Sample Movie Review On Taoism: A Question Of Balance
In religious in the West have a dualism of good against evil. How does the Chinese dualism of yin and yang differ from this? What do yin and yang represent? Why should we seek to have both?
In terms of yin and yang good and bad are not opposite. Chinese people do not believe that good should triumph over evil, but rather that they should be in balance. Yin and yang symbolize day and night, man and woman, birth and death, summer and winter and so on. Each of those is important, so we need to have both to keep the balance.
How are yin and yang symbolized? Draw a circle symbolizing both together?
At first there was chaos, which later transformed into some kind of balance – yin and yang. In the documentary it was also said that from yin and yang came 4 directions and 8 trigrams.
How are the values of long life, prosperity (children) represented as gods?
The gods of longevity, prosperity and posterity are represented as 3 older men. Their picture was painted on the wall of one of the temples.
5. Why is it said that most Chinese gods were once human individuals
The majority of popular gods have ones been people. Usually there were people unsatisfied with their lives and disturbed after death. These were dangerous spirits, and the way Chinese people found to deal with them was to make them gods. With the help of pity and worship they balance negative forces with the positive ones.
6. As an example, how did Matsu go from fisherman’s daughter to Queen of Heaven? If you can, answer what do pilgrims to her temple bring from their homes and take back home renewed?
Matsu, a girl who did miracles and died young was promoted to the Queen of Heaven by an emperor in the 4th century. Pilgrims bring their local Matsu statues to the temple to kind of spiritually recharge them.
7. What does narrator Ronald Eyre mean when he says, “Some people make good god material?”
This refers to the question 5. It is believed that some people became a source of disharmоny after they died because of disappointments they had in their lives. So they turned into gods in order to balancе the forces of disharmony with the help of worship and piety.
8. What did you notice about Chinese rituals, temples, and altars? What goes on at them? Are they exclusively Buddhist, Confucian, or Taoist? What is all the noise about?
Chinese rituals, temples, and altars are usually the community ones. It means that all local people, no matter if they are Buddhist, Confucian, or Taoist, come to the same place to worship.
9. Why does a god in temple have a television? Where is it? How and why are village gods taken to folk operas?
One of the ‘faithful’ people donated a television set for his local god, which was placed in the temple in front of the statue of god, so he could watch television. Folk operas are performed primarily for the gods, and that is why the stages are always in front of the temples.
10. What happened at the moving chair séance and at the funeral shown later on? How were the dead and the gods communicated with each case? What did the family learn in the moving chair séance?
The moving chair séance was a ritual when a family came to seek an advice of a family member who died. A medium was a spoke man for god, and the chair holders who were in the condition of trans were used by the dead man to reveal his will. According to the priest who acted as an interpreter, the dead man wanted the family “to join in a series of offerings” so the harmony could be restores.
11. Define and briefly discuss the concepts of Tu Ti Gong (local Earth God); Wu Wei (actionless action): and yin and yang (dark and light/shade and sun). The Tu Ti Gong comes early but is referred to later as well. Wu wei come towards the end. Yin and Yang are throughout but they do show up early.
Tu Ti Gong is a local Earth God. He can be compared to a local chief of the city, responsible for keeping all the things in order. He is worshipped and served by the local people, but if he doesn’t do his work well, he can be dismissed.
12. What is concept of Wu Wei? How does it express Taoist philosophy? Do you see a difference between this and Western views of action?
13. The narrator of “A question of Balance,” Ronald Eyre, says that of all the religions covered in his film series “The Long Search,” Chinese Religion more than any other challenged his originally Western understanding of what is meant by the term (and concept) “religion.” What, if anything, shown in the film illustrated this point of different to you? Would you agree with Eyre in finding Chinese Religion noticeably different from Western views of religion? How so？Consider differences in creation stories, sounds in worship, exclusiveness or not of religious membership, life goals, idea of good versus evil, sin and salvation, harmony, balance, etc. Did any part of Chinese Religion actually fit with your own religious view? What was that? What difference was most notable to you? Ronald Eyre first mentions these differences early in the video but these contrasts keep coming up. Which ones stood out most to you?
Indeed, Chinese religion is very different from the Western one. What fascinates me the most that in China you can be Buddist, Confucian, and Taoist at the same time and without any inner conflict. Moreover, there is a harmony between the three of them, as depicted on the picture of three friends – each a representative of one of the given religions.
14. How does ritual appear to be the common thread in Chinese Religion? What examples struck you as most telling? What goes on at temples, village shrines, and family grave shrines? Where are joss sticks (incense sticks) placed and burnt? What happens to imitation, or ceremonial, money and fancy imitation homes for the dead?
Chinese people have great respect for their ancestors and dead relatives. That is why at least once a year there must be a whole-family gathering near the grave of the dead relative in their honor. To my mind, sometimes it goes too far. For instance, a funeral, as the one of a grandmother shown in the documentary, looks rather an incredibly expensive performance. Money and fancy imitation homes for the dead are burned at the end.
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