Thu 17 November 2016
Daoism is wide and far reaching, with some considering it a philosophy, religion and integral part of Chinese culture. At a Daoist Koon, we seek answers from a Tang Dynasty Scholar through fuji or planchette writing, and explore some physical expressions of faith - the art of fung shui and destiny reading.
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One thing that’s been deeply interesting to explore is whether people think their faith and culture inform each other - or don’t. You have some who draw a sharp distinction between religion and spirituality, who feel their upbringing solidified the practice of ritual, but the meaning didn’t really sink into their souls until later. Then there are others who think they’re inextricable - and it was this sense that came to the forefront in speaking with two Daoists in this episode.
In his book, Kerby mentioned his awakening towards Daoism during a martial arts class he was teaching while living in the US. One of his white students asked him about fung shui. When Kerby expressed his skepticism, this student grabbed him by the shoulders and exclaimed, “5,000 years of Chinese history and you call this superstition?!” The incredulity of this student, in Kerby’s perspective, was astounding - and to an extent, he felt chastised by someone who appeared to know more about Chinese culture than he did, especially since he was the Chinese one. Similarly, you have Roger, who connects his rejection of fung shui to the time he spent in the UK - and his return to Daoism as one that parallels his embrace of Chinese culture once again.
What’s also really important to them is the physical expression of Dao - in Kerby’s words, the Dao metaphysics. Dao is not only something that provides a framework shapes to understand the world, while imbued with national and cultural pride - for them, it’s also the concrete practices of fung shui, of destiny reading, of Chinese medicine, that result in more harmony, better health and longevity. It’s seeing and understanding Dao in action in their lives through specific practices with pragmatic consequences - which is somewhat different from the followers of other faiths we’ve spoken to, who might place more emphasis on how God/gods move within them and shape their inner lives.
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