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Things Chinese with Nature / Penjing

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  • Gabi Greve
    Here are some bits and pieces. Checking about the Purificatory Fast of Water and Land (shuilu zhai), leading to some bonsai...Penjing keep reading. I found
    Message 1 of 2 , Jan 24 12:30 AM
      Here are some bits and pieces.

      Checking about
      the Purificatory Fast of Water and Land (shuilu zhai),
      leading to some bonsai...Penjing

      keep reading.

      I found this article.


      By Edward L. Davis. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2001. Pp.
      xi + 355; appendix; glossary; index. Cloth, $60.00, ISBN 0-8248-2310-
      9; Paper, $24.95, ISBN 0-8248-2398-2.


      Based on the author's Ph.D. dissertation (University of California at
      Berkeley, 1994), this well-researched study focuses on the relation
      of Chinese society with the supernatural and on experiences of the
      supernatural as an aspect of social relations. In particular, this
      work examines "spirit-possession"— the descent of gods, ghosts, or
      ancestors, and their habitation within a human body (1)—during the
      Song dynasty (Northern: 960-1126; Southern: 1127-1279).

      In some sense, then, Society and the Supernatural in Song China is a
      social history of spirit-possession and exorcism in twelfth-century
      China. According to Davis, spirit-possession is a social
      experience: "Spirit-possession was both a role assumed in public and
      a shared and universally recognized idiom that allowed an individual
      person to convert emotion into culture, and symptoms into symbols"
      (1). Davis in turn draws attention to the relations among various
      religious specialists during the Song, specifically among Daoist
      priests (daoshi), so-called Ritual Masters (fashi; a newly-emerging
      group during the Song) and Tantric exorcists, as well as spirit-

      "[M]y aim is to examine the religious interactions and social
      functions of the Daoist priest, Buddhist monk, Ritual Master, and
      spirit-medium in local society during the twelfth century, and to
      present a description of Song religious life richer than any
      available to date" (4). (For a partial justification of Davis'
      categorization of Song fashi traditions as "Daoist" see 4-13.)

      The book consists of nine chapters: (1) Introduction; (2) Therapeutic
      Movements in the Song: Texts; (3) New Therapeutic Movements in the
      Song: Practitioners; (4) The Cult of the Black Killer; (5) The Daoist
      Ritual Master and Child-Mediums; (6) Tantric Exorcists and Child-
      Mediums; (7) Daoist Priests, Confucian Literati, and Child-Mediums;
      (8) Spirit-Possession and the Grateful Dead: Daoist and Buddhist
      Mortuary Ritual in the Song; and (9) The Syncretic Field of Chinese
      Religion. There is also an appendix that discusses the Yellow
      Register Retreat (huanglu zhai), a Daoist ritual for the dead, in
      comparison to the Purificatory Fast of Water and Land (shuilu zhai),
      a Buddhist rite for universal salvation (pudu).

      This book is especially helpful for gaining a more nuanced
      appreciation of the religious landscape during the Song period,
      specifically the complex interaction occurring among practitioners
      and communities usually assumed to participate in distinct traditions
      (passim). Davis provides important insights concerning the "profound
      shift" and "sea change" in Daoist history occurring in the Song; this
      was the emergence and flourishing of "popularized" forms of Daoism
      associated with the above-mentioned Ritual Masters (especially chs.
      2, 3, and 5). According to Davis, the overwhelming concern of these
      lineages was therapeutic and exorcistic (21).

      In addition, Society and the Supernatural in Song China covers poorly
      understood Song traditions of Daoism such as Tianxin (Celestial
      Heart) and thunder magic (leifa) (especially ch. 2). Although some
      may find the concluding chapter to be overly theoretical and, at
      times, an "insider" discussion of critical historiography, it
      deserves careful reflection by anyone employing a historical approach
      to the study of Chinese religion. A book this important to the fields
      of Chinese history, Chinese religion, and Daoist Studies also would
      have benefited from a more comprehensive and detailed index.
      Nonetheless, Davis' study is strongly recommended for those
      researching Song and post-Song religious traditions, for those
      seeking a fuller understanding of Chinese history, and for anyone
      engaged in Daoist Studies. In addition, this book clarifies the
      historical developments that led to some of the defining
      characteristics of modern Chinese religion, both in mainland China
      and Taiwan. Research libraries and scholars in Chinese area studies
      should have this book.

      Louis Komjathy
      Boston University
      Jan 1, 2003



      From there to another interesting aspect of Chinese culture,


      Penjing is the Chinese art of creating a miniature landscape in a
      container. The word consists of the two characters shown on the
      left: "pen" - "pot" or "container", and "jing" - "scenery".


      Read the original here:

      and the homebase

      Penjing is the Chinese art of creating a miniature landscape in a
      container. The word consists of the two characters shown on the
      left: "pen" - "pot" or "container", and "jing" - "scenery". An artist
      may use plant material and natural stone to portray an idylllic
      mountain retreat with a murmuring brook or a waterscape with a lush
      tropical island. Or he or she may design a much simpler scene where
      one single tree makes up the entire composition.

      Penjing and bonsai are closely related art forms. Penjing is the
      older form from which bonsai derived. While the similarities by far
      outweigh the differences, there is a significant variance in
      scope: "Bonsai" literally means a "tree in a pot" and therefore as an
      art form, bonsai is more narrowly defined than penjing, a "landscape
      in a pot". Many of the beautiful, elaborate tray sceneries created by
      Chinese artists clearly defy the parameters of bonsai.

      While penjing can be found in many variations, the Chinese themselves
      recognize three distinct categories:

      Tree Penjing (shumu penjing)
      Landscape Penjing (shanshui penjing)
      Water-and-Land Penjing (shuihan penjing)

      Penjing as an art form spans over a thousand years. Our earliest
      historical records of a stone and a plant arranged in a container to
      form an artistic scenery date from the Tang Dynasty (618-907). By the
      Song Dynasty (960-1279 ), the Chinese already practiced the art at an
      advanced artistic level. Paintings from that period depict pieces
      that would be prized among seasoned collectors today.

      Penjing artists have drawn much of their inspiration not only from
      nature, but from nature poetry and landscape painting. Similar
      aesthetic considerations have guided all three art forms. With
      landscape painting attaining unprecedented heights during the Song
      Dynasty (960-1279), penjing, too, was poised for vigorous artistic
      development. By the early years of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the
      art had become very popular, and the first manuals appeared. With
      increasing popularity, however, more commercial, folkloristic, and
      regionally defined strands of penjing sprang up alongside the more
      sophisticated, artistic forms. In addition to aesthetically refined
      penjing, one could find trees whose trunks had been coiled to
      represent dragons or whose canopies were to depict cloud layers, or
      trees shaped to resemble the strokes of fortuitous characters. The
      variations were endless.

      In the later years of the Qing Dynasty, the 19th century, foreign
      aggression and domination led to a decline in penjing, and this
      development was exacerbated during the years of foreign occupation
      and humiliation, war, civil war, and cultural revolution that China
      experienced during much of this century. Old collections were lost,
      artists struggled to survive and to pass on their wisdom and
      insights. Only in the last twenty-plus years have the conditions in
      China allowed for a renaissance of this ancient art form. Today, a
      quickly growing number of enthusiasts and collectors have discovered
      their roots in penjing.

      It is assumed that the art of creating miniature trees reached Japan
      by the 13th century. Beginning in 600 A.D., Japan sent envoys to
      China to study her arts and architecture, her language and literature
      as well as her law and the forms of Buddhism evolving there, which
      were grafted on the original Indian teachings. During China's
      Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279 ) in particular, the Japanese
      imported Chinese culture and arts on a large scale. It was during
      that time that the Chinese form of Buddhism known as "Ch'an" was
      introduced to Japan and given the name "Zen" - the name by which it
      is known in the West today. This massive transmission of culture
      begun in the the 1200's would last for centuries as Japanese artists
      continued looking to their Chinese counterparts for guidance and

      The penjing artist's goal is not only to re-create a natural scenery
      in a container, but to capture its essence and spirit. To achieve
      this objective, a wide palette of artistic devices comes into play.

      Like a Chinese landscape painting, a penjing is a study in contrasts.
      On a philosophical level, this presentation of opposites is evidence
      of the Chinese artist's conceptualization of the universe as being
      governed by two poles of cosmic energy, the yin and the yang.
      Artistically, the contrasts create rhythm and dramatic tension which
      then is resolved in a dynamic balance, a delicately tuned equilibrium.

      The attainment of overall structural unity is critical, especially in
      a more complex composition like a water-and-land penjing where design
      elements such as trees, rocks, mosses, small grasses, and water all
      need to harmonize with each other and contribute to the design in a
      meaningful fashion. Careful selection is critical. In addition to
      deciding on a container and determining the tentative placement of
      the composition, the artist will consider the tree species, number of
      trees to be used, their sizes, trunk angles and the density of their
      foliage mass. He or she will choose rocks for their size, color,
      shape, surface details, and compatibility with the trees. In the end,
      each and every element in the design needs to relate to all the
      others so that the entire landscape appears as an all-embracing,
      encompassing entity.

      Penjing artists do not seek to create perfection. As a matter of
      fact, trees trained into highly stylized forms where every angle and
      every root and branch placement has been meticulously calculated by a
      rigid formula do not suit their tastes. Apart from being beautiful,
      an outstanding penjing must look entirely natural. It should look as
      if Nature herself had spontaneously created it - like a marvellous
      accident of Nature.

      Bonsai and penjing may be viewed as objects of meditation. The act of
      creating bonsai or penjing by itself is a contemplative, meditative
      exercise - a practice of Zen. The little trees and miniature
      landscapes can be seen as a celebration of Nature and the healing
      powers extended by an intact natural environment. Creating and taking
      care of bonsai and penjing will draw you closer to Nature, enabling
      you to experience her in a more direct, intimate way.

      For a more in-depth understanding of bonsai and penjing, the practice
      of creating miniature trees and landscapes should be viewed against
      the backdrop of two of China's great philosophical traditions, Daoism
      (Taoism) and Zen Buddhism. Daoism has exerted a profound influence
      over Far Eastern arts for over two thousand years. It's a way of
      thinking and living that can liberate mind and body. Daoism proposes
      the return to a state of original spontaneity by discarding the rules
      of rigid conventional behavior and thinking. It suggests that by
      learning to go with the flow and allowing our minds to function
      naturally, tremendous creative power can be unleashed. Tuning into
      the rhythm of Nature and understanding the interrelatedness of all
      things around us are key components of Daoist teachings.

      Zen Buddhism - known as "Ch'an" in Chinese - evolved as a new strand
      of Buddhism with unique Chinese features after Indian monks
      introduced Mahayana Buddhism around 500 A.D. It came about when a
      form of Indian Buddhism was grafted upon the native Chinese Daoist
      tradition. Chinese-style sitting meditation ("zuo Ch'an", a concept
      called "za zen" in Japanese) does not seek to bring the mind under
      rigid control as does traditional Indian Buddhism, but instead seeks
      to liberate, encouraging the mind to flow without impediment and to
      follow its own, intrinsically good, nature. Ch'an, popularized in the
      West under its Japanese name, Zen, teaches that the receptive mind
      can find Enlightenment everywhere, at any time, in the form
      of "sudden awakening".

      And so it is that a bonsai or penjing artist, working with natural
      materials and concentrating moment to moment, may come upon sudden
      insights, inspirations, and resolutions. This is the creative
      process. It finds the artist quietly absorbed in a state of active
      meditation. Arranging trees and placing rocks, he suddenly discovers
      something new, not pre-meditated - a composition that flows naturally
      and harmoniously, engendering great beauty and universal, eternal
      truths with seemingly little effort.

      © Karin Albert


      I will leave it here for tonight.
      Gabi san
    • Gabi Greve
      ... Here is another link about this festival http://www.kmspks.org/activities/shuilu.htm The Great Festival to Liberate All Beings of Water and Land 6/12/02
      Message 2 of 2 , Jan 24 12:38 AM
        > Checking about
        > the Purificatory Fast of Water and Land (shuilu zhai),

        Here is another link about this festival


        The Great Festival to Liberate All Beings of Water and Land
        6/12/02 -12/12/02

        What is this Festival About?

        It may seem unscientific to talk about gods and ghosts in this modern
        age, but they do exist. There are other beings that most of us cannot
        see. In fact, there are ten realms of existences. In six of the
        realms, the beings are more capable and happier than humans. In the
        lower three realms, the beings endure much suffering.

        In this festival, we invite the beings of the higher realms to help
        the beings in the lower realms get out of their sufferings. By doing
        so, everyone will benefit. The beings in the lower realms escape from
        their pain and anguish. The gods and sages fulfil their compassionate
        vows of rescuing others. The organisers and participants receive
        great blessings and benefits from the goodness done. Even those who
        do not contribute may share the merits generated.

        This festival is one of the grandest Buddhist rituals. By serving all
        beings, it is a majestic example of universal compassion. The
        opportunity to participate in such a meritorious event is most
        precious, and should be cherished by all.

        How Do I Participate?

        One simple way is to donate money towards defraying the cost of
        running this festival. You can also dedicate prayers to your loved
        ones, or join in the recitation services at the various halls. Best
        of all, you can practise the five wholesome conducts and the Noble
        Eightfold Path, and offer the acquired merits to all beings.

        "If by making offerings to one Buddha and one monk can bring
        limitless merits to an individual, imagine the magnitude of merit
        that can be created by offering to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of
        all directions and all sentient beings of the six realms. It benefits
        the giver and his long line of ancestors, bestowing well-being and
        happiness upon them."

        How Did this Festival Begin?

        The festival is attributed to Emperor Liang Wu Di of the Liang
        Dynasty. The emperor had a dream in which a holy monk advised, "The
        suffering of the beings in the lower realms is immense, why don't you
        make offerings to liberate them from their suffering? Among all good
        deeds, the accumulation of merits through such services is the
        greatest." So Emperor Liang Wu Di invited Chan Master Venerable Bao
        Zhi to organise such a ceremony. Venerable Bao Zhi spent three years
        creating the concept and compiling the texts for this seven day

        What are the Ten Realms?

        The ten worlds of existence consist of the Four Enlightened Realms
        (Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Pacceka-Buddhas and Arahants) and Six Worldly
        Realms (Gods, Asuras, Humans, Animals, Hungry Ghosts and Hell-

        The great Buddhist sages reside In the Four Enlightened Realms. These
        sages are no longer trapped in the cycle of birth and death. They are
        able to enter and leave the other realms at will, so as to guide and
        teach all beings.

        The Six Worldly Realms are categorised into three spheres of
        existence - namely the Land, Water and Heavens. Celestial beings such
        as Gods and Asuras live in Heavens and enjoy much happiness and
        pleasure. Humans are able to control our instinctive desires, act
        with reason and live in harmony. Beings such Hell-Beings, Hungry
        Ghosts and Animals suffer more. They live on land and in the water.
        Hence, this festival is known as the ¡°Great Festival to Liberate
        All Beings of Water and Land¡±.

        What are the Five Wholesome Conducts?

        The five wholesome conducts are as follows:

        1. Respect for Life - do not kill, but Protect.
        Practise Compassion by protecting and benefiting all life.
        2. Respect for Personal Property - do not steal, but be Generous.
        Practise Generosity by sharing or giving material and spiritual
        3. Respect for Personal Relationships - do not commit acts of sexual
        misconduct, but act Responsibly.
        Persevere in personal development.
        4. Respect for Truth - do not to lie, but be Truthful.
        Communicate positively by telling the truth in a pleasant manner.
        5. Respect for Mental and Physical Well-being - do not take
        intoxicants, but be Mindful.
        Live a physically and mentally healthy life.

        How is the Festival organised?

        There are a total of 7 different halls. The first hall is also known
        as the Inner Shrine. The other six halls constitute the Outer Shrine.
        Each hall serves a specific purpose.

        A. The Inner Shrine

        This is the hall where the beings from the lower realms are
        liberated. Access to this hall is limited to monks and participants

        The services conducted in this hall include the following:

        a) Chanting of Mantras
        Mantras are special invocations to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
        Reciting mantras is also a form of meditation.
        The mantras use in this hall help to bring ease to the beings of
        the lower realms.

        b) Recitation of the Ksitigarbha Sutra
        Ksitigarbha is a Bodhisattva who vowed to rescue all beings from
        the hells until all the hells are empty,
        no matter how long it takes.

        c) Recitation of the Scripture of Confession & Repentance
        This service explains what are unwholesome actions and assists
        all beings in repenting past misdeeds.

        d) Recitation of the Precepts for the beings from the lower realms.
        Precepts are the basis for virtuous conduct. Virtuous conduct is
        the foundation of a better life.
        Introducing precepts to the beings gives them a chance to break
        free of their current suffering.

        e) Offering of Food and Incense
        This service provides the beings with the necessary sustenance
        which they are deprived of in their normal conditions, as a
        healthy body is as important as a healthy mind.

        B. The Outer Shrines

        There are six Outer Shrine halls:

        a) The Grand Shrine - Service of the Prayer of Repentance of Emperor
        Liang Wu Di.
        This is a service that explains and brings the participants
        through a thorough process of self reflection,
        repentance and purification.

        b) The Lotus Shrine - Recitation of the Lotus Sutra
        The Lotus Sutra is one of the most important sutras in the
        Buddhist canon, in which the Buddha explains that
        everyone has the potential to be a Buddha like Him, and teaches
        the practices to become one.

        c) The Avatamsaka Shrine - Recitation of the Avatamsaka Sutra
        The Avatamsaka Sutra explains Buddhism's philosophy and the
        concept of Buddhahood.

        d) The Surangama Shrine- Recitation of the Surangama Sutra
        The Surangama Sutra is the most important sutra for spiritual
        cultivation. It gives specific instructions on
        how one should train to progress spiritually. It also provides
        powerful antidotes against forces of evil.

        e) The Pureland Shrine- Recitation of the Amitabha Sutra & Amitabha
        Buddha's name.
        Amitabha is a Buddha of a world system called the Pureland of
        Ultimate Happiness. It is a paradise He had created after a very
        long period of self-perfection. He created it so that all beings will
        have the most conducive place to learn Buddhism. In His great
        compassion, He personally brings beings from any world to this

        f) The Shrine of Other Sutras- Recitation of other Sutras:

        (i) The Sutra of Golden Light
        (ii) The Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment
        (iii) The Sutra of Infinite Life
        (iv) The Sutra of Contemplation of Infinite Life
        (v) The Diamond Sutra
        (vi) The Sutra of the Master of Healing
        (vii) The Sutra of the Bodhisattva Precepts/Vows

        In addition, a tantric ritual of offering food to the beings in the
        Hungry Ghost Realm will be held every night.

        Need more information?

        You can get more information from books at the distribution points
        around the monastery.
        You can also check out these websites:

        1. Buddhism - http://www.TheDailyEnlightenment.com
        2. Five Precepts -
        3. Noble Eightfold Path -
        4. About Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery - http://www.kmspks.org

        The Above in Chinese:
        Enquire & Register @ Tel. 64584454 / 64531009

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