Daoism Online: The Scholar Sage

This morning I finally began reading the posts I’ve been receiving from The Scholar Sage: Online Daoist Magazine, which is put out by Damo Mitchell, the British teacher/writer who has figured in my blog quite a few times, and by others in his orbit in the UK.

I was either too busy or too tired when the first post arrived, so I marked it with a red flag and thought “later.” When the second one came, I didn’t want to read it until I’d read its predecessor, and while at that point I might have had time/energy to read one, I couldn’t manage two. And so it went, as one became two and two became ten over the course of six weeks.

But this morning, when I finally tackled the lot, I was pleased that I did, and I wanted to spread the word.

Several of the posts are video clips, including one 6-minute post on do-it-yourself foot massage which focuses on key acupuncture points, featuring Shiatsu therapist Donna Pinker (http://www.scholarsage.com/foot-massage-acupressure-points/). I’ll be revisiting it tonight; foot massage seems like a nice right-before-hitting-the-pillow practice, and Donna has a wonderfully calming voice.

Among the written posts, my favorites were:

“The Hun and Symbolism” (http://www.scholarsage.com/foot-massage-acupressure-points/).This piece, also by Donna Pinker, focuses on the Hun, said to be the ethereal soul, which connects with reality through the creative, the intuitive, the symbolic. By contrast, the Po is viewed as the corporeal soul, which uses the five senses and the analytical mind. According to Pinker, the Daoist path requires a balance between Hun and Po, where western culture is pretty much all about the Po. This is a good read, even if you don’t end up committing to having two souls.

“Introduction to the Yi Jing (I Ching)” (http://www.scholarsage.com/introduction-to-the-yi-jing/). Damo wrote this one, and notes that it will be part of a book he’s working on, which means I’ll be reading it again on paper, since I’m a major fan of his books. Damo traces the Yi Jing’s evolution over thousands of years and makes a convincing case for the Yi Jing being a whole lot more than a book you can flip through to get advice. The post includes a reference to Otzi, whose more-than-5,000-years-old mummified body was found frozen in the Alps in 1991. Otzi’s body bore carbon tattoos, some of which are like the trigrams that are the basis for the Yi Jing and others of which relate to acupuncture points.

“The Value of Skepticism” (http://www.scholarsage.com/the-value-of-skepticism/): I liked this post by Richard Agnew, an acupuncturist who trains with Damo and who says he and his patients believe that his acupuncture treatments have become more potent as a result—but I also loved it for two specific passages. In one, Agnew argues that “skepticism is really about questioning your own current understanding, not about challenging ideas that are opposed to it.” The other passage is as follows:

“Skepticism is useful when balanced with open-mindedness. Like yin and yang, an excess of either is unhelpful. If you are overly skeptical and closed-minded, you will be wrong a lot because you are not willing to consider ideas that do not fit into your current understanding. But, as comedian Tim Minchin warns, if you open your mind too far, your brain will fall out!”

Scholar Sage is new, and Damo and his associates have been posting at rapid clip. As I was finishing writing this post, I received another from them, titled “Ting, Dong, Hua, Na and Fa” and written by Damo. Sigh… Who could not read a post titled “Ting, Dong, Hua, Na and Fa”? The words cry out for meaning—or, at very least, for a song….


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