Sunday, July 27, 2008

Another Farm Visit

Friday after my two English classes I went home with the middle school's Director of Education. He wears many hats. In addition to being an educator, father, and husband, he is also a farmer. On the plot of land owned by his family going back many many generations, just a half mile or so from the sea, he has two artificial ponds fed from a ditch with sea water every high tide. In these two ponds, as well as a third one he rents further west directly opposite the sea wall, Roger raises fish, shrimp, and clams. When we pushed out on his little raft in one of the ponds, shrimp were jumping everywhere and he also dug up some clams to explain how they dig, feed, etc. to me.

He's very satisfied with life on his comfortable plot of land, and looks forwarding to retiring here. He also had a very good harvest last winter. I suspect he raked in a lot of extra bucks to complement his school salary.

The neighbor closest to the third rented pond is an "eel" (Taiwanese is LoMoa", e.g. gangster ) with great status. But since the two of them don't have any directly conflicting interests or any Li4Hai4 Guan1xi4 (severe relationship), everyone gets along just fine.

On another note also related to "Guanxi" (relationship), people are very closely connected in this school. The DoE's wife is the principal's sister. Once again before class on Friday, the principal was explaining FaLunGong to me. He said they don't participate at all in traditional Taiwan folk religion/Taoism, but that they consider Buddhism and Christianity as well as other faiths to all be a part of FaLunGong. Previously he had said to me that if I read the book he loaned me, "a warm feeling" would come over me. This time he shared about a web site from out of which if you were a Buddhist you would see the Buddha, if you were a Christian you would see the Christ, etc. Once again he said you would experience a "warm feeling".  As his faith is still completely unknown to me, I don't quite know exactly how to relate back to his context that I have all I need in Jesus, but I want to learn better how to relate with him.

The teacher at whose house I went swimming a few days ago is also into Falungong, but I suspect she and her husband's involvement isn't nearly as deep as the principal's. Her sister is married to someone in the DoE's family, and the teacher's husband is the principal of a nearby elementary school of less than 100 students. It's in Mailiao which is another seashore township polluted for years by the Formosa plastics company, which is also the townships' largest employer. To make up for their negative impact on the environment not to mention people's health, the plastics company provides free lunches for the elementary school children.

The DoE and his wife, who by the way works at an irrigation company not too far away, are regular Taiwan Taoist/Folk Religionists. He explains to me that Falungong rejects Daoism, but embraces Christianity and Buddhism as part of its greater whole.

On Friday, He and I were originally supposed to have a time of language exchange, but it seemed like 90% of it was English so next time I 'll have to be more determined to get the Taiwanese portion out of him.

Next Wednesday we'll be getting again for dinner with some of the other English teachers for dinner in BeiGang. They are all very kind and also seem very happy to have foreign adults with whom to practice their English.


Amrita said...

I have heard about those philosophies and religions but don 't know what 's involved in them. Many of our gurus teach the same thing

Elisabeth said...

Hi, just wanted to share in case this is helpful to you. I have practiced Falun Gong for about 4 years. In my opinion, I wouldn't say Falun Gong "rejects" Taoism. My understanding is that Falun Gong is a part of the Buddha School (as opposed to the Tao School), but it also suggests that the Tao School is an orthodox school because it focuses on the principle of "Zhen" ("Truthfulness"). The Buddha School focuses on "Shan" (Compassion, Kindness). Falun Gong actually emphasizes cultivating oneself according to three principles simultaneously ("Zhen, Shan, Ren"): Truth/Truthfulness, Compassion/Benevolence, and Tolerance/Endurance. That's just my limited understanding from what I've read in the book, "Zhuan Falun." You can visit for more detailed information. Hope that helps! :-) All the best to you.

Taiwan Prattler said...

Thank you for the comment. The man's reference probably wasn't intended so much to refer to "Taoism" in any pure state of "ism" because here in Taiwan - to the best of my knowledge and experience - what is actually conveyed by the term is usually a mix of Taiwanese folk religion.

By the way, where are you at in the world? Apart from "Christianity" as a institutionalized religion, did you ever consider the wonder and beauty of Jesus as a person and as God? How did you get involved in Falungong? Thanks for the web site.