March 2014 – May 2014
We were kept very busy with our classes. But we managed to take a little trip to a remote area which is home to indigenous Yao people. They have several clans or groups. We visited a mysterious mountain, I think I was followed by a wandering mountain spirit. Hong started learning yoga in Hangzhou and did so well it changed the way she dreamed. While trying to teach our students baseball, I learned why they have difficulty with team sports – see story below.
You never know what you’ll find when traveling through the countryside, like this beverage advertising by a famous NBA player who visited the province.
Or the DQ copy – the IQ Ice Queen 🙂
In the small Yao village we found a stand of meta-sequoia which was venerated by the locals. This type of tree was a remnant which survived in remote areas from before the last ice age. I was surprised to spot a perfectly adapted moth on the trunk.
The DaYao Mountain area had some incredible plant diversity.
March 2014 – May 2014
The goal of this life is to raise your awareness to the ultimate reality which is like a cosmic sea as wide as a trillion times a trillion times a trillion oceans. This life prepares you for advancing onto more planes of existence.
The richness of life experience translates to recognition of superior accomplishments. This does not mean, as the affluent elite like to impress upon us, a rich life is based on traveling the world to visit exotic locales and risking our necks leaping out of non-burning airplanes and other extreme activities that get the adrenaline flowing. No, a rich life is one filled with mindfulness – focused awareness of experiences as they occur. What happened since the boomers and that joyous exploration of experience? Where did all the enthusiasm go for changing the world for making love not war, for giving peace a chance? Did it all evaporated while standing in line at the bank?
Youthful exuberance surrendered to the Media conglomerates’ daily vaccinations against being carefree while providing multivitamin enriched daily doses of Protestant work ethic, the practicality of servitude in exchange for ironclad guaranteed low-wages and discounted health. The bitter roots of various “…isms” ,such as classism, racism, and elitism, were pulverized, analyzed and sanitized before being made into mesmerizing audiovisual goofer dust which is blown daily into the face of the populace by a thousand channels of entertaining information and informative amusement. Individuals no longer receive their primary worldview from home, church, and education; but instead it comes pre-packaged and individually self-selected from a myriad of media all with the bottom line goal of profitability.
Profits are rolled into massive intercontinental conglomerated accounts ever intertwining like a great voracious neural network of self-indulgent incorporated lust for more and more until the world’s beauty and humanity’s soul-fire are harnessed to grotesque grinding wheels that slowly convert the very essence of life into the economic lubricants known as liquidity and investment. This slippery fiduciary goop gets slathered on everything material and immaterial from baby’s butts to national pride codifying the very earth into the simplistic dichotomy of “have and have not”. In this way, the economic elite keep the teeming majority of fellow humans scrambling for the billions of crumbs from the reconstituted leftovers of privilege. Money was once simply a straightforward substitute for bartering, but all that changed with the invention of banking and financial institutions which infiltrated the body politic through their steady intravenous drip of donations and contributions resulting in the positioning of business interests ahead of the national interests and eventually international interests.
For what is the foundation of a nation? A nation is defined as a “large body of people united by common descent, history, culture, or language, inhabiting a particular state or territory”. That definition does not include business in any way. Business should be secondary to the welfare of the people. Even the word welfare has been contorted by business interests trying to maximize profitability through tax avoidance and cost-cutting. Welfare simply means health, happiness and providing for the basic physical and material well-being of people in need. Instead the word has been poisoned by those who want to reduce their taxes to keep their so-called hard-earned profits; and, to secure this money-making, the influential elite refashion the issues of society to suit their affluent worldview. With the advent of global media the economically prosperous simply remarket immoral selfishness as traditional economic policy while recasting the so-called less fortunate as slothful and unskillful. Anyone without a stock portfolio is viewed as a low-life shirker incapable of understanding the complexities of the jingoistic mumbo-jumbo spouted minute by minute from the million mouthed media. The fine examples of success foisted upon the common men and women are all wealthy. Occasionally a self-sacrificing example, such as Dr. Martin Luther King or Mother Theresa, will be added to the cacophony of money-making ballyhoo, but only so the boosters of revenue enhancing tableaus can further obscure the hidden motive of world-shaping in which the greedy lifestyle is portrayed as superior and that of the less-fortunate is dire and dreadful.
The truth behind the labyrinthine fiscal house of mirrors the majority of humanity must navigate is simply the opposite of what they have been told. Greed is not good; it is evil. Money does not make one a winner; happiness is the blue ribbon of life. Basic goodness, such as simplicity, kindness, and integrity, is the key that opens the golden door to paradise on earth. We live at the gates of heaven. Our lives are lived in interpersonal interactions, and we are defined by our deeds not our words. All of us are born knowing this. These are the blood memories of thousands of generations whispering to us across the continuum of humanity, and instilling within us the basic notions of the great teachers to be good and to do good deeds. Throw off the blinkers of guilt associated with low economic status. Those at the top of the heap are to be pitied for they are truly the soulless and the lost for there is no bank account valid across the universe; but there is an accounting of the individual character, and it is inscribed with the tally marks of compassionate acts of civility and decency. Be happy in your life. Be good in your actions. Be at peace in your heart. You are truly a human. You are loved.
from the realm of your imagination
Had a nasty cold the past days – it was suppressed by some good ol’ American
Cold and Sinus. In China, you have to show ID to get American cold meds. Traditional Chinese Medicine works slowly, and the main purpose is strengthening the body against illnesses which are viewed by TCM doctors as products of unbalanced forces within the body.
From the economic shakedown and smackdown of civilization
country roads a’callin
We visited Da Yao Shan (Big Yao Mountain). This is an “autonomous region” – majority of population are Yao minority people. The minority people are the most interesting to me. Many of the places we go are not well known tourist spots, which make
them much more interesting. Unless a famous place, like Xian is unique I try to avoid them especially on holidays, most so-called historic sites are actual rebuilt, due to damage and neglect. So I like to check out natural areas, even if degraded, and ethnic minority areas, but not the ones with shows.
We stayed overnight in a town that is being developed for tourism but was not interesting. The town had a lot of new construction, all designed to attract tourist, which maybe due to its mountain location, it could get tourist looking to relax. One of my favorite activities in small towns is spotting product knockoffs, classics being: KFG, KFO (featuring Obama), and Johnny Worker Red and Black Labial. This town had an Ice Queen knockoff of Dairy Queen. In the morning we drove deeper into the mountainous region, which is an advantage of car ownership. This part of the province grows black tea, which Chinese call “red” tea, and near the tea area the road was better so trucks could take the product to market.
After an hour or more we found a small unassuming Yao village with no tourist admission. A local lady directed us to a path leading to the edge of the village where she said there was the local “special” tree. Villages in China often have a large tree near the entrance for sitting under and keeping an eye on the comings and goings. Many old villages also have a “sacred” tree where people burn incense and get in touch with the spirits. Truly ancient traditional beliefs of natural spirits and totems continue today, and this village’s sacred tree was an incredibly rare Metasequoia, also called the “dawn redwood”. The tree was incredible and the grove truly tranquil. The metasequoia is called a living fossil, and was only rediscovered by Chinese scientists in the 1940s in neighboring Sichuan and Hunan. In Chinese it is called Shui-sa – water fir. This tree could be the only like it in the province. On the trunk of the tree I saw a perfectly camouflaged moth whose species must have adapted to the ancient tree over an untold number of centuries. These unexpected treasures are why we venture off the beaten path in China.
The RNA of Baseball as a missing link in the formation of advanced civilization
I was flabbergasted this week by something I learned about Chinese kids’ childhood, which I then began to extrapolate to Chinese society and then further unwound this thread into Asian societies vs. Western. Now, imagine a country of about 1.5 billion where the kids almost never play team sports, where they are not even taught to play any
team sports, or how to keep score… EVERYTHING IS BASED ON TEST RESULTS.
For example, when they teach the kids basketball, they don’t actually
play the game; they test them on dribbling or shooting percentage over
time, and they never actually play sports. The kids childhood is basically stifled at around 8-10 in order to keep them occupied with rote memorization.
Think about it – no team work -what does that say about a society? The kids say they play ping-pong, badminton and volleyball, but they don’t actually have game play and don’t keep score – so not really a game, but incessant practice in order to develop a testable skill. Here is another example of testing: every Chinese kid has to be tested
in jump rope – turns/minute.
This revelatory lightning bolt struck me when I was trying to teach the kids a very rudimentary version of baseball rules and game play, and Hong severely edited what I wrote, saying they wouldn’t comprehend it. What couldn’t they understand, if she translated? Roll dice, advance men around bases to finally cross home and score. I can’t take them outside right now – night classes, etc., I concocted a simplified version of dice baseball.
So no one, including Hong and her sister, could understand the simplest action – roll dice, move men, men on base advance, cross home – 1 point!
They could not comprehend TAKING TURNS!!!
None of them, Hong and sister included, had no idea about scoring – a basic
fundamental of games. I used a big sketch of a diamond to illustrate game play and how hits move runners around bases. Nothing sunk in. I was flummoxed. So I kept refining the explanation, and further simplifying, but still everyone had a hard time grasping taking turns, and limiting the number of rolls per inning so you could keep the
score from being infinite – one kid simply wrote 25 in first inning score box – ON SIX ROLLS?
So their confusion dogged me all day. I was confused and wracked my brain. At dinner, Hong told me how none of the kids play team sports, never learn to take turns, and don’t understand keeping score… How is it possible? They sacrifice these kids whole childhood
to test taking, examinations, and memorization. That is what struck me hardest. There are no group projects in China, the kids passive-aggressively seethe with contempt for the others (Hong told me this). They revel in the failure of others. How can a civil society be
built on this lack of team effort and concern for others? It cannot, and this is a primary problem here which causes disorder (in an outsider’s eyes).
This revelation crept into my thoughts all weekend. The last class of kids I taught, got the most stripped down version of game, and I kept score for them, allowing them to alternate their rolls over two minutes each inning.
This is one of those cultural insights that can only be gained by living here. Most news, movies, academic papers get China wrong – simply wrong. They either research in universities analyze business data or are spoon-fed propaganda. This results in something like America’s media focusing on the stock market to represent America’s overall economy – it is an indicator of corporate environs not households. I have just struck a deep vein filled with nuggets which I will further refine. Think of all the sports related language we use everyday – and the Chinese have none of that. I dropped this into my subconscious and let it roll around my noggin for a while.
From the frenzied frontier fields of international Realpolitik, and the sidelines of the Great Game
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