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Started by rickymooston, May 17, 2013, 11:38:53 PM
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Quote from: jamesmiller on May 21, 2013, 04:16:26 PMAnd now on to myself (which is much less interesting than Daoism)!Well, basically I'm an academic, which means that I'm interested in thinking about and understanding how and why people think about religion, imagine religion and engage in religion. In my life I have engaged in various kinds of religious activities, and I have certainly been a "believer" in my youth so I am sympathetic to the religious journeys that people go through in their lives. At the same time, I wouldn't call myself a religious person, and certainly not a spiritual person (I don't believe in spirituality!), and I would also call myself an atheist at least in the sense that I don't believe in the traditional Jewish-Christian-Islamic god who created the world out of nothing (though I don't think many intellectual Christians believe in that story-book god either).
Quote from: Maggie the Opinionated on May 21, 2013, 04:43:16 PMThat aside, what are your particular research interests? Are there certain questions that are receiving a lot of attention in your field?
Quote from: jamesmiller on May 21, 2013, 04:09:02 PMDaoists accept the traditional Chinese view of a universe inhabited by many spirits and godsBut these gods are, like you and me, part of the cosmos, and embedded in a kind of universal life force known as Dao / Tao
Quote from: QuestionMark on May 25, 2013, 03:54:50 AMI thought this thread was about James Miller
Quote from: jamesmiller on May 27, 2013, 10:03:46 PMHi everyone and sorry for the delays in answering your great questions. Rickymooston asked a good question about Daoism as a family tradition. For Daoists who are monks, of course the idea here is that you leave your family and take on a new identity within a monastic lineage. You receive a document that specifies your place in the lineage, explaining who your teacher is, who his teacher was, who your "siblings" are within the lineage structure. In effect this replaces your family tree and signifies your adoption into a new kind of religious genealogy.Then there are Daoist priests who marry and have families and pass on their teachings to their children, one of whom would traditionally be expected to follow in his father's footsteps.Aside from these "professional Daoists" lay people have varying degrees of religious allegiance. Some may declare themselves to be Daoist and regularly visit a Daoist temple, burn incense there, and maybe even belong to a lay association. Other lay people are more eclectic in their religious tastes, and may visit a wide range of temples from time to time, not really caring whether they are devoted to the Buddha, the Daoist gods, or some local deity. For these people religion is something that is used for practical benefits. This is a client-centred approach to religious practice, rather than an affiliation approach, where you are expected to be a member of one religion exclusively.
Quote from: jamesmiller on May 27, 2013, 10:14:49 PMhttp://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/07/magazine/07religion-t.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
Quote from: rickymooston on May 28, 2013, 12:20:07 PM^The communist party official was, at the end rather inventive though. I rather love how he proposed to the nun that she take a short "break" so he could get in his party's speeches.
Quote from: jamesmiller on May 21, 2013, 07:41:04 PM But Daoists also view this as the creative interaction of male and female (yang and yin) aspects. We tend to perceive the universe in a binary way: up and down, left and right, etc. These two modes / aspects depend on each other. Creativity is the result of the interaction of these two. So the Daode jing says Dao gives birth to one; one gives birth to two; two gives birth to three; three give birth to 10,000 things.
Quote from: jamesmiller on May 29, 2013, 05:18:41 PMDaoists tend not to have any view about this that is significantly different from mainstream Chinese culture, which is to say, don't ask don't tell.
Quote from: rickymooston on May 29, 2013, 10:17:17 PMMay i speculate, based on james answer, that because its apparently not emphasized by theTaoist texts, that people just go with what they know? The Taoistunderstanding of the yin and the yang is highly nuanced. This isapparent even in the symbol for Tao. One nature is present in another, whatever polarity one describes. ;). So, even if you are female,you have some "masculin" aspects to your behaviour and vice versa.
Quote from: jamesmiller on May 30, 2013, 07:36:28 PMThe question about Guan Yu (aka Guandi or Guangong) and Guanyin goes to the question of how Daoism relates to other religious traditions in China. As I mentioned earlier, the tendency in China has been that of adding or incorporating other religious figures into the story of Daoism, and into Daoist temples. Such figures may we worshipped on their own and be completely disconnected from Daoism, but they may also be worshipped in Daoist temples and given a status in the Daoist pantheon. This often adds to the confusion of trying to decide whether such and such a temple is "Daoist." For the history of these figures, the information on Wikipedia is pretty good. What I would like to point out here, though, is that the questions that people ask about religion have to do with the things that they expect religions to do. Because of our experience with Judaism-Christianity-Islam (which from an outsider's point of view is really a single religious system) we expect religions to have opinions about homosexuality, and we expect religions to have mutually exclusive demarcations. But that's not the way that religion in China operates, and it's not what religion basically "does" in Chinese society. This fact helps us to understand that "religion" is not in fact a cultural universal. Rather it's a kind of organizing term for cultural practices that comes laden with certain expectations about what it is "supposed to do". That is to say, it's not a simple descriptive term, but always prescribes values, expectations, norms etc.
Quote from: jamesmiller on June 17, 2013, 06:46:04 PMAt this point I'm going to say thank you to all those who contributed to this thread and say goodbye. It's been a great experience for me and I wish you all the best in your discussions about religion across the world!