Daoist Conference in Los Angeles Report

I had a great time at the Daoist Conference in LA. Sold a good number of books and got to have long conversations with over 30 scholars.

Particularly excited about Sogdian Dance during the Tang Dynasty (600~900 BCE)—updates will follow.

Had great conversations about Chinese University Indoctrination. It is not “brainwashing” because the scholars that go through it are aware of it. It is a series of techniques for making sure that scholarship does not go outside the bounds of current Communist Doctrine. I learned that at the last Daoist Conference, which was held in Beijing at Peking University, some 70% of papers were censored because they contained banned topics or terminology. A total disaster.

The cohering topic of the conference was “time.” I thought too many of the papers were stretching to make their otherwise interesting discussions about “time.” But there was some great stuff. Time is so important to Daoism that it is sometimes equivalent to Qi.

I had several wonderful discussions about the Monkey epic’s (Sun Wukong/Xiyouji) inclusion of deep knowledge about the Golden Elixir as jokes, metaphors, codes, and direct teachings. And about current Daoist lineages which are using it as their primary teaching text. Wonderful. And how the same is true about Canonization of the Gods (Fengshen Yanyi), as I show in my new book. Canonization contains a great deal of information about Daoist Ritual. In fact, Canonization was most important source of general knowledge about Daoism before the Boxer Uprising. That’s why it is so important in understanding the creation of Baguazhang.

My workshop was fantastic. I love doing that kind of thing. A room full of knowledgeable/scholarly people rolling around laughing together and saying things like “my mind is blown,” or “you make this tangible in a way that is utterly convincing.”

Experienced practitioners also love my teaching. Not just because I re-enchant what they already love. But because I am giving a broad overview that puts their “methods” in context. Specifically in the context of the view that inspired the methods, and the fruition which they were designed to produce. Without those insights, Laozi’s “knowing when to stop” is in accessible. The beauty of having the big overview is that methods can be disheveled, as my teacher Liu Ming used to put it. We can discard systemization and replaced it with kinesthetic learning and spontaneous cognitive recognition. Systemization itself is just a tool.

Competing Cliques in the Chinese Government

I am headed to the Daoist Conference in Los Angeles this weekend, hope to see some of my readers there.

I have posted before about Xu Xiaodong and his conflict with the Chinese Government over Traditional Chinese Martial Arts. He says he is trying to save the arts by exposing frauds. He was recently forced to pay $58,000 to Chen Xiaowang, the Government’s official Representative of Tai Chi. He called Chen Xiaowang a fraud, obviously, but the evidence of exactly what he said has been swept from the internet by Chinese censors. Xu is being punished by having to wear Chinese Opera make-up and call himself “Xu the Northern Melon” when he fights and he has to take the slow train everywhere he travels, which in China means he basically has to live on the train if he wants to travel to take (or make) fighting challenges.

Obviously, in my way of seeing things Chinese Opera make-up is a return to China’s Traditional sources of martial prowess. But in the age of perpetual humiliation it is being played as a punishment. Chen Xiaowang is a tragic figure. He is oblivious of the history of the art which he represents to the world. As I document for the first time ever in my book, Tai Chi is the dance of the Daoist Immortal Zhang Sanfeng. Chen need only to have challenged Xu Xiaodong to a fight in Slow Motion to have defeated the challenge. But that is outside of the scope of acceptable views in China today. Both are fighting for ownership of the YMCA Consensus, the Christian Secular Normative Model, also called Pure Martial Arts.

This reminds me of Qigong Fever, which we know in hindsight was the result of a conflict between two Cliques in the Chinese Communist Party. This is almost certainly happening again, and will likely end in bloodshed, as happened with Falungong in the 1990s.

Read about the make-up here.

This video is informative.

This is the best one, 220 pound MMA fighting Xu Xiaodong starts CRYING at about the 9:30 mark.

This footage is either from the late 2016 or early 2017. That was the time in Xu Xiaodong's life when he was getting de-platformed from all major Chinese social media and the entire traditional martial arts community in China saw him as enemy number one.

This article about the Trade War also gives me the sense that China is torn between two invisible Power Cliques. A lot of commentators view China through the lens of a country which wants to rule the world. I also wonder if we simply can’t read what is going on because the competing Cliques confuse the message?