China

Legacy of Lao Tzu

Lao Tzu Waterfall Scene

According to legend, Lao Tzu, an elderly 5th-century-BC archivist, tired of the Zhou dynasty’s increasing corruption and left the empire to live a more honorable, hermetic life in the far-west mountains.

Whether this tale is true — and whether it’s true that Lao Tzu, at the behest of the last mountain sentry, gave the guard his Tao te Ching, his poetic collection of ancient Chinese wisdom — is of no importance.

No matter the myth of the Tao‘s inception — though the more charming the myth the better — what matters is the Tao itself.

And if, despite any evidence, generations have believed this tale, we might as well follow the Tao and be like water, going with the flow, waving farewell to old Lao Tzu as he wanders off toward sunset.

 

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China’s Gen Zen

 

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Looks like Chinese millennials are equally apathetic as their western counterparts.  That’s according to China’s Global Times.

Rather than focus on capitalistic careers or communist-party dogma, China’s so-called Zen Generation is turning away from money and Mao and looking farther back in history, back to Buddha himself and his image of inner peace.

Sounds like these twentysomething Chinese are lacking a little Confucian structure.  They prefer to lounge around in Lao Tzu’s Tao, waiting for wu wei to woo them off the couch.

Actually, this bodes well for China’s future.  If she can detach from imported ideologies, if she can return to her own ancient wisdom, the rest of the world would be wise to follow.

 

Wisdom of Confucius

Chinees Letters on Glass

Confucius lived during a time not unlike our own, around 500 BC, when the Zhou Dynasty, emerging from its peaceful and productive Spring and Autumn Period, entered its Warring States Period.

During that time, as Zhou authority waned, smaller states within its control began to re-position themselves, to exercise dominance over neighboring states.

Confucius, a mid-level bureaucrat, doing what he could to promote the peace, compiled and published volumes of historical poems and annals, preserving the knowledge and wisdom of earlier dynasties.

Eventually, his efforts helped unify the warring states, allowing the Chinese people to share a common ancient heritage — to create a new, more inclusive culture.

 

Dalai Lama Yo

 

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On October 5th, 1989, the Nobel Peace-Prize winner was announced —  his holiness, the Dalai Lama of Tibet.

That very night, I held a ticket to attend a lecture at UC Irvine, a lecture to be delivered by — his holiness, the Dalai Lama of Tibet.

During his talk, in response to an audience question, the Dalai Lama said something that struck me.

“If Dalai Lama mad at China,” the Dalai Lama said, “China feel no pain.  Only Dalai Lama feel pain.  Dalai Lama no eat.  Dalai Lama no sleep –“

Then, pausing momentarily to confer with his robed Tibetan translator, the Dalai Lama continued:   “Dalai Lama feel up tight.”

 

Back to China’s Future

Scan_20171119Modern-day China must look back at its ancient past and find itself grinning at its current future.

By 500 BC, the Zhou dynasty had passed through its Spring-and-Autumn period and began to lose its hegemonic control, leading to the Warring-States period.

Today, with America’s global hegemony having waned under the Bush-Obama dynasties, China watches a new Warring-States period emerge.

And China knows well the fate of the last Zhou emperor, how a new dynasty rose to power — the Qin, or Chin, as in China.