LIVE LONG GET RICH! Is the traditional Chinese thing to say at New Years. And indeed, it is a good idea, Let's do it!
I've been reading Daoism in the Twentieth Century, Between Eternity and Modernity, by David A. Palmer and Xun Liu. It is excellent and deserves a full review in the coming weeks. For today I have a juicy quote from the introduction which is by Kristofer Schipper:
The linkage between communities that are established and reinforced through the institution of fengxiang [carrying incense ashes from one temple to another creating a network] are important, and many historical networks such as the Mazu temples of maritime merchants are clearly linked to China's commercial expansion. But the economic role of temples was not limited to this function only....Daoist communities taxed their members and also outsiders in a variety of ways: through an initial membership fee, by receiving contributions at each festival, by auctioning leadership positions, by taxing merchants at the temple fairs, and so on. One of the salient charateristics of the temple orgnaization was the importantce, and also the perfect transparency, of financial management. All accounts were made public through posters affixed on the temple walls. After meeting the costs of the different communal celebrations, the money was used for charity and welfare, for medical services, public works, and so on. But in many instances associations and temples also provided venture capital and this usage has today become important in overseas communities. Indeed, in countries like the United States or Canada, there is no need for Chinese temples to train militia, build roads and bridges, and to invest large sums in charity, whereas the procurement of venture capital is a most necessary means of mutual support.
This gives me a lot to think about. Transparency in financial management is so important to the modern world and Daoists made it a priority during the Ming Dynasty! The conquering Qing Dynasty set out to suppress Daoism with major anti-Daoist laws starting in the 1700s, culminating in the 1898 law declaring that every temple had to be converted into a "modern" school. In the Twentieth Century the Nationalists (Chinese Christian Fascists is a better descriptor) and the Communists, nearly completed Temple Daoism's destruction. If we think of Daoist temples as networked, local, honest, open, financial institutions of autonomous government, their long-term systematic suppression takes on new and darker explanations.
Fortunately Daoism is now bouncing back in many new creative ways!
Maybe we should start a Kungfu Bank?
The energy of the Fire Monkey Year can be summarized in the statement, "Use it or lose it!" The Wood Goat year we just finished was the most creative year of all sixty years in the Lunar calendar. If you set yourself up with projects and clear vision, the Fire Monkey year is going to be full of explosive energy jumps you can grab hold of and ride. But they come and go in a flash so you have to be ready. Without a vision there is a danger of getting profoundly lost in the Fire Monkey year because it is all about sudden desires, followed by other sudden desires, and so on.
The Fire Monkey year is a great year for people who already have a meditation practice. If you don't have one, and want to start one, in this year a week long solo retreat to prime your pump would be the best strategy. Of all sixty years, this is the year people are most likely to reach enlightenment. It is also the easiest year for opening your third eye!
Social butterflies are likely to achieve positions of leadership in the Fire Monkey year. The election in the United States is going to be mind blowing, with more participation then ever before.
Even introverts are likely to make a lot of new friends this year.
For martial artists it is going to be awesome. In the Fire Monkey year expect your natural effortless power to triple. Sun Wukong, the Monkey King, is the greatest of all fighters. To fully harness the energy of the Fire Monkey requires taking the discipline of improvisational skill development seriously. So mix it up, chaos can be your friend.
Travel! Party! Love! And finally, watch out! The danger of burning out, busting up, and self-cumbustion is higher in the Fire Monkey year. EAT WHEN IT IS TIME TO EAT, SLEEP WHEN IT IS TIME TO SLEEP!