|Posted by barhanna on September 5, 2010 at 4:06 PM||comments (0)|
|Posted by barhanna on August 30, 2010 at 5:10 PM||comments (0)|
Our mothers warned us to be careful about the company we keep. This was good advice but not for the reasons our mothers warned us. They were concerned that we keep bad company and be led down the wrong path. But I have found that if we are around inspiring people this can have a profound influence on our lives. Twelve years ago I was living in a monastery in southeast Turkey. I have to leave in order to renew my VISA. I wrote to Abbot Philip Lawrence of Christ in the Desert Monastery in New Mexico. I had admired him from afar. I was not disappointed when I first went to visti the monastery for a couple of months in 1999. He was so gracious and kind. The life of the monastery was so beautiful and my soul conformed to the daily life in ways that have affected me ever since. Abbot Philp read to us the Rule of Benedict. It was a profound document full of wisdom and truth. It’s key approach was the use of moderation in all things.
Recently I had to apply this principle of moderation with my mother. My mother is not driving so well. Her skills have degraded. Family members begged me to talk to my mother and get her to stop driving. I used the Rule of Benedict to guide my actions. Instead of taking the keys from my mother I wrote up a contract and had her agree to restrict her driving. This at least temporarily satisfies most of the family. I thank Abbot Philip and the Rule of Saint Benedict for guiding these efforts..
My mom is not so happy with me for leading this effort to restrict her driving but I believe we found a middle way.
You see it does matter with whom one keeps company.
|Posted by barhanna on August 28, 2010 at 8:54 PM||comments (0)|
I called the Rev. Father John Walker this weekend. He has been a spiritual advisor to me for the past few years. He has bladder cancer and is not doing too well. As we were discussing a few things he said, IF YOU DON’T BELIEVE IT THEN YOU CAN’T HAVE IT! We were discussing the issue of Divine Consciousness. He said that he found that people just roll their eyes when you begin to talk about Divine Consciousness. He says that he uses the word DIVINE ENERGY instead but either phrase challenges one to look at the more primal sense of God that flows beneath the surface of reality. Our lives are directed to BEING more than DOING. That is when he blurted out in enthusiasim that is so unique to him, “IF YOU DON’T BELIEVE IT THEN YOU CANN’T HAVE IT!” He was not saying this to me but to all others who do not understand what we were sharing together.
Believing for John and for me is not an intellectual act. It is a matter of the heart independent of the mind. You just know. So to believe requires that one enter into the realm of being with courage and with all your heart. There is no other way.
Father John used to ride in the rodeo. He loved to ride bucking broncos. I learned that he had a rodeo name, Rusty Jackson. His hair used to be red so it was a great name for him. To ride a horse that wants to buck you off within 8 seconds requires that you commit to the ride with all your heart. You cannot go along for the ride or just try it out to see what happens. It is a life and death experience filled with danger and delight. This is what Father John means when he says, “IF YOU DON’T BELIEVE IT THEN YOU CANN’t HAVE IT! Either commit all the way or you can never have the expereince of knowledge that is only available to those who commit completely.
Going to China requires complete a full immersion emotionally, physically, intellectually, and spiritually. I realized in the conversation with Father John that I must dive into this experience head first. I thank the DIVINE ENERGY for pushing me in this direction. Now it shouts: “IF YOU DON’T BELIEVE IT THEN YOU CANN’t HAVE IT!
|Posted by barhanna on August 21, 2010 at 3:31 PM||comments (0)|
Contributions of Syriac physicians to Chinese Medicine
Syriac palimsest with a text of Galen’s medical text under a 10th century Melkite Prayerbook. fol 126v, from Walters Museum Archmedes Paolimpsest Project
Yi-Si a Syriac priest/physician is listed on the Xian-fu monument in 781 with the words “the sick were attended and restored.”
Dunhuang manuscripts no later than the 9th century mention the Greek Four Element theory, medical treatments similar to that practiced in ancient Greece and Rome, and Christian teachings concerning the sick. The Xinxiuu bencai pharmacopeia includes an ancient Asian Minor medicine called theriaca which was brought to China by the Nestorians.
During the Tang Dynasty Sun Simiao (581-682) was known as a great alchemist. He was also known as Yaowang (King of Medicine). He wrote Qianjinfang (Thousand Golden Remedies) and Qianjin yifang (Supplement to the Thousand Golden Remedies). His works found their way to Gundeshapur in Persia at the famous medical school operated by Syriac physicians. It was under the rule of the Sassanid monarch Khusraw I (531-579 CE), called Anushiravan “The Immortal” and known to the Greeks and Romans as Chosroes, that Gundeshapur became known for medicine and linguistic studies. Khusraw I gave refuge to various Greek philosophers from the school of Athens when it was closed by Justinian in 529. A century earlier the school of Nisibis came under persecution from the Byzantine empire and their scholars fled east to Persia eventually setting up a new educational center in Gundeshapur under the protection of Anushiravan. This nexus of the best and brightest of Greo-Roman civilization mediated by the linguistic genius of Syriac scholars produced one of the greatest advancements in medical scholarship, invention, and discovery in human history.
The Anushiravan turned towards the east, and sent the famous physician Borzouye to invite Chinese scholars to Gundeshapur. These visitors brought Chinese texts on herbal medicine and religion. Along with Indian medicine, Syriac scholars, priests, and physicians, who were often one and the same fused together a body of medical knowledge superior to any on the face of the earth.
Physicians from this school found their way to China. Qin Minghe is thought to have developed medical skills adapted from Central Asia and Persia which would have had at it’s source the teaching hospital of Gundeshapur. Even the name of Qin suggests that he is from the Syriac/Persian west. Da Qin was the name used by Chinese to refer to the former eastern Roman Empire. This part of the world, although foreign to China was not unknown to them. Du Huan was the Tang Dynasty ambassador to the west. He wrote an account of his travels entitled Jing Xing ji. He traveled to Gundeshapur where he wrote, “The people of Da Qin (Persia) were good at curing eye diseases and dysentery.” Also he pointed out the practice of blood letting (trepanation) was a foreign practice which he reported to Emperor Gaozong who later submitted to the treatment by summoning Qin Minghe in about the year 683. The Emperor had become blind after reporting dizziness. The Chinese called this feng xuan, a disease related to a parasite causing temporary blindness. Qin used a combination of acupuncture and bloodletting. He drilled a hole in the skull and drained blood to “sweep away the parasites.” Ma Boyong, a modern Chinese scholar reports that Qin was a Nestorian doctor. If this identity of Qin is true then we have an interesting insight to the crossfertilization of medical knowledge. Acupuncture was known and practiced in China as early as the 2nd century BC. Qin adopted this Chinese practice while using techniques from his Christian training.
In 659 an imperial edit was fulfilled and the Xinxiu bencao, a pharmacopeia, was completed by a team of Chinese scholars. It was the first official material medica produced in China, This effort may have been influenced by awareness of similar pharmacipiae developed in India, Perisa, and an emerging awareness of Greek medical science mediated by Syriac scholars who were translating Galen and Hippocrates for the Caliphate in Baghdad.
In 667, ambassadors from Persia presented the Emperor Gaozong of the Tang Dynasty in China with a theriac. Greek physician Galen devoted a whole book Theriaké to theriac. One of his patients, Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, took it on regular basis. Knowledge of Galen seems to have infiltrated China during the Tang period.
The Chinese observed that foreigners seemed to respect theriact greatly. The Tang pharmacologist Su Kung noted that it had proved its usefulness against “the hundred ailments”.
Chinese Emperors during this period took personal interest in the development of medical knowledge. Xuanzong composed Guanggifang (Formulary of Prescriptions) in 728 and emperor Dezong published Zhenyuan guanggifang which was another treatise on prescriptions.
Chinese medicine, modified by 150 years of foreign influence during the Tang Dynasty began to have a counter-influence toward the west. In 800 AD former Chinese prisoners settled in Baghdad. Most of these Chinese were taken prisoner during the war of Talas in modern day Uzbekistan. The Battle of Talas (怛羅斯會戰 (معركة نهر طلاسIn 751 AD was a conflict between the Arab Abbasid Caliphate and the Chinese Tang Dynasty for control of the Syr Darya. On July 751, The Abbasids started a massive attack against the Chinese on the banks of the Talas river; 200,000 Muslim troops (according to Chinese estimates) met the combined army of 10,000 Tang Chinese and 20,000 Karluks mercenary. Out of 10,000 Tang troops, only 2000 managed to return from Talas to their territory in Central Asia.
In 860 in a Chinese book named Miscellany Ya Ying Mountain Cave the Chinese scholar Tuan Ch’eng shih (also known as Duan Chengshi 段成式 mentions a dialogue between an Indian, a Chinese physician, and a Byzantine monk. Although this may be a fictional account it points to the kind of international dialogue that was being conducted in the field of medicine.
As Islamic civilization began to emerge in 900 AD a Chinese man came to Baghdad and lived with the famed Calif Al Razi for one year.Al Razi reported that time the Chinese man learned Arabic in about 5 months and then asked to have the works of Galen read to him.
Jawāmi‘ Kitāb Jālīnūs fī al-bawl wa-dalā’ilihi (MS A 84, item 3)
Apparently medical knowledge flowed back to China. In 923 AD Li Hsim wrote Medical Matters from Countries beyond the Sea and 121 medicines from the Middle East were added to the Chinese pharmacopeia.
Syriac physicians maintained their influence in China for at least 600 years through the 13th century. Kublai Khan (1215-1294) was known to have preferred the medicine of Syriac priests. The father of the Syriac polymath Bar Hebraeus treated Mogul royalty.
Schafer, Edward H. (1985), The Golden Peaches of Samarkand: A Study of T’Ang Exotics, University of California Press, ISBN 0-520-05462-8, p. 184
Needham, Joseph, Science and Civilization in China (2000), Vol. 7 with Gwei Djen Lu, and Nathan Sivin
Bahtia, Lai Sohan, Greek Medicine in Asia, 1970, Indian Insitute of World Culture
Boulnois, Luce, 2004, Silk road: monks, warriors & merchants on the Silk Road
Ho Peng Yoke, Lisowski, F. Peter, 1993, Concepts of Chinese Science and Healing Arts, World Scientific Publishing, Singapore
Ibid, Ho, Lisowski, 1996, Brief History of Chinese Medicine
|Posted by barhanna on August 21, 2010 at 2:23 PM||comments (0)|
Dogs were fashonable among the Xian aristocracy of the Tang Dynasty. Yang Guifei, the plump concubine ot the Emperor was reported to have a small dog of the “Samarkand” kind. She used it to cheat and distract card playing opponents, This Tang era sculture may be Yang Guifei although it has not been identified by experts.
Members of the Tang court aquired their interest in dogs from Persians traders who used dogs and cats for hunting. Often dogs are seated on horses being ridden by riders with Pyrgian (Persian) caps. There was a Persian craze in the early Tang court, perhaps because the first Emperor Li was part Turkic/Persian and Mongol,
from the Royal Albert Museum, London
|Posted by barhanna on August 14, 2010 at 9:17 PM||comments (0)|
Camels and horses were the beasts of the Silk Road. During the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) they were imported into China from Baghdad and Bactria .A Tang emperor is reported to have had 100 horses trained to dance before the royal court. The artists who crafted images of these beautiful creatures infused their love into the form of the designs.
This week I saw the first motorcycles designed by Paul Teutel Jr. since he left his father’s shop made famous by a reality TV show called American Chopper. Paul Jr. unveiled his motorcycles at the 70th annual motorcycle rally in Sturgis. It may not seem obvious at first but I see a similarity in the designs of the beasts of the Silk Road and the motorcycles unveiled in South Dakota.
As one can see the motorcycle (pictured above) was designed for Geico Insurance Company that uses a Gecko for its popular TV commercials. Like the camel above it demonstrates a fierce independence and determined spirit. This beast of the road roars in both definance and beauty. The sensual reptilian skin of the cycle seems to hug the metal in the same way the camel stretches its neck.in steady determination to have it’s way. Beauty is in the form as form is in the beauty.
The Tang horse was elevated in importance in Tang culture for it’s muscular elegance and intelligence. The function can be witnessed in the aesthetic form of the horse layered with silk brocade and leather medalions.
This second bike looks like it could dance. The intelligence of the spider web combined with the muscular engine prances before the viewer. Like a stirrup on a saddle the footrest and brake jut forward with elegance.
The leather seat invites the rider to take to the road.
|Posted by barhanna on August 12, 2010 at 11:45 AM||comments (0)|
Zhouzhi County, Xian
This is the location of one of the Syriac churches INestorian) of the Tang Dynasty. It has a replica of the Xian-fu stone which has Syriac and Chinese inscriptions on it
It lies about thirty miles southwest of the ancient Tang Dynasty capital that today is called Xi’an, in the famous area of Lou Guan Tai, now a national park.
The Da Qin Pagoda
Lou Guan Tai sits at the base of a pass leading westward through the Qingling Mountains. Something about its location—its feng shui—made the site revered as a spiritual place, and in the sixth century B.C., the scholar Laozi (or Lao-Tzu) is said to have settled there to pursue the Tao after leaving the royal court in disgust at its worldliness. Here he wrote Tao Te Ching, “The Book of the Way and Its Power,” founding the philosophy known today as Taoism.
Lou Guan Tai later grew into an important Taoist center, and it was just a mile or two to the west, either just inside or outside the Taoist complex, that twelve centuries later the Da Qin monastery was built by Christian monks. Only one tower of the monastery remains, a seven-story pagoda that Palmer says was near to falling.
Since Palmer’s announcement, repairs have been made, and the tower now seems in rather good shape for a 1,300-year-old structure. It is octagonal and looks exactly like other ancient Chinese pagodas. In a Chinese book of 1563, the pagoda is clearly named and described, and at that time had even more extensive ruins visible.
Palmer cites four strands of evidence that point to this as a Christian structure: (1) Its name, Da Qin, links it with an earlier Christian mission (more on this below); (2) the pagoda was cut into the hillside so as to face east, whereas all Chinese temples face north and south; (3) several lines of Syriac graffiti were found in or near the structure; and (4) several pieces of Christian statuary were found on the second and third floors of the pagoda. By the time of my visit, the statuary had been moved for safekeeping until a new museum could be built, so the description I give here is based solely on that of Palmer and the photographs reproduced in his book.
|Posted by barhanna on August 12, 2010 at 12:27 AM||comments (0)|
Dazu Caves: Chongqing, 50,000 statues and 100,000 inscriptions
Dunghuan Cavea: Turfan, 492 caves. The caves are spread out over a large area that rings a desert. The Mogao caves are 15 miles away and are a subset of these caves.
Longmen Caves, Hunan
The grottoes and niches of Longmen contain the largest and most impressive collection of Chinese art of the late Northern Wei and Tang Dynasties (316-907). These works, entirely devoted to the Buddhist religion, represent the high point of Chinese stone carving.
The Yungang Grottoes, in Datong city, Shanxi Province, with their 252 caves and 51,000 statues, represent the outstanding achievement of Buddhist cave art in China in the 5th and 6th centuries. The Five Caves created by Tan Yao, with their strict unity of layout and design, constitute a classical masterpiece of the first peak of Chinese Buddhist art.
Dunhuang has 492 caves, with 45,000 square meters of frescos, 2, 415 painted statues and five wooden-structured caves. The Mogao Grottoes contain priceless paintings, sculptures, some 50,000 Buddhist scriptures, historical documents, textiles, and other relics that first stunned the world in the early 1900s.
The Mogao Caves, or Mogao Grottoes (also known as the Caves of the Thousand Buddhas and Dunhuang Caves) form a system of 492 temples 25 km (15.5 miles) southeast of the center of Dunhuang, an oasis strategically located at a religious and cultural crossroads on the Silk Road, in Gansu province, China. The caves contain some of the finest examples of Buddhist art spanning a period of 1,000 years. Construction of the Buddhist cave shrines began in 366 AD as places to store scriptures and art. The Mogao Caves are the best known of the Chinese Buddhist grottoes and, along with Longmen Grottoes and Yungang Grottoes, are one of the three famous ancient sculptural sites of China
(Pre-136 Beautiful Mountains Religious Carvings Imperial Architecture
(1368-1911) Natural Wonders Historic Towns Other
Great Wall Taishan Mogao Caves Imperial Palace Jiuzhagou Lijiang Potala Palace
Terracotta Warriors Huangshan Dazu Rock Carvings Summer Palace Huanglong Pingyao Confucius Family Mansion
Dujiangyan Irrigation System Lushan Longmen Grottoes Imperial Tombs
Wulingyuan Suzhou Wudang Temples
Emeishan & Le Shan Buddha Yungang Grottoes Temple Of Heaven Xidi & Hongcun Peking Man
Mt. Wuyi Chengde Palaces
In about 220 B.C., under Emperor Qin Shin Huang, sections of fortifications which had been built earlier were joined together to form a united defence system against invasions from the north. Construction continued up to the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), when the Great Wall became the world’s largest military structure. Its historic and strategic importance is matched only by its architectural value.
The Great Wall stretches across Northern China. Visitors most commonly see it at one of four sites north of Beijing. For more information about the Great Wall, please click here .
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No doubt thousands of statues still remain to be unearthed at this archaeological site, which was not discovered until 1974. Qin (d. 210 B.C.), the first unifier of China, is buried, surrounded by the famous terracotta warriors, at the centre of a complex designed to mirror the urban plan of the capital, Xianyan. The small figures are all different; with their horses, chariots and weapons, they are masterpieces of realism and also of great historical interest.
The Terracotta Warriors are part of the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor at Xi’an, which is about a one and a half hour flight west of Beijing. For more information about the Terracotta Warriors, please click here . To view photos of the Terracotta Warriors, please click here .
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Dujiangyan Irrigation System
Construction of the Dujiangyan irrigation system began in the 3rd century B.C. This system still controls the waters of the Minjiang River and distributes it to the fertile farmland of the Chengdu plains. Nearby Mount Qingcheng was the birthplace of Taoism, which is celebrated in a series of ancient temples.
Both Dujiangyan irrigation system and Qingcheng Mountain can be done as day trips from Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province.
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Rising abruptly from the vast plain of central Shandong on China’s east coast, Mount Tai has long been revered as a holy mountain and incorporated within Chinese cultural life. Guo Murou, a modern Chinese scholar, claimed it is “a partial miniature of Chinese culture” with long-standing affiliations to Daoism, Confucianism and Buddhism. Chinese Emperors from the Han dynasty (200BC) have made pilgrimages to it. Since the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) hundreds of thousands of tourists have visited it annually.
Mount Taishan is not an unreasonable drive from Jinan airport. Jinan is the capital of Shandong province and a short flight from Beijing.
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Huangshan, known as “the loveliest mountain of China”, was acclaimed through art and literature during a good part of Chinese history (the Shanshui “mountain and water” style of the mid-16th century). Today it holds the same fascination for visitors, poets, painters and photographers who come in pilgrimage to this enchanting site, renowned for its magnificent scenery made up of many granite peaks and rocks emerging out of a sea of clouds.
Huangshan city is a short flight from Shanghai. From this city to the mountain, it is a drive of one and a half to two hours. For more information about Huangshan, please click here .
Mount Lushan, in Jiangxi, is one of the spiritual centres of Chinese civilization. Buddhist and Taoist temples, along with landmarks of Confucianism, where the most eminent masters taught, blend effortlessly into a strikingly beautiful landscape which has inspired countless artists who developed the aesthetic approach to nature found in Chinese culture. Since 1949 the Chinese government has held important conferences here, giving this site added political significance for local Chinese visitors. While this is not a cave, large statuary is carved into the side of a mountain.
|Posted by barhanna on August 10, 2010 at 8:08 PM||comments (0)|
Above is a picture of some of the JIZO sculptures dedicated to precious loved ones. Also there is a painting of me with Buddhist (Bonpo) monks I spent a month with at Christ in the Desert Monastery in New Mexico in 2000. It was the beginning of an intellectual and spiritual journey seeking the sources of mysticism and spirituality that is deeper than our religious tribal affiliations
On August 7 I participated in the 24 Hour Chant for Peace at Great Vow Buddhist Monastery at Great Vow Buddhist monastery in northwest Oregon. Twenty four groups participated in the chants on the weekend closest to the bombing of Hiroshima. Most of the groups were Buddhist but I was honored to lead the monks in chanting Aramaic prayers based on an historic liturgy of chants performed in the Chinese Tang Dynasty court of 644 AD when Father Alopen, a Syriac speaking Christian priest, conducted chants before a Buddhist audience. It was a thrilling recreation of an inter-religious event in world history.
Afterwards, my deacon Darren Wertz and I took a walk in the JIZO garden dedicated to children who have died, especially the children of Hiroshima. The founder of the monastery and garden is Jan Chozen Bays who was born on the day Hiroshima was bombed.
Jan is a forensic pediatrician whose work investigating the deaths of children lead her on a spiritual path to study and practice Zen Buddhism. She and her husband purchased a small rural school in northwest Oregon a few years ago and invited people to study to become monks and priests. She is especially an expert on a diety called Jizo, patron of children.
Jizo is the most Christ-like of the Chinese/Japanese dieties. Jizo renounced Nivanna in order to save those who remain in the lower realms. This Savior figure developed during the Tang Dynasty and may have been profoundly influenced by Christian teachings in China at the time. A Christian priest translated the life of Buddha with Indian scholar Prajna and the end of the 8th century and gave copies to Japanese monks who travelled to China to receive the translations and returned to Japan to found Pure Land Buddhism. Many Christian concepts found their way into Buddhism through the reformation of terms used in the Chinese translation. The words Jesus and Jizo are similar and probably not accidental.
In China Jizo had earlier names such as Kstigarbha and Ti Tsang ( Dizan).
Ti Tsang’s compassion is not practised exclusively for the benefit of the beings of the hell realm, he also gives blessings to those of the world who seek his help and he is a comforter of the poor, oppressed, sick, hungry, and those who are troubled by spirits and nightmares. Those who have firm faith in him can easily receive his protection. With faith one needs to recite any of these simple prayers:
“NAMO TI TSANG WANG P’USA’ or
“NAMO KSITIGARBHA BODHISATTVA YA”.
According the Wikapedia,
“Jiuhua Mountain in Anhui is regarded as Ksitigarbha’s seat. It is one of the four great Buddhist mountains of China, and at one time housed more than 300 temples. Today, 95 of these are open to the public. The mountain is a popular destination for pilgrims offering dedications to Ksitigarbha.
Jizō bodhisattva statue at Mibudera temple in Japan, depicted with children and bibs.In Japan, Ksitigarbha, known as Jizō, or Ojizō-sama as he is respectfully known, is one of the most loved of all Japanese divinities. His statues are a common sight, especially by roadsides and in graveyards. Traditionally, he is seen as the guardian of children, particularly children who died before their parents. Since the 1980s, he has been worshiped as the guardian of the souls of mizuko, the souls of stillborn, miscarried or aborted fetuses, in the ritual of mizuko kuyō (水子供養, lit. offering to water children). In Japanese mythology, it is said that the souls of children who die before their parents are unable to cross the mythical Sanzu River on their way to the afterlife because they have not had the chance to accumulate enough good deeds and because they have made the parents suffer. It is believed that Jizō saves these souls from having to pile stones eternally on the bank of the river as penance, by hiding them from demons in his robe, and letting them hear mantras.
Jizō statues are sometimes accompanied by a little pile of stones and pebbles, put there by people in the hope that it would shorten the time children have to suffer in the underworld. (The act is derived from the tradition of building stupas as an act of merit-making.) The statues can sometimes be seen wearing tiny children’s clothing or bibs, or with toys, put there by grieving parents to help their lost ones and hoping that Jizō would specially protect them. Sometimes the offerings are put there by parents to thank Jizō for saving their children from a serious illness. Jizō’s features are commonly made more babylike to resemble the children he protects.
As he is seen as the saviour of souls who have to suffer in the underworld, his statues are common in cemeteries. He is also believed to be the protective deity of travelers, and roadside statues of Jizō are a common sight in Japan. Firefighters are also believed to be under the protection of Jizō.”
According to Japanese folk belief, red is the color for expelling demons and illness. Rituals of spirit quelling were regularly undertaken by the Japanese court during the Asuka Period (522 – 645 AD) and centered on a red-colored fire deity. This early association between demons of disease and the color red was gradually turned upside-down — proper worship of the disease deity would bring life, but improper worship or neglect would result in death. In later centuries, the Japanese recommended that children with smallpox be clothed in red garments and that those caring for the sick also wear red. The Red-Equals-Sickness symbolism quickly gave way to a new dualism between evil and good, with red embodying both life-destroying and life-creating powers. As a result, the color red was dedicated not only to deities of sickness and demon quelling, but also to deities of healing, fertility, and childbirth. Jizō’s traditional roles are to save us from the torments/demons of hell, to bring fertility, to protect children, and to grant longevity — thus Jizō is often decked in red
Darren noted an interesting connection to the bombing of Hiroshima. He said that the bomb that killed the children of Japan was shipped from New Mexico and shipped to Oregon. We looked toward the river and there was the port, now a ghost town, where the bomb was loaded. How coincidental and even profound that this Buddhist monastery was built on a hill overlooking this historic site, a monastery created by someone who was born on the day of so much destruction.
JIZO appears in the Dunhuang Caves in texts that refer to the “Di-zan cult”
p. 332 Di-zan Pu-sa S^i-z^ai Ri. (T2850:85.1.300a6-b1) Dun-huan MS S2568
|Posted by barhanna on August 3, 2010 at 2:04 PM||comments (0)|
Father priest Alopen arrives in China in 635 AD. He presents his papers to the Emperor and he is immediately taken to the Royal library and asked to translate his scriptures into Chinese. He finishes six years later and now we find him standing next the the Emperor translating as the Tibetian ambassador is received. The painting was done in 641 by Yan Liben. I am perhaps the first to identify the Nestorian priest in this painting. Clearly the priest has a caucasian face. He has a long nose. He wears a “fero” which is a skill cap worn by Syriac speaking priests. On his side he has small bag that contains either incense or elements for blessings. A box is tied to the second cord which may contain a relic of a saint. It may be that this is an image of Alopen himself.
|Posted by barhanna on July 28, 2010 at 12:27 PM||comments (0)|
Religious Ritual and Scientific Inquiry in China
As as Syriac Orthodox priest I was trained to do the liturgy of Saint James in the monastery of Mor Gabriel. I was not allowed on the altar until I had mastered all the precise motions and words of the ritual. The position of my fingers on the altar, the cup, the plate. I ritually moved items on the altar at precise periods and blessed the people using exact body and hand positions. There were preliminary actions prior to the main service out of sight of the people but required perfect execution. After the ceremony behind a closed curtain I had a series of actions I had to carry out with extreme thoroughness. It has taken me years to learn the thousands of actions coordinated with the words of the ceremony that requires constant attention to detail and practice. For many years I have considered myself as a religious anthropologist. This identity began during the years I trained as a priest and did census work of religious minorities in northern Iraq and southeast Turkey for the World Council of Churches. I counted families each year in remote villages and urban centers ranging from the mountain caves of the Yazdis (modern day descendants of Zoroastrians) to the computer lined offices of Orthodox Bishops. Central to this work has be an underlying question about the human need and practice of religious ritual. It has plagued me until recently when looking at the question raised by Joseph Needham about China. He asked, :Why did China lead the world in science until the rise of science in the West? This is called Needham’s Question. Needham wrote a 24 volume answer to this question consisting of about 20 thousand page of material exploring everything in Chinese science over the past 5000 years. The British scientist in the 16th century said that the four greatest inventions of western science were the stirrup, gunpowder, the printing press and the compass. What Bacon did not know was that all these inventions were first developed in China long before they were discovered in the West. Needham concluded that China lost it’s primacy in science because of religion (Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism), the Chinese language, nepotism, and corruption. Needham lived in Chongqing from 1941-1946 and is often credited with being the most famous and important British citizen to ever live in China. He went to China originally as a chemist and made important contributions to China to aid in its war effort against Japan. He helped to shape the modern Communist consciousness which was a reaction to the very things that caused the downfall and poverty of China, especially the corruption and nepotism. China reshaped itself into an atheist worker state under Mao freeing itself from religion, superstition and reforming itself into a meritocracy where a person could rise to the highest level of his ability. The Maoist government developed a phonetic system for the Chinese language in 1958. Pinyin, as it came to be known, romanized the Chinese language into a phonetic system. Needham pointed to the problem of printing scientific books in Chinese because of the thousands of images needed for any printing press. It made access to scientific knowledge almost impossible except for the very wealthy. In the West, the phonetic system required few symbols and gave access to scientific knowledge to the masses. We can see that Needham provided intellectual support to the communist movement after World War II. But after the fall of the Maoist experiment at the end of the 20th century, we need to re-evaluate Needham’s Question. Needham’s answer to his own question was fundamentally wrong for four reasons. First, his methodology was wrong because it used a comparison/contrast method that gave primacy to the superiority of Western science (especially medicine). Since the fall of the Maoist regime Chinese science has proven to be equal if not superior to the West in certain areas. Consider acupuncture which was considered bizarre and inferior at first to the West. Now we find that it has enormous therapeutic value. Also, the preventive and subtle aspects of Chinese herbology turns our to be very important in preventative immunotherapy, something that West science is only beginning to understand. Second, Needham’s analysis of science history in China was politically influenced. He lived in a political environment that was controlling and Needham had a bias toward his communist host. His writing and work were allowed as long as it suited the interests of the government who was supporting his institute. Third, because Needham could not and did not consider religion as anything other than superstitious in his research he could not see any of the positive contributions of religion to the scientific method. For example, Confucian religion considers ritual to be at the core of it’s religious philosophy even to the point of universal behavior. Every action of a person is to be considered as ritual and must conform to the requirements of ritual. Taoism considers consciousness and intelligence to be fundamental to nature. Some forms of Buddhism such as Pure Land, use ritual to construct a phenomenological metaphor of existence. Each of these religious components provide a framework for embedding the scientific consciousness in every citizen of the state. Scientific method requires ritual sequences to conduct experiment, create medicines and recipes for industrial products. Scientific method requires a belief in the rigorous laws of nature that conform to a kind of consciousness to be honored. Scientific method requires adherence both to reason and non-reason. Many of the greatest scientific discoveries in the west have been initiated through dreams and sudden bursts of inspiration as well as by reason. Fourth, Needham’s fundamental thesis appears to be incorrect in light of the rise of scientific achievement in China in the 21st century. China may have been a scientific seed in the ground during Needhams investigation hidden from his inquiry. In the 21st century the plant of Chinese science is bursting forth into the light of all to see. Needham’s Question should be replaced by the new and better question, “Why is China science continuing to be more innovative than Western science?” Chinese science was in a period of incubation during the 20th century. It had to be replanted into the fertile earth of the Chinese mind because of a fundamental failure of respect for religious ritual. Chinese culture has always sat on the foundation of Confucian ritual. Even on an unconscious level Confucian ritual can be seen in modern China from the sacred-military parades to the ritual precision of the opening of the 2008 Olympics. The more conscious Chinese people become of the religious ritual at the foundation of society the better they will become at science and technology. Perhaps the most important Asian ritual known to people in the West is the tea ceremony. It is an example of a religious ritual in secular clothing. The first written account of tea ceremonies was during the Tang Dynasty (June 18, 618–June 4, 907) written by Lu Yu (733-804). It began as a religious ritual. The term to describe the serving of tea was initially called cha dao or the way of tea. Japanese monks traveling through China during this period began to learn tea and tea culture. They were in China to receive copies of a 20 volume biography of the Buddha translated and written by an Oriental Christian priest named Adam. After bringing this knowledge back to Japan, tea ceremonies evolved in Japan as it blended with Japanese culture resulting in the well-known Japanese Tea Ceremony and is still called cha dao. A statue of Tang Chinese tea scholar, Lu Yu (733 – 804). This was taken in Xi’an on the grounds of the Great Wild Goose Pagoda What is surprising to learn is that the tea ceremony may have had a Christian source as it’s major influence. Oriental Christians had worked their way along the Silk Road trade routes. In the 7th century they were well established. With the rise of the Tang Dynasty they achieved imperial favor with the Emperor. The similarity of the Eucharist to the Chinese teas ceremony which arose at this time suggests a direct connection and historical source. Lu Yu wrote The Classic of Tea in Xian which not only was the capital of China at this time but it had a Oriental Christian colony estimated to be 30,000 strong. Oriental Christians were from Baghdad, Mosul, and many points along the Silk Road from Persia to China. A monument with Chinese and Syriac inscriptions was erected at this time in Xian. A public religious ritual was preformed during the unveiling of this public monument in a highly ritualistic ceremony focused on a cup filled with the brew of water and wine. Was the tea ceremony modeled after the Eucharist. The book of The Classic of Tea was written at the same time and place that the Eucharist appears in the Chinese Imperial court. Now this does not prove that the Oriental Christian ritual of the Eucharist directly influenced the development of the tea ceremony. We need the motivating source for the development of the tea ceremony to make our case. It turns out that LuYu was assisted by a poet and friend who shared a fascination of ritualized teas preparation and service. Cui Goufu was a minor civic official in Xian serving at the pleasure of the Emperor. Many of the minor officials at this time were Christian. More than likely Cui Goufu was not Christian but he was the Minister of Rituals in Xian. This would put him in position to learn and coordinate all activities in the Imperial Court, even the rituals of Oriental Christians arriving from the Near East. Bishop Alopen, who is mentioned on the Xian-Fu monument was invited to perform his Christian ritual in the Imperial Count in the year 744. This is exactly the time Cui Goufu was appointed Minister of Rituals. Apparently Cui Goufu offended someone in the court. More than likely it was one of the Christians because he was demoted shortly after this time to become minister of Education. In 755 he tried to stage a coup against the Dynasty under growing Christian influence. Here we have the motive for revenge and the creation of a ritual to mimic and combat Christians in Xian. Finally, not only do we have the time, place, and motive for the development of the Tea Ceremony based on the Oriental Christian ritual of the Eucharist but we have almost the same exact ritual pattern. There are six major aspects to consider when performing a Chinese Tea Ceremony. The following is a summary of both the technical knowledge and subtle skills for a successful ceremony. I compare each aspect to Oriental Christian ritual in which I was trained. 1. Attitude – The attitude of the person performing the ceremony should reflect both a happy and confident demeanor. The performer should exude a calm and relaxed manner to create a peaceful and enjoyable tea ceremony. The Christian liturgy requires fasting and prayer to set the attitude before the pre-liturgy starts. 2. Tea Selection – There are many considerations when selecting the right tea. In addition to fragrance, shape and taste, the tea should have a beautiful story and name. The same requirement exists in Christian liturgy. Before the liturgy starts the priest selects the best host has he has prepared the night before. In a way these are experiment in baking because leavened bread is used in Oriental Orthodox churches. Each round piece of dough is stamped with a wooded stamp with 12 crosses on it. They do not all turn our the same just like tea leaves vary in shape and color. 3. Water Selection – The best quality tea leaves will have poor taste if bad quality water is used. Therefore, select pure, light and clean water to ensure a wonderful tasting tea. In the Oriental liturgy great care is given to the wine and the water in their creation, filtering, and selection for use on the altar. 4. Teaware Selection – It is important to select the correct teaware for brewing your tea leaves. In addition, allow your participants to fully appreciate the teaware by selecting both useful and beautiful items. Liturgical instruments used on the altar are set as a banquet table with exact and precise order and care. Even in the selection of the chalice and paten, spoon, and candles. Each item is crafted, selected, and placed as as symbol of desire for perfection. 5. Ambiance – A peaceful and calm environment can be created with a clean, comfortable and quiet room. Artwork can be used to enhance the overall atmosphere of the space. Sacred space and silence is of the utmost importance in Oriental liturgy. We listen to the divine presence and focus the mind on the task at hand. Icons adorn the sanctuary. 6. Technique – The basic skills for brewing tea are needed but also a graceful manner reflected through hand movements, facial expressions and clothing. Just as I was trained in the Oriental Christian liturgy, each movement was to be as precise as a Zen master or a Confucian gentleman. I believe that it is no coincidence or accident that the tea ceremony arose during the Tang Dynasty. This is exactly the time that Oriental Christian liturgy was introduced to the Chinese court and to the provinces of Xian and Sichuan, along the Silk road, and outlying regions of China and Mongolia. Christianity in the form of Syriac based Oriental Christianity was the only religion that used the metaphor of a supper or banquet to illustrate a phenomenological world view. Confucianism indirectly would look upon activities in preparing and serving food as forms of religious ritual but only in the greater context of life in general. Buddhism was relatively new to China and its religious rituals were directed toward the dead, ancestor worship and ritualized meditation. Taoism was also directed ritually toward the contemplation of the non-material. Again Oriental Christianity focused its ritual almost wholly upon a ceremony of preparing and serving sacred food and drink. During the Tang Dynasty there was competition between the Buddhists, Taoists, and Christians. For much of the period Christians held imperial favor. To counter the Christian influence Chang Buddhists created several rituals to mimic the Christian Eucharist ceremony. The ceremony of offering food to the Dead was invented and arose at this time in the Tang Dynasty. The tea ceremony became a secular ritual. The Tea Ceremony is a religious ritual that has become secularized. Nevertheless, it shapes the mind and culture in which the science reigns supreme. The study of ritual practice and consciousness shapes and explains the people who adopt these patterns. The religious rituals of China created a scientific mind of inquiry and process. The scientific method that produced so many inventions and discoveries of the past was shaped by religious ritual. Because China is a Confucian state culturally, even though many of the religious rituals have been secularized, is the very reason China will continue to be a scientific marvel and innovator. The tea ceremony is only one of many religious rituals that have made the Chinese mind especially adapt and gifted for scientific achievement. Another example is the development of a meritocracy in government. Instead of people being appointed by civic positions based on family or communal relationships, a person can take a civic test and based on skill and knowledge achieve high rank. Birth and blood are eliminated from the meritocracy equation. Civic exams were developed during the Tang period. This was a new innovation in the science of government. The examination system is rooted in religious ritual. The better one preforms the ritual the more likely one rises to higher ranks. In Confusian practice, unfortunately there is a counter-veiling concept. Even though there is great emphasis on ritual the relations one has is more important. Thus, nepotism and personal loyalty at the expence of the people is more valued that skill and merit. This has been an unfortunate cancer in Chinese society. But there have been attempts to erradicate the pernicious trend toward these forms of corruption. Legalism as designed in The Book of Lord Shang is explicitly anti-Confucian. The school’s most famous proponent and contributor Han Fei Zi (韓非子;) believed that a ruler should use the following three tools to govern his subjects: 1. Fa (法; fǎ; literally “law or principle”): The law code must be clearly written and made public. All people under the ruler were equal before the law. 2. Shu (術; shù; literally “method, tactic or art”): Special tactics and “secrets” are to be employed by the ruler to make sure others don’t take over control of the state. Especially important is that no one can fathom the ruler’s motivations. 3. Shi ( literally “legitimacy, power or charisma”): It is the position of the ruler, not the ruler himself or herself, that holds the power. It was employed for brief periods in the 4th century BC, during the Sui Dynasty in the 9th century AD and more recently the last half of the 20th century. Legalism merged with Confucianism during the Tang Dynasty with the help of Buddhism that allowed religious ritual to temper an underlying harsh legalism. Legalism looked upon people as corrupt and evil and the State tended to control thought and behavior. There was no room for mercy. Legalism eliminated the component of religious ritual. Religious ritual is embedded by a moral code in Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism and Christianity. Respect for elders, for example, is embedded in Confucianism when people enter a room and ritually are seated in order or greet the host in a prescribed manner. Among Oriental Christian communities among which I have lived I learned quickly to identify the most important person in the room when I entered and to sit in the correct place. These rituals are more than just practicing manners they signal a moral value and quality we assign to human beings. In Taoism and Buddhism when sticks are cast to know the future we are imposing a moral context on the event that signifies that humans are at the mercy of forces greater than themselves. It is no different than a Benedictine monk obeying his superior for no other reason than he has taken a vow of obedience. The ritual of chanting in a Chang Buddhist monastery in a group setting is founded upon the moral principle of the Sangha which is no different that the moral value a cenobitic monk places upon his community as having higher value than the individual. This moral embedding in religious ritual crosses over to science. The practice of science has a rigorous moral code. Plagiarism, creation of false data, experiments without the use of double blind studies and exact testing and retesting, testify to an underlying moral code among scientists without which science would be impossible. This moral underpinning is connected to secularized ritual. Protocols are used to do surgeries, create chemicals, and present scientific papers. Protocols are rituals that define the order, the procedures, and naming conventions for the activity. A moral code directs and preserves the protocol and the protocol preserves the moral code. They are inseparable. Therefore, the study and analysis of religious ritual in a culture will reveal the quality of science practiced. The answer to Needham Revised Question suggests that the more China embraces its morally encoded rituals encoded in Confucian, Taoist, Buddhist, and Oriental Christian cultures the greater it will be in scientific achievement. For all of the above reasons I hope to show that it is important to study religion and it’s influence on culture. Because my expertise is limited but quite specialized in Oriental Orthodox religious traditions I shall focus on these particular influences in China. I have organized the essays more or less in chronological order starting with the 1st century A.D. Next I leap to the 7th century when Persian Christians show up in China. These Christians used a Syriac/Aramaic liturgy. Their literary culture contributed to the emergent languages all along the Silk Road. The Syriac alphabet formed the basis for Sogdian, Manichean, Turkic, and several other language systems. Historians often refer to these Christians as Nestorians but I prefer to call them Oriental Orthodox for two reasons. First, the term Nestorian is a term of bigotry ascribed by western scholars who labeled these Oriental Christians as heretics because of their misunderstood theology defended by Theodosius of Mopsuestia and his disciple Nestorius. Officially the church is called the Assyrian Church of the East. Second, I prefer to called them Oriental Christians because there was a western branch of the Syriac speaking church called Jacobite (another term of bigotry) and Armenians and perhaps Coptic Christians, all of whom belong to the Oriental line of Orthodox. Also because I am not a scholar of Roman Catholic missions in China in the 17th century but I do discuss Matteo Ricci because Catholicism is a ritual based religion and certainly made scientific and religious contributions to Chinese culture. Ricci recognized the connection between religious ritual and Chinese culture as a theological interface to Christianity. Finally, I do not address the Protestant religious denominations that began their missions in the early 1800s with Robert Morrison. These were not ritual based religions and made little impact on Chinese culture. These missionaries were stalking horses for the British East Asia Company and later the rising American industrial and consumer needs. It is a harsh thing to say but I believe it would be better for China to follow the path of its own religious tradition and culture. I include in these religious traditions Buddhism and Oriental Christianity which are both Asian in origin. Western Christian missions brings nothing but trouble. They advocate predatory behavior among the evangelical elements and the promote materialistic consumer world views embedded under the guise of Christianity. I think the Asian Jesus of Jerusalem would have nothing to do with those who represent the Master in this way. Protestants built many hospitals and schools and fed many of the hungry during times of famine but all this was done without respect to Chinese culture and tradition. The West is a culture of addiction. China quickly experienced the consequences of western influence. Xenophobic reaction did not solve the problem. The problem was already within as China followed a materialistic path. All these things were done not to make the Chinese in the image of God but in the image of the West. Today the tables are turned on Western influence. The United States and European nations have become debtor nations in debt to China. Instead of China becoming a vast market for the West, it has become a source of capital to finance western debt. China’s bubble will burst and it will fall in the same way as the West unless it turns to it’s fundamental spiritual and religious foundations. This can temper and guide China to a life every human being is meant to live: sufficient in material goods, at peace with one’s neighbor and the world, and in harmony with the deeper consciousness of the cosmos. The Oriental Christian influence on China provide cases histories to guide Chinese culture in it’s self-development.
|Posted by barhanna on July 25, 2010 at 11:54 AM||comments (0)|
I have been wrestling with a title for my working draft of my new book call Asian Jesus in China. This latter title was a little misleading. Some people wondered if it was about the actual historical Jesus in China. It is actually a set of essays that demonstrate an indigenous and evolving Asian form of Chrsitianity. This form is disguised in a way by the adoption of Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian terms to describe itself. It also has embedded it’s values in ritual . Finally I settled on a new title How Christianity will Save China. The idea is that China is a Confucian culture and sees religion through Confucian, Taoist and Buddhist eyes.Therefore as Christianity conformed, adapted, and assimilated into Chinese culture it became a native religion. When western missionaries arrived beginning with Matteo Ricci and the Jesuits and later the Evangelical Protestants they did not recognize this Asian Christianity. Bigotry and provincial attitudes clouded western views of Christianity in China. It was attacked as a heresy. The Eurocentric view that only the western versions and interpretations of Christianity were correct and all others were to be measured against it. Western missionaries attacked Asian Christianity for adapting and assimilating into Chinese culture. Yet they were asking Asian Christians to adapt and assimilate to Roman and European values and culural constructs. There were exceptions! Matteo Ricci immersed himself into Chinese cultures and Confucian attitudes and behaviors. This did not curry favor with the Vatican and Jesuit missionaries who arrived later and were shocked to see a Catholocism unlike Rome. So it must have been wrong? Not necessarily! Ricci made a strong case for his position and thus errupted a controversy that became known as the Chinese Rites Controversy. Protestants simply insisted that they were correct and one could not be a Chrsitian unless the Chinese believed in Jesus the way tehy believed. This is convenient for the Protestants to develop an heroic approach to missions. This included Catholics who were too ritualistic for their taste.
|Posted by barhanna on July 18, 2010 at 5:12 PM||comments (0)|
In 2002, the Communist Party Leader and President Jiang Zeming, was asked at a banquet; “Comrade Jeming. If before leaving office, you could make one decree that you knew would be obeyed in China, what would that be?” Jiang put on a broad smile, looked around the room, and said; “I would make Christianity the official religion of China.”
Christianity is a Chinese religion. From the first century to now Christianity has been in China developing, emerging, and shaping its many cultures. Christianity moved quickly along the Silk Road into China seeking a place of refuge from the conflicts of the Middle East. Christianity was in China before it was in Europe. It was officially welcomed in the seventh century although there were churches already established by the 5th century and perhaps as early as the 1st century in Western China.
Christianity is as Chinese as Buddhism in China. Buddhism came from India and Christianity came from the Middle East about the same time. Both religions mixed with Taoism sharing terms and ritual ideas with each other while competing for the soul of China. Over time, Christianity became the official religion of the Tang Dynasty of China only to fall out of favor with later dynasties. Nevertheless, Christianity remained as evidenced by Christian gravestones that persisted unto modern times.
Christianity was thoroughly Asian by the time western Christianity arrived with Matteo Ricci and the Jesuits. Evangelical missionaries from Europe and North America arrived in the 19th century to find a Christianity already present, not because of the Catholics but because of an ancient orthodox and Asian faith thoroughly indigenous and Chinese. Every attempt to challenge it and weaken it was rebuffed; first by the Jesuits who tried to declare Christian monuments of the Tang era as forgeries and later by evangelicals who tried to label earlier Christianity as heretical. Even secular and political forces of the 20th century in China could not repress the ancient faith.
This book chronicles why and how Christianity will save China in the first essay on Religious Ritual and the Scientific Inquiry. Other chapters list and discuss the many discoveries that prove that Christianity has been in China from the first century. Other records discovered by European teams at the beginning of the 20th century dramatically reveal gospels, psalms, and Christian sutras that reveal a vibrant Asian Christianity over 2000 years. Each chapter and essay roughly follows a chronological line from the arrival of Bishop Alopen in 632 AD to 20th century missionary scientist Teihard de Chardin and the present day.
By the end of the 21st century the population of Christians in China will be greater that the entire population of the United States according to David Aiken, former chief of TIME magazine’s office in Beijing. The interpretation of Christianity in the West will be challenged because it has compromised itself to the influences of consumerism, materialism, and the entertainment industry while China will hold onto the values of ritual and a holy spirituality that preserves meaning, human purpose and values. Chinese Christianity may soon teach the West original core values embedded in the teachings of Jesus.
Still China is at risk of succumbing to the same disease of materialism and desire for riches that is rotting the soul of the West. In the race to become the first tier of nations China and it’s Christians may become infected by greed and personal evil which will eventually destroy is economy and people. The antidote to the corruption that comes with the spirit of materialism is Christianity and the source of it’s strength in Jesus Christ. China may lead the way and we in the West need to watch it closely.
This small book is more than a history of Christianity in China and an apologia for why Christianity is Asian and Chinese, but it is a series of cases histories as to how Christianity influenced other religious cultures and how itself was influenced. These case histories are evidence of how Christianity may succeed or fail in the coming century.
Remain in Peace
Father Dale A. Johnson (Barhanna)
XUE DONG FANG
On his 60th birthday, June 7, 2010