2001 Critical Reviews
of Sources on
table of contents Short cuts:
Cari Davis: "Chinese Divination: The I Ching,
Chinese Astrology, and Fortune Telling"
Nathan Garibay: [Population Control in China Today]
Meagan Gates: "The Art and History of Bonsai"
Dianne Herauf [Martial Arts]
Shawna Moore, "The Origin of Hatha Yoga"
Ike Mundell, "Shaolin Kung Fu"
Unsigned (1) by student request [Origami]
Unsigned (2) by student request [Empress Wu Zetian, Tang Dynasty]
HUM 210, Dr. Agatucci
20 February 2001
The I Ching, Chinese Astrology, and Fortune Telling
The practice of divination has been an integral part of life for the citizens of China for at least the last 3000 years. Unlike in the West, where practitioners of divination are often times scoffed at and ridiculed, the art of divination such as consulting the I Ching, a fortune teller or one's birth chart is a common, every day practice in China.
In researching this topic I had hoped to concluded how important the practice of divination is in the lives of the Chinese? What are some of the differences and similarities between Chinese astrology and Western astrology, and is Chinese astrology more respected by the general Chinese population than astrology is in the United States? Do a majority of the Chinese consult the I Ching before making major decisions or do only a small number of people consider it's guidance valid?
I have chosen the subject of Chinese Divination and it's importance in the lives of the Chinese citizens because I am curious whether or not it is respected and valued in their lives, or if only a few members of the society believe in divination such as astrology, the I Ching, and fortune tellers. This is of particular interest to me because I have always been fascinated by astrology and Chinese astrology in particular has proven to be very accurate in it's description of myself and others. I would like to learn more about the I Ching because the few times I have consulted it, it's messages have been very inspiring and relevant to my life.
I feel that by understanding the concept of the importance of divination in the lives of the Chinese, we as students of the Chinese culture will gain a clearer picture of the culture as a whole, and a better indication as to why they do the things they do. The Chinese culture is obviously much different in many ways than the American culture. The more we are able to compare the differences and the similarities the easier it will be to understand and respect the Chinese people..
In order to find the sources that I used in researching this topic I searched the C.O.C.C.'s library catalog under 'Chinese divination'. I found several books, two of which I chose as good sources. I then searched Ehost for an article pertaining to 'Chinese Astrology'. Seven articles matched my search words but I chose one article that I felt gave the strongest support on my point and at the same time was the most interesting. I also used Microsoft Internet Explorer and searched 'Chinese divination.' Hundreds of sites were available. I weeded through countless before I settled on a site that I thought was informative as well as respectable.
It was especially difficult searching the internet for valid information on this subject. A majority of the sites only supplied a broad astrological forecast or promised to help one find their ideal love interest. Another difficulty I encountered was trying to site my sources accurately. I had the handout which was very useful, yet not all my questions were answered, such as; how do I document an entire web page rather than specific information found on that web site? How do I correctly document articles found through Ehost? Do I site the volume and issue and page numbers? However, these were my only major challenges. Putting this project together was a great learning experience, and I feel that I have gained a lot of knowledge that I previously did not have.
The I Ching: An Illustrated Guide to the Chinese Art of Divination. 2nd ed. Trans. Koh Kok Kiang. Singapore: Asiapac Books, 1996.
This wonderfully illustrated manual to the Chinese classic the Zhou Yi, otherwise known as the I Ching or The Book of Changes, is intended to make available to the Western population an easily understandable and useable version to this classic Chinese text. The clever illustrations in conjunction with the witty commentary helps the Westerner to better understand the I Ching's complex teachings and history.
This revised edition of the I Ching includes additional modernized divination techniques that can be used as a replacement to the ancient practice of using yarrow stalks, such as the three coins method, the eight coins method, the pebble method and the method of 16.
This book includes divination guidelines, the hexagram chart, as well as a brief chronology of Chinese history which aids the readers in placing historical events into their proper place. This is done with the aid of delightful cartoons as well as captions which make the reading fast and fun, and enable the reader to retain the information thanks to the visual aids as well as the usage of metaphors.
This is a great way to teach the Westerner who most likely have no previous knowledge of the I Ching, how the teachings of the classic can be used to help guide them in their own lives.
The introduction of the I Ching: An Illustrated Guide to the Chinese Art of Divination tells of how the I Ching became part of the Confucian classics in the Han Dynasty when Confucianism became the state ideology and it was required reading for all scholars. It first appeared about 3000 years ago. Although it has been modified through time, it's basic Eight Trigrams are the basis for 64 hexagrams which are still in regular use throughout China today.
This particular translation of the classic text was a valuable tool in my research on the topic of divination. It offers a clear and concise description of the history, the importance, and ways in which the reader could use the I Ching.
Smith, Richard J. Fortune Tellers & Philosophers: Divination in Traditional Chinese Society. Boulder, Co: Westview Press, 1991.
This source proved invaluable in its limitless information pertaining to Chinese divination. No aspect of Chinese divination is left uncovered in this vast 434 page work by Richard J. Smith. Smith is a professor of history and the former Master of Hanszen College at Rice University in Houston, Texas, whose passion and understanding of the Chinese culture is evident in his writing of this book.
In reading the preface and introduction of this source, I quickly found the answers to a majority of the questions I had posed in the beginning of my research of this subject. For instance, I had asked the question, how important and respected is the practice of divination in the daily lives of the Chinese? Smith answered the question with the statement, "in principal no significant difference exists between the act of consulting the I Ching for guidance and praying to God for the same purpose" (Smith xi). Smith also comments that today in China an attempt has been made to gain a greater control of the Chinese citizens people, and in doing so, the state has proclaimed fortune telling as abnormal, corrupt, exploitive, and illegal for a private practitioner to earn money by predicting the future. However, this has not stopped more than half of the adult population from having their fortune read on a regular or semi regular basis. 80% of the population poses an almanac in which lucky and unlucky days are forecasted and about 70% of these people believe these almanacs to be 'very necessary' to conduct their daily lives (Smith xii).
This book contains information on the various forms of divination in ancient, medieval, and modern China. He also delves into the theory, practices, and social phenomenon behind the concept and cultural significance of Chinese divination. This book is filled with information pertaining to my subject. It is very well written and contains the answers to most any question one could have regarding Chinese divination.
Phillips, David P., and Todd E. Ruth. "Psychology and Survival." Lancet 342.8880 (Nov. 1993): 1142-1145. EBSCOhost. http://ehostvgw3.epnet.com. Keyword: Chinese astrology (15 February 2001).
This fascinating study examines the deaths of Chinese Americans and the significance between the combination of disease and birth year that Chinese astrology considers 'ill fated'. Although this article is pertaining to Chinese Americans, I believe it to be a fantastic source of proof as to how strong the Chinese people's faith is in astrology. It also clearly illustrates the core beliefs those of Chinese heritage have in the Chinese culture.
The article relays information found in a study in which the deaths of Chinese Americans were studied. They concluded that if a person whose birth year is associated with the birth year that is affiliated with a certain disease, becomes afflicted with that disease, they tend to die earlier than those born in a different birth year. And that, the stronger a sick person is attached to Chinese traditions, the earlier the person will die in comparison with a sick individual who does not hold as much credence in the traditions. (Phillips and Ruth)
The article gives some basic background into Chinese astrology by relating the core beliefs; "(1) a person's fate is influenced by year of birth; (2) each birth year is associated with one of five phases: fire, earth, metal, water, and wood; (3) a person born in a particular year is more influenced by the phase associated with that year than are other people; (4) each phase is also associated with an organ or a symptom, (eg, fire with the heart, and earth with lumps, nodules, and tumors) , so a person born in 1908 ( an earth year) would be unusually susceptible to tumors.....;(5) the 5 phases are associated with birthdays according to the last digit of the year- metal(years ending in 0 or 1), water (2 or 3), wood(4 or 5), fire (6 or 7), and earth (8 or 9)" (Philips and Ruth 2)
The study discovered that those patients with the 'ill fated' combination of birth year and disease tended to refuse changing unhealthy lifestyles because they feel their death are inevitable or pre destined.
This amazing article definitely answered my question of how much more seriously do the Chinese astrology then do Westerners. According to this article, they take it very seriously. Serious enough that they may be causing themselves to lose years off of their lives because of psychosomatic processes, or perhaps they really were destined to die .
This article, full of information, although a wonderful source, is rather complex. It was written not for the general audience but probably for medical students and doctors themselves. The terms are at times difficult for the lay person to understand and the complex chart which correlates birth year, death rate, and disease was almost overwhelming for me to comprehend. Only after I read the article in it's entirety at least two times, was I fully able to understand it's contents.
Fox, Kelli. "Chinese Astrology". 1999 n. pag. ivillage.com. MSN. Online. http://s.ivillage.com/astrologych.com/ (15 Feb. 2001).
Of the countless web sites that I visited concerning Chinese astrology, this one in particular proved to be the most informative. In addition to daily horoscopes and compatibility charts, this web site includes information on Western astrology, Chinese astrology, I Ching, Feng Shui, and their histories. Astrology.com is sponsored by ivillage, a web site intended for women. Kelli Fox is the astrologer and has degrees in the study of astrology from numerous institutions including, the International Society of Astronomical Research, the American Federation of Astrologers, and the National Center for Geocosmic Research. (ivillage.com background page)
This site was invaluable in it's information pertaining to the history of Chinese astrology, as well as the comparisons of Western astrology. The web site gives information on the legendary beginnings of the Chinese zodiac. It attributes the beginnings to the Jade King having nothing to do in heaven so he summoned 12 animals which inhabited the earth. The kings advisors sent an invitation to the rat telling him to also bring the cat. The rat was jealous of the cat and so he did not invite him. Other invitations were sent to the ox, the tiger, the rabbit, the dragon, the snake, the horse, the ram, the monkey, the rooster, and the dog. When the animals arrived in heaven the next day, the king counted only eleven. The king sent a servant down to earth to retrieve the 12th animal. The servant encountered a man carrying a pig and thus delivered it to the king. (ivillage.com Chinese astrology history page) This is much different than Western astrology, which also has 12 signs, but these signs were based on constellations, rather than animals.
Unlike Western astrology , which is determined by the approximate month in which one was born, Chinese astrology is determined by the year in which one is born. Another difference between Western and Chinese astrology is the use of elements in the Chinese tradition. This is also based on the birthyear, thus a person born in the year of the dragon could be a metal dragon, fire dragon, earth dragon, etc. As a consequence of this people born in the same sign with the same element will only be born every 60 years. (ivillage.com Chinese astrology page) This makes for a much more specific description/ forecast for a person, rather than in the Western tradition in which there are 12 different signs that must apply to everyone. Granted, the sun sign is accompanied by moon signs, ascendant, etc. , the Chinese system seems to be much more clearcut and easier for the general public to participate in.
In conclusion, I have realized that Chinese divination is a very important part of the Chinese citizens lives. Not many major decisions are made without first consulting the I Ching, a fortuneteller, or their own personal horoscope. So intense is their belief system that at times they may attract a premature death because their astrological chart forecasts it. Although there are some similarities in structure to Western astrology, Chinese astrology seems much easier to understand and much more specifically suited for each individual.
I have gained an even greater respect for the Chinese culture in researching this subject. I appreciate the way they respect the classic teachings and traditions and tend to be slightly more open to spiritual and unknown forces. Through reading this research, it is my hope that others will also learn to understand the differences in our cultures and maybe be able to appreciate these differences and try to learn from them.
I feel all the0 initial questions I had on this subject were answered with the exception of one. I found no information on the history of the fortune cookie. Although after I started my research I felt I needed to limit my scope and didn't pursue finding the answer. I am sure that information is out there and that I could find it but I decided to focus solely on astrology and the I Ching.
I enjoyed learning more about this subject which I have always been fascinated by, and hope that others will gain some new knowledge as well.
Cari Davis, 2001
HUM 210, Dr. Agatucci
20 February 2001
The population of China is a major concern to its government.
In the years after the Chinese Civil War, which ended in 1949, China
gained 20 million new citizens every year.
This annual increase is equal to the population of the state of
California. At first, the Chinese
government chose not to involve themselves in the issue.
However, after "the three difficult years," from 1959 to 1961,
where tens of millions of deaths from disease and famine occurred, a change
occurred. This shocked the Chinese government to change its stance on
Now in 2001, the concept of "birth control" and "family
planning" are very real. After
studying this topic, I realized that "birth restrictions" and
"family management " are terms that are more accurate.
Now the Chinese government "encourages" abortions and tubal
ligations, to prevent over-quota births. This
encouragement is performed by heavy-handed government officials at mandatory
family planning meetings, in which all qualifying pregnant women must attend. A woman qualifies in most cases if she is pregnant with her
second or subsequent child. These
women are not allowed to leave until they agree to have the procedure.
The Chinese government fells this is absolutely necessary for the
survival of the Peoples Republic of China.
Today, in this world experiencing a population explosion, is this the
next step for all of us?
sources I located to research this area of interest are described below. They are generally good sources for the study of population
and family planning policies of China. The
sources tend to bias against the Chinese government's stance on this issue,
however they also include the reasoning behind the policies.
This is a topic of discussion that may shock westerners, but it is very
real and it is conceivable that it may become an issue to all of humanity in the
not so distant future.
Chiv, Hungdah, and Shao-Chaun Leng, eds. China: Seventy Years After the 1911 Hsin-Hai Revolution. Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia, 1984.
This is a well written and information
packed text. It has a great deal of
information about the development of both Mainland China and Taiwan after the
Hsin-Hai Revolution in 1911. Although
it does not directly discuss China's family planning policies, this text has
background information about the history that has lead up to these polices.
I feel this information and history is very important to understand the
dynamics of the country, culture, and the development of these birth restrictive
policies. This book is very broad and readers may have difficulty in
extracting specific information. Although
not a great source of information specific to my topic, I still feel it is a
valuable resource and worthy of inclusion.
Broken Earth: The Rural Chinese.
New York: Collier
Mosher, a researcher in cultural anthropology, offers an intimate portrait of rural Chinese life. He gives us a glimpse of the rural Chinese in all aspects of life. Mosher's ability to interface with the Chinese people allows him to give us a clearer window into peasant life. Mosher also showed an interesting and somewhat disturbing view of the
"A Holocaust of Girls."
World Press Review.
September 1995: 39.
Hilditch writes an emotionally based article regarding the one-child-per-family policy of China. Hilditch provides useful insight into the by-products of this policy, such as the killing of toddlers through neglect in so-called dying rooms and coerced abortions. This article is written for the basic media consumer and not necessarily intended as a resource for research. It does, however, have value as a way to support other sources. Although not particularly well researched and dependent upon others research, this is still a valuable source for the reader who is interested in this topic.
Nations Population Information Network (POPIN) Page.
United Nations. 12
February 2001, Online.
The POPIN Homepage is an excellent source of information about the world population, population of specific countries, fertility and mortality studies, and birth control and family planning policies from around the world. The page is easily navigated and has massive amount of information regarding population concerns from around the world. I found this to be a very important source when researching my topic and recommend the page to anyone attempting similar research. The page also has several links to other UN and related homepages.
Before researching the Peoples Republic of China's family planning
policies, I had very little knowledge of the subject.
I learned that China actively enforces its policies regarding birth
control. Methods of birth control
are very different than those generally employed by western countries. The most common methods of birth control in China are not
preventative, although tubal ligation is used.
The most common methods are various forms of abortion. The Chinese government forces pregnant women who are on their
second or subsequent pregnancy to attend a family planning meeting.
Once there, the women are urged to obtain an abortion.
The catch is, the women are not allowed to leave and return to their
families until they agree to have an abortion.
Although to most Americans, this seems to be an extreme violation
of a person’s liberty; it has become necessary as China becomes more and more
overpopulated. The Chinese
government has taken the stance that it is a justifiable means towards the
desired outcome. That outcome is
the cessation of the excessive population growth.
This has become a real concern since the early fifties, when it became
apparent that the growing population threatened to overwhelm its available
resources. In an attempt to thwart
this potential disaster, the Chinese government placed birth restrictions on its
citizens. These birth restrictions
have become even stricter since their conception in the fifties.
What the Chinese government probably did not expect, and currently
refuses to acknowledge, are the by-products of this birth restrictive policy.
Recent reports have revealed that Chinese families commonly allow female
babies to die in order to be able to
I hope that others will also investigate this topic, as it may
become a worldwide issue in the years to come.
This is more than one country’s attempts at survival; it is a
pre-cursor to what we as humans may encounter.
The earth is a closed environment and as our population grows, our
natural resources do not. It is
conceivable that we as a race may die off from diseases, famines, and wars all
caused by a struggle for survival. This
is pretty much the worst part of the Bible, if you are Christian.
Are China’s policies the morally correct way of dealing with this
problem or is there a morally correct way?
I don’t know, but we as race need to evaluate this further.
We need only look across the world for some of the answers.
Nathan Garibay, 2001
HUM 210, Dr. Agatucci
20 February 2001
What is bonsai exactly? Is it the mutilation of unfortunate trees or does it have a deeper significance and inspiration? And just how do you pronounce the funky word? I became interested in the art of bonsai when my Grandfather and Mother showed me their bonsai and introduced me to the basic techniques in crafting them. I learned that these beautiful and sometimes ancient trees are integral to Zen Buddhism, the Japanese and Chinese cultures, and their garden arts. As nature in miniature, bonsai was also incorporated in many paintings and poems. Although I learned to pronounce bonsai as "bone-sigh," not "bon-zeye", I still had many questions. For example, where and how did it originate? What are the different styles and where do the artists get their inspiration? Are they used for a specific purpose and is there a difference between Japanese, Chinese, and Western bonsai? I found many answers to my questions in searches through ORBIS, the Internet, and EBSCOhost.
Peter. Bonsai Masterclass. New York: Sterling, 1987.
Chan, an international bonsai master, shows the science, art, and culture of bonsai design and development in this step-by-step guide. He opens the book with the aesthetic and horticultural principles that are an integral part of the art of bonsai. Chan states that the essentials of a bonsai artist are perseverance, the love of bonsai, sound knowledge of horticultural principles, understanding the fundamentals of aesthetics, and sheer common sense. Yet the origins have a religious and philosophical significance. Bonsai are used to adorn the "tokonoma," which is the focus or shrine in a Japanese household. This is where family members meditate or contemplate the beauty, serenity, and peace of nature through bonsai (9).
thoroughly explores the styles and cultural background behind the specific
styles. He does not cover in depth the specific history though. The bulk of the
book centers on instruction on how to quickly develop bonsai from nursery stock,
create miniature forests and group plantings, use both Japanese and Chinese
styles and methods, and use "suiseki." H also addresses how to prepare
your bonsai for exhibition, and the current international scene of exhibitions,
societies, and conventions. If you want a comprehensive how-to book with the
cultural background incorporated, Peter Chan’s Bonsai Masterclass is the best
Deborah R. Bonsai: It’s Art, Science, History, and Philosophy.
book explores the subject of bonsai from many viewpoints. Koreshoff spends the
greater portion of the book on the horticultural and artistic sides, but she
also presents a thorough historical and philosophical discussion on the aspects
of bonsai. She begins with the custom of container plants in Egypt, Ancient
Greece and Rome, and Persia. Dwarfed trees were used by Hinduists in ancient
India for the science of healing the sick (2). In China, bonsai started with
purely functional potted trees and gradually used for aesthetic reasons in the
Hsia, Shang, and Chou dynasties. By the Sung Dynasty (960-1280), writings
mention "artificial and miniaturized rock and tree landscapes" where
the interest became spread through the wealthy class (4). By the Ching dynasty
(1644-1911), many people from all areas practiced the art of growing
miniaturized trees, called "pen-tsuai" (or the Japanese "bon-sai").
has a good and comprehensive style, but lacks a certain flare that the other
authors possessed. She has many good black and white illustrations and diagrams.
Her instructions are not very reader friendly but yet very informative in
regards to specific styles. She needs to take a more technical approach in her
formatting. This prose-like style is appropriate for her introduction to the art
and history of bonsai. In general, I like her work but I think she needs to
refine her instructions to just the essential words.
Jeff. "Proust and the Bonsai Tree: A Comparative Discussion of Eastern and
Western Theories of Art." Southwest Review Autumn 1994: 79. EBSCOhost:
Academic Search Elite. Keyword: bonsai (17
discusses the differences of Eastern and Western theories of
Japanese artist "begins by assuming man and his art as indistinguishable
from nature, and seeks to achieve not a copy of the natural world by artificial
means (words or paint), but the most heightened human experience of oneness with
nature through the medium of nature itself, living plants" (3). Bonsai
seeks to "remind" the observer of something other than the plant
itself, not to "represent" (in a Western sense) a particular scene,
forest, or seascape. It carries the same concepts as the cha-no-yu, the tea
ceremony, in the aesthetic terms wabi and sabi. Bonsai seeks to achieve the
wordless state of "spatial and temporal transcendence or to approach such
transcendence asymptotically, virtually" (4). A sharp contrast to the
Judeo-Christian and Islamic teachings, Shinto and Buddhism affirm that all
things have degrees of kami (divine spirit), and bonsai seeks to embrace that
spirit in a natural artform.
living plant material, bonsai is the pinnacle of Japanese and Chinese art. The
natural process of plant growth and development becomes completely infused with,
indistinguishable from, the artistic expression. It also means that it is not
immortal. "The Zen priest and the bonsai master believe that only by
embracing the natural cycle of life and death, growth and decay, can there be
any intimation of eternity" (13). Bonsai is a constant work in progress,
continually fed, watered, pruned, and shaped, eventually arriving at a living
embodiment of our idea of a tree. Dong Qichang said, "the Dao… is to hold
the entire universe in your hand; if you possess the real spirit of the art, you
can comprehend everything!" (14)
Robert J. "The Big Picture: A Summary of the History of Magical Miniature
Landscapes." Magical Miniature Landscapes: A Comprehensive History of
Bonsai and the Related Arts. Revised 2000: n. pag. Online. http://www.users.qwest.net/~rjbphx/BonsaiHistory.html
(17 Feb. 2001).
presents an "eclectic and ongoing presentation" that covers related
topics from "Dwarf Potted Trees in Poetry and Other Essays" to "Kyuzo
Murata, the Father of Modern Japanese Bonsai" to "Bonsai portrayed in
Film and TV." I really appreciated his easy, yet comprehensive, writing
style. In the historical summary he does a comparison of the Chinese pentsai and
penjing and Japanese bonsai and suiseki and their developmental histories.
early Chinese Chan Buddhists, portable stones and trees were talismans that
focused and conveyed their energies to the human owners. Individual tree pentsai
or landscape in a shallow bowl penjing were developed and practiced upon many
plants (especially those with supernatural or positive symbolic meanings) by
Buddhist and Daoist monks and certain high officials. The "more curved,
ancient, and unusable in a practical/profane sense was the tree, the more potent
were its own spiritual powers" (2). When introduced to Japan, they blended
the Chinese philosophies with Shinto to make this core idea: "beauty in
severe austerity" (2). All nonessentials were stripped away to reveal the
true "Buddha nature" of a thing.
years after the Great Earthquake of 1923, thirty families of bonsai growers
reestablished themselves outside the town of Omiya. After WW II, this became the
bonsai center of the world. Due to Western policy, Japanese bonsai spread from
the Bonsai Village through Europe, North America, Africa, and Australia. Only in
the last fifteen years has the larger Chinese bonsai began to impact the world
gives a good abbreviated timeline of bonsai history and developments and
incorporates Western influence in his dissertation. Especially how non-Japanese
and Chinese students and teachers are beginning to develop regional styles
reminiscent of their full-grown trees and topography in their areas. Most use
nursery stock, instead of digging up natural bonsai. He also speaks of the first
World Bonsai Convention in 1989 and International Stone Exhibition in 1991.
The most valuable findings for me were the current use of bonsai trees in the Tokugawa shrines in Japanese households and that only through constant pruning and regrowth do bonsai art and artists approach the Zen idea of immortality. One desire I have now is to go buy a few cedars and work on a group planting. I learned that the art of bonsai is much more complex, yet at the same time much simpler than I originally thought. Though the Japanese have been developing this particular art for six hundred years, we can still add new perspectives to it. I also learned that bonsai is more than contorted trees – it is the epitome of Zen principles. I would like to be able to research more the individual styles and their significance. But I think this type of research really made the discovery process easier than a complete research project in such a short time. The research tools of ORBIS, EBSCOhost, and the Internet also added depth to the project that, only under much stress would I have found this information in our local library. I hope that my readers will gain a deeper understanding of this beautiful art and its cultural roots which reach back hundreds of years into Chinese and Japanese history. And I hope that, after reading this, you will be tempted to go out and try your hand at shaping a bonsai of your own.
Meagan Gates, 2001
HUM 210, Dr. Agatucci
20 February 2001
[Martial Arts source review] . . . .
Finn, Michael. Martial Arts: A Complete
Illustrated History. Woodstock, NY:
The Overlook Press, 1988.
In reading the introduction, a useful comparison is made between the development of Western and Far Eastern martial traditions. This was very helpful in providing a frame of reference I could identify with. The Asian moral code of its warriors is likened to the moral code of the Knights of Templar. Religion and philosophy were the uniting forces along which both Western and Far Eastern martial traditions grew. To be wise, well trained and enduring in battle differentiated the warrior from the common thug or murderer. Not to mention the incentive to stay alive. Hence the development of a worthy warrior class in the West and in the Far East.
Disciples or apprentices were important to insure perpetuation of this fighting wisdom. The key distinction between the Western martial arts and the Far Eastern martial arts is that in China the martial arts have always been synonymous with the skills of healing: "the hand that takes life also gives it." Without this knowledge of anatomy and physiology, "the skills of striking and locking the vital areas for stabbing and thrusting could not be exploited to their full potential." The book provides, in my opinion, an easy to understand and informative history of the Asian martial arts and does it in the context of other historical events of the time. I found it quite interesting.
Dianne Herauf, 2001
HUM 210, Dr. Agatucci
20 February 2001
The Origin of Hatha Yoga
Hatha Yoga, which is the physical practice of postures or asanas, will be the topic of this critical review. Of question are its origins, ancient texts that show the postures and who actually practiced yoga. As a student of yoga for the past ten years, I have noticed there is a westernized version of this eastern practice. Without actual exposure to a true Indian Yoga Guru, research becomes my only avenue to bridge the expanse between my knowledge gathered from practice in a small, western, American town, and that of the bustling cities of India where in my mind at least, history and yoga are one. Seven sources are included in the critical review. These are the most relevant sources among hundreds, which were available in libraries and on the internet. One source seemed to lead to another. As names and texts were mentioned, I then tried to follow-up and find more information on a person like Patanjali or the Yoga Sutras. Because there are no schools of yoga in our town and because I have not been to India to observe the way yoga exists in its native land, many of the culturally specific components of yoga still remain a mystery to me. I wonder how this philosophy exists in the everyday life of the people of India. My suspicion is that just as the priestly caste or Brahmin developed it, it exists now as a luxury both to the people of the east and the west and is not readily practiced by the billions of people, which form the bulk of the either population. However, yoga does seem to transcend culture and time. It enhances even the busiest of lives and compliments even the simplest.
Worthington, Vivian. A History of Yoga. London:
Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd, 1982.
Ms. Worthington's history of yoga presents a detailed description of yoga's development. He documents the spread of yoga to China and Japan, and finally the west. There is also thorough explanation about the cosmic aspects of yoga and how it is viewed independently from actual philosophy or religion. He explains that yoga study in the academic west has been railroaded into Sanskrit studies or comparative religion groups rather than philosophy or science. He seems to be hinting that yoga perhaps is a topic unto itself. It presents its own truths and own courses of action, which are distinctly different from other religious disciplines while at the same time nebulous when viewed through our pragmatic western eyes. As a source on Hatha Yoga, this book offers the full spectrum of history and detail on the entire yoga system. The actual chapters on Hatha Yoga are small compared to the philosophical areas of the book. It does explain the history of yoga and helped to identify the ancient texts, which would re-emerge in other sources of the critical review. One chapter on Hatha Yoga refers to asanas in the Upanishads, although no specific examples were given, unfortunately. Most are meditative postures like the lotus. The meditative postures appear to have a greater stature compared to other asanas. The Bhagavad Gita and Patanjali's text also give reference to seated meditation and the position of the body. It was found that the general health of yoga participants could be improved through the asasas, and the physical fitness of yoga was carried to China in the form of martial arts like judo and karate. The origin of Hatha Yoga is finally traced to the Natha Yogis, and Svatmarama Swami, author of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika (see attachment) in the 15th century. It is a compilation of fragments of ancient texts written by ancient yogis. Yoga is then traced to the modern age, with the arrival of Bhagwan Shree Rajesh (a local hero) and Maharishi's Transcendental Meditation of the 1960's and 70's. I became aware that with the knowledge that I have of yoga postures, I have approached yoga from the opposite direction that most texts lead. Usually the meditative and behavioral aspects are integrated and then the physical practice is established. For most westerners, myself included, it is the other way around, and many do not understand how entailed the entire concept of yoga really is. This source reminded me that the scope of yoga is beyond one person, time, or place. As huge of a topic as yoga appears, there is a certain comfort it knowing you will never be able to know it all.
Lidell, Lucy. The Sivananda Companion to Yoga.
London, Gaia Books Limited, 1983.
This manual from the Sivananda School of yoga, presents a thorough description of the many aspects of yoga (body, breath, meditation, diet, etc.). Again, nebulous reference to the starting point for yogic practice; the origins of yoga are shrouded in the mists of time - for yoga is regarded as a divine science of life, revealed to enlightened sages in meditation (Lidell p. 13). Yet throughout the introduction there is mention of archeological evidence from 3000 BC, and the first literary reference in the Vedas, specifically the Upanishads. Pointing to a philosophy called Vedanta, key to yoga teaching, is the idea of one absolute reality or consciousness, known as Brahman that underlies the entire universe. Mentioned briefly are two poems from around the sixth century BC, the Ramayana and the Mahabarata, which contains the Bhagavad-Gita, a keystone in yogic scripture. The backbone of Raja Yoga is furnished by Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, thought to have been written in the third century BC. The classic text on Hatha Yoga is the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, which describes the various asanas and breathing exercises, which form the basis for the modern practice of yoga (p. 14). This workbook helps fit together breathing, moral and physical aspects of yoga into one practice. This integration is key in establishing a strong long lasting yoga pursuit. From the meditative postures to the most strenuous and acrobatic of the asanas, the Sivananda guide is as entertaining to read and gaze at as the actual practice.
Swenson, David. Ashtanga
Yoga, The Practice Manual. Sugar Land, TX: Ashtanga Yoga Productions,
This is a modern practice book for understanding the physical aspect of the eight-limbed (Raja Yoga) approach. Although it refers only to the physical postures, which were developed by a modern Guru, Patabi Jois of Mysore, some mention is made of the metaphysical nature of the "sport." When discussing the flowing sequence of this type of yoga as well as the revelation of truth, Swenson explains the development of these links does not unfold in a linear fashion. They sprout when the time is appropriate (Swenson, p. 5). Although just physical postures are discussed, the unfolding of consciousness is eluded to throughout the text. The various yogic systems are unique, yet all have the same purpose: to grow toward enlightenment (Swenson, p. 6). Although a great reference for the practice of yoga, this is the type of book that perpetrates the notion to westerners that yoga is just the mastery of specific body movements combined with a general understanding of breath and focus. However, the mystical nature of yoga if it is ultimately truthful, will unfold like the eight limbs or spokes of a wheel, engaging the participant to constantly question the revealing the all inclusiveness of the practice and its truths.
Nikhilananda, Swami. Hinduism:
Its Meaning For the Liberation of the Spirit. New York: Harper &
Raja-yoga consists of eight "limbs" or parts. The third limb of yoga is asana, or posture. The postures, which come easiest to the student, are recommended. Different postures are prescribed; but the general principle is to hold the spinal column free. The yogi sits erect, holding his back, neck and head in a straight line, and resting the whole weight of the upper body on the ribs. With the chest out, he finds it is easy to relax the body and think deeply (Nikhilananda p. 137). Again, a text which has little reference to the practice of Hatha Yoga but offers a great deal of information about specific behavior and philosophy. This limited text shows how much more information is available in the last ten years than forty years ago.
Krishna, Gopi. Higher
Consciousness: The Evolutionary Thrust of Kundalini. New
York: Julian Press, 1974.
Kundalini has no modern equivalent to this ancient Hindu science of the soul (Krishna 31). Because Kundalini energy is the union of cosmic and physical forces in the body and understood at least in description as an energy force in the spinal column, we see the development of exercises to practice the spiraling progress of Kundalini "Serpent Power" in the human body. Exercise having to do with the straightening and toning of the spine and surrounding muscles plus contractions of muscle groups surrounding the spine (bandas) and the visual effects of the chakras or energy points which also correspond to points along the axis of the spine which assist in developing an higher consciousness. It becomes a natural progression then that cosmic consciousness is made understandable to the human mind by directing the energy to a recognizable and sensitive region of the body thus giving divinity certain human characteristics. Reference made to the way that the mind and body are yoked helps to explain the importance of the asana and the searching mind required for truth and a strong Hatha Yoga practice. This source is specific to the type of yoga, which is practiced, Kundalini. This form is particularly hard to understand and find information on. Yet aspects of Kundalini exist in many of the physical yoga methods. This book is one Guru's attempt at the question and answer type dialogue, much like that in the Bhagavad-Gita. This is the classic role of student and teacher, in the philosophical understanding of yoga and in the safe teaching of yoga postures or asanas.
White, Sandra. "The Background
of Yoga." An Introduction to Yoga. Kevala Center.
With brief descriptions of history and concept, this online explanation serves as a source of information for students interested in the subject of this particular school. A date of 6000 years is given as the age of yoga. Detachment from reality and self-knowledge are given as the main goals of yoga. Again a reference to Patanjali is given when he is described as the father of traditional yoga. He defined yoga as controlling the activities of the mind (White, p. 2). This source was a brief, inclusive, initial description of Hatha Yoga. Without throwing in too much Sanskrit and detailed information, a short introduction to Hatha Yoga is given.
Thurman, Robert A.F., Ph. D.
"Reality Check." Yoga Journal March/April 2001:
A historical picture is painted concerning civilization including a mention of the Egyptians, Greeks and Hebrews. Indic civilization traveled a different road around 2,500 years ago. The Indian sages took an inward turn (Thurman, p. 67). Like Plato and the Hebrew prophets, they used religion and philosophy to care for the soul (p. 67). Their philosophy created a science of the soul and crowned it "king of all sciences" (p. 67). Its laboratory is the mind body complex itself (p. 68). Inner science focuses on the soul, spirit, and mind as embodied in the physical body in its environment. It is not simply a name for religious mind control through belief and ritual (p. 68). The best known of the inner scientists was the Brahmin sage Patanjali, author of the Yoga Sutra, a string (sutra) of axioms written in compressed form (p. 69). Patanjali defines yoga as the cessation of compulsive functions of the mind. (p. 70) Thurman presents a more intellectual and academic understanding of Hatha Yoga. Although known for his own strict practice, he obviously enjoys the more cerebral approach to the work, and shares his understanding in this article.
Known as Hatha Yoga, the origin of the physical practice of yoga in India began as the jumping off point for this critical review. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali returned again and again as the "bible" of early yoga. Within these stories, are the many aspects of Yoga. Correct behavior and attitude, revelation, enlightenment, and reincarnation are several components of yoga philosophy. The physical practice of Hatha Yoga seems to be merely a method for attaining these corrections in the human condition. Yoga is a philosophy unto itself. Many of the first physical postures of yoga (Hatha Yoga) are detailed in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. The mystery of physical yoga and its effects on mental, endocrine, and circulatory function reveals the innate wisdom of Indian Gurus and ancient philosophers, scientists and physicians. Even now in our time of advanced technological and scientifically based understanding, we just begin to develop a sense about the truthfulness of yogic philosophy and its healthful benefits. Finding the actual references to ancient texts which mention Hatha Yoga or asanas helped support my belief that this is an ancient and evolving practice. Proper reverence needs to be paid to the ancient history of the practice of yoga. Otherwise, it becomes empty, "California Yoga," a term that is actually used to describe the sporty feel-good nature of second millennium yoga. I wished that I had come across historical accounts of practicing Yogis or photos even from the early 20th century. I still would like to speak with someone who is Indian and has a daily yoga practice, someone who is like me, but lives somewhere else, or does the geographic location change everything? I do wish that I knew more about Indian culture to have an even greater sense of what forces shaped early yoga.
Shawna Moore, 2001
Hum. 210, Dr. Agatucci
20 February 2001
As a little boy I remember being dazzled by David Caradine’s willingness to help those less fortunate in the original television series “Kung-Fu”. He starred in the show as a master of the martial arts, destined to walk the earth and defend good moral values, no matter what the cost. This show sparked an early desire to learn more about the martial arts, kung fu in particular. I was then determined to learn more about the origins, the practices, and the history of the Chinese martial arts.
The origins of kung fu have long been in debate, yet much is known about the widespread teachings and training of the art. The historic Shaolin Temple, located in the Honan Province, in northern China is said to be not only the birthplace of kung fu, but also the most influential school in the world for teaching this age-old art form. Shaolin monks, who were later referred to as boxers, have been known to accomplish incredible acts of power and selflessness. They have been looked up to for generations as models of what one can accomplish if proper training is asserted.
Kung Fu is an important part of Chinese history and holds a lot of religious and cultural practices held today. The origination is one way to examine the history of the people and the shaping of the nation. Finding resources on the subject has not proven to be difficult, but actually overwhelming at times because of the incredible documentation of the history of both the art form and the Shaolin Temple. Not only has this been the subject of many Chinese authors, but westerners have also written about the historical significance.
The list below is comprised of a few of the resource materials I was able to find on the subject of Shaolin Kung Fu. Some of the books focused on the training and methods of kung fu rather than the history and significance. Yet all of these materials were very helpful in understanding the tradition and purpose of the topic.
Hung, Lai, and Brian Klingborg. Secrets of Northern Shaolin Kung Fu. Boston: Tuttle,1967. The first book I looked into for insight was this selection written by both an eastern and western author and is called Secrets of Northern Shaolin Kung Fu. This book represents the first attempt to comprehensively explain the history, development, and fundamentals of Northern Shaolin, and it’s place among the number of Chinese martial arts. The book begins with an introduction to Northern Shaolin, explaining that many schools falsely represent the teachings, but that genuine Northern Shaolin is a distinct and discrete style with a very specific curriculum (pg 1). The books intent is to provide a clear and accurate window into this ancient martial art. It then goes on to explain that in order to be considered a northern method the style of kung fu must have derived from a region north of the Yangtze River. Examples of this would include Shaolin Lohan, Hsing-I, Northern Praying Mantis, and Pa Kua.
We then move on to the history of kung fu in the next chapter of the book. It is explained that the term kung fu is not the best phrase to use when speaking of the martial arts. A literal translation means something like, “perfection achieved by exertion,” or the effort and time it takes to accomplish a skill (pg 7). The technically correct term to use when talking about a fighting system is wu shu. Translated directly from Chinese, wu means “military or warlike” and shu denotes a “skill or method of doing something”. Although this term more closely embodies the meaning of “martial art” the term kung fu has become so prevalent among westerners that the words are almost interchangeable.
The history of the Shaolin style has long been in debate. The martial arts as a whole have been attributed to the early Greeks and their classic style of grappling and holds. The actual kung fu craft is said to have come from India by many sources, and again by this selection. The popular legend is that in the early 6th century an Indian monk named Bodhidharma, born into the Indian’s noble warrior class, the Kshatriya, renounced his worldly position and became a Mahayana Buddhist (pg 9). He then made his way to China and sought refuge the Shaolin temple in the Honan province. The Shaolin monks were so impressed by his meditation practices that they ask for him to train them. He soon found the training difficult for the unfit monks and created an exercise program called the I-Chin Ching or “muscle rehabilitation classic”. These exercises have been passed down and modified into the many kung fu styles we know today.
The book then focuses on the training and methods of Northern Shaolin. Over 100 pages are then dedicated to the form and function of the complicated art and to the explanation of the steps involved with self-training. The authors of this book have gone to great length to provide an accurate and descriptive account of the little known facts of kung fu, and the book would make an excellent guide to those interested in the subject.
Kit, Wong Kiew. Introduction to Shaolin Kung Fu. 5th ed. Dorset. Caric Press LTD, 1999. Introduction to Shaolin Kung Fu is a book focused mainly on the act of self-training in the art of Northern and Southern Shaolin styles of kung fu. A brief overview of the history is given about the art, but no new information is given that wasn’t found in the first selection. The book does however talk about the aims and moral code in kung fu. The Shaolin Moral Code is in three parts (pg 6). The first is the 12 Shaolin ethics, which include things like, “Respect the master, honour the Moral Code and love the fellow disciples”. The second part is the 10 forbidden acts, which include things like, “Forbidden to molest or rape”, or “Forbidden to rob”. The third part of the Moral Code is the 10 Obligations, which include such rules as, “Obligated to maintain peace”. The book then goes on to an account of self-training methods.
The bulk of the remaining text deals with exercises and basic stances along with Chinese classic weapons. Some of the basic stances include the Tiger and Dragon set (pg 17). These sets are broken into over thirty different patters including, “A dragon and tiger appear”, and “A golden dragon plays in the water”. These are all specific styles that have been derived from Shaolin Kung fu. The author then goes into detail about the form and function of classic Chinese weapons. These weapons come in many shapes and sizes and include such forms as the knife, sword, staff, spear, whip, and trident. These are shown to be an important part of a monks training in the mastery of kung fu. The pictures and examples drawn in the book are incredibly detailed and would be very useful in the self-teaching of Shaolin Kung fu. Unfortunately, when searching for more in depth coverage of the history and teaching practices of kung fu, examining these lessons would simply be futile. This book could prove to be useful for additional information, but is not a good source for a base of an overview of the history of Shaolin Kung fu.
Holcombe, Charles. “Theatre of Combat: A Critical Look at the Chinese Martial Arts.” Historian 52.3 (May 1990): 411 (21p). I found this article on EBSCOhost under the subject of martial arts and then to the history of China. This article is full of the entire history of the Chinese martial arts. It provides such information as the fact that the literary Chinese elite traditionally ignores the martial arts and therefore the records of the origin are somewhat obscure (pg 1). Early Chinese culture emphasized literature over physical trial, so the early students of kung fu tended to practice alone in the woods, or behind the walls of such temples as the Shaolin. The article does state that as early as the time of Confucius (c.551-c.479 B.c.) archery had begun to become a gentleman’s sport.
This article does speculate that Bodhidharma might not have even existed (pg 7). The literature on his life is slim and new information would renounce him as the father of modern martial arts. The life of a Parthian missionary named An Shih Koa, whom practiced the Ch’an idea of meditation as early as 148 A.d., is given as an even earlier form of meditation and training principles. This would make the origination of martial arts almost 370 years older than the arrival of Bodhidharma at the Shaolin temple.
The thesis of this article however is not the origin of kung fu, but rather the religious significance of the martial arts. It states that rather than seeing the martial arts as a form of combat training, it should be seen as a minor bi-product of Buddho-Taoist popular religion (pg 13). Techniques of breathing and control were designed to facilitate the absorption of the ch’i (vital breath) and eventually turned into regimented exercises, which would now be considered kung fu training. The idea of self-control and promotion of humankind eventually spread throughout the countryside in mass in the beginning of the 19th century as the boxer revolution broke out. The emperor at the time considered monks of the Shaolin temple a danger to his politics and sent troops to burn down the temple. After this the monks were left to roam the hillsides and fend for themselves. The article tells of a mass hysteria to learn a form of self-defense to protect ones family and self during a time of war. The monks now had the opportunity to teach what they had learned. The tradition of kung fu training remained long after the war as a part of popular Chinese culture, past down from father to son. This explains the vast amount of people still training in the kung fu styles. Although the origin of modern day kung fu is still in question, there is no doubt that the martial arts are a huge part of Chinese history. The Shaolin temple is still observed as the birthplace of kung fu, and has received money from the Chinese government to rebuild and begin to teach kung fu once again. The temple is regarded as the premier school of the kung fu arts and continues to have a worldwide reputation.
Researching Northern Shaolin has given me a sense of the worth of martial arts and the intense training it takes to become a master of the arts. I have found a deep respect for these monks who worked so hard to keep kung fu alive and even to share it with non-Chinese. Throughout years the art of kung fu has evolved and adapted into various forms, but the true spirit of kung fu is still alive and available for those willing to commit to a life of honor and selflessness.
Ike Mundell, 2001
[by student request]
HUM 210, Dr. Agatucci
20 February 2001
sources review] . . . .
Paper origami has been a long hobby of mine since I can remember. Something about origami makes people smile, interested and happy. When I first came to the states, I visited my new grandfather in the hospital. I sat on the floor, and began to fold animals, airplanes, birds, and ships that I’ve learned in Seoul Korea. In the hospital bed I saw my grandfather smiling with amazement; I then knew my origami had made him feel better. In fact, everybody in that room was surprised and happy. This is the reason why I have chosen origami as my research paper because I want to share with everyone the joy and excitement you feel when folding origami. In my research, you will understand what origami is, what role it played in the Asian culture, and ideas of how to fold origami yourself.
Engel, Peter. Origami from Angelfish to Zen. http://www.origami-tsuru.com/crane7.htm The art of paper folding (origami) has been around since the first or second century A.D. and reached Japan by the sixth century, and the Japanese called it origami. (The word ori, means “to fold” and gami “paper”.) The Japanese has perfected the art of paper folding. If you notice the proportion sizes such as the head , wings, body feet, and the whole shape itself is perfect. The Japanese has used these origami’s as a part of their ceremonial life. Since paper was still a precious commodity, the wealthy families would use the paper origami’s in their wedding ceremonies. They would fold male and female butterflies representing the bride and the groom. They would also use origami’s as a token of good luck to samurai warrior
Buisson, Dominique. The Art of
Japanese Paper. Paris: 1992.
The author in this book wrote quite extensively on how paper was created and what role it played in the Asian culture. Before paper, the Japanese used bamboo’s to write on; however, these bamboos took up a lot of space on their bookshelves. They would also use silk to write on, but that became very expensive. That’s when paper was created, not only because it uses less space, but also to save cost. Paper was mass produced; therefore, almost everybody had access to writing and reading along with origami. Paper played a huge role in the Asian society. the preaching of Buddhism was written on paper. When there was celebration, they would incorporate paper folding in the event. They would make clothes, dragons; they would use paper to decorate the entire village. Paper was also used to build ogi (fan) for their ceremonial events. Different colors of ogi symbolized different things. Paper was also used in a functional way. They built umbrellas (parasol), not only to shade themselves, but also to use in ceremonial events.
Jackson, Paul. The Encyclopedia of
Origami and Paper Craft Techniques. Running Press, 1991.
This book is great for learning and teaching yourself the art of origami. The text will teach you the origami symbols, how to crease your paper properly. It may also be very important to learn the vocabulary of origami. Origami comes in many different sizes. For example, David Swinton constructed a live size elephant made of only paper. Unlike the real elephant weighing over two tons, this origami can be lifted with only two people. Building of your own origami takes patience and lots of practice. This book will help you step by step on developing the basic to advance techniques on paper folding. . . .
Held by student, 2001
Published anonymously with Student Permission
[by student request]
HUM 210, Dr. Agatucci
20 February 2001
Wu Zetian sources review] .
. . .
Reese, Lyn. "Empress Wu Zetian (625-705 AD)." Female Heroes of the Regions of the World. 2001. n. pag. Women in World History Curriculum. http://www.womeninworldhistory.com/heroine6.html (12 Feb. 2001).
Boardman, Eugene. "Tang Dynasty." Discovery Channel school content provided by World Book Online. http://www.discoveryschool.com/homeworkhelp/worldbook/atozhistory/t/546350.html (20 Feb. 2001).
Teitchett, Denis, and Michael Loewe, eds. The Cambridge History of China. Vol. 1. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1986.
Held by student, 2001
Published anonymously with Student Permission
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