Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Sep 09 2005

Back on November 18th, 2003, I wrote about my expe…

Back on November 18th, 2003, I wrote about my experiences (scroll down to the date) with Lonely Planet’s Globetrekker program when they came to Taiwan to do a show. Although I don’t have cable, I’ve heard that the show’s been aired, finally. Or it could be a rerun. It would seem, unsurprisingly, that the producers’ claims of being tired and not wanting to do that segment were bullshit; they just wanted to use an attractive local girl instead. I wonder if they got her to spout political slogans as well; it seemed to be one of the requirements for the spot. Then again, I don’t have her figure.

The weather these days is gorgeous, cool and breezy and a nice alternative to the constantly jarring mix of energy-sapping heat and bone-chilling air conditioning that defines mid-summer here. Yet another typhoon, however, seems to be on its way to ruin the weekend, timed just so that we don’t get any more days off work.

I was over at the neighborhood temple the other day talking with one of the caretakers about the curious mix of religions in Taiwan. In China and other places, Buddhism and Taoism are kept seperate, although you can go to either to worship. Taiwan was originally like that as well, with mainly Taoist temples. When the Japanese took over in 1895, however, the Taoist temples had to choose between converting to the more acceptable Buddhist gods or being closed. Most chose the former, and the old Taoist gods were stuffed in a closet somewhere away from official Japanese view.

In 1945, when the Japanese left and the island was returned to Chinese rule, the old gods were taken out and returned to the alter. Problem was, people had been worshipping Buddhist gods for decades and had kind of taken a shine to them, so they left them up to share the alters, and so the temples became the odd mishmash of religions that they are today.

The caretaker, a guy named Xie, also runs a Chinese medicine shop over by the suspension bridge; sometimes I stop in an chat. He says there are two kinds of qi-gong (a kind of energy-management system for the body; “the Force” from the Star Wars movies is the closet analogy I can think of at the moment), hard and soft. The hard style takes many years to perfect and cultivates energy within the body in a closed system through various exercises, while the soft style is easier as in its view the body is open to the energy flowing through every living thing in the environment, thus making cultivation simply a matter of gathering energy from any available source in the vicinity. It’s quite interesting; I should get my sword teacher’s take on it. I suspect the hard-style proponents see the soft style as a cop-out, sort of like “real” photographers scoff at such things as Photoshop.

posted by Poagao at 1:26 am  

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