Friday, August 12, 2011

Superstition and the modern man

I read the following assertion of Carl Jung in his "The spiritual problem of the modern man": What will the educator and advocate of philosophical enlightenment say about the fact that the world has not grown poorer by a single superstition since the days of antiquity? Though it is taken out of context, it is an interesting statement made by a guru with a scientific outlook.

Equally learned people like Richard Dawrkin debated rigorously against superstition in the name of science. It is actually rather easy to argue with a scientific approach: they simply say anything unfalsifiable to be meaningless, and probably due to people's superstition, which as the general usage dictates, has a bad connotation: more for the kids, the gentle sex, and the uneducated.

But when we look at the human psyche, as Jung did, one has to admit that scientific and rational approach itself failed us in many ways. Man's consciousness is no longer so sure that it can solve our problems, both self and society. And we long for something more stable. Or actually our unconscious long for something more stable. We needs charms to protect ourselves, astrology as a better guide to our behavior than our politicians who argue among themselves for whatever issues that come up, with their partisan interests on top of everything.

Hong Kong people often joke about the prevalent superstitious behavior among the Taiwanese. And Taiwanese are usually not embarrassed by admitting themselves to be superstitious. Being Chinese, they are pragmatic; they know how to spend and where to stop, with personal well-being and benefits always as bottom-line to be watched over.

Recently I came across a website promoting "Xiang Gong" (香功) in Taiwan. A kind of chi-kung credentialed as with Zen background and was revitalized by a Mr. Tian in mainland China some years ago. When Mr. Tian died, his son kept his institution going and finally went to jail for fraud. Tian's institution closed for good, but some students flourished on.

There is this "Xiang Gong" institution in Taiwan (to avoid unnecessary debate I won't mention its name). According to their website, the Grandmaster will deliver holy blessings to water put into a container during a certain hour on a certain day of each month. The requirement is that one has to do the foundation exercise during the hour. The water thus blessed can be drunk or rubbed over one's body. It is good for health and can cure disease. If a disciple (or student) doesn't like to use water, he or she can use any decorative items of his or her choosing, and that items will be blessed.

On the pragmatic side, it will be beneficial for any chi-kung practitioner to drink some water after his practice. If the water is blessed, and one believes in it, one will be so much happier doing the exercise on the scheduled day and hour. And hopefully it will serve as a good motivation to do more practice during other hours and days of the month. Any way, assuming one believes in the efficacy of the blessing, one will at least do one hour exercise per month (and the blessing is free!). And chances are that the Grand-master's students, because of this belief, can have a higher chance to continue his or her practice in the long run, and hence getting good benefits from the chi-kung exercises themselves (in comparison, I noticed some tai-chi sifus who "stubbornly" teach in the traditional way, or the way they learned the stuff from their sifu, failed to keep their students!)

Next time don't be too hard on people whom you consider as being superstitious.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...