Monday, February 27, 2012

The logic of creating an oracle system

There are three distinctive features in practical Chinese culture, as expressed by Chinese (or to use a more appropriate term: Hua Ren 华人) in different countries (including, for examples, Chinese in Singapore). Firstly, it is (different kinds of) Chinese cuisine, secondly, it is family system and relationship, and thirdly, it is their "obsession" towards the game of Fate (命理)- with it commonest manifestation in various kind of stick-oracles.

If you ask a Chinese whether or not he or she has ever ask the revelation from stick-oracles, chances are that more than 95+ will respond with a YES, in all seriousness. The funny thing is that some of these same people will also honestly tell you, during their better times, that they don't believe in stick-oracle!

Asking for oracle revelation is a metaphysical or psychological event (depending on one's philosophical outlook or orientation), the creation of oracles is a human endeavor and a creative process. Each temple has a different set of oracles sticks each associated with, usually, a verse. Verse is the genre to facilitate the imaginations of the readers, and is therefore an obvious genre of choice for the purpose.

Famous scholar Nan HuaiJin (南怀瑾) in his "My lectures on Can Tong Qi 我说参同契 wrote he often joked with his friends asking them to build a temple, and he could write a set of stick-oracle verse for them. According to Nan, writing the verse is both easy and difficult. The reason is that the verse must be ambiguous enough to enable a person to say afterwards: Hei it is right, when the actual outcome is favorable; or say Hei it is right, when the actual outcome is unfavorable! To make a contemporary analogy, it is quite different experience playing a computer game and writing a computer game program.

In a future post, I shall deal with the experience of asking an oracle (ref. playing a computer game).

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