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tv   Mosaic World News  LINKTV  April 25, 2012 7:30pm-8:00pm PDT

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for you lucky the whole year. and some rice inside of this ceremony you take it back to cook it for whole family, of the dead may be cook healthy [inaudible]. >> well we're very happy to have dr. glenn shive with us thank you very much for coming down here. >> pleasure. >> i'll definitely need some help as you can tell. let me - you're going to china in a couple of days. >> indeed. >> but just a little back ground your interest in china and chinese religions. >> well i studied religion in temple university in philadelphia. and then went in to chinese history and my degree is in chinese history, modern, but also always interested in chinese thought and the classics. i went to taiwan in the years before it was possible for americans to go to the main land to study, i studied classical chinese and so the great writers, philosophers and thinkers at the time and then i ended up
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writing my dissertation about mao tse-tung, so very i'm much in the contemporary era. so i've kind of done a lot of things in taiwan to shanghai where i taught at east china normal university and later in hong kong, where i'm going again as a full writer. >> okay that's good. how long did it take you to get through grad school? >> that's right, i did it - it's a lot to absorb but i was - actually it was nixon's visit in 1972/73 that opened up in a sense china to the u.s. they saw it as opening china outward to the broader world and it intrigued me and i said this is going to be big and we need more people to know what's going on between our two societies. >> absolutely and as we are - you were here in the first part of the class and of course where we are in beliefs and believers is we're coming to the end of looking at what we call the ethical dimension which has to do with proper patterns of action looking for the good life and looking towards the social dimension. we've gone through some notes
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here and we've had a chance to look at them. but, just from your perspective, how close are we in saying that in confucianism and taoism it cuts to the core of the family? i think susanna raised a question about the priorities but, how so this family relationships? >> family is at the core, family is the principle metaphor for the whole culture. and even in that little take at the very end he said you take it home and cook it for you family, right? so whatever happens the final sort of reference point is the family. that all relationships are based on family relationships; the father/son, the husband/wife, the brother/brother, are the working-outs. i mean, this comes from our intuition universally that these relationships were the first ones in where we learn the relationship so that the formation experience of child to parent and parent for example sets the relationship in the political realm between the emperor and the subjects
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that the father emperor and the subject should be as a large family. so the whole state is in a sense an extension of the family and the family life is where these ritual relationships are developed and worked out. even down to some practices where you sit at the table, sense of positioning as was mentioned to this - even in the cosmos where is your position in the world comes to where is your position at the table when you eat at the family core. so, you could never go wrong by referring any question in the chinese cultural religious ethos to how does it work as a family metaphor. >> now i want to - go ahead susanna i've got lots of questions but - >> then where are the females in this picture, because your references again are to man/wife, father/son and not father/mother, and yin and yang it seems equal?
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>> that's the question i had too, yes. >> well john is right, it is a patriarchal society has evolved that way and may be in a sense - confucianism, as it became institutionalized in the hong dynasty about 2,000 years ago, long after confucius by the way, but they set up these rules to basically one can say, reinforce a patriarchal system. but, in essence the yin yang relationship is not just sort of male/female and dominant/recessive, it is more dynamic than that. it's more like the light on the mountain, and the light in the morning, and the light in the evening, that you can't have one without the other. that each depends on the other for its very existence. that's that interdependence sort of aspect here that the dot on the other side that, high and low, light and dark, life and death. you can't have life as we know it without the concept of death. in fact,
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this harmonization of opposites is i think an opening to looking at male/female relationships in a positive way. not just statically saying one is above and the other is below, but to say that we're constantly doing things for each other. and that that evolves in society and we are not in an agricultural society any longer we can throw away a lot of the old patriarchical sort of reference points of the early religion but keep the original essence of the insight, that we really do depend on each other. >> it feels to me that may be just exactly what this next millennium is all about, because those of us here now, we are pushing things over the cusp on that and it just makes sense. >> sure and it is very different in our experience but the effort here is to sort of try to imagine the cultural social economic ethos that where from which this religion came.
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and to say that it has a logic with out with holding a bit, our judgment that was wrong because that was dominance, that's too quickly i think to sort of impose our thoughts, they were operating appropriately perhaps in their context and it evolved. >> my girl friend was raised in the east asian culture and every single time i spoke with her she would ask me, "how is your mother?" absolutely every time. it didn't take me long to pick up on this eventually i figured it out and i would ask her then every time i saw her, "how is your mother?" so there's a part of this that's not defined but it's intuitive, it's just automatic she would always say to me, "how is your mother?" >> almost more than "how are you." >> almost more than "how are you." >> which - what does that mean? that says that you are an aspect of your mother, i can't see you without seeing you as a mother/child relationship - >> the interconnection - >> the interconnections. so, americans will tend to see, "ah here's an individual."
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you are sitting there, you are one person, well you are in a class, you're in an array of relationships, let's put this person in that context of relationships rather than struggling to sort of pull out instead of this is me and who i am, no, let's put ourselves back into this nexus of relationships that really do give us life and give us definition. >> i've always thought about that in terms of teaching, that we're so used to; i teacher, you student, and while there's certain levels of respect that would fit into a confucian system, that's a bad kind of barrier because we are all in this together and you need to understand yourself in that context and i think that breaks down things. now anita i know you had a question - >> yes, i'm wondering where does the robber, thief or murderer fit in where the family is concerned in the yin yang concept? >> well there's definitely evil out there, and the fellow had the scissors to cut the sort of the bad forces that are out there.
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one needs protection, i mean this is folk religion and all folk religion sort of well, represent this experience that there's bad stuff out there and one has to be aware and protected. we can think in terms of complimentarity and - but even there, what is the concept of good without a concept of evil? i mean they are binary relationships yet, in the west we see them as constantly in clash, right? good will win out over evil, good must destroy evil, or is one or the other in the zoroastrian more western tradition. but in the chinese world, it's never one or the other. is that they are always living, in a sense, co-terminusly, always together. defining each other and also the concept there of luck we saw, i mean these are inscrutable things about how the universe is put together
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and why things happen to us. and we want to wish each other luck as things happen that don't know where they come from and why. >> this is a question that may take a whole other teleclass to answer. but, just instinctively i'm struck by how radically different the eastern way of perceiving the world is and the asian way, why? anything that comes to mind how could such diverse ways of understanding reality emerge and then, bring forth different religious expressions? >> i don't know off hand that's a deep, deep question how that emerges - >> it frustrates me - >> i understand, where does this - what social experience really had to be there to create a context where this was the insight that emerged. and i think that the period of confu and lao tzu - was a chaotic time,
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it was time of civil war, it was a period of the collapse of the feudal world with clear definitions that somebody was on top because of title, and somebody was below because they had no title. and these warring feudal states were just killing each other off and making life miserable for ordinary people, and confucius sort of emerged in this environment and said, this can't be right. and it was a combination of let's go back to the origins and understand where we came from, this instinct to go back to how did all this begin and then also to sort of develop a kind of a provision for how to order ciety re rationay,eacefully and of course confucius and taoism have radically different solutions. out of this original concept of sensing the oneness of human beings with each other
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and with nature the confucians came out in believing we need a government, we need an ordering of society, we need a benevolent but vertical set of relationships. whereas the taoists sort of emerged from this experience said, "that's part of the problem, in fact." human beings are trying to fix it and nature doesn't get fixed. you let nature be and if we're a part of nature, in a sense they became anarchists and the logical conclusion from the taoists is to go off into the woods and be by themselves. but in a sense nothing is - it's not a sort of like a confession where i'm a confucianist and i'm a taoists. there's a saying that, in china you were a confucian hat and a taoist robe and you have buddhist robe and a taoist sandals. so that people clothed themselves in this set
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of religions and you call a dynamic system of religion. the taoism was originally chinese. buddhism comes in later, translates itself with taoist terms but buddhism brings in a more sophisticated theology. and an organization creates a church, creates monasteries and taoism then in a sense responds to this and becomes itself richer. and confucianism mean while was the kind of religion of the state of in a sense wealthy people. and you have people making eclectic combinations of all of these thoughts. in a way, kind of like we do now because rather than maybe before one grew up as a certain profession and this was truth and against the others where as now we live in a relativelistic kind of religious world where individuals are sort of expected to think through on
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their own and acquire pieces and aspects of different confessions and in their own life philosophy so, it's a more open and flexible place, it's along period of history. >> you know the - and this is also and helen i want to [laughter], this is you've obviously done studies in the current political situation in modernity. and we're looking to china of course speaking of the ethical and social dimension as hopefully being partners, as being allies. how important do you think it is, even though we've gone through the long period of communism when the traditional religious systems were repressed, how important do you think it is that a religious or at least ethical political dialogue take place between the united states and china in order for us to sort some of these differences out? >> i think very important and it's one of the promises of the dialogue u.s./china relations is opening up for the ordinary people
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to participate and have that dialogue and we bring our perspectives to bare, but we need to articulate them one to the others so that we understand them better. china has gone through a horrendous time in the last 200 years, it's been a bad century in chinese terms but, and part of this period of time there was communism, you mentioned. and it's ironic because communism is based on a notion of class conflict, right? either or there's this period almost of adopting an external philosophy communism to drive - the conflict drives history, in the hegelian sense. even to the absurdities of the cultural revolution in the 1960s when student were revolting against their teachers and against their parents and this was, until ultimately there was a total disgust in a sense that china threw this out and returned to more
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in the sense that ultimately we have to develop complimentary yin yang relationship versus one class set against the other. so i think china in a sense is returning to more of its own origins. it is a complex question about the role, the status of religion in china today. and there's a lot of discussion in the u.s. about - we believe and value religious freedom. there is a kind of renaissance of religious life in china. the combination of both indigenous religious like buddhism taoism are of our greater interest in a context where certainly marxism doesn't mean very much to anybody any more. and there is a growth of christianity in china. a lot of indigenous home churches are growing up and there's a complicated relationships about, sort of,
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the catholic church and rome and recognizing. see, china is emerging from a kind of period of humiliation from having been dominated by colonial powers of the west. and many times they perceived religion to have been part of the bible and the canon came up the river on the gun boat. and they said, to reject the foreigner and give us our own place, then they associated religion in that kind of act of domination. so, i think that though over time, there's what they call, the three self movement where as christianity in china is quite alright as long as it's self financing, self instructing and is self governing. so that it's not is a sense an extension of foreign western power, so they are very concerned about that. but, china is loosening up and people have much more freedom to explore and read
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and think and discuss about the ethical issues and the principle questions of the meaning of life. and they don't get it from the state, and they are very curious, and the media is much more open to bring in ideas and images from the outside. and, i think there's a new, there's a pluralism of belief that actually befits a very large and ancient society. >> you are touching on the ethical dimension, also is important and i think the media needs a bit of education there too, because unless we have an understanding of the different way of seeing the world we get even horrific events like the tennemen square event, that as bad as it is it doesn't help it if it's framed in a ethical frame work that befits a western mind when the event occurred in a whole other context as being seeing here. now helen i've been promising - >> i want to get back to your question why? why this great difference in world view between the east
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and the west and i have educational experience by sponsor of a chinese scholar for a couple of years and every time this question came up, why? the answer was 6,000 years of continuous civilization. in other words, not too subtly, he was saying, "we've had more time to get further along than you guys, you're still just getting used to painting yourself blue and coming down under the trees, where as of that time we were already developing taois on the confucianism and so we've simply so the stock answer was "6,000 years of continuous civilization." >> the chinese - there's some truth in that, and there is great pride in chinese culture in that very feature. that in contrast to - in the western greek and rome and we know the format of features of our own western world view but there was a lot of break and disconnection
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and interruption. whereas in china, you had relatively isolated from the rest of the world, a kind of continuous civilization that kept sort of building on itself and evolving with it self and therefore could naturally evolve behind those mountains and far away from the pathways of few on the silk road would go back and forth between china the hun and the roman empire but, really they were on their own for quite a lot and may be it just takes time on your own to come up with a different view. >> i wanted to go back to what dr. simmons was talking about and that is, with the political upheaval with mao, and so forth and the current curbing of population by saying one child per family, how is this going to either erode or strengthen the confucian idea of family and
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there other related religions? >> it is a very good question because it's something they are facing right now, the first generation of one child family is emerging in the collage campuses there. it started in 1980, when i was in shanghai, remember the campaigns to sort of first walk through the streets and sort of have one child, and this was so against what people had been otherwise taught. and, to think of a culture that when you grow up you have no brothers, no sisters, no uncles, no aunts, no cousins i mean think in our own frame work, in our own culture how important these relationships are to us. and here we have a whole society of single child people. and the crisis in terms of not one set of parents for ten children taking care of them in their old age, but now the pyramid is reversed and you have one child who's taking care of
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four grand parents. so you have, in a sense, a demographic time bomb in china that's slowly ticking, yet given the expansive population of 1.2 billion people, they had literally no choice but to curb population and in a way that seems draconian to us and indeed draconian to them. but we see people in urban environments are very constricted housing, they understood that to continue without regulation would create a population pressure that would eat up any surplus they would ever create. and they have especially in the country side this is still not very well under control, but in the cities those one child families are emerging more and less like the middle class of the west, where people - where the single child is of the parents and they go of to school and - >> my question really was,
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how is this affecting their religious beliefs? >> well the family structure is no longer, this extended family is not the same metaphor for which is based in the agrarian society. so the new metaphor for the family is more, there's me, and my parents, and there's individualism that's emerging in that and again the notion of these sets of this old metaphor of confucius and confucianism has been as a social philosophy has been diminish over time. >> that's what i was wondering, what happens to the religions themselves and that as you say they're diminishing because it's become more of a social pressure? >> that's right, and marxism came in and said no to confucianism and replaced the concept of, not the family but the work unit, and production that was the principle metaphor of society. and that is breaking up and now you have in a sense a third metaphor that is no longer the old confucianism that's gone can't go back to it,
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except for the country side perhaps. the communist metaphor doesn't work in chinese society if any where, and you are starting to have an urban middle class society that looks more and more like our own. >> you know in terms of ethical patterns of action, almost it seems as though western ideas of individualism are working their way into china. now i'm always looking from other cultures what we might draw from them and of course we mention the family values and family issues here. you mentioned that in a confucian family the children had to sit at a particular place at the table, but i can't even get my children to sit at the table, they're busy watching cartoons. anything from your insight that we might draw that could bring more harmony within the family which seems to be such a difficult cultural and ethical position here in the good old u.s. of a. >> i think it goes to yin yang concept and this is so intuitive to chinese that to - rather than to find how
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i'm different, and the other person is somehow how come there other and am different from that person, it's more or? here is something that we disagree about, let's define our disagreements and sort of work that - it's more like how can this interesting difference be - create a new harmony? and it's a instinct to harmony that i think is the brilliance of chinese thought and applied into the culture and into the psychology. and you have a very, because of this not so much the need to assert individuality but to find social solidarity, to find a kind of belonging and to find a sense of community. and as we live beyond sort of familial and small villages; kin type communities but large urban settings, i think ability to find harmony and build community is something that the chinese thought system really has to offer us. >> in our last
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thirty seconds here, i think what you said is so profound and something we've been learning throughout the semester here. and susanna's fine comment i think also under girded that and it's this - how you put it about the observing harmony, paying attention to harmony. it seems to be something and i harken back once again to the harrison/shepherd interview where if a lawyer can look for harmony, any body can look for harmony. but seriously, it's that kind of attitude and ethical system that i hope at its best religion brings out in people it teaches them to do that and i see that in all cultures. well we've come now to the end of the hour and i'm absolutely thrilled you came on dr. shive, thank you so much.
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