Chinese Culture

Chinese knowledge is not a skill set to be learned. It is a reflection of cultural perspective, a result of living life according to natural principles. These principles include a dedication to applying natural law to all things, be it medicine, martial arts, calligraphy, gardening, architecture, tracking the stars, pouring tea or taking a stroll. It is said that Chinese culture is a reflection of Lao Zi and Kong Zi (Confucious) thinking, but that is not true. They simply put into words what the Chinese were already striving for over 3,000 years ago. Harmony. Harmony with the solar cycles of the seasons, the lunar cycles of the month, birth–life–death, and each other. And an acknowledgement that some sort of force or machination started this process but does not arbitrarily control it. All things are a result of this, yet it does not interact or react to any of it. It just is, is omnipresent, yet is not actually anything. To give it a name, the Chinese called it the Dao, or Way.

The first gift I was given was the gift of perspective. The late professor Wang Jin-Huai taught me all things Chinese are a result of perspective. If you see things that way, you will naturally do things that way. There is nothing to learn, all things are a reflection of understanding what the thing is. Gaining this undersanding takes work–hard work–and the work never ends. But as you become skilled to the outside eye in arts like Chinese medicine, you never lose site of what you are actually doing: seeing deeper and deeper layers within the circles and cycles of nature and recognizing why something is out of harmony and what would shift it back into the highest state of existence: being naturally natural.

In this part of ATS, I share the many things that are a reflection of cultivating harmony with the Dao. Whether it is my personal love for tea, Confucian classic texts, chapters of Lao Zi, beautiful mountain–water paintings from the Song, Ming and Qing Dynasties, the music of the guqin… this is where it can be found. I hope that visiting these pages begins as something which shades your understandings and enjoyment of the Chinese arts. But, as you go further, as you become clearer, these things which seemed to be the background to your training suddenly shift into focus as the core of what you are experiencing. If you look up with a pot of tea in your hand and suddenly burst out laughing, that might just be what happened.

With Great Respect,
Andrew Nugent-Head