent thread on fox spirits about the presence of shrine halls¬†made to host these beings in mainstream Quanzhen monasteries in NE China. You may be interested to know that in such temples it is also¬†common to see shrine halls dedicated to a female spirit called ťĽĎŤÄĀŚ§™ ("Black Old Granny," I guess), and that the explanations written outside of such halls openly explain how she is an ancient spirit who is deeply important in local shamanism.¬†

 

In your words you leave open the possibility of there being positive aspects of the blending of the "three teachings," but giving this a monster's name and even illustrating your point a picture of a terrible beast makes it clear that you are really focusing on the negative. 

 

It is fine to focus on the negative, if you can honestly say that you have done the homework that you would have to do in order to make an honest assessment of Quanzhen teachings, but as you have said, you didn't even know the Longmen were monks until today! So... please endeavor to keep a more open mind, and be a bit more reticent before pointing a finger and calling things you have scarcely familiarized yourself with either in book or in person monster's names!

 

On 1/27/2020 at 1:52 AM, Taomeow said:

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.  

 

I hope that what I'm about to say about the two paragraphs above will make you think again about the story I just wrote about everybody's failure to notice the chemicals in the "Wudang tea."

 

Anyway, forgive me, but I cannot help but find your invocation of Han Yu and Zhu Xi here to make your point, well, laughable. 

 

First of all, yes, I am aware of the illustrious Han Yu. Off the top of my head, I know that he was a dyed-in-the-wool Confucian who famously wrote at least one polemic railing against Buddhism. What you may not know, though, is that later in his career he ran afoul of the government (maybe, actually, for pissing the emperor off with his polemics, I can't remember) and was banished somewhere far away from the capital--I think it might have been to Canton. There he found himself very lonely, as he was an over-educated fellow used to being surrounded with all his loquacious literati buddies in the seat of the empire, and now he was alone in the countryside, with scarcely a literate person in sight, to say nothing of people who could sit and chat with him about philosophy and governance. Finally he heard that a local Chan Buddhist master was quite an erudite scholar, and despite his longstanding disgust for Buddhism, in his loneliness he sought out the Chan monk. Perhaps to his pleasant surprise (since evidently Han Yu loved arguing with people), not only did he find out that the monk was indeed a brilliant scholar, but he also quickly learned that the monk was also quite willing to get involved in Han Yu's never ending Confucianism-versus-Buddhism debate. They decided, therefore, to formally have a debate or debates about Buddhism's virtues or lack thereof. The result he could not have predicted was that, in the end, he could only admit being soundly defeated in the debate with the Buddhist monk, and being the good man-of-letters that he was, Han Yu left behind a written mea culpa in which he admitted for posterity that he had been bested by the Chan master and had been wrong about Buddhism. He did not convert to Buddhism, but he ate his words--the ones he was writing when he penned the famous polemic you mentioned. 

 

The other thing that makes me laugh about using Han Yu to make your point here is that he wasn't just anti-Buddhism... he was also famously anti-Daoism. And I'm not talking about monastic, Quanzhen-style Daoism, which was not established until centuries after he died. No, I'm talking about free-wheeling, happy-go-lucky, totally uninhibited Tang dynasty style Daoists and immortals. I can't remember exactly what the piece of writing was (and I'm not gonna Google it otherwise I will never finish my real work today, which is sitting ignored in another window), but the key is that he had a nephew who shared his last name, none other than member of the Daoist Eight Immortals, Han Xiangzi! Well, back in the day old fuddy duddy Han Yu thought his Daoist nephew was just as stupid as those damn Buddhists, and made no bones about letting everybody know. His nephew wasn't the least bit phased, and one day left his uncle a calligraphic couplet. Han Yu received the gift and, as was his wont, he scoffed at it. Evidently he thought it was a shitty, nonsense poem!

 

Fast forward a couple of years (in fact, perhaps to his journey away from the capital after he was banished--I am not 100% sure), Han Yu got lost in the mountains during a terrible snowstorm with white out conditions. Well and truly fucked, he stared to realize that it was time to make peace with death. He was already beginning to freeze and surrounded by such deep snow that there was no way he could find the road or expect to see any humans. 

 

Just as he was getting ready to give up, he saw a human form. Lo and behold, it was none other than his damn stupid Daoist nephew, out there the cold in just a thin robe, grinning ear to ear, and laughing at his uncle's predicament. His uncle--I'm guessing and embellishing here--didn't know whether to yell at the kid for being such an upstart even in these dire straits, or thank his lucky stars that the guy really was a Daoist master. My favorite part of the story is that before saving his uncle, Han Xiangzi first humiliated him by saying, "hey, remember that poem I gave you that you thought was sooooooo stupid?" His uncle did remember, and Han Xiangzi made him recite it aloud. As soon as Han Yu finished his jaw dropped--the poem's previously senseless-seeming language, it turned out, contained the name of the mountain pass where he'd gotten lost, an allusion to the snowstorm, and the prediction that he would be saved. Being a nice guy, Han Xiangzi really did save his uncle, who was thenceforth forced to acknowledge Daoism, and apparently also did so in writing.

 

As for Zhu Xi, I will spare you and me another long piece of writing and just say, uhhhhhhhh, why are you quoting Zhu Xi to make points about monasticism, when Zhu Xi is in fact widely known to have had opinions about women that encouraged their repression? In fact, why invoke two Confucians at all? These guys are, in many ways, the epitome of those who promote the slave-like post-metallurgical- and post-agricultural-revolution societies you lament so forcefully in your thread on Sumer. This is not a rhetorical question, although I don't mind if you don't answer it: do you really think these guys points are all that valid? 

 

And anyway, if post-Sumer societies are as fundamentally corrupt and corrupting, then how is "promoting and engaging in escapism from the world, state, and family" anything other than fucking great!? (That is a rhetorical question haha).

 

On 1/27/2020 at 1:52 AM, Taomeow said:

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 o n 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.

 

Meh, that logic is spurious, and I don't mind telling you, because I really don't think it's up to Taomeow standards. 

 

There's a huge difference between the special type of gratitude one might have for the founders of the lineage one practices in, and the more general gratitude for everybody else who's ever been circumstantially involved in getting us to where we are today.

 

Sure, I am thankful for anybody who ever did something in the last 2,500 years that made it so that in the 1990s I came across the Daodejing.

 

But that doesn't mean all those people are Laozi. 

 

Finally, no, I don't think you are "under any obligation to emulate the whole developmental history of his ideas, preferences and beliefs." But as is probably infuriatingly clear by now, I think you are under obligation to first learn about these things before sharing your opinions on them.  

 

On 1/27/2020 at 1:52 AM, Taomeow said:

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. 

 

That doesn't surprise me.

 

But I would be quite surprised if they believed that Wang, Ma, and Qiu's decision to found a monastic lineage was a "fuck up."

 

If you suspect that, for instance, Wang Liping would hold that opinion, and you ever get the chance to ask him directly, please do and let me know what he says. 

 

On 1/27/2020 at 1:52 AM, Taomeow said:

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.

 

Wikipedia says that cargo cult means: "A cargo cult is a belief system among members of a relatively undeveloped society in which adherents practice superstitious rituals hoping to bring modern goods supplied by a more technologically advanced society." If that is what you mean, I think your opinion is wrong. 

 

Were you to do some serious fieldwork with vegetarian monks, nuns, and hermits of the Quanzhen tradition and come back to report on your findings about the problems of vegetarianism in this area, I would be very interested in reading what you have to write. But barring that, I'm afraid I'm just going to have to say I'm not at all convinced you know better than Qiu Chuji. 

 

On 1/27/2020 at 1:52 AM, Taomeow said:

Thanks for the stimulating exchange.

 

You are welcome, and thank you for reading all of the above.

 

I have made my point as well as I can, both as a response to your ideas and in order to make my perspective available to whoever might read this thread. I can do no better than I did above and barring a sudden revelation I don't think you are going to win me over to your viewpoint, so I suggest that unless I have said something that intrigues you and you wish to hear me say more, we let this rest for now. (Of course, if you have strong objections to something I said above that you feel it is important to express, please do, I will read them carefully and respond if I can)

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