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Tai Chi Philosophy
the wider culture around tai chi - philosophies, ideas  

Thoughts on a Chinese New Year

February 11th.'98 was the date of the new moon that signified the start of the Chinese New Year. This same date, not by coincidence only, is also known in Japan as National Foundation Day. The precise date in of this event in our western [Arabic?] calendar changes from year to year because in the east the physical reality of the coming of a new moon is considered to be more important than any particular number. Each phase of each and every moon is the same length. The things that we created and call 'months' (of which some have been given the names of Greek Gods!) are not.

moonIn the west we have Astrology. Some believe that the position of the stars on the day of our birth might influence our character. Some also believe that a deeper insight into this powerful force and the application of a mathematical calculation on the position of these stars at any given time in the future might also be reliably used to predict not only our own but also everybody else's character at this or any other point in time.

Experts in the field publish advice on how to take personal advantage of this phenomenon everyday in the national newspapers. If popularity is a measure of reliability then this product that we call 'a horoscope' is very reliable indeed and its continuation confirms this popularity. Some take this advice extremely seriously and refer to it often when decisions big and small have to be made; up unto and including whom they share their lives with (husbands/wives etc.) Hands up. Who amongst us has never asked? " What's you star sign?" or conversely said " I am a . " We do not all 'believe in them' and some ridicule the practice. Only a fool pretends that it does not exist.

water dragonI am a Water Dragon! Born in the year of the Dragon and at a time in that year when the predominant element was water.

I will not state here whether I personally believe any more or less in either system - that of the east which makes me Water Dragon, or that of the west that makes me a Virgo. And what is more I cannot say which I find harder to come to terms with - being any sort of a Dragon or any sort of a Virgin!

Of all the animals in the eastern horoscope system the Dragon is perhaps the most exotic. Compared to those in our western system they are all positively down to earth! We have the likes of a half man-half horse archer thing, scorpion, pairs of fish and even a set of scales. In the eastern system there is simply pig, rabbit, ox, rat and so on. The 'myth' behind the order of these animals is said to be simply the order that they arrived when the Buddha summoned.

The western horoscope accounts for variations in individual personalities with an assemblage of influential 'rising stars'. The eastern system identifies the predominant element that relates to the season in which the person was born. May we agree for now that both systems are a little weird? One is weird in one way, the other in another.

The fact that western horoscopes are steeped in mythology and mystery does not put off a westerner that is interested in Astrology. On the contrary, it attracts. It attracts because it is the myth and mystery of the culture that they themselves are a part.

Take for instance one of our best loved and universally accepted- Xmas. Logic first tells us that even the word does not make sense. Next we have to deal with the concept of Santa Claus! Here's a guy who lives in The North Pole, has Elves to help him make presents that he delivers to everybody - on a sleigh that flies through the air pulled by Reindeer . the most popular of these being Rudolf, because he has a red nose. The grand finale when Santa Clause (also known as Father Christmas) climbs down the chimney of every house in the land (even if it does not have a chimney) to deliver these presents is timed to coincide with the anniversary of the birth of The Son of Our God, Jesus. Well, that is what I told my children anyway. It is what my parents told me.

The 'Magic' of any ritual or tradition comes most alive when we are prepared to let go of all logic and take pleasure in myth and fantasy. In the case of Christmas in the west that particular combination, mince pies, pine trees, crackers and all works for us. Other things work for other cultures. Other things do other things. There is a more serious side to Christmas for those who wish to take it more seriously. There is Mass and Carols. Images of Our Lord abound and there are more hymns than usual on the telly. We can see for ourselves in the west that currently the more hedonistic, commercial, 'just enjoy yourself' aspect holds sway over the more formal, mindful and respectful. Some of us wish that it could be Xmas every day and some of us wake up on Boxing Day glad it's all over. For as long as the enduring message is "Peace on Earth, Goodwill to All Men" I celebrate the birth of Buddha Jesus Christ. Alleluia OM The service that follows is one of those Yin things. It is formal and disciplined; it is respectful and mindful. It's about the same thing as Xmas. The sincere wish for peace on earth and goodwill to all.



 
The western horoscope accounts for variations in individual personalities with an assemblage of influential 'rising stars'. The eastern system identifies the predominant element that relates to the season in which the person was born. May we agree for now that both systems are a little weird? One is weird in one way, the other in another.
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